previous next
[1302a] [1] nowhere are there a hundred men nobly born and good, but there are rich men1 in many places. But for the constitution to be framed absolutely and entirely according to either kind of equality is bad. And this is proved by experience, for not one of the constitutions formed on such lines is permanent. And the cause of this is that it is impossible for some evil not to occur ultimately from the first and initial error that has been made. Hence the proper course is to employ numerical equality in some things and equality according to worth in others. But nevertheless democracy is safer and more free from civil strife than oligarchy; for in oligarchies two kinds of strife spring up, faction between different members of the oligarchy and also faction between the oligarchs and the people, whereas in democracies only strife between the people and the oligarchical party occurs, but party strife between different sections of the people itself does not occur to any degree worth mentioning. And again the government formed of the middle classes is nearer to the people than to the few, and it is the safest of the kinds of constitution mentioned.

And since we are considering what circumstances give rise to party factions and revolutions in constitutions, we must first ascertain their origins and causes generally. They are, speaking roughly, three in number,2 which we must first define in outline separately. [20] For we must ascertain what state of affairs gives rise to party strife, and for what objects it is waged, and thirdly what are the origins of political disorders and internal party struggles.

Now the principal cause, speaking generally, of the citizens being themselves disposed in a certain manner towards revolution is the one about which we happen to have spoken already. Those that desire equality enter on party strife if they think that they have too little although they are the equals of those who have more, while those that desire inequality or superiority do so if they suppose that although they are unequal they have not got more but an equal amount or less (and these desires may be felt justly, and they may also be felt unjustly); for when inferior, people enter on strife in order that they may be equal, and when equal, in order that they may be greater. We have therefore said what are the states of feeling in which men engage in party strife.

The objects about which it is waged are gain and honor, and their opposites, for men carry on party faction in states in order to avoid dishonor and loss, either on their own behalf or on behalf of their friends.

And the causes and origins of the disturbances which occasion the actual states of feeling described and their direction to the objects mentioned, according to one account happen to be seven in number, though according to another they are more. Two of them are the same as those spoken of before although not operating in the same way: the motives of gain and honor also stir men up against each other not in order that they may get them for themselves, as has been said before,

1 Perhaps the text should be emended to give ‘there are many rich men and poor men in many places.’

2 Viz. the material, final and efficient causes of revolutions (Jowett).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1957)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: