UALITIES which the perfect miner should possess
and the arguments which are urged for and against
the arts of mining and metallurgy, as well
as the people occupied in the industry, I
have sufficiently discussed in the first Book. Now
I have determined to give more ample information
concerning the miners.
In the first place, it is indispensable that they
should worship God with reverence, and that they
understand the matters of which I am going to speak, and that they
take good care that each individual performs his duties efficiently and
diligently. It is decreed by Divine Providence that those who know
what they ought to do and then take care to do it properly, for the
most part meet with good fortune in all they undertake ; on the other
hand, misfortune overtakes the indolent and those who are careless in
their work. No person indeed can, without great and sustained effort and
labour, store in his mind the knowledge of every portion of the metallic
arts which are involved in operating mines. If a man has the means
of paying the necessary expense, he hires as many men as he needs, and
sends them to the various works. Thus formerly Sosias, the Thracian, sent
into the silver mines a thousand slaves whom he had hired from the Athenian
Nicias, the son of Niceratus . But if a man cannot afford the expenditure
he chooses of the various kinds of mining that work which he himself can
most easily and efficiently do. Of these kinds, the two most important
are the making prospect trenches and the washing of the sands of rivers, for
out of these sands are often collected gold dust, or certain black stones
from which tin is smelted, or even gems are sometimes found in them ; the
trenching occasionally lays bare at the grass-roots veins which are found rich
in metals. If therefore by skill or by luck, such sands or veins shall fall
into his hands, he will be able to establish his fortune without expenditure,
and from poverty rise to wealth. If on the contrary, his hopes are not realised,
then he can desist from washing or digging.
When anyone, in an endeavour to increase his fortune, meets the
expenditure of a mine alone, it is of great importance that he should attend
to his works and personally superintend everything that he has ordered to
be done. For this reason, he should either have his dwelling at the mine,
^enophon. Essay on the Revenues of Athens, iv., 14.
" But we cannot but feel surprised that the State, when it sees many private individuals
" enriching themselves from its resources, does not imitate their proceedings ; for we heard
" long ago, indeed, at least such of us as attended to these matters, that Nicias the son of
"Niceratus kept a thousand men employed in the silver mines, whom he let on hire to
"Sosias of Thrace on condition that he should give him for each an obolus a day, free of all
"charges ; and this number he always supplied undiminished." (See also Note 6).
An obolus a day each, would be about 23 oz. Troy of silver per day for the whole number.
fit modern value this would, of course, be but about 50s. per day, but in purchasing power
aie value would probably be 100 to 1 (see Note on ρ 28). Nicias was estimated to have a
fortune of 100 talents—about 83,700 Troy ounces of silver, and was one of the wealthiest of
the Athenians. (Plutarch, Life of Nicias).