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[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; for1 the law is that which is impartial. Again, customary laws2 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 line3 “ When two together go—
” and of the prayer of Agamemnon4 “ 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.

1 Perhaps this should be ‘and.’

2 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.’

3 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.’

4 Hom. Il. 2.372.

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