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[1326a] [1] have to be supplied with their material in a condition suitable for their trade, for the better this material has been prepared, the finer is bound to be the product of their craft; so also the statesman and the lawgiver ought to be furnished with their proper material in a suitable condition. Under the head of material equipment for the state there first come the questions as to a supply of population—what precisely ought to be its number and what its natural character? and similarly in regard to the territory, what is to be its particular size and nature? Most people imagine that the prosperous state must be a great state; but granted the truth of this, they fail to realize in what quality the greatness or smallness of a state consists: they judge a great state by the numerical magnitude of the population, but really the more proper thing to look at is not numbers but efficiency. For a state like other things has a certain function to perform, so that it is the state most capable of performing this function that is to be deemed the greatest, just as one would pronounce Hippocrates to be greater, not as a human being but as a physician, than somebody who surpassed him in bodily size. All the same, even if it be right to judge the state by the test of its multitude, this ought not to be done with regard to the multitude of any and every class (for states are doubtless bound to contain a large number of slaves [20] and resident aliens and foreigners), but the test should be the number of those who are a part of the state—the special parts of which a state consists. It is superiority in the number of these that indicates a great state; a state that sends forth to war a large number of the baser sort and a small number of heavy-armed soldiers cannot possibly be a great state—for a great state is not the same thing as a state with a large population. But certainly experience also shows that it is difficult and perhaps impossible for a state with too large a population to have good legal government. At all events we see that none of the states reputed to be well governed is without some restriction in regard to numbers. The evidence of theory proves the same point. Law is a form of order, and good law must necessarily mean good order; but an excessively large number cannot participate in order: to give it order would surely be a task for divine power, which holds even this universe together.1 Hence that state also must necessarily be the most beautiful with whose magnitude is combined the above-mentioned limiting principle; for certainly beauty is usually found in number and magnitude, but there is a due measure of magnitude for a city-state as there also is for all other things—animals, plants, tools; each of these if too small or excessively large will not possess its own proper efficiency, but in some cases will have entirely lost its true nature and in others will be in a defective condition: for instance, a ship a span long will not be a ship at all, nor will a ship a quarter of a mile long, and even when it reaches a certain size,

1 In the MSS. this clause follows the next.

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    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 2.167
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