previous next
[1323a] [14]

1The student who is going to make a suitable investigation of the best form of constitution must necessarily decide first of all what is the most desirable mode of life. For while this is uncertain it is also bound to be uncertain what is the best constitution, since it is to be expected that the people that have the best form of government available under their given conditions will fare the best, exceptional circumstances apart. Hence we must first [20] agree what life is most desirable for almost all men, and after that whether the same life is most desirable both for the community and for the individual, or a different one. Believing therefore in the adequacy of much of what is said even in extraneous discourses2 on the subject of the best life, let us make use of these pronouncements now. For as regards at all events one classification of things good, putting them in three groups, external goods, goods of the soul and goods of the body, assuredly nobody would deny that the ideally happy are bound to possess all three. For nobody would call a man ideally happy that has not got a particle of courage nor of temperance nor of justice nor of wisdom, but is afraid of the flies that flutter by him, cannot refrain from any of the most outrageous actions in order to gratify a desire to eat or to drink, ruins his dearest friends for the sake of a farthing, and similarly in matters of the intellect also is as senseless and mistaken as any child or lunatic. But although these are propositions which when uttered everybody would agree to, yet men differ about amount and degrees of value. They think it is enough to possess however small a quantity of virtue, but of wealth, riches, power, glory and everything of that kind they seek a larger and larger amount without limit. We on the other hand shall tell them that it is easy to arrive at conviction on these matters in the light of the actual facts, when one sees that men do not acquire and preserve the virtues by means of these external goods, but external goods by means of the virtues, [1323b] [1] and that whether the life of happiness consists for man in enjoyment or in virtue or in both, it is found in larger measure with those who are of surpassingly high cultivation in character and intellect but only moderate as regards the external acquisition of goods, than with those who own more than they can use of the latter but are deficient in the former. Not but what the truth is also easily seen if we consider the matter in the light of reason. For external goods have a limit, as has any instrument (and everything useful is useful for something), so an excessive amount of them must necessarily do harm, or do no good, to its possessor; whereas with any of the goods of the soul, the more abundant it is, the more useful it must be—if even to goods of the soul not only the term ‘noble’ but also the term ‘useful’ can be properly applied. And broadly, it is clear that we shall declare that the best condition of each particular thing, comparing things with one another, corresponds in point of superiority to the distance that subsists between the things of which we declare these conditions themselves to be conditions.3 Hence inasmuch as our soul is a more valuable thing both absolutely and relatively to ourselves than either our property or our body, the best conditions of these things must necessarily stand in the same relation to one another as the things themselves do. Moreover it is for the sake of the soul that these goods are in their nature desirable, and that all wise men must [20] choose them, not the soul for the sake of those other things. Let us then take it as agreed between us that to each man there falls just so large a measure of happiness as he achieves of virtue and wisdom and of virtuous and wise action: in evidence of this we have the case of God, who is happy and blessed, but is so on account of no external goods, but on account of himself, and by being of a certain quality in his nature; since it is also for this reason that prosperity is necessarily different from happiness—for the cause of goods external to the soul is the spontaneous and fortune,4 but nobody is just or temperate as a result of or owing to the action of fortune. And connected is a truth requiring the same arguments to prove it, that it is also the best state, and the one that does well,5 that is happy. But to do well is impossible save for those who do good actions, and there is no good action either of a man or of a state without virtue and wisdom; and courage, justice and wisdom belonging to a state have the same meaning and form as have those virtues whose possession bestows the titles of just and wise and temperate on an individual human being.

These remarks however must suffice by way of preface to our discourse: for neither is it possible to abstain from touching on these subjects altogether, nor is it feasible to follow out all the arguments that are germane to them, for that is the business of another course of study. For the present let us take it as established that the best life, whether separately for an individual or collectively for states, [1324a] [1] is the life conjoined with virtue furnished with sufficient means for taking part in virtuous actions6; while objections to this position we must pass over in the course of the present inquiry, and reserve them for future consideration, if anyone be found to disagree with what has been said.

On the other hand it remains to say whether the happiness of a state is to be pronounced the same as that of each individual man, or whether it is different. Here too the answer is clear: everybody would agree that it is the same; for all those who base the good life upon wealth in the case of the individual, also assign felicity to the state as a whole if it is wealthy; and all who value the life of the tyrant highest, would also say that the state which rules the widest empire is the happiest; and if any body accepts the individual as happy on account of virtue, he will also say that the state which is the better morally is the happier. But there now arise these two questions that require consideration: first, which mode of life is the more desirable, the life of active citizenship and participation in politics, or rather the life of an alien and that of detachment from the political partnership; next, what constitution and what organization of a state is to be deemed the best,—either on the assumption that to take an active part in the state is desirable for everybody, or that it is undesirable for some men although desirable for most. But as it is [20] the latter question that is the business of political study and speculation, and not the question of what is desirable for the individual, and as it is the investigation of politics that we have now taken up, the former question would be a side issue, and the latter is the business of political inquiry.

Now it is clear that the best constitution is the system under which anybody whatsoever would be best off and would live in felicity; but the question is raised even on the part of those who agree that the life accompanied by virtue is the most desirable, whether the life of citizenship and activity is desirable or rather a life released from all external affairs, for example some form of contemplative life, which is said by some to be the only life that is philosophic.7 For it is manifest that these are the two modes of life principally chosen by the men most ambitious of excelling in virtue, both in past times and at the present day—I mean the life of politics and the life of philosophy. And it makes no little difference which way the truth lies; for assuredly the wise are bound to arrange their affairs in the direction of the better goal—and this applies to the state collectively as well as to the individual human being. Some persons think that empire over one's neighbors, if despotically exercised, involves a definite injustice of the greatest kind, and if constitutionally, although it carries no injustice, yet is a hindrance to the ruler's own well-being; but others hold almost the opposite view to these—they think that the life of action and citizenship is the only life fit for a man, since with each of the virtues its exercise in actions is just as possible for men engaged in public affairs and in politics as for those who live a private life. [1324b] [1] Some people then hold the former view, while others declare that the despotic and tyrannical form of constitution alone achieves happiness; and in some states it is also the distinctive aim of the constitution and the laws to enable them to exercise despotic rule over their neighbors. Hence even though with most peoples most of the legal ordinances have been laid down virtually at random, nevertheless if there are places where the laws aim at one definite object, that object is in all cases power, as in Sparta and Crete both the system of education and the mass of the laws are framed in the main with a view to war; and also among all the non-Hellenic nations that are strong enough to expand at the expense of others, military strength has been held in honor, for example, among the Scythians, Persians, Thracians and Celts. Indeed among some peoples there are even certain laws stimulating military valor; for instance at Carthage, we are told, warriors receive the decoration of armlets of the same number as the campaigns on which they have served; and at one time there was also a law in Macedonia that a man who had never killed an enemy must wear his halter instead of a belt. Among Scythian tribes at a certain festival a cup was carried round from which a man that had not killed an enemy was not allowed to drink. Among the Iberians, a warlike race, they fix small spits8 [20] in the earth round a man's grave corresponding in number to the enemies he has killed. So with other races there are many other practices of a similar kind, some established by law and others by custom.

