previous next
[1291b] [1] it is necessary for there also to be some men possessing virtue in the form of political excellence. Now as to the other capacities many people think that it is possible for them to be possessed in combination, for example, for the same men to be the soldiers that defend the state in war and the farmers that till the land and the artisans, and also the councillors and judges, and indeed all men claim to possess virtue and think themselves capable of filling most of the offices of state; but it is not possible for the same men to be poor and rich. Hence these seem to be in the fullest sense the parts of the state, the rich and the poor. And also the fact that the rich are usually few and the poor many makes these two among the parts of the state appear as opposite sections; so that the superior claims1 of these classes are even made the guiding principles upon which constitutions are constructed, and it is thought that there are two forms of constitution, democracy and oligarchy.

That there are then several forms of constitution, and what are the reasons for this, has been stated before; let us now say that there are several varieties both of democracy and of oligarchy. And this is clear even from what has been said already. For there are several classes both of the people and of those called the notables; for instance classes of the people are, one the farmers, another the class dealing with the arts and crafts, another the commercial class [20] occupied in buying and selling and another the one occupied with the sea—and this is divided into the classes concerned with naval warfare, with trade, with ferrying passengers and with fishing (for each of these classes is extremely numerous in various places, for instance fishermen at Tarentum and Byzantium, navy men at Athens, the mercantile class at Aegina and Chios, and the ferryman-class at Tenedos), and in addition to these the hand-working class and the people possessing little substance so that they cannot live a life of leisure, also those that are not free men of citizen parentage on both sides, and any other similar class of common people; while among the notables wealth, birth, virtue, education, and the distinctions that are spoken of in the same group as these, form the classes.

The first kind of democracy therefore is the one which receives the name chiefly in respect of equality. For the law of this sort of democracy ascribes equality to the state of things in which the poor have no more prominence than the rich, and neither class is sovereign, but both are alike; for assuming that freedom is chiefly found in a democracy, as some persons suppose, and also equality, this would be so most fully when to the fullest extent all alike share equally in the government. And since the people are in the majority, and a resolution passed by a majority is paramount, this must necessarily be a democracy. This therefore is one kind of democracy, where the offices are held on property qualifications, but these low ones, although it is essential that the man who acquires the specified amount should have the right to hold office, and the man who loses it should not hold office.

1 Cf. 3.11, 12 fin.

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.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Tenedos (1)
Tarentum (Italy) (1)
Byzantium (Turkey) (1)
Athens (Greece) (1)
Aegina (Greece) (1)

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

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 393
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: