previous next
[1332b] [1] for our habits make us alter them: some qualities in fact are made by nature liable to be modified by the habits in either direction, for the worse or for the better. Now the other animals live chiefly by nature, though some in small degrees are guided by habits too; but man lives by reason also, for he alone of animals possesses reason; so that in him these three things must be in harmony with one another; for men often act contrary to their acquired habits and to their nature because of their reason, if they are convinced that some other course of action is preferable.

Now we have already1 defined the proper natural character of those who are to be amenable to the hand of the legislator; what now remains is the task of education, for men learn some things by practice, others by precept.

But since every political community is composed of rulers and subjects, we must therefore consider whether the rulers and the subjects ought to change, or to remain the same through life; for it is clear that their education also will have to be made to correspond with this distribution of functions. If then it were the case that the one class differed from the other as widely as we believe the gods and heroes to differ from mankind, having first a great superiority in regard to the body and then in regard to [20] the soul, so that the pre-eminence of the rulers was indisputable and manifest to the subjects, it is clear that it would be better for the same persons always to be rulers and subjects once for all; but as this is not easy to secure, and as we do not find anything corresponding to the great difference that Scylax states to exist between kings and subjects in India, it is clear that for many reasons it is necessary for all to share alike in ruling and being ruled in turn. For equality means for persons who are alike identity of status, and also it is difficult2 for a constitution to endure that is framed in contravention of justice. For all the people throughout the country are ranged on the side of the subject class in wishing for a revolution, and it is a thing inconceivable that those in the government should be sufficiently numerous to over power all of these together. But yet on the other hand that the rulers ought to be superior to the subjects cannot be disputed; therefore the lawgiver must consider how this is to be secured, and how they are to participate in the government. And this has been already3 discussed. Nature has given the distinction by making the group that is itself the same in race partly younger and partly older, of which two sets it is appropriate to the one to be governed and for the other to govern; and no one chafes or thinks himself better than his rulers when he is governed on the ground of age, especially as he is going to get back what he has thus contributed to the common stock when he reaches the proper age. In a sense therefore we must say that the rulers and ruled are the same, and in a sense different.

1 In 4.

2 The emendation suggested by Richards gives ‘For equality and identity (of status) are just for persons who are alike, and it is difficult,’ etc.

3 8.3, 1329a 4 ff.

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.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
India (India) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), I´NDIA
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: