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[1306b] [1] and those at Thebes did so against Archias; for their personal enemies stirred up party feeling against them so as to get them bound in the pillory in the market-place. Also many governments have been put down by some of their members who had become resentful because the oligarchies were too despotic; this is how the oligarchies fell at Cnidus1 and at Chios. And revolutions also occur from an accident, both in what is called a constitutional government and in those oligarchies in which membership of the council and the law-courts and tenure of the other offices are based on a property-qualification. For often the qualification first having been fixed to suit the circumstances of the time, so that in an oligarchy a few may be members and in a constitutional government the middle classes, when peace or some other good fortune leads to a good harvest it comes about that the same properties become worth many times as large an assessment, so that all the citizens share in all the rights, the change sometimes taking place gradually and little by little and not being noticed, but at other times more quickly.

Such then are the causes that lead to revolutions and factions in oligarchies (and generally, both democracies and oligarchies are sometimes altered not into the opposite forms of constitution but into ones of the same class, for instance [20] from legitimate democracies and oligarchies into autocratic ones and from the latter into the former).

In aristocracies factions arise in some cases because few men share in the honors (which has also been said2 to be the cause of disturbances in oligarchies, because an aristocracy too is a sort of oligarchy, for in both those who govern are few—although the reason for this is not the same in both—since this does cause it to be thought that aristocracy is a form of oligarchy). And this is most bound to come about when there is a considerable number of people who are proud-spirited on the ground of being equals in virtue (for example the clan called the Maidens' Sons3 at Sparta—for they were descended from the Equals—whom the Spartans detected in a conspiracy and sent away to colonize Tarentum); or when individuals although great men and inferior to nobody in virtue are treated dishonorably by certain men in higher honor (for example Lysander by the kings4); or when a person of manly nature has no share in the honors (for example Cinadon,5 who got together the attack upon the Spartans in the reign of Agesilaus). Faction in aristocracies also arises when some of the well-born are too poor and others too rich (which happens especially during wars, and this also occurred at Sparta at the time of the Messenian War—as appears from the poem of Tyrtaeus entitledLaw and Order;

1 See 1305b 13 n.

2 See 1306a 13 ff.

3 Said to be descended from irregular unions authorized in order to keep up population during the First Messenian War. They founded Taranto 708 B.C.

4 King Pausanias II. checked Lysander after his conquest of Athens in 403 B.C. and King Agesilaus thwarted him on the expedition into Asia Minor in 396.

5 His conspiracy against the Ὅμοιοι in 398 B.C. was discovered and he was executed.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 4.155
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 4.3
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