previous next
[1317a] [1] for these modes when coupled together make the constitutions overlap, so as to produce oligarchical aristocracies and republics inclining towards democracy. I refer to the combinations which ought to be investigated but have not at present been studied, for example if the deliberative body and the system of electing magistrates are organized oligarchically but the regulations as to the law-courts aristocratically, or these and the structure of the deliberative body oligarchically and the election of magistracy aristocratically, or if in some other manner not all the parts of the constitution are appropriately combined.

Now it has been stated before1 what kind of democracy is suited to what kind of state, and similarly which of the kinds of oligarchy is suited to what kind of populace, and also which of the remaining constitutions is advantageous for which people; but nevertheless since it must not only be made clear which variety of these constitutions is best for states, but also how both these best varieties and the other forms must be established, let us briefly pursue the subject. And first let us speak about democracy; for at the same time the facts will also become clear about the opposite form of constitution, that is, the constitution which some people call oligarchy.2

And for this inquiry we must take into view all the features that are popular and that are thought [20] to go with democracies; for it comes about from combinations of these that the kinds of democracy are formed, and that there are different democracies and more than one sort. In fact there are two causes for there being several kinds of democracy, first the one stated before, the fact that the populations are different (for we find one multitude engaged in agriculture and another consisting of handicraftsmen and day-laborers, and when the first of these is added to the second and again the third to both of them it not only makes a difference in that the quality of the democracy becomes better or worse but also by its becoming different in kind); and the second cause is the one about which we now speak. For the institutions that go with democracies and seem to be appropriate to this form of constitution make the democracies different by their combinations; for one form of democracy will be accompanied by fewer, another by more, and another by all of them. And it is serviceable to ascertain each of them both for the purpose of instituting whichever of these kinds of democracy one happens to wish and for the purpose of amending existing ones. For people setting up constitutions seek to collect together all the features appropriate to their fundamental principle, but in so doing they make a mistake, as has been said before in the passage dealing with the causes of the destruction and the preservation of constitutions. And now let us state the postulates, the ethical characters and the aims of the various forms of democracy.

Now a fundamental principle of the democratic form of constitution is liberty—that is what is usually asserted, implying that only under this constitution do men participate in liberty,

1 1296b 13—1297a 13.

2 ‘Rule of the few,’ i.e. the few rich, but the name is not exact, for in aristocracy also the rulers are few.

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: