If there was an ‘aristocracy’ in the archaic and classical polis, how was it differentiated from the rest of the polis? There are various possible criteria for differentiating a socio-political elite, notably birth, legal status, education, virtue, power, access to deity, wealth, and performance (or display). European history has left us with a strong association between ‘aristocracy’ and the criterion of birth, which produces a relatively closed elite. As for the ancient Greek polis, however, an excellent recent collection of essays entitled ‘Aristocracy’ in Antiquity edited by Nick Fisher and Hans van Wees generally rejects earlier assumptions that a hereditary aristocracy is clearly identifiable, and gives some prominence instead to the criterion of display or performance (such as competing in Panhellenic games or erecting an image of an ancestor). My concern is not directly with this interesting controversy, but rather with a historical process that is almost entirely omitted by ‘Aristocracy’ in Antiquity (and by most other discussions of Greek aristocracy), namely the monetization of the polis that was made pervasive by the invention of coinage and its rapid spread in Greek culture from the early sixth century bce.