The Second Mission Secrets



 The Second Mission      


Secret Information Page


The Second Mission

Is available Now




ISBN: 1591607213
ISBN-13: 9781591607212

Format: Paperback, 324pp

Publisher: Xulon Press

Pub. Date: August 2003


Visit my Amazon Bookstore to see all my books





  If You Could Go Back in Time, What Events Would You Want to Live?

The Second Mission includes a good portion of the text from the Socratic dialogues: Euthyphro, Cratylus, Crito, Phaedo, and The Apology of Socrates. In addition, I wasn't very happy with the popular translations of the Greek texts.  I did a great deal of rewrite of the originals and worked on better translations of the cultural concepts that have plagued many past translators.  The work, as much as possible, represents the exact history and layout of ancient Greece and Athens.  The research involved in the development of this novel was extensive and I accomplished much of it while supporting an Air Force command post exercise in South Korea.  I have a notebook over an inch thick with notes for the novel.   

The Question: 

Every one of my novels begins with a question.  The question that launched The Second Mission was what would happen if a modern person was accidentally pulled back into a time mission.  You can see the cascading effects that result from this question.  First, what was the most important thing in history that future societies would want to confirm or observe.  I chose the second most important mission because I wanted a teaser and foreshadowing tension in the novel to be the question of what was the first mission. 

The Characters: 

The characters were derived directly from the setup of the novel.  The main character, Alan Fisher was just unlucky.  I chose an individual who was not exactly a blank slate, but who could be called average.  The purpose was to introduce the standard man to the concepts embodied in answering the questions posed by the novel.  Sophia was great.  She is a tragic character, but I couldn't kill her.  You grow to love her:  perfect, exact, completely self sufficient, perfectly competent, but in need of help, protection, and love.  The tension in the novel comes from Alan's desire to please Sophia, and her fear of lack of competence.  Alan has no competence, he is entirely dependent on Sophia.  I worked hard to make the rest of the characters--all ancient Greeks as believable and historically accurate as possible..   

The Theme: 

So what was the most important events that future people would want to confirm and observe.  Obviously the resurrection of Christ is the seminal event in human and western history.  The overall idea that society could be changed radically by absolute knowledge of this event is compelling in itself.  The idea of observing and confirming the accuracy of the Greek dialogues can also stand alone.  The overall idea is that history is both important and critically affect cultures and societies.   


The Second Mission allows a look into historical Greece and into human culture in general.


Socratic Dialogues:


Apology (380 BC) - An account of Socrates' defense of himself during his trial for impiety and the corruption of youth that some believe may be an actual record, as recalled by Plato, of the words Socrates spoke.


Charmides (380 BC) - A dialogue in which Socrates asks Charmides to explain his conception of the modesty which he possesses. The dialogue leads to a confession of ignorance. none


Cratylus (380 BC) - Thought by some to be the highest point reached by the science of language in antiquity. It deals with the importance of dialectic and the contrast between Heracliteanism and Eleaticism. none


Critias (360 BC) - An unfinished fragment. This dialogue was to have been part of a planned trilogy in which Plato intended to depict the ideal state described in the Republic. none


Crito (380 BC) - An account of a conversation between Socrates and Crito, a supporter of Socrates' teaching. This dialogue takes place at Socrates' prison cell two days before his execution.


Euthydemos (380 BC) - A treatise in the form of a farce. This is one of Plato's dialectical dialogues and may actually serve as an introduction to the others. none


Euthyphro (380 BC) - A conversation between Socrates and Euthyphro, the plaintiff in a murder case against his own father. The dialogue takes place shortly before Socrates' trial for impiety. Meletus


Gorgias (370 BC) - Plato asserts the absolute supremacy of justice through the dramatic portraiture of Socrates in his opposition to the world. none


Ion (380 BC) - A conversation between Socrates and Ion, a rhapsode (reciter). Socrates observes that rhapsodists and even poets are part of a series of magnetic rings attracted by the chief magnet, the Muse. none


Laches (380 BC) - Deals with the question of courage; is it an animal instinct or a mental accomplishment?  The dialogue leads to a confession of ignorance. none


Laws (348 BC) - Plato concentrated his declining powers on recording a code of laws which he hoped some Hellenic state might sanction. The Laws were thought to have been in the process of publication at the time of his death. none


Lysis (380 BC) - Socrates, Lysis, and Menexenus try to define friendship. The dialogue leads to a confession of ignorance. none


Meno (380 BC) - A dialogue between Meno, a wealthy young nobleman, and Socrates, in which Socrates raises the question, "Can virtue be taught?" Anytus


Parmenides (360 BC) - A dialogue in which old Parmenides advises the youthful Socrates to argue by the Zenonian method. This is one of Plato's dialectical dialogues. none


Phaedo (380 BC) - Here, more than in any other of his dialogues, Plato preaches withdrawal from the world. It is primarily from this dialogue that the popular conception of Platonism has been derived. none


Phaedrus (380 BC) - Called by some an unphilosophical work, Phaedrus anticipates much that Plato would later elaborate and retains some things which he would eventually eliminate. none


Philebus (360 BC) - Introduces the reader to the interior of Plato's Academy and illustrates, more than any of his other dialogues, Aristotle's description of Plato's teaching. It is one of Plato's dialectical dialogues. none


Protagoras (380 BC) - A dialogue between Socrates and Protagoras, a professor of popular, unscientific, self-complacent excellence. The two argue over whether virtue can be taught. none


Republic (370 BC) - Plato's most renowned work, the Republic is a dialogue in which Plato strives to define the nature of justice through the imaginary creation of an ideal community in which perfect life could flourish. none


Seventh Letter (360 BC) - A letter to the relatives and friends of Dion in which Plato tells the reader that his early ambitions were political. none


Sophist (360 BC) - A standing protest against the error of marring the finely-graduated lineaments of truth, thus destroying the vitality of thought. This is one of Plato's dialectical dialogues. none


Statesman (360 BC) - Also called Politicus, this is one of Plato's dialectical dialogues in which he appears to feel more bitterly towards the demagogues of Hellas in contrast to the optimism shown in the Republic. none


Symposium (360 BC) - A description of a banquet held to honor Agathon's first victory at a dramatic festival in Athens.  It deals with ideal love and is presented through brief orations of a variety of characters. none


Theaetetus (360 BC) - The embodiment of the philosophic nature described in the Republic. Theaetetus, one of Plato's dialectical dialogues, marks a great advance in his clearness of metaphysical and psychological expression. Meletus (just before the apology)


Timaeus (360 BC) - A pythagorean philosopher discourses on the nature of all things. This dialogue was to have been part of a planned trilogy in which Plato had intended to depict the ideal state he described in the Republic. none


Time line:


October – Arrive in 400 BC


December – Party – end of year

January – storms and cold keep them away from Athens

February -

March -

April – Spring festival



July - Trial

August - Prison

September – Socrates’ death





Traveled back to 400 BC in late autumn to be able to be present at Socrates’ death and to validate the works of Plato

      Socrates dies in 399 BC






Sophia - woman from the future

      Born in Mantinea in 435 BC - city-state allied with Athens

      Married at 15 in 420 BC to Timathus

      Widow of Timathus - his second wife

            Timathus died in the battle of Aegospotami against the Spartans (404 BC)

                  Sea battle - Timathus was on a trading run

            Trader on sea and land common port was Piraievs

      Step-mother of Alexander son of Timathus

            Alexander married a girl from Piraievs (may need to change) - Melitia


Alexis and Beria - Sophia’s goats - always milk Beria first, Alexis is more affectionate

      Demis – head goatherd


Caliban - man from the twentieth century

      Alan Fisher


Dira Lacross – real name of Sophia



      Fought in battles at

            Potidaea 432-430 BC

            Delium 424 BC     

            Amphipolis 422 BC

      Xanthippe - his wife reputedly shrewish

      3 children

            Lamprocles - almost an adult



            Ohmia - slave, woman with a birthmark on her jaw, made fun of for it, purchased at a low price because of the mark.  Very bright, likes to talk


Echecrates – the jailer


The indictment was brought forward by Anytus, Meletus, and Lycon         

in 399, and read as follows: "Socrates is a public offender in that he     

does not recognize the gods that the state recognizes, but introduces      

new demoniacal beings" (the Socratic ®daimonion¯); "he has also            

offended by corrupting the youth."


Anytus, Meletus, and Lycon


Recently discovered fragments of an Alcibiades written by Aeschines of Sphettos, an immediate disciple of Socrates, tend to confirm the portrait given in the earlier dialogues of Plato, and the story of the philosopher's attachment to Alcibiades


Eupolis, the comic poet, rivaled his rival Aristophanes in abusing the great gadfly he himself was said to have carved a Hermes, and three Graces that stood near the entrance to the Acropolis

inherited a house from his father, and had seventy minas ($7000) invested for him by his friend Crito; for the rest he is represented as poor bust in the Museo delle Terme at Rome, it was not typically Greek its spacious spread, its flat, broad nose, its thick lips, and heavy beard suggest rather Solon's friend of the steppes, Anacharsis, or that modern Scythian, Tolstoi. "I say,"


Alcibiades insists, even while protesting his love, "that Socrates is exactly         

like the masks of Silenus, which may be seen sitting in the statuaries' shops, having pipes and flutes in their mouths; and they are made to open in the middle, and there are images of gods inside them. I say also that he is like Marsyas the satyr. You will not deny, Socrates, that your face is that of a satyr."


Anytus - accuser of Socrates


He gallantly promised his help to the courtesan Theodota, who rewarded him with the invitation: "Come often to see me.

Called himself an "amateur in philosophy."


Xenophon (soldier) or Crito (rich) – possible givers of the symposium where Socrates

            Living men: Xenophon, Phaedrus, Agathon, Eryximachus, Pausanias, Aristodemus,  Aristophanes


Aristion the butcher

Pentheus brought a bull and calf to the temple

Lycurgus owns Timathus’ old house


            Pindareus – a priest of Athena (made up)

            Cimon – a priest of Athena (made up)


            Phormio – man who wants Sophia – one of the gentry class.


            Anylystis – son of Anytus (made up)


At the death of Socrates

Apollodorus, Critobulus and his father Crito, Hermogenes, Epigenes, Aeschines, Antisthenes, Ctesippus, Menexenus, Phaedo all men of Athinai entered the chamber.  Then came Simmias, Cebes, and Phaedondes all from Thebes and Euclid and Terpison, from Megara.


Women’s names

            Antiope            – X’s friend, Crito’s wife





            Ariadne – X’s friend – lovely black hair, full lips, buck teeth

            Alope  --




            Philomela          – X’s friend - a large woman with thick lips and a gray streak in her hair







            Themiscyra       – X’s friend






      Demis - leader


Places and Things:



      “school of Hellas” - nickname of Athens refering to its democratic structures

      Acropolis (akros=highest, polis=city)

            Parthenon - temple of Athena

      Propylaea -main entrance to Acropolis and a large marble gateway

      Erechtheum - temple famous for detail

      Temple of Athena Nike

      People in Athens

            Vitries - marketplace tent restraunt proprieter, merchant and fisherman

      Theater of Dionysus – Theater behind the Acropolis



      City-state allied with Athens

      Athens defeated in 418 BC in battle there

            Athens lost 1000, Sparta lost 300

      Mount Alesion

      Mount Stravomyti


Peloponnesian War



      Silver mines Athens is dependent on


Money - coinage, stamped with the owl of Athena

      talent – gold $6000

      mina – gold 60 = a talent

      stater – gold $2 = 2 drachmas

      drachma - $1 – silver 100 = a mina (drachma per day is normal freedman pay)

      obol - $0.17 – silver  6 (a handful) = a drachma (lowest pay 3 obols per day)

      obeliskoi – copper  8 = an obol - iron or bronze, named from its resemblance to nails or spits



      men the chiton, or tunic,

      women the peplos, or robe, both made of wool

      If the weather requires it these may be covered with a mantle (himation) or cloak

(chlamys), suspended like them from the shoulders, and falling freely in those natural folds that so please us in Greek statuary.

      In the fifth century clothing is usually white; women, rich men, and gay

youths, however, go in for color, even for purple and dark red, and

colored stripes and embroidered hems; and the women may bind a colored

girdle about the waist.

      Hats are unpopular on the ground that they keep moisture from the hair and so make it prematurely gray;  the head is covered only in traveling, in battle, and at work under the hot sun; women may wear colored kerchiefs or bandeaux; workers sometimes wear a cap and nothing else. Shoes are sandals, high shoes, or boots; usually of leather, black for men, colored for women. The ladies of Thebes, says Dicaearchus, "wear low purple shoes laced so as to show

the bare feet."  Most children and workingmen dispense with

shoes altogether; and no one bothers with stockings.

      Both sexes announce or disguise their incomes with jewelry. Men wear at least one ring; Aristotle wears several.  The walking sticks of the men may have knobs of silver or gold. Women wear bracelets, necklaces, diadems, earrings, brooches and chains, jeweled clasps and

buckles, and sometimes jeweled bands about the ankles or the upper

arms. Here, as in most mercantile cultures, luxury runs into excess

among those to whom wealth is a novelty. Sparta regulates the headdress

of its ladies, and Athens forbids women to take more than three dresses

on a journey.  Women smile at these restrictions, and, without

lawyers, get around them; they know that to most men and to some women

dress makes the woman; and their behavior in this matter reveals a

wisdom gathered through a thousand centuries.



      Salutation is cordial but simple; there is no bowing, for that

seems to the proud citizens a vestige of monarchy; handshaking is

reserved for oaths or solemn farewells; usually the greeting is merely

Chaire- "Rejoice"- followed, as elsewhere, by some brilliant remark

about the weather


Information from Gibbon's History of the World:


There was the oligarchic leader Critias, who enjoyed Socrates' quips     

against democracy, and helped to incriminate him by writing a play in      

which he described the gods as the invention of clever statesmen who       

used them as night watchmen to frighten men into decency.


And there was the son of the democratic leader Anytus, a lad who           

preferred to hear Socrates discourse rather than to attend to his          

business, which was dealing in leather. Anytus complained that             

Socrates had unsettled the boy with skepticism, that the boy no longer     

respected his parents or the gods; moreover, Anytus resented Socrates'     

criticisms of democracy.  "Socrates," says Anytus,          

"I think you are too ready to speak evil of men; and if you will take      

my advice, I would recommend you to be careful. Perhaps there is no        

city in which it is not easier to do men harm than to do them good;        

and this is certainly the case at Athens." Anytus bided his       



Indictment was brought forward by Anytus, Meletus, and Lycon         

in 399



      Out of this stimulating milieu comes courage, and an impulsiveness

all the world away from the sophrosyne- self-control- which the

philosophers vainly preach, or the Olympian serenity which young

Winckelmann and old Goethe will foist upon the passionate and restless

Greeks. A nation's ideals are usually a disguise, and are not to be

taken as history. Courage and temperance- andreia, or manliness, and

the meden agan, or "nothing in excess" of the Delphic inscription-

are the rival mottoes of the Greek Virtue is arete, manly- literally and

originally, martial-excellence (Ares, Mars); precisely what the Romans

called virtus, manliness. The Athenian ideal man is the

kalokagathos, who combines beauty and justice in a gracious art of

living that frankly values ability, fame, wealth, and friends as well

as virtue and humanity;



      Wine – 2 parts wine to 3 parts water    

Athenian meals are simple, like the Spartan and unlike the Boeotian,

Corinthian, or Sicilian; but when honored guests are expected it is

customary to engage a professional cook, who is always male. Cooking is

a highly developed art, with many texts and heroes; some Greek cooks

are as widely known as the latest victor in the Olympic games. To eat

alone is considered barbarous, and table manners are looked upon as an

index of a civilization's development. Women and boys sit at meals

before small tables; men recline on couches, two on each. The family

eats together when alone; if male guests come, the women of the family

retire to the gynaeceum. Attendants remove the sandals or wash the feet

of the guests before the latter recline, and offer them water to

cleanse their hands; sometimes they anoint the heads of the guests with

fragrant oils. There are no knives or forks, but there are spoons;

solid food is eaten with the fingers. During the meal the fingers are

cleaned with scraps or crumbs of bread; after it with water. Before

dessert the attendants fill the cup of each guest from a krater, or

mixing bowl, in which wine has been diluted with water. Plates are of

earthenware; silver plate appears as the fifth century ends. Epicuresgrow in number in the fourth century; one Pithyllus has coverings made

for his tongue and fingers so that he may eat food as hot as he likes.

There are a few vegetarians, whose guests make the usual jokes

and complaints; one diner flees


Drinking is as important as eating. After the deipnon, or dinner,

comes the symposion, or drinking together. At Sparta as well as at

Athens there are drinking clubs whose members become so attached to one

another that such organizations become potent political instruments.

The procedure at banquets is complicated, and philosophers like

Xenocrates and Aristotle think it desirable to set down laws for them.

The floor, upon which uneaten material has been thrown, is

swept clean after the meal; perfumes are passed around, and much wine.

The guests may then dance, not in pairs or with the other sex (for

usually only males are invited), but in groups; or they may play games

like kottabos; or they may match poems, witticisms, or riddles,

or watch professional performers like the female acrobat in Xenophon's

Symposium, who tosses twelve hoops at once and then dances somersaults

through a hoop "set all around with upright swords." Flute

girls may appear, play, sing, dance, and love as arranged for. Educated

Athenians prefer, now and then, a symposium of conversation, conducted

in an orderly manner by a symposiarch chosen by a throw of the dice to

act as chairman. The guests take care not to break up the talk into

small groups, which usually means small talk; they keep theconversation general, and listen, as courteously as their vivacity will

permit, to each man in turn. So elegant a discourse as that which Plato

offers us is doubtless the product of his brilliant imagination; but

probably Athens has known dialogues as lively as his, perhaps

profounder; and in any case it is Athenian society that suggests and

provides the background. In that exciting atmosphere of free wits the

Athenian mind is formed.


Homes and buildings

      entrance hallway, except in the poorer dwellings, leads into an aule,

or uncovered court, commonly paved with stones

      Furniture is scanty in the average home-

            some chairs, some chests, a few tables, a bed

            Cushions take the place of upholstery on chairs, but the seats of the rich may be carefully carved, and inlaid with silver, tortoise, or ivory.

            Chests serve as both closets and chairs

      Tables are small, and usually three-legged, whence their name trapezai; they are brought in and removed with the food, and are hardly used for other purposes;

      writing is done upon the knee

      Couches and beds are favorite objects for adornment, being often inlaid or

elaborately carved. Leather thongs stretched across the bedstead serve as a spring; there are mattresses and pillows, and embroidered covers, and commonly a raised headrest.

            Lamps may be hung from the ceiling, or

            The kitchen is equipped with a great variety of iron, bronze, and earthenware vessels; glass is a rare luxury, not made in Greece



      Flower girls peddle roses, violets, hyacinths, narcissi, irises,

myrtles, filches, crocuses, and anemones from house to house. Women

wear flowers in their hair, dandies wear them behind the ear; and on

festal occasions both sexes may come forth with flower garlands,

lei-like, around the neck


      “I am the Widow of Timathus.  I was married when I was 15 years old.  We had no children together, but he had a child, whom I raised from the age of ten.  I was Timathus’ second wife.  Death in childbirth is common in this time.  Childhood mortality is even more common.  My husband died during the battle of Aegospotami against the Spartans.  That was only five years ago.

