Summary - The Richest Man In Babylon - George S Clason

Summary - The Richest Man In Babylon - George S Clason


  • Bansir, a chariot builder in ancient Babylon, is struggling and discouraged as he needs more money and slow work.

  • He sits thinking about his problems when his friend Kobbi, a musician, shows up. Kobbi offers to lend Bansir two shekels to help him, but Bansir says he has no money and nothing to lend.

  • Bansir explains he had a dream where he was a prosperous man with a heavy purse full of money. In the dream, he generously helped beggars and lavished gifts on his wife. However, now he has woken to the reality of his difficult situation.

  • Kobbi calls it a torment from the gods for Bansir to have such a dream and then wake to find it was not real. However, Kobbi says he may be able to help Bansir turn the dream into reality.

  • Arkad was a wealthy man in Babylon who was known for his generosity. However, his wealth grew faster than he could spend it.

  • Some of Arkad's old friends came to him and asked why he became so much richer than them, even though they had similar backgrounds and worked equally hard.

  • Arkad told them that if they remained poor, they either did not learn the laws of building wealth or did not follow them. He said "fickle fate" does not bring lasting good fortune and often ruins people by making them reckless spenders or misers.

  • Arkad said very few people could gain unearned wealth and keep and increase it, referring to people who suddenly inherited money.

  • The key message is that Arkad became rich through following principles of building wealth, not by luck or fate alone. His friends had remained poor due to failing to learn these principles.

The man inherited no wealth. He observed that wealth brought happiness and desired to claim his share. He realized that time and study were required to gain wealth. He worked hard as a scribe, but spent all his earnings and had nothing to show for his labor.

One day, he made a deal with Algamish, a wealthy money lender, to work all night copying the law in exchange for learning how to gain wealth. Algamish told him, "a part of all you earn is yours to keep." He said to save at least one-tenth of earnings, and that those savings can earn even more. Algamish scolded him for wasting his savings on a risky investment with a brickmaker. He told him to seek advice from experts.

The man saved diligently again and invested with a shield maker. However, then he spent the profits on feasts and gifts. Algamish scolded him again for "eating his children," or wasting his savings and earnings. He said to first build wealth before enjoying lavish banquets.

The key lessons are save at least one-tenth of all you earn; invest your savings wisely by seeking expert advice; let your wealth build upon itself by not wasting the earnings from investments. With time and discipline, savings can become "slaves" that generate wealth.

Arkad was fortunate to become wealthy through the inheritance from Algamish. However, his wealth grew tremendously because he followed the lessons Algamish had taught him. The key lessons are:

  1. Save at least one-tenth of your earning.

  2. Make your money work for you. Invest it wisely.

  3. Make your investments generate more earnings and the earnings generate more earnings.

  4. Secure adequate insurance/provision for your family.

  5. Consult experts who handle money. Get advice from people with experience.

  6. Review your investments regularly to ensure safety of principal and adequate returns.

  7. Lead a balanced life. Enjoy life while also saving and providing for the future.

In summary, joy without regret refers to enjoying the present moment thoroughly while also preparing for the future by following these critical principles of acquiring and managing wealth. By following these principles, Arkad grew very wealthy and found true joy and prosperity.

  • The king asks Arkad, the richest man in Babylon, how he became wealthy. Arkad says he became wealthy by taking advantage of opportunities available to all and that he started with nothing but a desire for wealth.

  • Arkad agrees to teach 100 men the secret to acquiring wealth. He says the first step is accumulating money by saving one-tenth of your earnings. He illustrates this by describing how putting one more egg into a basket each day than you take out will eventually lead to an overflowing basket. Similarly, saving one-tenth of your earnings will lead to an overflowing purse.

  • Arkad says this works that when you start spending less than you earn, you can get by on less. Moreover, in time, more money comes to you more easily. He says you must decide whether to gratify your daily desires or accumulate wealth. Spending the coins you take out of your purse leads to the former, and leaving them in leads to the latter.

  • Arkad addresses the students who say they cannot save one-tenth of what they earn because they do not earn enough. He says everyone's "necessary expenses" rise to meet their income unless they control them. People have more desires than they can gratify. Even wealthy people face limits on satisfying their desires.

  • Arkad says people's desires multiply freely if allowed to. He tells the students to study their accustomed living habits and find expenses that can be reduced or eliminated. After saving nine-tenths of their income, they should only spend money on necessary things they can afford. They should cross out unnecessary expenses.

  • Arkad is teaching the students two cures for a lean purse: 1) Save one-tenth of what you earn and 2) Reduce unnecessary expenses and only buy things you can afford after saving most of your income.

  • Do not regret unfulfilled desires and needs, they are but a small part of people's many desires. Focus on what you can fulfill and achieve.

  • Make a budget and control your spending. Only spend 90% of your earnings and save 10%. Adjust your budget as needed to defend your savings. A budget helps you save money for necessities, enjoyment, and desires.

  • Put your money to work to multiply it. Money in a purse earns nothing. Earnings and interest build wealth. Lending money to trustworthy people and businesses can generate income and increase your capital. As money multiplies, the income grows.

  • Guard your wealth against loss. Wealth attracts risky opportunities that often lead to loss. Focus first on security of the principal before more significant returns. Avoid risk when possible. Consult experts before investing to avoid loss from bad investments. Learn from your mistakes.

  • Use your home as an investment. If you can set aside 9/10 of income for living, invest the rest in a home. Many pay high rent for poor housing. A home provides security, enjoyment, and can increase in value. Consider borrowing to pay for a home.

In summary, be content with what you can achieve and control spending. Save money, put it to work, guard against losses, and use your home as an investment. These are keys to building wealth and overcoming a "lean purse."

Arkad recommends saving and investing a reasonable portion of your income in building wealth over time. He suggests:

  1. Pay yourself first by setting aside a portion of your earnings before paying other expenses. Do this regularly and consistently.

  2. Control your expenditures and live within your means. Spend on essential things first before non-essentials.

  3. Make your money work for you by investing in income-producing assets. His examples are buying land, houses, or lending to merchants. The earnings from these investments can provide income in the future.

  4. Continue your education and work to increase your earning ability—the desire to improve your skills and work diligently to improve your craft or profession. With increased wisdom and skill comes increased earning ability.

  5. Manage your finances wisely by paying off debts, making a will, and aiding others less fortunate. Build confidence through your honorable actions and achievements.

  6. Save and invest in building wealth over the long run through consistent action. Have clearly defined goals and work steadily toward them to achieve prosperity.

  7. Help others prosper by sharing your financial wisdom and skills. Promote the welfare of your community.

In summary, Arkad recommends developing financial wisdom and discipline, saving and investing regularly, working to increase your income, managing your money astutely, helping others, and promoting the overall well-being of your community. By following these principles, prosperity can be achieved.

  • The ancient Babylonians, like people of all times, were eager to attract good luck.

  • In Babylon, there was a Temple of Learning where people gathered to discuss various subjects. A rich man named Arkad often led these discussions.

  • One day, a group of men asked Arkad how to entice good luck. Arkad said some believed luck was chance, while others thought the goddess Ashtar rewarded those who pleased her.

  • No one had stories of finding valuable items by pure luck. Some suggested looking at gaming tables and horse races, but Arkad disagreed, saying the odds always favored the game keepers. He saw Ashtar as rewarding the hardworking and virtuous.

  • Arkad asked if anyone knew of successful men who owed their start to gambling winnings. No one could name any. The group concluded they were better off relying on something other than gaming to find good luck.

  • Arkad suggested that perhaps Ashtar assisted them in their trades and businesses without them realizing it. An elderly merchant then offered his view.

Arkad and the men concluded that seeking luck through random chance or gambling was foolish. Hard work and virtuous pursuits were more likely to earn the favor of the goddess Ashtar. Good luck was found not by idle wishing but through diligent effort.

The merchant tells a tale of how he missed an opportunity in his youth to invest in a very profitable land development deal. His father urged him to invest but he hesitated and delayed, distracted by wanting to buy new robes for himself and his wife. By the time he decided to invest, the opportunity was gone. The others point out that the beginning of accumulating wealth is often recognizing an opportunity and taking the first step to invest. The merchant is called a "procrastinator" for delaying when opportunity came.

A buyer tells another tale of camels and other livestock. He tells of coming across a farmer one night outside the city gates who was in a hurry to sell his flock of 900 sheep so he could return home to his sick wife. The buyer strikes a good bargain but decides to wait until morning to count and pay for the sheep. By morning, the city gates open and other buyers rush out and buy the flock for nearly three times the price he had agreed to. He allowed a rare opportunity for good luck to escape by not closing the deal promptly when he had the chance.

The wisdom suggested is that when you have made a good bargain, you should make payment immediately before your mind can change or new circumstances arise. Your first judgment is often your best. It is human nature to hesitate and vacillate even when we know something is the right choice. So we must protect ourselves from our nature.

The old Kalabab tells a story to his men about a fire. He says that while gold is desirable, it is meant only for those who understand and follow its laws. He will tell them the tale of the five laws of gold that Arkad, the wealthiest man in Babylon, followed to gain his wealth.

Arkad wanted his son Nomasir to inherit his estate after proving himself first. So, he gave Nomasir a bag of gold and a clay tablet with the five laws of gold inscribed on it. He told Nomasir to go into the world for ten years, gain wealth and respect, and then return. If he proved himself worthy, Arkad would make him the heir.

Nomasir did so. After ten years, he returned to his father's estate for a great feast. In front of many friends and family, Nomasir stood before his parents to give an account of how he had followed the five laws of gold.

The summary outlines how Arkad tests his son to see if he can inherit and maintain his estate by sending him out into the world for ten years. Nomasir follows his father's five laws of gold and makes himself wealthy and respected. He then returns to prove to his father that he is worthy. The story sets the scene for Kalabab to share the five laws of gold with his men.

Nomasir, the son of a wealthy man, was given a bag of gold and a clay tablet with five laws of gold engraved on it when he became a man. He then set out to Nineveh to seek his fortune but lost all the gold due to inexperience and foolishness. He fell into poverty and hardship. However, he followed his father's wisdom and the five laws of gold to earn and invest more gold. He became wealthy and respected again.

Ten years later, he returned to his father and repaid him with three bags of gold to show that he valued his father's wisdom more than the gold. The tale shows that wisdom is more valuable than gold and by following wisdom, one can gain gold even without having it in the first place.

The spearmaker Rodan received 50 gold pieces as a gift from the king because the king liked the new spear design Rodan made. Rodan is perplexed about what to do with this newfound wealth. He goes to see Mathon, a gold lender, but not to borrow money, instead to ask for advice.

Mathon is surprised that Rodan wants advice instead of gold. He invites Rodan to be his guest for the evening, offers him food and drink, and listens to Rodan's troubles. Rodan says many people, including his sister, are asking him to share the gold, and he needs help to refuse.

Mathon says it is natural that people want to share in unexpected wealth, but asks if Rodan's will needs to be more vital to refuse. Rodan says he can refuse many, but finds it hard to refuse his devoted sister.

Mathon will likely counsel Rodan on ways to deal with requests from friends and family to share in his new wealth and make good use of this windfall. The critical issue is that Rodan needs to strengthen his will to avoid being taken advantage of, even by well-meaning friends and family.

  • Mathon keeps tokens from borrowers as collateral for the loans he provides.

  • He looks for borrowers who can repay the loan through the property, a steady income, or a business venture that will generate profits.

  • He shares stories of some of the tokens in his chest.

  • A bronze necklace belonged to a deceased friend so that loan will never be repaid. Mathon keeps it in memory of the friend.

  • A carved ox bone ring belongs to a farmer who borrowed to buy goats and repaid the loan. He is borrowing again to buy more goats to make expensive rugs to sell.

  • A gold bracelet belongs to a woman who borrowed for her son to become a merchant's partner, but the partner abandoned the son, leaving him with no money or friends. The loan's interest is the bracelet.

  • A knotted rope belongs to a camel trader who borrows from Mathon to buy herds and always repays. Mathon has confidence in him and other honest merchants, and is willing to lend them money to facilitate trade and prosperity in Babylon.

In summary, the tokens represent the types of borrowers Mathon encounters, from tragic stories to reliable merchants and everyone in between. Mathon is willing to take on risks to help honest individuals and support the economy, but he does so carefully by evaluating borrowers' ability to repay and securing collateral.

An old money lender named Mathon receives a visit from a young man named Rodan. Rodan has come to ask Mathon for advice. Rodan recently received 50 pieces of gold as a gift from the king, and he wants to know if he should lend the gold to his sister's husband, who wants to become a merchant.

Mathon tells Rodan that lending gold is risky, and he should only lend to those with experience and a viable plan for using and repaying the money. He says that while ambition and desire for wealth are admirable qualities in youth, inexperience often leads to foolish borrowing and irrecoverable debt. Mathon recounts some stories of unwise borrowers who were unable to repay him.

Mathon asks Rodan questions to determine if Rodan's brother-in-law has the necessary experience and judgment to become a merchant. Rodan admits he does not. Mathon advises Rodan to refrain from lending him the gold, as it would likely be unsafe and at risk of loss. Mathon says Rodan's priority should be keeping the gold safe, and the second priority should be earning interest on it through careful lending to reputable, experienced borrowers. He warns Rodan not to trust "fantastic plans" for high returns, as these are usually too risky.

