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[1288a] [1] But merely from what has been said, it is clear that among people who are alike and equal it is neither expedient nor just for one to be sovereign over all—neither when there are no laws, but he himself is in the place of law, nor when there are laws, neither when both sovereign and subjects are good nor when both are bad, nor yet when the sovereign is superior in virtue, except in a certain manner. What this manner is must be stated; and in a way it has been stated already even before. But first we must define what constitutes fitness for royal government, what fitness for aristocracy, and what for a republic. A fit subject for royal government is a populace of such a sort as to be naturally capable of producing a family of outstanding excellence for political leadership; a community fit for aristocracy is one that naturally produces a populace1 capable of being governed under the form of government fit for free men by those who are fitted by virtue for taking the part of leaders in constitutional government; a republican community, one in which there naturally grows up a military populace2 capable of being governed and of governing under a law that distributes the offices among the well-to-do in accordance with merit. When therefore it comes about that there is either a whole family or even some one individual that differs from the other citizens in virtue so greatly that his virtue exceeds that of all the others, then it is just for this family to be the royal family or this individual king, and sovereign over all matters. For, as has been said before, [20] this holds good not only in accordance with the right that is usually brought forward by those who are founding aristocratic and oligarchic constitutions, and from the other side by those who are founding democratic ones (for they all make their claim on the ground of superiority, though not the same superiority), but it also holds good in accordance with the right spoken of before.3 For it is not seemly to put to death or banish, nor yet obviously to ostracize, such a man, nor is it seemly to call upon him to take his turn as a subject; for it is not in the order of nature for the part to overtop the whole, but the man that is so exceptionally outstanding has come to overtop the whole community. Hence it only remains for the community to obey such a man, and for him to be sovereign not in turn but absolutely.

Let this be our answer to the questions as regards kingship, what are its varieties, and whether it is disadvantageous for states or advantageous, and for what states, and under what conditions.

And since we pronounce the right constitutions to be three, and of these the one governed by the best men must necessarily be the best, and such is the one in which it has come about either that some one man or a whole family or a group of men is superior in virtue to all the citizens together, the latter being able to be governed and the former to govern on the principles of the most desirable life, and since in the first part of the discourse4 it was proved that the virtue of a man and that of a citizen in the best state must of necessity be the same, it is evident that a man becomes good in the same way and by the same means as one might establish an aristocratically or monarchically governed state,5

1 The clause translated ‘that—populace’ some editors excise as a superfluous insertion.

2 They also excise ‘in which-populace’

3 i.e. the right of merit, 8.7.

4 Book 3.2, 3.

5 Perhaps the Greek should be altered to give ‘established a state governed in the best way by an aristocracy or a monarchy.’

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