Steven Johnstone, 2004-2005 Solmsen Fellow
An enormous amount of literature exists on Greek law, economics, and political philosophy. Yet no one has written a history of trust, one of the most fundamental aspects of social and economic interaction in the ancient world. In this fresh look at antiquity, Steven Johnstone explores the way democracy and markets flourished in ancient Greece not so much through personal relationships as through trust in abstract systems—including money, standardized measurement, rhetoric, and haggling.
Focusing on markets and democratic politics, Johnstone draws on speeches given in Athenian courts, histories of Athenian democracy, comic writings, and laws inscribed on stone to examine how these systems worked. He analyzes their potentials and limitations and how the Greeks understood and critiqued them. In providing the first comprehensive account of these pervasive and crucial systems, A History of Trust in Ancient Greece links Greek political, economic, social, and intellectual history in new ways and challenges contemporary analyses of trust and civil society.