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Against Borrowing Money
by [?]

Sec. I. Plato in his Laws[881] does not permit neighbours to use one another’s water, unless they have first dug for themselves as far as the clay, and reached ground that is unsuitable for a well. For clay, having a rich and compact nature, absorbs the water it receives, and does not let it pass through. But he allows people that cannot make a well of their own to use their neighbour’s water, for the law ought to relieve necessity. Ought there not also to be a law about money, that people should not borrow of others, nor go to other people’s sources of income, until they have first examined their own resources at home, and collected, as by drops, what is necessary for their use? But nowadays from luxury and effeminacy and lavish expenditure people do not use their own resources, though they have them, but borrow from others at great interest without necessity. And what proves this very clearly is the fact that people do not lend money to the needy, but only to those who, wanting an immediate supply, bring a witness and adequate security for their credit, so that they can be in no actual necessity of borrowing.[882]

Sec. II. Why pay court to the banker or trader? Borrow from your own table. You have cups, silver dishes, pots and pans. Use them in your need. Beautiful Aulis or Tenedos will furnish you with earthenware instead, purer than silver, for they will not smell strongly and unpleasantly of interest, a kind of rust that daily soils your sumptuousness, nor will they remind you of the calends and the new moon, which, though the most holy of days, the money-lenders make ill-omened and hateful. For those who instead of selling them put their goods out at pawn cannot be saved even by Zeus the Protector of Property: they are ashamed to sell, they are not ashamed to pay interest on their goods when out at pawn. And yet the famous Pericles made the ornament of Athene, which weighed forty talents of fine gold, removable at will, for “so,” he said, “we can use the gold in war, and at some other time restore as costly a one.” So should we too in our necessities, as in a siege, not receive a garrison imposed on us by a hostile money-lender, nor allow our goods to go into slavery; but stripping our table, our bed, our carriages, and our diet, of superfluities, we should keep ourselves free, intending to restore all those things again, if we have good luck.

Sec. III. So the Roman matrons offered their gold and ornaments as first-fruits to Pythian Apollo, out of which a golden cup was made and sent to Delphi;[883] and the Carthaginian matrons had their heads shorn, and with the hair cut off made cords for the machines and engines to be used in defence of their country.[884] But we being ashamed of independence enslave ourselves to covenants and conditions, when we ought to restrict and confine ourselves to what is useful, and dock or sell useless superfluities, to build a temple of liberty for ourselves, our wives, and children. The famous Artemis at Ephesus gives asylum and security from their creditors to debtors, when they take refuge in her temple; but the asylum and sanctuary of frugality is everywhere open to the sober-minded, affording them joyful and honourable and ample space for much ease. For as the Pythian Priestess told the Athenians at the time of the Median war that the god had given them wooden walls,[885] and they left the region and city, their goods and houses, and took refuge in their ships for liberty, so the god gives us a wooden table, and earthenware plate, and coarse garments, if we wish to live free. Care not for fine horses or chariots with handsome harness, adorned with gold[886] and silver, which swift interest will catch up and outrun, but mounted on any chance donkey or nag flee from the hostile and tyrannical money-lender, not demanding like the Mede land and water,[887] but interfering with your liberty, and lowering your status. If you pay him not, he duns you; if you offer the money, he won’t have it; if you are selling anything, he cheapens the price; if you don’t want to sell, he forces you; if you sue him, he comes to terms with you; if you swear, he hectors; if you go to his house, he shuts the door in your face; whereas if you stay at home, he billets himself on you, and is ever rapping at your door.