Nevertheless those who wish to examine the matter closely might perhaps think it exceedingly strange that it should be the business of a statesman to be able to devise means of holding empire and mastery over the neighboring peoples whether they desire it or not. How can that be worthy of a statesman or lawgiver which is not even lawful? and government is not lawful when it is carried on not only justly but also unjustly—and superior strength may be unjustly exercised. Moreover we do not see this in the other sciences either: it is no part of a physician's or ship-captain's business to use either persuasion or compulsion upon the patients in the one case and the crew9 in the other. Yet most peoples seem to think that despotic rule is statesmanship, and are not ashamed to practise towards others treatment which they declare to be unjust and detrimental for themselves; for in their own internal affairs they demand just government, yet in their relations with other peoples they pay no attention to justice. Yet it is strange if there is not a natural distinction between peoples suited to be despotically ruled and those not suited; so that if this is so, it is not proper to attempt to exercise despotic government over all people, but only over those suited for it, just as it is not right to hunt human beings for food or sacrifice, but only the game suitable for this purpose, that is, such wild creatures as are good to eat. And moreover it is possible even for a single state in isolation to be happy, [1325a] [1] that is one that is well governed, in as much as it is conceivable that a state might be carried on somewhere in isolation, enjoying good laws, and in such a state the system of the constitution will not be framed for the purpose of war or of overpowering its enemies—for we are to suppose everything to do with war to be excluded. It is evident therefore that while all military pursuits are to be deemed honorable, they are not so as being the ultimate end of all things but as means to that end. And it is the business of the good lawgiver to study how a state, a race of men or any other community is to partake of the good life and the happiness possible for them. Some however of the regulations laid down will vary; and in case there exist any neighbor peoples, it is the business of the legislative art to consider what sort of exercises should be practised in relation to what sort of neighbors or how the state is to adopt the regulations that are suitable in relation to each.

But this question of the proper end for the best constitutions to aim at may receive its due consideration later.10

We turn to those who, while agreeing that the life of virtue is the most desirable, differ about the way in which that life should be pursued. Some disapprove of holding office in the state, thinking that the life of the free man [20] is different from the life of politics and is the most desirable of any; whereas others think the political life the best life, for they argue that it is impossible for the man who does nothing to do well, and doing well and happiness are the same thing.11 To these two parties we must reply that both are partly right and partly wrong. The former are right in saying that the life of the free man is better than the life of mastership, for this is true—there is nothing specially dignified in employing a slave, as a slave, for giving orders about menial duties has in it nothing of nobility; yet to think that all government is exercising the authority of a master is a mistake, for there is as wide a difference between ruling free men and ruling slaves as there is between the natural freeman and the natural slave themselves. But these things have been adequately decided in the first discourses.12 But to praise inaction more highly than action is an error, for happiness is an activity, and further the actions of the just and temperate have in them the realization of much that is noble. Yet on the strength of these decisions somebody might perhaps suppose that the highest good is to be the master of the world, since thus one would have the power to compass the greatest number and the noblest kind of actions, and therefore it is not the duty of the man that is capable of ruling to surrender office to his neighbor, but rather to take it from him, and no account must be taken by father of sons nor by sons of father nor in general by one friend of another, and no heed must be paid to them in comparison with this; for the best thing is the most to be desired, and to do well is the best thing. Now this statement is perhaps true [1325b] [1] if it is the case that the most desirable of existing things will belong to men that use robbery and violence. But perhaps it cannot belong to them, and this is a false assumption. For a man's acts can no longer be noble if he does not excel as greatly as a man excels a woman or a father his children or a master his slaves, so that one who transgresses cannot afterwards achieve anything sufficient to rectify the lapse from virtue that he had already committed; because for equals the noble and just consists in their taking turns, since this is equal and alike, but for those that are equal to have an unequal share and those that are alike an unlike share is contrary to nature, and nothing contrary to nature is noble. Hence in case there is another person who is our superior in virtue and in practical capacity for the highest functions, him it is noble to follow and him it is just to obey; though he must possess not only virtue but also capacity that will render him capable of action. But if these things are well said, and if happiness is to be defined as well-doing, the active life is the best life both for the whole state collectively and for each man individually. But the active life is not necessarily active in relation to other men, as some people think, nor are only those processes of thought active that are pursued for the sake of the objects that result from action, but far more [20] those speculations and thoughts that have their end in themselves and are pursued for their own sake; for the end is to do well, and therefore is a certain form of action.13 And even with actions done in relation to external objects we predicate action in the full sense chiefly of the master-craftsmen who direct the action by their thoughts. Moreover with cities also, those that occupy an isolated situation and pursue a policy of isolation are not necessarily inactive; for state activities also can be sectional, since the sections of the state have many common relations with one another. And this is also possible similarly in the case of any individual human being; for otherwise God and the whole universe could hardly be well circumstanced, since they have no external activities by the side of their own private activities.

It is therefore manifest that the same life must be the best both for each human being individually and for states and mankind collectively.

And as we have prepared the way by this prefatory discussion of the subject, and have previously studied all the other forms of constitution,14 the starting-point for the remainder of our subject is first to specify the nature of the conditions that are necessary in the case of the state that is to be constituted in the ideally best manner. For the best constitution cannot be realized without suitable equipment.15 We must therefore posit as granted in advance a number of as it were ideal conditions, although none of these must be actually impossible. I mean for instance in reference to number of citizens and territory. All other craftsmen, for example a weaver or a shipwright, [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.16 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, [1326b] [1] in some cases smallness and in others excessive largeness will make it sail badly. Similarly a state consisting of too few people will not be self-sufficing (which is an essential quality of a state), and one consisting of too many, though self-sufficing in the mere necessaries, will be so in the way in which a nation17 is, and not as a state, since it will not be easy for it to possess constitutional government—for who will command its over-swollen multitude in war? or who will serve as its herald, unless he have the lungs of a Stentor? It follows that the lowest limit for the existence of a state is when it consists of a population that reaches the minimum number that is self-sufficient for the purpose of living the good life after the manner of a political community. It is possible also for one that exceeds this one in number to be a greater state, but, as we said, this possibility of increase is not without limit, and what the limit of the state's expansion is can easily be seen from practical considerations. The activities of the state are those of the rulers and those of the persons ruled, and the work of a ruler is to direct the administration and to judge law-suits; but in order to decide questions of justice and in order to distribute the offices according to merit it is necessary for the citizens to know each other's personal characters, since where this does not happen to be the case the business of electing officials and trying law-suits is bound to go badly; haphazard decision is unjust in both matters, and this [20] must obviously prevail in an excessively numerous community. Also in such a community it is easy for foreigners and resident aliens to usurp the rights of citizenship, for the excessive number of the population makes it not difficult to escape detection. It is clear therefore that the best limiting principle for a state is the largest expansion of the population, with a view to self-sufficiency that can well be taken in at one view.

Such may be our conclusion on the question of the size of the state.

Very much the same holds good about its territory. As to the question what particular kind of land it ought to have, it is clear that everybody would command that which is most self-sufficing (and such is necessarily that which bears every sort of produce, for self-sufficiency means having a supply of everything and lacking nothing). In extent and magnitude the land ought to be of a size that will enable the inhabitants to live a life of liberal and at the same time temperate leisure. Whether this limiting principle is rightly or wrongly stated must be considered more precisely later on,18 when we come to raise the general subject of property and the ownership of wealth,—how and in what way it ought to be related to the employment of wealth19; about this question there are many controversies, owing to those that draw us towards either extreme of life, the one school towards parsimony and the other towards luxury. The proper configuration of the country it is not difficult to state (though there are some points on which the advice of military experts also must be taken): on the one hand it should be difficult for enemies to invade and easy for the people themselves to march out from, [1327a] [1] and in addition, on the other hand, the same thing holds good of the territory that we said about the size of the population—it must be well able to be taken in at one view, and that means being a country easy for military defence. As to the site of the city, if it is to be ideally placed, it is proper for it to be well situated with regard both to the sea and to the country. One defining principle is that mentioned above20—the city must be in communication with all parts of the territory for the purpose of sending out military assistance; and the remaining principle is that it must be easily accessible for the conveyance to it of the agricultural produce, and also of timber-wood and any other such material that the country happens to possess.

As to communication with the sea it is in fact much debated whether it is advantageous to well-ordered states or harmful. It is maintained that the visits of persons brought up under other institutions are detrimental to law and order, and so also is a swollen population, which grows out of sending out abroad and receiving in a number of traders, but is unfavorable to good government. Now it is not difficult to see that, if these consequences are avoided, it is advantageous in respect of both security and the supply of necessary commodities [20] that the city and the country should have access to the sea. With a view to enduring wars more easily people that are to be secure must be capable of defensive operations on both elements, land and sea, and with a view to striking at assailants, even if it be not possible on both elements, yet to do so on one or the other will be more in the power of people that have access to both. And the importation of commodities that they do not happen to have in their own country and the export of their surplus products are things indispensable; for the state ought to engage in commerce for its own interest, but not for the interest of the foreigner. People that throw open their market to the world do so for the sake of revenue, but a state that is not to take part in that sort of profit-making need not possess a great commercial port. But since even now we see many countries and cities possessing sea-ports and harbors conveniently situated with regard to the city, so as not to form part of the same town21 and yet not to be too far off, but commanded by walls and other defence-works of the kind, it is manifest that if any advantage does result through the communication of city with port the state will possess this advantage, and if there is any harmful result it is easy to guard against it by means of laws stating and regulating what persons are not and what persons are to have intercourse with one another. On the question of naval forces, there is no doubt that to possess them up to a certain strength is most desirable [1327b] [1] (for a state ought to be formidable, and also capable of the defence of not only its own people but also some of its neighbors, by sea as well as by land); but when we come to the question of the number and size of this force, we have to consider the state's manner of life if it is to live a life of leadership and affairs,22 it must possess maritime as well as other forces commensurate with its activities. On the other hand it is not necessary for states to include the teeming population that grows up in connection with common sailors, as there is no need for these to be citizens; for the marines are free men and are a part of the infantry, and it is they who have command and control the crew; and if there exists a mass of villagers and tillers of the soil, there is bound to be no lack of sailors too. In fact we see this state of thing existing even now in some places, for instance in the city of Heraclea; the Heracleotes man a large fleet of triremes, although they possess a city of but moderate size as compared with others.

Let such then be our conclusions about the territories and harbors of cities, and the sea, and about naval forces.

About the citizen population, we said before what is its proper limit of numbers. Let us now speak [20] of what ought to be the citizens' natural character. Now this one might almost discern by looking at the famous cities of Greece and by observing how the whole inhabited world is divided up among the nations.23 The nations inhabiting the cold places and those of Europe are full of spirit but somewhat deficient in intelligence and skill, so that they continue comparatively free, but lacking in political organization and capacity to rule their neighbors. The peoples of Asia on the other hand are intelligent and skillful in temperament, but lack spirit, so that they are in continuous subjection and slavery. But the Greek race participates in both characters, just as it occupies the middle position geographically, for it is both spirited and intelligent; hence it continues to be free and to have very good political institutions, and to be capable of ruling all mankind if it attains constitutional unity. The same diversity also exists among the Greek races compared with one another: some have a one-sided nature, others are happily blended in regard to both these capacities.24 It is clear therefore that people that are to be easily guided to virtue by the lawgiver must be both intellectual and spirited in their nature. For as to what is said by certain persons about the character that should belong to their Guardians25—they should be affectionate to their friends but fierce towards strangers—it is spirit that causes affectionateness, for spirit is the capacity of the soul whereby we love. [1328a] [1] A sign of this is that spirit is more roused against associates and friends than against strangers, when it thinks itself slighted. Therefore Archilochus26 for instance, when reproaching his friends, appropriately apostrophizes his spirit: “ For 'tis thy friends that make thee choke with rage.
” Moreover it is from this faculty that power to command and love of freedom are in all cases derived; for spirit is a commanding and indomitable element. But it is a mistake to describe the Guardians as cruel towards strangers; it is not right to be cruel towards anybody, and men of great-souled nature are not fierce except towards wrongdoers, and their anger is still fiercer against their companions if they think that these are wronging them, as has been said before. And this is reasonable, because they think that in addition to the harm done them they are also being defrauded of a benefit by persons whom they believe to owe them one. Hence the sayings “ For brothers' wars are cruel,27
” and “ They that too deeply loved too deeply hate.28

We have now approximately decided what are the proper numbers and the natural qualities of those who exercise the right of citizens, and the proper extent and nature of the territory (for we must not [20] seek to attain the same exactness by means of theoretical discussions as is obtained by means of the facts that come to us through sense-perceptions).

But since, just as with all other natural organisms those things that are indispensable for the existence of the whole are not parts29 of the whole organization, it is also clear that not all the things that are necessary for states to possess are to be counted as parts of a state (any more than this is so with any other association that forms something one in kind, for there must be something that is one and common and the same for the partners, whether the shares that they take be equal or unequal: for example this common property may be food or an area of land or something else of the same sort—30 but when of two related things one is a means and the other an end, in their case there is nothing in common except for the one to act and the other to receive the action. I mean for instance the relation between any instrument or artificer and the work that they produce: between a house and a builder there is nothing that is produced in common, but the builder's craft exists for the sake of the house. Hence although states need property, the property is no part of the state. And there are many living things that fall under the head of property.31 And the state is one form of partnership of similar people, and its object is the best life that is possible. And since the greatest good is happiness, and this is some perfect activity or employment of virtue, and since it has so come about that it is possible for some men to participate in it, but for others only to a small extent or not at all, it is clear that this is the cause for there arising different kinds and varieties of state and several forms of constitution; [1328b] [1] for as each set of people pursues participation in happiness in a different manner and by different means they make for themselves different modes of life and different constitutions. And we must also further consider how many there are of these things referred to that are indispensable for the existence of a state; for among them will be the things which we pronounce to be parts of a state, owing to which their presence is essential. We must therefore consider the list of occupations that a state requires : for from these it will appear what the indispensable classes are. First then a state must have a supply of food; secondly, handicrafts (since life needs many tools); third, arms (since the members of the association must necessarily possess arms both to use among themselves and for purposes of government, in cases of insubordination, and to employ against those who try to molest them from without); also a certain abundance of money, in order that they may have enough both for their internal needs and for requirements of war; fifth, a primary need, the service of religion, termed a priesthood; and sixth in number and most necessary of all, a provision for deciding questions of interests and of rights between the citizens. These then are the occupations that virtually every state requires (for the state is not any chance multitude of people but one self-sufficient for the needs of life, as we say,32 and if any of these industries happens to be wanting, it is impossible for that association to be absolutely self-sufficient). It is necessary therefore for the state to be organized [20] on the lines of these functions; consequently it must possess a number of farmers who will provide the food, and craftsmen, and the military class, and the wealthy, and priests and judges to decide questions of necessity33 and of interests.