In summary, Mathon counsels Rodan to be cautious and discreet with his newfound wealth. He should keep the gold safe above all else, lend it only to trustworthy and experienced borrowers, and have realistic expectations of returns to avoid loss. The story ends with Mathon's motto: "Better a little caution than a great regret."

Tarkad, a young man in Babylon, was extremely hungry and penniless. He wandered around the marketplace staring longingly at food he could not afford. He then ran into Dabasir, a camel trader to whom he owed money. Dabasir demanded repayment, but Tarkad said he did not have any money.

Dabasir then invited Tarkad to join him for a meal so he could tell him a story. At the inn, Dabasir ordered a massive meal for himself and only water for Tarkad. Dabasir began telling Tarkad the story of a rich man in another city who had a piece of yellow stone with which he made a window for his house. Dabasir asked Tarkad if he thought the stone could make the outside world look strange to the man.

The key details are:

  1. Tarkad was starving but had no money.

  2. He owed money to Dabasir, a camel trader.

  3. Dabasir invited Tarkad to join his meal but only ordered Tarkad water.

  4. Dabasir began telling Tarkad a story of a man with a strange yellow stone window.

  • The story is told by Dabasir, a camel trader, who tells how he came to be a camel trader.

  • As a young man, Dabasir was a saddler who got into debt trying to live beyond his means. He had to leave Babylon to escape his creditors.

  • He ended up working for caravan traders and then turned to robbery. He was captured and sold into slavery in Syria.

  • His master was going to make him a eunuch, but one of his master's wives, Sira, spoke up and asked for Dabasir to be her camel tender instead.

  • Dabasir served Sira for over a year. She criticized him for acting like a slave instead of a free man. She told him the only way he could prove he had the soul of a free man was by escaping to repay the debts he owed in Babylon.

  • Sira helps Dabasir escape by creating a diversion so he can steal two camels and provisions. He then began the long journey back to Babylon.

Here is a summary of Tablet Two:

The third purpose of Dabasir's plan is to pay off his debts. Two-tenths of all he earns shall be used to repay the money he owes to his creditors. As he repays each creditor, he intends to reward him with an extra payment as a gesture of appreciation for not taking harsh steps against him. He will start with the creditor who has waited the longest, then proceed to his other creditors. This will require prolonged effort and patience, but each payment will restore more of his self-respect. With this purpose in mind he believes he can become free of debt and stand among his neighbors as an honorable man.

Mathon warns that borrowers must repay debts to escape slavery to the creditor. Payments should be consistent and regular. Payment of both the principal and any extra reward should be completed. Partially repaid debt is still slavery. Repayment of the principal plus a handsome reward will make firm friends of former creditors. With determination and persistence Dabasir can achieve his purpose to repay his debts and become respected again among men.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key points and messages conveyed in Tablet Two regarding Dabasir's plan to pay off his debts? Let me know if you want me to clarify or expand the summary in any way. I am happy to refine and improve it.

The professors were in debt and struggling to pay off their creditors for years. They felt hopeless and trapped in a vicious cycle of accumulating more debt. Then they discovered the ancient clay tablets describing Dabasir's plan to repay debt while accumulating savings. They implemented the same plan.

They listed all their debts and met with each creditor to explain their dire situation. They proposed paying 20% of their monthly income to clear all debts in a little over two years. In the meantime, they would pay cash for all new purchases, benefitting the creditors further. The creditors agreed not to harass the professors until the 20% payments were made.

The professors were determined to live on 70% of their income to save the extra 10%. The thought of having gold to jingle motivated them. Following Dabasir's plan enabled them to pay off debt, save money, and improve their situation. They thanked the ancient camel trader for sharing his wisdom through the clay tablets.

  • Sharru Nada, a wealthy merchant prince of Babylon, is troubled by Hadan Gula, the grandson of his former business partner Arad Gula. Though Sharru Nada wants to help Hadan Gula, the young man's frivolous views on wealth and work make this problematic.

  • As Sharru Nada and Hadan Gula travel to Babylon, Sharru Nada sees three older men plowing a field and recalls seeing the same men in the same field 40 years ago. This makes Sharru Nada reflect on how much has changed for him since then. He went from being a slave to a wealthy merchant.

  • Sharru Nada decides he owes it to his old friend Arad Gula to help Hadan Gula somehow. Though it will be difficult, he resolves to try to help the young man thoughtfully.

