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[1283a] [1] for otherwise superiority both in wealth and in birth ought to contribute to the excellence of the performance, but they do not do so at all. Moreover on this theory every good thing would be commensurable with every other. For if to be of some particular height gave more claim, then height in general would be in competition with wealth and with free birth; therefore if A excels in height more than B does in virtue, and speaking generally size gives more superiority than virtue,1 all things would be commensurable for; if such-and-such an amount of one thing is better than such-and-such an amount of another, it is clear that such-and-such an amount of the one is equal to that amount of another. But since this is impossible, it is clear that in politics with good reason men do not claim a right to office on the ground of inequality of every kind—if one set of men are slow runners and another fast, this is no good ground for the one set having more and the other less2 political power, but the latter's superiority receives its honor in athletic contests; but the claim to office must necessarily be based on superiority in those things which go to the making of the state. Hence it is reasonable for the well-born, free and wealthy to lay claim to honor; for there must be free men and tax-payers, since a state consisting entirely of poor men would not be a state, any more than one consisting of slaves. But then, granting there is need of these, it is clear that [20] there is also need of justice and civic virtue, for these are also indispensable in the administration of a state; except that wealth and freedom are indispensable for a state's existence, whereas justice and civic virtue are indispensable for its good administration.

As a means therefore towards a state's existence all or at all events some of these factors would seem to make a good claim, although as means to a good life education and virtue would make the most just claim, as has been said also before. On the other hand since those who are equal in one thing only ought not to have equality in all things nor those unequal as regards one thing inequality in all, it follows that all these forms of constitution must be deviations. Now it has been said before that all make a claim that is in a manner just, though not all a claim that is absolutely just; the rich claiming because they have a larger share of the land, and the land is common property, and also as being for the most part more faithful to their covenants; the free and well-born as being closely connected together (for the better-born are citizens to a greater degree than those of claims, low birth, and good birth is in every community held in honor at home), and also because it is probable that the children of better parents will be better, for good birth means goodness of breed; and we shall admit that virtue also makes an equally just claim, for we hold that justice is social virtue, which necessarily brings all the other virtues in its train; but moreover the majority have a just claim as compared with the minority, since they are stronger and richer and better if their superior numbers are taken in comparison with the others' inferior numbers. Therefore supposing all were in one city,

1 Perhaps we should rewrite the Greek to give ‘even though speaking generally virtue gives more superiority than size.’

2 Doubtless the author meant the other way round, ‘for the slow having less and the fast more political power.’

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