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[1274b] [32]

For the student of government, and of nature and characteristics of the various forms of constitution, almost the first question to consider is in regard to the state: what exactly is the essential nature of a state? As it is, this is a matter of dispute: a public act is spoken of by some people as the action of the state, others speak of it as the action not of the state but of the oligarchy or the tyrant in power1; and we see that the activity of the statesman and lawgiver is entirely concerned with a state as its object, and a constitution is a form of organization of the inhabitants of a state. But a state is a composite thing, in the same sense as any other of the things that are wholes but consist of many parts; it is therefore clear that we must first inquire into the nature of a citizen; for a state is a collection of citizens, [1275a] [1] so that we have to consider who is entitled to the name of citizen, and what the essential nature of a citizen is. For there is often a difference of opinion as to this: people do not all agree that the same person is a citizen; often somebody who would be a citizen in a democracy is not a citizen under an oligarchy. We need not here consider those who acquire the title of citizen in some exceptional manner, for example those who are citizens by adoption; and citizenship is not constituted by domicile in a certain place (for resident aliens and slaves share the domicile of citizens), nor are those citizens who participate in a common system of justice, conferring the right to defend an action and to bring one in the law-courts (for this right belongs also to the parties under a commercial treaty, as they too can sue and be sued at law,—or rather, in many places even the right of legal action is not shared completely by resident aliens, but they are obliged to produce a patron, so that they only share in a common legal procedure to an incomplete degree), but these are only citizens in the manner in which children who are as yet too young to have been enrolled in the list and old men who have been discharged2 must be pronounced to be citizens in a sense, yet not quite absolutely, but with the added qualification of ‘under age’ in the case of the former and ‘superannuated’ or some other similar term (it makes no difference, the meaning being clear) in that of the latter. For we seek to define a citizen in the absolute sense, and one possessing no [20] disqualification of this nature that requires a correcting term, since similar difficulties may also be raised, and solved, about citizens who have been disfranchised or exiled. A citizen pure and simple is defined by nothing else so much as by the right to participate in judicial functions and in office. But some offices of government are definitely limited in regard to time, so that some of them are not allowed to be held twice by the same person at all, or only after certain fixed intervals of time; other officials are without limit of tenure, for example the juryman and the member of the assembly. It might perhaps be said that such persons are not officials at all, and that the exercise of these functions does not constitute the holding of office;3 and yet it is absurd to deny the title of official to those who have the greatest power in the state. But it need not make any difference, as it is only the question of a name, since there is no common name for a juryman and a member of the assembly that is properly applied to both. For the sake of distinction therefore let us call the combination of the two functions ‘office’ without limitation. Accordingly we lay it down that those are citizens who participate in office in this manner.

Such more or less is the definition of ‘citizen’ that would best fit with all of those to whom the name is applied. But it must not be forgotten that things in the case of which the things to which they are related differ in kind, one of them being primary, another one secondary and so on, either do not contain a common nature at all, as being what they are, or barely do so.4 Now we see that constitutions differ from one another in kind, and that some are subsequent and others prior; [1275b] [1] for erroneous and divergent forms are necessarily subsequent to correct forms (in what sense we employ the terms ‘divergent’ of constitutions will appear later). Hence the citizen corresponding to each form of constitution will also necessarily be different. Therefore the definition of a citizen that we have given applies especially to citizenship in a democracy; under other forms of government it may hold good, but will not necessarily do so. For in some states there is no body of common citizens, and they do not have the custom of a popular assembly but councils of specially convened members, and the office of trying law-suits goes by sections—for example at Sparta suits for breach of contract are tried by different ephors in different cases, while cases of homicide are tried by the ephors and doubtless other suits by some other magistrate. The same method is not5 followed at Carthage, where certain magistrates judge all the law-suits. But still, our definition of a citizen admits of correction. For under the other forms of constitution a member of the assembly and of a jury-court is not ‘an official’ without restriction, but an official defined according to his office; either all of them or some among them are assigned deliberative and judicial duties either in all matters or in certain matters. What constitutes a citizen is therefore clear from these considerations: we now declare that one who has the right to participate in deliberative or judicial office is a citizen of the state [20] in which he has that right, and a state is a collection of such persons sufficiently numerous, speaking broadly, to secure independence of life.

But in practice citizenship is limited to the child of citizens on both sides, not on one side only, that is, the child of a citizen father or of a citizen mother; and other people carry this requirement further back, for example to the second or the third preceding generation or further. But given this as a practical and hasty definition, some people raise the difficulty, How will that ancestor three or four generations back have been a citizen? Gorgias6 of Leontini therefore, partly perhaps in genuine perplexity but partly in jest, said that just as the vessels made by mortar-makers were mortars, so the citizens made by the magistrates were Larisaeans, since some of the magistrates were actually larisa-makers.7 But it is really a simple matter; for if they possessed citizenship in the manner stated in our definition of a citizen, they were citizens—since it is clearly impossible to apply the qualification of descent from a citizen father or mother to the original colonizers or founders of a city.

But perhaps a question rather arises about those who were admitted to citizenship when a revolution had taken place, for instance such a creation of citizens as that carried out8 at Athens by Cleisthenes after the expulsion of the tyrants, when he enrolled in his tribes many resident aliens who had been foreigners or slaves. The dispute as to these is not about the fact of their citizenship, but whether they received it wrongly or rightly. Yet even as to this one might raise the further question, [1276a] [1] whether, if a man is not rightly a citizen, he is a citizen at all, as ‘wrongly’ means the same as ‘not truly.’ But we sometimes see officials governing wrongly, as to whom we shall not deny that they do govern, but shall say that they do not do it rightly, and a citizen is defined by a certain function of government (a citizen, as we said, is one who shares in such and such an office); therefore it is clear that even persons wrongly admitted to citizenship are to be pronounced to be citizens, although the question whether they are so rightly or not rightly is connected with the question that was propounded before.9 For some persons raise the question, When is an occurrence the act of the state and when is it not? for example, when the government has been altered from oligarchy or tyranny to democracy. In such circumstances some people claim that the new government should not discharge public debts, on the ground that the money was borrowed by the tyrant and not by the state, and should repudiate many other similar claims also, because some forms of government rest upon force and are not aimed at the welfare of the community. If therefore some democracies also are governed in that manner, the acts of the authorities in their case can only be said to be the acts of the state in the same sense as the public acts emanating from an oligarchy or a tyranny are said to be. Akin to this controversy seems to be the subject, What exactly is the principle on which we ought to pronounce a city to be the same city as it was before, or not the same but a different city? The most obvious mode of inquiring into this difficulty [20] deals with place and people: the place and the people may have been divided, and some may have settled in one place, and some in another. In this form the question must be considered as easier of solution; for, as ‘city’ has several meanings, the inquiry so put is in a way not difficult.10 But it may similarly be asked, Suppose a set of men inhabit the same place, in what circumstances are we to consider their city to be a single city? Its unity clearly does not depend on the walls, for it would be possible to throw a single wall round the Peloponnesus; and a case in point perhaps is Babylon, and any other city that has the circuit of a nation rather than of a city; for it is said that when Babylon was captured a considerable part of the city was not aware of it three days later. But the consideration of this difficulty will be serviceable for another occasion, as the student of politics must not ignore the question, What is the most advantageous size for a city, and should its population be of one race or of several? But are we to pronounce a city, where the same population inhabit the same place, to be the same city so long as the population are of the same race, in spite of the fact that all the time some are dying and others being born, just as it is our custom to say that a river or a spring is the same river or spring although one stream of water is always being added to it and another being withdrawn from it, or are we to say that though the people are the same people for the similar reason of continuity, yet the city is a different city? [1276b] [1] For inasmuch as a state is a kind of partnership, and is in fact a partnership of citizens in a government, when the form of the government has been altered and is different it would appear to follow that the state is no longer the same state, just as we say that a chorus which on one occasion acts a comedy and on another a tragedy is a different chorus although it is often composed of the same persons, and similarly with any other common whole or composite structure we say it is different if the form of its structure is different—for instance a musical tune consisting of the same notes we call a different tune if at one time it is played in the Dorian mode and at another in the Phrygian. Therefore if this is the case, it is clear that we must speak of a state as being the same state chiefly with regard to its constitution; and it is possible for it to be called by the same or by a different designation both when its inhabitants are the same and when they are entirely different persons. But whether a state is or is not bound in justice to discharge its engagements when it has changed to a different constitution, is another subject.

The next thing to consider after what has now been said is the question whether we are to hold that the goodness of a good man is the same as that of a good citizen, or not the same. However, if this point really is to receive investigation, we must first ascertain in some general outline what constitutes the excellence of a citizen. [20] Now a citizen we pronounced to be one sort of partner in a community, as is a sailor. And although sailors differ from each other in function—one is an oarsman, another helmsman, another look-out man, and another has some other similar special designation—and so clearly the most exact definition of their excellence will be special to each, yet there will also be a common definition of excellence that will apply alike to all of them; for security in navigation is the business of them all, since each of the sailors aims at that. Similarly therefore with the citizens, although they are dissimilar from one another, their business is the security of their community, and this community is the constitution, so that the goodness of a citizen must necessarily be relative to the constitution of the state. If therefore there are various forms of constitution, it is clear that there cannot be one single goodness which is the perfect goodness of the good citizen; but when we speak of a good man we mean that he possesses one single goodness, perfect goodness. Hence it is manifestly possible to be a good citizen without possessing the goodness that constitutes a good man. Moreover it is also feasible to pursue the same topic by raising the question in another manner in relation to the best form of constitution. If it is impossible11 for a state to consist entirely of good men, and if it is necessary for each person to perform well the work of his position, and to do this springs from goodness, then because it is impossible for all the citizens to be alike, [1277a] [1] the goodness of a good citizen would not be one and the same as the goodness of a good man; for all ought to possess the goodness of the good citizen (that is a necessary condition of the state's being the best possible), but it is impossible that all should possess the goodness of a good man, if it is not necessary that all the citizens in a good state should be good men. Again, since the state consists of unlike persons—just as an animal (to take this instance first) consists of soul and body, and a soul of reason and appetite, and a household of husband and wife and [ownership involves]12 a master and slave, in the same manner a state consists of all of these persons and also of others of different classes in addition to these,—it necessarily follows that the goodness of all the citizens is not one and the same, just as among dancers the skill of a head dancer is not the same as that of a subordinate leader. It is clear then from these considerations that the goodness of a good citizen and that of a good man are not the same in general; but will the goodness of a good citizen of a particular sort be the same as that of a good man? Now we say that a good ruler is virtuous and wise, and that a citizen taking part in politics must be wise. Also some people say that even the education of a ruler must be different, as indeed we see that the sons of kings are educated in horsemanship and military exercises, and Euripides says13 “ No subtleties for me, but what the state
Requireth—
” [20] implying that there is a special education for a ruler. And if the goodness of a good ruler is the same as the goodness of a good man, yet the person ruled is also a citizen, so that the goodness of a citizen in general will not be the same as that of a man, although that of a particular citizen will; for goodness as a ruler is not the same as goodness as a citizen, and no doubt this is the reason why Jason14 said that when he was not tyrant he went hungry, meaning that he did not know the art of being a private person. Another point is that we praise the ability to rule and to be ruled, and it is doubtless held that the goodness of a citizen consists in ability both to rule and to be ruled well. If then we lay it down that the goodness of the good man is displayed in ruling, whereas that of the citizen is shown in both capacities, the two capacities cannot be equally laudable. Since therefore both views are sometimes accepted, and it is thought that the ruler and the subject do not have to learn the same arts but that the citizen must know both arts and share in both capacities, . . . .15 And it may be discerned from the following illustration: one form of authority is that of a master; by this we mean the exercise of authority in regard to the necessary work of the house, which it is not necessary for the master to know how to execute, but rather how to utilize; the other capacity, I mean the ability actually to serve in these menial tasks, is indeed a slave's quality. But we distinguish several kinds of slave, as their employments are several. One department belongs to the handicraftsmen, who as their name implies are the persons that live by their hands, [1277b] [1] a class that includes the mechanic artisan. Hence in some states manual laborers were not admitted to office in old times, before the development of extreme democracy. The tasks of those who are under this form of authority therefore it is not proper for the good man or the man fit for citizenship or the good citizen to learn, except for his own private use occasionally (for then it ceases to be a case of the one party being master and the other slave). But there exists a form of authority by which a man rules over persons of the same race as himself, and free men (for that is how we describe political authority), and this the ruler should learn by being ruled, just as a man should command cavalry after having served as a trooper, command a regiment after having served in a regiment and been in command of a company and of a platoon. Hence there is much truth in the saying that it is impossible to become a good ruler without having been a subject. And although the goodness of a ruler and that of a subject are different, the good citizen must have the knowledge and the ability both to be ruled and to rule, and the merit of the good citizen consists in having a knowledge of the government of free men on both sides. And therefore both these virtues are characteristic of a good man, even if temperance and justice in a ruler are of a different kind from temperance and justice in a subject; for clearly a good man's virtue, for example his justice, will not be one and the same when he is under government and when he is free, but it will be of different kinds, [20] one fitting him to rule and one to be ruled, just as temperance and courage are different in a man and in a woman (for a man would be thought a coward if he were only as brave as a brave woman, and a woman a chatterer if she were only as modest as a good man; since even the household functions of a man and of a woman are different—his business is to get and hers to keep). And practical wisdom alone of the virtues is a virtue peculiar to a ruler; for the other virtues seem to be necessary alike for both subjects and rulers to possess, but wisdom assuredly is not a subject's virtue, but only right opinion: the subject corresponds to the man who makes flutes and the ruler to the flute-player who uses them.

The question whether the goodness of a good man is the same as that of a good citizen or different, and how they are the same and how different, is clear from these considerations.

But one of the difficulties as to what constitutes a citizen is still left. Is it truly the case that a citizen is a person who has the right to share office in the government, or are the working classes also to be counted citizens? If these persons also are to be counted who have no share in offices, it is not possible for every citizen to possess the citizen's virtue; for the true citizen is the man capable of governing.16 If on the other hand no one of the working people is a citizen, in what class are the various workers to be ranked? for they are neither resident aliens nor foreigners. Or shall we say that so far as that argument goes no inconsistency results? [1278a] [1] for slaves also are not in one of the classes mentioned, nor are freedmen. For it is true that not all the persons indispensable for the existence of a state are to be deemed citizens, since even the sons of citizens are not citizens in the same sense as the adults: the latter are citizens in the full sense, the former only by presumption17—they are citizens, but incomplete ones. In ancient times in fact the artisan class in some states consisted of slaves or aliens, owing to which the great mass of artisans are so even now; and the best-ordered state will not make an artisan a citizen. While if even the artisan is a citizen, then what we said to be the citizen's virtue must not be said to belong to every citizen, nor merely be defined as the virtue of a free man, but will only belong to those who are released from menial occupations. Among menial occupations those who render such services to an individual are slaves, and those who do so for the community are artisans and hired laborers. The state of the case about them will be manifest from what follows when we consider it a little further[, for what has been said when made known itself makes it clear].18 As there are several forms of constitution, it follows that there are several kinds of citizen, and especially of the citizen in a subject position; hence under one form of constitution citizenship will necessarily extend to the artisan and the hired laborer, while under other forms this is impossible, for instance in any constitution that is of the form entitled aristocratic and in which [20] the honors are bestowed according to goodness and to merit, since a person living a life of manual toil or as a hired laborer cannot practise the pursuits in which goodness is exercised. In oligarchies on the other hand, though it is impossible for a hired laborer to be a citizen (since admission to office of various grades is based on high property-assessments), it is possible for an artisan; for even the general mass of the craftsmen are rich. At Thebes there was a law that no one who had not kept out of trade for the last ten years might be admitted to office. But under many constitutions the law draws recruits even from foreigners; for in some democracies the son of a citizen-mother is a citizen, and the same rule holds good as to base-born sons in many places. Nevertheless, inasmuch as such persons are adopted as citizens owing to a lack of citizens of legitimate birth (for legislation of this kind is resorted to because of under-population), when a state becomes well off for numbers it gradually divests itself first of the sons of a slave father or mother, then of those whose mothers only were citizens, and finally only allows citizenship to the children of citizens on both sides. These facts then show that there are various kinds of citizen, and that a citizen in the fullest sense means the man who shares in the honors of the state, as is implied in the verse of Homer19: “ Like to some alien settler without honor,—
” since a native not admitted to a share in the public honors is like an alien domiciled in the land. But in some places this exclusion is disguised, for the purpose of deceiving those who are a part of the population.20

The answer therefore to the question, [1278b] [1] Is the goodness that makes a good man to be deemed the same as that which makes a worthy citizen, or different? is now clear from what has been said in one form of state the good man and the good citizen are the same, but in another they are different, and also in the former case it is not every citizen but only the statesman, the man who controls or is competent to control, singly or with colleagues, the administration of the commonwealth, that is essentially also a good man.

And since these points have been determined, the next question to be considered is whether we are to lay it down that there is only one form of constitution or several, and if several, what they are and how many and what are the differences between them. Now a constitution is the ordering of a state in respect of its various magistracies, and especially the magistracy that is supreme over all matters. For the government is everywhere supreme over the state and the constitution is the government. I mean that in democratic states for example the people are supreme, but in oligarchies on the contrary the few are; and we say that they have a different constitution. And we shall use the same language about the other forms of government also.

