We1 will begin then by attempting a review of any pronouncements of value contributed by our predecessors in this or that branch of the subject; and then on the basis of our collection of constitutions2 we will consider what institutions are preservative and what destructive of states in general, and of the different forms of constitution in particular, and what are the reasons which cause some states to be well governed and others the contrary. For after studying these questions we shall perhaps be in a better position to discern what is the best constitution absolutely, and what are the best regulations, laws, and customs for any given form of constitution. Let us then begin our discussion.

1 This section roughly gives the contents of Aristotle's Politics, excepting Book 1; ‘a review,’ etc., is Book 2, ‘then,’ etc., Books 3-4, ‘what is the best constitution,’ etc., Books 7 and 8.

2 Aristotle compiled, or caused to be compiled, descriptions of the constitutions of 158 Greek states: of these the Constitution of Athens alone survives.

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