previous next
[1297a] [1] for there is no fear of the rich ever coming to terms with the poor against this numerous middle class; for neither class will ever wish to be subject to the other, and if they look for another constitution fairer to both than this they will not find one, for they would not endure to take turns to govern because they distrust each other: everywhere it is the arbitrator that is most trusted, and the man in the middle is an arbitrator. And the better the constitution is mixed, the more permanent it is; and many even of those who want to establish aristocratic forms of constitution make a great mistake not only in giving too large a share to the well-to-do but also in cheating the people; for false benefits inevitably result ultimately in true evil, as the encroachments of the rich ruin the constitution more than those of the people.

The artifices employed in constitutions as a pretext in regard to the people are five in number, and are concerned with the assembly, the magistracies, the law-courts, the bearing of heavy arms, and gymnastic exercises; in relation to the assembly, the granting to all of the right to attend but the imposition of a fine for non-attendance on the well-to-do only, or a much larger fine on them than others; in relation to the magistracies, [20] the denial to the owners of rated property of the right to swear off serving, while the poor have this right; in relation to the law-courts, the imposition of a fine on the well-to-do if they do not serve on a jury, but no penalty for the poor, or else a large fine for the one class and a small one for the others, as in the laws of Charondas. In some places all have the right to serve in the assembly and on juries after having their names put on a register, but large fines are imposed on those who after so registering fail to attend in either capacity, in order that the fine may cause them to avoid registration and that owing to their not registering they may not serve on juries or in the assembly. They also legislate in the same manner about owning heavy arms and engaging in gymnastic exercises: the poor are not allowed to possess arms, but the well-to-do are liable to a fine if they have not got them, and there is no fine for the former class if they abstain from gymnastics, but the well-to-do are liable to a fine, in order that the one class because of the fine may take part in them and the other because they have no penalty to fear may not. These artifices of legislation then are of an oligarchic nature; in democracies they introduce contrary devices in regard to these matters: they provide pay for the poor for serving in the assembly and on juries and impose no fine upon the well-to-do for abstaining. Hence it is manifest that if anybody wishes to make a just blend, he must bring together the regulations existing in each of the two forms of constitution, and provide pay for attendance and a fine for non-attendance; for thus all would participate, whereas in the other way the government comes to be in the hands of only one of the two classes.

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: