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[1304b] [1] for instance the rich and the people, and there is no middle class or only an extremely small one; for if either of the two sections becomes much the superior, the remainder is not willing to risk an encounter with its manifestly stronger opponent. Owing to this men who are exceptional in virtue generally speaking do not cause faction, because they find themselves few against many. Universally then in connection with all the forms of constitution the origins and causes of factions and revolutions are of this nature.

The means used to cause revolutions of constitutions are sometimes force and sometimes fraud. Force is employed either when the revolutionary leaders exert compulsion immediately from the start or later on—as indeed the mode of using fraud is also twofold: sometimes the revolutionaries after completely deceiving the people at the first stage alter the constitution with their consent, but then at a later stage retain their hold on it by force against the people's will: for instance, at the time of the Four Hundred,1 they deceived the people by saying that the Persian King would supply money for the war against the Spartans, and after telling them this falsehood endeavored to keep a hold upon the government; but in other cases they both persuade the people at the start and afterwards repeat the persuasion and govern them with their consent.

Speaking generally therefore in regard to all the forms of constitution, the causes that have been stated are those from which revolutions have occurred.

But in the light of these general rules we must consider the usual course of events [20] as classified according to each different kind of constitution. In democracies the principal cause of revolutions is the insolence of the demagogues; for they cause the owners of property to band together, partly by malicious prosecutions of individuals among them (for common fear brings together even the greatest enemies), and partly by setting on the common people against them as a class. And one may see this taking place in this manner in many instances. In Cos the democracy was overthrown2 when evil demagogues had arisen there, for the notables banded themselves together; and also in Rhodes,3 for the demagogues used to provide pay for public services, and also to hinder the payment of money owed4 to the naval captains, and these because of the lawsuits that were brought against them were forced to make common cause and overthrow the people. And also at Heraclea5 the people were put down immediately after the foundation of the colony because of the people's leaders; for the notables being unjustly treated by them used to be driven out, but later on those who were driven out collecting together effected their return and put down the people. And also the democracy at Megara was put down in a similar manner6; the people's leaders in order to have money to distribute to the people went on expelling many of the notables, until they made the exiles a large body, and these came back and defeated the people in a battle and set up the oligarchy. And the same thing happened also at Cyme

1 The oligarchy at Athens 411 B.C., cf. 1305a 27.

2 Date unknown.

3 See 1302b 23 n.

4 i.e. owed for repairs to the ships, and perhaps also for advances of pay to the crews.

5 Probably the Pontic Heraclea (cf. 1305b 5, 36, 1306a 37), founded middle of the 6th century B.C., not the Trachinian.

6 See 1300a 18 ff. n.

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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), HERACLEIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), RHODUS
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