แจกรางวัลการแข่งขันเกมส์สล็อต_โหลดเกมป๊อกเด้งเซียนไทย_เดิมพันเงินจริง

by John Holbo on May 16, 2008

I’m reading an interesting book, Eye For An Eye, by William Ian Miller [amazon]. (I don’t know anything about him. I just grabbed this off the shelf.) It’s a discussion of lex talionis style justice systems – a somewhat unsystematic ‘antitheory’ of justice, the author styles it. Lots of quoting from Old Norse stuff and Babylonian stuff and ancient what-not. Very colorful. Here’s a bit that’s interesting, in a subsection on “Paying Gods in Bodies and Blood”. Maybe Kieran will have something to say.

One uncanny, imaginative, and not quite dismissable theory by Bernhard Laum (1924), working mostly with early Greek and Indian evidence, claims to find the origins of money and value measurement in the partibility of animal bodies. That so many words for money are also the word for cow or cattle would seem to make the observation trite at least to the extent that a live animal is meant: Old Norse, fé (cattle, sheep, money), and Old English (féoh (cattle, cows, property), from which we get Modern English (fee), are cognate via the effects of Grimm’s law with Latin pecus (cattle), yielding our pecuniary. To be noted too is that cattle and chattel are different dialect forms of the same French word, with chattel developing a more general and money-like meaning of moveable property. Cows and sheep are among the earliest mesures of value; and their ties to the idea of money persist at the most basic levels of our money talk.

But what Laum is after is to show that the idea of the moneyness of animals comes not from their use in normal trade – the unit of a cow or an ox is too large in value, to say nothing of their large mass, to be a regular means of payment – but from their use as sacrificial victims. The place to look for the origins of money, he argues, both as a measure of value and a medium of exchange, is at the temples, in offerings and gifts to the diety. Laum finds that the whole idea of generalized measures of value, the idea of standardization itself, comes from separating out ritually pure animals for sacrifice. Animals of the same species were compared with each other, and from the comparison a normalized type was created, a qualitative norm. Rules of cultic sacrifice generate rules of quality and measurement: we thus arrive at a unit of the standard sacrificial ox, bull, ram, or lamb. (p. 36-7)

Some interesting reflections follow. The animals are cut up in all sorts of precise ways, so you get precise terms for smaller units of currency. (And that’s why all coins have heads and tails?) Animals used are sacred to the diety. In some sense are him (or her.) So you are offering a god for a god. A lex talionis eye for an eye arrangement. “The sacrifice of Christ is merely another manifestation of the talion: God for God, who is also a partible sacrificial lamb who is then also the object of worship.”

And in sacrifice there is a certain tendency to debase the currency. If you can sacrifice a cow, why not just an image of a cow? So it goes. Thus, we are prepared to accept pieces of paper as valuable because we’ve already agreed to think that a wafer can be a god. In for a penny, in for a pound of flesh, as it were.

Later there are some interesting reflections on loaves and feeding your followers from yourself. Apparently in Old English blafweard (literally ‘loaf guard, loaf owner’) decays into ‘lord’. Servant or householder member is ‘loafeater’. Shades of the last supper? He includes some interesting schedules of body part costs under King Ethelbert. Basically, more than half of Ethelbert’s law is apparently made up of an elaborate workman’s comp scheme: from grabbing of the hair, up through exposing and breaking bones, up through each and every possible lost finger. Miller refers to tales of fights in which the participants, rather than keeping count of how many orcs they have killed, like a certain elf and dwarf in Tolkien, keep track of how much they are going to have to pay, for all the damage they are doing, subtracting all the while the money they will receive for the injuries they are suffering, for which they will have to be compensated. Weird.

{ 37 comments }

1

Kieran 05.16.08 at 3:00 am

I’m going to have to look this Laum person up. Very interesting. Miller I know from The Anatomy of Disgust, but not this book, which I am now compelled to buy …

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John Holbo 05.16.08 at 3:14 am

Laum, Bernhard. Heiliges Geld: eine historische Untersuchung über den sakralen Ursprung des Geldes (Tübingen: Moht, 1924)

Hmmm, might not be a light read. How’s your German?

3

Kieran Healy 05.16.08 at 3:18 am

How’s your German?

In Germany for the first time last week, I was able to successfully ask “Does this train stop at Bielefeld?” because I had memorized the sentence. So perhaps a little less fluency than required.

4

KCinDC 05.16.08 at 3:40 am

It’s hlafweard (loaf ward), not blafweard.

5

nnyhav 05.16.08 at 4:05 am

And it was reissued in 2006, so it won’t cost you and arm and a leg.

6

John Holbo 05.16.08 at 4:34 am

hlafweard, yes of course. That’s what I said, but I’m typing with a cold so my nose is a little stuffed up.

7

Ross Smith 05.16.08 at 5:27 am

Your description of Ethelbert’s laws (and the combat accountants) reminded me of the covenants used among themselves by the pirate crews of the 17th/18th centuries, which also frequently contained elaborate schedules of monetary compensation for the loss of an eye, hand, leg, etc.

8

Z 05.16.08 at 6:15 am

But what Laum is after is to show that the idea of the moneyness of animals comes not from their use in normal trade – the unit of a cow or an ox is too large in value, to say nothing of their large mass, to be a regular means of payment

The whole thesis of Miller’s and Laum’s book (as far as I can discerned from the post), and particularly the above reminds me mightily of René Girard’s thesis on the role of mimesis and sacrifice in the origins of society. To keep the weird factor going, Greek mythology is rife with stories of kings literally feeding their servants (or the Gods) with their own flesh (Lycaon, Tantalus, Atreus…). Après tout, un destin si funeste…

9

Z 05.16.08 at 6:59 am

At the risk of answering to myself, I would like to discuss the assertion “the idea of standardization itself, comes from separating out ritually pure animals for sacrifice”. I find this interesting, yet somehow flawed. On the one hand, I think the idea of tracing back the idea of standardization to its historical deepest roots is worthy, and I agree that the act of separating sacred and profane was probably crucial; on the other hand, identifying homologous behavior in widely different social environments (the priest declaring this cow sacred and the engineer selecting the product of high quality) at least requires a very careful intellectual examination of the apparent analogy.

10

abb1 05.16.08 at 7:50 am

Back in the Soviet times a friend of mine was in a business trip to Uzbekistan. He was drinking with some locals when (his story goes) one of them said this:
Do you know how many sheep Rashidov [Uzbek communist leader at the time] has? Two hundred thousand! Think about it – Two.Hundred.Thousand!!! Listen – why would one family need so many?? Ten thousand is quite enough.

11

A. Y. Mous 05.16.08 at 7:52 am

You give something to get something. You can give only what you have. At the very minimum you have your body. At the next level, you have the bodies of your immediate living dependents, son, cattle. (Never the spouse or daughter. She/he is never _yours_ in total.)

Ergo.

On a related note, “penance” is derived from this “asset mortgage” philosophy. “I want my child’s pox removed. I can’t do it. But I can walk 10 miles on my knees. That I can’t do what is needed does not mean I don’t do what I can.”

That sentiment is not misguided. The previous post here on “punishing” kleptocrats arises out of a similar sense of “something needs to be done. Justification/rationalisation is secondary.”

12

Nick L 05.16.08 at 11:51 am

I can’t remember where I read it, but isn’t there a theory that accountancy arose from animal husbandry? Drop a stone into an urn for every ox you own and you are set on your way to arithmatic.

13

Kieran Healy 05.16.08 at 12:35 pm

Here’s a contemporary review of Laum (jstor access required, unfortunately) from the Economic Journal. The reviewer things the thesis is kind of crazy, but he’s impressed.

14

ben wolfson 05.16.08 at 2:46 pm

Latin pecus (cattle), yielding our pecuniary

And somewhat more directly, latin pecunia.

15

Z 05.16.08 at 2:57 pm

Dont’ keep it to yourself, Kieran, please. From what I can gather on the net, Laum’s work is still considered inspirational and foundational but ultimately wrong. But why and how? What’s the modern sociological view of early money? Enquiring minds want to know.

16

Picador 05.16.08 at 3:10 pm

On a related note, “penance” is derived from this “asset mortgage” philosophy. “I want my child’s pox removed. I can’t do it. But I can walk 10 miles on my knees. That I can’t do what is needed does not mean I don’t do what I can.”

That sentiment is not misguided. The previous post here on “punishing” kleptocrats arises out of a similar sense of “something needs to be done. Justification/rationalisation is secondary.”

I don’t know that I would say it isn’t “misguided” just because it’s still with us. Perhaps I misunderstand what you’re saying?

Of course, punishing thieves after the damage is done has a number of rational bases, in contrast to, say, the widespread belief that taking off my shoes and divesting myself of liquid will save my plane from terrorists, or the belief that having the police pump six bullets into the head of a Brazilian man will prevent future terrorist attacks. When I mention these absuurdities to people in the US, they often respond with a hysterical version of your medieval thesis above: “Well, we need to do something!”

17

r@d@r 05.16.08 at 4:48 pm

this reminds me of a summer workshop i attended in boulder taught by the great peter lamborn wilson a.k.a. hakim bey, concerning the “spirituality of money”. as i recall he was talking about ancient babylonian rituals in which the worshippers were sent home from the temple with clay tokens representing the favor of the gods, and that this is perhaps an echo of coinage. he then talked about how wealth, having first entered the abstract through currency systems and speculation, now being largely electronic in nature, has “entered the realm of pure spirit”. of course one must remember that peter is a poet, and not a economist nor an archaeologist, but it was a fun class.

18

Aulus Gellius 05.16.08 at 5:48 pm

Exactly how it’s related to talion is disputed, but there’s a wonderful scholarly debate about a fragment of the XII tables (very early Roman law) which seems to say (and which I, in my Noctes Atticae, interpreted as saying) that (a) if a debtor doesn’t pay after a certain period his creditor can kill him, and (b) if there are multiple creditors, they divide up the body, but they’re not allowed to sue each other if it’s not divided appropriately. (“tertiis nundinis partis secanto. Si plus minusve secuerunt, se fraude esto.”)

The argument over whether this is for real (or just about the debtor’s property) is really delightful, partly because of the various gruesome suggestions (they used body parts to fertilize their fields; they would demand ransom from the debtors family, who would want to bury him; they actually were just cutting off fingernails, etc., from a living debtor, to cast spells on him; and much, much more), and partly because the people on both sides get so insulting. Those who think it’s just about property are accused of romanticizing the Romans, and refusing to accept what savages they were; those who think it’s about body parts are accused of having overactive imaginations, and (invariably) of having read The Merchant of Venice too often (though they can hardly accuse me and Quintilian of that). Great stuff.

19

bernard Yomtov 05.16.08 at 6:58 pm

This seems to stretch an interesting idea too far.

The idea of standard units of value is so useful that it surely arose widely, and with many different numeraires. Quite possibly cattle were used in some places, and cattle that met certain standards of purity would be a natural benchmark.

But why would this be universal, as the passage seems to argue, or even common? Why couldn’t baskets of olives, or weights of gold or silver, be one “place to look for the origins of money?” in some societies? It’s much easier to measure physical quantities like weight or quantity than relative quality, and to compare these measures than to compare a sirloin to a rib eye.

20

John Emerson 05.16.08 at 8:35 pm

In the oldest texts the present Chinese word for “thing”, wu, basically meant “sacrificial animal” and probably by extension, any sacrifice or tribute. Besides “thing” it can more losely just mean “affairs.”

The English word “thing” derives from a word meaning “topic of discussion” or “object of lawsuit” and is cognate with the word “think”. (“You have another thing / think coming”). In Scandinavian languages there still is a verb thingen, “discuss”.

In one of Bruce Lincoln’s books he talks about a Celtic feast which displays the society’s class system in terms of the distribution of the parts of a sacrificial ox. Even getting the ox’s tail or neck was an honor, compared to commoners with no lordly connection.

Status in ancient China was also marked by the distribution of shares from the emperor / king’s table. Confucius got a carp once and named his son after that splendid gift.

Lacan thought that The Real is a salmon, but I have shown that The Real (la Real) is a sturgeon. At my URL.

21

John Emerson 05.16.08 at 8:41 pm

“Le Real”. We regret the error.

22

John Emerson 05.16.08 at 8:48 pm

The “hundred Eskimo words for snow” cliche has been refuted so many times that it isn’t even fun any more, but pastoral societies have an incredible wealth of terminology for their animals. Some of it is functional (M F N, 1-2-3+ years old, specific breeds) but a lot of it has to do with esthetic and ritual values.

