To see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square.
Is there any efficacious and genuine polity without virtue?
S I am writing about the republic, that statement of Aristotle’s often comes to mind, the best state should be greatly concerned with virtue. That wise man perceived that no bane is greater in a commonwealth than license of morals, no plague in a republic is more deadly than wickedness. For, just as the bodies of those who live a delicate life are enervated, their muscles slack and atrophied, and are corrupted by a discord of their elements, so commonwealths are enfeebled by the bad morals of their citizens, and great empires are often devastated by their treachery. Antisthenes once wisely said commonwealths fall and perish when good citizens cannot be distinguished from bad. So, lest any man think that I am thus writing about politics that, with the constraints of all the virtues as it were broken, it should be permissible for any man to do as he wishes, on the very threshold I have deemed it necessary to raised this question, if there can be any effective and genuine polity in the absence of virtue? Machiavelli the Florentine affirms this monster exists, whereas Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and all and sundry who genuinely practice philosophy deny it. That man stated that a republic is properly administered without faith, without mercy, without religion, and without any virtue. But let us listen to that beast, for thus he speaks. Faith, mercy, liberality, and all the virtues are ruinous to a commonwealth. Let him speak again, for this is a trifle. It is permissible for a prince to forswear himself, to cheat and dissimulate without any hesitation. “Piously spoken, indeed! Let him speak some more.” Religion depresses men’s spirits, brutality compels subjects to adhere to their duty. “This discourse is delightful, let the rest be produced.” Happy is the prince unloved by his people, secure is the commonwealth which nurses dissentions and factions; wise is that king who does away with those who love and strive for the public good. Anything more, pray tell? “Six hundred other maxims, far prettier than these.” You call these pretty? Oh the miserable age which nursed such a monstrosity! Oh the more miserable one which gave him a hearing! Oh the most miserable one, which allows this pestilential impostor’s monuments, criminal and toxic, to be read, sold, and learned everywhere! I have written these words so as students of politics may understand that in these precepts of mine I shun and detest "like dog and snake" this Machiavellian loathing of God and Man. For though in him much has a show of wisdom, nevertheless, because he pours us out more gall than honey, more wickedness than virtue, I do not think he is to be given a hearing or to be read. For in his politics Machiavelli acts as does Paracelsus in medicine. That man hawks his nostrums, which have a fair appearance, a great price, are wonderful in their essence and properties, but are not without their fatal effect on bodies; this one vends his precepts, at first sight learned, at first hearing rare, but not without their peril to the commonwealth. Wherefore, just as the one is to be shunned, lest he be admitted and men die, so this one is be done away with, lest he be received and commonwealths perish. So I set myself in opposition to Machiavelli, and in my mind I detest as anathema his axioms about the establishment of the republic and commonwealth, and, contrary to his assertion, I maintain that a commonwealth cannot stand, a polity cannot exist without faith, without justice, without Christ, inasmuch as without these armaments one speaks, not of a king, but of a tyrant; not of a commonwealth, but of a raging mob; not of a republic and order, but of a hideous confusion. Hence philosophers and sages once adjudged that every polity must be referred to the norm of virtue and religion, and here I am eager to rehearse some of the reasonings and arguments by which they proved this very thing. And, that I may first make my beginning from nature, which gives birth to and nourishes a commonwealth, I ask whether nature is better preserved by the influence of virtue than by moral license."Most certainly it is better preserved," If this be agreed, I further inquire whether father and son, husband and wife, master and servant, and every association of household and commonwealth has emerged from the womb of nature. "Of course it did." If this too should be a part of your admission, I wonder with what bold face some men affirm that nature exists without virtue, that a commonwealth exists without virtue. What is a monstrosity in nature is a vice in a commonwealth. But a monstrosity is a mistake and defect of nature, just as a vice is a horror and confusion in a commonwealth. So if nature is a commonwealth’s mother and nurse, and if virtue (as says the Philosopher) is a preserver of nature, it follows that without virtue neither can nature subsist, nor in any way can a republic flourish, which is (as Aristotle defines it) the order, consensus and harmony of a commonwealth. With these assumptions made, pray tell me what polity, what administration of a commonwealth can exist without virtue? If you tell me that tyranny, which is a certain constitution of a republic, still remains, I reply that a monster is not, and should not be designated "nature" because of the defect of its order: thus, because of the defect of its virtue, tyranny neither is nor ought to be designated a commonwealth. Furthermore, that we may set nature behind us and regard the First Cause of kings and republics, who is not ignorant that Man should be joined with God (Who is the highest truth and good) by means of truth in his mind, by means of good in his will? Thus if it is God Who has given us kings, scepters, and commonwealths, who is so impious and depraved who dares state that either a man or a commonwealth can subsist without God, Who is the highest good and truth, without good, and without truth? It would be an infinite task now to tell of the ruins and, as it were, the prostrate corpses of many commonwealths, races, nations and empires which became senile, with the fibers of virtue and piety severed. Under whom does now Africa, under whom does now Asia, under whom do excellent portions of Europe now languish? If you tell me under the Turk, I ask you the reason: certainly you can produce no other than that they had rebelled from faith and virtue before they perceived their felicity to be fatally polluted by such horrible misery and calamity. But why should I seek examples from so far away? Nearby ones abound. After Machiavelli’s remains, conjured up from Hell, had long been worshipped in Italy, at length they were brought over into France and other nations close to us. Good God, how many seditions, how many civil wars, how many massacres, how many deadly, miserable tragedies have this monster’s ashes provoked? How many are they inspiring now? How many are they intending to inspire? I pray Christ that we, forewarned and forearmed, heed this saying, mind your own business while your neighbor’s house is afire. Thus far, our people has not learned him from being translated into the vernacular tongue, thus far, they have not experienced his poison. He indeed did badly who translated Ovid’s Art of Love into English; he did worse, who translated Albertus’ On the Secrets of Women. But that man will deserve the worst of our republic, if he pours the venom of this viper into the mouths of our naive multitude. But there remain other arguments by which this point is proven, of which one will be taken from the custom and experience of our ancestors, and another from the end for which a commonwealth is designed. Once upon a time our ancient forefathers, who bequeathed us many a distinguished monument of the republic, all conspired, as it were, in friendly wise that legislators and magistrates should busily compete in making their fellow citizens good, just, and pious men. But why, I ask you, would they have so often and with such great effort inculcated this very thing in us, had they dreamed that any polity can endure in the absence of virtue? Hence among the Athenians Solon, among the Spartans Lycurgus, among the Romans Numa Pompilius devised tables of sacred laws, by which they governed their commonwealths justly and peacefully for many centuries. For from world’s beginning experience (the mother of science) has taught this very thing, that virtue alone triumphs in any government. So in the genuine politics of the commonwealth let these novel and pernicious paradoxes be given no hearing: Above all, let the prince hope that he seems to be pious, but that he not be so. It behooves the prince always to nourish some adversary against himself, so that when that man is put down he may appear the more powerful. The prince should have a versatile intelligence, trained to harshness and treachery by art and experience, and he should show himself to be such in fact as often as it is expedient. Our ancestors never learned such theories; indeed, if the perversity of human nature ever broke forth in these things, they sentenced their authors and supporters to the direst punishments. For these wise men understood that those commonwealths could not long be preserved whose patrons are the fox, the rabbit, and the lion (that is, fraud, fear, and fury). Let Richard III make an impression on us Englishmen, who had the head of a fox and the tail of a lion, who sought the scepter by means of the blood of his kinsmen, and lost the kingdom by means of his own blood. A final argument follows, namely from the end of a commonwealth, which is happiness itself, accumulated by all good things. Yet if you fancy this can be found without virtue, you only act thus so as to be mad with excessive reasoning. Nobody, not even Machiavelli himself, exists who would deny that every commonwealth and every polity has been established for the sake of some good: for he writes that he has produced his entire discourse about the republic for the sake of good, not evil; for the sake of preservation, not destruction; for the sake of its dignity and honor, not its disgrace. But if he is aiming at the good, why does he not employ honorable means? But under this show of piety he cannily cuts virtue’s throat. For the rest, if you wish to reason aright, your reasoning should be framed thus. The good end of any thing demands good means: the end of the commonwealth is good: therefore it requires good means. These good means are counsel rather than rashness, mercy rather than rage, good faith rather than dissimulation, zeal for peace rather than sedition, the piety of citizens rather than a dissolution of morals. By these means a man is genuinely made happy, a household fortunate, a commonwealth blessed. So you want to be a statesman? I exhort you to be a student of virtue. For every polity without a zeal for virtue is like a leaden yardstick without the hand of the artisan.
VIRTUE IS NECESSARY FOR A POLITY, FOR FOUR REASONS
A polity is proven to be ineffectual without virtue, by:
Matter: Of which it consists, which is the
multitude of men dwelling under the same government and rule of virtue. Form, which is the prudent administration
of magistrates, in which justice is discerned. Efficient cause, which is either: Remote, such as God, to Whom all is
referred by means of virtue. The end, which is: External, such as peace, honor, and a
material prosperity which is owed to virtue.
Of which it consists, which is the
multitude of men dwelling under the same government and rule of virtue.
Form, which is the prudent administration of magistrates, in which justice is discerned.
Efficient cause, which is either:
Remote, such as God, to Whom all is
referred by means of virtue.
The end, which is:
External, such as peace, honor, and a
material prosperity which is owed to virtue.
2. OBJECTION All legal things can occur in a commonwealth: but many things that happen by means of fraud are lega:, therefore many things that occur by fraud can occur in a commonwealth. The minor premise is proven because in war stratagems and ruses are legal, which nevertheless transpire by deceiving the mind. With these facts conceded, it follows that every commonwealth is not linked to virtue.
RESPONSE In wartime the laws are silent; in war one deals with an enemy, in peace, with a fellow citizen. It is permissible for any man to defend his life against a deadly foe. Therefore this argument fails to move me, since a true polity thrives in peace rather than in war, in order and upright administration of the commonwealth rather than in contention. Yet in wartime it is not permissible to employ treachery against the enemy, rather it is necessary to keep one’s word, like Regulus.
OBJECTION Sometimes a polity sanctions the killing of an innocent man: therefore every polity is not conjoined with virtue. The antecedent is proven because this is assume, since the people so much favored a certain Sillanus in the commonwealth on account of his singular justice or wisdom that they attempted to promote him to the crown, with Nero being deposed, although he refused. It is permitted to a king still in power to kill a Sillanus, so that, the object of the insurrection being eliminated, all popular sedition in the city being removed, sedition may be quashed. For it is a lesser to kill a citizen, even if he be a good man, than to inflict injury upon the whole republic.
RESPONSE Though this may sometimes happen in a commonwealth, the question is nonetheless whether it is done rightly. Here I make no definition, since we are forbidden to do evil so that good may result. As for this dilemma of two evils that has been posed, whether one man should perish or the entire republic be put at risk, nature and prudence urge that one man should be killed rather that the whole fall into danger. For just as many things in nature are stricken by a violent movement, which are said to occur contrary to their individual nature, yet not against universal nature, which is preserved in this manner, thus in a commonwealth, if it befalls that either a king must be killed or a citizen must fall, better that a citizen is killed, who bears the personage of a private citizen, than a king, who bears the personage of the entire commonwealth.
OBJECTION In nearly every polity it is enjoined by the laws that sons of traitors, even if they are innocent, are to be deprived of their lives, or at least of their patrimonies: virtue forbids punishment of the innocent: therefore every polity does not harmonize with virtue. The major premise is obvious, the minor is proven out of Book V of the Ethics, in which we are bidden to sharpen and wield our swords against evil men frequently, but never against the good and the innocent.
RESPONSE In the person of a king two things are perceived: the image of divine justice and, as it were, the vegetative growth of the entire republic. Sons of traitors are punished in imitation of divine justice, since, when the sovereign’s majesty is injured, the sin is committed not just against Man but also against God, but when once God has been offended by the crime of a single man the guilt is translated to the seed of the entire human race, for whom the punishment is also due. Furthermore, since the sovereign is the soul of the commonwealth, the sons of traitors are often punished for the greater terror, since some men are more moved by the foreseen shipwreck of their posterity than their own bad ending, as is agreed about them among our people who, that they may bequeath a heritage to their posterity, allow themselves to be overwhelmed with stones rather than be strangled with the noose.
OBJECTION Aristotle teaches that a bad man can be a good citizen: therefore a polity does not always depend upon virtue. The argument follows because, if a politician is a bad man, a polity cannot be good.
3. RESPONSE A bad man can be a good citizen in the virtue of his function, not in the virtue of his being a man. For a man’s virtue is what renders a man good, such as justice and temperance; in a shoemaker, the virtue of his function is to make good shoes, in an architect to build aright, which things can happen even if they are not good men who do them.
OBJECTION A polity sometimes requires usury, as in England, or brothels, as in Italy: these are bad things: therefore every polity is not subject to virtue.
RESPONSE A polity sometimes permits these things, it does not require them; it tolerates them, it does not grant them its approval; rather, indeed, it adjudges they should be abolished and uprooted, if this could be accomplished without great injury to the commonwealth. But Man’s malice is so savage and intolerable that no mortal can ever wholly uproot it from the commonwealth. In a just commonwealth this suffices, that it either brand sinners with the mark of infamy, or, if they have no respect for this, that inflicts a heavier punishment, which it does regarding those two evils that are cited. For by law moneylenders are rendered hateful to all, and panders with their whores are stricken with the lightning of the Word and excommunication.
Is the commonwealth an object of political science?
Has the commonwealth been established for the sake of the highest good?
Do the slave-owner, the head of household, the politician and the king differ regarding appearance and nature?
Are natural associations, from which grow commonwealths, rightly distinguished?
RISTOTLE’s teacher Plato, in those ten distinguished which he wrote about The Republic, seems to urge this most of all, that no science is more august in its name, nor more excellent in its object, nor more divine in its fruitfulness than that which is founded concerning the commonwealth. For it has taken its name from civilization, that most excellent of human associations, whence it is called “civil.” It has as its object or matter the commonwealth itself. Its fruit is the best establishment of human life and the perpetual preservation of the entire human race. Hence it is defined as the science of governing the commonwealth. Here many things are wont to be asked of the ancient commentators about its author, kind, object, method, and aims: about its author, whether Socrates, Plato or Aristotle perfected it; about its genus, whether it is a practical or speculative science; about its object, whether this is the commonwealth, law, or the public principles of life; about the method of its instruction, whether this is derived from causes to effects according to nature’s order, or from effects to causes by the order of discipline; about its end, whether this is the greatest prudence in good government, or rather the enduring happiness of citizens in living justly. I mention these things although I should gladly pass over them, yet I shall say a few words about them so that the sequel will be clearer. At the outset I say that Aristotle first of all men perfected this art. Albertus gave an as explanation that what Aristotle learned from Socrates, Plato, and other philosophers, all this he digested in a superior form and order. I add to this that he himself discovered any things which (as Victorius says) have great dignity and admirability. What am I to say of the Philosopher’s method? For it is familiar and easy. For or first he discusses the causes and parts of the commonwealth, next he defines the entire thing, and lastly he strives to demonstrate the powers and properties of the whole.
2. QUESTION 1 The causes of the commonwealth are God, Man and nature, its parts are the various associations of men who cannot live under the same roof, in the same family or village. The whole consists of that multitude of men living peaceably under a single government in civil order, according to the laws. Its powers and properties are to establish salubrious laws, hold its citizens to their duties, acquire all needful things, and to live prosperously and happily. In Albertus’ opinion, its object is the citizen, but in that of the holy Doctor it is the commonwealth itself. I uphold the view that it the commonwealth, because, of the objects studied in this science, it is the one that casts its nets the widest, because the properties of it and of its subject are demonstrated, and, lastly, because all things handled in this science are brought down to it exclusively, which certainly cannot be said of the citizen. For to establish laws, create kings, make citizens happy, and six hundred other things demand and require the whole multitude of citizens, not one man, and consensus rather than private judgment. The genus of this science is practice rather than theory, action rather than speculation. For in this science we do not seek to learn what to know, but what to do, and in what manner we should live justly and earnestly in the light of mankind. So if there is this difference between a theoretic and a practical science, that the one is intended exclusively for the understanding of the truth, but the other for work, it is necessary that political science be categorized under the heading of practical philosophy, since a commonwealth is a kind of work of human reason. Furthermore, since reason operates either by a means of effectiveness when it passes into external matter (as when one builds), or a means of activity, or when it remains in the operator (as when one makes a choice) in the former mode the mechanical arts are called practical, but in the latter these too are called practical. The end of this science is not the wisdom of citizens, but the acquisition and abundance of all good things. I say of all good things, for although all things do not befall a single citizen, yet they lavishly flow into the commonwealth as a whole. Now at length I come to Aristotle, who at the beginning of this chapter teaches this very thing I am trying to say about its end. For thus he speaks: Inasmuch as we perceive every commonwealth to be an association, and that every association comes together for the sake of some good, it is necessary that that association which is very much the sovereign and mistress of all associations, and which contains the rest within itself, to have as its object that good which should be the highest and most excellent of them all.
3. QUESTION 2 On the basis of these things I conclude that both the commonwealth, which is the material, and this science, which is the mistress of all the rest, refer to the highest and noblest good. For, just as the city does objectively, so effectively (as they say) the science of the commonwealth has the highest good as its end. But, to proceed in the same order as does the Philosopher himself in his text, it is to be noticed that four things especially are handled in this chapter, namely the definition of the commonwealth, its distinction, an enumeration of its parts, and finally a comparison of these with each other. In his definition he shows two things, its essence and its end: its essence when he demonstrates it is an association abounding in all good things, its end when he refers it to the highest and divinest of all good things. The reasonings in his text can thus be framed: every association exists for the same of some good: a commonwealth is an association: therefore a commonwealth exists for the sake of some good. And there is another, in this manner: the good of any association is more excellent in proportion to the nobility of that association: a commonwealth is by far the noblest of associations: therefore a commonwealth has as its end the most excellent of all good thingsd. Hence follows a distinction in which it is inquired whether royal government differs from political, or slave ownership from household management, only in reasoning and appearance? In his text he insinuates that Socrates and Plato had thought these can be distinguished from each other only in terns largeness or smallness of number, not of genus and nature. For example, if a man presides over a few men who are slaves he is a master or lord, but if over more men who are both free and slaves he is a head of household or paterfamilias; and if over yet more, he is a politician or magistrate, and finally, if he presides over all men he should be deemed a king or sovereign. Hence, according to those men, there is no difference between a large household and a small commonwealth. But these things, as the Philosopher says, are true, which he proves in the third part of this chapter, namely in the enumeration and description of the parts that go to make up a commonwealth.
4. EXPLANATION OF QUESTION 3 For if the parts of the commonwealth are to be distinguished, not only in terms of number, but also of nature and duty, it follows of necessity that these governments of slave, family, commonwealth and kingdom differ in terms of more than largeness or smallness of number. For it one thing to govern a slave, another to govern a household, another to govern a small commonwealth, and another to govern an empire. So the slave-owner, the head of household, the politician and the king, that is, if you wish to interpret it, the master, the paterfamilias, the magistrate and the sovereign differ in more than name and number. For, even if each and every one are men in a single dialectic species, and share in human nature, in political essence and appearance they differ, since these words express human duties, which are distinct by nature, and not simple human nature, which is one and in the same in all men. It is one thing to be a man, another to be a father; one thing to be a man, another to be a sovereign, since the name of "man" expresses substance, the names of "father" and "sovereign" express relationship and function (which differ in nature from substance). Nor does it matter than one and the same man can now be a slave-owner, now a paterfamilias, now the governor of a city, now the emperor of the entire commonwealth, since these are many disparate accidents, which are unconnected to nature and property, and can reside simultaneously in one and the same man, as is agreed about heat and dryness in fire, and about cold and wetness in water. Therefore when in this place we teach that the slave holder differs from the head of household, the politician from the king by nature, we understand the nature of the order rather than the name, the property of the position rather than the man, the rationale of the dignity and government rather than the proportion of magnitude.
5. ENUMERATION OF THE PARTS A distinction now having been made, two things follow, an enumeration and comparison of the parts. In the enumeration three things are set forth: the reasoning of the commonwealth’s order, a description of a complex association, and a reprehension of the barbarians who handle their women like slaves. The reasoning of the commonwealth’s order has this syllogism. Just as for the comprehension of the whole in other things it is necessary to analyze the composite into its simple ingredients (as speech into letters, a mixture into its individual elements), so for the understanding of the commonwealth (which is a kind of whole) it is necessary to divide it into its minimal parts. It is necessary to make such an analysis regarding other wholes, therefore it is also necessary regarding the commonwealth. Hence the organization used by the Philosopher in this work is lucid, namely that, having divided the whole into its first ingredients, he might make his beginning from these very elements and parts of the commonwealth; which parts are the natural associations of men from which the commonwealth exists and is composed. The first is that of husband and wife, the second of master and slave, the third of father and son, the fourth of the villages and colonies which, being scattered far and wide, heed the commonwealth. In the text Aristotle speaks thus of the first, it is first necessary for them of whom the one cannot exist without the other to be conjoined and coupled, such as the male and the female for the sake of procreation. Yet an man seeks out a woman, not as a slave, but as a companion; not as the chattel of his lust, but as the solace of his life. Therefore Aristotle rightly criticizes the barbarians and boors who use their wives as slaves, because a woman is not like that Delphic sword that is designed for many uses. Of the second association, you may read these words in the tex : that which commands and that which obeys are conjoined by nature, for safety’s sake. The master and the slave therefore exist according to nature: the master who excels by keenness of mind, the servant who is distinguished by strength or size of body. From these two associations arises a third, namely the household and the family, in which the relationship of father and son is most visible, not because these associations consist of it alone, but because within it, as it were, an image of the relationship of husband wife perpetually coexists. Since in any thing you care to name nature therefore aims both at perpetuity and a similarity to itself, it has been agreed that the faculty has been created in Man by nature that he might choose a wife, procreate sons, enlarge, feed and preserve his family. The family is therefore a composite association, born and established by nature, not just for a moment, but for all the days of one’s life, in which those who are conjoined are said by Epimenides to be sharers and partners of the same hearth and food. The fourth association, compounded out of all the aforementioned ones, is defined as the village. This is that which, once born out of many families, has grown to a large size and given birth to colonies and clans, in which sons and grandsons might dwell together for their mutual support. Finally, just as the village as grown out of many families, thus the commonwealth (the ultimate association dealt with here) has grown out of many villages and colonies. Therefore Aristotle concludes at the end of this chapter, which is written about a comparison of the parts, that it is probable that kings existed from the beginning in accordance with nature. For the slave has obeyed his master, if the wife her husband, if the son his father, if the village has obeyed nature, it is also probable that the commonwealth has never existed without a king. He demonstrates this from an indication, since men of the earliest ages imagined the gods themselves to live under Jove’s rule, which surely they would not have said if commonwealths and nations had not had their own gods. This, industrious reader, is the gist of the first chapter, offered by Aristotle and myself in lieu of a preface. I have not digested the text itself, yet, according to my powers, I have revealed its sense. I have not added it, lest this book grow too long, but I have disclosed it rather fully, so that illumination will not be wanting. What I have done here, relying on divine help, I trust I shall do in the remainder of my Books. May God bring it about that I do not fail, may Christ grant that I give satisfaction!
SHORT DISTINCTIONS OF QUESTIONS
Distinction of the first question, is the commonwealth the object of political science?
In the commonwealth, these features are examined:
Its constitution, which derives from
nature because of an appetite for association. In these three ways it has been
accepted as the object of political science; the reasons for this are
since: Its name is most widely mooted in this
Its constitution, which derives from
nature because of an appetite for association.
In these three ways it has been accepted as the object of political science; the reasons for this are since:
Its name is most widely mooted in this
OBJECTION TO QUESTION 1 The material and the work are different things, as is clear about steel and a sword: a commonwealth is a product of civil science: therefore it is not its matter. The minor premise is proven because the orderly union of citizens is the product of political science, and a commonwealth is nothing other than an orderly union of citizens: therefore a commonwealth is a product of political science.
RESPONSE Although Versor opines that the commonwealth is a material in regard to its constitution, and not acquired formally, insofar as union is the object of political science, I nevertheless follow Albertus, who replies that in diverse respects it is a work and a material: a work as it is perfected, a material as it is handled. For this orderly union is achieved thanks to a politician, and thus it is a work; and when it has been achieved, it becomes a topic of discussion, and thus is called a material or an object.
OBJECTION In political science, the commonwealth is not discussed in conjunction with all things: therefore it is not its matter. The antecedent is clear because it is not mentioned when discussing the citizen, the laws, and the magistrate, which are handled in this science. The argument is proven because every subject of attribution is spoken of in connection with all things in that science of which it is the subject. The major premise belongs to Aristotle, in the Analytica, and he proves them by induction from examples, since number is spoken of in connection all things in arithmetic, magnitude with all things in geometry, harmony with all things in music, the being of reason with all things in dialectic. Therefore, the commonwealth would be mentioned in connection with all things in political science, were it the subject of this science.
RESPONSE It is not necessary for the subject of attribution to be predicated absolutely and in the abstract in connection with all things embraced by a given science. For in arithmetic the number of unity, in geometry the magnitude of the point, in music the harmony of all things, in dialectic the being of reason regarding substance are not mentioned. So it is enough if all things treated in a given science are referred to it either by their own virtue or by comparison. Thus unity is referred to number, thus the point is referred to magnitude, thus all things in this science are referred to the commonwealth.
OBJECTION Every subject of a science has some properties demonstrable by that science: the commonwealth has no such properties in itself: therefore it is not a subject. The minor premise is confirmed because to sit on the bench, to consult about laws, to choose magistrates and so forth, which are called properties, pertain to citizens rather than to the commonwealth.
RESPONSE Citizens do these things effectively but the commonwealth does them, as they say, formally and perfectively. For the right to vote resides in the citizen, but sovereign power resides in the commonwealth, for not usage but the union of the citizens provides these things.
OBJECTION Every object of a science should be necessary and eternal: the commonwealth is not: therefore it is not the object of this science. The major premise is found in Aristotle’s Ethics, Book VI, chapter iii. The minor is proven because the commonwealth is made up of parts subject to failure and chance. The reasoning is that oftentimes families, villages, nations or empires, either exhausted by old age or erased by Mars’ fury, fall. Furthermore, that which now is a monarchy may now be transformed into an aristocracy or a democracy, which argues the mutability and transitory nature of the commonwealth.
RESPONSE In political science two things are considered, the demonstration of axioms and the action of citizens. As far as the demonstration of axioms goes, the commonwealth is something necessary, eternal and immutable. For although the empires of the Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians and Romans may fall, nevertheless the universal and formal commonwealth endures under the demonstration of this science. Wherefore, although insofar as the flexible will and action of men goes, the commonwealth may frequently change, nevertheless, as far as form and demonstration go, the commonwealth (which is contained in species rather than number, in precept rather than example) does not change.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Is the commonwealth established for the sake of the most excellent good?
The good to which the commonwealth is referred is called the most excellent, because of:
Community, as it pertains to, and should
be shared by all citizens rather than just one (like ethics), being a
OBJECTION Nothing can be more excellent than the highest: a man’s virtue is the highest: therefore nothing can be more excellent than a man’s good. Which granted, the good of the commonwealth can be no more excellent that that of a man. For a man’s good is happiness, as is proven in Books I and X of the Ethics.
RESPONSE The highest good can be considered in two ways, insofar as it is an essence, and thus a good for single citizen and entire commonwealth alike, or as an existing thing, and thus it is a more excellent good belonging to the commonwealth. The reason is that a ethical good pertains to a single man, a political good to the entire commonwealth.
OBJECTION First Truth is the noblest object and good, as the Philosopher proves in Book X of the Ethics: the end of the commonwealth is not First Truth: therefore the good of the commonwealth is not the noblest. The major premise is proven because the First Truth: is God. The minor premise is evident, because collective happiness rather than eternal truth is the end of the commonwealth.
RESPONSE There we are dealing with the contemplative life, here with the political; there, too, one disputes about a remote end, here about a proximate one; there, finally, the discussion and demonstration concerns the relation of the intellect to the highest good, here it concerns the relation of the will to the highest good.
OBJECTION In the commonwealth there are many deformities and misfortunes: therefore collective happiness is not that most excellent good for the sake of which it is established. The antecedent is clear, because no commonwealth goes without the reefs and storms of fortune. Furthermore, since no commonwealth is so blessed that it is not sometimes compelled to employ a port or the support of another nation, I do not see by what logic this golden river of all good things can flow into the commonwealth’s gates and endure.
RESPONSE The deformities of a commonwealth (such as thieves, murders, and the rest) are not deemed to be parts of the commonwealth. What you object concerning misfortunes counts for nothing. For although they sometimes befall, because by the providence of the head magistrates they do not take away the citizens’ happiness, but rather make them far more prudent. Lastly, what you urge about the mutual helps of other nations hardly moves me, for these things are external, and it suffices if they happen either by chance or per se.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE THIRD QUESTION
Do the slave-owner, the head of household, the politician and the king differ in species and nature?
Under these headings two things are customarily weighed:
dialectic species, and thus they are not distinguished by nature. For
all these men harmonize in terms of their human essence. Their
political functions, and thus they are said to differ by nature, both: Because of
the diverse respects these words signify.
Nature or dialectic species, and thus they are not distinguished by nature. For all these men harmonize in terms of their human essence.
Their political functions, and thus they are said to differ by nature, both:
the diverse respects these words signify.
8. OBJECTION Respect does not change essence: all these names are forms of respect: therefore they do not change the essence. The major premise is proven because respect is only a mode and comparison of a thing, not its essence. The minor premise is agreed, but these names of order and duty are words that indicate respects.
RESPONSE Respect does not change essence in absolutes, but it changes them in respective and comparative things. For things being compared have their essence in their respect. If, for example, you compare Socrates with his father, he has the nature of a son, but if you compare him with his son, he has the nature of a father, which two respects differ in their essential relationship, although in diverse respects they simultaneously exist within the one man Socrates.
OBJECTION In the commonwealth all these things have one and the same end, namely, the common good of the republic: therefore this proof is weak, as they differ by nature insofar as they have separate ends. The antecedent is proven because each and every citizen is referred to the public good, which is the end of the commonwealth.
RESPONSE These men are considered either collectively, like citizens, and thus they have a single remote end, namely, the common good of the entire commonwealth; or they are considered individually in regard to their various functions (such as this man is a father, that one a slave-owner) and thus they are allotted diverse ends.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FOURTH QUESTION
Are associations rightly distinguished?
Every association is either:
being instituted by nature, or because of: The
preservation of the species, and this is the first, between husband and
and everyday; for example, as sitting at the same hearth, sharing the
same table, from whence comes the family. Common and
the same, for the sake of either: Shared
blood, whence come colonies and villages in which blood relative dwelt
together exclusively for their own preservation.
Simple, being instituted by nature, or because of:
preservation of the species, and this is the first, between husband and
Private and everyday; for example, as sitting at the same hearth, sharing the same table, from whence comes the family.
Common and the same, for the sake of either:
blood, whence come colonies and villages in which blood relative dwelt
together exclusively for their own preservation.
9. OBJECTION There is no mention of paternal association in our text: therefore the Philosopher appears to have erred in his enumeration of the parts.
RESPONSE The reasoning does not follow. For under the first association, that of husband wife, he comprehends this very thing. For if one association is established for the procreation of a son and the preservation of the species, it is necessary that this be understood under that heading. The distinction of both is rightly applied, because the wife has one end in childbearing, the son another in the inheritance of property.
OBJECTION The three associations of your first category make up a family; many families make up a village; many villages make up a commonwealth. So these associations appear to differ only in terms of manyness and fewness, which Plato perceived. But if this be true, Aristotle is wrong in thinking that these differ among themselves in species.
RESPONSE Materially, these associations established for the benefit of men differ only in largeness and smallness of number, but formally, considered in regard to their proper ends, as I showed above, they are distinguished in species and nature.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
May we treat women as chattel?
You are harsh, Demeas, if you scorn your wife, you are a barbarian if you hit her. For God created her your helpmeet, nature created her your equal. If she should be weak, imitate Socrates; if she is faithful and chaste, embrace her as an equal, not as a slave, since she was born to give birth, not to obey. Yet she obeys her husband as a free woman, she does not submit like a barbarian. She assumes equal care for the family. Why treat her is a handmaid? She is part of you in your breast. Why treat her as a slave? She is the fruitful hope of the flock. Why call her chattel? Her labor demands a reward, her love demands your trust, the swelling of her belly demands honor.
A woman and a slave differ in:
Constitution of nature; for according law
and nature a woman is free when she marries.
10. OBJECTION A slave is a person who is naturally weak in intellect, as it says in our text: a women is weak in intellect: therefore a woman is a slave by nature. The minor premise is proven out of this very book, where the Philosopher teaches that a woman is infirm and less strong for taking counsel.
RESPONSE A woman is said to be weak intellect, not because she is essentially (as they say) weak, but because, thanks to a weakness in nature, in her the emotions are often in such an upheaval that you rarely perceive counsel and constancy. Furthermore, it is to be observed that every weakness of nature and defect of intellect does not make a slave. For, although the Philosopher acknowledges that some women are servile by nature, as are some men; in no way did he want women joined to men to be handed over to them as slaves. So then they claim and have as their destiny a different manner of life and end than that of slaves.
OBJECTION Out of Aristotle, a woman can be proven to be a monstrosity: therefore it is not harsh to call her a slave. The antecedent is proven, because every imperfection of nature is a monstrosity: every woman is an imperfection of nature: therefore every woman is a monstrosity.
RESPONSE That proof is absurd and very far removed from the opinion of the Philosopher. But if I may make a distinction, an imperfection of nature is twofold, one in its parts, the other in its humors. In the parts, the imperfection is triple: either from a defect of the matter (as in a one-eyed man), from an excess (as in a three-legged man), or out of an ill harmony and disposition of the parts (as in a hunchback), and every imperfection and error of nature acquired in one of these ways is called a monstrosity. But if be in the humors alone, such as are in women, this argues that it is not a monstrosity, but a fair work and effect of nature. If you regard the external parts and lineaments of nature, women are frequently handsomer than men; but if you regard their humors, they are deemed to be far softer and weaker.
OBJECTION In the eighth chapter of this book Aristotle denies that virtues reside in women: therefore a woman appears to be a slave. For he who lacks virtue is a slave.
RESPONSE He does not simply deny that virtues reside in women, but he denies that that they reside in them in the same respect that they do in men. For example, justice is granted a man that he may sometimes sit on the bench, it is given to a woman so she may properly manage her household and family. Bravery is given a man so he may smite the foe, it is given a woman so that she may tolerate a husband, no matter how impatient, and that she may overcome her emotions and passions by the force and rule of reason.
Does the commonwealth exist according to nature?
Is Man a political or civil animal by nature?
Is the solitary life tolerable in the commonwealth?
Is the commonwealth prior to the household?
AN, who is a kind of commonwealth within himself, or rather (as Aristotle says) a microcosm, had this implanted in him by nature, that he seeks association more than do the other animals. Hence an appetite is placed in his mind, so that he thirsts for it. A reason is given, that this might preserve the communion of men. If this is so, in my opinion those men are in error who deny that this is a work of nature, for which a man is born, as it were, and is stimulated with a daily increasing thirst. But so the matter might be clear beyond all dissension and controversy, Aristotle proves that the commonwealth is the perfection of all associations, conceived in nature’s womb, born from her, and, as it were, nursed in her lap and embrace. His first argument is from its matter, because its parts are derived from nature; his second is from its efficient cause, because the appetite for association follows nature’s force and impulse; his third from its end, because nature itself (as the Philosopher says) is the commonwealth’s good or end. To these may be added other arguments: from its form, which is a union of citizens, and then from its effect, which is the order and government of the commonwealth. The first argument has this form: the parts of the commonwealth (namely those simple and compound associations about which we have now disputed) are derived from nature: so, therefore, is the commonwealth. The second is framed in this manner: the appetite for a commonwealth is natural, so, therefore, is the commonwealth. The third thus: the end of every thing is derived from nature (as is clear about the form of a man and a horse), the commonwealth is the end of the rest of associations, therefore it is from nature. Two further arguments are not in the text, yet have force and weight. For if both the seeking out and constitution of the rest of associations is from nature, I see no reason why their union should not be deemed natural. In the manner that in other things there is not only a propensity and disposition of matter to assume form, but even a certain joining together with matter, so in the commonwealth, which is a work of nature, not only the part are created, but even the union of those parts, which is the form of the commonwealth. The final argument, from the effect, is clear: for nature would have intended the parts in vain, intended the connection of the parts in vain, and intended the commonwealth itself in vain, if she were to leave it roughly made and imperfect, like a chaos, without order and providence. In the skies, in the stars, in the elements, in plants, why use more words? In all things given born by her power, she has placed matter, form, order and beauty. What? In this work alone, which is the most perfect of them all, she has failed, as if she were feeble? Assuredly she has not failed, since, if in Man there is not only an impulse of nature that he seek association, but also reason and intellect so that he might keep himself in his duty and his order; then in respect to Man this work of the intellect, namely order, no less than that effect of the will, namely association, is said to be derived from nature. Therefore they argue in a very threadbare and arid manner who make the distinction that only the inchoate and unperfected commonwealth is from nature. For, albeit some splendor is added to the commonwealth by fortune, and more by prudence and virtue, nonetheless in its union and order (which two things emanate from intellect and reason) there is a certain natural perfection and consummation of the commonwealth. So the commonwealth it is from nature in respect to its material, in which is amultitude of its parts; it is in respect to its form, in which there is a union of its parts; it is in respect of it end, in which a certain perfection of nature is discerned, since (as the Philosopher subsequently teaches) nature is the end of the commonwealth.
2. QUESTION 2 A second question about Man, whether he is a civil animal by nature, is disputed in this way, as a shadow follows a body, since, if the commonwealth derives from nature, by force of nature Man is also a civil animal, and all the more so because he is the material and a part of the commonwealth. There are three arguments in the text: a first from the whole to the part, a second from contraries, and a third from the effect. The argument from the whole operates in this way: the commonwealth is derived from nature (as is now proven): therefore Man born for the commonwealth is a civil animal. The argument from contraries: inasmuch as he who shuns the commonwealth either transcends a beast in savagery or a human in piety. The Poet once spoke ill of the former of these, for whom there is no courtroom, nor law, nor hearth and home.
3. QUESTION 3 But here question is raised in passing, whether the solitary life is in any wise tolerable? The Philosopher replies that that it can happen that a man can live outside of association in three ways, because of fortune’s great harshness (like paupers and beggars), out of an intolerable moral depravity (like thieves and swindlers), or out of an ardent zeal and piety of mind, like those who, scorning mortal affairs, devote themselves wholly to divine things. This kind of men is rare, for it is holy and religious. Where nowadays are men like Thales, who study philosophy, their money cast aside and thrown in the water? Where are men like Socrates who, abandoning their Xanthippes, cheerfully drink the hemlock for God alone? In the text our Aristotle dares call these superior men. He adds a reason, because such men abound in their own riches, and live content with their own goods. So he concludes that neither that crude beast nor the god (that is, as many account him, the markedly religious man) are parts of the natural commonwealth: he excludes the one because of his malice, and the other because of his excellence. The first category of such men is not inappropriately called by one writer "the unfortunate," because they are attended by misery; he calls the second "the accursed" because they are attended by infamy; and the third "the very blessed" because they are attended by holiness of life. Men of the first class are tolerable in a republic because they forsake the commonwealth out of necessity rather than choice. But those in the second category, because they are like vultures amidst birds, and like wolves amidst sheep, that is, they are man only enamored of and fattened by slaughter and bloodshed, are to be condemned to the sword, the gallows, the cliff. Finally, those who are in the third category, because they are pleased by God more than by themselves and the commonwealth, seem not only to be tolerated, but even to be imitated by the wise as rare examples of virtue. Thus much is interjected about the solitary life by the Philosopher. Now at length follows that third argument from the peculiar quality of the human, by which Aristotle proves that which he proposes, namely that Man is a civil animal by nature. In this argument two things are proposed, reason and a comparison. The argument from reason is that speech and reasoning are properties peculiar to Man, and that they are in Man not just for expressing an emotion, like voice in beasts, but for the discussion of the just and unjust, the true and the false, and good and the bad: from these the commonwealth grows together, without them it speedily degenerates. The comparison in this argument is between Man and the bee, that is, that Man is more of a social animal than is the bee. O would Man would imitate the bee in its kingdom, in its providence and honey! Bees have their king, the whole swarm obeys its king, the king lives with no sting, with no effort. As it were, he sounds the bugle, his throngs of followers arm themselves; he flies out, all follow in an orderly squadron. Only nature’s instinct is in them, whereas in Man besides instinct there exists the exercise of nature and the splendor of reason.
4. QUESTION 4 The final question treated in this chapter is whether the commonwealth comes before the household according to nature. The Philosopher affirms it is prior. If you ask his reasons, they are these: every whole is prior to its part, the city is a whole, therefore the commonwealth is prior to the household, which is said to be a part of the commonwealth. The major premise is shown by a comparison, for, just as a hand separated from the entire body is no more a hand thanit is a stone (since all parts are defined in terms of the functions they have within the whole), so a household cannot be called a part of the commonwealth, if the commonwealth did not preexist according to nature. No philosopher doubts the syllogism’s assumption, namely that the commonwealth is a whole. Another argument is from nature’s intention, that and end is first intended by nature, the commonwealth is the end of the family, therefore the commonwealth is prior to the family according to nature’s intention. With these questions thus posed and disputed, Aristotle concludes that every man who is neither a beast nor a god is wonderfully gripped by zeal for the commonwealth. But, he says, just as man is absolute in all his numbers, so he is the most excellent of animals: therefore he who lives separated from the law and the commonwealth, with no grounds of piety or necessity, ought to be deemed the worst of all animals. Such a man is armed for every misdeed. But how great a danger attends armed malice?
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Is the commonwealth derived from nature?
The commonwealth is considered in two ways, either:
Materially, in respect to its parts; and
thus Versor and certain other defend that it is derived exclusively
from nature, but this interpretation is very arid.
5. OBJECTION Whatever can be accustomed to be other than it is is not derived from nature, the commonwealth can become accustomed to being other than it is, therefore it is not derived from nature. The major premise is in the Ethics, Book II, chapter i. The minor is proven because (as experience teaches) the condition of the commonwealth changes daily.
RESPONSE The commonwealth does not become accustomed to being otherwise than it is. As for your claim about its changed condition, that now it is a monarchy, now an aristocracy, I reply that with a change in its state the commonwealth that it was is abolished. For the condition of the commonwealth is the commonwealth’s form, and if you remove the form you destroy the thing itself. So if the commonwealth is changed, the commonwealth is indeed abolished, not in its species (which is eternal) but in its number, which (as Plato says) has its time and age.
OBJECTION Albertus, Borreus, Donatus, Victorius, Versor and many others say that the commonwealth is derived from nature only inchoatively and materially, therefore you do ill to defend the proposition that the form of the commonwealth is also natural.
RESPONSE In my opinion nothing is of greater importance than to defer to authority, I observe nothing more religiously than to subscribe to the judgment of the ancients. Nevertheless (with all due reverence for these gentlemen) in this matter I shall say what I think, that this interpretation is barren, if they explain it in this manner. The commonwealth is derived from nature, this is the exclusive material of the commonwealth: as if in a natural work, such as is the commonwealth, nature would not give birth to the form as well as to the material! So, just as not only master and slave, father and son, husband and wife, but their natural connection and condition are derived from nature, so too is the commonwealth, not just in respect to its parts, but also from the natural assemblage and order of its part, from which it genuinely acquires the title of a commonwealth. And this assemblage, this order are the natural forms of the commonwealth.
OBJECTION Things derived exclusively from virtue are not derived from nature, the union and order of citizens derive exclusively from a virtue, which is prudence, therefore the union and order of the commonwealth does not derived from nature. Which being granted, the proposition that it is derived from nature is not rightly defended. The major premise is in Book II of the Ethics, chapter i. The minor is in Book IV of the Politics.
RESPONSE Aristotle’s words in the foot of that chapter, that Man is born endowed with prudence and virtue, inspire me to think that not only the bare faculties of intellect and will, but even their primary acts (such as are reason and speech) are placed in Man by nature. And if they are thus placed, I ask why, if not so that, by naturally speaking and thinking with other men, we may live better, and if from this is not created the order of the commonwealth about which we are now disputing? But mark that reason is one thing, but right reason is another, for the one arises from virtue, the other from nature. The one is called natural prudence, and it produces this natural union and order of the commonwealth. There therefore exists in the commonwealth a twofold order, just as there is a twofold reason in Man: there is an order of connection, derived from nature, and an order of perfection, derived from justice: the one is perfected by natural prudence, the other by civil prudence.
OBJECTION Judgment is the order of the commonwealth, but judgment is not derived from nature, therefore neither is order. The major premise is Aristotle’s, in the end of this chapter. The minor is proven, because judgment is an approval of the law and a perfection of justice, which is not derived from nature.
RESPONSE There exists a kind of natural justice, such as “what you do not want done to yourself, you should not do to another.” And likewise there is a certain judgment, confused and inchoate, derived from nature. Therefore I reply there are two levels of order: one derived from confused reason and judgment, which I assert is placed in the commonwealth by nature, the other born from perfected prudence and accurate judgment, which in this place is called the order of the commonwealth. I say this level of order is perfected in the commonwealth by nature rather than virtue, not otherwise than the mind in Man is perfected by learning.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Is Man a political or civil animal by nature
Man is called a civil animal, either:
6. OBJECTION Some men shun the commonwealth because of their nature, such as melancholics, some because of their depravity, such as criminals, therefore not every man is a civil animal by nature.
RESPONSE This objection is given a twofold response, either that a particular instance taken from an action does not destroy a universal proposition in many things within us which are derived from nature, as for example it is insufficient to say "Heraclitus does not laugh, therefore every man is not born for laughter. This mute does not talk, therefore every man is not born for speech. By his action this melancholic shuns society, therefore Man is not born for the commonwealth." Or, if it please you, a better answer is that melancholics shun the commonwealth, not because of nature, but in despite of nature. For as long as there is a just proportion of this humor in a man, he seeks the commonwealth, but when there is a superfluity or an adustion, a disease exists, and this too is in despite of or contrary to nature. Therefore melancholics shun daylight and the theater not because of nature, but in despite of or contrary to it. About criminals, I say they are unfit for the commonwealth not because of their nature, but because of their vice.
OBJECTION The voluntary thing and the natural thing are opposites, being a civil animal is a voluntary thing, therefore it is not a natural thing. The major premise is proven because will drives us by freedom, nature by necessity. The minor is shown because those who live a solitary life choose solitude rather than the commonwealth.
RESPONSE Will and nature do not contradict each other always and in all things. Therefore I respond that it is in a certain way a voluntary thing, and yet a natural thing to be a civil animal. For even if Thales should choose solitude rather than the commonwealth, yet this aptitude to be a civil animal endures. Heraclitus did not laugh, and yet he could. Elijah, John the Baptist, St. Macedonius, St. Anthony, St. Hilarion, and six hundred others dwelt in deserts, in mountains, in lairs, and yet they could have lived in the light and in the throng of their fellow citizens.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE THIRD QUESTION
Are those who live a solitary life citizens, or tolerable in a republic?
Men lead a solitary life either because:
compelled by fortune’s necessity, and such men are tolerable, if they
do so not because of human vice but because of misfortune, such as
shipwreck in a storm. Of mental
depravity, and this is twofold, either: From a
fault of a humor, such as melancholics, madmen and lunatics. They are
moved by piety, such as are genuinely theoretic and contemplative
philosophers, who having divested and freed themselves from mortal
affairs, study divine affairs much more intently.
They are compelled by fortune’s necessity, and such men are tolerable, if they do so not because of human vice but because of misfortune, such as shipwreck in a storm.
Of mental depravity, and this is twofold, either:
fault of a humor, such as melancholics, madmen and lunatics.
They are moved by piety, such as are genuinely theoretic and contemplative philosophers, who having divested and freed themselves from mortal affairs, study divine affairs much more intently.
7. OBJECTION Beggars are not to be tolerated in a republic, therefore solitary men compelled by want and fortune’s necessity are not to be tolerated. The antecedent is proven, because vagabonds, when they exist, harm the commonwealth more than they help it, because they exhaust its public and common good, violate the laws, and pervert its social orders.
RESPONSE It is one thing to be a beggar, another to be a pauper. I admit that amongst the Jews, the Spartans and the Romans this breed of men was once very rare, and would they were fewer amongst us! This indeed would be hoped, that certain hospitals were constructed everywhere by public funding and the commonwealth’s monies, in which the need of paupers could better be addressed. Concerning beggars I reply that if they are dissolute they should be compelled to work or be punished. But concerning this matter see Book IV, chapter 11.
OBJECTION Those who break the bond and union of citizens, who do not enhance the public and common good, are not to be deemed citizens, nor to be tolerated in the republic, those who live the monastic life for the sake of contemplation both disrupt the union of citizens and fail to enhance the public good of the commonwealth, therefore they are neither to be deemed citizens nor tolerated in the republic. The major premise is obvious, because union is the commonwealth’s form and the public good its end. The minor is agreed, because those leading the monastic life cut themselves off from the union of the commonwealth and do not accommodate themselves to the public good.
RESPONSE The union of citizens is not only external, for a utilitarian and pleasurable good, but also internal, for the honorable good of the commonwealth. Albeit hermits and those leading a solitary life cut themselves off from external union for a utilitarian and pleasurable good, they are nevertheless joined in in an internal good for a honorable good, since they are no less, indeed far more zealous than those who shine in the theater of the commonwealth. Since therefore by their piety, counsel and wisdom they help the republic no less than those who bear arms or conduct the public business, they are both to be deemed citizens and tolerated in the commonwealth, especially in this respect which the Philosopher teaches in his seventh Book, that the good citizen is not to be distinguished from the good man.
OBJECTION Those who live the monastic and solitary life do so against their natural bent and contrary to nature, therefore they are not to be tolerated. The antecedent is proven, because it is natural that each man should have an appetite for association, not solitude. The argument holds, since nothing contrary to nature is tolerable in the commonwealth.
RESPONSE In Man there is a twofold nature, animal and intellectual: the one is suppressed in those who live the solitary life, but the other is rendered far more excellent and divine, and this one is Man’s proper nature. For as anything you choose is its own form, so Man in his essence is nothing other than his mind, as Aristotle bears witness in the final chapter of Book X of the Ethics, where he teaches that he alone leads a human life who lives according to intellect and wisdom, not according appetite and desire.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FOURTH QUESTION
Is the commonwealth prior to the household?
In this question two things are considered:
The order of their creation, and thus the
parts of the commonwealth are prior to the commonwealth.
8. OBJECTION The household was intended by nature prior to the commonwealth. Therefore the premise that according to natures intention the commonwealth is prior to to the household is ill defended. The antecedent is proven, because nature intended to do this first, because it is needful that the first thing happen first: it is necessary that the household can exist before the commonwealth, therefore nature intended the household first, not the commonwealth.
RESPONSE This reasoning is fallacious, from the secondary cause to the simple one. For I admit that nature intends the household to be first, yet in a sequence leading to the commonwealth, since nature intends the household to be first and to be the perfection of the household. Inasmuch as the commonwealth cannot exist without the household, she made the household first as a part, but she did not intend it as the end of the work.
OBJECTION It is silly to teach that the household occurs first, and yet to deny that it is first, if therefore nature intends the household to occur first, she intends it to be first, and in consequence the household is prior to the commonwealth. The antecedent is proven, because a thing does not occur unless it can be said to exist.
RESPONSE It is one thing to occur, and another to exist. For although existence follows upon occurrence, nevertheless occurrence signifies a mode of generation, but being a mode of perfection, and this is what I am contending, that the commonwealth is first in its existence and in its mode of perfection, the household is first in its occurrence and in its mode of generation.
Does the family consist exclusively of the triple association of the master-slave relationship, the nuptial relationship, and the paternal relationship?
Is the property acquired by us or bequeathed us by our forebears part of the family?
Is the slave properly defined, and is he such by nature?
Are women permitted to govern?
LBEIT Aristotle is very Delphic and obscure, yet the the order he uses in his writing renders him considerably easier. For as the light scatters night’s darkenss, so his order scatters the clouds of his obscurity. At the outset he proposed he would first treat of the most simple parts of the commonwealth, and now he strives to follow the same order, since he describes the three parts of the household in this order so that, when the nature of the household has been exampled, he may more acutely examine the nature of the commonwealth. The perfected household, he says, consists of slaves and free men. Rightly he says that the household is perfected, for sometimes a pauper’s household consists only of a cow and its master. By the associations of the master-slave relationship, the nuptial relationship, and the paternal relationship he understands the connection of men, from which the assembled household is rightly defined her. "But," you say, "the household is not the simplest part of the commonwealth": a good observation. So in this place the subject is not the household, considered absolutely, but its parts, considered comparativeliy. And first, as Aristotle himself says, this is true of master and slave, whose connection natura appears to have created first: for in Man intellect plays the role of master, and appetite plays that of slave and chattel. But, that I may proceed in order, it seems to me that in this portion of the chapter the Philosopher is raising four questions. First, does the family consist of the association of master and slave, the paternal relationship, and the nuptial relationship? Second, is property part of the family? Third, is a slave such by nature? Finally, whether women can govern? Is shall not touch at all upon the things Aristotle inserts here touching the opinion of those who vainly imagine that that the master’s government is the same as royal and political government, since I think that this has been adequately in the first topic I have disputed. He who requires more may read the first distinction and the arguments of that chapter.
2. Now I come to the second question, which is whether property is part of the family. It would appear not to be, since the household does not consist of parts other than of slaves and free men. “As if acquired or inherited party does not play the role of slaves.” Certainly not. “Tell me the reason.” Because slaves and free men are human, but the things we possess are inanimate, such as a field, furniture, and money. “What, these alone?” Yes. “You are certainly very wrong. For the slave you call a human is also called an article of property. How do you prove this?” As Aristotle does in the text. “But by what argument?” By this one, that he is in the power and possession of his master. But there is this distinction of possessions. Some are inanimate, such as a key, a comb, and a spinning-wheel, some are animate, such as a cow, a dog, and a slave of one who commands him. “So property is part of the family, for a slave is property. Reason teaches this must be true, because without these instruments the household can neither exist nor exist well.” Just as for the captain of a ship the rudder is an inanimate instrument, but the steersman an animate one, thus furniture is given by nature to a paterfamilias as an inanimate instrument, but a slave as an animate one. And, just as a ship is not safe without those ones, so a household is not secure if these things be lacking for its governance. I shall add that, just as an inanimate thing is ready at hand for a craftsman, so a slave is ready at hand for the will of his master and owner. So Aristotle rightly concludes that a slave is is an article of property and an instrument: an article of property because he is held under his master’s command, an instrrument, becuse his master uses him no differently than an instrument. But he is an animate instrument, as I said, because other inanimate instruments cannot move themselves like Daedalus’ statues, nor protect themselves like Vulcan’s tripods, of which the poet says “they entered the divine combat of their own will.”
3. Thus, since neither spinning wheels spin on the own initiative, nor do quills strike a lyre, nor do any other inanimate instruments perform their actions by themselves, it was needful that nature give birth to some other instrument which, being endowed with a mind, could more expeditiously and correctly perform its master’s chores. The Philosopher proves this by two arguments taken from a threefold distinction made about the instrumenet. The first is this: active and (as they say) factive instruments differ: a slave is an active instrument: therefore he differs from the others, which are factive. Active instruments are those by the operation of which nothing other than use, such as an article of clothing or a slave. Factive ones are those by which something else besides use is acquired, such as a comb and a sword. His second argument goes like this: action and effect differ in kind and nature, therefore so do the instruments they require. The final reason is, that life is an action (for it is the first action of the living soul), a slave is a living instrument, therefore a servant is an active instrument. Which being granted, it follows that he is to be separated from those which are deemed passive instruments. From all of these arguments is elicited the definition of a slave, that he is animate, active, separate, a man existing as property of another, using another man’s reason rather than his own, for whom it is natural and useful to be a slave. If you wish this defintion to be explained more clearly, he is called an animate instrument, thus he differs from an inanimate one; he is called an active one, thus he differs from an effective one; he is called a separate one, thus he differs from a conjoined one; he is called a man existing as property of another, thus he differs from a free man; he is said to be employing another man’s reason rather than his own, thus he differs from a freedman; it is said that it is natural and useful for him to be a slave, thus he differs from a captive. They say that the slave, here defined by Aristotle, was once represented graphically by Apelles thus, that he had the ears of a donkey, the nostrils of a pig, hands filled with every manner of instrument, broad shoulders, an emaciated belly, the feet of a deer, lips shut and locked with two bolts. By the donkey’s ears are understood his slowness in heeding counsel, by his swinish nostrils his speed in sniffing out the useful for his master, by his hands full of instruments his willingness to undertake any task, by his broad shoulders his strength for bearing all burdens, by his emaciated belly the frugality of his life, by his deer’s feet the agility of his boyd, by his lips locked with two bolts the faithfulness of his mind. Here you have the slave described and depicted.
4. Now another question follows, if his man is a slave by nature. Aristotle affirms that he is, and proves this by nature’s providence, by the manifold distinction of things, by a comparison of the mind and the body, from the example of male and female, and from the strength and vastness of the multitude: from the providence of nature, which does not fail us in necessary things; from the manifold distinction of things; because he argues that a certain mastery and slavery exists in all things; from the comparion of the mind and the body, because he shows that the one governs like a master, the other obeys like a slave; from the example of male and female, because in all species of living things she learns to serve him; from the strength and vastness of the multitude, which nature has destined exclusively for slavery. At least according to my judgment, wonderful is nature’s providence in the creation of slaves. For otherwise what is the household? The commonwealth? The empire? What order can there be? Would care and government of things can there be? Why else would nature create some men clever and intelligent, and others dull and leaden? Why among the elements, the plants, the beasts, wouild she prescribe the order of dignity and servitude, but deny this rule to men, whom she has created as masters of all these? Fair it is to look upon the theater of all things, and in it to observe this one thing, how all inferior things are subject to their superiors, like chattel to masters: thus earth is subject to water, water to air, air to fire, all the elements and things made by their mixture to the influence, motion, and light of heaven, not other wise than slaves have reason, clothing, and food from their mastgers. So do you deny a slave is created by nature. So, my squeamish little friend, you drain the bilge from a ship, you make the earth more fertile with hoes and ploughs: these things must be done if you are to alive, and if you should deny that slaves are created by nature they must be done by yhourself. You light-headed and thoughtless man, in yourself do not you see that, according to nature’s agency, body is subject to mind, appetite to intelligence, emotion to will? You yourself are a commonwealth, so why affirm that that which you confess is in yourself is not in the commonwealth by nature’s agency? Look at the male, look at the female, has not nature made him (as it were) a power, and her a powerlessness?
5. But now the final question opportunely comes up for discussion. Listen to the Philosopher: The male, compared with the female, is superior, and she is inferior; he indeed should rule, and she should obey his command. But beware lest you drink a poison from these words. For there are many women who are superior to men, who more fitly govern than obey. The Philosopher says that, not every man, but a man is superior to a woman. He does not say every woman, but that woman is subordinate to a man. As the use of language or the mastery of slaves befalls mankind in accordance with nature, but nevertheless this does not suit all men comprehended by the term "mankind" (many are mutes, many are slaves), so it befalls men to be superior to woman in accordance with nature, but this does not suit all men comprehended by this word. For many are fools, many are born for slavery. Therefore they err and entirely fantasize who deny woman counsel and government out of this place in Aristotle, they who drive women under the yoke of servitude and banish them all from every citadel of virtue and reward. For among woman are Queens of Sheba, who surpass men by their distinguished wisdom; Cornielias, by their manifold understanding of things; Artemisias, by their rare fortitude; and Susannas, by their wondrous chastity. You may add, if you please that Tomeris overcame Cyrus, Esther overcame Hamon, unarmed Judith overcame Holofernes. What? Among women, some are freee by nature, some are free-born, some are ornamented by learning, counsel, piety, and every manner of virtue, and yet they are accounted slaves and chattel? The Philosopher never thought this. “But indeed he did.” Tell me where. “In the last chapter of this Book, at whose beginning he has these words: By nature, the male is fitter for holding first place than the female.” Are you not ashamed to thrust forward this passage, shortened and mutilated? Why do you conceal the words that follow? For the Philosopher speaks this: By nature, the male is fitter for holding first place than the female, unless he of such a constitution that he deviates from thature. This very unless shows that you are not an impartial judge in this case. Furthermore, you are not paying diligent heed either to the matter which is being addressed or to the force of what is being pronounced: not to the matter, because the dispute is about the male and the female, not about every particular man and woman; not about the force of the pronouncement, because this passage is understood to refer to a woman subject to her husband in the communion of marriage. “But what do you answer to the following passage in the same chapter, that this Woman has a certain faculty in taking counsel, but a helpless and weak one?” In that passage there is a similar judgment about a woman’s virtue, namely that in her there is a certain virtue, but a weak and imperfect one. All these things are understood to be said about a married woman, not a free one, about a woman joined to a husband, not at liberty and immune. So I shall make the conclusion that nature often makes a woman intelligent, industry makes her literate, education makes her pious, experience makes her wise. Nature gives birth to her as heir to a kingdon, why should she not reign? Pious laws, the customs of nations, the institutions of our forefathers, the examples of Holy Scripture prove these things. So you are even more furiously insane, good sir, who, inspired by loathing of a single woman, teach about The Monstrous Regimen of Women. If you would be a philosopher, learn this one thing, that in women an imperfection of the humor is not a defect of virtue in them. Perhaps women are softer than men in respect to their bodies, but they are not second to men in respect to virtue. If nature has granted them the scepter, why deny them the kingdom? If they greatly surpass you in the splendor of their virtue, why not pay them your due and your duty? Now the heir of England is one woman, deny it if you dare: for many a year she has happily reigned, so you should subscribe to the government of women.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Does the family consist of the master-slave relationship, the nuptial relationship, and the paternal relationship?
In the household, these things must be considered:
6. OBJECTION This threefold coupling or connection of associations does not exist: therefore the household is incorrectly defined in this way. The antecedent is obvious, since in the household children or slaves are sometimes absent, as experience teaches.
RESPONSE The household is distinguished in perfection, as it is defined here by Aristotle, and in imperfection, in which one of these connections is sometimes lacking.
OBJECTION Acquisition, possession, and management of property are called parts of the family in the text: therefore there are more than three, which are indicated here by the Philosopher.
RESPONSE In the text the scheme of acquiring, possessing and management of property are called necessary things in the text, since they are comprehended under the form of the household (which is the natural union of these associations). Philosophers therefore make the distinction that some things are material, such as father, son, master, slave, husband, and wife. Others are formal, such as the science of acquiring money justly, and the scheme of prudently managing necessary things, without which (as the Philosopher says in the text) the family cannot exist or exist well.
OBJECTION The parts of the house hold are derived from nature, but instruments and furniture are not derived from nature, therefore they are not parts of the household. The major premise exists in this chapter, because the entire household is derived from nature. The minor is proven, because instruments and furniture are frequently goods given us by fortune, which depend on art more than nature: for example, science itself and not nature have created the farmer’s hoe and plow, the sovereign’s scepter and crown, and a thousand other things.
RESPONSE. Certain men reply that all instruments and furniture within the household are derived from nature in respect to their material, but not in respect to their form: for example, nature has given us wool but not the garment, wood but not the bed, leather but not the shoe, iron but not the sword, and so forth. But this response pleases me but little, because these things, considered only in their material are parts of the family more than of any other thing which consists of them. Therefore I respond that all the essential parts of the households are derived from nature, such as these associations and their connections, but these are fortuitous and accidental parts (as they say) which pertain to its existence rather than its essence.
OBJECTION Those things are from its essence, without which nothing can exist nor exist well, a household cannot exist nor exist well without instruments and furniture, and in consequence there are not merely fortuitous or adventitious parts. The minor premise is in Aristotle’s text.
RESPONSE Many accidental things are necessary, both those which follow upon matter (such as dimensions in respect to body) and those which follow upon form (such as brightness and the ray in respect to the sun). Thus instruments and furniture are very much necessary in respect to the household, which are called parts to the extent that they have a usefulness within it. To this passage I respond that "to exist" and "to exist" well are there used for the existential "to be" (as they say) and for its perfected use. For, just as somebody is not commonly said to be happy who lacks fortune’s aids, although the essence of happiness resides only in virtue, thus in popular speech a household is not deemed to exist which lack these aids of fortune, albeit the essence of the household is properly visible and resides in this threefold association.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Is the possession of things acquired and inherited by us a part of the family?
Possession is understood in two ways, either:
Materially, in respect of the things
possessed, and thus they are fortuitous and accidental parts, as I have
7. OBJECTION No substances are accidental parts: possessions are substances, as is clear about wool, oil, grain, &c., therefore they are not accidental parts. For an accidental substance neither exists, nor is said to exist.
RESPONSE As a man, though he be substantial, is said in a predication is said to be accidental in respect to being a master or a slave, thus possessions, such as a garment, shoe, or field, although they are substances, can be called accidental in respect to the family, whose essence is situated in a relationship rather than a substance.
OBJECTION Union and the administration of necessary things is the form of the household: possession is not a union or an order of administrating necessary things, therefore it is not the form of the household, and in consequence it is ill called a formal part.
RESPONSE A part of the family is called either primary (which is the form of the thing itself, such as reason in respect to Man, order in respect to the household) or less than primary, which is an affect consequent upon the form itself, and thus possessions called a form or a formal part. Hence in Book I, chapter ii of the Economics the Philosopher says Indeed, the parts of the household are man and property. Man has the principle of material, possession that of form.
OBJECTION The possession of property acquired by us or left us by our parents can be changed while the household endures: therefore it does not seem to be a part of the household. The antecedent is proven, because such property can be sold or changed. The argument follows, because the whole does not endure if you take away a part.
RESPONSE A household does not endure if all its property disappears. The things subject to possession, to be sure, can rightly be changed in trade, but if all possessions are taken away, the household, shaken by the same movement, collapses.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE THIRD QUESTION
Is a slave such according to nature?
Man is considered as existed either:
Adam’s Fall, and thus he did not experience this penalty. After the
Fall, and thus according to nature he must be a slave among mortals,
which is proved: By the
providence of nature, which does not fail us in necessary things, which
indeed would happen if she did not compensate for her Fall and misery
by the effort of slaves
Before Adam’s Fall, and thus he did not experience this penalty.
After the Fall, and thus according to nature he must be a slave among mortals, which is proved:
providence of nature, which does not fail us in necessary things, which
indeed would happen if she did not compensate for her Fall and misery
by the effort of slaves
8. OBJECTION Every impotence or defect is contrary to nature, slavery is a certain impotence or defect, therefore servitude is contrary to nature. The major premise is Aristotle’s in Book II of the Ethics. The minor is proven, because to be weak of mind our virtue is a certain defection, and the slave is weak in mind and virtue, so the slave is a kind of defection.
RESPONSE Albeit the slave is a kind of defect in respect to his master, yet he is not in respect to nature, which of necessity made and intended him to be a slave. I admit that this (to be weak in mind) is indeed a defect, but this is true if he should be compared with his master, not if he is considered as a slave in his own nature. For it is useful for the slave to be weak of mind, because for him perfection is to be a slave. Therefore the Philosopher is not speaking absolutely when he ways that impotence and defect is contrary to nature: this proposition is only understood in those whose nature-intended perfection (contrary to what one would hope) is attended by an imperfection of nature, as if nature intends a man but produces a monstrosity. Furthermore, there are certain impotencies which are also said to be natural, such as being a woman, old age, infancy, which, if you said to be contrary to nature, you would be mistaken, since they are produced by nature itself.
OBJECTION Nature has granted each and every man the same essence, the same powers of mind, the same freedom of will, so she should seem unjust if she has brought some men to be forced to the yoke of slavery, and others to a throne of dignity and honor. The antecedent is undeniable. The argument is proven, since it is unjust to concede freedom in the mind’s essence (which, according to the Philosopher, nature has given to all men), and to oppress and coerce this freedom, once given, with the chains of harsh servitude.
RESPONSE Nature has granted each and every man the same essence, the same powers of mind, the same freedom of will, but she has thus granted them that they are not treated in the same way in each and every man. Nor is this thing unjust under the government of nature, because, foreseeing it would be unhelpful and pernicious for herself if all men should rule, with her great prudence she distributed her gifts in various ways. Wherefore, as in compounding all mixtures nature observes proportion, meting it out not by the pound (as they say) but with reference to justice, so that in every mixture a single element predominates and another is subservient, so in constituting the commonwealth (which is, as it were, a mixed work of nature) she observes this equity, so that one man may command and another obey. And, just as justice exists in those things, so that nothing can be said to occur contrary to nature, thus in these there exists order, so that nothing unjust appears to be intended by efficient nature.
OBJECTION If the slave, who is weak in mind and virtue is to be deemed in accordance with nature, two great inconveniences often follow within the commonwealth, but this should not occur, therefore the slave is not to be thus defined. The major premise is proven, because honorable kings are frequently weak in mind and virtue, and venerable old men are doting, who ought to be deemed slaves by nature. Nothing sillier, nothing more monstrous than these inconveniences can be imagined.
RESPONSE I concede that kings and old men are sometimes not sagacious of wit, not distinguished for virtue, yet I do not conceive that the one nor the other are slaves by nature. For in the king I understand not one man, but the entire commonwealth. Wherefore, even if there is a certain defect of reason or virtue in a man who happens to be a king, yet in the king (who is the person of the commonwealth) neither reason nor virtue is deficient. I say that in the case of a king one must consider the course and plan of his past life. If once he was brilliant in wit and virtue, the blemish of old age does not make him chattel. But if he once lived disgracefully, nature has made him not just a slave, but has completely made him a model and prodigy of slaves.
9. OBJECTION Every punishment is contrary to nature, slavery is a punishment, therefore it is contrary to nature. Which being granted, the slave is not in accordance with nature. The major premise is self-evident, because a punishment is an injury inflicted upon nature. The minor is proven, since this evil occurs because of a lapse of human nature.
RESPONSE I believe that our parents were not defective in mind or virtue before the Fall. I know both were perfect and like intelligences of light, yet I do not know whether I should say that some slavery existed in that pristine condition, sine God gave Man power and rule over all His creatures, indeed over the very woman He fashioned from his rib. But, leaving these matters to the theologians, this alone I now say, that the philosophers once treated of nature, that they discovered her only after the Fall, and thought that in her slavery is not a punishment, but rather a help, not a ruination, but rather a salvation, not an evil, but a rather a good for the necessary usages of human life.
OBJECTION Nothing violent is natural, servitude is violent, therefore it is not natural. The major premise is self-evident according to the physicists, since the violent and the natural are opposites. The minor is proven, since in servitude is a certain compulsion. For according to nature is it permissible for masters to compel their slaves to the most abject tasks, and to sell them in the market place, not otherwise than cattle?
RESPONSE Seneca said rightly that the slave is given us for use, not abuse: he is cruel who wounds a slave, he is monstrous and atrocious who kills one. The master should use his slave as an instrument for life’s necessities. Aristotle said that it is done wisely when a master thus handles his slaves that he does not allow them to be proud, nor suffers them to be abject. There are three necessities for a slave, he said, work, food, and chastisement. But work and castigation without food is a violent thing. So I answer that servitude is not violent, but the slave is to be treated as nature enjoins.
OBJECTION Natural law is that which suits all men, slavery is in accordance with natural law, therefore slavery may suit all men. The major premise is taken from the definition of natural law. The minor stands in the text itself.
RESPONSE Whatever is absolutely and formally suitable according to natural law suits all men. But servitude is only suitable comparatively and respectively. But I have satisfied this argument in my explanation of the text.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FOURTH QUESTION
Is a woman permitted to govern?
The reasons by which it is proved that a woman can govern are:
1. Because nature herself sometimes makes
women heirs of kingdoms; if they should be deposed, not only sedition
but also chaos will arise in the commonwealth.
10. OBJECTION In accordance with nature’s order and prescript, everything less perfect should be subordinate to something more perfect: every woman is less perfect than a man, therefore every woman ought to be subordinate. The major premise is agreed. The minor is proven, because every woman is a kind of natural impotence and an imperfection of nature, whereas a man is said to be a natural power and nature’s perfection.
RESPONSE In a woman this is twofold, viz., in respect to mind and body. I admit every woman is a kind of natural impotence and imperfection of nature, if you consider either the softness of her body or the weak temperament of her humor. But in this passage natural government is defined not only in terms of physical strength, but also of mental endowments and ornaments, in which (as I have taught above) a woman sometimes surpasses men themselves.
OBJECTION Mental traits follow upon the body’s temperament, therefore if a woman is less perfect in body, it is likely that she will also be less perfect in mind. The antecedent is proven, since as long as the mind is in the body it employs the body’s organs and instruments to produce its actions.
RESPONSE Mental traits often do not follow upon the body’s temperament, indeed the mind is sometimes rendered more vigorous in an infirm, moribund body. The reason, that then the bonds of its servitude are broken and it is flying to its immortality and freedom. Indeed it is to be conceded minds are weaker in many women, just as they are in many men. But I deny this occurs in all of them. For there are many who have peaceful, tranquil minds, the storms of their turmoils pacified and settled.
OBJECTION In nature it is quite indecorous for women to establish laws, command men, wage war, and instruct good, high-spirited, wise men, therefore it is most indecorous that women hold a right of government over men. The antecedent is proven out of the Philosopher, where he teaches that silence should confer seemliness on every woman: if he says “every,” he excludes nobody. Furthermore, in every well-designed republic women are debarred from the Senate as chatterboxes, lightheaded and inconstant, it is not permitted them to speak or chatter in councils, government is not allowed them by civil or canon law.
RESPONSE In this argument there are many things which press upon us, but none which compel or convince. In nature it is not indecorous that a woman of excellent virtue, with the consent of her subjects, should establish laws; that, employing consular dignity and vigilance, she should command men; that, endowed with a brave mind she should undertake just wars; that she should take good, high-spirited, wise men into her counsels. Regarding the civil and canon law you allege, I say that by them government is denied to women, not because they cannot govern in accordance with nature, but because in actuality they often fail to display that which they receive from nature itself.
OBJECTION In this chapter Aristotle’s words are because the male should govern, and the female obey. Again, male is superior to female by nature. Again in chapter 8, free man should govern slave, and male female. A man is still more fit to receive sovereignty than a woman, unless a man has deviated from nature. Add to this that silence befits a woman, that she does not possess virtue, save for a very weak and feeble one. There are six hundred other passages which contain the same sense and opinion, therefore it is improbable that Aristotle would think it permissible (let alone laudable) to yield government to women.
RESPONSE All these things in these passages ought to be understood to pertain to women joined to men, as has been answered already, who indeed do obey their husbands, although they govern the family, or are equals when wives, or when alone when they are widows or spinsters.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Does mind preside over body with a master-like government? Does intellect preside over appetite with a civil government?
11. You will better learn what the commonwealth is, if you learn that there is a kind of commonwealth within yourself. The mind holds government over the body, the intellect over the mind’s other powers; the mind gives command, the body is moved according to its will and bidding; reason issues an order, the mind’s other parts obey. But mark you that the body comports itself like a slave to his master, the appetite like a subject to his king. For the body is thus under the mind’s power that it does not rebel. But the appetite is thus under the intellect’s government that it often resists. The mind’s government over the entire body is like that of a master, but that of the intellect is civil with respect to the appetite.
as previously described. Analogically,
and thus in a man there is a certain image and likeness of the
commonwealth, since: The mind
dominates the body.
Genuinely, as previously described.
Analogically, and thus in a man there is a certain image and likeness of the commonwealth, since:
dominates the body.
OBJECTION Every slave is an instrument of his master, but the body is not an instrument of the mind, therefore it is not a slave, and in consequence the mind does not have a master-like government over the body. The major premise is demonstrated in the chapter. The minor comes from Book III of Aristotle’s De Animo, where he teaches that the mind is inorganic, that is, lacking instruments.
RESPONSE There the Philosopher is understood to be speaking of conjunct instruments, not separate ones, such as is a slave. For the mind does not have proper instruments conjoined to itself in essence, but there is an action of the body it is employing the body’s organs according to its own government for producing its acts: thus it employs the eyes for seeing, the tongue for speaking, the ears for hearing.
OBJECTION In Book I of the Ethics appetite is said to be devoid of reason, there the mind’s government over it ought to be master-like rather than civil. The argument is proven, because (as the Philosopher says in the text) civil government is only exercised over free men.
RESPONSE Appetite is considered either:
Absolutely in its essence, and thus it is
devoid of reason and is a contumacious slave: in this fashion the
mind’s government over it is master-like.
Besides the slave according to nature, is there a slave according to law?
Are prisoners of war truly slaves?
Is nobility derived from nature?
Is there any friendship with a slave within the household?
ESIDES slavery given by nature, the law of the commonwealth gives another, of which the Philosopher is going to treat in this passage. These four doubtful points you may see at the beginning of his chapter has begotten much nonsense and shadows of wit, which have been raised by Buridanus and others about the distinction of slaves; yet, though they have been raised, I gladly pass them by, for the reader’s mind, impeded by these fooleries, will not readily keep itself within the limits of our author. So there is one kind of slave created by nature, of whom I have spoken, and another created by law, of whom I am about to speak. The slave by nature is he who is deficient in intelligence, counsel and virtue, and the slave by law is a man who, bested in war, comes into another man’s possession. For example, a quarrel has arisen between kings, war is declared, battle is joined, one part is defeated; the law ordains that he who yielded to fortune must obey him who won. “But I say this law is unjust.” Why so? “Because government is defined by virtue rather than power, by constancy of mind rather than fortune, by a lavish endowment of excellent attributes rather than by the uncertain outcome of war.” This indeed is one opinion in the text, but hear how another replies to it, namely that this victory (won not without the assistance of virtue) should not go without its triumph, in which it should hold captive slaves and captives. “But thus superior men who have proven unfortunate in war will often be subservient to barbarians, wise men to dunces, good men to bad.” I admit it. “What could be sillier than this?” Yes, if this did not occur, what could be more dangerous in the republic? “Show me the reasons.” In the text are assigned three. “What are they?” The first is derived from the reasoning of legislators, the second from the utility of the victors, the third from the condition of those who were defeated: from the reasoning of legislators, who have politically and prudently deemed that the victors are to be remunerated in this manner as a mark of their virtue and fortitude, I say as a mark of their virtue, since, because they could not look into these men and their innermost thoughts and reward virtue exclusively, they were wisely inclined to those men in whom the marks of virtue were visible, since victors are the kind of men in whom the marks and, as it were, the imprinted images of true fortitude and magnanimity are apparent. The second reason is taken from the utility of the victors, because when citizens are enticed by this hope they fight more courageously for the nation, and also inspire others by their example that they might defend their commonwealth by fighting stoutly and bravely. For nothing gives a soldier keener spirit for fighting than to be rewarded, nothing deflates courage more than to be entirely disdained after having put his life at risk, let alone to perish of many wounds received or of hunger, or to be strangled with a rope. Would that men would take better care of their men-at-arms: for the safety and protection resides, not in lofty city walls, but in the expert hands of its armed soldiery. Then men fight more eagerly and bravely, when a soldier is inspired to the fight by hope of reward. A final reason is drawn from the condition of those men bested in battle, since, fortune now inclined against them, it is in their interest to be freed from the jaws of death, and to serve those men who have elected to spare, rather than kill and slaughter them. These things having now been granted, another reason of the law can be adduced, that warlike men readily go flocking to theft, murder, and all manner of evildoing, if they have no expectation of any reward from the spoils of their enemies and captives.
2. Since it is now agreed in accordance with logic that the slave can be defined not only by nature but also by law, in a few words let us see what kind of man he is who is called a slave by edict of law: If he should be a prisoner of war, the question is whether he is truly and justly called a slave. It is simply just that a chattel according to nature be called a slave simply and absolutely. But it is just according to secundum quid and ex parte that the prisoner of war be labeled with the name of slave. The reasons adduced in the text are three: from the cause of the war, from the superiority of the captive, and from the consequence of evil: from the cause of the war, because, even if it be unjust, it is unjust that a conquered man to submit to the yoke and harsh government of evil men; from the excellence of the captive, because if he be a noble man by nature and excellent in virtue, it appears injurious that he should serve as slave to ignoble men; from the consequence of evil, because a miserable thing for good men to be sold by bad, just by unjust, masters by slaves, excellent men and their sons by barbarians and murderers, and yet it is permissible thus to deal with those who, stricken by Mars’ fury, have come into the power of tyrants; and along with the captives are taken their life, their safety, their freedom and honor. There is therefore a law which defines prisoners of war as captives, which indeed is just, but not simply so: it is just because of the reasons I have mentioned in connection with the first question; it is not simply just because of the reasons which I have offered in connection with this second hypothesis. For a similar and equal reason, there is a slave who is such simply, and one who is so in part, and he is made such by law. The Philosopher proves this by means of an argument from the contrary, because this man is said to be noble in accordance with nature (not the man who is a barbarian at home, but he who shines with nobility wherever in the world he may be).
3. The third question arises opportunely, which is whether true nobility derives from nature. There once was a great contention among mortals (and it still exists), for disputes often arise over honor and title of rule, which derives from virtue and ornaments of mind. How many men arise today to high position by the rungs of fortune’s ladder! How many today tumble from the throne into mud and mire! Yet how few there are who rightly understand the nature of true honor! You want me to define it? True honor is a certain reverence earned and granted exclusively as a mark of virtue. There is also, as is proven here, a certain nobility derived from nature. For, just as in a root there is a certain potential and disposition of nature, by whose strength and influence its sap grows into branches, and life and fruit are derived therefrom, thus in nature herself is a certain faculty and propensity, by whose impulse the flavor, as it were, of nobility is transmitted from a father to his sons. Nor does there exist in Man by nature a simple intention or inclination to nobility (as Versor says), but when from this inclination flow a certain desire and ordering, that many men more avidly (and this in accordance with nature) seek, as it were, nobility’s embrace and marriage. Hence this thing, and it is a worthy appearance it imparts. And this said in the the text: He is a worthy scion on either side, who would not deem it wrong to call him a slave? So the perfection of nobility is twofold, one is form, derived from nature, in the disposition of the mind, the other, derived from virtue, lies in the direction of the mind. Nature has granted many men more divine minds, and many men duller spirits; in these is a kind of nobility, in those a kind of dullness. If these things are thus, how does it happen that bad sons are often sired by good fathers, fools by the wise, slaves by the free, ignoble and dissolute by the noble? Either because of the weakness of the fathers, or because of unwholesome employments by which the flower of youth is corrupted. Wherefore, just as I say that not all men are slaves, but slaves are created by nature, so I show here that not all men are noble, but noble men are created by nature. It is to be admitted that Hippocrates, that most excellent and wise man, sired the most foolish of sons, it is to be admitted that Hecuba conceived a flame, gave birth to a conflagration, and nourished the ruination of Troy, yet it does not follow that nature in many men does not aspire to honor’s lofty summit.
4. Now follows the final question, whether there be any friendship between master and slave. I shall dispose of it in a word. At this place the Philosopher makes a distinction between the slave according to nature and the slave according to law: he things that the one can communicate amicably with his master, but the other is entirely severed from him. He proves this by the relation and condition of either kind: from the relation, since the same thing benefits both. For the slave is related to his master as the part is to the whole: but it benefits the part to be ruled by the whole, therefore it benefits the slave to be ruled by his master. He also proves it from the condition, since according to nature there is a certain harmony of minds between master and slave. But these two things do not exist in the slave according to law: not the first, since the same thing does not benefit both; nor the second, since no harmony of mind between them is discerned. The slave according to law and the slave according to nature therefore differ in their nature. Note that this friendship between master in slave is unlike and unequal, yet it is such as in relation to both the good master and the good slave it can be said, in the words of Hesiod, he is indeed best who knows all things by himself (this of the master), and he again is good who is admonished and rightly complies (this of the slave.) Here it is to be noticed that in the foot of this chapter Aristotle resolves the doubtful point which he raised in the first chapter about the diverse kinds of rule, namely whether slave ownership differs in nature from household management, political, and royal government. He shows (as we showed in that context) that these forms of government differ among themselves in cause, subject, material, and end. But I shall not treat something already treated; now I shall only say this, that I have collected these things which were left scattered about in their own places and, as it were, represented in different paintings, so questions may receive their solutions there where they are raised. I have now acted according to the plan and promise I shall do so, lest the reader’s distracted mind grow weary out of a desire to learn the truth.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Is there a slave according to law?
One kind of slave is:
as previously proven. Legal,
and likewise either: Captured
in military service, who is proven to be a slave:
Natural, as previously proven.
Legal, and likewise either:
in military service, who is proven to be a slave:
reason of the legislator, who by the creation of such slaves consults
for the common and public good of the commonwealth.
5. OBJECTION The law (since it is the reasoning of justice) should not contradict nature and equity, but a law which makes slaves of prisoners of war is repugnant to nature and equity, therefore by the law one should not make men slaves (other than those who are slaves according to nature). The major premise is agreed. The minor is proven, since it is contrary to nature and equity that a civilized man should be a slave to a barbarian, a wise man to a fool, a just man to a villain, yet such are often bested in war.
RESPONSE Human providence is finite, and cannot foresee all events and outcomes of things when framing laws about the future. Hence a law about the servitude of prisoners of war depends on external marks and signs. For the legislator, foreseeing that victory is a mark of an internal virtue (namely, of bravery), bids the victors be rewarded with the servitude of his captives. It is therefore not against nature and equity that prisoners of war become slaves, because the law is intent on this good alone. What occasionally falls out otherwise ought to be ascribed to the inconstancy and fickleness of fortune, not to the inequity of the law.
OBJECTION The law (which is the norm of justice) ought to be simply just, but this law about slaves is not a simply just law, therefore it is not a law per se. Which having been conceded, this too follows, that the slave by law should not be a slave. The major premise is that of Aristotle in Book V of the Ethics, where the law is rightly defined as the voice of justice. The minor is in the text, where the Philosopher teaches this law is only just in part, and not absolutely so.
RESPONSE In the text he does not say that this law is just in part, but that it is just in consequence of something else, that superiors captured in war should obey their inferiors. The law is just, although sometimes the law’s result appears harsh. Another law bids that a thief, overcome and condemned according to a sufficient number of eyewitnesses should be deprived of life. Some Aristides is accused, false and lying witnesses are suborned, the fatal sentence is pronounced, he is hoisted onto the gallows, yet he is Aristides the Just. Because of this evil outcome will you call the law unjust and the judge unfair? If you do this, you work an injury.
OBJECTION There are more kinds of slaves than these two, therefore this division of slaves is bad. The antecedent is proven, because hired workmen, soldiers under a captain’s command, and subjects under royal authority are "slaves," for each and every one are compelled to obey and submit to other men who are like masters.
RESPONSE These men are categorized as slaves analogically by the law, since the law bids hirelings obey and be subject to those that hire them, soldiers to their officers, citizens to their kings. Yet there is a distinction, since civil command is exercised over these, but a master’s command over those.
OBJECTION He who orders force and violence to be applied is unjust, the inventor of this law bids force and oppression be applied, therefore he is unjust. The minor premise is proven, since, assuming the cause of the war to be unjust, the victory will be unjust, but with an unjust victory obtaining he will be a tyrant and oppressor who bids the conquered and overcome be subject to a tyranny.
RESPONSE Sepulveda and others reply that this law about captives was passed regarding war justly undertaken, for they think that, if the cause of war is unjust, it is altogether unjust that prisoners be held captive. But Borreus unties this knot otherwise: even if the war be unjust, it is not simply unjust that the captives obey the victors. He adds the argument that the legislator’s intention is that the conqueror’s virtue thus be honored.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Are prisoners of war truly slaves?
Regarding legal slaves we customarily consider two things:
of war, which is either: Just, and
thus he is a slave "according to something," as they say. The nature
of the captive, which is either: Good, and
thus he is a slave in part, according to the law.
The cause of war, which is either:
thus he is a slave "according to something," as they say.
The nature of the captive, which is either:
thus he is a slave in part, according to the law.
6. OBJECTION An unjust cause of war does not simply make a captive a slave, therefore the distinction is badly made. The antecedent is proven, because the unjustness of the cause resides exclusively in the king, the instigator of the war, but not in his subjects, who, when the king fights, are perhaps placed in harm’s way against their wills. It therefore appears impious and unfair that so many may be deemed simply slaves because of the rashness of one unjust man.
RESPONSE The distinction is being considered without due attention, if thus you conclude. For here we are not teaching that each and every man falling in a bad cause are simply slaves, but only those who are authors and supporters of an unjust war, since they are bad and criminal. Are slaves by law, but not simply so, or in the same way. The reason is that, although they defended their king in accordance with their duty, yet they did not at all favor the unjust cause.
OBJECTION Legal justice is the best form of justice, as the Philosopher teaches in Book V of the Ethics, and so in the republic the simply just rather than the just in part should be established as law. Which granted, the legal slave is not a slave at all, nor should be designated with the word "slave."
RESPONSE Legal justice is called the best, because it most serves the common good of the commonwealth. Since a special law cannot be created for special events, when the law fails equity is curtailed. So there is no defect either in law or in justice, but rather in human providence, which ill perceives future events and the acts and thoughts of men.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE THIRD QUESTION
Is nobility derived from nature?
Nobility is either:
and twofold, either: Succession
of blood, and thus nobles are born of nobles. Civil,
and this lies in: The
applause of the multitude, which light, fickle, and bound to perish.
Natural and twofold, either:
of blood, and thus nobles are born of nobles.
Civil, and this lies in:
applause of the multitude, which light, fickle, and bound to perish.
better preserved by virtue than vice.
7. OBJECTION Nature has a greater propensity for vice than for virtue, therefore true nobility, which is the companion of virtue, does not flow from nature. The antecedent is proven, because human nature is corrupt and depraved, from which it flows that human nature is has a greater tendency toward bad than good.
RESPONSE Human nature indeed is infirm and wounded, but not wholly corrupt. Wherefore, just as the infirm man seeks the physician, the wounded man medicine, so nature seeks virtue, by which it may be preserved. This is granted a stone, that it may seek its good, and that according to nature, this is granted to Man so that by nature’s light he may avoid his destruction. So when he sees ruin in vice, salvation in virtue, by his proper force he tends towards that by which he is saved, rather than towards that by which he is corrupted, yet, once having fallen, he does not do so. For without divine grace he falls, not otherwise than an infant without the hand if its nurse.
OBJECTION Nobility flows neither from human matter nor form, therefore it is not derived from nature. The antecedent is proven: not from matter, because nobody is called noble because of the his body’s trunk; not from form, which gives its matter existence, but not noble existence.
RESPONSE Neither from matter nor form per se, but from nature’s intention and her disposition of both flows nobility. For in many men nature herself thus disposes the matter that both in body and in mind they are more prone towards virtue, from which is acquired true nobility. So in nature is not only nobilty’s first beginning, but also a certain disposition of motion and order, by which, with industry assisting, it is quickly gained.
OBJECTION Honor and nobility come for God, therefore the philosophers prate who argue that these come from nature and industry.
RESPONSE God is the source and first cause of every virtue and every honor, yet it is neither impious nor absurd to teach of His means and, as it were, His instruments. You are in error if you dream I am taking anything away from God, when you hear me ascribe much to nature and other causes. For this is to praise God the more, since it renders Him glorious in His works.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FOURTH QUESTION
Is there any friendship between master and slave?
Friendship is understood either:
Strictly, as a consensus of equals in
virtue, and thus it does not exist.
8. OBJECTION A slave can agree with his master in virtue, therefore he can contract a genuine friendship with his master. The antecedent is obvious, since virtue is not denied to slaves.
RESPONSE There is virtue in a slave, but feeble; there is an agreement in virtue, but not a free one. For if the master says something, the slave does not deny it; if the master gives a command, the slave does not resist. For he is his slave, not the man who is master; a slave, that is, is not an "alter ego."
OBJECTION Force disrupts all friendship, violence exists between master and slave, therefore there is no friendship between master and slave. The major premise is in Book VIII of the Ethics. The minor is proven, since the prisoner of war is a slave who is compelled to slavery by force of Mars. Furthermore,the will of a natural slave seems to be compelled rather than free, his reason placed under duress rather than at liberty. The reason is that, since he is a man who belongs to another rather than himself, he employs that other man’s reason rather than his own.
RESPONSE In the first example we are not arguing the same thing, for here we are discussing the natural slave, not the legal one. In regard to what you urge concerning the natural slave, I say that in him neither will nor reason is under duress. For the slave wishes to serve his master, and that according to nature; he wishes to benefit himself, which assuredly would not occur unless he submitted to the other’s command.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Are good men born from good men by nature?
9. It is an old saw, "like father, like son," since a good effect is born of a good cause. So, just as it is a monstrosity of a sheep sires a wolf, a dog sires a lion, thus it is a monstrosity if a good man sires a Nero. Zeno comports himself wisely, is his son a good man? He is a part of his father, is he evil? He is called nature’s vomit. You are degenerate, Paris; what more wicked? You maintain your forefathers’ ways, Augustus; what loftier? You wish, good young man, to investigate the reason? He is degenerate who besmirches the man who generates him, he is a son who imitates his good parents.
The good is twofold:
and thus everything similar begets something like itself, and this by
force of nature, as is in Book I concerning birth and death. Of
character, and thus nature strives to produce good men from good men: By
infusing the powers of virtue.
Of being, and thus everything similar begets something like itself, and this by force of nature, as is in Book I concerning birth and death.
Of character, and thus nature strives to produce good men from good men:
infusing the powers of virtue.
OBJECTION Whatever can be changed naturally is not in agreement with this proposition, but the fact that good children can be born from good parents can be changed, as experience teaches, therefore it is not naturally in agreement. The major premise is from Book II, chapter i of the Ethics.
RESPONSE Whatever is absolutely and simply in agreement cannot be changed. This, however, is in agreement with nature in respect to disposition and order, but not in respect to the end and perfection.
OBJECTION It is simply in agreement with nature that she begets a man to a man and a beast to a beast, therefore it is simply in agreement with nature that she begets a good man to a good man. This is Aristotle’s argument in the text.
RESPONSE This argument from the similar instructs and illustrates, but does not simply and absolutely hold in all instances. Thus with all her zeal and striving has the aim that, just as a she should beget a man for a man, so she should produce for a good man a man good in intention, order, and disposition, not so that she might bring him into this world a man of good morals, but so that this trait might be preserved as much as possible. So the bad man who exists born of good ancestors, he (if you consider nature’s intention) is said to be degenerate, a bastard, and (that I may say nothing worse) a monster of nature. Hence let sons of good men learn that they should be good, not bad, for many men obscure nature’s light, impede her motion, pervert her order, willingly and criminally deflect her from her intended end. But what do they do who act thus, other than join the monsters in departing and separating themselves as much as possible from nature’s beauty, order, and embrace?
Go to the second part of Book I