The First Milestone In The History of Economics : Planet Money The first milestone in the history of economics was an 8th century B.C. poem — a lecture by an ancient Greek poet to his deadbeat brother.
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The First Milestone In The History of Economics

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The First Milestone In The History of Economics

The First Milestone In The History of Economics

The First Milestone In The History of Economics

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/805423162/818063316" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The Greek poet Hesiod, who lived in the 8th century B.C. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Greek poet Hesiod, who lived in the 8th century B.C.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Steven Medema, author of The Economics Book: From Xenophon to Cryptocurrency, 250 Milestones in the History of Economics, reveals the very first of those milestones: Works and Days, an 8th century B.C. poem by Hesiod.

The poem differed from the famous epics of the era, like The Iliad and The Odyssey, by concerning itself with the proper way to manage a household, or an estate. Hesiod and his brother, Perses, had inherited a large estate from their parents, but Perses had squandered his half and was bribing local officials to let him seize Hesiod's share as well.

Beginning with a classical invocation of the Muses, Works and Days was Hesiod's response to his brother, an attempt to convince Perses that hard work was the proper response to having blown his wealth.

And in writing the poem, Hesiod also introduced three fundamental economic themes that are still relevant to this day: scarcity, shame, and envy.

Music by Drop Electric. Additional Music: "Regal Beauty", "Journey Into Darkness"

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