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[1271a] [1] but as their education has been on such lines that even the lawgiver himself cannot trust in them as men of virtue, it is a dangerous institution. And it is known that those who have been admitted to this office take bribes and betray many of the public interests by favoritism; so that it would be better if they were not exempt from having to render an account of their office, but at present they are. And it might be held that the magistracy of the Ephors serves to hold all the offices to account; but this gives altogether too much to the Ephorate, and it is not the way in which, as we maintain, officials ought to be called to account. Again, the procedure in the election of the Elders as a mode of selection is not only childish, but it is wrong that one who is to be the holder of this honorable office should canvass for it, for the man worthy of the office ought to hold it whether he wants to or not. But as it is the lawgiver clearly does the same here as in the rest of the constitution: he makes the citizens ambitious and has used this for the election of the Elders, for nobody would ask for office if he were not ambitious; yet surely ambition and love of money are the motives that bring about almost the greatest part of the voluntary wrongdoing that takes place among mankind. As to monarchy, the question whether it is not or is an advantageous institution for states to possess [20] may be left to another discussion; but at all events it would be advantageous that kings should not be appointed as they are now, but chosen in each case with regard to their own life and conduct. But it is clear that even the lawgiver himself does not suppose that he can make the kings men of high character: at all events he distrusts them as not being persons of sufficient worth owing to which the Spartans used to send kings who were enemies as colleagues on embassies, and thought that the safety of the state depended on division between the kings. Also the regulations for the the public mess-tables called Phiditia have been badly laid down by their originator. The revenue for these ought to come rather from public funds, as in Crete; but among the Spartans everybody has to contribute, although some of them are very poor and unable to find money for this charge, so that the result is the opposite of what the lawgiver purposed. For he intends the organization of the common tables to be democratic, but when regulated by the law in this manner it works out as by no means democratic; for it is not easy for the very poor to participate, yet their ancestral regulation of the citizenship is that it is not to belong to one who is unable to pay this tax. The law about the Admirals has been criticized by some other writers also, and rightly criticized; for it acts as a cause of sedition, since in addition to the kings who are military commanders the office of Admiral stands almost as another kingship. Another criticism that may be made against the fundamental principle of the lawgiver

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hide References (8 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 6.72
  • Cross-references to this page (6):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), ATI´MIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), COSMI
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), E´PHORI
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HOMOEI
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), NAVARCHUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), SYSSI´TIA
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