What should I call my book? As some of you may know, I am spending my retirement, or semi-retirement, on writing what I call my big book. But what should I call it?
My book is a drama in five acts, comparing the Greeks and Romans with the great empires that came before, the Minoans, Egyptians and Chinese. I have written some of 300,000 words which is much too long, but I can’t decide what to call it. My original idea was to call it Barbarism and Civilization, but that is not very exciting, — it won’t ‘sell’ the book. But recently I had a stroke of inspiration: how about calling it The Dark Secret of Ancient Greece, or perhaps cut it down and call it ‘The Secret of Civilisation. What do think?
The secret, — sometimes I call it the Dark Secret to make it more dramatic, — is that the Greeks invented money. Or perhaps more important, they invented the market economy. This can be seen from the archaeology, by looking at the layout of the towns. Greek and Roman towns were centred round the marketplace, the agora in Greece or the forum in Rome. The towns of the earlier empires however were centred round the Palace, or sometimes round a temple – temples and palaces were often confused in the early empires. The architecture reflects the underlying economy. The palace economies were based on what is called gift exchange, where the ruler controlled all, and much of your produce was paid to the ruler as tribute and the rulers sometimes distributed some of it back to you as gifts.
Greece and Rome were different. The economy was centred round the market, where goods were bought and sold, using money – which was invented by the Greeks. And money was the great secret that underlay the miracle that was Greece. The great thing about money is that money gives you choice: choice of what to eat, where to live, and how to work. The market brings with it new concepts like freedom and democracy where one has at least the dream of being able to do your own thing. And this is the real meaning of civilisation. You can live in a town, but if it is centred round a palace and controlled by a single ruler that is not civilisation. Civilisation depends on concepts of freedom and democracy, but the dark secret of freedom is that it depends economically on money.
So there you are, this is the choice I am facing. Shall I call my book Barbarism and Civilization, which is perhaps a little too generalised and? Or do I call it the Dark Secret of Civilization, to lure you in and persuade you that the dark secret is money and that money is ultimately the basis of civilisation? You can find it all on the web at www.civilization.org.uk so if you want to find out anything more about any of the three great Palace civilisations, or the two great market civilisations, you can find it all there.
Well, you are my market place, so give my some advice. Email me at [email protected] and let me know what you think.