Eranos (Ancient Greece)

In ancient Greece , an eranos (in ancient Greek ἔρανος ) is a type of meal where everyone contributes; the term also refers to an interest-free loan from friends or relatives.

The term “eranos” initially means a common meal, organized either for a religious festival, or simply conviviality, where each guest contributes or commits to make the invitation to the same guests. The term appears already in Homer : perceiving pretenders feasting, Telemaque remarks that “it can not be a simple ecot, because those who eat under this roof pass all insolence” 1 . 2 . Hesiod recommends the practice as a source of savings: “Do not show bad face to the feast that brings together many guests with common expenses: the pleasure is greater and the expenditure less” 3. Over time, the “eranoi” lead to real eating clubs , whose members are called Eranists ( ἐρανισταί ) 4 .

From the th century BC. AD , eranos also refers to a loan contracted from a group of people, its 5 , term usually translated as “friends”, but which also includes parents, or even knowledge. The borrowers can also form an eranos-club – it is difficult to differentiate between the cases where the association pre-exists the loan and those where it is created ad hoc 4 . Money is met by one of the members of the circle or by a third party who undertakes to give it to the borrower and to administer the loan 6. It is about relatively small amounts and aims to help a loved one in need. Thus, an Athenian plaintiff rejects any idea of ​​good relations between his father and the oligarch Phrynichosstressing: “when Phrynichos had to pay a fine to the State, my father did not bring him his contribution: it is nevertheless in such occasions that we see those who are friends ” 7 . Because of the friendly nature of the loan, no known example mentions interest, but the debtor is supposed to pay back as quickly as possible: as for the eranos -meal, the key word is reciprocity 8 . Failure is therefore a shameful act. To discredit his opponent, the complainant of the speech AgainstEschine the Socratic accuses him among others of having seduced the wife of a citizen to divert his fortune and adds: “whenever he collects an eranos … he does not fulfill the deadlines: with him, it is money thrown on the street ” 9

The loan eranos seems to have been very common in Greece. In the Economics of Xenophon , Socrates explains that the poor live more peacefully than the rich: he does not have to bear the troubles related to fortune (parasites, interested friends, obligation to hold his rank, liturgies , etc.) and if necessary, his friends can always lend him money 10 , 11 . The prediction is true because, at the trial of Socrates , his friends intend to raise thirty mines to pay the fine 12 . Theophrastus recalls eranos five timesto characterize the different portraits of his characters : the braggart boasts of having dedicated the astronomical sum of ten talents to eranoi 13 , 14 , 15 , while the stingy changes sidewalk when he sees a friend who solicited an eranos 16 , 17 , 18 . The popularity of eranos partially explains the weakness of references in the sources of credits in small amounts 19 .

According to certain fragments of Lysias’ speeches , Eschine de Sphettos would have been impudent, a bad payer when it came to repaying debts, and a person of bad reputation with dissolute morals: To discredit his adversary, the complainant of the speech Against Eschine the Socratic accuses him among others of having seduced the wife of a citizen to divert his fortune and adds: “Whenever he collects an eranos , he does not fulfill the deadlines: with him, he is money thrown to the street. ” 20 .

Notes and references

  1. ↑ 1955 .
  2. ↑ Extract from the translation of Frédéric Mugler for Actes Sud (1995) [ref.incomplete]
  3. ↑ Hesiod , Works and Days [ editions detail ] [ read online  [ archive ] ] , 722-723. Excerpt from Paul Mazon’s translation for the Universités de France Collection.
  4. ↑ a and b Harris 1992 , p.  311.
  5. ↑ in ancient Greek φίλοι
  6. ↑ Harris 1992 , p.  312.
  7. ↑ Lysias 20 = To Polystratus the Epicurean , 12. Extract from the translation-Gernet Bizos for the collection of the Universities of France.
  8. ↑ Millett 2002 , p.  155.
  9. ↑ Lysias frag. 38, 4 = Athenaeum , Deipnosophists [ detail of editions ] [ read online  [ archive ] ] , XIII, 611e. Excerpt from the translation of Gernet-Bizos for the Universités de France Collection.
  10. ↑ Xenophon 2008 , p.  18.
  11. ↑ Xenophon , Economic , II, 8 [ read online  [ archive ] ] .
  12. ↑ Plato , Apology of Socrates [ retail editions ] [ read online  [ archive ] ] (38b)
  13. ↑ Théophraste , characters , XXIII (6)
  14. ↑ Theophrastus 2008 , p.  68.
  15. ↑ Theophrastus 1996 , p.  47.
  16. ↑ Théophraste, characters , XXII, 9
  17. ↑ Theophrastus 2008 , p.  66.
  18. ↑ Theophrastus 1996 , p.  45-46.
  19. ↑ Millett 2002 , p.  145.
  20. ↑ Lysias , frag. 38, 4 = Athenaeum , Deipnosophists [ detail of editions ] [ read online  [ archive ] ] (XIII, 611E). Excerpt from the translation of Gernet-Bizos for the Universités de France Collection.

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