previous next
[1279a] [1] like medicine and athletic training, are pursued in the interest of the persons upon whom they are practised, although incidentally they may also be in the interest of the practitioners themselves; for nothing prevents the trainer from being on occasions himself also one of the persons in training, just as the pilot is always a member of the crew; so although the trainer or pilot studies the good of those under his authority, when he himself also becomes one among them he incidentally shares the benefit, for the pilot is a sailor in the ship and the trainer can become one of the persons in training under his own direction. Hence in regard to the political offices also, when the state is constituted on the principle of equality and of similarity between the citizens, these claim to hold office by turn—in earlier times, under the natural system, claiming to do public services in turn, and for somebody in return to look after their own welfare just as previously they looked after his interest when in office themselves; but nowadays owing to the benefits to be got from public sources and from holding office people wish to be in office continuously, just as if it were the case that those in office although sickly people always enjoyed good health—in which case office would no doubt be much run after by invalids.

It is clear then that those constitutions that aim at the common advantage are in effect rightly framed in accordance with absolute justice, while those that aim at the rulers' own advantage only are faulty, [20] and are all of them deviations from the right constitutions; for they have an element of despotism, whereas a city is a partnership of free men.

These matters having been determined the next step is to consider how many forms of constitution there are and what they are; and first to study the right forms of constitution, since the deviations will also become manifest when these are defined.

But inasmuch as ‘constitution’ means the same as ‘government,’ and the government is the supreme power in the state, and this must be either a single ruler or a few or the mass of the citizens, in cases when the one or the few or the many govern with an eye to the common interest, these constitutions must necessarily be right ones, while those administered with an eye to the private interest of either the one or the few or the multitude are deviations. For either we must not say that those who are part of the state are citizens, or those who are part of the state must share in the advantage of membership. Our customary designation for a monarchy that aims at the common advantage is ‘kingship’; for a government of more than one yet only a few ‘aristocracy’ (either because the best men rule or because they rule with a view to what is best for the state and for its members); while when the multitude govern the state with a view to the common advantage, it is called by the name common to all the forms of constitution, ‘constitutional government.’ (And this comes about reasonably, since although it is possible for one man or a few to excel in virtue, when the number is larger it becomes difficult for them to possess perfect excellence in respect of every form of virtue,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1957)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: