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[1316b] [1] but not because owners of much more than the average amount of property think it unjust for those who do not own any property to have an equal share in the state with those who do; and in many oligarchies those in office are not allowed to engage in business, but there are laws preventing it, whereas in Carthage, which has a democratic government,1 the magistrates go in for business, and they have not yet had a revolution. And it is also a strange remark2 that the oligarchical state is two states, one of rich men and one of poor men. For what has happened to this state rather than to the Spartan or any other sort of state where all do not own an equal amount of wealth or where all are not equally good men? and when nobody has become poorer than he was before, none the less revolution takes place from oligarchy to democracy if the men of no property become more numerous, and from democracy to oligarchy if the wealthy class is stronger than the multitude and the latter neglect politics but the former give their mind to them. And although there are many causes through which revolutions in oligarchies occur, he mentions only one—that of men becoming poor through riotous living, by paying away their money in interest on loans—as if at the start all men or most men were rich. But this is not true, but although when some of the leaders have lost their properties they stir up innovations, when men of the other classes are ruined nothing strange happens; [20] and even when such a revolution does occur it is no more likely to end in a democracy than in another form of constitution. And furthermore men also form factions and cause revolutions in the constitution if they are not allowed a share of honors, and if they are unjustly or insolently treated, even if they have not run through all their property . . .3 because of being allowed to do whatever they like; the cause of which he states to be excessive liberty. And although there are several forms of oligarchy and of democracy, Socrates speaks of the revolutions that occur in them as though there were only one form of each.

1 Apparently this clause also is an interpolation, or ‘democratic’ is a copyist's mistake for ‘oligarchic’ or ‘timocratic,’ see 1272b 24 ff.

2 Plat. Rep. 551d

3 Some words appear to be lost here; what follows refers to democracy, cf. Plat. Rep. 587b.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Plato, Republic, 551d
    • Plato, Republic, 587b
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