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[1272b] [1] as they live in an island remote from any people to corrupt them. Also the remedy which they employ for this defect1 is a curious one, and less characteristic of a republic than of a dynasty2: often the Cosmi are expelled by a conspiracy formed among some of their actual colleagues or the private citizens. Also the Cosmi are allowed to resign during their term of office. Now it would be preferable for all these expedients to be put in force by law rather than at the discretion of individuals, for that is a dangerous principle. And the worst expedient of all is that of the suspension of the office of Cosmi, which is often brought about by members of the powerful class who wish to escape being punished; this proves that the constitution has a republican element, although it is not actually a republic but rather a dynasty.3 And the nobles frequently form parties among the common people and among their friends and so bring about a suspension of government,4 and form factions and engage in war with one another. Yet such a state of things is virtually the same as if for a period of time the state underwent an entire revolution, and the bonds of civil society were loosened.

And it is a precarious position for a state to be in, when those who wish to attack it also have the power to do so. But, as has been said, it is saved by its locality; for distance has had the same effect as alien-acts.5 A result of this is that with the Cretans the serf population stands firm, whereas the Helots often revolt; for the Cretans [20] take no part in foreign empire, and also the island has only lately been invaded by warfare from abroad, rendering manifest the weakness of the legal system there.

Let this suffice for our discussion of this form of constitution.

Carthage also appears to have a good constitution, with many outstanding features as compared with those of other nations, but most nearly resembling the Spartan in some points. For these three constitutions are in a way near to one another and are widely different from the others—the Cretan, the Spartan and, thirdly, that of Carthage. Many regulations at Carthage are good; and a proof of a well-regulated constitution is that the populace willingly remain faithful to the constitutional system, and that neither civil strife has arisen in any degree worth mentioning, nor yet a tyrant.

Points in which the Carthaginian constitution resembles the Spartan are the common mess-tables of its Comradeships corresponding to the Phiditia, and the magistracy of the Hundred and Four corresponding to the Ephors (except one point of superiority—the Ephors are drawn from any class, but the Carthaginians elect this magistracy by merit); the kings and the council of Elders correspond to the kings and Elders at Sparta, and it is another superior feature that the Carthaginian kings are not confined to the same family and that one of no particular distinction, and also that if any family distinguishes itself . . .6 the Elders are to be chosen from these rather than by age; for as they are put in control of important matters, if they are men of no value they do great harm,

1 i.e. the defect of the undue restriction of the office.

2 See 1292b 10 n.

3 See 1292b 10 n.

4 The MSS. give ‘bring about a monarchy.’

5 Aliens required special permission to reside at Sparta, and the ephors had powers to expel them for undesirable conduct.

6 Clauses seem to have been lost concluding the account of the appointment of the Kings and turning to the Elders and their selection on grounds of wealth.

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