  • Sharru Nada tells Hadan Gula how he and Arad Gula became business partners. He starts by describing being chained as enslaved people with other men, including Megiddo and Zabado.

  • The narrator was once an enslaved person sold into slavery by his father to pay off his brother's debts.

  • He was part of a group of enslaved people being marched to Babylon to be sold. He feared being sold to work on the walls, which seemed like cruel difficult labor that often led to death.

  • Thanks to advice from another enslaved person, he presented himself as a willing hard worker to potential buyers. He was bought by Nana-naid, a baker, to work in his bakery.

  • The narrator learned the bakery trade from Nana-naid and the housekeeper. Once he had mastered the skills, he also proposed selling baked goods on the streets in the afternoons to make extra money to share with Nana-naid. Nana-naid agreed to this plan.

  • The summary outlines the key events that led to the narrator becoming a baker's slave and proposing selling goods in the afternoons to earn money to buy his freedom eventually.

  • Sharru Nada was a slave of Nana-naid, who allowed him to sell honey cakes and keep part of the profits.

  • He worked hard and saved money to buy his freedom eventually.

  • He met Arad Gula, a slave rug merchant, who encouraged him in his efforts. Arad Gula was also saving to buy his freedom.

  • Sharru Nada witnessed the public flogging and execution of an escaped enslaved person named Pirate. He was dismayed at the cruelty of King Nebuchadnezzar, who oversaw the punishment.

  • Arad Gula gained his freedom and planned to move to a new city to escape his slave past. Share Nada was happy about his friend's success.

  • However, Sharru Nada's master Nana Naid got into debt due to gambling. The moneylender took Sharru Nada as payment, and sold him to a man named Sasi.

  • Sasi sent Sharru Nada to work on the Grand Canal project, building in harsh desert conditions. Sharru Nada had lost his savings and hopes for freedom.

The ancient city of Babylon was in an arid valley with no natural resources. However, Babylon became a very wealthy city through human achievements. The Babylonians built dams and irrigation canals to control the Euphrates river, allowing farming on a massive scale. This led to large crop yields and wealth.

Most of Babylon's rulers focused on enterprise and justice rather than military conquest. However, Babylon was eventually abandoned and fell into ruin. For centuries, the location of Babylon was unknown until archaeologists uncovered the ancient city under hills of earth. Through records of an ancient solar eclipse found in Babylon, scientists have determined that the Babylonian civilization is over 8,000 years old, making it one of the oldest known civilizations.

  • Archaeologists have discovered many clay tablets from ancient Babylon that provide insights into the civilization. These tablets contain legends, poetry, history, laws, and business records.

  • The city of Babylon was magnificent, with immense walls, organized like a modern city with streets, shops, temples, and palaces. The walls of Babylon were very thick, estimated to be 50-60 feet high, and 9-11 miles long.

  • The Babylonians were advanced for their time. They were skilled engineers, astronomers, mathematicians, and financiers and had a written language. They built extensive irrigation systems and reclaimed swampland. They used metal tools and weapons when most civilizations still used stone tools.

  • The Babylonians invented money, promissory notes, and titles to property. They were clever traders and businessmen.

  • Babylon stood for centuries but eventually fell. In 540 BC, the Persian king Cyrus entered Babylon when the army fled, so the city fell without resistance. Over time, Babylon was abandoned and deteriorated.

  • Though ancient Babylon eventually crumbled, its wisdom and contributions to civilization endured. The civilization was highly advanced, educated, and enlightened for its time.

In summary, according to the passage, ancient Babylon was a magnificent and advanced civilization for its time, with skilled and educated inhabitants. Though the grand city of Babylon eventually fell into ruin, its contributions and wisdom have endured and influenced civilization.

Here is a summary:

George S. Clason was an American author born in 1894. He served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War. Clason founded the Clason Map Company of Denver, Colorado, which published the first road atlas of the U.S. and Canada.

In 1926, Clason began publishing a series of pamphlets on financial success and thrift using parables set in ancient Babylon. These became widely distributed and familiar to millions. The most famous was "The Richest Man in Babylon."

These "Babylonian parables" have become an inspirational classic on gaining personal wealth. Clason advises acquiring, keeping, and making money to earn more. The pamphlets and books are written and use parables to illustrate economic and financial lessons. "The Richest Man in Babylon" has become a bestseller and inspired millions of readers.


Did you find this article valuable?

Support Literary Insights by becoming a sponsor. Any amount is appreciated!