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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK III - Chapter III
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK III - Chapter III Post by :Sandro_Forani Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :2404

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK III - Chapter III

It has also been doubted what was and what was not the act of the
city; as, for instance, when a democracy arises out of an aristocracy
or a tyranny; for some persons then refuse to fulfil their contracts;
as if the right to receive the money was in the tyrant and not in the
state, and many other things of the same nature; as if any covenant
was founded for violence and not for the common good. So in like
manner, if anything is done by those who have the management of public
affairs where a democracy is established, their actions are to be
considered as the actions of the state, as well as in the oligarchy or
tyranny.

And here it seems very proper to consider this question, When shall we
say that a city is the same, and when shall we say that it is
different?

It is but a superficial mode of examining into this question to begin
with the place and the people; for it may happen that these may be
divided from that, or that some one of them may live in one place, and
some in another (but this question may be regarded as no very knotty
one; for, as a city may acquire that appellation on many accounts, it
may be solved many ways); and in like manner, when men inhabit one
common place, when shall we say that they inhabit the same city, or
that the city is the same? for it does not depend upon the walls; for
I can suppose Peloponnesus itself surrounded with a wall, as Babylon
was, and every other place, which rather encircles many nations than
one city, and that they say was taken three days when some of the
inhabitants knew nothing of it: but we shall find a proper time to
determine this question; for the extent of a city, how large it should
be, and whether it should consist of more than one people, these are
particulars that the politician should by no means be unacquainted
with. This, too, is a matter of inquiry, whether we shall say that a
city is the same while it is inhabited by the same race of men, though
some of them are perpetually dying, others coming into the world, as
we say that a river or a fountain is the same, though the waters are
continually changing; or when a revolution takes place shall we
(1276b) say the men are the same, but the city is different: for if a
city is a community, it is a community of citizens; but if the mode of
government should alter, and become of another sort, it would seem a
necessary consequence that the city is not the same; as we regard the
tragic chorus as different from the comic, though it may probably
consist of the same performers: thus every other community or
composition is said to be different if the species of composition is
different; as in music the same hands produce different harmony, as
the Doric and Phrygian. If this is true, it is evident, that when we
speak of a city as being the same we refer to the government there
established; and this, whether it is called by the same name or any
other, or inhabited by the same men or different. But whether or no it
is right to dissolve the community when the constitution is altered is
another question.

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What has been said, it follows that we should consider whether thesame virtues which constitute a good man make a valuable citizen, ordifferent; and if a particular inquiry is necessary for this matter wemust first give a general description of the virtues of a goodcitizen; for as a sailor is one of those who make up a community, sois a citizen, although the province of one sailor may be differentfrom another's (for one is a rower, another a steersman, a third aboatswain, and so on, each having their several appointments), it isevident that the most accurate description of any one good
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ommon use they define a citizen to be one who is sprung fromcitizens on both sides, not on the father's or the mother's only.Others carry the matter still further, and inquire how many of hisancestors have been citizens, as his grandfather, great-grandfather,etc., but some persons have questioned how the first of the familycould prove themselves citizens, according to this popular andcareless definition. Gorgias of Leontium, partly entertaining the samedoubt, and partly in jest, says, that as a mortar is made by amortar-maker, so a citizen is made by a citizen-maker, and aLarisssean by a Larisssean-maker. This is indeed a very simple
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