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[1305b] [1] Faction originating with other people also has various ways of arising. Sometimes when the honors of office are shared by very few, dissolution originates from the wealthy themselves,1 but not those that are in office, as for example has occurred at Marseilles,2 at Istrus,3 at Heraclea,4 and in other states; for those who did not share in the magistracies raised disturbances until as a first stage the older brothers were admitted, and later the younger ones again (for in some places a father and a son may not hold office together, and in others an elder and a younger brother may not). At Marseilles the oligarchy became more constitutional, while at Istrus it ended in becoming democracy, and in Heraclea the government passed from a smaller number to six hundred. At Cnidus also there was a revolution5 of the oligarchy caused by a faction formed by the notables against one another, because few shared in the government, and the rule stated held, that if a father was a member a son could not be, nor if there were several brothers could any except the eldest; for the common people seized the opportunity of their quarrel and, taking a champion from among the notables, fell upon them and conquered them, for a party divided against itself is weak. Another case was at Erythrae,6 where at the time of the oligarchy of the Basilidae in ancient days, although [20] the persons in the government directed affairs well, nevertheless the common people were resentful because they were governed by a few, and brought about a revolution of the constitution.

On the other hand, oligarchies are overthrown from within themselves both7 when from motives of rivalry they play the demagogue (and this demagogy is of two sorts, one among the oligarchs themselves, for a demagogue can arise among them even when they are a very small body,—as for instance in the time of the Thirty at Athens, the party of Charicles rose to power by currying popularity with the Thirty, and in the time of the Four Hundred8 the party of Phrynichus rose in the same way,—the other when the members of the oligarchy curry popularity with the mob, as the Civic Guards at Larisa9 courted popularity with the mob because it elected them, and in all the oligarchies in which the magistracies are not elected by the class from which the magistrates come but are filled from high property-grades or from political clubs while the electors are the heavy-armed soldiers or the common people, as used to be the case at Abydos, and in places where the jury-courts are not made up from the government10—for there members of the oligarchy by courting popular favor with a view to their trials cause a revolution of the constitution, as took place at Heraclea on the Euxine11; and a further instance is when some men try to narrow down the oligarchy to a smaller number, for those who seek equality are forced to bring in the people as a helper.) And revolutions in oligarchy also take place when they squander their private means by riotous living; for also men of this sort seek to bring about a new state of affairs, and either aim at tyranny themselves or suborn somebody else

1 The contrasted case, of dissolution of oligarchy arising from the people, should follow, but is omitted.

2 Cf. 1321a 29 ff.

3 Near the mouth of the Danube.

4 See 1304b 31 n.

5 Perhaps not the same as the one mentioned at 1306b 3.

6 Just west of Smyrna. The family name implies a claim to royal ancestry.

7 This sentence is interrupted by a parenthesis and is resumed in 5.6, ‘And revolution is oligarchy also—’.

8 See 1304b 12 n.

9 See 1275b 29 n.

10 i.e. (apparently) where membership is not confined to the class eligible for the magistracies.

11 See 1304b 31 n.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • T. G. Tucker, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 8, 8.89
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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MASSI´LIA
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