previous next
[1309b] [1] for instance, if one man is a good military commander but a bad man and no friend of the constitution, and the other is just and loyal, how should the choice be made? It seems that two things ought to be considered, what is the quality of which all men have a larger share, and what the one of which all have a smaller share? Therefore in the case of military command one must consider experience more than virtue, for men have a smaller share of military experience and a larger share of moral goodness; but in the case of a trusteeship or a stewardship the opposite, for these require more virtue than most men possess, but the knowledge required is common to all men. And somebody might raise the question, why is virtue needed if both capacity and loyalty to the constitution are forthcoming, as even these two qualities will do what is suitable? May not the answer be, because those who possess these two qualities may possibly lack self-control, so that just as they do not serve themselves well although they know how to and although they love themselves, so possibly in some cases they may behave in this way in regard to the community also? And broadly, whatever provisions in the laws we describe as advantageous to constitutions, these are all preservative of the constitutions, and so is the supreme elementary principle that has been often stated, that of taking precautions that the section desirous of the constitution shall be stronger in numbers than the section not desirous off it. And beside all these matters one thing must not be overlooked which at present is overlooked by the, deviation-forms1 of constitution—the middle party; [20] for many of the institutions thought to be popular destroy democracies, and many of those thought oligarchical destroy oligarchies. But the adherents of the deviation-form, thinking that this form is the only right thing, drag it to excess, not knowing that just as there can be a nose that although deviating from the most handsome straightness towards being hooked or snub nevertheless is still beautiful and agreeable to look at, yet all the same, if a sculptor carries it still further in the direction of excess, he will first lose the symmetry of the feature and finally will make it not even look like a nose at all, because of its excess and deficiency in the two opposite qualities (and the same is the ease also in regard to the other parts of the body), so this is what happens about constitutions likewise; for it is possible for an oligarchy and a democracy to be satisfactory although they have diverged from the best structure, but if one strains either of them further, first he will make the constitution worse, and finally he will make it not a constitution at all. Therefore the legislator and the statesman must not fail to know what sort of democratic institutions save and what destroy a democracy, and what sort of oligarchical institutions an oligarchy; for neither constitution can exist and endure without the well-to-do and the multitude, but when an even level of property comes about, the constitution resulting must of necessity be another one,

1 See 1279a 20.

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 Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: