The Politics and Economics of Aristotle : translated, with notes, original and selected, and analyses, to which are prefixed an introductory essay and a life of Aristotle by Dr. Gillies online

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I diMiiocracy, where the whole community is not paid for attend-

} ance ; for in that case it gradually loses its power ; for if they

I be well paid, the people bring all causes before themselves by

I appeal, a^ we have already mentioned in the preceding part of

i our treatise.'^ In the next place, the citizens p^^^j.^

I should 1)0 paid, all of them, if possible, as members

I of the assembly, or as judges, or magistrates ; but, if this cannot

j be done, at least the magistrates, the judges, the senators, and

I ' This is the only intollipible reading of the passaqo as it stands in

I Bckkrr's t«>xt : but Goeitling rejects as interpolated the words t; riiv

} fityinTiDV Kvpiav.

] ' He refers to books, ii. chap. 12 and iv. 14.


niombtrs of the supreme assembly, as also those oflicers who

are obliged to eat at a common table, ought to be paid.'
Moreover, as an oligarchy is defined by the no-

Til Kiice°' hility, fortune, and education of its members ; so,
on tlie contrary, a democracy is a government in

tho hands of men of low birlli, poverty, and vulgar employ-
ments. ^ In this state also no oflTice should be held

riods'of o'mce. ^"^' ^^^^' * ^"^ ^^ '^">' ^^^^^^ should remain after the
government has been long changed into a demo-
cnicy, they sliould endeavour by degrees to diminish its power,
and also elect by lot instead of vote. These things, then, ap-
pertain to all democracies ; and they arise from that kind ol'
justice which is suited to those governments ; (ihat is, that
all its members shall enjoy an equality according to number;)
which seems chiefly to C(jnstitute a democracy, or government
Equality the ^^' ^^^^' pe()j)le. For it is held to be lit that the
jniansto rich sliould have no more share in the govern-

^^*-^^' ment than the poor, nor be alt)ne in power; but

that all should be equal according to number ; lor thus, they
think, the equality and liberty of the state is likely to be best


How equality ^^ ^^^^ "^'xt plucc wc incjuiro, how they shall at-
t<. i.e brought tain this equality.^ Shall the fortune of live hun-
auout. 1111 ••11 I 1 11

dred be tlivided amongst a thousand, and the^e

' Aristolle here cinunerutes tuq cipxag, ru ^iKaarfiput, and r//r /SorXr'/r,
that is, magistrates invested respeeiively with execulive, judicial, and
deliberative powers; who, as well as the citizens at hirpe, eouvened iu
their iKK\t}<jiai tceptat, or stated assenibhes:, ought, according to the prin-
ciples of simple deuiocraey, to he jiaid for their political labours. But if
the public revenues cannot suflice for thi'? profusion of expense, then those
magistrates at h ast must be remunerated, whose uninterrupted functions
require that tluy should mess togilher. And with lh»'m it would a]>pear
that Aristotle mc.uis t(» class, as to this particular, the citizens convened
in their stated and periodical assemblies.

* liy the word ftavaraia (iillies would argue that Aristotle means here
" tliat condition of manners and morals resulting from the degradmg state
of lab(»ur, generally known by that term." But this, after all, is u ques-
tion of little moment, jis in coniujon conversation tilings which stand in
the mutual relation of cause and elfect are (.ften confounded.

' it is to be remembered here that the Greeks always employed pro-
portion to answer the purpose of fractions.


tlioii-'.ind h.ivc cqiial power with tlio five Immlrod ? or sliall
we cstablisli our oqiiiility in another manner, <livi(lin|? as he-
tore, !in<l afterwards takinj^ an eq\ial nunihcr both out of tlic
live liun(h-«Ml and tlio tliousand, and tlien investing them with
ilic power of ereating the ma;zistrates and jud^res ? Is this
state tlien established aceordini? to perfect democrat ieal justice,
or ratlier tliat whicli is p;uided by numbers only? For tho
defenders of a democracy say, that that is just wliich the ma-
jority approve of; but the favourers of an olip^arehy say, that
tliat is just whicli seems riji^ht to the wealtliier part; and that
we r.uLrlit to be directed by the amount of |)roperty. But
both tlie propositions are unequal and unjust, for if we acrree
with what the few propose, we erect a tyranny; — (for if it
sliould happ<'n, that one individual has more than the rest wlio
an^ rich, according tooligarcliical justice this man alone has a
rijxht to the supreme power ;) — but if superiority of numbers
is to prevail, injustice will then be done, by confiscating the
])roj)erty of the rich, who are few, as we have already said.
What tlien that ecjuality shall be, which botli parties will
admit, must be collected from the definition of right which is
oonunon to them both ; for they both say, that what the ma-
ioritv of the state approves ought to be cstab-
'lisl.ed.' Be it so, but not entirely; but, since a 11^0%^!^'^^
city happens to be made up of two different ranks
of pe(»ple, the rich and the poor, let that be established whicli
is approved of by both of these, or by the greater part ; but,
shoidd contrary sentiments arise, let that be established which
shall be approved of by the greater part, and by those who
have the greater property. For instance, if there should be
ten rich men and twenty poor, and six of the first and fifteen
of the last should agree upon any measure, and the remaining
four of the rich should join with the remaining five of the
poor in opposing it, that party whose census when added to-
gether is greater, should determine which opinion shall be
law ;2 and should these happen to be equal, it should be re-

' Compare the followinc passat^e taken from Cicero's fracmcntary trea-
tise de HepubhtA, book iii. " Respubhca res est populi. Populus autem
non omnis coctus mulliludinis, sed cactus juris consensu ct utihtalis com-
ninnidne sociatus."

' Niebuhr, in liis History of Rome, (vol. i. p. 2G3,) considers that Aris-
totlc is here speaking of symmories, {av^ifiopiai,) and not of private citi-
zens. For some satisfactory reasons for venturing to doubt whelher that

218 ' ARISTOTLf/s politic?. [book VI.

garded as a case similar to the assembly or a court of justice
now-a-days dividing equally u|K)n any question that comes
before them ; for in such cases they must determine it by lot
or some other such method. But altlioujL^h, witli resp«'et to
what is equal and just, it may be very ditHeult to establish tlie
truth, yet it is much easier to do so, than to persuade those wlio
have it in their power to encroach upon others, to be iiuided
thereby; for the weak always desire what is equal and just,
but the powerful pay no regard to it.^


TiiERK are four kinds of democracies. The bcft
fou?S7° of them is that which is first in order, as has been
The best kind *'"^^ ^" ^ former phicc ; and this also in the most

ancient of tiiem all. I call that the first which
everyone would so place, if he were to divide the people ; for
the best part of these are the husbandmen. A democracy
may be framed where the majority live by tillage or j)astur-
nge : for, as their property is but small, tliey have no leisure
perpetually to hold public assemblies, but are continually
employed in following their own business, not having other-
wise the means of living ; nor are they desirous of what an-
other enjoys, but })r('fer to follow their own business rather
than meddle with state alfairs, and accept ollices which will be
attended with no great profit. For the greater part of man-
kind are desirous of riehes rather than honour. And here
is one proof: for they submitted to tyrannies in ancient
times, and now they submit to oligarchies, if no one hinders
them in their usual occupations, or deprives them of their pro-
perty ; for some of them soon get rich, and others are ivmovcJ
The ri'ht of *'""^ poverty. Bcsidcs, their right of electing
a\>naaixnd uiagistratcs and of calling them to account, will
*''^'"'' satisfy them, if they feel any desire of honours.

great historian has horo exactly uiitlerstood the mcttuiiiR of Aristotle, sti*
Goi-'illing's iiotL' in loco.

' 'I'his laincntalion is often made by the historians of Home. C()mpare
for instance Liv. iii.Or): '* Sed alter semper ordo gravis allerius modes-
tiu} erut. Adeo moderalio tuendii; libertatis, dum n^piari velle siinulunda
ita se (iniMi\it,- extollit, ut deiuiinat alium, in dillicili est : cavendcique ne
nietnant liomines, metnendos nltro }>e elliciunt : el injnriam a nt>l)is re*
pulsam, tauquam aut facere ant pati necesse sit, injungimus aliis."


Tor in sonio (lemooracio.^, tliouijlj tlio rip^ht of elcctinix the ma-
jlistratos is not in linnds of the conunonalty, yet it is invfstiMl
in \r.\vt of tliat body rlioscn to rcprcMont tlicin, as was tlu? case
at Maiitina^a ; and it is sullicirnt for tlio p('Oj)l(; at laijrc to pos-
se>s the deliberative power. Now this we oii^jlit to consider
a<<a species of democracy ; and for tliis rea-oii it is proper and
also customary for that denio<.'raey of which we have now been
treatinir, to have a j>ower «»f choosiiif]^ their mai^istrates, and of
ccnsnrinjx them, and of sittin;]; in judijment upon all causes:
but that the chief magistrates should be elected
according: to a certain census, higher according to p^aMc 'in uie
the raidv of their office, or else not by a census at all, riiief maBis.
but merely according totheir abilities. A state thus
constituted nuist be well constituted ; ibr the magistracies will
iduaysbefdled with the best men ; forthe peophMvill acquiesce,
and will feel no envy against iheir betters; and these and the
nohlcs shoidd be content with this part in the administration ;
tor they will not be governed by their inferiors. Thev will
al.>o rule justly, as others will censure their conduct ; for it is
serviceable to the state to have them dependent upon others,
and not to be permitted to do whatsoever they choose ; for the
power of doing whatever a man pleases atlbrds no possible
check against that evil particle which is in every man. It is
iit'cessary, tlien^tbre, and useful to the state, tliat its ofticcs
shall be tilled by the ])rincipal persons whose characters nro
unhlemisli(Ml, and that the people shall not be oppressed. It is
now evident that this is the best species of demo-
cracy, an<l on what account ; because the people Jlpst' d^nio* ^''^
arc of a particular character. In order to turn crary.
tiie po}ndace to husbandry, some of those laws a community
which were observed in many ancient states are "^ ''"s^'a^^i-
all ot them nsetul: as, tor instance, on no account
to permit any one to possess more than a certain quantity of
land, or within a certain distance from the city. Formerly
also, in some states, no one was allowed to sell hi.^ original
l"t of land. There is also a law, which they call a law of
Oxylus,' the eflect of which is, to forbid any one to add by
usury to his income arising from land. We ought also to
steer by the law of the Aphytajans,^ as useful towards our

' Kinp; of the Klians.

' lu some editions they arc called Aphetali. Plutarch, in Lysand. p.

220 auistoti.e's poi.itics. [noe)K vi.

present purpose. For they had hut very little proun<l, while
tliey were a nunierou.s people, and at the same time were all
bu.shandnien, and so «li(l uot inelude all their lauds withiu the
census, hut divided them in such a UKinner, that, according
to the census, the jtoor had more power than the rich. Next
to the commonalty of husbandmen is one of shep-

and^of .hep- j^^^.^j^^ ^^^^^^.^ ^1^^.^ jj^.^, ^^^ ^l^^.j^. 1^^,^.^,^ . ^^^j. jj^^.^

have many thinjis in common with husbandry, and
by their liabits of life they are excelUntly qualilied to make
good soldiers, beinn; stout in body, and able to continue in the

open air all night. The generality of the people
worle.'''"''^ ^*i whom the other democracies are composed, are

much worse than these ; for their lives are wretch-
ed, nor is there room for virtue in any business which they
take in hand, whether they be mechanics, ])etty traders, or
hired servants. And, moreover, as all this sort of men
frecjuent the exchange and the citadel, in a word, they can
readily attend the puldic assembly; whereas the husbandmen,
being more dispersed in the country, cannot so easily inert
together, nor are they as desirous as the others of naetinji
Theb'sf sTe ^^^^^^' ^^heu a couutry liappens to be so situated
for a K'ooii de- that a great part of the land lies at a distance from
iiiocracy. ^|j^, ^jj^^^^ there it is easy to establisli a good demo-

cracy, or a free state,' tor the ])eople in general is obliged to
form its settlements in the counti-y; so that it will be neces-
sary in such a democracy, though there may be a town ])opu-
lation near, never to hold an assembly unless the inhabitants
of the country attend. We have shown, then, in what manner
the lirst and best democracy ought to be established, and it
will be Cfjually evident as to the rest ; for it is necessary to
make a correspondent deviation, always separating the worst of
the people from the rest, lint the last and worst
ofderoSai^'^"^ ^'"''»' ^"^ ^1':^^ wliich givcs a share to every citizen;
a thing which few cities can bear, nor is it easy to
preserve it for long, unless well supported by laws and manners.

411, culls them Aphyptci. They inhabited the peninsula Pallene in the
recion uf C'halcis, on the coast of Thrace or Macedon. See Slrabo Kxcerpt.
1. viii. p. SM).

' Aristotle says, that such people may establish an useful dt inocraiv,
and a TroXiru'a, which he has before explaiued to be a mixed govern-
ment, and the best form of republicanisui.

nivr. v.] ITS r.HowTH. 221

AVc have already noticed almost every cause tliat can destroy
eitlicr this or any other state. Those who liavc
taken tiie lead in sucii a democracy have cndea- %vhi('irtriis^
vonrecl to establish it, and to make the people f''r"' i« hroii^ht

, , II • I about.

powerlnl, by collectinir topjether as many ])crsons
as thoy could, and jiivinj: tlicm their iVeedom, not only lecriti-
iiiatcly Rut naturally born, and also if either of their parents
w(M-(.^ citizens, that is to say, on the father or mother's side. This
nietiiod is better suited to this state than any other: and thus
the dcma;xo^ues have been wont to mami^ie. They ou^jlit, how-
ever, not to collect thus any lonn:er than the connnon pioph' iire
superior to th(; nobles and those of the middle rank, and then
to stop; for, if they proceed further, they will make the state
disorderly, and excite the nobles to feel indignant at the power
of the common people ; which was the cause of tlie insurrection
at Cyreue :' for a little evil is overlooked, but when it becomes
;:reat, it strikes th(^ eye. It is moreover very useful, in such
a state, to adopt the means which Clisthenes used at Athens,
when he was desirous of increasing the power of tlie people,
and as tiiose did who established the democracy in Cyrenc ;
tliat is, to institute many tribes and fraternities, and to reduco
the religious rites of private persons to a few, and those com-
mon; atul every means is to be contrived to associate and
blend the people together as much as possible ; and that all
tenner customs be broken through. Moreover, whatsoever
jiractice belongs to a tyranny, seems adapted to a democracy
of this species ; as for instance, the licentiousness of the slaves,
the women, and the children ; (for this to a certain degree is
useful in sueli a state ;) and also to overlook every one's living
as they choose. For many will support such a government as
tiiis: for it is more agreeable to many to live without any con-
trol than with moderation.


^ It is also the business of the legislator, and all stability to be
tliose who wotild establish a government of this ciiitnycon-
sort, not to make it too great a work or too ]mt-

I feet, but to aim only at rendering it stable. For, let a state

' This state flourished ns a monarchy, niul as an aristocracy, biU de-
cayed \\\\v\i it became altered into a democratic form.

