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BOOK III. - Aristotle, The Politics vol. 1 [320 BC]
The Politics of Aristotle, trans. into English with introduction, marginal analysis, essays, notes and indices by B. Jowett. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1885. 2 vols. Vol. 1.
Part of: The Politics 2 vols.
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1275 a.What is a state?A question which leads to another, who is a citizen?Neither residence nor merely legal rights are sufficient to constitute perfect citizenship.The citizen is he who shares in ‘indefinite office.’
He who would enquire into the nature and various kinds of government must first of all determine ‘What is a state?’ At present this is a disputed question. Some say that the state has done a certain act; others, no, not the statea , but the oligarchy or the tyrant. And the legislator or statesman is concerned entirely with the state; a constitution or government being an arrangement of the inhabitants of a state. But a state is composite, and, like any other whole, made up of many parts;—these are the citizens, who compose it. It is evident, therefore, that we must begin by asking, Who is the citizen, and what is the meaning of the term? For here again there may be a difference of opinion. He who is a citizen in a democracy will often not be a citizen in an oligarchy. Leaving out of consideration those who have been made citizens, or who have obtained the name of citizen in any other accidental manner, we may say, first, that a citizen is not a citizen because he lives in a certain place, for resident aliens and slaves share in the place; nor is he a citizen who has no legal right except that of suing and being sued; for this right may be enjoyed under the provisions of a treaty. Even resident aliens in many places possess such rights, although in an imperfect form; for they are obliged to have a patron. Hence they do but imperfectly participate in citizenship, and we call them citizens only in a qualified sense, as we might apply the term to children who are too young to be on the register, or to old men who have been relieved from state duties. Of these we do not say simply that they are citizens, but add in the one case that they are not of age, and in the other, that they are past the age, or something of that sort; the precise expression is immaterial, for our meaning is clear. Similar difficulties to those which I have mentioned may be raised and answered about deprived citizens and about exiles. But the citizen, whom we are seeking to define, is a citizen in the strictest sense, against whom no such exception can be taken, and his special characteristic is that he shares in the administration of justice, and in offices. Now of offices some have a limit of time, and the same persons are not allowed to hold them twice, or can only hold them after a fixed interval; others have no limit of time,—for example, the office of dicast or ecclesiasta . It may, indeed, be argued that these are not magistrates at all, and that their functions give them no share in the government. But surely it is ridiculous to say that those who have the supreme power do not govern. Not to dwell further upon this, which is a purely verbal question, what we want is a common term including both dicast and ecclesiast. Let us, for the sake of distinction, call it ‘indefinite office,’ and we will assume that those who share in such office are citizens. This is the most comprehensive definition of a citizen, and best suits all those who are generally so called.
This definition, strictly taken, suits only democratic states,1275 b.and must be modified when extended to others.
But we must not forget that things of which the underlying notions differ in kind, one of them being first, another second, another third, have, when regarded in this relation, nothing, or hardly anything, worth mentioning in common. Now we see that governments differ in kind, and that some of them are prior and that others are posterior; those which are faulty or perverted are necessarily posterior to those which are perfect. (What we mean by perversion will be hereafter explainedb .) The citizen then of necessity differs under each form of government; and our definition is best adapted to the citizen of a democracy; but not necessarily to other states. For in some states the people are not acknowledged, nor have they any regular assembly, but only extraordinary ones; and suits are distributed in turn among the magistrates. At Lacedaemon, for instance, the Ephors determine suits about contracts, which they distribute among themselves, while the elders are judges of homicide, and other causes are decided by other magistrates. A similar principle prevails at Carthagea ; there certain magistrates decide all causes. We may, indeed, modify our definition of the citizen so as to include these states. [But strictly taken it only applies in democracies.] In other states it is the holder of a definite, not of an indefinite office, who legislates and judges, and to some or all such holders of definite offices is reserved the right of deliberating or judging about some things or about all things. The conception of the citizen now begins to clear up.
He who has the power to take part in the deliberative or judicial administration of any state is said by us to be a citizen of that state; and speaking generally, a state is a body of citizens sufficing for the purposes of life.
Practically the citizen is the son of a citizen.But how about the first citizen?
But in practice a citizen is defined to be one of whom both the parents are citizens; others insist on going further back; say to two or three or more grandparents. This is a short and practical definition; but there are some who raise the further question: How this third or fourth ancestor came to be a citizen? Gorgias of Leontini, partly because he was in a difficulty, partly in irony, said — ‘Mortars are made by the mortar-makers, and the citizens of Larissa are also a manufactured article, made, like the kettles which bear their name [λαρισαɩ̂οι], by the magistratesb .’ Yet the question is really simple, for, if according to the definition just given they shared in the governmentc , they were citizens. [This is a better definition than the other.] For the words, ‘born of a father or mother, who is a citizen,’ cannot possibly apply to the first inhabitants or founders of a state.
Is the citizen de facto also citizen de jure?1276 a.
There is a greater difficulty in the case of those who have been made citizens after a revolution, as by Cleisthenes at Athens after the expulsion of the tyrants, for he enrolled in tribes a number of strangers and slaves anda resident aliens. The doubt in these cases is, not who is, but whether he, who is, ought to be a citizen; and there will still be a further doubt, whether he who ought not to be a citizen, is one in fact, for what ought not to be is what is false and is not. Now, there are some who hold office, and yet ought not to hold office, whom we call rulers, although they rule unjustly. And the citizen was defined by the fact of his holding some kind of rule or office,—he who holds a judicial or legislative office fulfils our definition of a citizen. It is evident, therefore, that the citizens about whom the doubt has arisen must be called citizens; whether they ought to be so or not is a question which is bound up with the previous enquiryb .
When is an act the act of the state?The identity
A parallel question is raised respecting the state whether a certain act is or is not an act of the state; for example, in the transition from an oligarchy or a tyranny to a democracy. In such cases persons refuse to fulfil their contracts or any other obligations, on the ground that the tyrant, and not the state, contracted them; they argue that some constitutions are established by force, and not for the sake of the common good. But this would apply equally to democracies, for they too may be founded on violence, and then the acts of the democracy will be neither more nor less legitimate than those of an oligarchy or of a tyranny. This question runs up into another:—when shall we say that the state is the same, and when different? It would be a very superficial view which considered only the place and the inhabitants; for the soil and the population may be separated, and some of the inhabitants may live in one place and some in another. This, however, is not a very serious difficulty; we need only remark that the word ‘state’ is ambiguous, meaning both state and city.
and the unity of a state depend not so much on place,
It is further asked: When are men, living in the same place, to be regarded as a single city—what is the limit? Certainly not the wall of the city, for you might surround all Peloponnesus with a wall. But a city, having such vast circuit, would contain a nation rather than a state, like Babylona , which, as they say, had been taken for three days before some part of the inhabitants became aware of the fact. This difficulty may, however, with advantage be deferredb to another occasion; the statesman has to consider the size of the state, and whether it should consist of more than one nation or not.
1276 b.nor yet on race,but mainly on the sameness of the constitution.
Again, shall we say that while the race of inhabitants, as well as their place of abode, remain the same, the city is also the same, although the citizens are always dying and being born, as we call rivers and fountains the same, although the water is always flowing away and coming again? Or shall we say that the generations of men, like the rivers, are the same, but that the state changes? For, since the state is a community and a community is made up of citizens, when the form of the government changes and becomes different, then it may be supposed that the state is no longer the same, just as a tragic differs from a comic chorus, although the members of both may be identical. And in this manner we speak of every union or composition of elements, when the form of their composition alters; for example, harmony of the same sounds is said to be different, accordingly as the Dorian or the Phrygian mode is employed. And if this is true it is evident that the sameness of the state consists chiefly in the sameness of the constitution, and may be called or not called by the same name, whether the inhabitants are the same or entirely different. It is quite another question, whether a state ought or ought not to fulfil engagements when the form of government changes.
Is the virtue of the good man the same as that of the good citizen?The virtue of the citizen differs in different states, and therefore cannot always be the same as that of the good man.
There is a point nearly allied to the preceding: Whether the virtue of a good man and a good citizen is the same or nota . But, before entering on this discussion, we must first obtain some general notion of the virtue of the citizen. Like the sailor, the citizen is a member of a community. Now, sailors have different functions, for one of them is a rower, another a pilot, and a third a look-out-man, a fourth is described by some similar term; and while the precise definition of each individual’s virtue applies exclusively to him, there is, at the same time, a common definition applicable to them all. For they have all of them a common object, which is safety in navigation. Similarly, one citizen differs from another, but the salvation of the community is the common business of them all. This community is the state; the virtue of the citizen must therefore be relative to the constitution of which he is a member. If, then, there are many forms of government, it is evident that the virtue of the good citizen cannot be the one perfect virtue. But we say that the good man is he who has perfect virtue. Hence it is evident that the good citizen need not of necessity possess the virtue which makes a good man.
Even in the perfect state, though all are good citizens, they are not necessarily good men.1277 a.
The same question may also be approached by another road, from a consideration of the perfect state. If the state cannot be entirely composed of good men, and each citizen is expected to do his own business well, and must therefore have virtue, inasmuch as all the citizens cannot be alike, the virtue of the citizen and of the good man cannot coincide. All must have the virtue of the good citizen—thus, and thus only, can the state be perfect; but they will not have the virtue of a good man, unless we assume that in the good state all the citizens must be good.
The citizens differ among themselves, and therefore cannot all have the same virtue.
Again, the state may be compared to the living being: as the first elements into which the living being is resolved are soul and body, as the soul is made up of reason and appetite, the family of husband and wife, property of master and slave, so out of all these, as well as other dissimilar elements, the state is composed; and, therefore, the virtue of all the citizens cannot possibly be the same, any more than the excellence of the leader of a chorus is the same as that of the performer who stands by his side. I have said enough to show why the two kinds of virtue cannot be absolutely and always the same.
The good ruler is the good man.
But will there then be no case in which the virtue of the good citizen and the virtue of the good man coincide? To this we answer [not that the good citizen, but] that the good ruler is a good and wise man, and that he who would be a statesman must be a wise man. And some persons say that even the education of the ruler should be of a special kind; for are not the children of kings instructed in riding and military exercises? As Euripides says:
‘No subtle arts for me, but what the state requires.’a
But are not all the citizens rulers in turn?Yes; by obedience they learn to rule.The obedience is not such as that of slaves or mechanics,1277 b.
As though there were a special education needed by a ruler. If then the virtue of a good ruler is the same as that of a good man, and we assume further that the subject is a citizen as well as the ruler, the virtue of the good citizen and the virtue of the good man cannot be always the same, although in some cases [i.e. in the perfect state] they may; for the virtue of a ruler differs from that of a citizen. It was the sense of this difference which made Jason say that ‘he felt hungry when he was not a tyrant,’ meaning that he could not endure to live in a private station. But, on the other hand, it may be argued that men are praised for knowing both how to rule and how to obey, and he is said to be a citizen of approved virtue who is able to do both. Now if we suppose the virtue of a good man to be that which rules, and the virtue of the citizen to include ruling and obeying, it cannot be said that they are equally worthy of praise. Seeing, then, that according to common opinion the ruler and the ruled must at some time or other learn the duties of both, but that what they learn is different, and that the citizen must know and share in them both; the inference is obviousa . There is, indeed, the rule of a master which is concerned with menial officesb ,—the master need not know how to perform these, but may employ others in the execution of them: anything else would be degrading; and by anything else I mean the menial duties which vary much in character and are executed by various classes of slaves, such, for example, as handicraftsmen, who, as their name signifies, live by the labour of their hands:—under these the mechanic is included. Hence in ancient times, and among some nations, the working classes had no share in the government—a privilege which they only acquired under the extreme democracy. Certainly the good man and the statesman and the good citizen ought not to learn the crafts of inferiors except for their own occasional usec ; if they habitually practise them, there will cease to be a distinction between master and slave.
but the obedience of freemen in a constitutional state.Practical wisdom is the virtue of the ruler.
This is not the rule of which we are speaking; but there is a rule of another kind, which is exercised over freemen and equals by birth — a constitutional rule, which the ruler must learn by obeying, as he would learn the duties of a general of cavalry by being under the orders of a general of cavalry, or the duties of a general of infantry by being under the orders of a general of infantry, or by having had the command of a company or brigade. It has been well said that ‘he who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.’ The two are not the same, but the good citizen ought to be capable of both; he should know how to govern like a freeman, and how to obey like a freeman—these are the virtues of a citizen. And, although the temperance and justice of a ruler are distinct from those of a subject, the virtue of a good man will include both; for the good man, who is free and also a subject, will not have one virtue only, say justice,—but he will have distinct kinds of virtue, the one qualifying him to rule, the other to obey, and differing as the temperance and courage of men and women differa . For a man would be thought a coward if he had no more courage than a courageous woman, and a woman would be thought loquacious if she imposed no more restraint on her conversation than the good man; and indeed their part in the management of the household is different, for the duty of the one is to acquire, and of the other to preserve. Practical wisdom only is characteristic of the rulerb : it would seem that all other virtues must equally belong to ruler and subject. The virtue of the subject is certainly not wisdom, but only true opinion; he may be compared to the maker of the flute, while his master is like the flute-player or user of the flutec .
From these considerations may be gathered the answer to the question, whether the virtue of the good man is the same as that of the good citizen, or different, and how far the same, and how far differentd .
Is the mechanic a citizen?He is necessary to the existence of a state, but not a part of it, andtherefore in the best state not a citizen at all.1278 a.
There still remains one more question about the citizen: Is he only a true citizen who has a share of office, or is the mechanic to be included? If they who hold no office are to be deemed citizens, not every citizen can have this virtue of ruling and obeyinge which makes a citizene . And if none of the lower class are citizens, in which part of the state are they to be placed? For they are not resident aliens, and they are not foreigners. To this objection may we not reply, that there is no more absurdity in excluding them than in excluding slaves and freedmen from any of the above-mentioned classes? It must be admitted that we cannot consider all those to be citizens who are necessary to the existence of the state; for example, children are not citizens equally with grown up men, who are citizens absolutely, but children, not being grown up, are only citizens in a qualified sense. Doubtless in ancient times, and among some nations, the artisan class were slaves or foreigners, and therefore the majority of them are so now. The best form of state will not admit them to citizenship; but if they are admitted, then our definition of the virtue of a citizen will apply to some citizens and freemen only, and not to those who work for their living. The latter class, to whom toil is a necessity, are either slaves who minister to the wants of individuals, or mechanics and labourers who are the servants of the community. These reflections carried a little further will explain their position; and indeed what has been said already is of itself explanation enough.
Citizenship relative to the constitution.
Since there are many forms of government there must be many varieties of citizens, and especially of citizens who are subjects; so that under some governments the mechanic and the labourer will be citizens, but not in others, as, for example, in aristocracy or the so-called government of the best (if there be such an one), in which honours are given according to virtue and merit; for no man can practise virtue who is living the life of a mechanic or labourer. In oligarchies the qualification for office is high, and therefore no labourer can ever be a citizen; but a mechanic may, for many of them are rich. At Thebesa there was a law that no man could hold office who had not retired from business for ten years. In many states the law goes to the length of admitting aliens; for in some democracies a man is a citizen though his mother only be a citizen [and his father an alien]; and a similar principle is applied to illegitimate children; the law is relaxed when there is a dearth of population. But when the number of citizens increases, first the children of a male or a female slave are excluded; then those whose mothers only are citizens; and at last the right of citizenship is confined to those whose fathers and mothers are both citizens.a
The true citizen shares in the honours of state.
Hence, as is evident, there are different kinds of citizens; and he is a citizen in the highest sense who shares in the honours of the state. In the poems of Homer [Achilles complains of Agamemnon treating him] ‘like some dishonoured strangerb ;’ for he who is excluded from the honours of the state is no better than an alien. But when this exclusion is concealed, then the object is to deceive the inhabitants.
1278 b.Final answer to the question ‘whether the good citizen is the good man.’
As to the question whether the virtue of the good man is the same as that of the good citizen, the considerations already adduced prove that in some states the two are the same, and in others different. When they are the same it is not the virtue of every citizen which is the same as that of the good man, but only the virtue of the statesman and of those who have or may have, alone or in conjunction with others, the conduct of public affairs.
Having determined these questions, we have next to consider whether there is only one form of government or many, and if many, what they are, and how many, and what are the differences between them.
Constitutions vary with the governing power and in relation to the end.
A constitution is the arrangement of magistracies in a statec , especially of the highest of all. The government is everywhere sovereign in the state, and the constitution is in fact the government. For example, in democracies the people are supreme, but in oligarchies, the few; and, therefore, we say that these two forms of government are different: and so in other cases.
What is the end of the state?
First, let us consider what is the purpose of a state, and how many forms of government there are by which human society is regulated. We have already said, in the former part of this treatisea , when drawing a distinction between household-management and the rule of a master, that man is by nature a political animal. And therefore, men, even when they do not require one another’s help, desire to live together all the same, and are in fact brought together by their common interests in proportion as they severally attain to any measure of well-being. This is certainly the chief end, both of individuals and of states. And also for the sake of mere life (in which there is possibly some noble element) mankind meet together and maintain the political community, so long as the evils of existence do not greatly overbalance the goodb . And we all see that men cling to life even in the midst of misfortune, seeming to find in it a natural sweetness and happiness.
The various kinds of rule.Rule is primarily intended for the good of the governed,1279 a.and is perverted when exercised in the interests of the ruler.
There is no difficulty in distinguishing the various kinds of authority; they have been often defined already in popular worksc . The rule of a master, although the slave by nature and the master by nature have in reality the same interests, is nevertheless exercised primarily with a view to the interest of the master, but accidentally considers the slave, since, if the slave perish, the rule of the master perishes with him. On the other hand, the government of a wife and children and of a household, which we have called household-management, is exercised in the first instance for the good of the governed or for the common good of both parties, but essentially for the good of the governed, as we see to be the case in medicine, gymnastic, and the arts in general, which are only accidentally concerned with the good of the artists themselvesd . (For there is no reason why the trainer may not sometimes practise gymnastics, and the pilot is always one of the crew.) The trainer or the pilot considers the good of those committed to his care. But, when he is one of the persons taken care of, he accidentally participates in the advantage, for the pilot is also a sailor, and the trainer becomes one of those in training. And so in politics: when the state is framed upon the principle of equality and likeness, the citizens think that they ought to hold office by turns. In the order of nature every one would take his turn of service; and then again, somebody else would look after his interest, just as he, while in office, had looked after theirsa . [That was originally the way.] But now-a-days, for the sake of the advantage which is to be gained from the public revenues and from office, men want to be always in office. One might imagine that the rulers, being sickly, were only kept in health while they continued in office; in that case we may be sure that they would be hunting after places. The conclusion is evident: that governments, which have a regard to the common interest, are constituted in accordance with strict principles of justice, and are therefore true forms; but those which regard only the interest of the rulers are all defective and perverted forms, for they are despotic, whereas a state is a community of freemen.
Forms of government, true and perverted.(a) The true forms.(1) Royalty, or the rule of one.(2) Aristocracy of a few.(3) ‘Polity’ of the citizens at large.(But all for the sake of the governed.)1279 b.
Having determined these points, we have next to consider how many forms of government there are, and what they are; and in the first place what are the true forms, for when they are determined the perversions of them will at once be apparent. The words constitution and government have the same meaning, and the government, which is the supreme authority in states, must be in the hands of one, or of a few, or of many. The true forms of government, therefore, are those in which the one, or the few, or the many, govern with a view to the common interest; but governments which rule with a view to the private interest, whether of the one, or of the few, or of the many, are perversionsb . For citizens, if they are truly citizens, ought to participate in the advantages of a state. Of forms of government in which one rules, we call that which regards the common interests, kingship or royalty; that in which more than one, but not many, rule, aristocracy [the rule of the best]; and it is so called, either because the rulers are the best men, or because they have at heart the best interests of the state and of the citizens. But when the citizens at large administer the state for the common interest, the government is called by the generic name,—a constitution [πολιτεία]. And there is a reason for this use of language. One man or a few may excel in virtue; but of virtue there are many kinds: and as the number increases it becomes more difficult for them to attain perfection in every kind, though they may in military virtue, for this is found in the masses. Hence, in a constitutional government the fighting-men have the supreme power, and those who possess arms are the citizens.
(b) The perversions. (1) tyranny, (2) oligarchy, (3) democracy.
Of the above-mentioned forms, the perversions are as follows:—of royalty, tyranny; of aristocracy, oligarchy; of constitutional government, democracy. For tyranny is a kind of monarchy which has in view the interest of the monarch only; oligarchy has in view the interest of the wealthy; democracy, of the needy: none of them the common good of all.
The division however must not be made to depend merely on a principle of number (quantity).
But there are difficulties about these forms of government, and it will therefore be necessary to state a little more at length the nature of each of them. For he who would make a philosophical study of the various sciences, and does not regard practice only, ought not to overlook or omit anything, but to set forth the truth in every particular. Tyranny, as I was saying, is monarchy exercising the rule of a master over political society; oligarchy is when men of property have the government in their hands; democracy, the opposite, when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers. And here arises the first of our difficulties, and it relates to the definition just given. For democracy is said to be the government of the many. But what if the many are men of property and have the power in their hands? In like manner oligarchy is said to be the government of the few; but what if the poor are fewer than the rich, and have the power in their hands because they are stronger? In these cases the distinction which we have drawn between these different forms of government would no longer hold good.
Wealth and poverty (quantity) must also be considered.
Suppose, once more, that we add wealth to the few and poverty to the many, and name the governments accordingly—an oligarchy is said to be that in which the few and the wealthy, and a democracy that in which the many and the poor are the rulers—there will still be a difficulty. For, if the only forms of government are the ones already mentioned, how shall we describe those other governments also just mentioned by us, in which the rich are the more numerous and the poor are the fewer, and both govern in their respective states?
1280 a.The qualitative is the essential and the quantitative the accidental difference, though in fact they generally coincide.
The argument seems to show that, whether in oligarchies or in democracies, the number of the governing body, whether the greater number, as in a democracy, or the smaller number, as in an oligarchy, is an accident due to the fact that the rich everywhere are few, and the poor numerous. But if so, there is a misapprehension of the causes of the difference between them. For the real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth. Wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is a democracy. But as a fact the rich are few and the poor many: for few are well-to-do, whereas freedom is enjoyed by all, and wealth and freedom are the grounds on which the oligarchical and democratical parties respectively claim power in the state.
Justice is equality to equals,inequality to unequals, but people in general leave out of sight the persons, and put relative in the place of absolute justice.The state exists not for the sake of wealth or security or society, but for the sake of a good life.1280 b.It is more than a mere alliance designed for the protection of life and property.
Let us begin by considering the common definitions of oligarchy and democracy, and what is justice oligarchical and democratical. For all men cling to justice of some kind, but their conceptions are imperfect and they do not express the whole idea. For example, justice is thought by them to be, and is, equality, not, however, for all, but only for equals. And inequality is thought to be, and is, justice; neither is this for all, but only for unequals. When the persons are omitted, then men judge erroneously. The reason is that they are passing judgment on themselves, and most people are bad judges in their own case. And whereas justice implies a relation to persons as well as to things, and a just distribution, as I have already said in the Ethicsa , embraces alike persons and things, they acknowledge the equality of the things, but dispute about the merit of the persons, chiefly for the reason which I have just given,—because they are bad judges in their own affairs; and secondly, because both the parties to the argument are speaking of a limited and partial justice, but imagine themselves to be speaking of absolute justice. For those who are unequal in one respect, for example wealth, consider themselves to be unequal in all; and any who are equal in one respect, for example freedom, consider themselves to be equal in all. But they leave out the capital point. For if men met and associated out of regard to wealth only, their share in the state would be proportioned to their property, and the oligarchical doctrine would then seem to carry the day. It would not be just that he who paid one mina should have the same share of a hundred minae, bwhether of the principal or of the profitsb , as he who paid the remaining ninety-nine. But a state exists for the sake of a good life, and not for the sake of life only: if life only were the object, slaves and brute animals might form a state, but they cannot, for they have no share in happiness or in a life of free choice. Nor does a state exist for the sake of alliance and security from injusticec , nor yet for the sake of exchange and mutual intercourse; for then the Tyrrhenians and the Carthaginians, and all who have commercial treaties with one another, would be the citizens of one state. True, they have agreements about imports, and engagements that they will do no wrong to one another, and written articles of alliance. But there are no magistracies common to the contracting parties who will enforce their engagements; different states have each their own magistracies. Nor does one state take care that the citizens of the other are such as they ought to be, nor see that those who come under the terms of the treaty do no wrong or wickedness at all, but only that they do no injustice to one another. Whereas, those who care for good government take into consideration [the larger question of] virtue and vice in states. Whence it may be further inferred that avirtue must be the serious care of a state which truly deserves the namea : for [without this ethical end] the community becomes a mere alliance which differs only in place from alliances of which the members live apart; and law is only a convention, ‘a surety to one another of justice,’ as the sophist Lycophron says, and has no real power to make the citizens good and just.
It implies not only intermarriage, intercourse, exchange,a common locality,but much more than these, viz. a community of well-being.1281 a.
This is obvious; for suppose distinct places, such as Corinth and Megara, to be united by a wall, still they would not be one city, not even if the citizens had the right to intermarry, which is one of the rights peculiarly characteristic of states. Again, if men dwelt at a distance from one another, but not so far off as to have no intercourse, and there were laws among them that they should not wrong each other in their exchanges, neither would this be a state. Let us suppose that one man is a carpenter, another a husbandman, another a shoemaker, and so on, and that their number is ten thousand: nevertheless, if they have nothing in common but exchange, alliance, and the like, that would not constitute a state. Why is this? Surely not because they are at a distance from one another: for even supposing that such a community were to meet in one place, and that each man had a house of his own, which was in a manner his state, and that they made alliance with one another, but only against evil-doers; still an accurate thinker would not deem this to be a state, if their intercourse with one another was of the same character after as before their union. It is clear then that a state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of crime and for the sake of exchange. These are conditions without which a state cannot exist; but all of them together do not constitute a state, which is a community of well-being in families and aggregations of families, for the sake of a perfect and self-sufficing life. Such a community can only be established among those who live in the same place and intermarry. Hence arise in cities family connexions, brotherhoods, common sacrifices, amusements which draw men together. They are created by friendship, for friendship is the motive of society. The end is the good life, and these are the means towards it. And the state is the union of families and villages having for an end a perfect and self-sufficing life, by which we mean a happy and honourable lifea .
Those who contribute most to such a society have the greatest claim to power.
Our conclusion, then, is that political society exists for the sake of noble actions, and not of mere companionship. And they who contribute most to such a society have a greater share in it than those who have the same or a greater freedom or nobility of birth but are inferior to them in political virtue; or than those who exceed them in wealth but are surpassed by them in virtue.
From what has been said it will be clearly seen that all the partisans of different forms of government speak of a part of justice only.
Who are to have supreme power?Difficulties: any class having the power may act unjustly, is its authority to be deemed just?
There is also a doubt as to what is to be the supreme power in the state:—Is it the multitude? Or the wealthy? Or the good? Or the one best man? Or a tyrant? Any of these alternatives seems to involve disagreeable consequences. If the poor, for example, because they are more in number, divide among themselves the property of the rich,—is not this unjust? No, by heaven (will be the reply), for the lawful authority [i. e. the people] willed it. But if this is not injustice, pray what is? Again, when [in the first division] all has been taken, and the majority divide anew the property of the minority, is it not evident, if this goes on, that they will ruin the state? Yet surely, virtue is not the ruin of those who possess her, nor is justice destructive of a statea ; and therefore this law of confiscation clearly cannot be just. If it were, all the acts of a tyrant must of necessity be just; for he only coerces other men by superior power, just as the multitude coerce the rich. But is it just then that the few and the wealthy should be the rulers? And what if they, in like manner, rob and plunder the people,—is this just? If so, the other case [i. e. the case of the majority plundering the minority] will likewise be just. But there can be no doubt that all these things are wrong and unjust.
The rule of the good men will exclude the other citizens.Even the rule of the law may only represent a party.
Then ought the good to rule and have supreme power? But in that case everybody else, being excluded from power, will be dishonoured. For the offices of a state are posts of honour; and if one set of men always hold them, the rest must be deprived of them. Then will it be well that the one best man should rule? Nay, that is still more oligarchical, for the number of those who are dishonoured is thereby increased. Some one may say that it is bad for a man, subject as he is to all the accidents of human passion, to have the supreme power, rather than the law. But what if the law itself be democratical or oligarchical, how will that help us out of our difficultiesb ? Not at all; the same consequences will follow.
Why the many should have power. They are wiser than any one man,in many cases, though not always.1281 b.1282 a.Their wisdom collective.But should not the expert be chosen by the expert?Answer: the people may be able to judgethough they have no special knowledge.
Most of these questions may be reserved for another occasion. The principle that the multitude ought to be supreme rather than the few best is capable of a satisfactory explanation, and, though not free from difficulty, yet seems to contain an element of truth. For the many, of whom each individual is but an ordinary person, when they meet together may very likely be better than the few good, if regarded not individually but collectively, just as a feast to which many contribute is better than a dinner provided out of a single purse. For each individual among the many has a share of virtue and prudence, and when they meet together they become in a manner one man, who has many feet, and hands, and senses; that is a figure of their mind and disposition. Hence the many are better judges than a single man of music and poetry; for some understand one part, and some another, and among them, they understand the whole. There is a similar combination of qualities in good men, who differ from any individual of the many, as the beautiful are said to differ from those who are not beautiful, and works of art from realities, because in them the scattered elements are combined, although, if taken separately, the eye of one person or some other feature in another person would be fairer than in the picture. Whether this principle can apply to every democracy, and to all bodies of men, is not clear. Or rather, by heaven, in some cases it is impossible of application; for the argument would equally hold about brutes; and wherein, it will be asked, do some men differ from brutes? But there may be bodies of men about whom our statement is nevertheless true. And if so, the difficulty which has been already raised, and also another which is akin to it—viz. what power should be assigned to the mass of freemen and citizens, who are not rich and have no personal merit—are both solved. There is still a danger in allowing them to share the great offices of state, for their folly will lead them into error, and their dishonesty into crime. But there is a danger also in not letting them share, for a state in which many poor men are excluded from office will necessarily be full of enemies. The only way of escape is to assign to them some deliberative and judicial functions. For this reason Solona and certain other legislators give them the power of electing to offices, and of calling the magistrates to account, but they do not allow them to hold office singly. When they meet together their perceptions are quite good enough, and combined with the better class they are useful to the state (just as impure food when mixed with what is pure sometimes makes the entire mass more wholesome than a small quantity of the pure would be), but each individual, left to himself, forms an imperfect judgment. On the other hand, the popular form of government involves certain difficulties. In the first place, it might be objected that he who can judge of the healing of a sick man would be one who could himself heal his disease, and make him whole—that is, in other words, the physician; and so in all professions and arts. As, then, the physician ought to be called to account by physicians, so ought men in general to be called to account by their peers. But physicians are of three kinds:—there is the apothecary, and there is the physician of the higher class, and thirdly the intelligent man who has studied the art: in all arts there is such a class; and we attribute the power of judging to them quite as much as to professors of the art. Now, does not the same principle apply to elections? For a right election can only be made by those who have knowledge; a geometrician, for example, will choose rightly in matters of geometry, or a pilot in matters of steering; and, even if there be some occupations and arts with which private persons are familiar, they certainly cannot judge better than those who know. So that, according to this argument, neither the election of magistrates, nor the calling of them to account, should be intrusted to the many. Yet possibly these objections are to a great extent met by our old answer, that if the people are not utterly degraded, although individually they may be worse judges than those who have special knowledge—as a body they are as good or better. Moreover, there are some artists whose works are judged of solely, or in the best manner, not by themselves, but by those who do not possess the art; for example, the knowledge of the house is not limited to the builder only; the user, or, in other words, the master, of the house will even be a better judge than the builder, just as the pilot will judge better of a rudder than the carpenter, and the guest will judge better of a feast than the cook.
Sovereignty of the people means not volonté de tous but volonté générale.
This difficulty seems now to be sufficiently answered, but there is another akin to it. That inferior persons should have authority in greater matters than the good would appear to be a strange thing, yet the election and calling to account of the magistrates is the greatest of all. And these, as I was saying, are functions which in some states are assigned to the people, for the assembly is supreme in all such matters. Yet persons of any age, and having but a small property qualification, sit in the assembly and deliberate and judge, although for the great officers of state, such as controllers and generals, a high qualification is required. This difficulty may be solved in the same manner as the preceding, and the present practice of democracies may be really defensible. For the power does not reside in the dicast, or senator, or ecclesiast, but in the court and the senate, and the assembly, of which individual senators, or ecclesiasts, or dicasts, are only parts or members. And for this reason the many may claim to have a higher authority than the few; for the people, and the senate, and the courts consist of many persons, and their property collectively is greater than the property of one or of a few individuals holding great offices. But enough of this.
The laws when good supreme. But what are good laws?1282 b.
The discussion of the first questiona shows nothing so clearly as that laws, when good, should be supreme; and that the magistrate or magistrates should regulate those matters only on which the laws are unable to speak with precision owing to the difficulty of any general principle embracing all particularsa . But what are good laws has not yet been clearly explained; the old difficulty remainsb . The goodness or badness, justice or injustice, of laws is of necessity relative to the constitutions of states. But if so, true forms of government will of necessity have just laws, and perverted forms of government will have unjust laws.
Justice is equality.But equality in what?Not in anything and everything.Differences of quality have no common measure.What kinds of superiority give a claim to political power?1283 a.
In all sciences and arts the end is a good, and especially and above all in the highest of allc — this is the political science of which the good is justice, in other words, the common interest. All men think justice to be a sort of equality; and to a certain extentd they agree in the philosophical distinctions which have been laid down by us about Ethicse . For they admit that justice is a thing having relation to persons, and that equals ought to have equality. But there still remains a question; equality or inequality of what? here is a difficulty which the political philosopher has to resolve. For very likely some persons will say that offices of state ought to be unequally distributed according to superior excellence, in whatever respect, of the citizen, although there is no other difference between him and the rest of the community; for that those who differ in any one respect have different rights and claims. But, surely, if this is true, the complexion or height of a man, or any other advantage, will be a reason for his obtaining a greater share of political rights. The error here lies upon the surface, and may be illustrated from the other arts and sciences. When a number of flute-players are equal in their art, there is no reason why those of them who are better born should have better flutes given to them; for they will not play any better on the flute, and the superior instrument should be reserved for him who is the superior artist. If what I am saying is still obscure, it will be made clearer as we proceed. For if there were a superior flute-player who was far inferior in birth and beauty, although either of these may be a greater good than the art of flute-playing, and persons gifted with these qualities may excel the flute-player in a greater ratio than he excels them in his art, still he ought to have the best flutes given to him, unless the advantages of wealth and birth contribute to excellence in flute-playing, which they do not. Moreover upon this principle any good may be compared with any other. For if a given height, then height in general may be measured either against height or against freedom. Thus if A excels in height more than B in virtue, and height in general is more excellent than virtue, all things will be commensurable [which is absurd]; for if a certain magnitude is greater than some other, it is clear that some other will be equal. But since no such comparison can be made, it is evident that there is good reason why in politics men do not ground their claim to office on every sort of inequality any more than in the arts. For if some be slow, and others swift, that is no reason why the one should have little and the others much; it is in gymnastic contests that such excellence is rewarded. Whereas the rival claims of candidates for office can only be based on the possession of elements which enter into the composition of a state, [such as wealth, virtue, etc.] And therefore the noble, or free-born, or rich, may with good reason claim office; for holders of offices must be freemen and tax-payers: a state can be no more composed entirely of poor men than entirely of slaves. But if wealth and freedom are necessary elements, justice and valour are equally soa ; for without the former a state cannot exist at all, without the latter not well.
1283 b.The claims of wealth,of birth,of virtue,of numbers.Concurrent claims.
If the existence of the state is alone to be considered, then it would seem that all, or some at least, of these claims are just; but, if we take into account a good life, as I have already saidb , education and virtue have superior claims. As, however, those who are equal in one thing ought not to be equal in all, nor those who are unequal in one thing to be unequal in all, it is certain that all forms of government which rest on either of these principles are perversions. All men have a claim in a certain sense, as I have already admitted, but they have not an absolute claim. The rich claim because they have a greater share in the land, and land is the common element of the state; also they are generally more trustworthy in contracts. The free claim under the same title as the noble; for they are nearly akin. And the noble are citizens in a truer sense than the ignoble, since good birth is always valued in a man’s own home and countrya . Another reason is, that those who are sprung from better ancestors are likely to be better men, for nobility is excellence of race. Virtue, too, may be truly said to have a claim, for justice has been acknowledged by us to be a socialb virtue, and it implies all othersc . Again, the many may urge their claim against the few; for, when taken collectively, and compared with the few, they are stronger and richer and better. But, what if the good, the rich, the noble, and the other classes who make up a state, are all living together in the same city, will there, or will there not, be any doubt who shall rule?—No doubt at all in determining who ought to rule in each of the above-mentioned forms of government. For states are characterized by differences in their governing bodies—one of them has a government of the rich, another of the virtuous, and so on. But a difficulty arises when all these elements coexist. How are we to decide? Suppose the virtuous to be very few in number: may we consider their numbers in relation to their duties, and ask whether they are enough to administer the state, or must they be so many as will make up a state? Objections may be urged against all the aspirants to political power. For those who found their claims on wealth or family have no basis of justice; on this principle, if any one person were richer than all the rest, it is clear that he ought to be the ruler of them. In like manner he who is very distinguished by his birth ought to have the superiority over all those who claim on the ground that they are freeborn. In an aristocracy, or government of the best, a like difficulty occurs about virtue; for if one citizen be better than the other members of the government, however good they may be, he too, upon the same principle of justice, should rule over them. And if the people are to be supreme because they are stronger than the few, then if one man, or more than one, but not a majority, is stronger than the many, they ought to rule, and not the many.
None of these claims to power strictly just.The many may be better or richer than the few.The equal is limited by the common good.1284 a.
All these considerations appear to show that none of the principles on which men claim to rule, and hold all other men in subjection to them, are strictly right. To those who claim to be masters of the state on the ground of their virtue or their wealth, the many might fairly answer that they themselves are often better and richer than the few—I do not say individually, but collectively. And another ingenious objection which is sometimes put forward may be met in a similar manner. Some persons doubt whether the legislator who desires to make the justest laws ought to legislate with a view to the good of the higher classes or of the many, when the case which we have mentioned occurs [i. e. when all the elements coexista ]. Now what is just or right is to be interpreted in the sense of ‘what is equal;’ and that which is right in the sense of being equal is to be considered with reference to the advantage of the state, and the common good of the citizens. And a citizen is one who shares in governing and being governed. He differs under different forms of government, but in the best state he is one who is able and willing to be governed and to govern with a view to the life of virtue.
The true king or hero an anomalous person who is not part of a state:such persons are ostracised in democracies which, like tyrannies, act on the advice of Periander to Thrasybulus.Imperial states ostracise dependent states.1284 b.
If, however, there be some one person, or more than one, although not enough to make up the full complement of a state, whose virtue is so preeminent that the virtues or the political power of all the rest admit of no comparison with his or theirs, he or they can be no longer regarded as part of a state; for justice will not be done to the superior, if he is reckoned only as the equal of those who are so far inferior to him in virtue and in political power. Such an one may truly be deemed a God among men. Hence we see that legislation is necessarily concerned only with those who are equal in birth and in power; and that for men of preeminent virtue there is no law — they are themselves a law. Any one would be ridiculous who attempted to make laws for them: they would probably retort what, in the fable of Antisthenes, the lions said to the hares [‘where are your claws?’], when in the council of the beasts the latter began haranguing and claiming equality for all. And for this reason democratic states have instituted ostracism; equality is above all things their aim, and therefore they ostracise and banish from the city for a time those who seem to predominate too much through their wealth, or the number of their friends, or through any other political influence. Mythology tells us that the Argonauts left Heracles behind for a similar reason; the ship Argo would not take him because she feared that he would have been too much for the rest of the crew. Wherefore those who denounce tyranny and blame the counsel which Periander gave to Thrasybulus cannot be held altogether just in their censure. The story is that Periander, when the herald was sent to ask counsel of him, said nothing, but only cut off the tallest ears of corn till he had brought the field to a level. The herald did not know the meaning of the action, but came and reported what he had seen to Thrasybulus, who understood that he was to cut off the principal men in the statea ; and this is a policy not only expedient for tyrants or in practice confined to them, but equally necessary in oligarchies and democracies. Ostracisma is a measure of the same kind, which acts by disabling and banishing the most prominent citizens. Great powers do the same to whole cities and nations, as the Athenians did to the Samians, Chians, and Lesbians; no sooner had they obtained a firm grasp of the empire, than they humbled their allies contrary to treaty; and the Persian king has repeatedly crushed the Medes, Babylonians, and other nations, when their spirit has been stirred by the recollection of their former greatness.
Illustration taken from the arts.Ostracism when applied a sad necessity, but it should not be necessary.Can we ostracise the one best man?No: Then he must be king.
The problem is a universal one, and equally concerns all forms of government, true as well as false; for, although perverted forms with a view to their own interests may adopt this policy, those which seek the common interest do so likewise. The same thing may be observed in the arts and sciencesb ; for the painter will not allow the figure to have a foot which, however beautiful, is not in proportion, nor will the ship-builder allow the stern or any other part of the vessel to be unduly large, any more than who sings louder or better than all the rest to sing in the choir. cMonarchs, too, may practise compulsion and still live in harmony with their cities, if their government is for the interest of the statec . Hence where there is an acknowledged superiority the argument in favour of ostracism is based upon a kind of political justice. It would certainly be better that the legislator should from the first so order his state as to have no need of such a remedy. But if the need arises, the next best thing is that he should endeavour to correct the evil by this or some similar measure. The principle, however, has not been fairly applied in states; for, instead of looking to the public good, they have used ostracism for factious purposes. It is true that under perverted forms of government, and from their special point of view, such a measure is just and expedient, but it is also clear that it is not absolutely just. In the perfect state there would be great doubts about the use of it, not when applied to excess in strength, wealth, popularity, or the like, but when used against some one who is preeminent in virtue, — what is to be done with him? Mankind will not say that such an one is to be expelled and exiled; on the other hand, he ought not to be a subject—that would be aas if in the division of the empire of the Gods the other Godsa should claim to rule over Zeus. The only alternative is that all should joyfully obey such a ruler, according to what seems to be the order of nature, and that men like him should be kings in their state for life.
1285 a.Royalty,kinds of.
The preceding discussion, by a natural transition, leads to the consideration of royalty, which we admit to be one of the true forms of governmentb . Let us see whether in order to be well governed a state or country should be under the rule of a king or under some other form of government; and whether monarchy, although good for some, may not be bad for others. But first we must determine whether there is one species of royalty or many. It is easy to see that there are many, and that the manner of government is not the same in all of them.
(1) The Lacedaemonian kings not sovereigns, but generals for life.
Of royalties according to law, the Lacedaemonian is thought to answer best to the true pattern; but there the royal power is not absolute, except when the kings go on an expedition, and then they take the command. Matters of religion are likewise committed to them. The kingly office is in truth a kind of generalship, irresponsible and perpetual. The king has not the power of life and death, exceptc when upon a campaign and in the field; after the manner of the ancients which is described in Homer. For Agamemnon is patient when he is attacked in the assembly, but when the army goes out to battle he has the power even of life and death. Does he not say?—
‘When I find a man skulking apart from the battle, nothing shall save him from the dogs and vultures, for in my hands is deatha .’
This, then, is one form of royalty — a generalship for life: and of such royalties some are hereditary and others elective.
(2) Barbarian kings have despotic power, but are legal and hereditary.
(2) There is another sort of monarchy not uncommon among the barbarians, which nearly resembles tyranny. But even this is legal and hereditary. For barbarians, being more servile in character than Hellenes, and Asiatics than Europeans, do not rebel against a despotic government. Such royalties have the nature of tyrannies because the people are by nature slavesb ; but there is no danger of their being overthrown, for they are hereditary and legal. Wherefore also their guards are such as a king and not such as a tyrant would employ, that is to say, they are composed of citizens, whereas the guards of tyrants are mercenariesc . For kings rule according to law over voluntary subjects, but tyrants over involuntary; and the one are guarded by their fellow-citizens, the others are guarded against them.
(3) Aesymnetes or dictators.
These are two forms of monarchy, and there was a third (3) which existed in ancient Hellas, called an Aesymnetia or dictatorship. This may be defined generally as an elective tyranny, which, like the barbarian monarchy, is legal, but differs from it in not being hereditary. Sometimes the office is held for life, sometimes for a term of years, or until certain duties have been performed. For example, the Mitylenaeans elected Pittacus leader against the exiles, who were headed by Antimenides and Alcaeus the poet. And Alcaeus himself says in one of his airregular songsa , ‘They chose Pittacus tyrant,’ and he reproaches his fellow-citizens for
‘having made the low-born Pittacus tyrant of the spiritless and ill-fated city, with one voice shouting his praises.’
These forms of government have always had the character of despotism, because they possess tyrannical power; but inasmuch as they are elective and acquiesced in by their subjects, they are kingly.
(4) The hereditary ruler over willing subjects.The king’s power gradually declined, the office of priest or general alone remaining to him.
(4) There is a fourth species of kingly rule—that of the heroic times—which was hereditary and legal, and was exercised over willing subjects. For the first chiefs were benefactors of the peopleb in arts or arms; they either gathered them into a community, or procured land for them; and thus they became kings of voluntary subjects, and their power was inherited by their descendants. They took the command in war and presided over the sacrifices, except those which required a priest. They also decided causes either with or without an oath; and when they swore, the form of the oath was the stretching out of their sceptre. In ancient times their power extended to all things whatsoever, in city and country, as well as in foreign parts; but at a later date they relinquished several of these privileges, and others the people took from them, until in some states nothing was left to them but the sacrifices; and where they retained more of the reality they had only the right of leadership in war beyond the border.
Re-enumeration of the kinds of royalty. To the four above-mentioned
These, then, are the four kinds of royalty. First the monarchy of the heroic ages; this was exercised over voluntary subjects, but limited to certain functions; the king was a general and a judge, and had the control of religion. The second is that of the barbarians, which is an hereditary despotic government in accordance with law. A third is the power of the so-called Aesymnete or Dictator; this is an elective tyranny. The fourth is the Lacedaemonian, which is in fact a generalship, hereditary and perpetual. These four forms differ from one another in the manner which I have described.
is added (5) absolute royalty.
There is a fifth form of kingly rule in which one has the disposal of all, just as each tribe or each state has the disposal of the public property; this form corresponds to the control of a household. For as household management is the kingly rule of a house, so kingly rule is the household management of a city, or of a nation, or of many nations.
Only the two extreme forms need be considered.The Lacedaemonian royalty is an office, not a constitution; the absolute royalty raises many questions.Should the best laws or the best man rule?1286 a.
Of these forms we need only consider two, the Lacedaemonian and the absolute royalty; for most of the others lie in a region between them, having less power than the last, and more than the first. Thus the enquiry is reduced to two points: first, is it advantageous to the state that there should be a perpetual general, and if so, should the office be confined to one family, or open to the citizens in turn? Secondly, is it well that a single man should have the supreme power in all things? The first question falls under the head of laws rather than of constitutions; for perpetual generalship might equally exist under any form of government, so that this matter may be dismissed for the present. The other kind of royalty is a sort of constitution; this we have now to consider, and briefly to run over the difficulties involved in it. We will begin by enquiring whether it is more advantageous to be ruled by the best man or by the best lawsa .
Laws are general,but they are passionless, and the rules too must have general principles.
The advocates of royalty maintain that the laws speak only in general terms, and cannot provide for circumstances; and that for any science to abide by written rules is absurd. Even in Egypt the physician is allowed to alter his treatment after the fourth day, but if sooner, he takes the risk. Hence it is argued that a government acting according to written laws is plainly not the best. Yet surely the ruler cannot dispense with the general principle which exists in law; and he is a better ruler who is free from passion than he who is passionate. Whereas the law is passionless, passion must ever sway the heart of man.
But how about particular cases which cannot be determined by law?Should the one best man or the many decide them?The many are collectively wiser,
Yes, some one will answer, but then on the other hand an individual will be better able to advise in particular cases. [To whom we in turn make reply:] A king must legislate, and laws must be passed, but these laws will have no authority when they miss the mark, though in all other cases retaining their authority. [Yet a further question remains behind:] When the law cannot determine a point at all, or not well, should the one best man or should all decide? According to our present practice assemblies meet, sit in judgment, deliberate and decide, and their judgments all relate to individual cases. Now any member of the assembly, taken separately, is certainly inferior to the wise man. But the state is made up of many individuals. And as a feast to which all the guests contribute is better than a banquet furnished by a single mana , so a multitude is a better judge of many things than any individual.
1286 b.less corruptible,freer from passion,and not more subject to faction.
Again, the many are more incorruptible than the few; they are like the greater quantity of water which is less easily corrupted than a little. The individual is liable to be overcome by anger or by some other passion, and then his judgment is necessarily perverted; but it is hardly to be supposed that a great number of persons would all get into a passion and go wrong at the same moment. Let us assume that they are freemen, never acting in violation of the law, but filling up the gaps which the law is obliged to leave. Or, if such virtue is scarcely attainable by the multitude, we need only suppose that the majority are good men and good citizens, and ask which will be the more incorruptible, the one good ruler, or the many who are all good? Will not the many? But, you will say, there may be parties among them, whereas the one man is not divided against himself. To which we may answer that their character is as good as his. If we call the rule of many men, who are all of them good, aristocracy, and the rule of one man royalty, then aristocracy will be better for states than royalty, whether the government is supported by force or nota , provided only that a number of men equal in virtue can be found.
Ancient monarchiespassed into aristocracies, these into oligarchies;then came tyrannies,lastly, democracies.
The first governments were kingships, probably for this reason, because of old, when cities were small, men of eminent virtue were few. They were made kings because they were benefactorsb , and benefits can only be bestowed by good men. But when many persons equal in merit arose, no longer enduring the pre-eminence of one, they desired to have a commonwealth, and set up a constitution. The ruling class soon deteriorated and enriched themselves out of the public treasury; riches became the path to honour, and so oligarchies naturally grew up. These passed into tyrannies and tyrannies into democracies; for love of gain in the ruling classes was always tending to diminish their number, and so to strengthen the masses, who in the end set upon their masters and established democracies. Since cities have increased in size, no other form of government appears to be any longer possiblec .
Should monarchy be hereditary?Should the monarch have a military force?Yes; but he must not be too powerful.
Even supposing the principle to be maintained that kingly power is the best thing for states, how about the family of the king? Are his children to succeed him? If they are no better than anybody else, that will be mischievous. But [says the lover of royalty] the king, though he might, will not hand on his power to his children. That, however, is hardly to be expected, and is too much to ask of human nature. There is also a difficulty about the force which he is to employ; should a king have guards about him by whose aid he may be able to coerce the refractory? but if not, how will he administer his kingdom? Even if he be the lawful sovereign who does nothing arbitrarily or contrary to law, still he must have some force wherewith to maintain the law. In the case of a limited monarchy there is not much difficulty in answering this question; the king must have such force as will be more than a match for one or more individuals, but not so great as that of the people. The ancients observed this principle when they gave the guards to any one whom they appointed dictator or tyrant. Thus, when Dionysius asked the Syracusans to allow him guards, somebody advised that they should give him only a certain number.
1287 a.The royalty of Sparta is only a life generalship, which may be found in any kind of state.But absolute monarchy is often thought to be contrary to nature.Equals should be under the impersonal rule of law.Law is passionless Reason.The analogy of medicine is adduced in support of personal government, but the cases are not parallel.1287 b.
At this place in the discussion naturally follows the enquiry respecting the king who acts solely according to his own will; he has now to be considered. The so-called limited monarchy, or kingship according to law, as I have already remarkeda , is not a distinct form of government, for under all governments, as, for example, in a democracy or aristocracy, there may be a general holding office for life, and one person is often made supreme over the administration of a state. A magistracy of this kind exists at Epidamnusb , and also at Opus, but in the latter city has a more limited power. Now, absolute monarchy, or the arbitrary rule of a sovereign over all the citizens, in a city which consists of equals, is thought by some to be quite contrary to nature; it is argued that those who are by nature equals must have the same natural right and worth, and that for unequals to have an equal share, or for equals to have an unequal share, in the offices of state, is as bad as for different bodily constitutions to have the same food and clothing or the same different. Wherefore it is thought to be just that among equals every one be ruled as well as rule, and that all should have their turn. We thus arrive at law; for an order of succession implies law. And the rule of the law is preferable to that of any individual. On the same principle, even if it be better for certain individuals to govern, they should be made only guardians and ministers of the law. For magistrates there must be, — this is admitted; but then men say that to give authority to any one man when all are equal is unjust. There may indeed be cases which the law seems unable to determine, but in such cases can a man? Nay, it will be replied, the law trains officers for this express purpose, and appoints them to determine matters which are left undecided by it to the best of their judgment. Further it permits them to make any amendment of the existing laws which experience suggests. [But still they are only the ministers of the law.] He who bids the law rule, may be deemed to bid God and Reason alone rule, but he who bids man rule adds an element of the beast; for desire is a wild beast, and passion perverts the minds of rulers, even when they are the best of men. The law is reason unaffected by desire. We are told that a patient should call in a physician; he will not get better if he is doctored out of a book. But the parallel of the arts is clearly not in point; for the physician does nothing contrary to reason from motives of friendship; he only cures a patient and takes a fee; whereas magistrates do many things from spite and partiality. And, indeed, if a man suspected the physician of being in league with his enemies to destroy him for a bribe, he would rather have recourse to the book. Even physicians when they are sick, call in other physicians, and training-masters when they are in training, other training-masters, as if they could not judge truly about their own case and might be influenced by their feelings. Hence it is evident that in seeking for justice men seek for the mean or neutrala , and the law is the mean. Again, customary laws have more weight, and relate to more important matters, than written laws, and a man may be a safer ruler than the written law, but not safer than the customary law.
The one must always have the assistance of many: then is it not better that the many should rule from the first?
Again, it is by no means easy for one man to superintend many things; he will have to appoint a number of subordinates, and what difference does it make whether these subordinates always existed or were appointed by him because he needed them? If, as I said beforea , the good man has a right to rule because he is better, then two good men are better than one: this is the old saying,—
‘two going togetherb ;’
and the prayer of Agamemnon,—
‘would that I had ten such counsellorsc !’
And at this day there are some magistrates, for example judgesd , who have authority to decide matters which the law is unable to determine, since no one doubts that the law would command and decide in the best manner whatever it could. But some things can, and other things cannot, be comprehended under the law, and this is the origin of the vexed question whether the best law or the best man should rule. For matters of detail about which men deliberate cannot be included in legislation. Nor does any one deny that the decision of such matters must be left to man, but it is argued that there should be many judges, and not one only. For every rulere who has been trained by the law judges well; and it would surely seem strange that a person should see better with two eyes, or hear better with two ears, or act better with two hands or feet, than many with many; indeed, it is already the practice of kings to make to themselves many eyes and ears and hands and feet. For they make colleagues of those who are the friends of themselves and their governments. They must be friends of the monarch and of his government; if not his friends, they will not do what he wants; but friendship implies likeness and equality; and, therefore, if he thinks that friends ought to rule, he must think that those who are equal to himself and like himself ought to rule. These are the principal controversies relating to monarchy.
But monarchy may be preferable, when in accordance with the character of a people.Natural fitness of constitutions.1288 a.
But may not all this be true in some cases and not in others? afor there is a natural justice and expediency in the relation of a master to his servants, or, again, of a king to his subjects, as also in the relation of free citizens to one another; whereas there is no such justice or expediency in a tyrannya , or in any other perverted form of government, which comes into being contrary to nature. Now, from what has been said, it is manifest that, where men are alike and equal, it is neither expedient nor just that one man should be lord of all, whether there are laws, or whether there are no laws, but he himself is in the place of law. Neither should a good man be lord over good men, or a bad man over bad; nor, even if he excels in virtue, should he have a right to rule, unless in a particular case, which I have already mentioned, and to which I will once more recurb . But first of all, I must determine what natures are suited for royalties, and what for an aristocracy, and what for a constitutional government.