Farmers still have a lot of unique vocabulary, e.g. “scours” for diarrhea.

23

John Emerson 05.16.08 at 8:52 pm

American industry has standard contracts fixing the value of body parts. The thumb is more valuable than any other finger, and the thumb and forefinger together are more valuable than the combined price of the two of them.

When I saw the pricelist at a mining job in 1972, the prices were shockingly low.

24

John Emerson 05.16.08 at 8:56 pm

I’m sure that whole daughters, not parted out, were accepted by creditors.

25

Righteous Bubba 05.16.08 at 9:04 pm

I am here to provide John Emerson with a bottle of water. May it refresh him for further posting.

26

Kieran Healy 05.16.08 at 9:49 pm

Kind of OT but an oddity of english is that most of the words for domestic animals are anglo-saxon, but most of the words for the food that comes from these animals are from the Normans. So, Cow, Pig, Sheep, Deer; but Beef, Pork, Mutton, Venison.

27

Righteous Bubba 05.16.08 at 10:00 pm

most of the words for the food that comes from these animals are from the Normans.

The French have been better at food for 1000 years?

28

bernard Yomtov 05.16.08 at 10:51 pm

an oddity of english is that most of the words for domestic animals are anglo-saxon, but most of the words for the food that comes from these animals are from the Normans. So, Cow, Pig, Sheep, Deer; but Beef, Pork, Mutton, Venison.

I thought that was because the Anglo-Saxon peasants cared for the animals, while the Norman nobles ate them (animals, that is).

29

Roy Belmont 05.17.08 at 2:06 am

30

magistra 05.17.08 at 6:22 am

William Miller is based at the University of Michigan Law School. He started off studying Norse literature/history and has developed this into wider interests in topics of both legal and cultural history (which makes a lot of sense when you look at the themes in the sagas).

31

johnf 05.17.08 at 10:05 am

I thought it was always the finest animal which was selected for slaughter – on the principal that you gave the best to God – as opposed to the most standard.

32

Doctor Slack 05.17.08 at 11:02 am

31: Hence the (or a) rationale for human sacrifice. What finer and more precious animal than your fellow man?

33

John Emerson 05.17.08 at 12:34 pm

The best was standardized, though, like US Prime beef. No spots, even if they were really cute spots.

34

Marcus Pivato 05.17.08 at 1:02 pm

Of possible interest is the following recent article in `The New Yorker’ by Jared Diamond, entitled Veangeance is Ours.

35

John Emerson 05.17.08 at 1:59 pm

Diamond is very special. He’s brought a lot of interesting stuff from biology and genetics into history and anthropology, and I actually like his enormous scope and his willingness to conjecture and moralize. But he often seems to be winging it, perhaps inevitably so.

Black-Michaud’s “Cohesive Force”, a comparative study of feud, vendetta, and endemic violence in non-state societies, illuminates the kind of thing Diamond was talking about.

Diamond seems to be saying that the desire for revenge is natural, whereas the repression of the desire for revenge is artificial and repressive (though good in a utilitarian sense). But in societies organized around revenge, taking revenge is an enforced social obligation. There’s presumably some instinctive emotional substrate (per sociobiology), but feud and vendetta are no more natural and pre-cultural than the state is. In societies organized around feud, individuals are often obligated to kill people they do not hate (and who were not directly guilty of any offense) in order to avenge people they had not loved and perhaps had never known.

You can hardly blame Diamond for telling a story from his own family history, but his grandfather’s story is an extreme case involving both wartime chaos and a miscarriage of justice.

36

richard 05.18.08 at 1:28 am

re 7: pirates’ charters offering compensation for lost body parts may come from ‘institutional’ precedents: medieval English and Byzantine legal codes both contain similar lists and prices, always for a destroyed body part… So sacrifice seems to be part of the operation. In any event, I think I divine an appeal here to pirate ships as a kind of ‘primitive society;’ I’d argue, rather, that their seemingly novel social organisations are pretty much always derivative of some structure elsewhere.

37

Jim 05.21.08 at 6:45 pm

“Latin pecus (cattle), yielding our pecuniary
And somewhat more directly, latin pecunia.”

The AS reflex is ‘feoh’, of which the Modern English form is ‘fee’.

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