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Does unity in the common ownership of all things dissolve the commonwealth more than it preserves it?
Should a magistracy be permanent?
HE image of the commonwealth and the administration of the polity is in the household. So, because the Philosopher has disputed copiously about it and its parts, now he begins to speak of the commonwealth and its organization (which is called the republic) But, lest the the dreams and fantasies of certain so-called distinguished philosophers obscure the light of truth, first he removes their false and fallacious opinions about the commonwealth before declaring his own opinion. This is indeed wisely done. For, just as the wholesome plant does not grow amidst the thorns, so truth does not shine when suppressed by the chains of error. Wherefore, just as you must uproot the thorns of you desire the fertility of the soil, so you must entirely uproot these errors if you wish to behold the splendor and beauty of the truth. Therefore at this point the philosopher sounds his bugle, first against Socrates, then against Plato, Phaleas, Hippodamus, and others who have introduced novel forms of administering the commonwealth and have innovated new laws. As Donatus says, this Book is divided into two parts: in the first he demolishes these writings, in the second he enumerates the existing republics which seemed properly governed during his time. There are six chapters belonging to the first part, in four of which he refutes Socrates and Plato on the subject of communal possession of wives and children, in the fifth Phaleas of Chalcedon, and in the sixth Hippodamus of Miletus. At the beginning of the first chapter he discloses his plan, and creates an opening to wound Plato, who was on everybody’s lips both because of the novelty of his opinion and the divinity of his reputation: the plan is to remove errors and refute these most vain teachings about the republic. The avenue of attack he creates works by way of a division, namely, that in a well-designed commonwealth either everything or nothing, or at least some things should be owned in common. He says you err if you say nothing, for a commonwealth is an association of many men who employ the same dwelling-place and the same freedom of law.
2. But you are more wrong, Plato, for to make the commonwealth entirely one, you think that everything in it ought to be owned in common: fortunes, wives, and children. Learned Plato, this opinion of yours is strange and unheard-of, to be attested by no sovereign’s edict, to be subscribed to by no philosopher’s signature. Justice shrinks when you teach that fortunes should be owned in common, nature shrinks when you say that about wives, about children. For we have defined commonwealths as homes for the virtues, not as brothels for whores. This doctrine of yours is pleasant but dangerous, attractive but full of woes; perhaps it is desired by many, but it is pernicious to its addicts. For it opens a window for every license of morals, to every confusion of things, to the sedition of citizens, to the ruin and shipwreck of everything. But before I examine your teaching about the common possession of wives, pray tell me the reason why you want everything in the commonwealth to be owned communally. If, for instance, you teach that in this way the commonwealth should most be one in public spirit, then (pardon me for saying so) you are greatly mistaken, for unity dissolves rather than preserves the commonwealth, and I prove this by four arguments. First with an argument from disparates, in this manner. Whatever dissolves and corrupts the commonwealth is not the best thing for it, unity dissolves and corrupts the commonwealth, therefore it is not the best thing for it. The assumption is proven, since that which reduces it to a single household or a single man corrupts the commonwealth, unity does this most of all, therefore unity corrupts the commonwealth most of all. The major premise is agreed, because the dissolution of a composite into its parts is a corruption of the same. The minor is obvious, because the commonwealth is a multitude, which, if it is reduced more and more to a unity, of necessity will at length arrive at a single household, and finally at a single man, in which the commonwealth is dissolved rather than preserved. The second argument is from the form of the commonwealth, which is located in a multitude of men differing from each other in species, station, fortune and manner of life. The logic is as follows. Whatever destroys or perverts the distinct offices of men in the commonwealth dissolves the commonwealth, unity destroys and perverts the distinct offices of men in the commonwealth most of all, therefore it dissolves the same. The major premise is obvious, since the commonwealth (like a plant, like a man, like a harmony, like nearly everything in nature) is composed of dissimilar parts. The minor is proven, since in the greatest unity there is no distinction of things, but rather their confusion. The third argument is drawn from absurdity, in this way. Whatever destroys the alternation of governing and being governed also destroys the commonwealth, unity destroys the alternation of governing and being governed most of all, therefore unity destroys the city most of all. The proposition is self-evident, because no commonwealth exists if there is no hope of gaining dignity, therefore there is no republic if there is no alternation of government and magistracies. The assumption is proven, since unity denies citizens the mutual and reciprocal means and equality of assuming a magistracy. The fourth argument is taken from the commonwealth’s end, which is the supply and abundance of all good things by which it is rendered fortunate and happy. Plato’s unity renders this barren and brings it to nothing, for what fruitfulness is there in unity, what affluence in sterility? According to the Philosopher, the household is more prosperous than a single man, the village is more blessed than a single household, but the commonwealth is by far the happiest, which possesses the supply and abundance of many households and villages. Therefore we are not to seek that the commonwealth be one; for unity produces want, while association produces an affluence of good things. The gist of all I have said is that greatest unity of which Plato dreamt dissolves the multitude, confounds the order and offices of the republic, removes hope and the alternation of governing and being governed, and obstructs the sources of all the good things in the commonwealth, and so the happiness of the city does not lie in its being made as one to the greatest extent possible.
3. You are perhaps surprised, industrious reader, why in this discussion of these matters I do not describe the question the old interpreters were wont to raise, namely whether wives and children should be held in common. I reply that I shall everywhere follow in Aristotle’s footsteps, who indeed raises this question in his first chapter, but follows up on it and disposes of it in his second. For, first, he proposes the thesis whether the city ought to be one to the greatest extent possible. Then he discusses the hypothesis: is it one to the greatest extent possible when no distinction of wives and children is maintained? Here (to add a little) many men think that Aristotle has twisted a corrupt and bad sense out of Plato’s words. For they say that Plato was disputing about communal use rather than equality of possession, about a union of citizens and a consensus of their minds rather than about a confusion of things. Surely this defense of Plato they introduce is a vain one, for the matter is clear, it cannot be denied: he expressly wanted an equality of owned property, and he is rightly criticized; he ordained a common ownership of wives and chidden, he is justly refuted. What these men adduce about a unity of social order and a consensus, they manufacture out of their own brains, they do not draw it from Plato’s writings. And yet I admit this one thing, Plato did not demand that the commonwealth be one in every detail (as Aristotle understands it in the first argument of this chapter), but rather that it be one in proportion and equality of property, that it be one in its rationale and in the dignity of its citizens, and finally that it be one in concord and in the employment of the virtues. Nevertheless if it were thus one, Plato discovered two very bad means, namely a common ownership of property (which is contrary to nature) and a common ownership of wives (which is contrary to nature): for the thought that the commonwealth would then be one to the greatest extent, if everything were common for all. But in this the philosopher’s clarity failed him, because he wholly failed to foresee the provocations to those monstrosities, that is, the results of these common sharings: these results (as will be abundantly shown later) are neglect of things, license of morals, sloth of the citizenry, downfall of commonwealths, and finally a horrible confusion and disruption of wives, children and everything else in the republic. For hence arise suits, quarrels, clandestine plots, hence come wars, riots, slaughters, and six hundred other evils by which, as if by great earthquakes, the foundations of commonwealths are shattered.
4. But more about these things hereafter. Now at this point the Philosopher passes from the unity of the citizens to the unity of magistrates, and although unity understood in a certain way dissolves the commonwealth, yet there is a unity which preserves it, I mean that which is perceived by the keen-sighted prudence of the just and vigilant magistrate. But, inasmuch as in this passage Aristotle speaks not so much about the unity of magistrates as about their perpetuity and succession, surely the question will opportunely be raised whether a magistracy ought to be perpetual. The Philosopher says that men should govern by turns, and be governed alternately. Is this really so? Pray what is this government by turns? That men should assume annual magistracies, as at Rome the consuls, aediles, praetors and tribunes of the people once did? Should magistrates really be rotated so some men enter upon their duty at fixed intervals, and others demit theirs, that these are inaugurated and those resign? I am aware that when their work was completed and their time of office completed the aesymnetoi among the Greeks and the dictators among the Romans would lay down the fasces of their government, but these things do not convince me that in a republic at peace magistracies cannot be permanent. “Really? Then where is there any hope for our farmers? Where is virtue’s rewards? Where is there a sharing of honor? To what purpose are there positions of dignity in the commonwealth if they are to be assigned to one man in perpetuity, and not distributed alternately to each individual? So government there must be, and government over individual men, but only for a time, only with changes in government.” Is this how you deal? As for that which the poet sings, time carries off everything, and also the mind, is the Philosopher in this passage in agreement, that there is an old age for the mind as well as the body? Do magistrates, who are the mind of the commonwealth, have their rise and fall, their infancy and old age? Is there age in the mind? Does consular wisdom have its limited time? “Indeed it is does.” So do you want magistracies to be exercised in terms? “I want that.” But I don’t know if a scabrous horse would prefer flies long satiated to be shooed way, that they might yield place to fresh, hungry ones, any more than Sicily plundered by Verres would wish something similar. With a certain authority this alternation of yours invites new and sharper-biting fleas to come a-flying to the cadavers of oppressed citizens. Therefore it would be better advised and safer for the republic that Caesar perform a perpetual dictatorship; than for Sulla, Clodius, or other rapacious vultures to succeed him by turns, who, having no trust in time, wound the already-suffering citizens, as it were, with time’s sickle. Wherefore, lest hungry replace well-fed ones at the golden banquet of the commonwealth, less unschooled and untrained men succeed experts, lest butchers and shoemakers replace sages in the senate and in magistracies, the permanent office-holding of magistrates comes better-recommended. But that all these things might be clearer, let us distinguish, if you please, magistracies as royal, senatorial, and common. The royal ought to be perpetual lest sedition arise; the senatorial ought also to be continual, but at the king’s pleasure; but the common should be changed frequently, so that an avenue to honor might lie open for the rest of the citizenry. Royal majesty and consular dignity will be discussed later, at present we are only concerned with the common. I call “common” such things as Lord Mayor in peacetime, and dictator in troublesome time of war. The hope of the citizens, the order of the commonwealth, the custom of our ancestors, and justice itself advise us to define and circumscribe this magistrate in terms of his time and his place: the hopes of the citizens, who are more keenly incited to the pursuit of virtue by the stimuli of honor; the order of the commonwealth, which demands and prescribes that citizens participate in counsel and magistracies in proportion to the merit of their virtue; the custom of our ancestors, who were in the habit of raising and promoting many men from the hoe to the Senate, from the clod to the throne of dignity; justice, which thus holds the scales of the republic that the dignities of the commonwealth should not be perpetual for one man, but that she should distribute and share them out among individuals, which assuredly cannot be done if all magistrates are created in perpetuity.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Does unity in the common ownership of all things dissolve the commonwealth more than it preserves it?
Plato’s unity dissolves the commonwealth more than it preserves it, because of:
Destruction of multitude; for it at
length reduces the multitude of the commonwealth to a single household
and a single man.
5. OBJECTION A thing’s form does not destroy the thing itself, union is the form of the commonwealth, therefore the union of its citizens does not destroy the commonwealth. The proposition is clear, since a thing’s form is its perfection. The assumption is Aristotle’s in Book I, where the commonwealth is defined as a numerous multitude of men united by laws.
Of things, and either: Arithmetical,
that all men should be equal in all things, and this is intolerable in
any state of the republic. Of
persons, and either: By a
community of possession with any distinction of mine and thine, and
this is not the form of the republic, but rather its bane.
Of things, and either:
that all men should be equal in all things, and this is intolerable in
any state of the republic.
Of persons, and either:
community of possession with any distinction of mine and thine, and
this is not the form of the republic, but rather its bane.
6 . OBJECTION Perfect, faithful friendship is most desirable in the commonwealth, the unity of its citizens (as Plato understood) secures their perfect and faithful friendship, therefore Platonic unity is most desirable in the commonwealth. The minor premise is proven, since Platonic unity is that the commonwealth should as much as possible be one, and that all citizens should be one man, not otherwise than a friend is an alter ego.
RESPONSE Loyalty is rare among two, and very rare among many. Indeed I admit that what Plato was aiming at was that he make the commonwealth as one is possible in its consensus about virtue, but he paid insufficient heed to this one consideration, that a unity of virtue is incompatible with a common ownership of property. For common ownership nourishes discord rather than charity, deadly hatred rather than a consensus of minds.
OBJECTION The commonwealth is most happy in its end, the end of the commonwealth is one, therefore the city is most happy when it is one. Which being admitted, it follows that Plato’s opinion is true, that that commonwealth should be called happiest which is made as one as possible in its end.
RESPONSE It is not the unity of its end, but the dignity of its end that makes a commonwealth happy. So the commonwealth is not called happy because it is one, but because it is perfected in its end. For it is one if you regard its constitution, but happy if you consider its perfection.
OBJECTION In the commonwealth nature has made everything as one, therefore reason should not deny her. The antecedent is proven, since nature created no mine and thine; she has indeed given us things, but she has not divided things into mine and thine, from which it fellows that that commonwealth is blessed which is made most one in the common ownership of things, and which does not heed the distinction, “this is mine, that is thine.”
RESPONSE In the commonwealth nature has made everything as one regarding the use of reason, which she has also conceded to Man. Therefore what occurs according to the light and command of reason (which is derived from nature), that I do not think to be contrary to nature. Therefore nature gave us things, and she also have us things that are mine and thine. For though common nature did not divide things, human nature (which is reason) made this distinction, and right reason and nature, born of her, has approved it.
OBJECTION The good of the individual man and of the commonwealth is the same, the good of the individual man is that he should be as one as possible, therefore the good of the commonwealth is that it should be as one as possible. The major premise is Aristotle’s in Book I of the Ethics. The minor is in his book On the History of Animals. The reason is added, that the good of every natural thing is unity of form, which perfects the thing itself.
RESPONSE The good of the individual man and of the commonwealth is the same in the essence of the good, not in its existence. But where it is said that that a man’s good is to be as one as possible in the constitution of his nature, I reply that it does not follow from this that commonwealth should be as one as possible in the rationale of its existence, but rather that the perfection of the individual depends on unity, but the perfection of the commonwealth on distinction and variety.
OBJECTION Plato was seeking for equality in unity (as is obvious in the text), equality protects and preserves commonwealths, as Aristotle taught in the Ethics, therefore unity preserves commonwealths rather than destroying them.
RESPONSE Equality is understood in two ways, either arithmetically, as all citizens are equal in fortune or dignity, and thus the master does not differ from his slave, or geometrically, so that there might be a mutual and reciprocal distribution of property and dignities, just as justice prescribes of each man, and (as the Philosopher teaches) this equality preserves commonwealths. Plato taught the former equality, not the latter.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Should a magistracy be permanent?
Magistracy is distinguished into
Royal, which should be simply perpetual.
7. OBJECTION In the republi, every change is dangerous, therefore magistracies should not be changed. The antecedent is Aristotle’s in the sixth chapter of this second Book.
RESPONSE Change is twofold, of things and of persons; the one is pernicious, because it argues innovation, but the other is salubrious, because it removes sedition.
OPPOSITION It is unjust to deny virtue its reward, therefore it is unjust to take away from a man endowed with virtue a magistracy (which is, as it were, virtue’s reward).
RESPONSE In this alternating succession of magistrates prudence, which is the intelligence of the commonwealth, does not have regard for the private good, but rather for the public. It cannot be that one man always sit at the helm of state while his equals are bailing out the bilgewater, without a great injury to his fellow citizens But just as the poet could say about watchmen in war, so I can say about magistrates in peacetime, let them succeed each other and serve in turns.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Does unity of order preserve the commonwealth?
8. I marvel at that tenet of philosophy, that everything is one. The Philosopher excellently said that the one and the good are mutually interchangeable. Some rightly understand by “being” the multiplicity of things, by “the one” order, and by “the good” perfection. Multiplicity tends towards the one, order towards the one, the perfection of things toward the one: I say towards the one, since all essences of all things are united in the First Cause like infinite lines in a single point. This one is good and a perpetual, immutable being, from which all things derive their existence and their well-being. These three things, multitude, order, and perfection, comprise the commonwealth, for the material of the commonwealth is discerned in multitude, its form in order, and its end in perfection. The commonwealth is therefore a happy unity of many men. But mark you, this unity is one of order rather than confusion, virtue rather than communal ownership, this unity the beginning-point and the end of its multiplicity, the cause and perfection of the commonwealth. Therefore whoever violates this unity in the commonwealth is to be hewn down with the sword, lest he harm others by his example or draw the entire commonwealth into peril. For the citizens, having one place, one market, one voice, and one mind, can be called one multitude and a unity of many. But this will come to pass when in the midst of the commonwealth a Temple of Peace and Unity is erected, so that all, harmonizing as one, may, as it were, be made one out of many. We must therefore strive for unity, strive for order, not that all may possess everything, but each man may possess that which is meted out and given him by the hand of justice. Ah, the shame! In this decrepit time and old age of the universe, where is this Temple of Peace? “Arms, arms” cries the demented world, the Temple of Peace is pulled down, the Temple of Mars is adored. Once upon a time that pious slogan prevailed, the most unjust peace is preferable to the justest war. Now that thing pleases us, faction must be nourished so you may live safe from your enemies. Oh Machiavelli, you monster of men, who out of the eggs laid by Nero, Caligula, Commodus, and Severus, have hatched so many scorpions, so many basilisks, who bite and prick so much that they infect and wound the minds of many men nowadays that, distracted from all unity, order, peace, and religion, they may live without faith, without Christ, without God. Buried in Hell you see, you wretch, you see what accursed results your false polity has, what tragedies it sets in motion, what lamentations it everywhere creates. Would you had either not been born, or not published your polity to the ruin of many commonwealths! Beware, kings, beware, citizens: the commonwealth is no unity, it is no polity, should truth not exist. The jealousy of princes against their subjects destroys unity, the fear of subjects against their princes destroys loyalty and truth. There is an old saw, he who proceeds plainly proceeds sanely. Concord and perfidy, unity and dissension, faith and dissimulation cannot coexist. For concord, unity, order, and faith establish the commonwealth. Perfidy, dissection, sedition and dissimulation destroy it.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Unity of order comes either from:
injunction of nature, that you only do to another what you wish to be
done to you. The
injunction of justice, that you should obey: The
The injunction of nature, that you only do to another what you wish to be done to you.
The injunction of justice, that you should obey:
9. OBJECTION Previously it has been proven that unity destroys the commonwealth more than it preserves it, therefore the proposition that it preserves it is ill defended.
RESPONSE There unity was to be understood as the Platonic kind, dealing with the common ownership of property; here it is a genuinely political unity in the order of persons concerning the objects of the commonwealth. The former tears apart and destroys the commonwealth, the latter defends and preserves it.
OBJECTION Unity of order in the commonwealth is that all citizens become as one, which is impossible, therefore unity of order cannot be hoped for. The major premise is agreed, since unity of order is nothing else than an association of the citizenry in pursuit of peace. The minor is proven, since to make one out of many is the result of true friendship, which only obtains among few men, not among many.
RESPONSE True friendship is understood in two ways, either as the habit of charity among few, or the affect of will among many. In the commonwealth, the latter kind makes one, as it were, out of many by consensus, whereas the former creates a kinship of morals and pursuits among a few. For this latter, consisting in affect of will, joins citizens in due order, and teaches them to obey the laws and customs of their elders. In this is that unity without which I have shown the commonwealth cannot be preserved.
OBJECTION Living according to one’s wishes and to one’s mind is not always living in unity’s order, in the best commonwealth men ought to live according to their wishes and to their mind, therefore not always in unity of order. Which being granted, it follows that unity of order does not always preserve the commonwealth. The major premise is proven, since living according to one’s wishes is not to be bound by laws, not to be enslaved by masters, not to be subject to the customs of one’s forefathers, but to live free as one chooses. The minor premise is Aristotle’s at the beginning of this chapter.
RESPONSE For good men, living according to one’s wishes is to live according to law and order. For law and magistrate do not take away freedom, they only refuse license. So when the commonwealth consists of good men, nothing is in the way of its citizenry living as they please. The reason is that they obey the laws and customs of their ancestors freely, knowingly, and constantly, and they zealously act that they may have the commonwealth in the unity of order, and unity of order in the commonwealth.
Should wives and children be held in common?
Is matrimony to be observed, and a distinct care to be had for their children according to natural law?
