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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK I - Chapter XIII
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK I - Chapter XIII Post by :ceejay Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :1456

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK I - Chapter XIII

It is evident then that in the due government of a family, greater
attention should be paid to the several members of it and their
virtues than to the possessions or riches of it; and greater to the
freemen than the slaves: but here some one may doubt whether there is
any other virtue in a slave than his organic services, and of higher
estimation than these, as temperance, fortitude, justice, and
such-like habits, or whether they possess only bodily qualities: each
side of the question has its difficulties; for if they possess these
virtues, wherein do they differ from freemen? and that they do not,
since they are men, and partakers of reason, is absurd. Nearly the
same inquiry may be made concerning a woman and a child, whether these
also have their proper virtues; whether a woman ought to be temperate,
brave, and just, and whether a child is temperate or no; and indeed
this inquiry ought to be general, whether the virtues of those who, by
nature, either govern or are governed, are the same or different; for
if it is necessary that both of them should partake of the fair and
good, why is it also necessary that, without exception, the one should
govern, the other always be governed? for this cannot arise from their
possessing these qualities in different degrees; for to govern, and to
be governed, are things different in species, but more or less are
not. And yet it is wonderful that one party ought to have them, and
the other not; for if he who is to govern should not be temperate and
just, how can he govern well? or if he is to be governed, how can he
be governed well? for he who is intemperate (1260a) and a coward will
never do what he ought: it is evident then that both parties ought to
be virtuous; but there is a difference between them, as there is
between those who by nature command and who by nature obey, and this
originates in the soul; for in this nature has planted the governing
and submitting principle, the virtues of which we say are different,
as are those of a rational and an irrational being. It is plain then
that the same principle may be extended farther, and that there are in
nature a variety of things which govern and are governed; for a
freeman is governed in a different manner from a slave, a male from a
female, and a man from a child: and all these have parts of mind
within them, but in a different manner. Thus a slave can have no power
of determination, a woman but a weak one, a child an imperfect one.
Thus also must it necessarily be with respect to moral virtues; all
must be supposed to possess them, but not in the same manner, but as
is best suited to every one's employment; on which account he who is
to govern ought to be perfect in moral virtue, for his business is
entirely that of an architect, and reason is the architect; while
others want only that portion of it which may be sufficient for their
station; from whence it is evident, that although moral virtue is
common to all those we have spoken of, yet the temperance of a man and
a woman are not the same, nor their courage, nor their justice, though
Socrates thought otherwise; for the courage of the man consists in
commanding, the woman's in obeying; and the same is true in other
particulars: and this will be evident to those who will examine
different virtues separately; for those who use general terms deceive
themselves when they say, that virtue consists in a good disposition
of mind, or doing what is right, or something of this sort. They do
much better who enumerate the different virtues as Georgias did, than
those who thus define them; and as Sophocles speaks of a woman, we
think of all persons, that their 'virtues should be applicable to
their characters, for says he,

"Silence is a woman's ornament,"

but it is not a man's; and as a child is incomplete, it is evident
that his virtue is not to be referred to himself in his present
situation, but to that in which he will be complete, and his
preceptor. In like manner the virtue of a slave is to be referred to
his master; for we laid it down as a maxim, that the use of a slave
was to employ him in what you wanted; so that it is clear enough that
few virtues are wanted in his station, only that he may not neglect
his work through idleness or fear: some person may question if what I
have said is true, whether virtue is not necessary for artificers in
their calling, for they often through idleness neglect their work, but
the difference between them is very great; for a slave is connected
with you for life, but the artificer not so nearly: as near therefore
as the artificer approaches to the situation of a slave, just so much
ought he to have of the virtues of one; for a mean artificer is to a
certain point a slave; but then a slave is one of those things which
are by nature what they are, but this is not true (1260b) of a
shoemaker, or any other artist. It is evident then that a slave ought
to be trained to those virtues which are proper for his situation by
his master; and not by him who has the power of a master, to teach him
any particular art. Those therefore are in the wrong who would deprive
slaves of reason, and say that they have only to follow their orders;
for slaves want more instruction than children, and thus we determine
this matter. It is necessary, I am sensible, for every one who treats
upon government, to enter particularly into the relations of husband
and wife, and of parent and child, and to show what are the virtues of
each and their respective connections with each other; what is right
and what is wrong; and how the one ought to be followed, and the other
avoided. Since then every family is part of a city, and each of those
individuals is part of a family, and the virtue of the parts ought to
correspond to the virtue of the whole; it is necessary, that both the
wives and children of the community should be instructed correspondent
to the nature thereof, if it is of consequence to the virtue of the
state, that the wives and children therein should be virtuous, and of
consequence it certainly is, for the wives are one half of the free
persons; and of the children the succeeding citizens are to be formed.
As then we have determined these points, we will leave the rest to be
spoken to in another place, as if the subject was now finished; and
beginning again anew, first consider the sentiments of those who have
treated of the most perfect forms of government.

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e are then three parts of domestic government, the masters, ofwhich we have already treated, the fathers, and the husbands; now thegovernment of the wife and children should both be that of freepersons, but not the (I259b) same; for the wife should be treated as acitizen of a free state, the children should be under kingly power;for the male is by nature superior to the female, except whensomething happens contrary to the usual course of nature, as is theelder and perfect to the younger and imperfect. Now in the generalityof free states, the governors and the governed alternately changeplace; for an
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