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[1286b] [1] The majority, is it not obvious? But it will be said that they will split up into factions, whereas with a single ruler this cannot happen. But against this must perhaps be set the fact that they are as virtuous in soul as the single ruler. If then the rule of the majority when these are all good men is to be considered an aristocracy, and that of the one man kingship, aristocracy would be preferable for the states to kingship, whether the royal office be conjoined with military force or without it, if it be possible to get a larger number of men than one who are of similar quality. And it was perhaps only owing to this that kingships existed in earlier times, because it was rare to find men who greatly excelled in virtue, especially as in those days they dwelt in small cities. Moreover they used to appoint their kings on the ground of public service, and to perform this is a task for the good men. But as it began to come about that many men arose who were alike in respect of virtue, they would no longer submit to royalty, but sought for some form of commonwealth, and set up a republican constitution. And as men becoming baser began to make money out of the community, it is reasonable to suppose that some such cause as this occasioned the rise of oligarchies; for they brought wealth into honor. And from oligarchies they first changed to tyrannies, and from tyrannies to democracy; for by constantly bringing the government into fewer hands owing to a base love of gain, they made the multitude stronger,1 so that it set upon the oligarchs, and democracies came into existence. [20] But now that the states have come to be even greater than they were, perhaps it is not easy for yet another form of constitution beside democracy to come into existence. And even if one held that royal government is best for states, what is to be the position as regards the king's children? is the sovereignty to be hereditary? But this will be disastrous if the king's sons turn out to be like what some have been. It may be said that the king being sovereign will not in that case bequeath the throne to his children. But that is too much to be easy to believe: it would be difficult for a king to disinherit his sons, and an act of virtue above the level of human nature. And there is a difficulty also about the royal power: ought the man who is to reign as king to force to have an armed force about him, by means of which he will have power to compel those who may be unwilling to obey, or if not, how is it possible for him to administer his office? For even if he were a law-abiding sovereign and never acted according to his own will against the law, nevertheless it would be essential for him to have power behind him whereby to safeguard the laws. Probably therefore it is not difficult to define the regulations for a king of this sort: he must have a force of his own, but the force must be only so large as to be stronger than a single individual or even several individuals banded together, but weaker than the multitude, on the principle on which the men of old times used to assign bodyguards whenever they appointed somebody as what they termed aesymnetes or tyrant2 of the state, and also, when Dionysius3 asked for his guards, somebody advised him to give the same number of guards to the citizens of Syracuse.

1 i.e. more men of ability and position went over to the opposition.

2 ‘Or tyrant’ looks like an incorrect note, see 1285b 25.

3 See 1259a 39 n.

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