These matters having been settled, it remains to consider whether everybody is to take part in all of these functions (for it is possible for the whole of the people to be at once farmers and craftsmen and the councillors and judges), or whether we are to assume different classes corresponding to each of the functions mentioned, or whether some of them must necessarily be specialized and others combined. But it will not be the same in every form of constitution; for, as we said,34 it is possible either for all the people to take part in all the functions or for not all to take part in all but for certain people to have certain functions. In fact these different distributions of functions are the cause of the difference between constitutions: democracies are states in which all the people participate in all the functions, oligarchies where the contrary is the case. But at present we are studying the best constitution, and this is the constitution under which the state would be most happy, and it has been stated before35 that happiness cannot be forthcoming without virtue; it is therefore clear from these considerations that in the most nobly constituted state, and the one that possesses men that are absolutely just, not merely just relatively to the principle that is the basis of the constitution, the citizens must not live a mechanic or a mercantile life (for such a life is ignoble and inimical to virtue), nor yet must those who are to be citizens in the best state be tillers of the soil [1329a] [1] (for leisure is needed both for the development of virtue and for active participation in politics). And since the state also contains the military class and the class that deliberates about matters of policy and judges questions of justice, and these are manifestly in a special sense parts of the state, are these classes also to be set down as distinct or are both functions to be assigned to the same persons? But here also the answer is clear, because in a certain sense they should be assigned to the same persons, but in a certain sense to different ones. Inasmuch as each of these two functions belongs to a different prime of life, and one requires wisdom, the other strength, they are to be assigned to different people; but inasmuch as it is a thing impossible that when a set of men are able to employ force and to resist control, these should submit always to be ruled, from this point of view both functions must be assigned to the same people; for those who have the power of arms have the power to decide whether the constitution shall stand or fall. The only course left them is to assign this constitutional function to both sets of men without distinction,36 yet not simultaneously, but, as in the natural order of things strength is found in the younger men and wisdom in the elder, it seems to be expedient and just for their functions to be allotted to both in this way, for this mode of division possesses conformity with merit. Moreover the ownership of properties also must be centered round these classes, for the citizens must necessarily possess plentiful means, and these are the citizens. For the [20] artisan class has no share in the state, nor has any other class that is not ‘an artificer of virtue.’37 And this is clear from our basic principle; for in conjunction with virtue happiness is bound to be forthcoming, but we should pronounce a state happy having regard not to a particular section of it but to all its citizens. And it is also manifest that the properties must belong to these classes, inasmuch as38 it is necessary for the tillers of the soil to be slaves, or serfs of alien race. There remains of the list enumerated the class of priests; and the position of this class also is manifest. Priests must be appointed neither from the tillers of the soil nor from the artisans, for it is seemly that the gods should be worshipped by citizens; and since the citizen body is divided into two parts, the military class and the councillor class, and as it is seemly that those who have relinquished these duties owing to age should render to the gods their due worship and should spend their retirement in their service, it is to these that the priestly offices should be assigned.

We have therefore stated the things indispensable for the constitution of a state, and the things that are parts of a state: tillers of the soil, craftsmen and the laboring class generally are a necessary appurtenance of states, but the military and deliberative classes are parts of the state; and moreover each of these divisions is separate from the others, either permanently or by turn.39

And that it is proper for the state to be divided up into castes and for the military class to be distinct from that of the tillers of the soil [1329b] [1] does not seem to be a discovery of political philosophers of today or one made recently.40 In Egypt this arrangement still exists even now, as also in Crete; it is said to have been established in Egypt by the legislation of Sesostris and in Crete by that of Minos. Common meals also seem to be an ancient institution, those in Crete having begun in the reign of Minos, while those in Italy are much older than these. According to the historians one of the settlers there, a certain Italus, became king of Oenotria, and from him they took the name of Italians instead of that of Oenotrians, and the name of Italy was given to all that promontory41 of Europe lying between the Gulfs of Scylletium and of Lametus,42 which are half a day's journey apart. It was this Italus then who according to tradition converted the Oenotrians from a pastoral life to one of agriculture and gave them various ordinances, being the first to institute their system of common meals; hence the common meals and some of his laws are still observed by certain of his successors even today. The settlers in the direction of Tyrrhenia43 were Opicans, who today as in former times bear the surname of [20] Ausonians; the region towards Iapygia44 and the Ionian Gulf, called Syrtis, was inhabited by the Chones, who also were Oenotrians by race. It is from this country that the system of common meals has its origin, while the division of the citizen-body by hereditary caste came from Egypt, for the reign of Sesostris long antedates that of Minos. We may almost take it therefore that all other political devices also have been discovered repeatedly, or rather an infinite number of times over, in the lapse of ages; for the discoveries of a necessary kind are probably taught by need itself, and when the necessaries have been provided it is reasonable that things contributing to refinement and luxury should find their development; so that we must assume that this is the way with political institutions also. The antiquity of all of them is indicated by the history of Egypt; for the Egyptians are reputed to be the oldest of nations, but they have always had laws and a political system. Hence we should use the results of previous discovery when adequate, while endeavoring to investigate matters hitherto passed over.

It has been stated before that the land ought to be owned by those who possess arms and those who share the rights of the constitution, and why the cultivators ought to be a different caste from these, and what is the proper extent and conformation of the country. We have now to discuss first the allotment of the land, and the proper class and character of its cultivators; since we advocate not common ownership of land, as some have done, [1330a] [1] but community in it brought about in a friendly way by the use of it,45 and we hold that no citizen should be ill supplied with means of subsistence. As to common meals, all agree that this is an institution advantageous for well-organized states to possess; our own reasons for sharing this view we will state later.46 But the common meals must be shared by all the citizens, and it is not easy for the poor to contribute their assessed share from their private means and also to maintain their household as well. And moreover the expenses connected with religion are the common concern of the whole state. It is necessary therefore for the land to be divided into two parts, of which one must be common and the other the private property of individuals; and each of these two divisions must again be divided in two. Of the common land one portion should be assigned to the services of religion, and the other to defray the cost of the common meals; of the land in private ownership one part should be the district near the frontiers, and another the district near the city, in order that two plots may be assigned to each citizen and all may have a share in both districts. This arrangement satisfies equity and justice, and also conduces to greater unanimity in facing border warfare. Where this system is not followed, one set of people are reckless about quarrelling with the neighboring states, [20] and the other set are too cautious and neglect considerations of honor. Hence some people have a law that the citizens whose land is near the frontier are not to take part in deliberation as to wars against neighboring states, on the ground that private interest would prevent them from being able to take counsel wisely. The land must therefore be divided up in this manner because of the reasons aforesaid.

Those who are to cultivate the soil should best of all, if the ideal system is to be stated, be slaves, not drawn from people all of one tribe nor of a spirited character (for thus they would be both serviceable for their work and safe to abstain from insurrection), but as a second best they should be alien serfs of a similar nature. Of these laborers those in private employment must be among the private possessions of the owners of the estates, and those working on the common land common property. How slaves should be employed, and why it is advantageous that all slaves should have their freedom set before them as a reward, we will say later.47

It has been said before that the city should so far as circumstances permit be in communication alike with the mainland, the sea and the whole of its territory. The site of the city itself we must pray that fortune may place on sloping ground, having regard to four considerations48: first, as a thing essential, the consideration of health (for cities whose site slopes east or towards the breezes that blow from the sunrise are more healthy, and in the second degree those that face away from the north wind,49 for these are milder in winter); [1330b] [1] and among the remaining considerations, a sloping site is favorable both for political and for military purposes. For military purposes therefore the site should be easy of exit for the citizens themselves, and difficult for the adversary to approach and to blockade, and it must possess if possible a plentiful natural supply of pools and springs, but failing this, a mode has been invented of supplying water by means of constructing an abundance of large reservoirs for rain-water, so that a supply may never fail the citizens when they are debarred from their territory by war. And since we have to consider the health of the inhabitants, and this depends upon the place being well situated both on healthy ground and with a healthy aspect, and secondly upon using wholesome water-supplies, the following matter also must be attended to as of primary importance. Those things which we use for the body in the largest quantity, and most frequently, contribute most to health; and the influence of the water-supply and of the air is of this nature. Hence in wise cities if all the sources of water are not equally pure and there is not an abundance of suitable springs, the water-supplies for drinking must be kept separate from those for other requirements. As to fortified positions, what is expedient is not the same for all forms of constitution alike; for example, a citadel-hill is suitable for oligarchy and monarchy, [20] and a level site for democracy; neither is favorable to an aristocracy, but rather several strong positions. The arrangement of the private dwellings is thought to be more agreeable and more convenient for general purposes if they are laid out in straight streets, after the modern fashion, that is, the one introduced by Hippodamus50; but it is more suitable for security in war if it is on the contrary plan, as cities used to be in ancient times; for that arrangement is difficult for foreign troops51 to enter and to find their way about in when attacking. Hence it is well to combine the advantages of both plans (for this is possible if the houses are laid out in the way which among the farmers some people call ‘on the slant’52 in the case of vines), and not to lay out the whole city in straight streets, but only certain parts and districts, for in this way it will combine security with beauty.

