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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK IV - Chapter III
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK IV - Chapter III Post by :ishakms Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :2694

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK IV - Chapter III

The reason for there being many different sorts of governments is
this, that each state consists of a great number of parts; for, in the
first place, we see that all cities are made up of families: and
again, of the multitude of these some must be rich, some poor, and
others in the middle station; and that, both of the rich and poor,
some will be used to arms, others not. We see also, that some of the
common people are husbandmen, others attend the market, and others are
artificers. There is also a difference between the nobles in their
wealth, and the dignity in which they live: for instance, in the
number of horses they breed; for this cannot be supported without a
large fortune: for which reason, in former times, those cities whose
strength consisted in horse became by that means oligarchies; and they
used horse in their expeditions against the neighbouring cities; as
the Eretrians the Chalcidians, the Magnetians, who lived near the
river Meander, and many others in Asia. Moreover, besides the
difference of fortune, there is that which arises from family and
merit; or, if there are any other distinctions (1290a) which make part
of the city, they have been already mentioned in treating of an
aristocracy, for there we considered how many parts each city must
necessarily be composed of; and sometimes each of these have a share
in the government, sometimes a few, sometimes more.

It is evident then, that there must be many forms of government,
differing from each other in their particular constitution: for the
parts of which they are composed each differ from the other. For
government is the ordering of the magistracies of the state; and these
the community share between themselves, either as they can attain them
by force, or according to some common equality which there is amongst
them, as poverty, wealth, or something which they both partake of.
There must therefore necessarily be as many different forms of
governments as there are different ranks in the society, arising from
the superiority of some over others, and their different situations.
And these seem chiefly to be two, as they say, of the winds: namely,
the north and the south; and all the others are declinations from
these. And thus in politics, there is the government of the many and
the government of the few; or a democracy and an oligarchy: for an
aristocracy may be considered as a species of oligarchy, as being also
a government of the few; and what we call a free state may be
considered as a democracy: as in the winds they consider the west as
part of the north, and the east as part of the south: and thus it is
in music, according to some, who say there are only two species of it,
the Doric and the Phrygian, and all other species of composition they
call after one of these names; and many people are accustomed to
consider the nature of government in the same light; but it is both
more convenient and more correspondent to truth to distinguish
governments as I have done, into two species: one, of those which are
established upon proper principles; of which there may be one or two
sorts: the other, which includes all the different excesses of these;
so that we may compare the best form of government to the most
harmonious piece of music; the oligarchic and despotic to the more
violent tunes; and the democratic to the soft and gentle airs.

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK IV - Chapter IV A Treatise On Government - BOOK IV - Chapter IV

A Treatise On Government - BOOK IV - Chapter IV
We ought not to define a democracy as some do, who say simply, that itis a government where the supreme power is lodged in the people; foreven in oligarchies the supreme power is in the majority. Nor shouldthey define an oligarchy a government where the supreme power is inthe hands of a few: for let us suppose the number of a people to bethirteen hundred, and that of these one thousand were rich, who wouldnot permit the three hundred poor to have any share in the government,although they were free, and their equal in everything else; no onewould say, that this
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK IV - Chapter II A Treatise On Government - BOOK IV - Chapter II

A Treatise On Government - BOOK IV - Chapter II
Since, then, according to our first method in treating of thedifferent forms of government, we have divided those which are regularinto three sorts, the kingly, the aristocratical, the free states,and shown the three excesses which these are liable to: the kingly, ofbecoming tyrannical; the aristocratical, oligarchical; and the freestate, democratical: and as we have already treated of thearistocratical and kingly; for to enter into an inquiry what sort ofgovernment is best is the same thing as to treat of these twoexpressly; for each of them desires to be established upon theprinciples of virtue: and as, moreover, we have already determinedwherein a
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