HE Strephons of these times would doubtless deem it a golden age, were it permitted them, filled and bloated with wine, to wallow with any Phyllis of their choosing. Sweet indeed is the bait of evils offered by the common ownership of property and wives, beneath which lurks the poisoned hook. The age is corrupt, human life is most infected with this leprosy. For what virgin is untouched? What wife untried? What Vestal lives undefiled? What desire for unity? What chastity of marriage beds? Who respects degrees of consanguinity and kinship ? What is desired is permitted, everybody is dragged along by his pleasure-seeking. Some men do not take wives, but, fallen because of wantonness, are swept along to any woman they please, higglety-pigglety; others marry, but wounded, as it were, by the tedium of union, aim at Plato’s communism. But if faithfulness (instructed by which we believe that God has given and joined one woman to one man) should not persuade us that this is so, let us listen to reason, impelled by which we should confess it, and let us do that which first, true philosophy has taught.
2. The Philosopher, after showing that Plato’s unity does not benefit the commonwealth, but rather that it greatly harms it, now strives to uproot and destroy his communism as the pernicious root of many evils. At the beginning of this chapter he demolishes Plato’s false argument derived from a verbal ambiguity about the greatest unity of the commonwealth, before he comes to the the refutation of the common ownership of wives. For Plato said that, once the city has been reduced to a unity in the common ownership of all things, all contentions, suits, and sparks of sedition would vanish. He adds the argument that then (as he said) all men could say “this is mine,” but nobody could answer “this is not thine.” Aristotle tells how this logic is deceived in this word all, which can be understood divisively and singly, or collectively and universally: if it is mean divisibly so that by all, it is as if each individual were to say “this is mine,” then Plato’s opinion would be a happy one. But it can never be that each man should say “this is mine” about a thing owned in common, when he rather should say “this is ours,” because what is public has respect to the multitude and the community, not to distinction and property. He demonstrates by the example of three unities posited in the first sense and three in the second, about which, regarded collectively, one can say “these are equal,” but about which, regarded divisively, one cannot. So he concludes that would be a boon for the commonwealth if each and every citizen could say “this is mine,” but, as he has now taught, this cannot occur in any way or by any logic. For the community which Plato wanted will not allow the words “mine” and “thine” to be let in through the city gates. Now finally, with this litigious argument refuted, the Philosopher turns his might and his weapons against Plato’s citadel, and batters and demolishes him with the frequent blows, or rather thunderbolts, of reason.
3. But lest this argument about the common ownership of wives seem rather inane, let us at length see what it is that Plato has urged about this matter. In Book V of the Republic he urged that wives be held in common by the Guardians of the commonwealth (i. e., its soldiers and magistrates), that virgins be numbered among the brides at age twenty, and that men be afforded the free embrace of women at about thirty. He wanted pregnant women to be cared for in a public place, nourished at public expense, their sons to be accounted children of the republic and, snatched away from their mothers, to be given a public education. Good God, what manner of polity is this? What constitution for a commonwealth? What confusion of all things? Where does Man’s curious braininess lead him? Where does the curious wisdom of mortals go, when it is deprived of the divine light? In this Socrates went astray, though adjudged wise by Apollo’s oracle; in this Plato was dreaming, though in name divinee. But let us look at the hammers with which the Philosopher bashed this heresy. The first argument he uses goes like this. That law should be deemed pernicious which destroys one’s care of one’s wife and children, Plato’s law does this, therefore Plato’s law is pernicious. You deny the major premise? If you deny it in all sincerity, then you seem to me to be more monstrous and savage than any beast. For nature’s law first imposed and enjoined upon every living thing that it must exercise singular care for its offspring, which assuredly, as experience teaches, it often does not exercise without risk to its life, as is agreed about the pelican, which is said to pierce its breast with its own beak and feed its chicks with its blood. But if commonly-possessed wives and children were to exist, where would there be this tender, singular concern? Where the soft and ardent affection of parents for their children? Where the tears? Where the kisses? Where the embraces? Where the feelings? Who does not see that common things are neglected, and only personal things are cared for? Common ownership begets neglect, private ownership begets diligence and love. So the assumption of this argument is true, namely that Plato’s law destroys all care of children. He also proves this by the example of many slaves who often do their jobs carelessly, and from the uncertain descent of them who are thus born, as is clearly evident in the text. Another argument is this. That law is detestable which destroys degrees of consanguinity and kinship, Plato’s law does this very thing, therefore Plato’s law is detestable. The proposition is sound, for it derives its basis from nature herself. For nature, in order to create greater affection, has given us distinct bonds, bloodlines, and degrees of consanguinity, since consanguinity is a certain natural connection of many men from the same stock; a stock is a natural root of affinity; a bloodline is a natural similitude of individuals linked by the same bond of blood; a degree is the natural distance by which the closeness of kinsmen’s breeding are can be most surely understood. In all these definitions you perceive the word “nature” to be repeated. Consanguinity is taken from nature, stock is taken from nature, bloodline is taken from nature, degree and every distinction of kinship are taken from nature. So how ungrateful and unjust a son of nature Plato is to be accounted, who by his law of common ownership has transformed bloodlines into spirals, dizzied and driven hither and thither by which the citizens would not know whether they could call a man their brother or their father, or the same man a cousin on the father’s or the mother’s side. What is confusion, if not this? “But I believe this confusion should be acceptable, if only this communism may obtain. It does not matter whose child a man is, only that he should exist; nor does it matter whether he is loved as a cousin, a grandson, or a son, as long as everybody is loved as a son, a grandson.”
4. Is this how you elude us, Plato? But you won’t get a way thus. There’s a third weapon by which you are stabbed. What? Will a man love everybody as his kinsmen? How, pray tell, will he recognize his kinsmen among everybody? Just as in you should think him a prudent son who in his marriage to everyone can pick out his own father, those you should think him a wise father whom in this sharing of wives can claim his own son. But among the Garamantes and the inhabitants of upper Libya there is this sharing of wives you want, and a selection of children according to the form I have objected. Hence Andromache says My Hector had this face, he was such in his gait and his carriage, thus he held is brave hands, thus he was lofty in his shoulders, thus he was fiercely daunting of visage. I do not speak of Antiochus’ grandsons and sons, who had an anchor-shaped birthmark on their things, I do not speak of the Thibii, who had a double pupil in one eye and the image of a horse in the other. That mare of Pharsalus who earned the name “the just” for producing foals very like their sires, what does she teach us other than that which the poet sings, Family returns upon its author. Their noble seed rises up in their birth ? Perhaps, if you like, after many a century an Ethiopian Persina will give birth to a white Chariclea. But for this work there was need a more vivid imagination that that which is wont to befall womanly constancy (to say nothing harsher). If children belong to their parents in their soul, as Euripides said, and are not just images or their parents’ second lives, as others have opined. You must argue, Plato: are they common belongings, as they are personal belongings? I argue the contrary, from their appearance they can seen to be personal. So tell me how children are common property? The fourth argument is deduced from results, in this way. That law is dangerous from which arise contentions, injuries, and murders amongst blood relatives and kinsmen, such arise from Plato’s law, therefore Plato’s law is dangerous. Nobody should doubt the major premise, for laws ought to tend the peace and quiet of the commonwealth, not to its sedition and commotion. The minor is proven in the text, since these evils are wont to arise more frequently where children are of unknown parentage than where their parentage is known and distinguish. In such communism and confusion nobody could recognize his own with assurance, therefore contention will follow and envy will blaze forth. The fifth argument is this. That law is the most unjust of all which permits fathers to have congress with daughters, sons with mothers, brothers with sisters, Plato’s law permits these things, there Plato’s law is the most unjust. But will you will say, Plato, that it appears to prohibit this horrid incest and monstrous sin, and your warning is timely. But show the cause why it should do this. “Because from such intercourse arises the most vehement pleasure.” You ought to have said the most shameful. So Plato did not teach that the embrace of kinsmen is to be avoided because it is criminal for father to wallow with daughter, brother with sister, son with mother, but because from such intercourse flow unbridled wantonness and lust. He concedes men the most wanton love (which possesses nothing of honesty), and yet mistrustfully denies them a frigid intercourse. How how unworthy of a philosopher are these fantasies, what vain hallucinations of excessive human enthusiasm for intellectuality! The sixth argument is that a law which destroys all awe and reference of magistrates, Plato’s law achieves this, therefore Plato’s law is to be abolished. The major premise is agreed because the bond of peace is the order and subordination of the masses. The assumption is proven, since, given a common ownership of wives and children, the dregs of the people will grow proud, authority will grow feeble, the entire majesty of the commonwealth will collapse, inasmuch as rustics, mechanics, and all men of low degree will not tolerate the yoke of authority, given this license of morals, and will not pay their due reverence to the magistrates: they will rip to shreds and uproot every love of the commonwealth, which consists in dutiful obedience. Seneca wisely said it: the masses have a propensity towards sedition, if the reins of pleasure-seeking are loosened. The reason is that, if more than is reasonable should be permitted the common people, they want more than is permitted. Therefore it behooves the prudent and just magistrate to restrain the wantonness of the people, lest upon the occasion of some evil it enter into rebellion, despise authority, and conceive and undertake some sinister thing against the republic.
5. The seventh argument is that what befalls the commonwealth from the passage of this law is far different than what Plato hoped. For by the institution of this law he sought the concord of the community, and a mutual consensus of minds, as is clear where he introduces Aristophanes teaching that in the commonwealth the thing most to be hoped for is friendship, which, as it were, makes one out of many. But if think this thing over to yourself more carefully, it turns out flatly the opposite. The reason is that true friendship becomes smothered in this base rabble of communism: the more affection is spread over many men, the more friendship’s ardor becomes diminished. For, according to Plato’s law, nobody can say “this man is my father,” “this man is my son,” “he is my friend.” It is an old saw, he who is everywhere is nowhere. Likewise in this case, he who has many friends has none. Therefore Aristotle neatly calls this friendship of Socrates and Plato ”watery,” either because it is very fluid, or because, being chill, it is easily extinguished. For, just as little honey poured into a lot of water has no taste of honey, thus the affection of a single person, spread over an infinite number of men, will not deserve the name of friendship. Unified power is always strong, dispersed power is weak. The final argument of this chapter concerns the mutual tutelage and education of parents in the republic. For Plato decreed that the sons of Guardians should be given to rustics, and the scions of rustics to the Guardians of the commonwealth. Indeed he commanded this, but he entirely failed to find the way by which thing could come to pass. By “the Guardians of the commonwealth” he meant the magistrate and the soldier, by “the rustics” the commoners and people of the masses. He wanted the magistrate to preserve the commonwealth with the magistrate’s scepter and counsel, the soldier’s steel and help, the artisan’s hand and labor, and in this he may well have done correctly and prudently. But how government could coexist with equality, a senate with the sharing of wives and children, Plato did not describe, nor could Aristotle understand. But, omitting these things, at the end of the chapter the Philosopher urges this most of all, that he perceives that this means handing over and entrusting unknown children to unknown parents. Thus, he says, peasants will bring up peers, thus noblemen will come to the hoe, thus Corydons to the throne. But what a confusion! What a disturbance of affairs! Oh Plato, I wonder what inspired you to put forth this view. But I think you are to be forgiven, Socrates, since, often being wounded by the thunder and tempests of your Xanthippe, you perhaps hoped that to possess everything in common with others, or not to possess it all, rather than to retain a shrew in your house. Forgive me, wise gentlemen, if I join the Philosopher in removing this blot from your writings. I acknowledge you are patriarchs in philosophy, but in this business I think you were very perilously engaged in dreaming. In the two first arguments of this chapter it has been proven Plato’s law is unwholesome, since it destroys all care of children, and dissolves every bond and connection of kinship.
6. Out of this emerges a second question, which I am now treating: are the nuptial conjuncture of husband wife, and the private care of their children in accordance with natural law? The conjuncture of the male and the female, as the philosophers distinguish it, is twofold, either common or private: the former is said to be animal in its kind, the latter human in its species; in Book I this is proven to be derived from nature, since nature has inbred into every living thing an appetite for acquiring a companion for life and procreating after its own kind. This nuptial association between a husband and a wife (commonly called marriage) also contains the same woman as a mother and as a nurse, for if nature consists in Man’s mind and reason, it is absurd if Man (not otherwise than beast) should be borne towards communism by every impulse of wantonness. For with nature his guide, Man aims for union with a wife, not at communism. With nature his guide, Man seeks a particular helpmeet for his life and love, not a confused, uncertain one. With nature his guide, Man seeks a more firm fidelity and friendship with one than with many. Nature tied this knot, nothing unties it but crime. Oh how far many are from this union nowadays, who, like the gentiles, want to embrace several wives at once; who after a divorce (often made for the lightest of reasons) think on now marriages; who, having no consideration of degrees of kinship, enter into unclean, incestuous marriages; who, content with no lot, violate every pact and trust, who attempt to besmirch every virgin, every matron, and (horrible to say) every sex with the foam of their lust! Do not these things tend towards Plato’s republic, and not towards the peril and confusion of all things? The author of nature created and gave one woman to one man, the infirmity of nature gave birth to divorce. But these things are said by the way, so that the vehicle in which very many men are being driven to the solace of Plato and Socrates may either be moved more slowly, or at length recalled.
7. The other part of this question is that I show a particular care must be had for children, and this is derived from nature. But here I see a distinction of the philosophers, that some created beings are self-sufficient, and others require the help and care of their parents; and of these latter, some only need a mother’s care, whereas others demand the care of both father and mother, such as doves and men. Men, I say, since in Man nature is in control of reason, not just of the production of offspring, and she also intends its preservation and perfection, which two commodities cannot be achieved if two things are lacking, which are the father to assist his sons with his providence, and the mother to assist them with her indulgence. In the Ethics Aristotle rightly thought that we acquire three things from our parents, our essence, nutrition, and discipline, and for these three to perfected in us a long time, great care, and also singular prudence are demanded. Therefore there is within us a distinct care for our offspring, if we follow nature as our guide. Therefore Socrates and Plato thought contrary to nature, who by positing a communal ownership of wives and children destroyed every definite care of parents.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Is Plato’s communism to be tolerated?
The common ownership of wives and children is not to be tolerated, because it is contrary to:
confounds degrees of consanguinity. Justice,
destroys a good of the commonwealth, i. e., concord and friendship.
confounds degrees of consanguinity.
destroys a good of the commonwealth, i. e., concord and friendship.
8. OBJECTION Whatever nature bends and inclines us toward is permissible and tolerable, nature bends and inclines us toward the common ownership of wives and children, therefore the common ownership of wives and children is permissible and tolerable. The major premise is obvious, since nature is ruled and moved by a divine agent which cannot be deceived. The minor is agreed, since in all brute animals this common ownership can be seen to obtain.
RESPONSE The nature of animals is twofold, confused in its kind, and distinct in its species. The distinct nature of Man is to be subordinated to the dictate of reason, and this reason has rejected this common ownership because of the innumerable evils which flow therefrom. Wherefore, even if nature is governed by a divine agent, and even if the beasts (which lack reason) act promiscuously, nevertheless in Man (where this same cause moves us more distinctly) this is not permitted.
OBJECTION Whatever most preserves and increases the human species is permissible in the commonwealth: the common ownership of wives conserves and increases the human species more than does single ownership, therefore the common ownership of wives is permissible in the commonwealth. The major premise is well known, since the human species is preserved by the common ownership of wives in its plenteous childbirth and fertility. The minor is agreed because, granted this common ownership, whoever has the ability can beget a crop of children for the commonwealth upon several women, which he cannot do if bound to a single one.
RESPONSE The basis of this argument is fallacious, or rather false, for from this license of common ownership arises sterility of women rather than fertility. Rarely do harlots promiscuously prostituted to men have swollen bellies. The reason is that nature is harmed by contrariety, and it grows feeble and is injured by excessive venery.
OBJECTION By the Philosopher’s testimony, friendship is a most excellent thing in the commonwealth, the greatest friendship will follow from the common ownership of wives, therefore the common ownership of wives is to be permitted. The minor premise is proven, since every man will then adore all women as his wife, and every man as his son.
RESPONSE There is no friendship in Epicureanism, widespread love is not self-consistent. Clearly, to adore all women is to love none. True friendship is fixed and definite, undamaged by the reefs of any sedition. But that “adoring” ebbs and flows, and is subject to every storm. But enough is said about this argument in the exposition of the text.
OBJECTION Concupiscent nature is boundless in accordance with nature, therefore it is contrary nature to bind and enslave a man to one woman. Which being granted, it follows that common rather than private ownership of wives is to be sought, in accordance with nature.
9. RESPONSE Human nature does not consist only of sense and appetite, but also of reason and intellect. Therefore even if appetite (in which concupiscence dwells) is born towards many objects of pleasure, it is recalled to order and moderation by the reins of reason (which completes human nature).
OBJECTION The commonwealth is defined as the common association of all men, therefore communism rather than private property seems to suit its nature. Furthermore, Man’s affection is free, he has free will, so it seems unjust that any man be fatigued by the tedium of a single wife, to be shackled by the bond of one wife.
RESPONSE The commonwealth is defined as the common association of all men, not because everything within it ought to be common, but because within it is a common consensus for doing things according to the laws. For, just as the individual parts of the human body have their own proper powers, which nevertheless agree in a single man (such as Socrates), thus individual citizens possess their own private property by right, yet all citizens harmonize regarding the common good of the commonwealth.
OBJECTION In upper Libya, as is said in the text, women are possessed in common; in Egypt (as Sabellicus relates) live the Adamites, who base their religion on communism; among the Indians, as historians now write, marriages are not celebrated. These examples therefore argue that law rather than nature has introduced the custom of private property.
RESPONSE Beasts and barbarians prove nothing contrary to the question, their examples are not pressing. Therefore to this logic I make answer that six hundred examples drawn from barbarians do not argue that the common ownership of wives is introduced by nature, but rather that those people live entirely contrary to nature, who, abandoning reason, order and justice, devote themselves to monstrosity and savagery.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Is matrimony to be observed, and a distinct care to be had for their children according to natural law?
The nuptial conjunction of man and woman, and the individual care for sons can be proven to be derived from nature, either:
example of other animals, which follow only the urging and instinct of
nature, such as turtledoves, doves, swans, and pelicans. The
dictate of innate reason, which provides this bond for the sake of: The
preservation of Man in his species.
The example of other animals, which follow only the urging and instinct of nature, such as turtledoves, doves, swans, and pelicans.
The dictate of innate reason, which provides this bond for the sake of:
preservation of Man in his species.
10. OBJECTION Nature per se is free, therefore to be tied and enslaved to one woman is inconsistent with nature. The antecedent is proven, since nature, acting in any thing, is free and immune. These things being granted, it follows that the nuptial conjunction of man and woman is not natural.
RESPONSE Nature per se is said to be free in any thing, not because she is bound by no necessity at all (for she acts according to necessary), but because she is very little impeded in her causes and effects. Therefore, when the Philosopher teaches that the nuptial pact is according to nature, he understands this to mean human nature, which respects order in society, and reason in order and in love.
OBJECTION The marriage conjunction breeds satiety, satiety breeds tedium, and tedium breeds discord and hatred between man and wife, therefore it does not seem to be natural. The antecedent is proven, since, just as the senses are captivated by a variety of objects, so is the mind by a multitude of delights. Therefore a single, unchangeable object is troublesome and tedious. The argument holds, because nature never tends towards her own destruction.
RESPONSE In Man, I am teaching that nature is not just sensual but also logical: the former it holds in common with the beasts, the latter it possesses in its own right. Furthermore, I say that the senses are thus delighted by a variety of objects that each should have its own proper object. Thus men can be swept along to many objects of pleasure by the power of their senses, and yet every man may keep his own wife.
OBJECTION In Book VII of the Politics Aristotle places the public care and education of boys ahead of private care and education by many degrees, therefore single and distinct care does not seem to be natural. The logic of the antecedent is that in public education reason rather then affection, intellect rather than appetite, the virtue of many men in the commonwealth rather than the will of a few in the family governs and prescribes the educational process.
RESPONSE It is to be admitted that a public education indeed is most praiseworthy, but it does not follow from this that the private care of parents for their sons is most natural, especially since nature herself has given us full breasts for feeding, a singular instinct of affection for embracing, and private possession of many things for our enrichment.
OBJECTION Nature tends towards the best, public education is best of all, as proven before, therefore nature tends to public rather than private education.
RESPONSE Nature tends towards the best, but by degrees, and no further than she is able. Therefore she has inculcated private care of sons in parents, and left public education to the magistrates of the commonwealth; the former is natural, but the latter is called legal and civil.
OBJECTION Once many universities were founded. Many colleges, schools, and inns are bequeathed us as both monuments and examples of public education, not private. In these our ancestors followed in nature’s footsteps, therefore public education is natural too. The minor premise is proven, since in founding these institutions they were zealous for the countless succession of posterity (which belongs to nature).
RESPONSE The zeal of our ancestors of blessed memory cannot be sufficiently celebrated with praises. Oh would that in this decrepit age of the world more men would follow their example! But I respond with the same logic as above. For, albeit in some measure public education must be conceded to be natural, it does not follow from this but that private education is more so, for the causes I have rehearsed above.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Is the multiplication of wives to be politically approved?
10. What? You’re not laughing, Socrates? Why do you recommend common ownership of wives to other men when a single Xanthippe is sufficient for you? Tell me, my friend, wouldn’t you rather drink the hemlock three times over, rather than marry a second Xanthippe after the death of the first? It’s an old saw, having been hit, a fisherman grows wise, if he is not mad. I suppose a man who has once encountered a woman like a fanged goblin will fear to associate himself with another, lest the goblin transform herself into a demon. And bigamy comes attached to the second goblin. “What? When Wife Number One has been buried, do you think it less than legal to marry Wife Number Two?” Not at all. I want this to be legal, yet I do not propose to praise it. “You deny with your words, philosopher, what you approve with your deeds. For you have a wife who has been widowed, but you have only one wife. So what’s a bigamist?” Either a man who has two wives, or who marries another after his first has dies. “The first category of such gentlemen indeed is pernicious, but now I am asking the reasons you don’t praise the second.” On this subject I can refer you to St. Jerome, but this Father showed himself right severe regarding bigamy, I shall keep silent about his authority and arguments. “But what are your own arguments?” These three, among many others, of which the first is drawn from the bond of the nuptial torch, the second from the danger of a new alliance, and the third from the example of liberty, or rather license. The nuptial bond does not exist only for the delight of the body, which is transitory, but also for the delight of the mind, which should be perpetual. Wherefore, though your helpmeet return to dust, the bond of mutual adoration remains indissoluble. So if you adore your turtledove in this alliance, upon the dissolution of her body you retain the alliance of the mind. About the danger of a new alliance or association, what can I say? For who does not acknowledge that stepmothers are unjust and malicious? Who will not admit it? For then (as Seneca says) the offspring of the first wife will be ruined, while the second marriage is being celebrated. Finally, this duplication of marriages contains within itself an example of excessive pleasure-seeking. For by what limit will human pleasure-seeking be restricted, if the freedom of marrying so many new women be conceded? Furthermore, what struggle will there be of reason against appetite? What victory for desire if you provoke your thirst and ardor for pleasure with new weddings? Finally, why are virgins and widows preferred to brides by statesmen? Why are they heaped by such great rewards by legislators, if it were deemed praiseworthy to take as many wives as you want? Therefore bigamy and polygamy are indeed permitted things, but not praiseworthy ones, for they have affect for their father, and infirmity for their mother.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Bigamy is understood as either the conjunction:
husband with two wives at the same time, and thus it is intolerable. Of a man
with two wives successively, and this is less praiseworthy because of The
bond of united love, which remains in the mind perpetually.
husband with two wives at the same time, and thus it is intolerable.
Of a man with two wives successively, and this is less praiseworthy because of
bond of united love, which remains in the mind perpetually.
11. OBJECTION Whatever is legal in a well-regulated commonwealth is also laudable, it is legal to marry several wives in turn, therefore it is also laudable. The major premise is proven, since what is legal has as its basis justice, the most praiseworthy of all the virtues.
RESPONSE Everything that is legal is not always fitting. Therefore I reply that things that are legal look for their cause either to equity per se, or to human frailty: those things accepted in the first way are truly laudable, because by their own nature they have justice for a foundation; but things accepted in the second way are less praiseworthy, because they seem more permitted than prescribed, more tolerated than praised, and such is usury, such is bigamy.
OBJECTION Whatever just and legitimate thing acts more to increase and preserve the commonwealth is more praiseworthy than what acts less to increase and preserve it, bigamy or the successive multiplication of wives increases and preserves the commonwealth more than the pairing-off of a single man with a single woman, therefore bigamy or the successive multiplication of wives is more praiseworthy. The minor premise is proven, since the legitimate succession of wives promises and delivers a greater multitude of citizens for the republic.
RESPONSE In this argument let it be posited that it is not always and absolutely true, namely that the multiplication of wives renders the commonwealth more fruitful. Nay, the multiplication of wives makes it more sterile than fertile, as has been proven above against Plato. Therefore bigamy no more increases and preserves the republic than does the perpetual pairing-off of a single husband with a single wife, and consequently it is not more praiseworthy, as the preceding argument, founded on a mistaken basis, appears to have proven.
Is the communal ownership of property legitimate?
OWADAYS many men aim at a common ownership of wives, but few at a common ownership of property: wantonness appears to have fascinated the former, greedy avarice the latter. Oh the sorrow of it, in these times how many vultures are everywhere on all sides, for whose claws no prey (no matter how fat and rich) suffices! Oh you fools, while you are dreaming of mountains made of gold, stricken by death’s arrows you leave everything behind you. Socrates and Plato wanted all things to be owned in common by everybody, this displeases you; Pythagoras wanted the labors and efforts of the commonwealth to be borne on the shoulders of a few, but you wealthy gentlemen want to fatten yourselves on their labors; I presume this notion is to your liking. But listen, at this point in the text Aristotle wants your farms and fields to be owned privately, but their fruits to be carried off for public use. Perhaps you will call this a harsh opinion, for your greed for chasing and grasping after money is insatiable. But in this place I am asking, not what ambition wants, but what reason and philosophy desire. Concerning property, which I am now treating, two things ought to be considered, nature and use: nature, and thus property is subject to a power which all things obey; us. And thus Man exerts a natural dominion and possession of external things. Hence it is one matter to consider things, such as fields, vines, and cattle, and another to consider the use and fruit of things, for example grain, wine, oil, and suc like, whence arises the question whether there should be a common ownership of such things, and the things themselves (as Aristotle says) are common and their fruit is to be distributed among individuals, or whether possessions will be privately owned, but their fruit will be for the common use of the commonwealth, or, then again, whether both the thing and the fruit should be commonly owned, as Socrates and Plato would have it. For those ean said that, if nothing in the commonwealth should be privately owned, then no discord whatsoever would arise amongst its citizens. But, just as they shamefully erred about the common ownership of wives, so they most vehemently hallucinate about the common ownership of property and possessions. For that communism nourishes barbaric contentions and tragedies more than it does any peacefulness of life in the commonwealth. In the text the Philosopher proves this by two indications, namely those of travelers and slaves: for if among travelers and slaves (who own very little in common) very sharp contention not infrequently arises about small things, as most often happens, how much more fatal an offense will arise among citizens fighting over the greatest things? How much more brutal discord and calumny? For suppose, for example, all things are commonly owned, but this man has worked harder and that man less hard, one man has harvested more and and another man less, one man cuts gems, another cleans the city sewers, the orator is elevated to the tribunal while the rustic is forced to the dunghill and the payment of rents — the man is insane and naive who does not perceive what offenses and grudges this inequality of labors, profits, arts and conditions will foster. Therefore Socrates did not introduce this law about communism wisely, since in establishing his law he paid insufficient heed to men’s particular habits and actions (which cannot be governed by a law about communism). With this communism of property and fruits refuted, next Aristotle shows that that form of propertyholding is best which is made up of private ownership and communal use. In the text he proves this with many arguments which follow in their order. The first is from necessity, since it is needful that a man own some things in his own right: the argument is that each man will better care and preserve for his own property than that which belongs to others, according to that saying of Isocrates, private property thrives while common property lies neglected. This can be observed in the family, in which a few slaves do their masters’ works and chores better than a whole crew. For a confused multitude and throng becomes distracted, while within a few there is a united consensus.
2. Another reason is drawn from pleasure, for, to use the Philosopher’s words in the text, nobody can express in words how pleasurable it is to think something is one’s own. For not for nothing does every man bear a friendship towards himself, but this he derives this from nature, that he loves himself: being a self-lover is not reprehended, though self-indulgence beyond what is proper is regarded as vicious. The third argument is drawn from the honorable, since from private ownership flows liberality and kindness towards the needy, towards our associate and friends, but if private ownership is removed this is destroyed. For if everything is owned in common, what liberality, what bounty, what charity and friendship can be exercised? So here the Philosopher justly criticizes Socrates and Plato, because, if we assume common ownership of wives, temperance perishes, and if we presume common ownership of property, so does all munificence. The fourth argument is drawn from decorum and order, since private property is managed in a more correct and orderly fashion than common property, for private solicitude preserves not just the possession, but also order and decorum in the procurement and disposition of property. The fifth argument is drawn from the example of the Spartans. Aristotle shows their state of affairs to have been excellent because of their private ownership and communism of use, for although they held their property privately, in accordance with Lycurgus’ edict they made common use of slaves, horses, dogs, and money for traveling abroad. The final argument is taken from the good of the entire commonwealth, which is best perceived in peace and concord: with their property made available for every man’s use, what cause of strife or legal contention will there be? Wherefore, just as brothers contend against each other if you leave them a shared legacy rather than dividing it, thus it is certain that citizens will readily be divided if you do not distinguish possessions of property according to a law of equity. And, just as those brothers will live in fraternal peace without jealousy, if you have divided your legacy, so these citizens will live in a harbor of tranquillity without any discord, if possession is acknowledged. So I shall conclude with Aristotle’s words, that they who possess property communally will be in disagreement much more than those who possess their resources separately within the commonwealth, for communism nourishes arguments, private ownership (if it be just) the greatest tranquillity. But you will say that private property is prone to create arguments, as experience itself shows. I reply that this does not result from private ownership, but rather from Man’s malice and improbity. For, albeit this law of communism can strike some men as welcome and attractive, yet as long as proportion is observed, more seeds of envy and contention are nourished among men living communistically than among those possessing property privately and separately.