      “My step-son married a girl from the city of Piraievs.  My husband had been a trader.  With his father’s death, my son took up the same profession.  Alexander moved easily between the cities.  There he was aquatinted with an important family.  The marriage was considered a favored one.  I, though still young, went to live in my son’s home.  My daughter-in-law was never happy with me.  I was too patrician for her tastes.  When my son died last year, she sold the property and went back to her father’s house.  I returned to Athens.  I was welcomed guardedly yet without suspicion.  Because I knew so few in the city, now, I took this house.  I have made friends with the herdsmen.  I have visited the marketplace.”  Sophia’s voice became as still as a whisper, “The original Sophia died today in a rock slide in the mountains.  Her body will not be found.  I am Sophia.”


Plato’s Dialogues of Socrates


Last days


      The Apology










Towards foreigners the Greek feels no moral obligation, and

no legal one except by treaty; they are barbaroi- not quite

"barbarians," but outsiders- aliens speaking outlandish tongues.


In the temple the city keeps also its "theoric

fund," from which it makes the payments annually due the citizens for

attendance at the sacred plays and games.


and the devastation of the olive

orchards in the Peloponnesian War will play a part in the decline of

Athens. To the Greek the olive has many uses: one pressing gives oil

for eating, a second, oil for anointing, and a third, oil for

illumination; and the remainder is used as fuel.  It becomes

Attica's richest crop, so valuable that the state assumes a monopoly of

its export, and pays with it and wine for the grain that it must


  It forbids altogether the export of figs,


These products of the soil- cereals, olive oil, figs, grapes, and

wine- are the staples of diet in Attica. Cattle rearing is negligible

as a source of food; horses are bred for racing, sheep for wool, goats

for milk, asses, mules, cows, and oxen for transport, but chiefly pigs

for food; and bees are kept as providers of honey for a sugarless

world. Meat is a luxury; the poor have it only on feast days; the

heroic banquets of Homeric days have disappeared. Fish is both a

commonplace and a delicacy; the poor man buys it salted and dried; the

rich man celebrates with fresh shark meat and eels. Cereals take

the form of porridge, flat loaves, or cakes, often mixed with honey.

Bread and cake are seldom baked at home, but are bought from women

peddlers or in market stalls. Eggs are added, and vegetables-

particularly beans, peas, cabbage, lentils, lettuce, onions, and

garlic. Fruits are few; oranges and lemons are unknown. Nuts are

common, and condiments abound. Salt is collected in salt pans from the

sea, and is traded in the interior for slaves; a cheap slave is called

a "salting," and a good one is "worth his salt." Nearly everything is

cooked and dressed with olive oil, which makes an excellent substitute

for petroleum. Butter is hard to keep in Mediterranean lands, and olive

oil takes its place.  Honey, sweetmeats, and cheese provide dessert;

cheesecakes are so fancied that many classic treatises are devoted to

their esoteric art.  Water is the usual drink, but everyone has

wine, for no civilization has found life tolerable without narcotics or

stimulants. Snow and ice are kept in the ground to cool wine in the hot

months.  Beer is known but scorned in Periclean days. All in all,

the Greek is a moderate eater, and contents himself with two meals

daily. "Yet there are many," says Hippocrates, "who, if accustomed to

it, can easily bear three full meals a day."


Out of the earth come minerals and fuels as well as food. Lighting is

provided by graceful lamps or torches- burning refined olive oil, or

resin- or by candles. Heat is derived from dry wood or charcoal,

burning in portable braziers. The cutting of trees for fuel and

building denudes the woods and hills near the towns; already in the

fifth century timber for houses, furniture, and ships is imported.

There is no coal.


  Greek mining is not for fuels but for minerals. The soil of Attica is

rich in marble, iron, zinc, silver, and lead. The mines at Laurium,

near the southern tip of the peninsula, are in the phrase of Aeschylus

"a fountain running silver"  for Athens; they are a main support

of the government, which retains all subsoil rights, and leases the

mines to private operators for a talent ($6000) fee and one

twenty-fourth of the product yearly.  In 483 a prospector

discovers the first really profitable veins at Laurium, and a silver

rush takes place to the region of the mines. Only citizens are allowed

to lease the properties, and only slaves perform the work. The pious

Nicias, whose superstition will help to ruin Athens, makes $170 a day

by leasing a thousand slaves to the mine operators at a rental of one

obol (17 cents) each per day; many an Athenian fortune is made in this

way, or by lending money to the enterprise. The slaves in the mine

number some twenty thousand, and include the superintendents and

engineers. They work in ten-hour byby leasing a thousand slaves to the mine operators at a rental of one obol (17 cents) each per day; many an Athenian fortune is made in this

way, or by lending money to the enterprise. The slaves in the mine

number some twenty thousand, and include the superintendents and

engineers. They work in ten-hour shifts, and the operations continue

without interruption, night and day. If the slave rests he feels the

foreman's lash; if he tries to escape he is attached to his work by

iron shackles; if he runs away and is captured his forehead is branded

with a hot iron.  The galleries are but three feet high and two

feet wide; the slaves, with pick or chisel and hammer, work on their

knees, their stomachs, or their backs.  The broken ore is

carried out in baskets or bags handed from man to man, for the

galleries are too narrow to let two men pass each other conveniently.

The profits are enormous: in 483 the share received by the government

is a hundred talents ($600,000)- a windfall that builds a fleet for

Athens and saves Greece at Salamis. Even for others than the slaves

there is evil in this as well as good; the Athenian treasury becomes

dependent upon the mines, and when, in the Peloponnesian War, the

Spartans capture Laurium the whole economy of Athens is upset. The

exhaustion of the veins in the fourth century co-operates with many

other factors in Athenian decay. For Attica has no other precious metal

in her soil.


Metallurgy advances with mining. The ore at Laurium is crushed in

huge mortars with a heavy iron pestle worked by slave power; then it

goes to mills where it is ground between revolving stones of hard

trachyte; then it is sized by screening; the material that passes

through the screen is sent to an ore washer, where jets of water are

discharged from cisterns upon inclined rectangular tables of stone

covered with a smooth thin coat of hard cement; the current is turned

at sharp angles, where pockets snare the metal particles. The collected

metal is thrown into small smelting furnaces equipped with blowers to

raise the heat; at the bottom of each furnace are openings through

which the molten metal is drawn. Lead is separated from the silver by

heating the molten metal on cupels of porous material and exposing it

to the air; by this simple process the lead is converted into litharge,

and the silver is freed. The processes of smelting and refining are

competently performed, for the silver coins of Athens are ninety-eight

per cent pure. Laurium pays the price of the wealth it produces, as

mining always pays the price for metal industry; plants and men wither

and die from the furnace fumes, and the vicinity of the works becomes a

scene of dusty desolation.


Other industries are not so toilsome. Attica has many of them now,

small in scale but remarkably specialized. It quarries marble and other

stones, it makes a thousand shapes of pottery, it dresses hides in

great tanneries like those owned by Cleon, rival of Pericles, and

Anytus, accuser of Socrates; it has wagonmakers, shipbuilders,

saddlers, harness makers, shoe manufacturers; there are saddlers who

make only bridles, and shoemakers who make only men's or women's shoes.

In the building trades are carpenters, molders, stonecutters,

metalworkers, painters, veneerers. There are blacksmiths, swordmakers,

shieldmakers, lampmakers, lyre tuners, millers, bakers, sausage men,

fishmongers- everything necessary to an economic life busy and varied,

but not mechanized or monotonous. Common textiles are still for the

most part produced in the home; there the women weave and mend the

ordinary clothing and bedding of the family, some carding the wool,

some at the spinning wheel, some at the loom, some bent over an

embroidery frame. Special fabrics come from workshops, or from

abroad-fine linens from Egypt, Amorgos, and Tarentum, dyed woolens from

Syracuse, blankets from Corinth, carpets from the Near East and

Carthage, colorful coverlets from Cyprus; and the women of Cos, late in

the fourth century, learn the art of unwinding the cocoons of thesilkworm and weaving the filaments into silk.  In some homes the women become so highly skilled in textile arts that they produce more than their families can use; they sell the surplus at first to

consumers, then to middlemen; they employ helpers, freedmen or slaves;

and in this way a domestic industry develops as a step to a factory



ergasteria of Athens are rather workshops than factories; the largest

of them, Cephalus' shield factory, has 120 workmen, Timarchus' shoe

factory has ten, Demosthenes' cabinet factory twenty, his armor factory

thirty.  At first these shops produce only to order; later they

manufacture for the market, and finally for export; and the spread and

abundance of coinage, replacing barter, facilitates their operations.

There are no corporations; each factory is an independent unit, owned

by one or two men; and the owner often works beside his slaves. There

are no patents; crafts are handed down from father to son, or are

learned by apprentices; the Athenians are exempted by law from caring

for the old age of parents who have failed to teach them a trade.

Hours are long but work is leisurely; master and man labor from

dawn to twilight, with a siesta at summer noons. There are no

vacations, but there are some sixty workless holydays


Sea transport is cheaper, especially if voyages are limited, as most

of them are, to the calm summer months. Passenger tariffs are low: for

two drachmas ($2) a family can secure passage from the Piraeus to Egypt

or the Black Sea, but ships do not cater to passengers, being

made to carry goods or wage war or do either at need. The main motive

power is wind upon a sail, but slaves ply the oars when the wind is

contrary or dead. The smallest seagoing merchant vessels are

triaconters with thirty oars, all on one level; the penteconter has

fifty. Back about 700 the Corinthians launched the first trireme, with

a crew of two hundred men plying three banks or tiers of oars; by the

fifth century such ships, beautiful with their long and lofty prows,

have grown to 256 tons, carry seven thousand bushels of grain, and

become the talk of the Mediterranean by making eight miles an hour.


The Athenian government, from Solon

onward, helps Athenian trade powerfully by establishing a reliable

coinage, stamped with the owl of Athena; "taking owls to Athens" is the

Greek equivalent of "carrying coals to Newcastle." Because

Athens, through all her vicissitudes, refuses to depreciate her silver

drachmas, these "owls" are accepted gladly throughout the Mediterranean

world, and tend to displace local currencies in the Aegean. Gold at

this stage is still an article of merchandise, sold by weight, rather

than a vehicle of trade; Athens mints it only in rare emergencies,

usually in a ration to silver of 14 to 1. The smallest Athenian

coins are of copper; eight of these make an obol- a coin of iron or

bronze, named from its resemblance to nails or spits (obeliskoi). Six

obols make a drachma, i.e., a handful; two drachmas make a gold stater;

one hundred drachmas make a mina; sixty minas make a talent. A drachma

in the first half of the fifth century buys a bushel of grain, as a

dollar does in twentieth-century America.  There is no

paper money in Athens, no government bonds, no joint-stock

corporations, no stock exchange.

  But there But there are banks. They have a hard struggle to get a footing, for

those who have no need for loans denounce interest as a crime, and the

philosophers agree with them. The average fifth-century Athenian is a

hoarder; if he has savings he prefers to hide them rather than entrust

them to the banks. Some men lend money on mortgages, at 16 to 18 per

cent; some lend it, without interest, to their friends; some deposit

their money in temple treasuries. The temples serve as banks, and lend

to individuals and states at a moderate interest; the temple of Apollo

at Delphi is in some measure an international bank for all Greece.

There are no private loans to governments, but occasionally one state

lends to another. Meanwhile the money-changer at his table (trapeza)

begins in the fifth century to receive money on deposit, and to lend it

to merchants at interest rates that vary from 12 to 30 per cent

according to the risk; in this way he becomes a banker, though to the

end of ancient Greece he keeps his early name of trapezite, the man

at the table. He takes his methods from the Near East, improves them,

and passes them on to Rome, which hands them down to modern Europe.

Soon after the Persian War Themistocles deposits seventy talents

($420,000) with the Corinthian banker Philostephanus, very much as

political adventurers feather foreign nests for themselves today; this

is the earliest known allusion to secular- nontemple- banking. Towards

the end of the century Antisthenes and Archestratus establish what will

become, under trade, not industry or finance, is the soul of Athenian economy.

Though many producers still sell directly to the consumer, a growing

number of them require the intermediary of the market, whose function

it is to buy and store goods until the consumer is ready to purchase

them. In this way a class of retailers arises, who peddle their wares

through the streets, or in the wake of armies, or at festivals or

fairs, or offer them for sale in shops or stalls in the agora or

elsewhere in the town. To the shops come freemen or metics or slaves to

haggle with tradesmen and buy for the home. One of the severest

disabilities suffered by the "free" women of Athens is that custom does

not allow them to shop.


Who does all this work? In the countryside it is done by citizens,

their families, and free hired men; in Athens it is done partly by

citizens, partly by freedmen, more by metics, mostly by slaves. The

shopkeepers, artisans, merchants, and bankers come almost entirely from

the voteless classes. The burgher looks down upon manual labor, and

does as little of it as he may. To work for a livelihood is considered

ignoble; even the professional practice or teaching of music,

sculpture, or painting is accounted by many Greeks "a mean occupation."

Hear blunt Xenophon, who speaks, however, as a proud member of

the knightly class:


"The base mechanic arts, so called... are held in ill repute by

civilized communities, and not unreasonably; seeing they are the ruin

of the bodies of all concerned in them, workers and overseers alike,

who are forced to remain in sitting postures or to hug the gloom, or

else to crouch whole days confronting a furnace. Hand in hand with

physical enervation follows apace an enfeebling of soul, while the

demand which these base mechanic arts make on the time of those

employed in them leaves them no leisure to devote to the claims of

friendship and the state.


Trade is similarly scorned; to the aristocratic or philosophical

Greek it is merely money-making at the expense of others; it aims not

to create goods but to buy them cheap and sell them dear; no

respectable citizen will engage in it, though he may quietly invest in

it and profit from it so long as he lets others do the work. A freeman,

says the Greek, must be free from economic tasks; he must get slaves or

others to attend to his material concerns, even, if he can, to take

care of his property and his fortune; only by such liberation can he

find time for government, war, literature, and philosophy. Without a

leisure class there can be, in the Greek view, no standards of taste,

no encouragement of the arts, no civilization. No man who is in a hurry

is quite civilized.


Most of the functions mingled with the metics in political disabilities and economic

opportunities are the freedmen- those who once were slaves. For though

it is inconvenient to liberate a slave, since usually he must be

replaced by another, yet the promise of freedom is an economical

stimulus to a young slave; and many Greeks, as death approaches, reward

their most loyal slaves with manumission. The slave may be freed

through ransoming by relatives or friends, as in the case of Plato; or

the state, indemnifying his owner, may free him for service in war; or

he himself may save his obols until he can buy his liberty. Like the

metic, the freedman engages in industry, trade, or finance; at the

lowest he may do for pay the work of a slave, at the top he may become

a magnate of industry. Mylias manages Demosthenes' armor factory;

Pasion and Phormio become the richest bankers in Athens. The freedman

is especially valued as an executive, for no one is more severe with

slaves than the man who has come up from slavery, and has known

only oppression all the days of his life.


Beneath these three classes- citizens, metics, and freedmen- are the

115,000 slaves of Attica. They are recruited from unransomed

prisoners of war, victims of slave raids, infants rescued from

exposure, wastrels, and criminals. Few of them in Greece are Greeks.

The Hellene looks upon foreigners as natural slaves, since they so

readily give absolute obedience, to a king, and he does not account the

servitude of such men to Greeks as unreasonable. But he balks at the

enslavement of a Greek, and seldom stoops to it. Greek traders buy

slaves as they would merchandise, and offer them for sale at Chios,

Delos, Corinth, Aegina, Athens, and wherever else they can find

purchasers. The slave dealers at Athens are among the richest of the

metics. In Delos it is not unusual for a thousand slaves to be sold in

a day; Cimon, after the battle of the Eurymedon, puts 20,000 prisoners

on the slave market.  At Athens there is a mart where slaves

stand ready for naked inspection and bargaining purchase at any time.

They cost from half a mina to ten minas ($50 to $1000). They may be

bought for direct use, or for investment; men and women in Athens find

it profitable to buy slaves and rent them to homes, factories, or

mines; the return is as high as 33 per cent.  Even the poorest

citizen has a slave or two; Aeschines, to prove his poverty, complains

that his family has only seven; rich homes may have fifty.  The

Athenian government employs a number of slaves as clerks, attendants,

minor officials, or policemen; many of these receive their clothingAthenian government employs a number of slaves as clerks, attendants, minor officials, or policemen; many of these receive their clothing and a daily "allowance" of half a drachma, and are permitted to live where

they please.


In the countryside the slaves are few, and are chiefly women servants

in the home; in northern Greece and most of the Peloponnesus serfdom

makes slavery superfluous. In Corinth, Megara, and Athens slaves do

most of the manual labor, and women slaves most of the domestic toil;

but slaves do also a great part of the clerical, and some of the

executive work, in industry, commerce, and finance. Most skilled labor

is performed by freemen, freedmen or metics; and there are no learned

slaves as there will be in the Hellenistic period and in Rome. The

slave is seldom allowed to bring up children of his own, for it is

cheaper to buy a slave than to rear one. If the slave misbehaves he is

whipped; if he testifies he is tortured; when he is struck by a freeman

he must not defend himself. But if he is subjected to great cruelty he

may flee to a temple, and then his master must sell him. In no case may

his master kill him. So long as he labors he has more security than

many who in other civilizations are not called slaves; when he is ill,

or old, or there is no work for him to do, his master does not throw

him upon public relief, but continues to take care of him. If he is

loyal he is treated like a faithful servant, almosthim upon public relief, but continues to take care of him. If he is loyal he is treated like a faithful servant, almost like a member of

the family. He is often allowed to go into business, provided he will

pay his owner a part of his earnings. He is free from taxation and from

military service. Nothing in his costume distinguishes him, in

fifth-century Athens, from the freeman; indeed the "Old Oligarch" who

about 425 writes a pamphlet on The Polity of the Athenians complains

that the slave does not make way for citizens on the street, that he

talks freely, and acts in every detail as if he were the equal of the

citizen. Athens is known for mildness to her slaves; it is a

common judgment that slaves are better off in democratic Athens than

poor freemen in oligarchic states. Slave revolts, though

feared, are rare in Attica.

  Contact the author




  Novels by this Author
       The Second Mission (Available now)
       Centurion   (Available now published by OakTara)
       Aegypt            (Available now published by OakTara)


The Dragon and the Fox


                     (Available now published by OakTara)



The End of Honor      The Fox’s Honor      A Season of Honor 




  L.D. Alford is the author of 41 technical papers published in international journals on flight test, military policy, flight safety, space, and cyberwar.  Technical Writing
  L.D. Alford has been a professional aviator for over 30 years.  Aviation Writing

L.D. Alford Aviation Writing Technical Writing Unpublished Novels Writing Links Engineer


Hit Counter