previous next
[1277b] [1] a class that includes the mechanic artisan. Hence in some states manual laborers were not admitted to office in old times, before the development of extreme democracy. The tasks of those who are under this form of authority therefore it is not proper for the good man or the man fit for citizenship or the good citizen to learn, except for his own private use occasionally (for then it ceases to be a case of the one party being master and the other slave). But there exists a form of authority by which a man rules over persons of the same race as himself, and free men (for that is how we describe political authority), and this the ruler should learn by being ruled, just as a man should command cavalry after having served as a trooper, command a regiment after having served in a regiment and been in command of a company and of a platoon. Hence there is much truth in the saying that it is impossible to become a good ruler without having been a subject. And although the goodness of a ruler and that of a subject are different, the good citizen must have the knowledge and the ability both to be ruled and to rule, and the merit of the good citizen consists in having a knowledge of the government of free men on both sides. And therefore both these virtues are characteristic of a good man, even if temperance and justice in a ruler are of a different kind from temperance and justice in a subject; for clearly a good man's virtue, for example his justice, will not be one and the same when he is under government and when he is free, but it will be of different kinds, [20] one fitting him to rule and one to be ruled, just as temperance and courage are different in a man and in a woman (for a man would be thought a coward if he were only as brave as a brave woman, and a woman a chatterer if she were only as modest as a good man; since even the household functions of a man and of a woman are different—his business is to get and hers to keep). And practical wisdom alone of the virtues is a virtue peculiar to a ruler; for the other virtues seem to be necessary alike for both subjects and rulers to possess, but wisdom assuredly is not a subject's virtue, but only right opinion: the subject corresponds to the man who makes flutes and the ruler to the flute-player who uses them.

The question whether the goodness of a good man is the same as that of a good citizen or different, and how they are the same and how different, is clear from these considerations.

But one of the difficulties as to what constitutes a citizen is still left. Is it truly the case that a citizen is a person who has the right to share office in the government, or are the working classes also to be counted citizens? If these persons also are to be counted who have no share in offices, it is not possible for every citizen to possess the citizen's virtue; for the true citizen is the man capable of governing.1 If on the other hand no one of the working people is a citizen, in what class are the various workers to be ranked? for they are neither resident aliens nor foreigners. Or shall we say that so far as that argument goes no inconsistency results?

1 Or perhaps ‘for the working-man is a citizen.’ οὗτος γὰρ πολίτης. The translation takes πολίτης as subject and οὗτος as predicate (meaning ἔχων τὴν τοιαύτην ἀρετήν, possessing capacity to govern). But possibly the predicate is πολίτης and the subject οὗτος, which then stands for βάναυσος; if so, the whole sentence means that if the non-official classes are citizens, not all the citizens will possess civic virtue (which is capacity to govern), for the working-man will be a citizen (and he is not capable of governing).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1957)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: