Pasion


Pasion

Pasion was an ancient Greek slave from the 4th century BC. He was owned by the bankers Antisthenes and Archestratus, located at Piraeus, the harbor five miles out of Athens. During his slavery, he quickly rose to chief clerk in charge of a money-changing table at the port, and proved so valuable that he was finally freed in gratitude of his faithful service. When his owners retired, Pasion inherited the bank and established a shield factory. The gifts he provided Athens entailed one thousand shields and a trireme. Ultimately, Pasion was granted Athenian citizenship and started investing in real estate in order to accumulate more wealth. When he became too old to work, Pasion had Phormio, another slave, take care of the bank. When Pasion passed away, his widow married Phormio in order to keep the bank in the family. [Meltzer, pp. 77-78. "One slave we know about in the fourth century B.C. had these qualities in abundance. His name was Pasion. He was bought in the Athenian slave market by two bankers who needed another man on their staff. For the barbarian, it was a lucky break. He might have had a long, dull life laboring at farm chores or a short, violent one sweating in a mine. The gods let him join the Antisthenes and Archestratus Banking and Loan Company, located at Piraeus, the harbor five miles out of Athens. He rose swiftly to chief clerk in charge of a money-changing table at the port, and proved capable and reliable that the partners finally freed him in gratitude for his faithful service. When the partners retired, Pasion took charge of the bank. Both prospered. With his growing capital, Pasion bought ships and founded a shield factory. He made many gifts to the state (a thousand shields at one time, and a ship known as a trireme at another). Finally he was rewarded with the state's highest gift — citizenship. As a citizen Pasion could now invest in real estate and swell his riches even more. When he got too old to work, he put his bank in the care of his manager, Phormio, a slave he had bought years earlier, trained, and then freed. When Pasion died, his widow married Phormio, keeping the bank in the family. Like his old master, Phormio became one of the richest men in fourth-century Athens."]

Pasion's son, Apollodorus, did not engage in banking but lived off his inheritance like a gentleman; Pasion had left 20 talents in land and 40 in outstanding debt. Much of what we know about Pasion comes from speeches Apollodorus gave in lawsuits. These come down to us among the speeches Demosthenes wrote for litigants, but it is now thought that Apollodorus wrote them himself.

There is also a Greek mercenary leader of the Ten Thousand Expedition also named Pasion.

References

ources

*Meltzer, Milton. "Slavery: A World History". Da Capo, 1993. ISBN 0306805367
*"Oxford Classical Dictionary", "s.v." Pasion.


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