As regards walls, those who aver that cities which pretend to valor should not have them hold too old-fashioned a view—and that though they see that the cities that indulge in that form of vanity are refuted by experience. It is true that against an evenly matched foe and one little superior in numbers it is not honorable to try to secure oneself by the strength of one's fortifications; but as it does and may happen that the superior numbers of the attackers may be too much for the human valor of a small force, if the city is to survive and not to suffer disaster or insult, the securest fortification of walls must be deemed to be the most warlike, [1331a] [1] particularly in view of the inventions that have now been made in the direction of precision with missiles and artillery for sieges. To claim not to encompass cities with walls is like desiring53 the country to be easy to invade and stripping it of hilly regions, and similarly not surrounding even private dwellings with house-walls on the ground that the inhabitants will be cowardly. Another point moreover that must not be forgotten is that those who have walls round the city can use their cities in both ways, both as walled cities and as open ones, whereas cities not possessing walls cannot be used in both ways. If then this is so, not only must walls be put round a city, but also attention must be paid to them in order that they may be suitable both in regard to the adornment of the city and in respect of military requirements, especially the new devices recently invented. For just as the attackers of a city are concerned to study the means by which they can gain the advantage, so also for the defenders some devices have already been invented and others they must discover and think out; for people do not even start attempting to attack those who are well prepared.

And since the multitude of citizens must be distributed [20] in separate messes, and the city walls must be divided up by guard-posts and towers in suitable places, it is clear that these facts themselves call for some of the messes to be organized at these guard-posts. These things then might be arranged in this manner. But it is fitting that the dwellings assigned to the gods and the most important of the official messes should have a suitable site, and the same for all, excepting those temples which are assigned a special place apart by the law or else by some utterance of the Pythian oracle. And the site would be suitable if it is one that is sufficiently conspicuous in regard to the excellence of its position, and also of superior strength in regard to the adjacent parts of the city. It is convenient that below this site should be laid out an agora of the kind customary in Thessaly which they call a free agora, that is, one which has to be kept clear of all merchandise and into which no artisan or farmer or any other such person may intrude unless summoned by the magistrates. It would give amenity to the site if the gymnasia of the older men were also situated here—for it is proper to have this institution also divided according to ages,54 and for certain magistrates to pass their time among the youths while the older men spend theirs with the magistrates; for the presence of the magistrates before men's eyes most engenders true respect and a freeman's awe. [1331b] [1] The agora for merchandise must be different from the free agora, and in another place; it must have a site convenient for the collection there of all the goods sent from the seaport and from the country. And as the divisions of the state's populace include55 priests and magistrates, it is suitable that the priests' mess-rooms also should have their position round that of the sacred buildings. And all the magistracies that superintend contracts, and the registration of actions at law, summonses and other such matters of administration, and also those that deal with the control of the markets and with what is termed policing the city, should have buildings adjacent to an agora or some public place of resort, and such a place is the neighborhood of the business agora, for we assign the upper agora as the place in which to spend leisure, and this one for necessary business.

The arrangements in the country also should copy the plan described; there too the magistrates called in some states Wardens of the Woods and in others Land-superintendents must have their guard-posts and mess-rooms for patrol duty, and also temples must be distributed over the country, some dedicated to gods and some to heroes. But to linger at this point over the detailed statement and discussion of questions of this kind is waste of time. [20] The difficulty with such things is not so much in the matter of theory but in that of practice; to lay down principles is a work of aspiration, but their realization is the task of fortune. Hence we will relinquish for the present the further consideration of matters of this sort.

We must now discuss the constitution itself, and ask what and of what character should be the components of the state that is to have felicity and good government. There are two things in which the welfare of all men consists: one of these is the correct establishment of the aim and end of their actions, the other the ascertainment of the actions leading to that end. (For the end proposed and the means adopted may be inconsistent with one another, as also they may be consistent; sometimes the aim has been correctly proposed, but people fail to achieve it in action, sometimes they achieve all the means successfully but the end that they posited was a bad one, and sometimes they err as to both—for instance, in medicine practitioners are sometimes both wrong in their judgement of what qualities a healthy body ought to possess and unsuccessful in hitting on effective means to produce the distinctive aim that they have set before them; whereas in the arts and sciences both these things have to be secured, the end and the practical means to the end.) Now it is clear that all men aim at the good life and at happiness, but though some possess the power to attain these things, some do not, owing to some factor of fortune or of nature (fortune because the good life needs also a certain equipment of means, [1332a] [1] and although it needs less of this for men of better natural disposition it needs more for those of worse); while others, although they have the power, go wrong at the start in their search for happiness.56 But the object before us is to discern the best constitution, and this is the one under which a state will be best governed, and a state will be best governed under the constitution under which it has the most opportunity for happiness; it is therefore clear that we must know what happiness is. The view that we maintain (and this is the definition that we laid down in theEthics,57 if those discourses are of any value) is that happiness is the complete activity and employment of virtue, and this not conditionally but absolutely. When I say ‘conditionally’ I refer to things necessary, by ‘absolutely’ I mean ‘nobly’: for instance, to take the case of just actions, just acts of vengeance and of punishment spring it is true from virtue, but are necessary, and have the quality of nobility only in a limited manner (since it would be preferable that neither individual nor state should have any need of such things), whereas actions aiming at honors and resources58 are the noblest actions absolutely; for the former class of acts consist in the removal59 of something evil, but actions of the latter kind are the opposite—they are the foundation and the generation of things good. The virtuous man will use even poverty, disease, and [20] the other forms of bad fortune in a noble manner, but felicity consists in their opposites (for it is a definition established by our ethical discourses60 that the virtuous man is the man of such a character that because of his virtue things absolutely good are good to him, and it is therefore clear that his employment of these goods must also be virtuous and noble absolutely); and hence men actually suppose that external goods are the cause of happiness, just as if they were to assign the cause of a brilliantly fine performance on the harp to the instrument rather than to the skill of the player. It follows therefore from what has been said that some goods must be forthcoming to start with and others must be provided by the legislator. Hence we pray that the organization of the state may be successful in securing those goods which are in the control of fortune (for that fortune does control external goods we take as axiomatic); but when we come to the state's being virtuous, to secure this is not the function of fortune but of science and policy. But then the virtue of the state is of course caused by the citizens who share in its government being virtuous; and in our state all the citizens share in the government. The point we have to consider therefore is, how does a man become virtuous? For even if it be possible for the citizens to be virtuous collectively without being so individually, the latter is preferable, since for each individual to be virtuous entails as a consequence the collective virtue of all. But there are admittedly three things by which men are made good and virtuous, and these three things are nature, habit and reason. For to start with, one must be born with the nature of a human being and not of some other animal; and secondly, one must be born of a certain quality of body and of soul. But there are some qualities that it is of no use to be born with, [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 already61 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 difficult62 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 already63 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. [1333a] [1] Hence their education also is bound to be in one way the same and in another different. For he who is to be a good ruler must have first been ruled, as the saying is64 (and government, as has been said in the first discourses,65 is of two sorts, one carried on for the sake of the ruler and the other for the sake of the subject; of these the former is what we call the rule of a master,the latter is the government of free men . . .66 But some of the commands given differ not in nature of the services commanded but in their object. Hence a number of what are thought to be menial services can be honorably performed even by freemen in youth; since in regard to honor and dishonor actions do not differ so much in themselves as in their end and object). But since we say that the goodness of a citizen67 and ruler are the same as that of the best man, and that the same person ought to become a subject first and a ruler afterwards, it will be important for the legislator to study how and by what courses of training good men are to be produced, and what is the end of the best life.

