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Book Summary: The Richest Man in Babylon

Updated: Jan 4

The Success Secrets of the Ancients- the most inspiring book on wealth ever written.

About the author:

Clason was born in Louisiana, Missouri. He attended the University of Nebraska. He served in the United States Army during the Spanish–American War.

Clason is best known for writing a series of informational pamphlets about being thrifty and how to achieve financial success Banks and insurance companies began to distribute the parables, and the most famous ones were compiled into the book The Richest Man in Babylon - The Success Secrets of the Ancients. He is credited with coining the phrase, "Pay yourself first"


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About the book

The book was published in 1926. The book is about an ancient city Babylon.

The city was located beside the Euphrates River, in a flat, arid valley. It had no forests, no mines—not even stone for building. It was not even located upon a natural trade-route. The rainfall was insufficient to raise crops. In spite of all these, Babylon was a wealthy & glamorous city.

There was a solid reason for its greatness. They were educated and enlightened people. So far as written history goes, they were not only the first engineers, the first astronomers, the first mathematicians, and the first people to have a written language but also great financial managers who used know to how to control the money.

They used to write on the clay tablets and these tablets are found by the archaeologists and are attracting researchers.

This book gives the best financial advice that still works through a series of interlinked stories.

Chapter 1: An Historical Sketch of Babylon

In this chapter we see an ancient Babylon, an outstanding example of man’s ability to achieve greatness.

The city was secured by gigantic walls around it and situated beside a river. The city had only two natural resources_ fertile soil & plenty of water.

The citizens of Babylon were smart people, skilled in crafting, sculpture, painting, gold working, manufacturing and jewelers have been outstanding artists.

They were clever financials & traders. They used coins of gold, silver, copper as money as means of exchange, promissory notes and written titles to property.

The city was never entered by hostile armies until about 540 years before the birth of Christ. The great conqueror of that period, Cyrus, won it without resistance.

Chapter 2: The Man Who Desired Gold

This is the story of a chariot maker, Bansir who is a very skilled & hardworking person but is unable to make fortune in his life.

He wishes to live a wealthy life with his wife. Still, he’s not been able to make a lot of money and just imagining about the life he wants to live. Then his best friend Kobbi arrives and asks to lend him two shekels but Bansir has nothing to lend.

Kobbi is an artist and knows Arkad. Arkad is the richest man in Babylon, so rich that the king seeks his golden aid in treasury affairs.

Bansir & Kobbi plan to join some more friends and together go to Arkad’s palace to take tips from him.

Chapter 3: The Richest Man In Babylon

This story is of Arkad, how he became the richest man in Babylon.

The story starts with some of his friends asking him about his fortune. Arkad was not so smart person and had a humble start, that’s why people used to think that he is very lucky.

But in reality, it was his hard work and persistence to get what he wants that worked out so great for him. He was ready when he got the opportunity and that made him the man he is.

He was a merchant’s son with no hope of inheritance. He used to work as a scribe in the hall of records, carving long hours on clay tablets, with only earning to pay for his existence.

Once a day, money lender Algamish came, with a series of meetings and three years of hard work, he taught Arkad three rules of money;

1. The part of all you earn is yours to keep. Before paying to everyone, pay yourself first, ‘save the 1/10th of all you earn’. You can save as much as you can afford but not less than 1/10th.

2. Only saving is not enough, you should make your savings work for you. Invest your savings in something that has the potential to grow. And never take suggestions from a person about a field that is not his forte.

3. Do not spend earning made from investment instead, reinvest it again. Your earning’s earning of the investment should also make you earning.

As Arkad well grasped these rules, Algamish chose him to be his heir of property instead of his real sons who only know how to spend.

Chapter 4: Seven Cures For a Lean Purse

As Chancellor advises King of Babylon, Sargon becomes worried about the difference of living in the city. The rich becoming more rich and remaining are struggling to exist.

The king demands Arkad, the richest person in Babylon to teach citizens of Babylon to be like him. And Arkad arranges a class of a hundred people in Babylon.

As class started everyone was excited to hear the words of wisdom. They expected some easy way to be like him but Arkad gave them the seven cures. These were hard to follow but definitely put them on the right path.

As you’ll see these cures are still applicable today.

The First Cure- Start thy purse to fattening

Save one-tenth of your earnings.

Learn to live in less. Reduce your spending and focus on saving as much as you can but it should be regular. When slowly your purse starts to fatten you’ll start to build confidence.

The Second Cure- Control thy expenditures

Understand the difference between the desires and basic requirements.

Everyone spends according to their earnings. All of us have different incomes, some earn more & some less but still, everyone has the same problem, money.

Everyone has the same basic requirements food, shelter, and clothes. Other than these all are desires and are controllable.

At-least your expenses on basic need & desires combined should not exceed 9/10th of your earning.

The Third Cure- Make thy gold multiply

A real wealthy person’s desire is not a purse fattened with coins instead when they work for him even when he’s asleep that interests him. His purse becomes a continuous stream of money, and that’s what every man on earth desires.

The Fourth Cure- Guard thy treasures from loss

It is foolish to do investment without security on principal.

Well planned risks taking under the guidance of a person who knows to make a profit is worth it. Because the desire to make wealth fast always ended enthusiasts back to where they started.