3. Now follows another part of the chapter, in which by six arguments the Philosopher demonstrates that the causes by which Plato was persuaded to this view about communism were weak and feeble. The first is that Plato derived from a mistaken hypothesis the origin of fraud and error, namely in that he thought in this way the commonwealth would be most one. But this turns out otherwise, as has been proven above. For a commonwealth having progressed down this path far enough will not be a commonwealth, since, just as a harmony reduced to a single voice is no longer called a symphony, as a discourse reduced to a single syllable will no longer be called an oration, so a commonwealth restored to the greatest unity should no longer be designated a commonwealth. So a commonwealth (as Plato failed to note with sufficient emphasis) will be made as one as possible by discipline rather than communism, honesty of morals rather than public ownership, pursuit of the good arts rather than Spartan banquets and delights. His second argument, by which he argues that Socrates was wrong in legislating this law of communism, demonstrates that nothing is more absurd than this republic divided by Plato into magistrates, artisans and farmers, that no form of administration at all is prescribed, no means of sharing explained. For, since all should be common between Guardians, farmers and artisans, how (he asks) are the members of one class to be differentiated from those of another, unless some magistrate cleverly devise a scheme such as the Cretans once did, who allowed everything else to be employed in common with their slaves, save they forbade the slaves the employment athletic exercise and the possession of arms? In a third argument he criticizes the fact that Plato permitted farmers the possession and division of their crops. What else is this, he asked, than to prefer the dregs of the people to the Guardians, to kindle and broadcast the sparks of sedition? Thus the Helots, those mountain-dwelling, rustic satyrs were most hostile to the Spartans, thus the Penestae, those crude, squalid shepherds were to the Thessalians. With a fourth argument the Philosopher derides Plato’s inept comparison, with which he strives to prove by an analogy with the rest of the animal world that women and men should follow the same pursuits and undertake the same tasks. What manner of comparison is this, he asks, between beasts and women, when the latter have no power of reason, but the former take delight in attention to and management of the household? With a fifth he relates that the monopoly on government enjoyed by the magistrates is no cause of peace: for if being excluded from any advance to dignity exists as a cause of sedition among the most scorned and abject citizens, how much more so among high-spirited and warlike men, who daily seek and earn access to government of the republic by their deeds? Nor does that mythical comparison avail Plato, by which he teaches that at Man’s very creation God infused gold into some men to designate they should be magistrates, and brass and silver into others to mark them as farmers and artisans. For even if God has distinguished human orders and conditions, nevertheless in a free commonwealth He has extended to all men a reward of virtue, like a victory-palm in a stadium, and if this hope be removed, who will run? Who will strive? For, just as honor nourishes the arts, thus hope of dignity nourishes eager citizens. In a final argument he teaches that license granted farmers in distributing and keeping their crops is no different from that of the Guardians regarding their wives, and that this shakes (as they say) the happiness of the commonwealth from its foundations. For what happiness is there for a republic in which the Guardians are in a certain way compelled to beg from the farmers, in which those filthy, mean-minded Vulcans, the artisans, are can freely and legally wallow with the wives of their rulers?
THE DISTINCTION OF THE QUESTION
Is the communal ownership of property legitimate?
Regarding the things granted men for their life and sustenance, two things ought to be considered:
and thus these things should not be owned in common, as the is proven
by the Philosopher by passages in the text: From
necessity, since commonly-owned things are frequently neglected. Use, and
thus they ought to be owned in common, as long as due regard is held
according to the dictates of reason.
Possession, and thus these things should not be owned in common, as the is proven by the Philosopher by passages in the text:
necessity, since commonly-owned things are frequently neglected.
Use, and thus they ought to be owned in common, as long as due regard is held for:
according to the dictates of reason.
4. OBJECTION Nature did not give us these two nouns, “possession” and “ownership,” she did not give us these two pronouns “mine” and “thine,” but, being a mother to all men and a stepmother to none, she distributed her gifts equally. Therefore the communal ownership of all things is to be admitted, so that all men will be happy, rather than private ownership, so that a few will. The antecedent is proven by the authority of Seneca and Isidorus, who say that the possession of all things is common, and that there is a single freedom of all.
RESPONSE I am not arguing about words when agreement exists about things. Nature has given stars, plants, stones their own individual virtues, so why should she deny these to men? It is already proven that she has given birth to masters and slaves, and, according to Plato that she has poured gold into some, brass and silver into others. And in my view she surely would not have done this, has she not instilled no distinction in external things in proportion to men’s merits. Isidorus and Seneca understand this regarding only those things over which Man can have no dominion, such as the sky, air, fire, and water, which by natural law are in a sense owned by everybody.
OBJECTION In the republic, quarrels often arise over private ownership, therefore common ownership is preferable. The antecedent is proven by experience, since nothing excites envy more than the private ownership of property that increases.
RESPONSE This argument is resolved above, namely that these quarrels arise, not from private ownership, but from Man’s depravity.
OBJECTION The private possession of all things belongs to God alone, therefore to concede it to Man is contrary to the law of nature. The antecedent is proven in two ways, both since God is the author of all things, and since divine law, in agreement with this, commends communal rather than private ownership. The argument holds, since nature herself if governed by the divine agent.
RESPONSE God holds possession as creator of things, Man as their dispenser. He made these things for Man rather than Himself, He granted them private ownership but common use, so that Man might not live for himself for the sake of greed, but for others for the sake of benevolence.
OBJECTION The more a good is held in common, the better it is, as is manifest in Book I of the Ethics. Therefore in the goods of the commonwealth common ownership is to be preferred to private.
RESPONSE This is true if you have regard to use, but not if you have regard to ownership. For in use and existence, the more common a good is, the better it is deemed to be, although in its essence it remains the same and immutable.
5. OBJECTION By natural law we are all born for humanity and friendship, the first law of which is that everything belonging to friends should be shared. In the commonwealth, therefore, common ownership is more commendable than private.
RESPONSE The statesman should consider not only what ought to be, but also what we are. It certainly cannot be that each and every man cultivates friendship. For we are enthralled by various moral impulses, various emotions, here and there. Furthermore this community of friends is understood not to involve right of possession, but rather community of use.
OBJECTION Property and possessions are granted for the necessities of life and sustenance, as is held in Book I of the Politics, but by right of nature one man cannot stake a claim on things necessary for life and sustenance than another, this man than that, therefore according to natural law things should not be owned privately.
RESPONSE Nature has conceded us the master and mastery for the use of the master, so she has not created a master without government, nor government without the instruments of governing (which are the good things of nature and of fortune). Wherefore she has granted more and more ample things to masters for the necessity of live and sustenance that she has to slaves, so she might maintain magnificence in these and obedience and those. Therefore one man may claim more than another, and this, as you see, in accordance with natural law.
OBJECTION It is expedient that those goods which are the noblest to be owned in common. Therefore it is also expedient that the goods of nature and fortune be owned in common, for these are only the instruments of the others. The antecedent is proven, since it is expedient that those things be owned in common whose common ownership benefits all men, but harms none, and so it is in the goods of the mind. Therefore it is expedient that those things be owned in common.
RESPONSE There is not an equal logic of all good things, since the condition of all men is not the same. For some are born for the scepter, others for the plow. Wherefore, although it is to be hoped that the goods of the mind flow as it were in streams into the hearts of all citizens from their sources, yet it does not follow but that the instruments of virtue, i. e. the goods of nature and fortune, are dispensed one way and another.
OPPOSITION In time of need, for example when the enemy invades the nation, it is expedient that external goods be owned in common, so the commonwealth may be preserved from destruction. Therefore necessity (as has been shown above) has not taught us private ownership. The antecedent is proven, since he is unworthy to be called a citizen who locks up his treasury while his nation is failing.
RESPONSE This argument is sophistic and fallacious, to go from a secondary consideration (as they say) to a simple one. For it is a non sequitur to argue that, since it is expedient for property to be owned in common in time of imminent peril, it therefore should be so owned simply and altogether. Nor do I understand Aristotle in this passage to be talking about a commonwealth stricken by war, but rather of one happy at peace.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Is the ownership of arms to be forbidden slaves, lest they strive against the community?
6. As it says in the proverb, the man to whom is permitted more than what is reasonable wants more than is permitted. Give a slave a sword, and at the slightest offense he’ll cut his master’s throat. For in arms is fury, not fear. Granted license to bear arms, the Helots once assaulted the Spartans with deadly wars, the Penestae the Thessalians, that black Vulcan, that straw-covered butcher the English. Therefore (as is said in the text) the Cretans, while permitting their slaves much, refused them the possession of arms, and so the French forbid this to their rustics. “But what slaves are you speaking about?” Not citizens, not the freeborn, not those bound by law to their king: I mean chattel, instruments of rime, who live without fear, without faith, without God. If you arm them, you destroy yourself. It is better to render Scythians and barbarians effeminate with dances and delights than to instigate slaves made rebellious and contumacious against their masters with spears and swords. Nothing is more bitter than a wretch when he rises to the top. Nothing is regarded as more dangerous than armed malice. But what faith is there in slaves who think they are oppressed, who think they are held in contempt? If they are unarmed they will fear the lash, but, protected by arms, they will attack empires.
The use of arms by slaves is to be forbidden:
Lest they become insolent and arrogant.
7. OBJECTION It is unjust to deny that which nature has granted, nature has given slaves weapons, therefore it is unjust to deny slaves arms. The minor premise is proven, since nature has given slaves teeth, hands, and nails, which Plutarch calls Man’s weapons.
RESPONSE These are called weapons metaphorically, in truth they are natural organs and instruments. Nature indeed give the beasts weapons, such as teeth to the lion and a sting to the serpent, but industry created arms for men, and thus created them that men would use arms according to the command of reason (which denies slaves the use of arms).
OBJECTION Ignorance of arms often creates great danger for masters, therefore the use of arms is to be permitted slaves.
RESPONSE I do not forbid chattel the practice of war altogether, but rather the possession of arms, lest they make an assault on the nation. Further, this argument does not prove simply and absolutely that arms are to be permitted slaves, since greater dangers befall the commonwealth from the servile possession of arms than from their deprivation.
OBJECTION As said in the text, Plato and Socrates wished that women use arms no less than men, but it is more decorous for a slave to use them than a woman, therefore arms are to be permitted slaves. Furthermore what else are common soldiers than slaves who defend the commonwealth at ditches and walls?
RESPONSE To defend his absurd communism, Plato wanted women to employ arms no less than men. But I am not asking for testimony which is refuted, but for an argument and a reason. If you allege the Amazons, I respond that a single example does not make a law. Furthermore, the logic does not hold that, if this is permissible for free women at liberty to possess arms, therefore it is too for slaves and chattel. The example of common soldiers is not weighty, since they are either born citizens fighting for home and hearth, or slaves drafted for a time, who, stricken by fear, give no offense.
Should a definite number of citizens be prescribed?
Is an equalization of property tolerable?
ESIDES his work the Republic, Plato wrote the Laws, in Book V of which he offers a novel form of commonwealth (against which Aristotle now inveighs). In The Republic Plato wanted common ownership of wives and property, in The Laws an equalization of property; he calls the former his first republic, the later his second. The Philosopher has spoken against the former sufficiently, now he says a few words against the latter. But lest my disputation be wearying and unwelcome, I shall develop distinct questions corresponding in number to the conclusions in the text, which promise careful readers no small utility and delight. So it is first inquired whether a definite number of citizens should be prescribed, and second, whether an equalization of property is tolerable. I admit that this second question about the equalization of property is handled in much more detail in chapter 5, written against Phaleas, than in this fourth chapter against Plato. Yet I gladly treat this subject in the present place, in part because Plato raises the subject pursued by Phaleas, and partially lest my discourse in that place seem over-tedious because the number of questions is increased. And so I pray the reader that he regard these adversaries of Aristotle, namely Plato and Phaleas, as being, as it were, bound by a single chain, and conquered and overcome by a single effort, and that he join these two chapters, in which both are condemned of the same error, and carefully read them together.
2. But I come to the matter at hand. In this chapter Aristotle criticizes the number of citizens, the equalization of patrimonies, the perpetuity of magistrates, the division of buildings, and the form of the novel republic Plato established. In his first republic Plato requires there be a thousand men to bear arms, but in his second (which is now being considered) he requires 5400. He decreed that this throng and multitude, together with their children, wives and slaves, should be supported out of the commonwealth’s public treasury. Hence the first question arises, should a fixed number of citizens be prescribed and appointed? The Philosopher thinks not, and proves this by three arguments, from absurdity, inconvenience, and difficulty: from absurdity, since this should be a huge commonwealth, which should embrace such a multitude of individuals living at leisure in addition to the citizens themselves. For scarce would Babylon that confused nation, suffice for such a number of soldiers and citizens, l et alone the commonwealth, and if you add to this a throng of wives, children and slaves, you would (as they say) drain dry an Ocean of riches for the support of a single portion of the commonwealth. From inconvenience, since it would impose a very heavy and troublesome burden on the commonwealth to support such a crew with food, clothing and weapons, especially since such a slender portion of goods is decreed his citizens by Plato, enough to guarantee frugality but not liberality. From difficulty, since it is an arduous task to restrain such a multitude of men by the laws, for in establishing the republic its legislators should consider not only the place for settlement and the morals of the multitude, but also the proximity of the enemy (which Plato neglected). To this can be added the uncertainty of childbirth, the old age of citizens, the rage of war, the instability of fortune, and six hundred other results and changes of things which prevent the number of citizens from being prescribed and defined. Uncertainty of childbirth, because some citizens are more fertile and others more barren than and others, and to exclude the commonwealth to the children of the former, lest the number be increased, and to reproach the weakness of the latter, seems vain and absurd. The old age of citizens, the rage of war, and the instability of fortune daily produce misfortunes in the commonwealth. What? If a hundred fall by death or in battle, if the citizenry increases by ten, is it necessary that the commonwealth collapse because it does not have its fixed number? Hence the well-regulated commonwealth ought to be defined by nature rather than number, law rather than size, virtue of citizens rather than size of citizenry.
3. Next in the text is treated the equalization of property. For Plato says that thus much should be granted each citizen as is sufficient for a temperate life. But the Philosopher thought that something should be conceded not only for temperance, by which a man might live on slender means, but also for liberality, so that he might live honorably, inasmuch as frugality supports one man, but liberality also supports a friend. But what entered Plato’s head that he would introduce an equality of patrimonies, but define nothing about the number of children? Why did he preach an equalization of property, when he described no means of achieving equality? The Philosopher refuted this vain opinion in three ways in particular: the first is drawn from propriety, the second from effect, the third from testimony. From the proportion of property and size, which two things can never be equalized. For who is able to prescribe a limit for nature, a definite number for women’s fertility, a goal for unstable and fickle fortune? It assuredly cannot be that a fixed formula can be maintained for all the men who are born and die in the commonwealth, so that the same proportion can always be maintained for all goods, which ebb and flow like the straits of Euripus, so that there should be a like division of property and patrimonies for those who are born, unless Plato perhaps desired that every man would father a fixed number of sons, and there is nobody who does not perceive how ridiculous this would be. From effect, since if the number of sons were to be enhanced, famine, poverty, and sedition would oppress the republic: for, given a proportion of all things, how could it be that this man would rear twenty sons on a meager patrimony, while another would feed scarce ten on an inheritance of equal size? We English much better bequeath our estates to our firstborn sons, and leave our younger ones some legacy in keeping with our abilities (a trade, say, or some money). On the testimony of Pheidon, a most ancient legislator who (as it says in the text) vigorously dissented from Plato and Socrates concerning the equalization of property, interpreters offer other reasons and arguments to this effect, namely that this idea of equality of property should be impeded by the nature of distributive justice, which assigns property to each man in proportion to the deserts of his virtue, and the nature of the commonwealth, which consists of disparate grades of dignity. Wherefore, just as the common ownership of wives and property inflicts upon the commonwealth and menaces it with a great confusion, thus an equality of possession creates incredible misery. It is to be noticed that in Book V of the Laws Plato did not thus equalize possession that no citizen should own no more than another, but he bade equal lots be distributed and assigned according to the size, order, and dignity of classes, which division Aristotle here calls an equalization of property and, as you see, has refuted.
4. The third thing treated here is the difference between magistrates and those who are subject to their government. In Book V of the Laws Plato says that the magistrate differs from citizens as woof differs from warp, i. e. that the citizenry should be thought of as being like the warp, but those who hold power like the woof (which is made of superior thread). I imagine Plato said these things so a distinction might be maintained between magistrate and subject, but he entirely failed to explain the manner and reason of this distinction. The fourth issue discussed in this chapter is the fivefold increase of wealth, but no further, and this so that each man might maintain two households. But why, the Philosopher asks, does he bid them possess two households, when each man can scarce administer a single family properly? The last thing to be treated is that form of a republic, which Socrates and Plato wished to manufacture, halfway between monarchy and democracy, as Aristotle says, that is lucidly set forth in Book VI of the Laws. He refutes this constitution and state by two arguments, one taken from example, the other from grade of comparison. This is from the example of the Spartans, who possessed a most excellent republic balanced and mixed out of all forms of polity, for example from monarchy in their kings (of whom they constantly had two), from oligarchy in their senators, from democracy in their ephors, five of whom were annually elected from the people. But the Platonic republic does not coalesce out of all these forms, therefore it is not the best. The assumption is proved, since this constitution appears to incline to oligarchy and the power of a few, which is evident both in the creation of magistrates and also in the election of the senate, which two institutions Plato inclines to the advantage and favor of the optimates. But inasmuch as later more must be said about the distinction of civil administration, I shall make an ending to this rather lengthy refutation of Plato’s republic, and hasten on to other things that follow.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Should a definite number of citizens be prescribed?
The number of citizens can be considered in two ways:
Simply, and thus citizens can be
numbered, and often should be when the necessity is urgent.
5. OBJECTION The proportion of resources to the size of the citizenry should be in equal balance, but the amount of property is fixed rather than infinite, therefore the size of the citizenry ought to be fixed and defined. The major premise is proven, since otherwise the commonwealth will either grow weak by a deficiency of resources, or succumb because of an infinite multitude of its citizens.
RESPONSE The size of the citizenry ought not to be neither fixed nor infinite, but rather undefined. For a defined size admits no enlargement or diminution, which is absurd, since the changes and accidents of human affairs are doubtful and various; nor should it be infinite, lest, when the size of the citizenry exceeds the amount of resources, the commonwealth be devastated by famine, pestilence, or war.
OBJECTION This paradox seems absurd, namely that lasting peace should consume the the commonwealth, but the practical experience of the best republics confirms its truth. For the Romans used to wage war on foreigners every two years, and the Spartans every five, lest the size of the citizenry grow infinite. Which being granted, it appears wisest that in any well-regulated commonwealth a policy of fixing the size of the citizenry ought to be observed.
RESPONSE I do not know whether I should praise or reprehend this custom of the Romans and other other nations of waging war so that, the people being consumed in battle the fear of oppression, famine, or pestilence might be removed. But this does not prove that a fixed size of the citizenry is to be adopted: lengthy peace indeed erodes the commonwealth, if the citizen be ungrateful to God or is inactive for his nation. Otherwise (inasmuch as no less a number of men is daily extinguished by natural law than is born), I see no reason why a republic cannot flourish in perpetual tranquillity, without meanwhile being choked by the number of its citizenry. For example, England has now for twenty-nine years enjoyed a tranquil peace (which may God preserve for us), and has not yet wasted away because of an increase in its citizenry, but its neighboring nations, shot by the thunderbolts of Mars, are worn out.
OBJECTION The commonwealth should be distributed into fixed classes and orders of citizens, such as magistrates concerned with government, soldiers with support, and farmers and artisans with labor. But these orders are fixed, therefore the number destined for them ought not to be uncertain.
RESPONSE The size of the citizenry can be considered in two ways, either in kind (and thus it ought to be fixed regarding the offices and orders in the commonwealth), or in species, or rather in the individual distinction of its citizens, and thus it ought always to remain indefinite.
OBJECTION In universities, colleges are express images and models of republics, for they have Masters like sovereigns, Senior Members like senators, children of the Muses like citizens, servants like artisans, and excellent statutes like laws. In these is a fixed and definite number of individuals. Therefore, to compare small things with large, there ought to be a fixed number of citizens.
RESPONSE In these excellent establishments, consecrated to God (and may Christ protect them forever, together with their universities), the resemblance is perceived in their administration, not their number. For in colleges the resources of one or at most a few individuals are united, but in the commonwealth all the wealth of all men. A few individuals are supported by the former, but by the latter an almost infinite number.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Is the equalization of property tolerable?
The equalization of property can be considered in two ways, according to either:
Quantity of possession, and it is thus absurd, since
in this way: There
is no distinction of citizens. Proportion
of equity, and thus it is to be approved, since equity concedes each
man property and dignities of the republic in proportion to his merits.
Quantity of possession, and it is thus absurd, since in this way:
is no distinction of citizens.
Proportion of equity, and thus it is to be approved, since equity concedes each man property and dignities of the republic in proportion to his merits.
6. OBJECTION As experience teaches, in every republic the unequal distribution of property and dignities sets in motion great tragedies, therefore the equalization of property, which concedes each man an equal lot, is to be approved.
