chapter  7
22 Pages

‘Max Weber and the Theory of Ancient Capitalism’, History and Theory, 25, pp. 152—72

In the now quite voluminous literature dealing with the work of Max Weber, it is surprising how few commentators have addressed his writings on antiquity.1 I say surprising because Weber wrote two major books concerned exclusively with antiquity, and many of his other writings are concerned with it as well. It is worth remembering that Weber began his scholarly career as an ancient historian, and it was really only after his nervous breakdown — mid-career as it were-that he turned his attention to the study of more contemporary matters out of which his great sociological works emerged. Thus it is of some interest, both for the history of ideas and also heuristically as regards an understanding of Weber’s later work, to look once again at this early phase of his career. But, most importantly, in the following essay, I wish to focus upon a key issue raised here in this work of Weber-the issue of capitalism.2