I've heard before that the Ancient Greeks would carry money around in their mouths, due to their lack of pockets.

However, I have just come across this passage in Diogenes Laertius Book IV Ch.3:

Polemo, the son of Philostratus, was an Athenian who belonged to the deme of Oea. In his youth, he was so profligate and dissipated that he actually carried about with him money to procure the immediate gratification of his desires, and would even keep sums concealed in lanes and alleys.

No doubt, keeping money concealed in lanes and alleys would have been unusual, but this passage suggests that the carrying of money to procure the immediate gratification of desires was also unusual.

Is it true that usually Greeks would not carry money around? Or did they just usually only carry the money they needed for specific things they would pay for that day?

  • 1
    Do you "just usually only carry the money they needed for specific things they would pay for that day?" Why would you think Ancient Greeks were different? Also, FWIW the oldest known coin purse dates all the way back to 3,300 BCE Oct 15, 2017 at 20:08
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    By describing him as profligate I believe it is implied that his desires were expensive... so he carried (and hid) large sums so he could buy whatever whenever.
    – AllInOne
    Oct 16, 2017 at 21:26
  • @DenisdeBernardy - I usually carry around all my money, all the time, on my bank card. In terms of cash, it is whatever is left over as a result of withdrawals & payments for services that don't take cash Oct 17, 2017 at 8:50
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    @MichalPaszkiewicz: So in other words, you actually don't carry all of your money around with you. What you carry is some change to get by with your day, and an electronic version of a checkbook that lets you tell a bank to settle debt on your behalf in real time. The Ancient Greek equivalent would have been some money in a pouch, the rest stashed away in some reasonably secure location that you could issue IOUs against. Oct 17, 2017 at 9:26
  • @DenisdeBernardy Touché Oct 18, 2017 at 7:09


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