Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Hans-Friedrich Mueller




business, finance, antiquity, classical world, Greece, Rome


This thesis compares the business practices of the upper classes of ancient Greece, and ancient Rome. Specifically, I dissect the business decisions that were made with an effort to increase social status. I will focus on the relationship between the social perception of material wealth and the risk or (unethical business practices) that ancient members of the upper classes faced when they attempted to increase their material wealth. In my first chapter I look at the issuance of maritime loans and the risk associated with this type of finance. I discuss the origin of the business, some of the factors involved with it, and I look at the aristocrats who involved themselves in this type of risky venture. My second chapter focuses on the publicani in Rome and how the system of tax farming enabled a wide variety of Roman magnates to become wealthy men, provided they were willing to extort less fortunate parties in the provinces. My last chapter compares different historical figures and how their business decisions were fueled by the desire to appear wealthy and powerful to the masses.