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The Value of Maritime Commerce Per Aristotle

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A Greek manuscript of Politics from the fifteenth century.

Aristotle emphasizes the importance of commerce within Politics. In proposing the ideal city, he suggests that it be located by the sea to facilitate maritime trade. In doing so, the city can be provided with the resources necessary to thrive—however, he does qualify that such the benefits of such trade should be treated with moderation. Furthermore, Aristotle argues that a port can also serve militaristic purposes, allowing a city to defend itself and deter attacks through the presence of a navy. Discussed in weeks seven and eight of HIST 139, the value of maritime commerce and naval presence becomes apparent between the 17th and 18th centuries. England thrived due to its strong navy and connections with the Americas (in addition to its industrialization). The Dutch rose to prominence via the establishing of vast trade networks across Europe. Venice and the Ottoman Empire dominated the Mediterranean Sea, reaping benefits from pillaging and trade. Conversely, countries like France suffered in the Mediterranean as few cities were located on the coast (the opposite of what Aristotle recommended), thus limiting their stake in Mediterranean trade (Wiesner-Hanks, p. 484-526).

Economics and Politics
The Value of Maritime Commerce Per Aristotle