previous next
[1316a] [1]

The subject of revolutions is discussed by Socrates in the Republic,1 but is not discussed well. For his account of revolution in the constitution that is the best one and the first does not apply to it particularly. He says that the cause is that nothing is permanent but everything changes in a certain cycle, and that change has its origin in those numbers ‘whose basic ratio 4 : 3 linked with the number 5 gives two harmonies,’—meaning whenever the number of this figure becomes cubed,—in the belief that nature sometimes engenders men that are evil, and too strong for education to influence—speaking perhaps not ill as far as this particular dictum goes (for it is possible that there are some persons incapable of being educated and becoming men of noble character), but why should this process of revolution belong to the constitution which Socrates speaks of as the best, more than to all the other forms of constitution, and to all men that come into existence? and why merely by the operation of time, which he says is the cause of change in all things, do even things that did not begin to exist simultaneously change simultaneously? for instance, if a thing came into existence the day before the completion of the cycle, why does it yet change simultaneously with everything else? And in addition to these points, what is the reason why the republic changes from the constitution mentioned into the Spartan form2? For all constitutions more often change into the opposite form than into the [20] one near them. And the same remark applies to the other revolutions as well. For from the Spartan constitution the state changes, he says, to oligarchy, and from this to democracy, and from democracy to tyranny. Yet revolutions also occur the other way about, for example from democracy to oligarchy, and more often so than from democracy to monarchy. Again as to tyranny he does not say whether it will undergo revolution or not, nor, if it will, what will be the cause of it, and into what sort of constitution it will change; and the reason for this is that he would not have found it easy to say, for it is irregular; since according to him tyranny ought to change into the first and best constitution, for so the process would be continuous and a circle, but as a matter of fact tyranny also changes into tyranny, as the constitution of Sicyon3 passed from the tyranny of Myron to that of Cleisthenes, and into oligarchy, as did that of Antileon4 at Chalcis, and into democracy, as that of the family of Gelo5 at Syracuse, and into aristocracy, as that of Charilaus6 at Sparta [and as at Carthage].7 And constitutions change from oligarchy to tyranny, as did almost the greatest number of the ancient oligarchies in Sicily, at Leontini to the tyranny of Panaetius,8 at Gelo to that of Cleander, at Rhegium to that of Anaxilaus,9 and in many other cities similarly. And it is also a strange idea that revolutions into oligarchy take place because the occupants of the offices are lovers of money and engaged in money-making,

1 Plato, Republic, Bks. 8, 9 init.; the mathematical formula for the change from Aristocracy to Timocracy quoted here occurs at Plat. Rep. 546c—see Adam's note there.

2 Timocracy, Plat. Rep. 545a.

3 See 1315b 13 n.

4 Unknown, cf. 1304a 29 n.

5 See 1302b 33 n.

6 See 1271b 26 n.

7 This clause seems an interpolation; cf. b 6.

8 See 1310b 29 n.

9 Unknown. Reggio is related to Sicily as Dover is to France.

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.
Sicily (Italy) (2)
Syracuse (Italy) (1)
Sicyon (Greece) (1)
Rhegium (Italy) (1)
Reggio Emilia (Italy) (1)
Chalcis (Greece) (1)
Carthage (Tunisia) (1)

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

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 7.154
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Plato, Republic, 545a
    • Plato, Republic, 546c
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: