Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day: Love and Money

"Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy on life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. ... Love is our response to our highest values–and can be nothing else. …" Francisco d'Anconia to Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged.

Common image found all over the web,
likely from the ANS catalog
The gulf between love and money in our culture goes to the root and rock of who we are as a society ... now...  But there is no dichotomy between love and money. Both derive from the same source.  In the near future, when a significant minority of individuals expresses the unity of love and money, that will have changed.

A.N.A. MONEY TALKS Transcript No. 1400
by Michael E. Marotta, first aired February 14, 1994

Look around . . . heart symbols are everywhere on Valentine's Day.
Maybe even on a coin.

The first heart symbols that appeared on ancient coins were produced 2500 years ago in North Africa.

The town of Cyrene was founded in the 7th century B.C. by Greeks. Their town was eventually destroyed, but it was near what today is the city of Benghazi, along the coast of Libya.

The city enjoyed modest prosperity . . . until its inhabitants discovered the silphium plant. (The plant is extinct now, but its closest living relative is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.) Silphium was used as an herb. Its stalk was edible. Its pungent sap was the basis for cough syrups, and gave food an interesting flavor. But the most important use for silphium was as a contraceptive.
From The New York Sale XXV 5 January 2011 Lot number: 126
Ex J. P. Rosen coll. and ex Münzen und Medaillen AG,
Basel sale 72 (1987), 424

Modern research suggests that silphium actually worked, and because of this, it was in great demand. Attempts to cultivate it in Syria and Greece were unsuccessful. It only grew near Cyrene--and, starting in 500 B.C., it became a steady source of income for the townspeople. By Roman times, silphium had been harvested to extinction.

Over the centuries, the silphium plant came
 to symbolize Cyrene. The plant appeared on the town's gold, silver and bronze coins, starting around 500 B.C. Often the entire plant was shown. But sometimes, only the seeds of the plant were depicted. The silphium's seeds were heart-shaped, and those heart-shaped seeds that appeared on Cyrene's coins eventually came to symbolize love--a symbol that's still with us today.
"Ancient Hearts" is archived at the NumisSociety and Coin Talk websites.  Francisco d'Anconia's speech on "Sex and Morality" is transcribed and posted at "Sharing is Living."


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