We have therefore to determine first the fundamental points, what is the object for which a state exists and how many different kinds of system there are for governing mankind and for controlling the common life.

Now it has been said in our first discourses,21 in which we determined the principles concerning household management and the control of slaves, that man is by nature a political animal; [20] and so even when men have no need of assistance from each other they none the less desire to live together. At the same time they are also brought together by common interest, so far as each achieves a share of the good life. The good life then is the chief aim of society, both collectively for all its members and individually; but they also come together and maintain the political partnership for the sake of life merely, for doubtless there is some element of value contained even in the mere state of being alive, provided that there is not too great an excess on the side of the hardships of life, and it is clear that the mass of mankind cling to life at the cost of enduring much suffering, which shows that life contains some measure of well-being and of sweetness in its essential nature.

And again, the several recognized varieties of government can easily be defined; in fact we frequently discuss them in our external discourses.22 The authority of a master over a slave, although in truth when both master and slave are designed by nature for their positions their interests are the same, nevertheless governs in the greater degree with a view to the interest of the master, but incidentally with a view to that of the slave, for if the slave deteriorates the position of the master cannot be saved from injury. Authority over children and wife [and over the whole household, which we call the art of household management23] is exercised either in the interest of those ruled or for some common interest of both parties,—essentially, in the interest of the ruled, as we see that the other arts also, [1279a] [1] like medicine and athletic training, are pursued in the interest of the persons upon whom they are practised, although incidentally they may also be in the interest of the practitioners themselves; for nothing prevents the trainer from being on occasions himself also one of the persons in training, just as the pilot is always a member of the crew; so although the trainer or pilot studies the good of those under his authority, when he himself also becomes one among them he incidentally shares the benefit, for the pilot is a sailor in the ship and the trainer can become one of the persons in training under his own direction. Hence in regard to the political offices also, when the state is constituted on the principle of equality and of similarity between the citizens, these claim to hold office by turn—in earlier times, under the natural system, claiming to do public services in turn, and for somebody in return to look after their own welfare just as previously they looked after his interest when in office themselves; but nowadays owing to the benefits to be got from public sources and from holding office people wish to be in office continuously, just as if it were the case that those in office although sickly people always enjoyed good health—in which case office would no doubt be much run after by invalids.

It is clear then that those constitutions that aim at the common advantage are in effect rightly framed in accordance with absolute justice, while those that aim at the rulers' own advantage only are faulty, [20] and are all of them deviations from the right constitutions; for they have an element of despotism, whereas a city is a partnership of free men.

These matters having been determined the next step is to consider how many forms of constitution there are and what they are; and first to study the right forms of constitution, since the deviations will also become manifest when these are defined.

But inasmuch as ‘constitution’ means the same as ‘government,’ and the government is the supreme power in the state, and this must be either a single ruler or a few or the mass of the citizens, in cases when the one or the few or the many govern with an eye to the common interest, these constitutions must necessarily be right ones, while those administered with an eye to the private interest of either the one or the few or the multitude are deviations. For either we must not say that those who are part of the state are citizens, or those who are part of the state must share in the advantage of membership. Our customary designation for a monarchy that aims at the common advantage is ‘kingship’; for a government of more than one yet only a few ‘aristocracy’ (either because the best men rule or because they rule with a view to what is best for the state and for its members); while when the multitude govern the state with a view to the common advantage, it is called by the name common to all the forms of constitution, ‘constitutional government.’ (And this comes about reasonably, since although it is possible for one man or a few to excel in virtue, when the number is larger it becomes difficult for them to possess perfect excellence in respect of every form of virtue, [1279b] [1] but they can best excel in military valor, for this is found with numbers; and therefore with this form of constitution the class that fights for the state in war is the most powerful, and it is those who possess arms who are admitted to the government.) Deviations from the constitutions mentioned are tyranny corresponding to kingship, oligarchy to aristocracy, and democracy to constitutional government; for tyranny is monarchy ruling in the interest of the monarch, oligarchy government in the interest of the rich, democracy government in the interest of the poor, and none of these forms governs with regard to the profit of the community.

But it is necessary to say at a little greater length what each of these constitutions is; for the question involves certain difficulties, and it is the special mark of one who studies any subject philosophically, and not solely with regard to its practical aspect, that he does not overlook or omit any point, but brings to light the truth about each. Now tyranny, as has been said, is monarchy exerting despotic power over the political community; oligarchy is when the control of the government is in the hands of those that own the properties; democracy is when on the contrary it is in the hands of those that do not possess much property, but are poor. [20] A first difficulty is with regard to the definition. If the majority of the citizens were wealthy and were in control of the state, yet when the multitude is in power it is a democracy, and similarly, to take the other case, if it were to occur somewhere that the poor were fewer than the rich but were stronger than they and accordingly were in control of the government, yet where a small number is in control it is said to be an oligarchy, then it would seem that our definition of the forms of constitution was not a good one.24 And once again, if one assumed the combination of small numbers with wealth and of multitude with poverty, and named the constitutions thus—one in which the rich being few in number hold the offices, oligarchy: one in which the poor being many in number hold the offices, democracy,—this involves another difficulty. What names are we to give to the constitutions just described—the one in which there are more rich and the one in which the poor are the fewer, and these control their respective governments—if there exists no other form of constitution beside those mentioned? The argument therefore seems to make it clear that for few or many to have power is an accidental feature of oligarchies in the one case and democracies in the other, due to the fact that the rich are few and the poor are many everywhere (so that it is not really the case that the points mentioned constitute a specific difference), but that the real thing in which democracy and oligarchy differ from each other is poverty and wealth; [1280a] [1] and it necessarily follows that wherever the rulers owe their power to wealth, whether they be a minority or a majority, this is an oligarchy, and when the poor rule, it is a democracy, although it does accidentally happen, as we said, that where the rulers hold power by wealth they are few and where they hold power by poverty they are many, because few men are rich but all men possess freedom, and wealth and freedom are the grounds on which the two classes lay claim to the government.

And first we must ascertain what are stated to be the determining qualities of oligarchy and democracy, and what is the principle of justice under the one form of government and under the other. For all men lay hold on justice of some sort, but they only advance to a certain point, and do not express the principle of absolute justice in its entirety. For instance, it is thought that justice is equality, and so it is, though not for everybody but only for those who are equals; and it is thought that inequality is just, for so indeed it is, though not for everybody, but for those who are unequal; but these partisans strip away the qualification of the persons concerned, and judge badly. And the cause of this is that they are themselves concerned in the decision, and perhaps most men are bad judges when their own interests are in question. Hence inasmuch as ‘just’ means just for certain persons, and it is divided in the same way in relation to the things to be distributed and the persons that receive them, as has been said before in the Ethics,25 the two parties agree as to what constitutes equality in the thing, but dispute as to what constitutes equality in the person, [20] chiefly for the reason just now stated, because men are bad judges where they themselves are concerned, but also, inasmuch as both parties put forward a plea that is just up to a certain point, they think that what they say is absolutely just. For the one side think that if they are unequal in some respects, for instance in wealth, they are entirely unequal, and the other side think that if they are equal in some respects, for instance in freedom, they are entirely equal. But the most important thing they do not mention. If men formed the community and came together for the sake of wealth, their share in the state is proportionate to their share in the property, so that the argument of the champions of oligarchy would appear to be valid—namely that in a partnership with a capital of 100 minae26 it would not be just for the man who contributed one mina to have a share whether of the principal or of the profits accruing equal to the share of the man who supplied the whole of the remainder; but if on the other hand the state was formed not for the sake of life only but rather for the good life (for otherwise a collection of slaves or of lower animals would be a state, but as it is, it is not a state, because slaves27 and animals have no share in well-being or in purposive life), and if its object is not military alliance for defence against injury by anybody, and it does not exist for the sake of trade and of business relations28—for if so, Etruscans and Carthaginians and all the people that have commercial relations with one another would be virtually citizens of a single state; at all events they have agreements about imports and covenants as to abstaining from dishonesty and treaties of alliance for mutual defence; [1280b] [1] but they do not have officials common to them all appointed to enforce these covenants, but different officials with either party, nor yet does either party take any concern as to the proper moral character of the other, nor attempt to secure that nobody in the states under the covenant shall be dishonest or in any way immoral, but only that they shall not commit any wrong against each other. All those on the other hand who are concerned about good government do take civic virtue and vice into their purview. Thus it is also clear that any state that is truly so called and is not a state merely in name must pay attention to virtue; for otherwise the community becomes merely an alliance, differing only in locality from the other alliances, those of allies that live apart. And the law is a covenant or, in the phrase of the sophist Lycophron,29 a guarantee of men's just claims on one another, but it is not designed to make the citizens virtuous and just. And that this is how the matter stands is manifest. For if one were actually to bring the sites of two cities together into one, so that the city-walls of Megara and those of Corinth were contiguous, even so they would not be one city; nor would they if they enacted rights of intermarriage with each other, although intermarriage between citizens is one of the elements of community which are characteristic of states. And similarly even if certain people lived in separate places yet not so far apart as not to have intercourse, but had laws to prevent their wronging one another [20] in their interchange of products— for instance, if one man were a carpenter, another a farmer, another a shoemaker and another something else of the kind,—and the whole population numbered ten thousand, but nevertheless they had no mutual dealings in anything else except such things as exchange of commodities and military alliance, even then this would still not be a state. What then exactly is the reason for this? for clearly it is not because their intercourse is from a distance since even if they came together for intercourse of this sort (each nevertheless using his individual house as a city) and for one another's military aid against wrongful aggressors only, as under a defensive alliance, not even then would they seem to those who consider the matter carefully to constitute a state, if they associated on the same footing when they came together as they did when they were apart. It is manifest therefore that a state is not merely the sharing of a common locality for the purpose of preventing mutual injury and exchanging goods. These are necessary preconditions of a state's existence, yet nevertheless, even if all these conditions are present, that does not therefore make a state, but a state is a partnership of families and of clans in living well, and its object is a full and independent life. At the same time this will not be realized unless the partners do inhabit one and the same locality and practise intermarriage; this indeed is the reason why family relationships have arisen throughout the states, and brotherhoods and clubs for sacrificial rites and social recreations. But such organization is produced by the feeling of friendship, for friendship is the motive of social life; therefore, while the object of a state is the good life, these things are means to that end. And a state is the partnership of clans and villages in a full and independent life, [1281a] [1] which in our view constitutes a happy and noble life; the political fellowship must therefore be deemed to exist for the sake of noble actions, not merely for living in common. Hence those who contribute most to such fellowship have a larger part in the state than those who are their equals or superiors in freedom and birth but not their equals in civic virtue, or than those who surpass them in wealth but are surpassed by them in virtue.

It is therefore clear from what has been said that all those who dispute about the forms of constitution assert a part of the just principle.

But it is a matter of question what ought to be the sovereign power in the state. Clearly it must be either the multitude, or the rich, or the good, or the one man who is best of all, or a tyrant. But all of these arrangements appear to involve disagreeable consequences. For instance, if the poor take advantage of their greater numbers to divide up the property of the rich, is not this unjust? No, it may be said, for it was a resolution made by the supreme authority in just form. Then what must be pronounced to be the extreme of injustice? And again, when everybody is taken into account, suppose the majority share out among themselves the property of the minority, it is manifest that they are destroying the state; but assuredly virtue does not destroy [20] its possessor, and justice is not destructive of the state, so that it is clear that this principle also cannot be just. Also it follows from it that all the actions done by a tyrant are just, for his use of force is based upon superior strength, as is the compulsion exerted by the multitude against the rich. But is it just that the minority and the rich should rule? Suppose therefore they also act in the same way and plunder and take away the property of the multitude, is this just? If it is, so also is the plunder of the rich by the multitude. It is clear therefore that all these things are bad and not just. But ought the good to rule, and be in control of all classes? If so, then it follows that all the other classes will be dishonored,30 if they are not honored by holding the offices of government; for we speak of offices as honors, and if the same persons are always in office the rest must necessarily be excluded from honor. But is it better for the most virtuous individual to be the ruler? But that is still more oligarchical, for the people excluded from honor will be more numerous. But perhaps some one would say that in any case it is a bad thing for a human being, having in his soul the passions that are the attributes of humanity, to be sovereign, and not the law. Suppose therefore that law is sovereign, but law of an oligarchic or democratic nature, what difference will it make as regards the difficulties that have been raised? for the results described before will come about just the same.

Most of these points therefore must be discussed on another occasion; but the view that it is more proper for the multitude to be sovereign than the few of greatest virtue might be thought to be explicable and to have some justification, and even to be the true view. For it is possible that the many, though not individually good men, [1281b] [1] yet when they come together may be better, not individually but collectively, than those who are so, just as public dinners to which many contribute are better than those supplied at one man's cost; for where there are many, each individual, it may be argued, has some portion of virtue and wisdom, and when they have come together, just as the multitude becomes a single man with many feet and many hands and many senses, so also it becomes one personality as regards the moral and intellectual faculties. This is why the general public is a better judge of the works of music and those of the poets, because different men can judge a different part of the performance, and all of them all of it. But the superiority of good men over the mass of men individually, like that of handsome men, so it is said, over plain men and of the works of the painter's art over the real objects, really consists in this, that a number of scattered good points have been collected together into one example; since if the features be taken separately, the eye of one real person is more beautiful than that of the man in the picture, and some other feature of somebody else. It is not indeed clear whether this collective superiority of the many compared with the few good men can possibly exist in regard to every democracy and every multitude, and perhaps it may be urged that it is manifestly impossible in the case of some—for the same argument would also apply to animals, yet what difference is there, [20] practically, between some multitudes and animals?—but nothing prevents what has been said from being true about some particular multitude. One might therefore employ these considerations to solve not only the previously stated difficulty but also the related question, over what matters is the authority of the freemen, the mass of the citizens, to extend (using that expression to denote those who are not rich nor possessed of any distinguishing excellence at all)? For it is not safe for them to participate in the highest offices (for injustice and folly would inevitably cause them to act unjustly in some things and to make mistakes in others), but yet not to admit them and for them not to participate is an alarming situation, for when there are a number of persons without political honors and in poverty, the city then is bound to be full of enemies. It remains therefore for them to share the deliberative and judicial functions. For this reason Solon and certain other lawgivers appoint the common citizens to31 the election of the magistrates and the function of calling them to audit, although they do not allow them to hold office singly. For all when assembled together have sufficient discernment, and by mingling with the better class are of benefit to the state, just as impure food mixed with what is pure makes the whole more nourishing than the small amount of pure food alone; but separately the individual is immature in judgement. This arrangement of the constitution is however open to question in the first place on the ground that it might be held that the best man to judge which physician has given the right treatment is the man that is himself capable of treating and curing the patient of his present disease, and this is the man who is himself a physician; [1282a] [1] and that this is the case similarly with regard to the other arts and crafts. Hence just as a court of physicians must judge the work of a physician, so also all other practitioners ought to be called to account before their fellows. But ‘physician’ means both the ordinary practitioner, and the master of the craft, and thirdly, the man who has studied medicine as part of his general education (for in almost all the arts there are some such students, and we assign the right of judgement just as much to cultivated amateurs as to experts). Further the same might be thought to hold good also of the election of officials, for to elect rightly is a task for experts—for example, it is for experts in the science of mensuration to elect a land-surveyor and for experts in navigation to choose a pilot; for even though in some occupations and arts some laymen also have a voice in appointments, yet they certainly do not have more voice than the experts. Hence according to this argument the masses should not be put in control over either the election of magistrates or their audit. But perhaps this statement is not entirely correct, both for the reason stated above,32 in case the populace is not of too slavish a character (for although each individual separately will be a worse judge than the experts, the whole of them assembled together will be better or at least as good judges), and also because about some things the man who made them would not be the only nor the best judge, in the case of professionals whose products come within the knowledge of laymen also: [20] to judge a house, for instance, does not belong only to the man who built it, but in fact the man who uses the house (that is, the householder) will be an even better judge of it, and a steersman judges a rudder better than a carpenter, and the diner judges a banquet better than the cook.

This difficulty then might perhaps be thought to be satisfactorily solved in this way. But there is another connected with it: it is thought to be absurd that the base should be in control over more important matters than the respectable; but the audits and the elections of magistrates are a very important matter, yet in some constitutions, as has been said, they are assigned to the common people, for all such matters are under the control of the assembly, yet persons of a low property-assessment and of any age take part in the assembly and the council and sit on juries, whereas treasury officials, generals and the holders of the highest magistracies are drawn from among persons of large property. Now this difficulty also may be solved in a similar way; for perhaps these regulations also are sound, since it is not the individual juryman or councillor or member of the assembly in whom authority rests, but the court, the council and the people, while each of the individuals named (I mean the councillor, the members of assembly and the juryman) is a part of those bodies. Hence justly the multitude is sovereign in greater matters, for the popular assembly, the council and the jury-court are formed of a number of people, and also the assessed property of all these members collectively is more than that of the magistrates holding great offices individually or in small groups.

Let these points therefore be decided in this manner. [1282b] [1] But the difficulty first mentioned33 proves nothing else so clearly as that it is proper for the laws when rightly laid down to be sovereign, while the ruler or rulers in office should have supreme powers over matters as to which the laws are quite unable to pronounce with precision because of the difficulty of making a general rule to cover all cases. We have not however yet ascertained at all what particular character a code of laws correctly laid down ought to possess, but the difficulty raised at the start34 still remains;35 for necessarily the laws are good or bad, just or unjust, simultaneously with and similarly to the constitutions of states (though of course it is obvious that the laws are bound to be adapted to the constitution); yet if so, it is clear that the laws in conformity with the right constitutions must necessarily be just and those in conformity with the divergent36 forms of constitution unjust.

37And inasmuch as in all the sciences and arts the End is a good, and the greatest good and good in the highest degree in the most authoritative of all, which is the political faculty, and the good in the political field, that is, the general advantage, is justice, it is therefore thought by all men that justice is some sort of equality, and up to a certain point at all events they agree with the philosophical discourses in which [20] conclusions have been reached about questions of ethics38; for justice is a quality of a thing in relation to persons,39 and they hold that for persons that are equal the thing must be equal. But equality in what characteristics does this mean, and inequality in what? This must be made clear, since this too raises a difficulty, and calls for political philosophy. For perhaps someone might say that the offices of state ought to be distributed unequally according to superiority in every good quality, even if the candidates in all other respects did not differ at all but were exactly alike, because men that are different40 have different rights and merits. Yet if this is true, those who are superior in complexion or stature or any good quality will have an advantage in respect of political rights. But surely the error here is obvious, and it comes out clearly if we consider the other sciences and faculties. Among flute-players equally good at their art it is not proper to give an advantage in respect of the flutes to those of better birth, for they will not play any better, but it is the superior performers who ought to be given the superior instruments. And if our meaning is not yet plain, it will become still clearer when we have carried the matter further. Suppose someone is superior in playing the flute but much inferior in birth or in good looks, then, even granting that each of these things—birth and beauty—is a greater good than ability to play the flute, and even though they surpass flute-playing proportionately more than the best flute-player surpasses the others in flute-playing, even so the best flute-player ought to be given the outstandingly good flutes; [1283a] [1] for otherwise superiority both in wealth and in birth ought to contribute to the excellence of the performance, but they do not do so at all. Moreover on this theory every good thing would be commensurable with every other. For if to be of some particular height gave more claim, then height in general would be in competition with wealth and with free birth; therefore if A excels in height more than B does in virtue, and speaking generally size gives more superiority than virtue,41 all things would be commensurable for; if such-and-such an amount of one thing is better than such-and-such an amount of another, it is clear that such-and-such an amount of the one is equal to that amount of another. But since this is impossible, it is clear that in politics with good reason men do not claim a right to office on the ground of inequality of every kind—if one set of men are slow runners and another fast, this is no good ground for the one set having more and the other less42 political power, but the latter's superiority receives its honor in athletic contests; but the claim to office must necessarily be based on superiority in those things which go to the making of the state. Hence it is reasonable for the well-born, free and wealthy to lay claim to honor; for there must be free men and tax-payers, since a state consisting entirely of poor men would not be a state, any more than one consisting of slaves. But then, granting there is need of these, it is clear that [20] there is also need of justice and civic virtue, for these are also indispensable in the administration of a state; except that wealth and freedom are indispensable for a state's existence, whereas justice and civic virtue are indispensable for its good administration.

As a means therefore towards a state's existence all or at all events some of these factors would seem to make a good claim, although as means to a good life education and virtue would make the most just claim, as has been said also before. On the other hand since those who are equal in one thing only ought not to have equality in all things nor those unequal as regards one thing inequality in all, it follows that all these forms of constitution must be deviations. Now it has been said before that all make a claim that is in a manner just, though not all a claim that is absolutely just; the rich claiming because they have a larger share of the land, and the land is common property, and also as being for the most part more faithful to their covenants; the free and well-born as being closely connected together (for the better-born are citizens to a greater degree than those of claims, low birth, and good birth is in every community held in honor at home), and also because it is probable that the children of better parents will be better, for good birth means goodness of breed; and we shall admit that virtue also makes an equally just claim, for we hold that justice is social virtue, which necessarily brings all the other virtues in its train; but moreover the majority have a just claim as compared with the minority, since they are stronger and richer and better if their superior numbers are taken in comparison with the others' inferior numbers. Therefore supposing all were in one city, [1283b] [1] I mean, that is, the good and the wealthy and noble and also an additional mass of citizens, will there be a dispute, or will there not, as to who ought to govern? It is true that under each of the forms of constitution that have been mentioned the decision as to who ought to govern is undisputed (for the difference between them lies in their sovereign classes—one is distinguished by being governed by the rich men, one by being governed by the good men, and similarly each of the others); but nevertheless we are considering the question how we are to decide between these classes supposing that they all exist in the state at the same period.

If then the possessors of virtue should be quite few in number, how is the decision to be made? ought we to consider their fewness in relation to the task, and whether they are able to administer the state, or sufficiently numerous to constitute a state? And there is some difficulty as regards all the rival claimants to political honors. Those who claim to rule because of their wealth might seem to have no justice in their proposal, and similarly also those who claim on the score of birth; for it is clear that if, to go a step further, a single individual is richer than all the others together, according to the same principle of justice it will obviously be right for this one man to rule over all, and similarly the man of outstanding nobility among the claimants [20] on the score of free birth. And this same thing will perhaps result in the case of aristocratic government based on virtue; for if there be some one man who is better than the other virtuous men in the state, by the same principle of justice that man must be sovereign. Accordingly if it is actually proper for the multitude to be sovereign because they are better than the few, then also, if one person or if more than one but fewer than the many are better than the rest, it would be proper for these rather than the multitude to be sovereign. All these considerations therefore seem to prove the incorrectness of all of the standards on which men claim that they themselves shall govern and everybody else be governed by them. For surely even against those who claim to be sovereign over the government on account of virtue, and similarly against those who claim on account of wealth, the multitudes might be able to advance a just plea; for it is quite possible that at some time the multitude may be collectively better and richer than the few, although not individually.

Hence it is also possible to meet in this way the question which some persons investigate and put forward (for some raise the question whether the legislator desiring to lay down the rightest laws should legislate with a view to the advantage of the better people or that of the larger number) in cases when the situation mentioned43 occurs. And ‘right’ must be taken in the sense of ‘equally right,’ and this means right in regard to the interest of the whole state and in regard to the common welfare of the citizens; and a citizen is in general one who shares in governing and being governed, [1284a] [1] although he is different according to each form of constitution, but in relation to the best form a citizen is one who has the capacity and the will to be governed and to govern with a view to the life in accordance with virtue.

But if there is any one man so greatly distinguished in outstanding virtue, or more than one but not enough to be able to make up a complete state, so that the virtue of all the rest and their political ability is not comparable with that of the men mentioned, if they are several, or if one, with his alone, it is no longer proper to count these exceptional men a part of the state; for they will be treated unjustly if deemed worthy of equal status, being so widely unequal in virtue and in their political ability: since such a man will naturally be as a god among men. Hence it is clear that legislation also must necessarily be concerned with persons who are equal in birth and in ability, but there can be no law dealing with such men as those described, for they are themselves a law; indeed a man would be ridiculous if he tried to legislate for them, for probably they would say what in the story of Antisthenes44 the lions said45 when the hares made speeches in the assembly and demanded that all should have equality. This is why democratically governed states institute the system of ostracism, because of a reason of this nature; for these are the states considered to pursue equality most of all things, [20] so that they used to ostracize men thought to be outstandingly powerful on account of wealth or popularity or some other form of political strength, and used to banish them out of the city for fixed periods of time. And there is a mythical story that the Argonauts left Heracles behind for a similar reason; for the Argo46 refused to carry him with the others because he was so much heavier than the sailors. Hence also those who blame tyranny and Periander's advice to Thrasybulus47 must not be thought to be absolutely right in their censure (the story is that Periander made no reply to the herald sent to ask his advice, but levelled the corn-field by plucking off the ears that stood out above the rest; and consequently, although the herald did not know the reason for what was going on, when he carried back news of what had occurred, Thrasybulus understood that he was to destroy the outstanding citizens); for this policy is advantageous not only for tyrants, nor is it only tyrants that use it, but the same is the case with oligarchies and democracies as well; for ostracism has in a way the same effect as docking off the outstanding men by exile. And the same course is adopted in regard to cities and races by the holders of sovereign power, for example the Athenians so dealt with the Samians and Chians and Lesbians48 (for no sooner did they get a strong hold of their empire than they humbled them in contravention of their covenants), [1284b] [1] and the king of the Persians frequently used to cut down the numbers of the Medes and Babylonians and the other races that had waxed proud because they had once been head of an empire. And the problem applies universally to all the forms of constitution, even the right forms; for while the divergent forms of government do this because their regard is fixed on their private advantage, nevertheless with the constitutions directed to the common good the same is the case. And this is also clear in the field of the other arts and sciences; a painter would not let his animal have its foot of disproportionately large size, even though it was an exceptionally beautiful foot, nor would a shipbuilder make the stern or some other part of a ship disproportionately big, nor yet will a trainer of choruses allow a man who sings louder and more beautifully than the whole band to be a member of it. Hence as far as this practice goes nothing prevents monarchs from being in harmony with the cities they rule, if they resort to it when their own personal rule is beneficial to the cities. Therefore in relation to acknowledged superiorities the argument for ostracism has a certain element of political justice. True, it is better for the lawgiver so to constitute the state at the outset that it does not need this medicine; but the next best course to steer, if occasion arises, is to endeavor to correct [20] the constitution by some such method of rectification. But this was not what happened with the states, for they were not looking at what was advantageous for their proper constitution, but their acts of ostracism were done in a revolutionary spirit. In the divergent forms of constitution therefore it is evident that ostracism is advantageous and just under the special constitution, though perhaps it is also evident that it is not49 just absolutely; but in the case of the best constitution there is much doubt as to what ought to be done, not as regards superiority in the other things of value, such as strength and wealth and popularity, but in the case of a person becoming exceptionally distinguished for virtue. It certainly would not be said that such a man must be banished and got out of the way; yet nevertheless no doubt men would not think that they ought to rule over such a man, for that would be the same as if they claimed to rule over Zeus, dividing up his spheres of government. It remains therefore, and this seems to be the natural course, for all to obey such a man gladly, so that men of this sort may be kings in the cities for all time.

And perhaps it is well after the subjects that have been discussed to pass over to consider royal government; for we pronounce this to be one of the correct constitutions. And it has to be considered whether it is advantageous for a city or a country that is to be well administered to be ruled by a king, or whether it is not so but some other constitution is more expedient, or whether royal rule is expedient for some states and not for others. But it is needful to decide first whether there is only one sort of kingship or whether it has several varieties. [1285a] [1]

Now it is at all events easy to discern that kingship includes several kinds, and that the mode of government is not the same in all. For the kingship in the Spartan constitution, which is held to be a typical royalty of the kind guided by law, does not carry sovereignty in all matters, though when a king goes on a foreign expedition he is the leader in all matters relating to the war; and also matters relating to religion have been assigned to the kings. This kingship therefore is a sort of military command vested in generals with absolute powers and held for life; for the king has not authority to put a subject to death, except [in a certain reign]50 as in ancient times kings on their military expeditions could kill an offender out of hand, as Homer proves, for Agamemnon endured being reviled in the assemblies but when they were on an expedition had authority to put a man to death: at all events he says“ But whomsoe'er I see far from the fray . . .
Shall have no hope to fly from dogs and vultures,
For death is in my hands!51

This then is one sort of kingship, a lifelong generalship, and some of the kingships of this kind are hereditary, others elective; and by its side there is another sort of monarchy, examples of which are kingships existing among some of the barbarians. The power possessed by all of these resembles that of tyrannies, but they govern according to law and are hereditary; [20] for because the barbarians are more servile in their nature than the Greeks, and the Asiatics than the Europeans, they endure despotic rule without any resentment. These kingships therefore are for these reasons of a tyrannical nature, but they are secure because they are hereditary and rule by law. Also their bodyguard is of a royal and not a tyrannical type for the same reason; for kings are guarded by the citizens in arms, whereas tyrants have foreign guards, for kings rule in accordance with law and over willing subjects, but tyrants rule over unwilling subjects, owing to which kings take their guards from among the citizens but tyrants have them to guard against the citizens. These then are two kinds of monarchy; while another is that which existed among the ancient Greeks, the type of rulers called aesymnetae. This, to put it simply, is an elective tyranny, and it differs from the monarchy that exists among barbarians not in governing without the guidance of law but only in not being hereditary. Some holders of this type of monarchy ruled for life, others until certain fixed limits of time or until certain undertakings were ended, as for example the people of Mitylene once elected Pittacus to resist the exiles under the leadership of Antimenides and the poet Alcaeus. That they elected Pittacus52 as tyrant is proved by Alcaeus in one of his catches; for he rebukes the people because “ The base-born Pittacus they did set up
As tyrant of the meek and luckless city,
And all did greatly praise him.
” [1285b] [1] These monarchies therefore now and in the past are of the nature of tyrannies because they are autocratic, but of the nature of kingships because they are elective and rule over willing subjects. A fourth class of royal monarchy consists of the hereditary legal kingships over willing subjects in the heroic period. For because the first of the line had been benefactors of the multitude in the arts or in war, or through having drawn them together or provided them with land, these kings used to come to the throne with the consent of the subjects and hand it on to their successors by lineal descent. And they had supreme command in war and control over all sacrifices that were not in the hands of the priestly class, and in addition to these functions they were judges in law-suits; some gave judgement not on oath and some on oath—the oath was taken by holding up the sceptre.53 These kings then of ancient times used to govern continuously in matters within the city and in the country and across the frontiers; but later on when gradually the kings relinquished some of their powers and had others taken from them by the multitudes, in the cities in general only the sacrifices were left to the kings,54 while where anything that deserves the name of royalty survived the kings only had the command in military expeditions across the frontiers. [20]

There are then these kinds of kingship, four in number: one belonging to the heroic times, which was exercised over willing subjects, but in certain limited fields, for the king was general and judge and master of religious ceremonies; second, the barbarian monarchy, which is an hereditary despotism governing in conformity with law; third, the rule of the functionary called an aesymnetes, which is an elective tyranny; and fourth among these is the Spartan kingship, which may be described simply as an hereditary generalship held for life. These kingships then differ from one another in this manner. But a fifth kind of kingship is when a single ruler is sovereign over all matters in the way in which each race and each city is sovereign over its common affairs; this monarchy ranges with the rule of a master over a household, for just as the master's rule is a sort of monarchy in the home, so absolute monarchy is domestic mastership over a city, or over a race or several races.

There are therefore, we may say, virtually two kinds of kingship that have been examined, this one and the Spartan. For most of the others lie between these, since with them the king is sovereign over fewer things than under absolute monarchy, but over more than under the Spartan kingship. Hence our inquiry is virtually about two questions, one whether it is expedient or inexpedient for states to have a military commander holding office for life, and that either by descent or by class,55 [1286a] [1] and one whether it is expedient or inexpedient for one man to be sovereign over everything. Now the study of a military command of the kind mentioned has more the aspect of a legal than of a constitutional inquiry (for it is possible for this form of office to exist under all constitutions), so let it be dismissed at the first stage56; but the remaining mode of kingship is a kind of constitution, so that it is necessary to consider this one and to run over the difficulties that it involves.

And the starting-point of the inquiry is the question whether it is more advantageous to be ruled by the best men or by the best laws. Those of the opinion that it is advantageous to be governed by a king think that laws enunciate only general principles but do not give directions for dealing with circumstances as they arise; so that in an art of any kind it is foolish to govern procedure by written rules (and indeed in Egypt physicians have the right to alter their prescription after four days, although if one of them alters it before he does so at his own risk); it is clear therefore that government according to written rules, that is laws, is not the best, for the same reason. At the same time, however, rulers ought to be in possession of the general principle before mentioned as well. And a thing that does not contain the emotional element is generally superior to a thing in which it is innate; now the law does not possess this factor, but every human soul [20] necessarily has it. But perhaps someone might say that in compensation for this a single ruler will decide better about particular cases. Therefore it is clear that on the one hand the ruler must necessarily be a legislator, and that there must or be laws laid down, although these must not be sovereign57 where they go astray—admittedly in all other cases they ought to be sovereign; but on the other hand in matters which it is impossible for the law either to decide at all or to decide well, ought the one best man to govern or all the citizens? As it is, the citizens assembled hear lawsuits and deliberate and give judgements, but these judgements are all on particular cases. Now no doubt any one of them individually is inferior compared with the best man, but a state consists of a number of individuals, and just as a banquet to which many contribute dishes is finer than a single plain dinner, for this reason in many cases a crowd judges better than any single person. Also the multitude is more incorruptible—just as the larger stream of water is purer, so the mass of citizens is less corruptible than the few; and the individual's judgement is bound to be corrupted when he is overcome by anger or some other such emotion, whereas in the other case it is a difficult thing for all the people to be roused to anger and go wrong together. But the multitude must consist of the freemen, doing nothing apart from the law except about matters as to which the law must of necessity be deficient. And if this is not indeed easy to ensure in the case of many men, yet if there were a majority of good men and good citizens, would an individual make a more incorruptible ruler or rather those who though the majority in number yet are all good? [1286b] [1] The majority, is it not obvious? But it will be said that they will split up into factions, whereas with a single ruler this cannot happen. But against this must perhaps be set the fact that they are as virtuous in soul as the single ruler. If then the rule of the majority when these are all good men is to be considered an aristocracy, and that of the one man kingship, aristocracy would be preferable for the states to kingship, whether the royal office be conjoined with military force or without it, if it be possible to get a larger number of men than one who are of similar quality. And it was perhaps only owing to this that kingships existed in earlier times, because it was rare to find men who greatly excelled in virtue, especially as in those days they dwelt in small cities. Moreover they used to appoint their kings on the ground of public service, and to perform this is a task for the good men. But as it began to come about that many men arose who were alike in respect of virtue, they would no longer submit to royalty, but sought for some form of commonwealth, and set up a republican constitution. And as men becoming baser began to make money out of the community, it is reasonable to suppose that some such cause as this occasioned the rise of oligarchies; for they brought wealth into honor. And from oligarchies they first changed to tyrannies, and from tyrannies to democracy; for by constantly bringing the government into fewer hands owing to a base love of gain, they made the multitude stronger,58 so that it set upon the oligarchs, and democracies came into existence. [20] But now that the states have come to be even greater than they were, perhaps it is not easy for yet another form of constitution beside democracy to come into existence. And even if one held that royal government is best for states, what is to be the position as regards the king's children? is the sovereignty to be hereditary? But this will be disastrous if the king's sons turn out to be like what some have been. It may be said that the king being sovereign will not in that case bequeath the throne to his children. But that is too much to be easy to believe: it would be difficult for a king to disinherit his sons, and an act of virtue above the level of human nature. And there is a difficulty also about the royal power: ought the man who is to reign as king to force to have an armed force about him, by means of which he will have power to compel those who may be unwilling to obey, or if not, how is it possible for him to administer his office? For even if he were a law-abiding sovereign and never acted according to his own will against the law, nevertheless it would be essential for him to have power behind him whereby to safeguard the laws. Probably therefore it is not difficult to define the regulations for a king of this sort: he must have a force of his own, but the force must be only so large as to be stronger than a single individual or even several individuals banded together, but weaker than the multitude, on the principle on which the men of old times used to assign bodyguards whenever they appointed somebody as what they termed aesymnetes or tyrant59 of the state, and also, when Dionysius60 asked for his guards, somebody advised him to give the same number of guards to the citizens of Syracuse. [1287a] [1]

Our discussion has now reached the case of the king who acts in all matters according to his own will, and we must examine this type of royalty. For the so-called constitutional monarchy, as we said,61 is not a special kind of constitution (since it is possible for a life-long generalship to exist under all constitutions, for example under a democracy and an aristocracy, and many people make one man sovereign over the administration, for instance there is a government of this sort in Epidamnus,62 and also at Opus63 to a certain smaller extent); but we have now to discuss what is called Absolute Monarchy, which is the monarchy under which the king governs all men according to his own will. Some people think that it is entirely contrary to nature for one person to be sovereign over all the citizens where the state consists of men who are alike; for necessarily persons alike in nature must in accordance with nature have the same principle of justice and the same value, so that inasmuch as for persons who are unequal to have an equal amount of food or clothing is harmful for their bodies, the same is the case also in regard to honors; similarly therefore it is wrong for those who are equal to have inequality, owing to which it is just for no one person to govern or be governed more than another, and therefore for everybody to govern and be governed alike in turn. And this constitutes law for regulation is law. Therefore it is preferable for the law to rule rather than any one of the citizens, [20] and according to this same principle, even if it be better for certain men to govern, they must be appointed as guardians of the laws and in subordination to them; for there must be some government, but it is clearly not just, men say, for one person to be governor when all the citizens are alike. It may be objected that any case which the law appears to be unable to define, a human being also would be unable to decide. But the law first specially educates the magistrates for the purpose and then commissions them to decide and administer the matters that it leaves over ‘according to the best of their judgement,’64 and furthermore it allows them to introduce for themselves any amendment that experience leads them to think better than the established code. He therefore that recommends that the law shall govern seems to recommend that God and reason alone shall govern, but he that would have man govern adds a wild animal also; for appetite is like a wild animal, and also passion warps the rule even of the best men. Therefore the law is wisdom without desire. And there seems to be no truth in the analogy which argues from the arts65 that it is a bad thing to doctor oneself by book, but preferable to employ the experts in the arts. For they never act contrary to principle from motives of friendship, but earn their fee when (for instance) they have cured their patients, whereas holders of political office usually do many things out of spite and to win favor; since when people suspect even the physicians of being in the confidence of their enemies and of trying to make away with them for gain, in that case they would sooner look up the treatment in the books. [1287b] [1] Yet certainly physicians themselves call in other physicians to treat them when they are ill, and gymnastic trainers put themselves under other trainers when they are doing exercises, believing that they are unable to judge truly because they are judging about their own cases and when they are under the influence of feeling. Hence it is clear that when men seek for what is just they seek for what is impartial; for66 the law is that which is impartial. Again, customary laws67 are more sovereign and deal with more sovereign matters than written laws, so that if a human ruler is less liable to error than written laws, yet he is not less liable to error than the laws of custom. But also it is certainly not easy for the single ruler to oversee a multitude of things; it will therefore be necessary for the officials appointed by him to be numerous; so that what difference does it make whether this has been the arrangement immediately from the outset or the single ruler appoints them in this manner? Again, a thing that has also been said before, if the virtuous man justly deserves to rule because he is better, yet two good men are better than one: for that is the meaning of the line68 “ When two together go—
” and of the prayer of Agamemnon69 “ May ten such fellow-councillors be mine.
” And even now the magistrates, like the Athenian dicast, have power to judge certain cases about which the law is unable to give a clear declaration, since nobody disputes that in matters about which it can do so the law would be the best ruler and judge. But since, although some things can be covered by the laws, [20] other things cannot, it is the latter that cause doubt and raise the question whether it is preferable for the best law to rule or the best man. For to lay down a law about things that are subjects for deliberation is an impossibility. Therefore men do not deny that it must be for a human being to judge about such matters, but they say that it ought not to be a single human being only but a number. For the individual official judges well when he has been instructed by the law, and it would doubtless seem curious if a person saw better when judging with two eyes and two organs of hearing and acting with two feet and hands than many persons with many, since even as it is monarchs make many eyes and ears and hands and feet their own, for they adopt persons that are friendly to their rule and to themselves as their fellow-rulers. Although therefore if these assistants are not friendly they will not act in conformity with the monarch's policy, if they are friends of him and of his rule, well, a friend is one's equal and like, so that if the monarch thinks that his friends ought to rule he thinks that people who are equal to and like himself ought to rule like himself.

This then more or less is the case advanced by those who argue against kingship.

But perhaps, although this is a true account of the matter in some cases, it does not apply in others. For there is such a thing as being naturally fitted to be controlled by a master, and in another case, to be governed by a king, and in another, for citizenship, and this is just and expedient; but there is no such thing as natural fitness for tyranny, nor for any other of the forms of government that are divergences, for these come about against nature. [1288a] [1] But merely from what has been said, it is clear that among people who are alike and equal it is neither expedient nor just for one to be sovereign over all—neither when there are no laws, but he himself is in the place of law, nor when there are laws, neither when both sovereign and subjects are good nor when both are bad, nor yet when the sovereign is superior in virtue, except in a certain manner. What this manner is must be stated; and in a way it has been stated already even before. But first we must define what constitutes fitness for royal government, what fitness for aristocracy, and what for a republic. A fit subject for royal government is a populace of such a sort as to be naturally capable of producing a family of outstanding excellence for political leadership; a community fit for aristocracy is one that naturally produces a populace70 capable of being governed under the form of government fit for free men by those who are fitted by virtue for taking the part of leaders in constitutional government; a republican community, one in which there naturally grows up a military populace71 capable of being governed and of governing under a law that distributes the offices among the well-to-do in accordance with merit. When therefore it comes about that there is either a whole family or even some one individual that differs from the other citizens in virtue so greatly that his virtue exceeds that of all the others, then it is just for this family to be the royal family or this individual king, and sovereign over all matters. For, as has been said before, [20] this holds good not only in accordance with the right that is usually brought forward by those who are founding aristocratic and oligarchic constitutions, and from the other side by those who are founding democratic ones (for they all make their claim on the ground of superiority, though not the same superiority), but it also holds good in accordance with the right spoken of before.72 For it is not seemly to put to death or banish, nor yet obviously to ostracize, such a man, nor is it seemly to call upon him to take his turn as a subject; for it is not in the order of nature for the part to overtop the whole, but the man that is so exceptionally outstanding has come to overtop the whole community. Hence it only remains for the community to obey such a man, and for him to be sovereign not in turn but absolutely.

Let this be our answer to the questions as regards kingship, what are its varieties, and whether it is disadvantageous for states or advantageous, and for what states, and under what conditions.

And since we pronounce the right constitutions to be three, and of these the one governed by the best men must necessarily be the best, and such is the one in which it has come about either that some one man or a whole family or a group of men is superior in virtue to all the citizens together, the latter being able to be governed and the former to govern on the principles of the most desirable life, and since in the first part of the discourse73 it was proved that the virtue of a man and that of a citizen in the best state must of necessity be the same, it is evident that a man becomes good in the same way and by the same means as one might establish an aristocratically or monarchically governed state,74 [1288b] [1] so that it will be almost the same education and habits that make a man good and that make him capable as a citizen or a king.

These conclusions having been laid down, we must now endeavor to discuss the best form of constitution and to say in what way it is natural for it to come into existence and how it is natural for it to be organized.75

1 So we speak of an action planned and carried by the party in power as an Act of Parliament, and technically as an act of the sovereign.

2 This seems to imply that aged citizens were excused attendance at the assembly and law-courts, as well as military service

3 Or, amending the text, ‘and yet that it is absurd to deny the title of citizen to those—’

4 The meaning of this abstract principle is most easily seen from its application here: if states are generically different from one another, membership of a state, citizenship, can hardly be a single thing, and come under a single definition.

5 The negative is a conjectural insertion, cf. 1273a 20.

6 Sicilian orator and nihilistic philosopher, visited Athens 427 B.C.

7 Larisa, a city in Thessaly, was famous for the manufacture of a kind of kettle called ‘larisa.’

8 In 509 B.C.

9 The question, What is a state? 1274b 34.

10 i.e. πόλις means both (1) ‘city’ (and also ‘citadel’) and (2) ‘state,’ a collection of citizens; and if the citizens divide and settle in two different ‘cities’ with different governments, they are clearly not the same ‘state’ as before.

11 Perhaps the Greek should be altered to give ‘possible’. If we emend the text with Bernays to εἰ γὰρ δύνατον ἐξ ἁπάντων σπουδαίων ὄντων εἶναι πόλιν, the sense is: assuming the possibility of a perfect state, with all its factors the best of their kind, this means that all the population will be good citizens, not that they will all be perfect specimens of the human race, because the state needs citizens of the working classes, etc., and these cannot in the nature of things be perfect human beings

12 These words in the Greek are probably an interpolation.

13 Fragment 16, from Aeolus.

14 Tyrant of Pherae in Thessaly, assassinated 370 B.C.

15 Some words seem to have been lost, conveying ‘we must consider how this dual fitness can be acquired,’ or possibly considerably more. But the text at the beginning of the sentence is also corrupt.

16 Or perhaps ‘for the working-man is a citizen.’ οὗτος γὰρ πολίτης. The translation takes πολίτης as subject and οὗτος as predicate (meaning ἔχων τὴν τοιαύτην ἀρετήν, possessing capacity to govern). But possibly the predicate is πολίτης and the subject οὗτος, which then stands for βάναυσος; if so, the whole sentence means that if the non-official classes are citizens, not all the citizens will possess civic virtue (which is capacity to govern), for the working-man will be a citizen (and he is not capable of governing).

17 Or, with Casaubon's probable correction of the Greek, ‘only with a qualification.’

18 The ill-expressed clause ‘for what—clear’ seems almost certainly to be an interpolation.

19 Hom. Il. 9.648, Hom. Il. 16.59

20 The MSS. give ‘But where such exclusion is disguised, it (this concealment) is for the purpose of deceiving’ etc.

21 1253a 1 ff.

22 Mentioned at 1323a 22 (and also six times in other books); they are there appealed to for the tripartite classification of foods which in Aristot. Nic. Eth.1098b 12 is ascribed to ‘current opinion of long standing and generally accepted by students of philosophy.’ The term may there predenote doctrines not peculiar to the Peripatetic school.

23 Aristotle can hardly have written this clause, as it includes mastership over slaves.

24 i.e. it would be absurd to term government by the people democracy if the people happened to be very rich, or government by a few oligarchy if the few were poor and the many whom they governed rich.

25 Cf. Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1131a 14-24.

26 See 1268b 14 n.

27 See 1260a 12, and Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1177a 8, ‘but no one allows a slave any measure of happiness, any more than a life of his own.’

28 The sentence here breaks off; The inference that should have formed its conclusion is given in 5.15.

29 Probably a pupil of Gorgias, see 1275b 26 n.

30 The term is technical and means disfranchisement and loss of civic rights.

31 Probably words meaning ‘these functions and to’ have fallen out.

32 See 6.4.

33 Viz. that in whatever class sovereignty is vested, some hardships will result, 1281a 14 ff.

34 See 1281a 36.

35 Probably this clause should stand after the next, ‘though—constitution’ (which will be a parenthesis), and should run ‘but <the difficulty is there> for necessarily—states.’

36 The usual rendering is ‘perverted,’ but the Greek term is more neutral.

37 What follows is a summary of Aristot. Nic. Eth. 2.

38 See also Aristot. Nic. Eth. 5.3.

39 Literally, ‘the just is (a just) something and (something just) for somebody.’

40 i.e. different in some good quality.

41 Perhaps we should rewrite the Greek to give ‘even though speaking generally virtue gives more superiority than size.’

42 Doubtless the author meant the other way round, ‘for the slow having less and the fast more political power.’

43 At the end of the last sentence, 7.12.

44 Pupil of Socrates and founder of the Cynic sect of philosophers.

45 ‘Where are your claws and teeth?’

46 Cf. Apollod. 1.9.19 τῆς Ἀργοῦς φθεγξαμένης μὴ δύνασθαι πέρειν τὸ τούτου βάρος. Argo was a live creature, and Athena had built a ‘talking timber’ into her cutwater.

47 Periander was tyrant of Corinth circa 626-585 B.C.; Thrasybulus was tyrant of Miletus. Hdt. 5.92 tells the story with their parts reversed.

48 In 440, 424 and 427 B.C. respectively

49 Perhaps ‘not’ should be struck out; but if it stands, the clause refers to 8.5 init.—in these cases ostracism is practiced only in the interest of those in power.

50 Inexplicable, and omitted in one of the earliest editions; possibly βασιλείᾳ is to be emended to ἐλάσει‘except on some march-out.’

51 Quoted from Hom. Il. 2.391, but the last line is not in our Homer.

52 Pittacus held the office 587-579 B.C. He was one of the Seven Sages. Antimenides and Alcaeus were brothers.

53 This ritual is mentioned in Hom. Il. 1.234, Hom. Il. 7.412, Hom. Il. 10.328.

54 The monarchy was reduced to a priesthood at CyreneHdt. 4.161) and at Ephesus.

55 Some MSS. give ‘or by election.’

56 Cf. 1289a 11 ff.; but the promise of a full discussion of law is not fulfilled

57 i.e. unalterably binding, and not be set aside by special dispensation of the ruler when deemed to be unjust in some particular case.

58 i.e. more men of ability and position went over to the opposition.

59 ‘Or tyrant’ looks like an incorrect note, see 1285b 25.

60 See 1259a 39 n.

61 See 10.3.

62 Durazzo, on the Adriatic.

63 Chief town of Locri, near the Straits of Euboea

64 This formula came in the oath taken by the dicasts at Athens.

65 i.e. the practical sciences, of which medicine is taken as an example.

66 Perhaps this should be ‘and.’

67 i.e. the rules of duty and of manners that are customary but not embodied in legislation: cf. 1319b 40 ‘the laws both written and unwritten.’

68 Hom. Il. 10.224: The passage goes on καί τε πρὸ τοῦ ἐνόησεν ὅππως κέρδος ἔῃ, ‘then one discerneth Before the other how advantage lieth.’

69 Hom. Il. 2.372.

70 The clause translated ‘that—populace’ some editors excise as a superfluous insertion.

71 They also excise ‘in which-populace’

72 i.e. the right of merit, 8.7.

73 Book 3.2, 3.

74 Perhaps the Greek should be altered to give ‘established a state governed in the best way by an aristocracy or a monarchy.’

75 The concluding sentence, by whomever written, clearly leads on to the Book that is No. 7 in the MSS. and in this edition; and after it the MSS. add half the first sentence of that Book, slightly altered. Some editors therefore transfer Books 7 and 8 here and put Books 4, 5 and 6 after them; opinions vary as to the proper order of Books 4, 5. and 6 among themselves.

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