222 Aristotle's politics. [book vi.

be constituted ever so badly, there is no diflTiculty in its con-
tinuing^ tor two or three days : tliey sliould thcrefon* endeavour
to prot'urc its nalV'ty by uU those ways wl»ieh we have dc-
Hcribed in UHsif^nin*; llur caui^t'S ol' the prcMt'rvution uiitl ')
destruction of govi'mnicnts ; avoiding what is hurtl'id, and
framing such hiws, both written and unwritten, as AiA\ con-
tain tlioso things which chicHy tend to tiie preservation of tht
state ; and they should not suppose that any thing is useful
i'ither for a democratic or an oligarchic form of government,
whicli contributes to make it more purely so, but what will
„ , , contril)Ute to its duration, lint our demugo'Mu^

ihtiiirf tiiino- at present, to ilatter tlie people, occasion tretpien^
cracus. confiscations in the courts. For which reaso:,

those who have the weltare of the state really at heart should
act on tiiC opposite side, and enact a law to prevent forfeitUR-
from iH'ing divi«led amongst the people or paid into the tnu-
Hury, but to hav(^ tiiem set ai)art i'nv sacred uses. For tli<>"
who are of a bad dispitsition would not then b(; the U -«
cautiou-i, as their ])unishment would be the same; and lb
couunuuity would not be so ready to condenm those on whoi:,
they sit in judgment, when they are about to get nothing l\
it. Tiiey should also take care that the causes which art-
brought before the i)ublie should be as few as ])os.^ible, aii«!
pimish with the utmost severity tho>e who bring an acti«:i
agaiiist any one without cause ; for it is not theconuiions, but tin
nobles, whom they are wont to prosecute. Hut in all things tl-
citi/.ens of the same ^tate ought to be atl'eetionate to each other
or at the least not to treat those who have the chief power ii
it as their enemies. Now, as the democracic-

HoKulations to i • i , i i >^ i i i> i i

be ..t)ser*i.-(i in which havc been lately established are very nu-
bhc"''*'''"^'"' "^<-'^*^^^^' ^"'1 ^^ ^^ dillieult to get the cfuniiio:
peoples to attend the public assemblies unless tiu\
are paid for it, tliis is against the interest of the nobles, win :
there is not a sutlicient public revenue. For the (ieliciemi«-
must be necessarily made up by taxes, conliscations, and liii<-
imposed by corru))t courts of justice : tldngs which havealre;ui
destroyed many <lemocracies. Whenever, then, the revenue? r.
the state are small, there should \n\ but lew ])iiblic assemblie?
and the courts of justice should have extensive jurisdiction
but continue sitting a few days only; for by this means tl
rich will not fear the expense, although they receive nolhlu-

C\\\\\ v.] rUACTKAL ItUM.?. 223

I'or tlicir .attendance, tl»oiij:jh the ])()or do; and jud^rnicnt nl?o
will be ^'ivcn nmch hettt'r ; for the rich will not choose to l)r
Idii;: absent iVoin tluMr own alVair^A, but will williii;;ly hv so
ior a short time. And, when there are snflicient revenues, a
(iill'crent conduct oujiht to be pursued tVoin wliat the denia-
jrugucs at present i'ollow ; for now they divide the surplus of
tlie public money amongst the poor; the>ie receive it, and
again want the same supply ; while the giving such help to
tlie poor is like pouring water into a sieve. 15ut
the true patriot in a democracy ought to take care jmorVi'mVia be
^ that the majority are not too poor, for this is the "'•"'^" '"^*-'-
? cause ot rapacity in that government. He nhould
I endeavour, thereture, that they may enjoy a lasting plenty ;
and a3 thi-^ also is advantageous to the rich, what can be saved
out of the public money should be put by, and then divided at
once among the ]K)or, if possible, in such a quantity as may
cfiable every one of them to i)urchase a little tield ; or, if that
cannot be don(% at least to give each of them enough to pro-
cure the implements of trade and husbandry ; and if there is
nut enough for all to receive so much at once, then to divide
it aconbng to tribes, or any other allotment. In the mcAn
time, let the rich pay them for the necessary attendance, and
cease from lavishing them on useless shows. And something like
this was the manner in which they manage at Carthage, and
so preserve the atVections of the j)e()ple ; for, by continually
sending some of their community into colonies, they procui-c
plenty. It is also worthy of a sensible and generous nobility,
to divide the poor amongst them, and to induce them to work
hy supplying them with what is necessary; or to imitate the
conduct of the people at Tarentum:' for by permitting the
lM)or to jiartake in common of every thing Avhich is needful for
them, they gain the affections of the commonalty. They have
also two ditferent ways of electing their magis-
trates ; for some are chosen by vote, others by Jp'^i^'pi's^rV/s.
lot ; by the kst, that the people at large may have
some share in the administration ; by the former, that tlie
state may be well governed. It is also possible to accomplish
the same thing, if of the same magistrates some are chosen

