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[1297b] [1] And although it is proper that the government should be drawn only from those who possess heavy armor, yet it is not possible to define the amount of the property-qualification absolutely and to say that they must possess so much, but only to consider what sort of amount is the highest that is compatible with making those who have a share in the constitution more numerous than those who have not, and to fix that limit. For those who are poor and have no share in the honors are willing to keep quiet if no one insults them or takes away any part of their substance; but this is not easy to secure, for it does not always happen that those who are in the governing class are gentlemen. Also people have a way of being reluctant to serve when there is a war if they do not get rations and are poor men but; if somebody provides food they want to fight. In some states the citizen-body consists not only of those who are serving as heavy-armed soldiers, but also of those who have so served; and at Malea the citizen-body consisted of these, while the magistrates were elected from those who were actually on service. And indeed the earliest form of constitution among the Greeks after the kingships consisted of those who were actually soldiers, the original form consisting of the cavalry (for war had its strength and its pre-eminence in cavalry, since without orderly formation heavy-armed infantry [20] is useless, and the sciences and systems dealing with tactics did not exist among the men of old times, so that their strength lay in their cavalry); but as the states grew and the wearers of heavy armor had become stronger, more persons came to have a part in the government. Hence what we now call constitutional governments the men of former times called democracies; but the constitutional governments of early days were naturally oligarchical and royal, for owing to the smallness of the populations their middle class was not numerous, so that because of their small numbers as well as in conformity with the structure of the state the middle class more readily endured being in a subject position.

It has then been said what is the reason of there being several forms of constitution, and why there are others besides those designated by name (for there is not one single democracy only, and similarly there are more than one of the other forms), and also what are the differences between them and what is the reason why these differences occur, and in addition to these points, which is the best of the constitutions speaking generally, and of the other constitutions which sort is suited to which sort of people.

And again, let us speak about the points that come next, both generally and with reference to each constitution separately, taking their appropriate starting-point. All forms of constitution then have three factors in reference to which the good lawgiver has to consider what is expedient for each constitution; and if these factors are well-ordered the constitution must of necessity be well-ordered, and the superiority of one constitution over another necessarily consists in the superiority of each of these factors. Of these three factors one is, what is to be the body that deliberates about the common interests,

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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MALIS
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