When we discuss the economics of the ancient world, we must be careful not to use the formal Economics which we employ in analyzing our own society, since Economics is a function of the way a society runs, not the set of rules under which a given society operates. We cannot remove ourselves from awareness of the economic disciplines which our schools teach, and even if we formally try to suspend Economics as a framework, we retain the image of the economic framework in our language and our general pool of ideas. Yet some distancing of ourselves from modern economic theory is necessary in starting an investigation of a foreign world, in order to let the economic operations of that world display themselves in their own documentation. We must construct some kind of intellectual tabula rasa for use in studying an area which is far removed in time and from a documentary point of view relatively unknown.

When we speak of Economics of the Ancient World, we usually think of the work pioneered by Rostovtzeff and his followers, of the interpretation of history from an economic point of view, and of the study of epigraphic and papyrological materials which bear on costs and commodities. But there is a much earlier layer of historical material, which strangely is incorporated in the quasi-religious cloak of Greek Mythology.

When one compares the myths of ancient Greece with those of ancient India, one sees that the Indian myths are essentially spiritual in nature, while the Greek myths show a disorganized array of unconvincing religion, erratic personal histories, and what appear to be fragmented chapters in the history of the rise of civilization after the last glacial retreat. It is the thesis of this paper that parts of the early Greek, and even the pre-Greek historical record became embalmed in the Greek myths, which themselves were rigidified into literary storytelling by the time of the Hellenistic academies, and finally petrified into the "myth systems" of Apollodoros and others, before being buried by a hostile Christianity.

The fact that the Greek myths were rediscovered in the Renaissance, popularized in the l8 th century throughout Europe, and re-popularized recently by several unscholarly myth-enthusiasts, gives us the feeling that we know a great deal more about Greek mythology than we do. We know most of the story-lines well, but we are largely ignorant of their original use and meaning.

The familiar story of Gyges as told by Herodotos marks the appearance of a new kind of public person, someone unknown who "appears out of the earth" as the ancient saying goes, and attains power largely by virtue of being totally unseen. Gyges , a young Lydian shepherd, found a cave one day which he entered and found in it (according to Plato\'s account) a hollow cast-brass horse with a dead man\'s body inside. He discovered that the ring which he pulled off the dead man\'s finger made him invisible when he put it on his finger. Using this newfound power, he went to the palace of Candaules, king of Lydia, the last of a long line of Heracleid royalty, first seduced the queen, then with her help killed the king and took his place as ruler of the country.

In a world of hereditary kings, the history of Gyges points to a new kind of person who gets riches and power specifically by not being seen. Working invisibly he creates a new kind of enterprise, in which "the transaction" serves as the unseen interface between buyer and seller. This opens a way for unknown people like Trimalchio in l st c. A.D. Rome (as documented in Petronius\' incisive novel) who owes his fortune to a sharp eye on the abstract flow of funds, although he started life on the lowest rung of the social ladder. , For us this is a familiar pattern, many fortunes have been made in exactly the same way in modern times, one thinks of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Schliemann, Onassis, Ford and more recently the Korean Samsung company\'s founder, Lee Byung Cheul. However these economics dynasties of the modern world seldom produce an effective son and almost never a grandson, they are first and foremost the work of an individual