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By Bruce Buchan, Lisa Hill (auth.)

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221 Nor were politicians paid salaries; some, like members of the Boule, might have received a small state income (mithos) and their expenses were paid by the state when they travelled on embassies. Because pay was low to nonexistent, politicians had to be independently wealthy. They had considerable expenses, one of which involved the gathering of information to remain properly informed. For example, Xenophon has Socrates tell the newly minted politician Glaucon that in order ‘to win fame and admiration Conceptions of Political Corruption in Antiquity 39 in public life, try to get a thorough knowledge of what you propose to do’.

120 He also outlawed ‘all needless and superfluous arts’, withdrew gold and silver money as forms of currency, replacing it with iron money, and ordered that all meals be taken communally so that only certain prescribed foods could be consumed. 121 Similarly, the Athenian statesman Solon (c. 638–558 BCE) sought to achieve economic democracy with legislation that cancelled debts and limited the amount of land a person could own. He also prohibited the enslavement of citizens unable to repay debts.

Commenting on increasing disturbances under Constantius II, he wrote that the latter ‘fattened’ his friends ‘with the marrow of the provinces . . without consideration for justice or right’, thereby fomenting ‘internal revolt’. 108 Each new generation of Rome’s leadership would become more degenerate, thereby exposing the constitution to collapse. Imperialism also meant over-extension and in the over-extended state, virtue was hard to maintain. Many ancient republicans believed that some environments were incompatible with the good health and survival of republics.

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