The Role of the Graces in Preventing Civic Violence and Economic Exploitation by: Robert Gallagher


The problem of the relation between violence and economic affairs has been a topic for political science since ancient Greece. Aristotle says that the Graces, minor deities of the Greek pantheon, have a role to play in inspiring citizens to be kind and generous towards each other in exchanges (Nic. Ethics 1133a2-4), for if they are not, and instead the powerful exploit the weak, citizens will “seek to return evil for evil” and turn towards civil strife and violence (1132b33). The Greeks, explains Aristotle, established sanctuaries to the Graces to encourage reciprocal giving among their citizens. Aristotle proposes a theory of value and of exchange by which we can measure economic well-being in terms of whether citizens are practicing reciprocal beneficence or exploiting each other. The one produces civil harmony, the other evokes violence. This article, through algebraic formulas, mainly focuses on the role of humanly factors such as kindness and grace in preventing violence and exploitation by citizens.