Tuesday, February 05, 2019


An Excessively Numerous Community

Aristotle, Politics 7.4.13-14 (1326b; tr. H. Rackham):
But in order to decide questions of justice and in order to distribute the offices according to merit it is necessary for the citizens to know each other's personal characters, since where this does not happen to be the case the business of electing officials and trying law-suits is bound to go badly; haphazard decision is unjust in both matters, and this must obviously prevail in an excessively numerous community. Also in such a community it is easy for foreigners and resident aliens to usurp the rights of citizenship, for the excessive number of the population makes it not difficult to escape detection.

περὶ τῶν δικαίων καὶ πρὸς τὸ τὰς ἀρχὰς διανέμειν κατ᾽ ἀξίαν ἀναγκαῖον γνωρίζειν ἀλλήλους, ποῖοί τινές εἰσι, τοὺς πολίτας, ὡς ὅπου τοῦτο μὴ συμβαίνει γίγνεσθαι, φαύλως ἀνάγκη γίγνεσθαι τὰ περὶ τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς κρίσεις. περὶ ἀμφότερα γὰρ οὐ δίκαιον αὐτοσχεδιάζειν, ὅπερ ἐν τῇ πολυανθρωπίᾳ τῇ λίαν ὑπάρχει φανερῶς. ἔτι δὲ ξένοις καὶ μετοίκοις ῥᾴδιον μεταλαμβάνειν τῆς πολιτείας· οὐ γὰρ χαλεπὸν τὸ λανθάνειν διὰ τὴν ὑπερβολὴν τοῦ πλήθους.

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