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[1275b] [1] for erroneous and divergent forms are necessarily subsequent to correct forms (in what sense we employ the terms ‘divergent’ of constitutions will appear later). Hence the citizen corresponding to each form of constitution will also necessarily be different. Therefore the definition of a citizen that we have given applies especially to citizenship in a democracy; under other forms of government it may hold good, but will not necessarily do so. For in some states there is no body of common citizens, and they do not have the custom of a popular assembly but councils of specially convened members, and the office of trying law-suits goes by sections—for example at Sparta suits for breach of contract are tried by different ephors in different cases, while cases of homicide are tried by the ephors and doubtless other suits by some other magistrate. The same method is not1 followed at Carthage, where certain magistrates judge all the law-suits. But still, our definition of a citizen admits of correction. For under the other forms of constitution a member of the assembly and of a jury-court is not ‘an official’ without restriction, but an official defined according to his office; either all of them or some among them are assigned deliberative and judicial duties either in all matters or in certain matters. What constitutes a citizen is therefore clear from these considerations: we now declare that one who has the right to participate in deliberative or judicial office is a citizen of the state [20] in which he has that right, and a state is a collection of such persons sufficiently numerous, speaking broadly, to secure independence of life.

But in practice citizenship is limited to the child of citizens on both sides, not on one side only, that is, the child of a citizen father or of a citizen mother; and other people carry this requirement further back, for example to the second or the third preceding generation or further. But given this as a practical and hasty definition, some people raise the difficulty, How will that ancestor three or four generations back have been a citizen? Gorgias2 of Leontini therefore, partly perhaps in genuine perplexity but partly in jest, said that just as the vessels made by mortar-makers were mortars, so the citizens made by the magistrates were Larisaeans, since some of the magistrates were actually larisa-makers.3 But it is really a simple matter; for if they possessed citizenship in the manner stated in our definition of a citizen, they were citizens—since it is clearly impossible to apply the qualification of descent from a citizen father or mother to the original colonizers or founders of a city.

But perhaps a question rather arises about those who were admitted to citizenship when a revolution had taken place, for instance such a creation of citizens as that carried out4 at Athens by Cleisthenes after the expulsion of the tyrants, when he enrolled in his tribes many resident aliens who had been foreigners or slaves. The dispute as to these is not about the fact of their citizenship, but whether they received it wrongly or rightly. Yet even as to this one might raise the further question,

1 The negative is a conjectural insertion, cf. 1273a 20.

2 Sicilian orator and nihilistic philosopher, visited Athens 427 B.C.

3 Larisa, a city in Thessaly, was famous for the manufacture of a kind of kettle called ‘larisa.’

4 In 509 B.C.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 158
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.69
  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CI´VITAS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), E´PHORI
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), GEROU´SIA
    • Smith's Bio, Clei'sthenes
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