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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK V - Chapter XI
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK V - Chapter XI Post by :agape100 Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :3154

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK V - Chapter XI

Monarchies, in a word, are preserved by means contrary to what I have
already mentioned as the cause of their destruction; but to speak to
each separately: the stability of a kingdom will depend upon the power
of the king's being kept within moderate bounds; for by how much the
less extensive his power is, by so much the longer will his government
continue; for he will be less despotic and more upon an equality of
condition with those he governs; who, on that account, will envy him
the less.

It was on this account that the kingdom of the Molossi continued so
long; and the Lacedaemonians from their government's being from the
beginning divided into two parts, and also by the moderation
introduced into the other parts of it by Theopompus, and his
establishment of the ephori; for by taking something from the power he
increased the duration of the kingdom, so that in some measure he made
it not less, but bigger; as they say he replied to his wife, who asked
him if he was not ashamed to deliver down his kingdom to his children
reduced from what he received it from his ancestors? No, says he, I
give it him more lasting. Tyrannies are preserved two ways most
opposite to each other, one of which is when the power is delegated
from one to the other, and in this manner many tyrants govern in their
states. Report says that Periander founded many of these. There are
also many of them to be met with amongst the Persians. What has been
already mentioned is as conducive as anything can be to preserve a
tyranny; namely, to keep down those who are of an aspiring
disposition, to take off those who will not submit, to allow no public
meals, no clubs, no education, nothing at all, but to guard against
everything that gives rise to high spirits or mutual confidence; nor
to suffer the learned meetings of those who are at leisure to hold
conversation with each other; and to endeavour by every means possible
to keep all the people strangers to each other; for knowledge
increases mutual confidence; and to oblige all strangers to appear in
public, and to live near the city-gate, that all their actions may be
sufficiently seen; for those who are kept like slaves seldom entertain
any noble thoughts: in short, to imitate everything which the Persians
and barbarians do, for they all contribute to support slavery; and to
endeavour to know what every one who is under their power does and
says; and for this purpose to employ spies: such were those women whom
the Syracusians called potagogides Hiero also used to send out
listeners wherever there was any meeting or conversation; for the
people dare not speak with freedom for fear of such persons; and if
any one does, there is the less chance of its being concealed; and to
endeavour that the whole community should mutually accuse and come to
blows with each other, friend with friend, the commons with the
nobles, and the rich with each other. It is also advantageous for a
tyranny that all those who are under it should be oppressed with
poverty, that they may not be able to compose a guard; and that, being
employed in procuring their daily bread, they may have no leisure to
conspire against their tyrants. The Pyramids of Egypt are a proof of
this, and the votive edifices of the Cyposelidse, and the temple of
Jupiter Olympus, built by the Pisistratidae, and the works of
Polycrates at Samos; for all these produced one end, the keeping the
people poor. It is necessary also to multiply taxes, as at Syracuse;
where Dionysius in the space of five years collected all the private
property of his subjects into his own coffers. A tyrant also should
endeavour to engage his subjects in a war, that they may have
employment and continually depend upon their general. A king is
preserved by his friends, but a tyrant is of all persons the man who
can place no confidence in friends, as every one has it in his desire
and these chiefly in their power to destroy him. All these things also
which are done in an extreme democracy should be done in a tyranny, as
permitting great licentiousness to the women in the house, that they
may reveal their husbands' secrets; and showing great indulgence to
slaves also for the same reason; for slaves and women conspire not
against tyrants: but when they are treated with kindness, both of them
are abettors of tyrants, and extreme democracies also; and the people
too in such a state desire to be despotic. For which reason flatterers
are in repute in both these: the demagogue in the democracy, for he is
the proper flatterer of the people; among tyrants, he who will
servilely adapt himself to their humours; for this is the business of
(1314a) flatterers. And for this reason tyrants always love the worst
of wretches, for they rejoice in being flattered, which no man of a
liberal spirit will submit to; for they love the virtuous, but flatter
none. Bad men too are fit for bad purposes; "like to like," as the
proverb says. A tyrant also should show no favour to a man of worth or
a freeman; for he should think, that no one deserved to be thought
these but himself; for he who supports his dignity, and is a friend to
freedom, encroaches upon the superiority and the despotism of the
tyrant: such men, therefore, they naturally hate, as destructive to
their government. A tyrant also should rather admit strangers to his
table and familiarity than citizens, as these are his enemies, but the
others have no design against him. These and such-like are the
supports of a tyranny, for it comprehends whatsoever is wicked. But
all these things may be comprehended in three divisions, for there are
three objects which a tyranny has in view; one of which is, that the
citizens should be of poor abject dispositions; for such men never
propose to conspire against any one. The second is, that they should
have no confidence in each other; for while they have not this, the
tyrant is safe enough from destruction. For which reason they are
always at enmity with those of merit, as hurtful to their government;
not only as they scorn to be governed despotically, but also because
they can rely upon each other's fidelity, and others can rely upon
theirs, and because they will not inform against their associates, nor
any one else. The third is, that they shall be totally without the
means of doing anything; for no one undertakes what is impossible for
him to perform: so that without power a tyranny can never be
destroyed. These, then, are the three objects which the inclinations
of tyrants desire to see accomplished; for all their tyrannical plans
tend to promote one of these three ends, that their people may neither
have mutual confidence, power, nor spirit. This, then, is one of the
two methods of preserving tyrannies: the other proceeds in a way quite
contrary to what has been already described, and which may be
discerned from considering to what the destruction of a kingdom is
owing; for as one cause of that is, making the government approach
near to a tyranny, so the safety of a tyranny consists in making the
government nearly kingly; preserving only one thing, namely power,
that not only the willing, but the unwilling also, must be obliged to
submit; for if this is once lost, the tyranny is at an end. This,
then, as the foundation, must be preserved: in other particulars
carefully do and affect to seem like a king; first, appear to pay a
great attention (1314b) to what belongs to the public; nor make such
profuse presents as will offend the people; while they are to supply
the money out of the hard labour of their own hands, and see it given
in profusion to mistresses, foreigners, and fiddlers; keeping an exact
account both of what you receive and pay; which is a practice some
tyrants do actually follow, by which means they seem rather fathers of
families than tyrants: nor need you ever fear the want of money while
you have the supreme power of the state in your own hands. It is also
much better for those tyrants who quit their kingdom to do this than
to leave behind them money they have hoarded up; for their regents
will be much less desirous of making innovations, and they are more to
be dreaded by absent tyrants than the citizens; for such of them as he
suspects he takes with him, but these regents must be left behind. He
should also endeavour to appear to collect such taxes and require such
services as the exigencies of the state demand, that whenever they are
wanted they may be ready in time of war; and particularly to take care
that he appear to collect and keep them not as his own property, but
the public's. His appearance also should not be severe, but
respectable, so that he should inspire those who approach him with
veneration and not fear; but this will not be easily accomplished if
he is despised. If, therefore, he will not take the pains to acquire
any other, he ought to endeavour to be a man of political abilities,
and to fix that opinion of himself in the judgment of his subjects. He
should also take care not to appear to be guilty of the least offence
against modesty, nor to suffer it in those under him: nor to permit
the women of his family to treat others haughtily; for the haughtiness
of women has been the ruin of many tyrants. With respect to the
pleasures of sense, he ought to do directly contrary to the practice
of some tyrants at present; for they do not only continually indulge
themselves in them for many days together, but they seem also to
desire to have other witnesses of it, that they may wonder at their
happiness; whereas he ought really to be moderate in these, and, if
not, to appear to others to avoid them-for it is not the sober man who
is exposed either to plots or contempt, but the drunkard; not the
early riser, but the sluggard. His conduct in general should also be
contrary to what is reported of former tyrants; for he ought to
improve and adorn his city, so as to seem a guardian and not a tyrant;
and, moreover., always to (1315a) seem particularly attentive to the
worship of the gods; for from persons of such a character men
entertain less fears of suffering anything illegal while they suppose
that he who governs them is religious and reverences the gods; and
they will be less inclined to raise insinuations against such a one,
as being peculiarly under their protection: but this must be so done
as to give no occasion for any suspicion of hypocrisy. He should also
take care to show such respect to men of merit in every particular,
that they should not think they could be treated with greater
distinction by their fellow-citizens in a free state. He should also
let all honours flow immediately from himself, but every censure from
his subordinate officers and judges. It is also a common protection
of all monarchies not to make one person too great, or, certainly, not
many; for they will support each other: but, if it is necessary to
entrust any large powers to one person, to take care that it is not
one of an ardent spirit; for this disposition is upon every
opportunity most ready for a revolution: and, if it should seem
necessary to deprive any one of his power, to do it by degrees, and
not reduce him all at once. It is also necessary to abstain from all
kinds of insolence; more particularly from corporal punishment; which
you must be most cautious never to exercise over those who have a
delicate sense of honour; for, as those who love money are touched to
the quick when anything affects their property, so are men of honour
and principle when they receive any disgrace: therefore, either never
employ personal punishment, or, if you do, let it be only in the
manner in which a father would correct his son, and not with contempt;
and, upon the whole, make amends for any seeming disgrace by bestowing
greater honours. But of all persons who are most likely to entertain
designs against the person of a tyrant, those are chiefly to be feared
and guarded against who regard as nothing the loss of their own lives,
so that they can but accomplish their purpose: be very careful
therefore of those who either think themselves affronted, or those who
are dear to them; for those who are excited by anger to revenge regard
as nothing their own persons: for, as Heraclitus says, it is dangerous
to fight with an angry man who will purchase with his life the thing
he aims at. As all cities are composed of two sorts of persons, the
rich and the poor, it is necessary that both these should find equal
protection from him who governs them, and that the one party should
not have it in their power to injure the other; but that the tyrant
should attach to himself that party which is the most powerful; which,
if he does, he will have no occasion either to make his slaves free,
or to deprive citizens of their arms; for the strength of either of
the parties added to his own forces will render him superior to any
conspiracy. It would be superfluous to go through all particulars; for
the rule of conduct which the tyrant ought to pursue is evident
enough, and that is, to affect to appear not the tyrant, but the king;
the guardian of those he governs, not their plunderer, (1315b) but
their protector, and to affect the middle rank in life, not one
superior to all others: he should, therefore, associate his nobles
with him and soothe his people; for his government will not only be
necessarily more honourable and worthy of imitation, as it will be
over men of worth, and not abject wretches who perpetually both hate
and fear him; but it will be also more durable. Let him also frame his
life so that his manners may be consentaneous to virtue, or at least
let half of them be so, that he may not be altogether wicked, but only
so in part.

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Indeed an oligarchy and a tyranny are of all governments of theshortest duration. The tyranny of Orthagoras and his family at Sicyon,it is true, continued longer than any other: the reason for which was,that they used their power with moderation, and were in manyparticulars obedient to the laws; and, as Clisthenes was an ablegeneral, he never fell into contempt, and by the care he took that inmany particulars his government should be popular. He is reported alsoto have presented a person with a crown who adjudged the victory toanother; and some say that it is the statue of that judge which
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK V - Chapter X A Treatise On Government - BOOK V - Chapter X

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It now remains that we speak of monarchies, their causes ofcorruption, and means of preservation; and indeed almost the samethings which have been said of other governments happen to kingdomsand tyrannies; for a kingdom partakes of an aristocracy, a tyranny ofthe worst species of an oligarchy and democracy; for which reason itis the worst that man can submit to, as being composed of two, both ofwhich are bad, and collectively retains all the corruptions and allthe defects of both these states. These two species of monarchiesarise from principles contrary to each other: a kingdom is formed toprotect the better sort of
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