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[132] But I, for my part, hold that there are three types of polity and three only: oligarchy, democracy, and monarchy,1 and that of the people who live under these all who are wont to place in charge of their offices and of their affairs in general those of their fellow-citizens who are most competent and who will most ably and justly direct the affairs of state—all these, I hold, will govern well, under any type of polity, both in their domestic relations and in their relations to the rest of the world.

1 Plat. Rep. 544c ff., distinguishes these three types: monarchy, which may be either a constitutional or an absolute rule; government by the few, which may be either an aristocracy or an oligarchy; and democracy. Aristot. Pol. 3.6 ff., recognizes three types: monarchy, aristocracy, and a republic, and, corresponding to them (aberrations from them), three debased forms, tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy. Isocrates' point is that any one of these forms may be an aristocracy; it is the spirit of the constitution which matters (Isoc. 12.138); that government is best (i.e. an aristocracy) where the best men rule.

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