The soul is divided into two parts, of which one is in itself possessed of reason, while the other is not rational in itself but capable of obeying reason. To these parts in our view belong those virtues in accordance with which a man is pronounced to be good in some way. But in which of these [20] two parts the end of man rather resides, those who define the parts of the soul in accordance with our view will have no doubt as to how they should decide. The worse always exists as a means to the better, and this is manifest alike in the products of art and in those of nature; but the rational part of the soul is better than the irrational. And the rational part is subdivided into two, according to our usual scheme of division; for reason is of two kinds, practical and theoretic, so that obviously the rational part of the soul must also be subdivided accordingly. A corresponding classification we shall also pronounce to hold among its activities: the activities of the part of the soul that is by nature superior must be preferable for those persons who are capable of attaining either all the soul's activities or two68 out of the three; since that thing is always most desirable for each person which is the highest to which it is possible for him to attain. Also life as a whole is divided into business and leisure, and war and peace, and our actions are aimed some of them at things necessary and useful, others at things noble. In these matters the same principle of preference that applies to the parts of the soul must apply also to the activities of those parts: war must be for the sake of peace, business for the sake of leisure, things necessary and useful for the purpose of things noble. The statesman therefore must legislate with all these considerations in view, both in respect of the parts of the soul and of their activities, and aiming more particularly at the greater goods and the ends. And the same principle applies in regard to modes of life and choices of conduct: a man should be capable of engaging in business and war, [1333b] [1] but still more capable of living in peace and leisure; and he should do what is necessary and useful, but still more should he do what is noble. These then are the aims that ought to be kept in view in the education of the citizens both while still children and at the later ages that require education. But the Greek peoples reputed at the present day to have the best constitutions, and the lawgivers that established them, manifestly did not frame their constitutional systems with reference to the best end, nor construct their laws and their scheme of education with a view to all the virtues, but they swerved aside in a vulgar manner towards those excellences that are supposed to be useful and more conducive to gain. And following the same lines as they, some later writers also have pronounced the same opinion: in praising the Spartan constitution they express admiration for the aim of its founder on the ground that he framed the whole of his legislation with a view to conquest and to war. These views are easy to refute on theoretical grounds and also have now been refuted by the facts of history. For just as most of mankind covet being master of many servants69 because this produces a manifold supply of fortune's goods, so Thibron70 and all the other writers about the Spartan constitution [20] show admiration for the lawgiver of the Spartans because owing to their having been trained to meet dangers they governed a wide empire. Yet it clearly follows that since as a matter of fact at the present day the Spartans no longer possess an empire, they are not happy, and their lawgiver was not a good one. And it is ridiculous that although they have kept to his laws, and although nothing hinders their observing the laws, they have lost the noble life. Also writers have a wrong conception of the power for which the lawgiver should display esteem; to govern freemen is nobler and more conjoined with virtue than to rule despotically. And again it is not a proper ground for deeming a state happy and for praising its lawgiver, that it has practised conquest with a view to ruling71 over its neighbors. This principle is most disastrous; it follows from it that an individual citizen who has the capacity ought to endeavor to attain the power to hold sway over his own city; but this is just what the Spartans charge as a reproach against their king Pausanias, although he attained such high honor. No principle therefore and no law of this nature is either statesmanlike or profitable, nor is it true; the same ideals are the best both for individuals and for communities, and the lawgiver should endeavor to implant them in the souls of mankind. The proper object of practising military training is not in order that men may enslave those who do not deserve slavery, but in order that first they may themselves avoid becoming enslaved to others; then so that they may seek suzerainty for the benefit of the subject people, [1334a] [1] but not for the sake of world-wide despotism; and thirdly to hold despotic power over those who deserve to be slaves. Experience supports the testimony of theory, that it is the duty of the lawgiver rather to study how he may frame his legislation both with regard to warfare and in other departments for the object of leisure and of peace. Most military states remain safe while at war but perish when they have won their empire; in peace-time they lose their keen temper, like iron.72 The lawgiver is to blame, because he did not educate them to be able to employ leisure.

And since it appears that men have the same end collectively and individually, and since the same distinctive aim must necessarily belong both to the best man and to the best government, it is clear that the virtues relating to leisure are essential73; since, as has been said repeatedly, peace is the end of war, leisure of business. But the virtues useful for leisure and for its employment are not only those that operate during leisure but also those that operate in business; for many of the necessaries must needs be forthcoming to give us opportunity for leisure. Therefore it is proper for the state to be temperate, [20] brave and enduring; since, as the proverb goes, there is no leisure for slaves, but people unable to face danger bravely are the slaves of their assailants. Therefore courage and fortitude are needed for business, love of wisdom for leisure, temperance and justice for both seasons, and more especially when men are at peace and have leisure; for war compels men to be just and temperate, whereas the enjoyment of prosperity and peaceful leisure tend to make them insolent. Therefore much justice and much temperance are needed by those who are deemed very prosperous and who enjoy all the things counted as blessings, like the persons, if such there be, as the poets say,74 that dwell in the Islands of the Blest; these will most need wisdom, temperance and justice, the more they are at leisure and have an abundance of such blessings. It is clear therefore why a state that is to be happy and righteous must share in these virtues; for if it is disgraceful to be unable to use our good things, it is still more disgraceful to be unable to use them in time of leisure, and although showing ourselves good men when engaged in business and war, in times of peace and leisure to seem no better than slaves. Therefore we must not cultivate virtue after the manner of the state of Sparta. The superiority of the Spartans over other races does not lie [1334b] [1] in their holding a different opinion from others as to what things are the greatest goods, but rather in their believing that these are obtained by means of one particular virtue; yet because they both deem these things and their enjoyment to be greater goods than the enjoyment of the virtues . . .75

. . . and that it is to be practised for its own sake is manifest from these considerations; but it must now be considered how and by what means this will come about. Now we have indeed previously decided that it requires nature and habit and reason, and among these, what particular quality of nature men ought to possess has been defined previously; but it remains to consider whether men ought to be educated first by means of the reason or by the habits. For between reason and habit the most perfect harmony ought to exist, as it is possible both for the reason to have missed the highest principle and for men to have been as wrongly trained through the habits. This therefore at all events is clear in the first place, in the case of men as of other creatures, that their engendering starts from a beginning, and that the end starts from a certain beginning that is another end,76 and that reason and intelligence are for us the end of our natural development, so that it is with a view to these ends that our engendering and the training of our habits must be regulated. And secondly, as soul and body are two, so we observe that the soul also has two parts, the irrational part and the part possessing reason, and that the states which they experience are two in number, [20] the one being desire and the other intelligence; and as the body is prior in its development to the soul, so the irrational part of the soul is prior to the rational. And this also is obvious, because passion and will, and also appetite,77 exist in children even as soon as they are born, but it is the nature of reasoning and intelligence to arise in them as they grow older. Therefore in the first place it is necessary for the training of the body to precede that of the mind, and secondly for the training of the appetite to precede that of the intelligence; but the training of the appetite must be for the sake of the intellect, and that of the body for the sake of the soul.

Inasmuch therefore as it is the duty of the lawgiver to consider from the start how the children reared are to obtain the best bodily frames, he must first pay attention to the union of the sexes, and settle when and in what condition a couple should practise matrimonial intercourse. In legislating for this partnership he must pay regard partly to the persons themselves and to their span of life, so that they may arrive together at the same period in their ages, and their powers may not be at discord through the man being still capable of parentage and the wife incapable, or the wife capable and the man not (for this causes differences and actual discord between them), and also he must consider as well the succession of the children, for the children must neither be too far removed in their ages from the fathers (since elderly fathers get no good from their children's return of their favors, nor do the children from the help they get from the fathers), [1335a] [1] nor must they be too near them (for this involves much unpleasantness, since in such families there is less respect felt between them, as between companions of the same age, and also the nearness of age leads to friction in household affairs); and in addition, to return to the point from which we began this digression, measures must be taken to ensure that the children produced may have bodily frames suited to the wish of the lawgiver. These results then are almost all attained by one mode of regulation. For since the period of parentage terminates, speaking generally, with men at the age of seventy at the outside, and with women at fifty, the commencement of their union should correspond in respect of age with these times. But the mating of the young is bad for child-bearing; for in all animal species the offspring of the young are more imperfect and likely to produce female children,78 and small in figure, so that the same thing must necessarily occur in the human race also. And a proof of this is that in all the states where it is the local custom to mate young men and young women, the people are deformed and small of body. And again young women labor more, and more of them die in childbirth; indeed according to some accounts such was the reason why the oracle79 was given [20] to the people of Troezen, because many were dying owing to its being their custom for the women to marry young, and it did not refer to the harvest. And again it also contributes to chastity for the bestowal of women in marriage to be made when they are older, for it is thought that they are more licentious when they have had intercourse in youth. Also the males are thought to be arrested in bodily growth if they have intercourse while the seed is still growing, for this also has a fixed period after passing which it is no longer plentiful. Therefore it is fitting for the women to be married at about the age of eighteen and the men at thirty-seven or a little before80—for that will give long enough for the union to take place with their bodily vigor at its prime, and for it to arrive with a convenient coincidence of dates at the time when procreation ceases. Moreover the succession of the children to the estates, if their birth duly occurs soon after the parents marry, will take place when they are beginning their prime, and when the parents' period of vigor has now come to a close, towards the age of seventy. The proper age therefore for union has been discussed; as to the proper times in respect of the season we may accept what is customary with most people, who have rightly decided even as it is to practise marital cohabitation in winter. And people should also study for themselves, when their time comes, the teachings of physicians and natural philosophers on the subject of the procreation of children; the suitable bodily seasons are adequately discussed by the physicians, [1335b] [1] and the question of weather by the natural philosophers, who say that north winds are more favorable than south. The particular kind of bodily constitution in the parents that will be most beneficial for the offspring must be dwelt on more in detail in our discussion of the management of children81; it is sufficient to speak of it in outline now. The athlete's habit of body is not serviceable for bodily fitness as required by a citizen, nor for health and parentage, nor yet is a habit that is too valetudinarian and unfit for labor, but the condition that lies between them. The bodily habit therefore should have been trained by exercise, but not by exercises that are violent, and not for one form of labor only, as is the athlete's habit of body, but for the pursuits of free men. And these arrangements must be provided alike for men and women. And pregnant women also must take care of their bodies, not avoiding exercise nor adopting a low diet; this it is easy for the lawgiver to secure by ordering them to make a journey daily for the due worship of the deities whose office is the control of childbirth. As regards the mind, however, on the contrary it suits them to pass the time more indolently than as regards their bodies; for children before birth are evidently affected by the mother just as growing plants are by the earth.As to exposing or [20] rearing the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared; but on the ground of number of children, if the regular customs hinder any of those born being exposed, there must be a limit fixed to the procreation of offspring, and if any people have a child as a result of intercourse in contravention of these regulations, abortion must be practised on it before it has developed sensation and life; for the line between lawful and unlawful abortion will be marked by the fact of having sensation and being alive. And since the beginning of the fit age for a man and for a woman, at which they are to begin their union, has been defined, let it also be decided for how long a time it is suitable for them to serve the state in the matter of producing children. For the offspring of too elderly parents, as those of too young ones, are born imperfect both in body and mind, and the children of those that have arrived at old age are weaklings. Therefore the period must be limited to correspond with the mental prime; and this in the case of most men is the age stated by some of the poets, who measure men's age by periods of seven years,82—it is about the age of fifty. Therefore persons exceeding this age by four or five years must be discharged from the duty of producing children for the community, and for the rest of their lives if they have intercourse it must be manifestly for the sake of health or for some other similar reason. As to intercourse with another woman or man, in general it must be dishonorable for them to be known to take any part in it in any circumstances whatsoever as long as they are husband and wife and bear those names, but any who may be discovered doing anything of the sort during their period of parentage [1336a] [1] must be punished with a loss of privilege suited to the offence.

When the children have been born, the particular mode of rearing adopted must be deemed an important determining influence in regard to their power of body. It appears from examining the other animals, and is also shown by the foreign races that make it their aim to keep up the military habit of body, that a diet giving an abundance of milk is most suited to the bodies of children, and one that allows rather little wine because of the diseases that it causes. Moreover it is advantageous to subject them to as many movements as are practicable with children of that age. To prevent the limbs from being distorted owing to softness, some races even now employ certain mechanical appliances that keep the bodies of infants from being twisted. And it is also advantageous to accustom them at once from early childhood to cold, for this is most useful both for health and with a view to military service. Hence among many non-Greek races it is customary in the case of some peoples to wash the children at birth by dipping them in a cold river, and with others, for instance the Celts, to give them scanty covering. For it is better to inure them at the very start to everything possible, but to inure them gradually; [20] and the bodily habit of children is naturally well fitted by warmth to be trained to bear cold. In the earliest period of life then it is expedient to employ this or a similar method of nursing; and the next period to this, up to the age of five, which it is not well to direct as yet to any study nor to compulsory labors, in order that they may not hinder the growth, should nevertheless be allowed enough movement to avoid bodily inactivity; and this exercise should be obtained by means of various pursuits, particularly play. But even the games must not be unfit for freemen, nor laborious, nor undisciplined. Also the question of the kind of tales and stories that should be told to children of this age must be attended to by the officials called Children's Tutors. For all such amusements should prepare the way for their later pursuits; hence most children's games should be imitations of the serious occupations of later life. The legislators in theLaws83 forbid allowing children to have paroxysms of crying, but this prohibition is a mistake; violent crying contributes to growth, for it serves in a way as exercise for the body, since holding the breath is the strength giving factor in hard labor, and this takes place also with children when they stretch themselves in crying. The Tutors must supervise the children's pastimes, and in particular must see that they associate as little as possible with slaves. For children of this age, [1336b] [1] and up to seven years old, must necessarily be reared at home; so it is reasonable to suppose that even at this age they may acquire a taint of illiberality from what they hear and see. The lawgiver ought therefore to banish indecent talk, as much as anything else, out of the state altogether (for light talk about anything disgraceful soon passes into action)—so most of all from among the young, so that they may not say nor hear anything of the sort; and anybody found saying or doing any of the things prohibited, if he is of free station but not yet promoted to reclining at the public meals, must be punished with marks of dishonor and with beating, and an older offender must be punished with marks of dishonor degrading to a free man, because of his slavish behavior. And since we banish any talk of this kind, clearly we must also banish the seeing of either pictures or representations that are indecent. The officials must therefore be careful that there may be no sculpture or painting that represents indecent actions, except in the temples of a certain class of gods to whom the law allows even scurrility; but in regard to these84 the law permits men still of suitable age to worship the gods both on their own behalf and on behalf of the children and women. [20] But the younger ones must not be allowed in the audience at lampoons85 and at comedy, before they reach the age at which they will now have the right to recline at table in company and to drink deeply, and at which their education will render all of them immune to the harmful effects of such things. For the present therefore we have merely mentioned these matters in passing, but later we must stop to settle them more definitely, first discussing fully whether legislation prohibiting the attendance of the young is desirable or not, and how such prohibition should be put in force; but on the present occasion we have touched on the question only in the manner necessary. For perhaps the tragic actor Theodorus86 used to put the matter not badly: he had never once allowed anybody to produce his part87 before him, not even one of the poor actors, as he said that audiences are attracted by what they hear first; and this happens alike in regard to our dealings with people and to our dealings with things—all that comes first we like better. On this account we ought to make all base things unfamiliar to the young, and especially those that involve either depravity or malignity.

But when the five years from two to seven have passed, the children must now become spectators at the lessons88 which they will themselves have to learn. And there are two ages corresponding to which education should be divided—there must be a break after the period from seven to puberty, and again after that from puberty to twenty-one. For those who divide the ages by periods of seven years are generally speaking not wrong,89 [1337a] [1] and it is proper to follow the division of nature, for all art and education aim at filling up nature's deficiencies. First therefore we must consider whether some regulation in regard to the boys ought to be instituted, next whether it is advantageous for their supervision to be conducted on a public footing or in a private manner as is done at present in most states, and thirdly of what particular nature this supervision ought to be.

1 Book 4 in some editions.

2 Cf. 3.6. It is debated whether the phrase refers to Aristotle's own popular writings, or to those of other philosophers, or to discussions of the subject in ordinary intercourse.

3 e.g. the finest man excels the finest monkey to the degree in which the species man excels the species monkey.

4 Aristotle taught that some events are the result of the undesigned interaction of two lines of causation in nature's design; he denoted this (1) in general, by ‘the automatic’ or self-acting (represented in Latin by sponte, spontaneous), (2) as concerning man, by ‘fortune.’

5 The common play on the ambiguity of ‘do well,’ meaning either ‘prosper’ or ‘act rightly.’

6 Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1099a 32, Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1179a 4 ff.

7 Perhaps the Greek should be altered to give ‘which alone is said to be desirable by some philosophers.’

8 Or perhaps ‘pointed stones.’

9 Or perhaps ‘the passengers.’

10 See 13, 14.

11 On the ambiguous use of ‘do well’ see 1323b 32 n.

12 i.e. Book 1.

13 Cf. 1323b 32 n., 1325a 21.

14 This seems to refer to Books 4-6.

15 Cf. 1288b 39 n.

16 In the MSS. this clause follows the next.

17 i.e. presumably an Ethnos in the usual sense, a community composed of villages loosely bound together by relationship and trade, and united for defence, but not for political life; not an Ethnos of associated cities.

18 This promise is not fulfilled in the work as it has come down to us.

19 The distinction seems to be between owning (or perhaps getting) wealth and using it; but a probable emendation of the Greek gives ‘how we ought to stand in relation to its employment.’

20 At the beginning of 5.2.

21 Perhaps the Greek should be altered to give ‘part of the town itself.’

22 i.e. relations with other states—a broader term than hegemony, leadership of an alliance.

23 4. fin.

24 i.e. intelligence and high spirit, capacity for self-government and capacity for empire.

25 The ruling class in Plato's Ideal State,Plat. Rep. 375c.

26 Archilochus of Paros (one of the earliest lyric poets, fl. 600 B.C., the inventor of the iambic meter, which he used for lampoons), fr. 61 Bergk, 676 Diehl, 67 Edmonds,Elegy and Iambus, 2. 133.

27 Eur. frag. 965.

28 Nauck frag. 78

29 i.e. they are not all of themparts: the ‘parts’ of a thing are among the ‘indispensable conditions’ of its existence, but there are others also.

30 The sentence is unfinished.

31 Possibly the words from the beginning of 7.2 ‘But when’ to this point should be transferred below to 7.3 mid. after ‘different constitutions.’

32 Cf. Books 2.1.7, 3.1.8, 5.2.10.

33 Perhaps the text should be altered to give ‘matters of justice.’

34 Cf. Book 4.4 and 14.

35 1.5.

36 Or, amending this curious Greek, ‘for the constitution to assign both these functions to the same people.’

37 A Platonic phrase, Plat. Rep. 500d.

38 As this is a new point, perhaps we should transpose ‘inasmuch as’ ( εἴπερ) and ‘that’ ( ὅτι) in the line above.

39 i.e. the ‘appurtenances’ are permanently separate form the army and the deliberative, which are the ‘parts,’ and which are separate from each other only ‘by turn,’ i.e. a citizen passes on from one to the other.

40 Perhaps to be read as denying the originality of Plato'sRepublic.

41 i.e. the south-west peninsula or toe of Italy.

42 i.e. the Gulfs of Squillace and Eufemia.

43 The modern Tuscany, i.e. the people of Lucania, Campania and Latium.

44 The south-east promontory or heel of Italy.

45 This vague phrase (based on the proverb κοινὰ τὰ τῶν φίλων, ‘friends' goods are common property’) seems to denote some sort of customary communism in the cultivation of the land and enjoyment of the produce, combined with private ownership of the freehold.

46 This promise is not fulfilled.

47 This promise is not fulfilled.

48 Apparently (1) fresh air, (2) water supply, (3) administration, (4) military requirements.

49 Literally, ‘in the direction in which the north wind blows.’

50 See Book 2.5.

51 i.e. an enemy's mercenaries; but the MSS. give ‘difficult for foreign troops to make sorties from [i.e. presumably to find their way out when once they have got in, cf. Thuc. 2.4.2] and for attackers to find their way about in.’

52 The Roman quincunx, each plant of one row being in line with the gap between two plants of the next row, thus:

53 Perhaps a word should be added to the Greek giving ‘desiring to make the country easy to invade, and to strip it—’.

54 Or ‘for in this noble practice different ages should be separated’ (Jowett).

55 Perhaps the Greek should be altered to τὸ προεστός, ‘as the governing class is divided into.’

56 i.e. they misconceive the nature of happiness and select the wrong thing to aim at.

57 Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1098a 16 and Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1176b 4

58 A conjectural emendation gives ‘distinctions.’

59 This is a conjectural emendation; the MSS. give ‘the adoption.’

60 Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1113a 15 ff.

61 In 4.

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

63 8.3, 1329a 4 ff.

64 The sentence here breaks off into a long parenthesis, after which it is not resumed.

65 Book 3.6.6-12, 1278b 30 ff.

66 One sentence or more has been lost here.

67 Perhaps the Greek should be altered to give ‘of the best citizen.’

68 i.e. the two lower ones, the three being the activities of the theoretic reason, of the practical reason, and of the passions that although irrational are amenable to reason.

69 Or possibly, ‘covet a wide empire.’

70 Unknown.

71 A probable emendation gives ‘that he has trained it with a view to ruling.’

72 i.e. an iron blade when not used loses keenness and has to be re-tempered.

73 i.e. to the state as well as to the individual.

74 Hes. WD 170 ff.

75 The end of this sentence and the beginning of the next appear to have been lost.

76 A conjectural addition to the text gives ‘the end to which a certain beginning leads is itself the beginning of another end.’ The active use of the reason is the end (i.e. the completion and the purpose) of the birth and growth of the human animal.

77 These three emotions are subdivisions of ‘desire’ above.

78 Some editors write θηλύτοκα and interpret ‘more likely to be born females.’ ( θηλυτόκα, ‘likely to bear females,’ is applied to the young parents themselves in Aristot. Hist. An. 766b 29.)

79 Μὴ τέμνε νέαν ἄλοκα(‘cut not a new furrow’) schol.

80 The word ‘before’ is a conjectural insertion.

81 This was never written, or has been lost.

82 Solon fr. 27

83 Plat. Laws 792a. Plato merely says that a child's crying shows it to be annoyed, and that it ought to have as little pain as possible or else it will grow up morose.

84 The MS. text gives ‘and in addition to these’; and the word ‘still’ may be an interpolation.

85 Iambic verses, often abusive and indecent, recited at festivals of Dionysus.

86 A great Athenian performer of Sophocles; he took the part of Antigone.

87 Loosely put for ‘to appear on the stage.’

88 i.e. in gymnastics and music.

89 The MSS. give ‘not right.’

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)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
600 BC (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: