Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXIII - Politica
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XXIII - Johannes Althusius, Politica 
Politica. An Abridged Translation of Politics Methodically Set Forth and Illustrated with Sacred and Profane Examples, ed. and Trans. Frederick S. Carney. Foreword by Daniel J. Elazar (Indianapolis: 1995 Liberty Fund).
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§ 1Thus far we have spoken about the law, rule, and norm of living and administering. We turn now to the nature and attitude of the people and the associated body, the knowledge of which is indeed necessary to the magistrate in the highest administration of the realm. Here I mean by the people the common multitude and crowd, and by the associated body the members of the realm united in one body.
The character, customs, nature, attitude, and viewpoint of the people are to be sought and learned from the nature and location of a region, and from the age, condition, circumstances, and education of the people therein.46§ 2One learns about the nature of men from the location of the region. He does this by considering whether the region is situated in the east, north, west, south, or wherever in relation to the rising and setting of the sun, and whether it is flat, mountainous, windy, or calm. § 3Oriental peoples are by nature more humane and polite than others. § 4Peoples located midway between north and south, because they enjoy a mean between coldness and hotness, are gifted in strength both of mind and body. And for that reason they are to be ruled with moderate freedom. Such are Romans, Greeks, Poles, Hungarians, Frenchmen, and others. § 5Northern peoples are by nature spirited, courageous, and sincere, but not astute or diligent. They are truly straightforward, guileless, corpulent, sluggish, faithful and constant, cheerful, addicted to drink, and uncultivated. The Transylvanians, certain Poles, the Danes, Swedes, and others are considered to be of this sort. They are to be held more loosely by the reins of government, for they delight in greater liberty and indulgence. § 6Southern peoples, to the contrary, are clever, ingenious, unreliable, inconstant, addicted to love-making, and melancholy. Such are the Saracens and other Arabs, the Egyptians, Ethiopians, Persians, Gedrosians, Indians, and many others.
§ 7Those who live in open and windy regions are turbulent, restless, and unsteady. Those living in calm places, to the contrary, are peaceful and steady. § 8Mountainous peoples are hardy, robust, and austere. They are more cheerful, and seek enjoyment in liberty and licence. § 9Inhabitants of valleys, on the other hand, are faint of heart, gentle, and effeminate. § 10Those who live in barren places are skillful, industrious, diligent, and strict, and they consider that the stubborn and cruel life of man should be held together by close bonds. § 11The inhabitants of fertile regions, to the contrary, are leisurely and addicted to pleasure. Those who live in seaports or river towns, because of contacts and conversation with a wide variety of men are astute, addicted to money, and full of cunning. …
§ 14Then, as the customs of regions often express diverse interests and discernments, so persons born in these regions hold diverse patterns in their customs. Accordingly, they are unable to come together at the same time without some antipathy toward each other, which when once aroused tends to stir up sedition, subversion, and damage to the life of the commonwealth. …
§ 15The magistrate should know the nature and attitude of his own people, of neighboring peoples, and of people in general. The nature, condition, and attitude of his own people, or the people subject to him, ought to be perceived, explored, and learned by him in order that he may know in what things and by what means he may lead, motivate, offend, and rule his people, and what sort of laws and manner of governing are consequently most appropriate. … § 16It is necessary that he know the nature, character, and propensities of neighboring peoples because treaties, commercial arrangements, wars, and other transactions often develop with them, or because he has need of their services in social life. … § 17Bad neighbors are inflicted by God upon some realm or other in order to reprimand and correct its vices, or to constrain it within its duties. … § 19It is important that the magistrate understand the nature, character, tendencies, and propensity of people in general, especially what are the common attitudes exercised by subjects everywhere toward the superior who rules them. He will be able to learn this by no better means than by being a subject for a while in a foreign realm. For from this experience he can reflect upon what he liked or disliked under another prince, and how you as the one who obeys would like or dislike a ruler to act toward you. … § 20Then it is advisable that the magistrate accommodate himself for a time to the customs and character of the people that he may learn what things are fitting and appropriate to them, and may propose suitable laws. In this way he will rule for a longer time and with less effort. … 47
[46 ]See Jean Bodin, The Commonweale, V, 1; and Method for the Easy Comprehension of History, 5; Justus Lipsius, Politicorum sive civilis doctrinae, IV, 5; Hippolytus a Collibus, Princeps, 8; Theodore Zwinger, Theatrum vitae humanae, vol. XXI, lib. 1; Alexander ab Alexandro, Genialium dierum, IV, 13; Petrus Gregorius, De republica, IV, 4; X, 3 and 6; Giovanni Botero, Practical Politics, II, 3 f.; Scipio Ammirato, Dissertationes, IV, disc. 7.
[47 ] [Here follows an extended discussion first of thirteen characteristics of people in general, then of eighteen characteristics of courtiers, and finally of the distinction between friends and flatterers. This presentation refers to a number of works, but especially to the following: Scipio Ammirato, Dissertationes; Gregory Richter, Axiomata politica.