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[1281b] [1] yet when they come together may be better, not individually but collectively, than those who are so, just as public dinners to which many contribute are better than those supplied at one man's cost; for where there are many, each individual, it may be argued, has some portion of virtue and wisdom, and when they have come together, just as the multitude becomes a single man with many feet and many hands and many senses, so also it becomes one personality as regards the moral and intellectual faculties. This is why the general public is a better judge of the works of music and those of the poets, because different men can judge a different part of the performance, and all of them all of it. But the superiority of good men over the mass of men individually, like that of handsome men, so it is said, over plain men and of the works of the painter's art over the real objects, really consists in this, that a number of scattered good points have been collected together into one example; since if the features be taken separately, the eye of one real person is more beautiful than that of the man in the picture, and some other feature of somebody else. It is not indeed clear whether this collective superiority of the many compared with the few good men can possibly exist in regard to every democracy and every multitude, and perhaps it may be urged that it is manifestly impossible in the case of some—for the same argument would also apply to animals, yet what difference is there, [20] practically, between some multitudes and animals?—but nothing prevents what has been said from being true about some particular multitude. One might therefore employ these considerations to solve not only the previously stated difficulty but also the related question, over what matters is the authority of the freemen, the mass of the citizens, to extend (using that expression to denote those who are not rich nor possessed of any distinguishing excellence at all)? For it is not safe for them to participate in the highest offices (for injustice and folly would inevitably cause them to act unjustly in some things and to make mistakes in others), but yet not to admit them and for them not to participate is an alarming situation, for when there are a number of persons without political honors and in poverty, the city then is bound to be full of enemies. It remains therefore for them to share the deliberative and judicial functions. For this reason Solon and certain other lawgivers appoint the common citizens to1 the election of the magistrates and the function of calling them to audit, although they do not allow them to hold office singly. For all when assembled together have sufficient discernment, and by mingling with the better class are of benefit to the state, just as impure food mixed with what is pure makes the whole more nourishing than the small amount of pure food alone; but separately the individual is immature in judgement. This arrangement of the constitution is however open to question in the first place on the ground that it might be held that the best man to judge which physician has given the right treatment is the man that is himself capable of treating and curing the patient of his present disease, and this is the man who is himself a physician;

1 Probably words meaning ‘these functions and to’ have fallen out.

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