It has been claimed that ancient Athens differed from ancient Sparta and resembled Renaissance Italian republics and the early modern Dutch republic in being an aggressively commercial state with a business-minded elite. This work aims to refute that view. It argues that those trading with Athens were mainly poor and foreign--hence politically insignificant to Athens. Athens and other Greek states had no merchant marine of their own and took only limited measures, always short of war and lesser means of commercial imperialism, to attract maritime traders.
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