Commentary: When the Free Market Freezes over

Thucydides recalls a scene from the Peloponnesian War when the Athenians, fleeing before their enemies, come to the Assinarus River. They stop to drink from its flowing waters even as their foes bear down on them.

The Syracusans, Thucydides writes, “showered missiles down upon the Athenians, most of them drinking greedily and heaped together in disorder in the hollow of the river.” Then the Peloponnesians “came down and butchered them, especially those in the water which was thus immediately spoiled, but which they went on drinking just the same, mud and all, bloody as it was, most even fighting to have it.”

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