' I'l^on the constitution of Tarentura, sec Miiller's Dorians, vol. ii.
chap. y.

224 aristotlk's politics. [book yi.

by vote, and others by lot. And thus much for the manner in
wliich democracies ought to be established.


The constitu- Fhom what has been already said, it will be almost
tionofan manitcst how an oligarcliy ought to be founded.

oigarciy. y^^^ .^ .^ right to draw conclusions from things

which are contrary, and to frame every species of oligardiy
by a kind of analogy, corresponding to some opposite species
of democracy.
^, , , . ^ The purest and best-framed oligarchy is one

Tlie best kind. , . , * , i . i . n

which approaches most nearly to wliat we call a
free state ; in which tliere ought to be two dilferent standards
of income, the one made liigh, the other low. From tliose wlio
Jire witiiin the hitter, the ordinary ollicers of the state ougiit
to be chosen ; frtan the former, the supreme magistrates: nor
should any or.e be excluded from a part of the admiui.vtratioii
who is within the census ; which should be so regulated that
tlie connnouahy who are included in it should, by that means,
be made superior to those who have no sliare in the govern-
ment. For those who are to take their share in public allairs
ought always to be cliosen out of the better sort of the people.
„,, ,,. , Much in tlie same manner ouglit tiie next kind of

The laxt kind. ,. , , , ,• i i , i • i i

oligarchy to be established, by drawing the rule a

little tighter; but as to that which is most opposite to a j)ure

„., , democracy, and approaches nearest to a dynasty

llic worst. . ' . . ,. 11 I 1 "^ ^

and a tyranny, as it is ot all others the wor^t, so

it requires the greatest care and caution to preserve it. For

as bodies of .sound and healthy constitutions, and ships which

are well manned and well adapted for sailing, can bear many

detects without ])erishing thereby, while a diseased body, or

a leaky ship with an indill'erent crew, cannot support the least

.shock; just so the worst-otablished governments want the

most careful attention. A number of citizen.- is

Ti'sts )f sta- ^, . ,. 1 /> I

bih'.y in a (It- the preservation ot a democracy; lor they are a
J^\\"j;;f^;>'^;',','J^ body oj)posed to those rights which are foumUd
in rank ; while on the contrary, the pre.^ervatiuii
of an oligarchy depends npon the due regulation of the dil-
ferent orders in the society.



A"< tho greater part of the coniinuiiity is divided \\n,preannu.
into lour sorts of })eopk', liusbandiuen, inechaiiici, g«rrh> ran be
jictty traders, and hired servants; and, as those ^*'''^''*"^
will) are useful in war may likewise be divided into four sorts, the
liorsenian, the heavy-armed soldier, the light-armed, and the
sailor; wherever the nature of the country admits of a great
niunher of horse, there a powerful oligareiiy may be easily
established. For the safety of the inhabitants de[)ends upon
a foi'ee of that sort ; but those who can suj)i)ort the expense
(•f hor.-emen must be persons of some considerable fortune.
WJuM'e the troops are eliiefly heavy-armed, there an inferior
nligarchy may be established ; for a heavy-armed force is com-
posed more out of the rich than the poor, but the light -armed
and the sailors always contribute to support a democracy.

Online LibraryAristotleThe Politics and Economics of Aristotle : translated, with notes, original and selected, and analyses, to which are prefixed an introductory essay and a life of Aristotle by Dr. Gillies → online text (page 31 of 49)