When contemplating the exploits of Macedonia’s Alexander the Great, Carthage’s Hannibal, or Rome’s Julius Caesar, the idea of credit does not immediately come to mind. Instead, the image is of conquering armies, heroic adventures, and the rise and fall of empires. Moreover, the intellectual life of Antiquity is dominated by the works of Socrates, Plato, Tacitus, and Livy, not the contemporary equivalents of Bill Gates or Michael Milken. Economic life rotated around labor and those commanding it—be it in the agricultural or military field. Troops and workers were often raised by levy, while during the Roman period taxes were used to pay the troops and run the state, the dominant economic force. Usury existed in a limited form and credit was a pale vapor of what it would later become. As M.I. Finley noted in his The Ancient Economy, “There was endless moneylending among both Greeks and Romans, as we have seen, but all lenders were rigidly bound by the actual amount of cash on hand; there was not, in other hands, any machinery for the creation of credit through negotiable instruments.” 1 Yet, something of a credit system existed, providing a foundation for the development of the modem Western credit system, based on cities, the rule of law, and an ongoing dynamic of change oriented to spreading the uses of credit to an ever-widening swath of humanity.