Friday, May 13, 2022


Three Classes

Aristotle, Politics 4.11.4-7 (1295b; tr. Carnes Lord):
[4] Now in all cities there are three parts of the city, the very well off, the very poor, and third, those in the middle between these. Since, however, it is agreed that what is moderate and middling is best, it is evident that in the case of the goods of fortune as well a middling possession is the best of all.

[5] For it is readiest to obey reason, while for one who is overly handsome, overly strong, overly well born, or overly wealthy—or the reverse of these things, overly indigent, overly weak, or very lacking in honor—it is difficult to follow reason. The former sort tend to become arrogant and base on a grand scale, the latter malicious and base in petty ways; and acts of injustice are committed either through arrogance or through malice. Moreover, these are least inclined either to avoid ruling or to wish to rule, both of which things are injurious to cities.

[6] In addition, those who are preeminent in the goods of fortune—strength, wealth, friends, and the other things of this sort—neither wish to be ruled nor know how to be. This is something that marks them from the time they are children at home, for the effect of living in luxury is that they do not become habituated to being ruled even at school; but those who are excessively needy with respect to these things are too humble.

[7] So the ones do not know how to rule but only how to be ruled, and then only to be ruled like a slave, and the others do not know how to be ruled by any sort of rule, but only to rule like a master.

[4] ἐν ἁπάσαις δὴ ταῖς πόλεσιν ἔστι τρία μέρη τῆς πόλεως, οἱ μὲν εὔποροι σφόδρα, οἱ δὲ ἄποροι σφόδρα, οἱ δὲ τρίτοι οἱ μέσοι τούτων. ἐπεὶ τοίνυν ὁμολογεῖται τὸ μέτριον ἄριστον καὶ τὸ μέσον, φανερὸν ὅτι καὶ τῶν εὐτυχημάτων ἡ κτῆσις ἡ μέση βελτίστη πάντων.

[5] ῥᾴστη γὰρ τῷ λόγῳ πειθαρχεῖν, ὑπέρκαλον δὲ ἢ ὑπερίσχυρον ἢ ὑπερευγενῆ ἢ ὑπερπλούσιον ὄντα, ἢ τἀναντία τούτοις, ὑπέρπτωχον ἢ ὑπερασθενῆ ἢ σφόδρα ἄτιμον, χαλεπὸν τῷ λόγῳ ἀκολουθεῖν· γίγνονται γὰρ οἱ μὲν ὑβρισταὶ καὶ μεγαλοπόνηροι μᾶλλον, οἱ δὲ κακοῦργοι καὶ μικροπόνηροι λίαν, τῶν δ᾽ ἀδικημάτων τὰ μὲν γίγνεται δι᾽ ὕβριν τὰ δὲ διὰ κακουργίαν. ἔτι δὲ ἥκισθ᾽ οὗτοι φυγαρχοῦσι καὶ σπουδαρχοῦσιν, ταῦτα δ᾽ ἀμφότερα βλαβερὰ ταῖς πόλεσιν.

[6] πρὸς δὲ τούτοις οἱ μὲν ἐν ὑπεροχαῖς εὐτυχημάτων ὄντες, ἰσχύος καὶ πλούτου καὶ φίλων καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν τοιούτων, ἄρχεσθαι οὔτε βούλονται οὔτε ἐπίστανται (καὶ τοῦτ᾽ εὐθὺς οἴκοθεν ὑπάρχει παισὶν οὖσιν: διὰ γὰρ τὴν τρυφὴν οὐδ᾽ ἐν τοῖς διδασκαλείοις ἄρχεσθαι σύνηθες αὐτοῖς), οἱ δὲ καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν ἐν ἐνδείᾳ τούτων ταπεινοὶ λίαν.

[7] ὥσθ᾽ οἱ μὲν ἄρχειν οὐκ ἐπίστανται, ἀλλ᾽ ἄρχεσθαι δουλικὴν ἀρχήν, οἱ δ᾽ ἄρχεσθαι μὲν οὐδεμίαν ἀρχήν, ἄρχειν δὲ δεσποτικὴν ἀρχήν.

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