Cattle = capital

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Sat Apr 6 10:06:02 MST 1996


Louis:

"The very word 'cattle' comes from the same etymological root as the
word 'capital.' In many European languages, the word 'cattle' was
synonomous with the words 'chattel' and 'capital.' Cattle meant
property. Wilfred Funk, in his book Word Origins and Their Romantic
Stories, points out that a chattel mortgage was long considered a cattle
mortgage and up until the sixteenth century the English people spoke
of 'goods and Cattals' rather than 'goods and chattels.' The Spanish
word for cattle, ganado, meant property or ganaderia. Even the Latin
word for money, pecunia, comes from the word pecus, meaning cattle.

Cattle was one of the first forms of movable wealth, an asset that could
be used as a standard medium of exchange between people and
cultures. Both the grain-prodcuing empires of the Middle East and
North Africa and the Mediterranean maritime powers traded in cattle.
In ancient Greece, families often gave their female children cattle-
derived names to emphasize their 'worth' and to attract male suitors.
Polyboia means 'worth many cows,' Euboia meeans 'rich in cows,' and
Phereboia means 'bringing in many cows.'"

(Jeremy Rifkin, "Beyond Beef")


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