When one man is pre-eminent in virtue he ought to rule.
A people who are by nature capable of producing a race superior in virtue and political talent are fitted for kingly government; and a peoplec submitting to be ruled as freemen by men whose virtue renders them capable of political command are adapted for an aristocracy: while the people who are suited for constitutional freedom, are those among whom there naturally existsd a warlike multitudee able to rule and to obey in turn by a law which gives office to the well-to-do according to their desert. But when a whole family, or some individual, happens to be so pre-eminent in virtue as to surpass all others, then it is just that they should be the royal family and supreme over all, or that this one citizen should be king of the whole nation. For, as I said beforea , to give them authority is not only agreeable to that ground of right which the founders of all states, whether aristocratical, or oligarchical, or again democratical, are accustomed to put forward; (for these all recognize the claim of excellence, although not the same excellence), bbut accords with the principle already laid downb . For it would not be right to kill, or ostracise, or exile such a person, or require that he should take his turn in being governed. The whole is naturally superior to the part, and he who has this pre-eminence is in the relation of a whole to a part. But if so, the only alternative is that he should have the supreme power, and that mankind should obey him, not in turn, but always. These are the conclusions at which we arrive respecting royalty and its various forms, and this is the answer to the question, whether it is or is not advantageous to states, and to whom, and how.
The best government may be either the rule of the one, or of the many virtuous.State and individual both become virtuous in the same manner.1288 b.
We maintain that the true forms of government are three, and that the best must be that which is administered by the best, and in which there is one man, or a whole family, or many persons, excelling in virtue, and both rulers and subjects are fitted, the one to rule, the others to be ruledc , in such a manner as to attain the most eligible life. We showed at the commencement of our enquiryd that the virtue of the good man is necessarily the same as the virtue of the citizen of the perfect state. Clearly then in the same manner, and by the same means through which a man becomes truly good, he will frame a state [which will be truly good] whether aristocratical, or under kingly rule, and the same education and the same habits will be found to make a good man and a good statesman and king.
Having arrived at these conclusions, we must proceed to speak of the perfect state, and describe how it comes into being and is established. He who would proceed with the enquiry in due manner. . . . .a
[a ]Cp. c. 3. § 1.
[a ]‘Dicast’ = juryman and judge in one: ‘ecclesiast’ = member of the ecclesia or assembly of the citizens.
[b ]Cp. c. 6. § 11.
[a ]Cp. ii. 11. § 7.
[b ]An untranslateable play upon the word δημιουργοί, which means either ‘a magistrate’ or ‘an artisan.’
[c ]Cp. c. 1. § 12.
[a ]Inserting καί before μετοίκους with Bekker in his second edition. If καί is omitted, as in all the MSS, we must translate—‘he enrolled in tribes many metics, both strangers and slaves:’ or, ‘he enrolled in tribes many strangers, and metics who had been slaves.’
[b ]Cp. c. 1. § 1.
[a ]Cp. ii. 6. § 6.
[b ]Cp. vii. c. 4 and c. 5.
[a ]Cp. N. Eth. v. 2. § 11.
[a ]Fragment from the Aeolus, quoted in Stobaeus, 45. 13.
[a ]Viz. that some kind of previous subjection is an advantage to the ruler. Cp. infra, § 14.
[b ]Cp. i. 7. §§ 2-5.
[c ]Cp. viii. 2. § 5.
[a ]Cp. i. 13. § 9.
[b ]Cp. Rep. iv. 428.
[c ]Cp. Rep. x. 601 d, e.
[d ]Cp. c. 5. § 10; c. 18. § 1; iv. 7. § 2; vii. 14. § 8.
[e ]Or, ‘for this man (i. e. the meaner sort of man) is a citizen and does not exercise rule’ (see below, § 3, εἰ δὲ καὶ ον̔̑τος πολίτης). According to the way of taking the passage which is followed in the text, ον̔̑τος = ὁ ἔχων τὴν τοιαύτην ἀρετήν: according to the second way, it refers to βάναυσος.
[a ]Cp. vi. 7. § 4.
[a ]Cp. v. 4. § 16.
[b ]Il. ix. 648.
[c ]Cp. c. 1. § 1; iv. 1. § 10.
[a ]Cp. i. 2. §§ 9, 10.
[b ]Cp. Plato Polit. 302 a.
[c ]Or, ‘in our popular works.’
[d ]Cp. Pl. Rep. i. 341 d.
[a ]Cp. ii. 2. §§ 6, 7.
[b ]Cp. Eth. viii. 10.
[a ]Nicom. Ethics, v. 3. § 4.
[b ]Or, with Bernays, ‘either in the case of the original contributors or their successors.’
[c ]Cp. c. 1. § 4.
[a ]Or, ‘virtue must be the care of a state which is truly so called, and not merely in name.’
[a ]Cp. i. 2. § 8; N. Eth. i. 7. § 6.
[a ]Cp. Plato Rep. i. 351, 352.
[b ]Cp. c. 11. § 20.
[a ]Cp. ii. 12. § 5.
[a ]Cp. c. 10. § 1.
[a ]Cp. N. Eth. v. 10. § 4.
[b ]Cp. c. 10. § 5.
[c ]Cp. i. 1. § 1; N. Eth. i. 1. § 1.
[d ]Cp. c. 9. § 1.
[e ]Cp. N. Eth. v. 3.
[a ]Cp. iv. 4. §§ 12-16.
[b ]Cp. c. 9. §§ 14, 15.
[a ]Cp. i. 6. § 7.
[b ]Cp. i. 2. § 16.
[c ]Cp. N. Eth. v. 1. § 15.
[a ]Cp. § 4.
[a ]Cp. v. 10. § 13.
[a ]Cp. v. 3. § 3.
[b ]Cp. v. 3. § 6; 9. § 7; vii. 4. 10; Rep. iv. 420.
[c ]Or, ‘Monarchies do not differ in this respect (i. e. the employment of compulsion) from free states, but their government must be,’ etc.
[a ]Or, ‘as if in the division of offices among the citizens, mankind,’ etc. Or, with Bernays, ‘as if in accordance with the principle of rotation in succession to offices, mankind,’ etc.
[b ]ii. 9. § 29.
[c ]Omitting ἔν τινι βασιλείᾳ, which is bracketted by Bekker in his 2nd edit.
[a ]Il. ii. 391-393. The last clause is not found in our Homer.
[b ]Cp. i. 2. § 4.
[c ]Cp. v. 10. § 10.
[a ]Or, ‘banquet-odes,’ σκόλια.
[b ]Cp. v. c. 10. § 3.
[a ]Cp. Plato Polit. pp. 293-295.
[a ]Cp. supra, c. 11. § 2.
[a ]Cp. infra, § 15.
[b ]Cp. c. 14. § 12.
[c ]Cp. iv. 6. § 5; 13. § 10.
[a ]Cp. c. 15. § 2.
[b ]Cp. v. 1. §§ 10, 11; 4. § 7.
[a ]Cp. N. Eth. v. 4. § 7.
[a ]Cp. c. 13. § 25.
[b ]Il. x. 224.
[c ]Il. ii. 372.
[d ]ὁ δικαστής.
[e ]Cp. for similar arguments c. 15. § 9.
[a ]Or: ‘for there are men who are by nature fitted to be ruled by a master, others to be ruled by a king, others to live under a constitutional government, and for whom these several relations are just and expedient; but there are no men naturally fitted to be ruled by a tyrant,’ etc.
[b ]C. 13. § 25, and § 5, infra.
[c ]Omitting the words πλη̂θος ὃ πέϕυκε ϕέρειν, which appear to be a repetition from the previous clause.
[d ]Omitting καὶ ἕν.
[e ]Cp. c. 7. § 4.
[a ]Cp. c. 9. § 15.
[b ]Or: ‘but differing in the manner already laid down.’
[c ]Omitting καὶ ἄρχειν, which is inserted, without MS. authority, in Bekker’s 2nd edit.
[d ]Cp. c. 4.
[a ]Retaining the words of the MSS, ’Ανάγκη δὴ τὸν μέλλοντα περὶ αὐτη̂ς ποιήσασθαι τὴν προσήκουσαν σκέψιν, which are omitted by Bekker in his 2nd edit.