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[1259b] [1] for the male is by nature better fitted to command than the female (except in some cases where their union has been formed contrary to nature) and the older and fully developed person than the younger and immature. It is true that in most cases of republican government the ruler and the ruled interchange in turn (for they tend to be on in equal level in their nature and to have no difference at all), although nevertheless during the period when one is ruler and the other ruled they seek to have a distinction by means of insignia and titles and honors, just as Amasis made his speech about the foot-bath1; but the male stands in this relationship to the female continuously. The rule of the father over the children on the other hand is that of a king; for the male parent is the ruler in virtue both of affection and of seniority, which is characteristic of royal government (and therefore Homer2 finely designated Zeus by the words “ father of men and gods,
” as the king of them all). For though in nature the king must be superior, in race he should be the same as his subjects, and this is the position of the elder in relation to the younger and of the father in relation to the child. It is clear then that household management takes more interest in the human members of the household than in its inanimate property, and [20] in the excellence of these than in that of its property, which we style riches, and more in that of its free members than in that of slaves.

First of all then as to slaves the difficulty might be raised, does a slave possess any other excellence, besides his merits as a tool and a servant, more valuable than these, for instance temperance, have the courage, justice and any of the other moral virtues, or has he no excellence beside his bodily service? For either way there is difficulty; if slaves do possess moral virtue, wherein will they differ from freemen? or if they do not, this is strange, as they are human beings and participate in reason. And nearly the same is the question also raised about the woman and the child: have they too virtues, and ought a woman to be temperate, brave and just, and can a child be intemperate or temperate, or not? This point therefore requires general consideration in relation to natural ruler and subject: is virtue the same for ruler and ruled, or different? If it is proper for both to partake in nobility of character, how could it be proper for the one to rule and the other to be ruled unconditionally? we cannot say that the difference is to be one of degree, for ruling and being ruled differ in kind, and difference of degree is not a difference in kind at all. Whereas if on the contrary it is proper for the one to have moral nobility but not for the other, this is surprising. For if the ruler is not temperate and just, how will he rule well? And if the ruled, how will he obey well?

1 Hdt. 1.172. Amasis king of Egypt was despised by his subjects for his low birth, so he had a statue made out of a gold foot-bath and set it up for them to worship, afterwards explaining to them its lowly origin.

2 Hom. Il. 1.544.

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