David Astle
The Babylonian Woe

PERGAMUM AND PITANE

 

Aristotle, author of some lucid thinking on the subject of money, if not ruthlessly penetrative, was himself married to the niece of a banker installed as co-tyrant (or "Front Man") with another such tyrant-banker... "(Hermias the Tyrant of Assos and Atarneus) was a eunuch slave of a certain banker: he went to Athens and attended the lectures of Plato and Aristotle, and returning, he shared the tyranny of his master who had previously secured the places around Atarneus and Assos. Subsequently he succeeded him and sent for Aristotle and married his niece to him...(1)

...In this slave, banker, philosopher and despot Leaf (2) sees a tyrant who owed his position to his wealth. He quotes Euaion, the pupil of Plato, who, not far to the North at Lampsacus 'lent money to the city on security of the Acropolis, and when the city defaulted, wanted to become a tyrant'..."(3)

While bankers in the present dream of entrapping the whole world via their "United Nations", in the past they contented themselves with the entrapping of a city! ... Just as in the present they create an entirely false picture of the nature of their operations and carefully promote the legend they are lending the public's money, so they did in antiquity, we may rest assured. No doubt they spread exactly the same story in the time of the tyrants, and people in that day, understanding no more about money than they do today, believed it(4)... The following may be accepted as instance of their activities in ancient times.

...Pergamum, that city that arose in South West Asia Minor, lasting as independent from 283-133 B.C., was originally founded as the fortified treasury of Lysimachus, successor to Alexander in Thrace. This fort and the treasure therein amounting to 9000 talents, was in the charge of a eunuch steward named Philetairos who justified the trust reposed in him in so far as the management of this treasure was concerned. During the quarrels of the Diadochoi or Successors to Alexander, presumably at the strategic moment, he transferred his allegiance from Lysimachus to Seleucus, doubtless on condition he be guaranteed his continued position as Master of the Treasury.

Despite the murder of Seleucus by Ptolemy Keraunus, the wily Philetairos clung to the fortunes of the Seleucids, probably understanding in their particular case, the political purposes of the International Money Power of Babylonia and Alexandria in these respects, and ingratiated himself with Antiochus, son of Seleucus, by buying the body of Seleucus from Ptolemy for return to Antiochus,(5) thus, through it all maintaining his position at Pergamum...

Philetairos proceeded to use the treasure to which he had so masterfully established almost total right, with a skill which could only suggest training in the money shops of Babylonia, or Alexandria, or as close advisor, one so trained. The conception of the 9000 talents of treasure in itself being the sole maintaining force behind the extended power of Pergamum, would be quaint to say the least; as quaint indeed as the story of the 6000 talents of silver held in reserve in the Acropolis at Athens as the sole finances with which the Peloponnesian war was fought; or in a later day of the gold supposedly existing in the vaults of the Bank of England or its predecessor, and its parent bank, the Bank of Amsterdam (the vaults of the latter on inspection by Napoleon(6) after occupation of Holland, proving absolutely bare!). 9000 talents drawn on for military and civilian expenditures, extensive bribes, etc., would not go very far.

Returning again to Professor Andreades, in his Finances De Guerre d'alexandre le grand,(7) the annual expenditures of Alexander during the earlier years of his campaigning were 5000-7000 talents, which would, in the first year or two, certainly until the battle of Issus (Oct. 333 B.C.), have been in hard cash for the most part, to use the terminology of today's banker; that is, coined money or silver bullion, or the gold bullion of which the mines at Phillipi had made steady yield. In the later years of campaigning, Andreades estimated the annual expenditures of Alexander at 15,000 talents... If the money for this expenditure derived from coined precious metal plunder, it would go even less far, for in newly occupied territories, the exploitation of the miseries of the people usual to these circumstances would exist, and there would be a collapse of "Credit" or abstract money, until reorganization set in. there would be total disturbance of the revenues deriving from taxes. silver, particularly, would either move eastward against luxury trading, which seems to continue as much as ever in such times, or would disappear into hoards.

During the first Millennium B.C., the ratio of silver to gold never went below 10:1, being usually 13:1 in Europe and the so-called Middle East. In farther Bactria, India and China, it was rarely more than 6:1 and in some parts as low as 1:1.(8) Therefore, once precious metal coinage was spent, particularly silver coinage, and passed into the hands of merchants, contractors, etc., finally returning to the bankers or money changers, with that field for assured profit by settlement of oriental trade balances with coined silver or silver bullion such as clearly existed, as according to Gresham's law,(9) its local circulating volume might be assumed to decrease rapidly, and without a doubt did so decrease.

It might safely be said that the money power which enabled Pergamum to secure controlling interest over the cities of Pitane and Cyzicus,(10) was not drawn from what might be left of that store of 9000 talents (the loan in the case of Pitane, probably a very minor transaction, was sufficient to substantially ease the burden of a debt of 380 talents) ... It would have been part of a credit inflation which would have used the 9000 talents, or the legend in respect thereto, as its base, and more than likely those interests holding the debt of the city of Pitane were themselves indebted by another ledger entry transaction to Pergamum. Thus that "Credit Money" transaction whereby pitane was loaned money would be no more than an entry in the books of pergamum as a credit to pitane, automatically being thence debited and transferred to the credit column of the holder of the loan as previously existing against pitane, and thus returning him to solvency.

In other words, Pergamum, at cost of pen, ink, vellum,(11) and slave scribe or perhaps (and more likely) cost of clay tablet and stylus book entry, was now in a position to dictate the political affairs of Pitane. Perhaps the agent for the Babylonian bankers or their Alexandrian counterparts, as the previous holder of the Pitane loan may have been, consequently recovered his liquid position so far as Pergamum was concerned, and was now able to look around again for more profitable investments.

The extent of the semi-military operations of the Attalid Money Power of Pergamum was shown above all by their purchase of the island of Aegina for thirty talents.(12) This island they most likely set up as a centre for entre-pôt trade and a financial outpost, i.e., "Branch Bank": which had to be in opposition to the decaying athenian money power which at that time did not have the silver resources of its earlier days on which to base its money power, and the legend of its great wealth.

The Laurion mines were petering out, and those markets in South Russia,(13) Thrace, etc., formerly supplied by Athenian manufactured products, were fast failing at the time of Pergamum and the Attalids; having set up their own local manufacturies. Athens, no longer centre of an Empire, neither military, or financial power, with fewer markets ready to settle debit trade balances with those slaves so much required for silver mining, as had been South Russia, was likely just a pleasant place to live in; the storms brewed by settlement of International Money Power as in days gone by, passed over.

As Pergamum marks the beginning of that period when Delos and Rhodes were leading money and slave markets of the world, it would seem that some kind of agreement must have existed between those who controlled trade and finance at all these points. Considering the essential secrecy that necessarily attends the corrupt operations of so-called bankers, it may be quite reasonable to suppose, that in Pergamum itself, in Aegina, Delos, Rhodes and for that matter, a dozen other trade centres, there was a class of persons who very well understood each other's interests, who very likely were related by racial and religious custom, and whose supra-nationalism transcended all city boundaries and borders of states.

Money was their trade, and they married only amongst their own group as the best protection towards maintaining inviolable the secret of that financial hegemony they had established internationally, and which in a way had put them above kingship; no doubt in the fevered imagination of some of them, one with the gods. Through the illusion of the establishment of silver as the standard of value internationally or nationally, and whose supply they totally controlled, it is true, they actually did wield that power which formerly had been the sole prerogative of the gods in the cities of ancient Sumeria, through their sons upon earth, the Priest-Kings; even if only as the venal and self-interested men that they were.

The activities of this group towards the instigation of wars, and disturbances never ceased. Out of the needs of peoples in despair came their advantage and strengthened control; and because they controlled the fiscal affairs of the temples, whose very existence became completely intertwined with their activities,(14) it may safely be said that they controlled the oracular pronouncements which so often could decide yea or nay to war... Out of rumour generally they guided the moods of the peoples... Such wars were necessary, as much as today, towards the maintenance of their great arms industry and their continued control through the sale of the best and newest of weapons to that new "conqueror" who promised most of all to serve their purposes in the renewal of their stocks of treasure, so necessary to maintain "confidence", and their stocks of mine slaves. war also revived that feverish and competitive demand for that treasure; and in the hurly-burly it created, merchants gladly accepted as money anything offered from seemingly reputable sources including that abstract money denoted by ledger credit page entry; the loan of which but cost the lender the entry by slave scribe on the clay tablet, though immense real wealth might be offered as "collateral" as against failure to repay such alleged loan by the date stipulated.

The far-flung activities of Apollonius, economic manager to Ptolemy Philadelphus, as recorded by Professor Rostovtsev,(15) give but a glimpse of this interlocking control by an Aramaic speaking middle class, within which the Hebrew may also have been an interwoven thread... Perhaps the weft, although not the weft and the warp...

For indeed there is no evidence that he was all, and that such magnates that controlled the economy of the ancient world were many of them Jews. Nevertheless the claim by the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia(16) that the Hebrews, as a people who absorbed foreign cultures, yet rigidly maintain their national identity caused them to be most appreciated by the brilliant and ambitious Alexander, should not be lightly dismissed. Alexander was trainee of Aristotle, who, as husband of the niece of Hermias, Banker-Tyrant of Assos and Atameus, certainly should have come to learn something of the true meaning of Money Power. Alexander therefore, presumably had substantial understanding of the meaning of money relative to Kingship...

The Hebrew, as equally skilled in money and trade as the Aramean and equally fluent in Aramaic, since he was established in most of the important cities of the ancient world, from the Pillars of Hercules to India in which Aramaic, certainly existed as lingua franca, at least in those cities between India and the Levant, could very well have been a major part of that vehicle constructed by Alexander to spread his dream of Pan-Hellenism. His special concessions to Jaddua, High Priest in Jerusalem in 333 B.C. in respect to those Jews of both Judea and Babylon, and also in respect to the foundation of Alexandria,(17) certainly suggest deference to a power far beyond that power visibly represented by that relatively small group of people who dwelt at Jerusalem and on the highlands by which it was surrounded... According to the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia: during the siege of Tyre by Alexander, Jaddua, High Priest of Jerusalem, not wishing to offend Persia and Darius, had refused Alexander the troops and provisions he sought(18)... After the fall of Tyre, Alexander advanced on Jerusalem, ancient ally of Tyre as the assistance of Hiram, King of Tyre towards the building of the Temple of Solomon will call to mind;(19) undoubtedly with the intention of reducing that city should no satisfactory settlement be reached.

As Alexander neared the Temple, so the story goes, the High Priest clothed in full vestments of gold and purple, and the Priests in their sacerdotal robes, and a great multitude dressed in white, went out to meet him, the decision having no doubt been arrived at that discretion was the better part of valour. Alexander, seeing the High Priest and his mitre on which was written the Name of God, reverenced the Name and saluted the High Priest. He said he had seen a figure such as the High Priest in a dream, who had told him he would give him Lordship over the Persian Hosts.

Then Alexander entered the city, and, as was his usual custom with submissive cities, he sacrificed to their God...

The fact that he gave the Jews of Palestine such special concessions as a years remission of taxes which was also extended to the Jews of Babylonia, and specially invited any Jew to settle in his city of Alexandria, would suggest that the visible help refused him by Jaddua had been more than made up for by assistance of a less visible nature such as, it might reasonably be expected, had helped to secure the fall of Babylon, to Cyrus, ancestor of Darius, and founder of the Achaemenid Dynasty of Persia(20)...

The stress on the Aramaic speaking middle class of all those "Empires" from the assyrian, until the successors to alexander, and perhaps beyond, is more than justified in view of the results of the studies of various scholars. if aramaic was the language of officialdom under the achaemenid rulers of the persian empire, and remained so under alexander and the successors, it may reasonably be supposed that the official and merchant classes that used aramaic as their everyday language, had gone far beyond the borders of the persian empire, both to the east and to the west. as has been previously pointed out, with that aramaic interstratum moved also to the east and west, the agents of that money power centred in mesopotamia, heir to the secrets, not only of the sumerian priesthood, but of the priesthood of much more ancient times, selling as they went along the idea of the use of precious metal money.

No sooner had short sighted rulers instituted the use of precious metal money, than the agents of such money power, to whom by now the ruler was beholden for supplies of bullion, were setting up "modern" banking houses. in short order the various practices of dubious legality that are the foundations of such money power would be instituted; firstly that of the creation, relatively without limit, of abstract units of exchange as through the institution of ledger credit page entry money, under whatever cover to create legality, and which the banker claimed was backed by his "Credit"!--(As if he could have more "Credit" than any sovereign people and their ruler!)--and which was usually backed in final analysis by little or nothing other than the sanction of a foolish prince. Secondly, from the point of view of maintenance of "confidence" so far as lesser trade was concerned, was the issue of intrinsically valueless facsimiles of existing precious metal coinage, for every one of which a customer who accepted them in the exchanges, thought that there was a precious metal original lodged in the local temple or acropolis.

To our Lord Jesus Christ, Aramaic was the everyday language that would have enabled Him to travel, and converse freely with scholar, poet, priest, and merchant, certainly as far East as Peshawar. Aramaic is used in the Syrian Christian Church, in the Jewish liturgy, and still lives in the villages of the Anti-Lebanon, in South East Anatolia, and on the Eastern shores of Lake Urmia in Armenia.(21)

Thus the opinion of Emil G.H. Kraeling(22) that the Aramean was the vehicle by which the so called eternal values of Hellas and Israel were communicated throughout the Orient, in a way concurs with the Opinion of the Jewish Encyclopedia referred to above.(23) That those values denoted by Hellas withered and almost disappeared, while those as denoted by Israel through Christianity, flourished until relatively recently, is merely further proof that money power must destroy the body on which it feeds, and is nourished, and the body it fed on at the time herein recorded, that is, immediately after Alexander, was Hellas, and indeed, Israel itself. It cannot flourish alongside blind belief and simple faith which instinctively tear off its impudent claims as they gnaw their way into the very heart of the Tree of Life.

Nevertheless, out of Babylonian money power itself, oblivious it seems to its own real self interest, carrying Christianity as far as those limits unto which its total hegemony prevailed, Christianity itself rose as an island of love and goodness in an ocean of hatred, confusion, greed, and depravity that had come to exist as the ultimate result of at least three thousand years of the depredations of such private money creative power... With one convulsive shrug it threw off the snake like coils, reestablishing thereafter the natural order of life, of god, priest-king and priesthood and the people, all living as was ordained, with faith, piety, and sure belief... Thereafter, for a thousand years, International Money Power can only be faintly discerned, as a smouldering ember; a fire not entirely extinguished; evidence thereof being an occasional wisp of smoke as it waited for a day when a certain evil wind might blow, and flames come forth again to deal man total woe...

 

 

1. P.N. Ure, M.A.: The Origins of Tyranny, P. 280; New York; 1922.

2. Walter Leaf: The Journal of Hellenic Studies. P. 167.

3. The Origins of Tyranny, P. 281. In his footnote Dr. Ure remarks that Leaf might have gone on to quote the case of Timaeus the Cyzicene, who, like Euaion, and perhaps Hermias, had been a pupil of Plato: " Timaeus the Cyzicene having granted bonuses of money and corn to the citizens and having on that account won credit among the Cyzicenes as being a worthy man, after a short while made an attempt on the city by means of Aridias. Athens XI. 509a. footnote P. 281. Origins of Tyranny.

4. " if the praetor gave the money as it is set down, he drew it from the qoaestor, the quaestor from the public bank, the public bank derived it either from revenue or tribute".... Which does not suggest that the great Cicero also had too much of an understanding of money: this was said over 2000 years ago. Orationes. Cicero. Book XIX, Pro Flaccus, P. 445. Vol. II, C.D. Yonge, B.A., Bell, London, 1883.

5. P.N. Ure, M.A.: The Origins of Tyranny, P. 285.

6. A. Andreades: A History of the Bank of England, P. 80; London; 1966.

7. A. Andreades: Annales D'histoire economique et sociale, P. 330; Paris; 1929.

8. A. del Mar: A History of Monetary Systems, P. 505: Ratios.

9. A. Del Mar: A History of Monetary Systems. P. 355; New York; 1969. In the Maxims of Theognis (line 21) is stated: " nor will anyone take in exchange worse when better is to be had."

10. P.N. Ure, M.A.: The Origins of Tyranny, P. 285; New York; 1922.

11. A. del Mar: A History of the Precious Metals, P. 105; New York; 1966.

12. P.N. Ure, M.A.: The Origins of Tyranny, P. 285.

13. Mikhail I. Rostovtsev: A Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World, Page 108; Oxford; 1941.

14. Oskar Seffert: A Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, P. 91; (Trans. a Nettleship, M.A., New York; 1904.)

15. Mikhail I. Rostovtaev: A Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World, P. 227, Vol.I.

16. Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, P. 172, Vol. I.

17. Ibid.

18. Ibid.

19. Chronicles, Book II. Chapter 2.

20. On this matter The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia reads: " the objection that alexander could have no interest in the jews is answered by his own life and subsequent actions. an astute statesman of penetrating vision, alexander was quick to grasp the indispensable value of the jews in the cultural, political and intellectual sphere of his world empire. alexander's aim was the synthesis of Occidental and Oriental cultures into the mould of Hellenism; undoubtedly he appreciated the capacity of the Jews to absorb foreign culture, while rigidly maintaining their national identity thus making them an ideal vehicle for his civilizing enterprise. As Jews were already an International commercial power, numbers of them being found in most countries of Alexander's domain, he granted them many political privileges when he founded alexandria, and even gave them a portion of samaria with exemption from taxes in order to gain their support. it is even possible that alexander had first heard of the jews from his teacher, aristotle who, according to the report of josephus, had met a jew who was a veritable philosopher and a "Greek" not only in language but in soul." Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, P. 172. Vol. I.

21. Peter Bamm: Alexander the Great; Power as Destiny. P. 72. London; 1968.

22. Emil G.H Kraeling: Aram and Israel, P. 1.

23. Present work, P. 148.