By C.H. Bleaney
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Additional resources for Modern Syria: An Introduction to the Literature
When Plato criticizes the wandering manteis whom he describes in the Republic (see above), he is concerned that their promises of puriﬁcation might encourage wrongdoing. 33 Similarly, the attitude of the writer of the Derveni Papyrus, referred to earlier, who described those who make a profession out of rites, also needs to be handled with care. When he describes how those who consult these individuals are to be pitied ‘because it is not enough for them to have spent their money in advance, but they also go oﬀ deprived of their judgement’, he seems not to be ﬁnding fault only with those individuals who oﬀer the service or proﬁt from it.
This would make maritime loans closer to the modern ﬁnancial arrangement of venture capital, rather than insurance. This kind of loan was quite diﬀerent from the usual credit transactions that took place between family, friends, and neighbours in ancient Greek cities (so-called eranos loans). 39 It has been suggested that it was because maritime loans had a productive element that the charging of interest was justiﬁable, but this does not explain how they diﬀered from other forms of business loan.
There were also magoi, goe¯teis (male, singular goe¯s) and goe¯tides (female), pharmakeis (male, singular pharmakeus) and (female) pharmakides (s. pharmakis), and epo¯doi, tetraskopoi, thaumatopoioi, and rizotomoi. 7 Attempts have been made to understand just what speciﬁc set of skills or ideal type may lurk beneath each label or each category. In some cases, tracing the roots of each term may be of some help: for example, epo¯doi were singers of incantations; tetraskopoi were ‘interpreters of wonders’; thaumatopoioi were ‘performers of wonders’; rizotomoi were probably herbalists, literally ‘rootcutters’.