Always invest where the principal is safe and can be reclaimed whenever necessary.

The Fifth Cure- Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment

Own your own house.

Living in your own house and watching your wife raising your children is every man’s desire.

What can be a better investment than building your own house?

"To a man's heart, it brings gladness to eat the figs from his own trees and the grapes of his own vines. To own his own domicile and to have it a place he is proud to care for, putteth confidence in his heart and greater effort behind all his endeavors.”

The Sixth Cure- Insure a future income

No matter how much you earn and invested, it is always advisory to save some part as safeguard for growing age and family.

A regularly saved money can make a handsome sum for each member of family after the death, we call it ‘insurance’ these days.

The Seventh Cure- Increase thy ability to earn

The very first and best investment is you.

People desire lots of things and these can be fulfilled by those who know how to do it. You can inherit money or won a big lottery, but if you don’t know how to make it grow. It will be only a wasted opportunity.

Always try to learn more and be ready to make most out of every opportunity. The more wisdom we know, the more we may earn.

Chapter 5: Meet the Goddess of Good Luck

"If a man be lucky, there is no foretelling the possible extent of his good fortune. Pitch him into the Euphrates and like as not he will swim out with a pearl in his hand."

—Babylonian Proverb.

There were no schools or colleges at that time but what they had was a temple of learning, where all people used to come keeping aside their differences to share the words of wisdom.

Who doesn’t want to attract a good luck? So once there was this topic discussed in the temple of learning.

Goddess of luck never wastes her time on person who fails to grab the opportunity. When we prepare ourselves so much that when opportunity comes we grab it so easily and that’s when we call it luck.

So always be man of action because ‘man of action please her best’.

"Action will lead thee forward to the successes thou dost desire."

Chapter 6: The Five Laws of Gold

Arkad was a very wise man, he’d know about money more than any man at that time.

This story is about how Arkad wants his son to earn the inherited fortune. He gives his son Nomasir a bag of gold and a clay tablet upon which 5 laws of gold were carved and asks to go and learn how to handle the money & return after 10 years becoming respected among men.

So did he come and tells his father Arkad, a story about his journey.

The First Law of Gold

Every man should save one-tenth of his earnings consistently to make a valuable estate. This also ensures safety for his family if something happens to him.

The Second Law of Gold

Money is a willing worker. Saving is important because when the opportunity comes it’s at hand to put it at good use and it will start multiplying on its own.

The Third Law of Gold

Always invest money with guidance of wise men who have knowledge of making a profit.

The Fourth Law of Gold

Don’t play by the gut in money game.

When it comes to money never trust unfamiliar business, always analyze the possibility of profit.

The Fifth Law of Gold

Desire to make money fast and thrilling adventures always get attracted by the new owner of the money. This tricks the inexperienced owner to fall for scams & schemes.

Wise men always cross checks his position and plans every coin.

Chapter 7: The Gold Lender of Babylon

Spear maker Rodan receives a reward for his hard work from the King of Babylon, 50 pieces of gold.

Excited by the reward, he does not have any idea what to do with the reward. His friends and family members try to convince him to share or lend his reward but he’s confused.

He decides to take advice from a moneylenderMathon. Mathon tells his experience of years of money lending which helps Rodan to decide.

Never trade money with family & friends, it puts you in a vulnerable position.

What every man desire with his gold is its safety. So never make a deal with person who’s not wise to protect it.

“Forget not that gold slippeth away in unexpected ways from those unskilled in guarding it. As well waste thy treasure in extravagance as let others lose it for thee.”

Never take a piece of gold from your purse without guarantee to put it right back.

“Better a little caution than a great regret.”

Chapter 8: The Walls of Babylon

The story of the fall of Babylon is most unusual. Grim warriors, the street behind the gate with lounge of spearmen, valiant defenders on the top of walls hold the walls for three weeks & five days waiting for their king with the army to come.

The walls of Babylon had once again repulsed a mighty and viscous foe determined to loot her rich treasures and to ravish and enslave her citizens. Babylon endured century after century because it was fully protected. It could not afford to be otherwise.

Chapter 9: The Camel Trader of Babylon

Tarkad is a young man running away from people to whom he needs to repay. Huge debt just made him a person he’s not.

Dabasir, one of those person catches him unexpectedly and instead of being angry on Tarkad, he tells him a story.

The story is of own Dabasir, who was once also in huge debt. After a series of unfortunate ups & downs he became the man he is now, a proud camel trader.

His journey follows from him as a proud citizen to a slave in Syria and again a camel trader in Babylon.

As Dabasir ended his story, Tarkad realized his mistake, ready to be a proud man again.

“Where the determination is, the way can be found.”

Chapter 10: The Clay Tablets From Babylon

The stories in each chapter are from the recovered Babylonian clay tablets.

Chapter 11: The Luckiest Man In Babylon

Sharru Nada is returned from Damascus being a rich trader and welcomed to the palace by the king of Babylon.

Sharru Nada was once a slave but his hard work & generosity made him the man he is now.

The man who tries to make fortune by his hard work never stops doing hard work even after he makes it. The almighty is liberal to people who work hard.


This book has its own way to teach the rules of money through the stories. These rules still work today as they worked 8000 years ago.

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