RESPONSE An unequal proportion of property and dignities does not always argue an unequal distribution, unless the distribution be unfair and unjust, inasmuch as by dint of nature we are not all equals. For in accordance with nature some of us are masters and others slaves, so then there is equality in possession when in distribution equity is observed in proportion to merit. Therefore I reply that an unequal distribution of property and dignities often sets in motion great storms, but I deny that distribution to be unequal which depends on equity. Indeed, I assert that this Platonic equalization of property is unjust, since it has respect to the weight and moment, not of virtue, but of ability.
OBJECTION The Platonic equalization of virtue has respect for virtue’s merit, therefore the Philosopher reprehends it unjustly. The antecedent is proven, since in Book V of the Laws he divided the commonwealth to diverse ranks and classes, nor did he thus distribute the goods of the republic among the highest, middle, and lowest classes so that the lowest should contend with the highest in an equal proportion of property, but so that, with each individual gaining possession of property according to his station and rank with an equal share and profit, every occasion for sedition might be removed.
RESPONSE As in the entire citizen body, so also in the senatorial order one man can outshine another, and therefore it is unworthy (if you have regard for equity) that all men who have a hand on the helm of state should be granted an equal share of property and dignities, nor do the distinct offices of the highest men suffer these things, for, as some of these men’s offices are more august than others, so they require more ample support of property and more splendid ornaments of their virtue. But, to speak frankly my opinion of Plato, I for my part think that the divine philosopher’s words are somewhat bent and twisted into a corrupt sense, and that these things may better be understood, I shall now make public what I have learned from Plato. The gist of it is this. Plato thus wished his republic to be founded that, existing as one in unity as much as possible, its consensus would endure in perpetuity, and that this would more readily happen, he sagely entrusted his commonwealth to the Guardians for its protection and government, to artisans for the business of trade, and to farmers for the doing of work. He compared his Guardians to shepherds, for, just as shepherds keep the flock free from infected animals, so the Guardians keep the republic free from the savagery of its enemies. Of this class, he wished some to serve as magistrates, and others to stand constant watch for the defense of the commonwealth. And in the same way he named some of the citizens (in whom God had, as it were, infused brass or iron) to be farmers, and some (in whom He had planted gold) to be magistrates or Guardians entrusted, as it were, with a divine staff of office. He allowed no beggars, wretches, or unhappy men in the republic, hence by a law he exhorted that a proportion of property in the individual classes of the commonwealth be observed, and, as it were, an equalization of property, not so that each man would have the same amount, but so that none of the citizens would be beset by misery. “If these things are correct, why are you blaming him? If they are false, why do you henceforth defend them as if they were true, Aristotle? I hold you suspect in many things, philosopher, since I see you are excessively mordant in a few things, and these directed against Plato.” But you are contributing nothing here (you are speaking about the common possession of wives). Assuredly you have something in which you emerge triumphant, Aristotle. I am no hypocrite, I do not excuse Plato in this matter, even if there are some who say he wanted these shared wives, not that they might shamefully intermingle, but so that everyone would love them ardently and with a true affection of piety, since it is not credible that so great and so chaste a philosopher would recommend that everybody in his republic would bind and enslave themselves in the foulest pleasure-seeking, especially when in the Phaedo he expressly and wholeheartedly stated his detestation of shameful love.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Should women wage war alongside men?
7. A little after the beginning of this chapter, Aristotle, you say that your tutor Plato absurdly taught that women should wage war alongside men, and perform all the duties of the commonwealth no less then the men. If he said this, why do you think it unworthy of refutation? If he did not say it, why criticize him so sharply? But let that be, however it is, the doubtful question is opportunely raised. Assuredly it is impossible that in a true matter I shall move a fingernail’s breadth away from you, as they say: This thing you have in mind Socrates indeed thought, and Plato urged, but I ask of them by what means they prove it. Nature denies women Mars’ banner, Minerva denies them the triumph of the mind. For the performance of his tragedies Mars requires brawn of body, war demands fearless acts of bravery. Women, soft of flesh, slender and weak of body, unsteady of mind, inconsidered in action, fierce and foolhardy in a fight, fearful by nature, doubtful in counsel, are thought to be wholly unschooled and untrained in military affairs. So what have women to do with Mars? What shall they do with war’s machinery? It would be a strange thing to see women dashing forth in the battle line, routing the enemy with their swords, spears, and artillery, joining battle with men by land and sea. Rather this pertains to them, that they make weavings at home while men make war in the field.
Women should not wage war alongside men, because:
Of the imperfection of their nature; for
they are weak and infirm of body.
8. OBJECTION We have previously granted women government so that they may rightly administer the republic, it is a lesser thing to wage war than rightly administer the republic, therefore it is permitted women to practice warlike things alongside men. The minor premise is proven, since the waging of war is only one part of rightly administering the republic.
RESPONSE Government is not conceded to all women absolutely, but only to a few comparatively, but the fury of Mars requires regiments and armies, which can often be recruited and found among men, but among women never.
OBJECTION Nature has given women no less bile than she has to men, therefore it seems they should no less be admitted to war. The argument holds, since they are no less justly inflamed by its irascible force for fending off and avenging injury which arises from bile than are men. Furthermore, experience teaches that in the animal kingdom the female is far stronger than the mail. Here I say nothing about the noble exploits of the Amazons and other women, which all go to show that the this sex is not altogether debarred from military glory.
RESPONSE Bile’s heat displays sickness of spirit rather than bravery, weakness rather than strength and sturdiness. Indeed, those most vehemently fired by bile are thought to be unfit for war, for usually rashness attends upon bile, and war requires not only physical strength but also mental counsel. This comparison of women with the animal kingdom is nothing, for animals are not guided by reason, order, or any law of the commonwealth (for which women are born). For these female animals, it is enough if they survive and defend themselves from dangers with the weapons they have received from nature, but (as the Philosopher says in the text) women are concerned with giving birth to children, nourishing what they have borne, instructing them with good morals when they have been nourished, and with tending and providing for domestic affairs. Concerning the example of the noble exploits of the Amazons and other women (to use your words), I say that neither their sex, nor decorum, the order of the commonwealth, or the law of justice requires these things from women, and, to conclude the entire matter with a single word, just as one swallow does not a springtime make, so one or two examples do not establish a law either in nature or in the commonwealth.
In a rightly administered commonwealth should every man be permitted to accumulate wealth as he wants and can?
Should it be allowed to sell ancestral heritages?
Should military arts be practiced in peacetime?
T the beginning of this chapter Aristotle appears to bid a very peevish farewell to Socrates and Plato. For he says he that republics described by amateurs come closer to the form of correct administration than those discovered and established by these two, since (he says) he discovers in these neither this novel thing about the common ownership of wives and children, nor of sororities and common meals for women. Having made this opening he rushes against another adversary, Phaleas by name, whom he thumps and bashes with such frequent blows of his fists that that man, his spear as it were cast aside, helplessly falls at is feet. For what can that Phaleas of Chalcedon accomplish, when those Athenians Socrates and Plato could accomplish nothing? The lion chases wolves, not mice, the eagle chases great prey, not flies. But lest I be over-tedious with my words, my plan is to rehearse a brief analysis of this chapter before coming to a more thorough discussion of the questions proposed. After thus bidding his adieu to Socrates and Plato as I have described, he prods Phaleas into the theater as if he were an armed enemy, and first attacks him for wanting citizens’ goods and patrimonies to be equal, but failing to speak of the creation and number of the citizenry. For, just as it is excellent to take care by law lest it be possible for each man to grow as rich as he pleases, thus it is absurd to take no account of the size of the citizenry or of dignity, so that by the decrees of justice it be given to each man in proportion to the merits of his virtue. Solon said otherwise, the Locrians did otherwise, who, approving this law of equality for the sake of its preservation, took a precaution by that nobody could sell his ancestral patrimony. Thus this law of equality is not to be wholly discarded, as long as a fixed and definite account be taken of the size of the citizenry. Furthermore, Phaleas ill-advisedly introduced this equality of property, when he made no prescription for his citizens to prevent their being either abundant in luxuries or deficient in necessities. Add to this that it hardly advances you to predetermine the powers of family estates, if you make no attempt to control greed by the bridle of reason, which in describing his republic Phaleas wholly neglected to do. For when some men outshine others in virtue, the former should be more adorned with praise and dignity than the later. Otherwise the republic will hear that absurdity, Brave man and coward are lauded with the same honor.
2. To these the Philosopher adds the causes Phaleas assigns to injuries arising within the commonwealth, and their remedies. The causes are three: the infinite possession of property to which he applies equalization as a medicine, the hateful seeking after pleasures, to which he applies temperance, and the great oppression of pain, to which he applies philosophy. Aristotle says Phaleas was mistaken in this division, since there are other and greater causes of injuries in the commonwealth, other seeds and foundations of affronts. And he finds this most wanting in Phaleas’ republic, that he made no mention of war or the enemy, since he says it is not enough to govern the citizenry by laws, unless you also strive to repel enemies with walls. Finally he proves that the equalization of patrimonies is not at all advantageous for the tranquillity of the commonwealth or for dignity, since, as some are by nature and virtue more endowed with dignity than others, making them live on an equal lot and condition with the dregs, just as it is alien to every logic of justice, so it it necessarily kindles and instills hatred, by which the city, afire, will be devastated as by a a great conflagration. It is also absurd that Phaleas wanted to introduce an equality only of inheritances but not of moveable property, and that he would have craftsmen be slaves rather than citizens, instruments rather than parts or members of his over-small commonwealth. Why linger with many words? The gist of everything in this chapter lies in four points: the equalization of property, which the Philosopher criticizes as absurd, discipline, which he criticizes as ill-meditated, in military matters, which he criticizes as neglected, and in the size of the city, which he criticizes as excessively small and puny.
3. From these things I have extracted some questions, not without their utility, of which the first is whether in a well-regulated commonwealth it should be permitted each man to accumulate as much wealth as he wishes and is able. When he wrote his laws Plato, as Aristotle says, permitted any man in his commonwealth to increase his fortune up to fivefold. Solon (as said in the text) did not want each man to acquire as much land as he wishes. Both men employed pious laws to prohibit the selling of patrimonies and ancestral property. For, just as the heaping up of immense wealth is deemed the characteristic of greed, so the squandering and mortgaging of a patrimony bequeathed us is deemed the characteristic of great extravagance. But, if I may first dispute about the first hypothesis, I prove by many arguments that the accumulation of great wealth ought to be permitted to nobody, lest, with the window once thrown open to evil greed, six hundred other dangers invade and assault the commonwealth. I do not allow many Croesus or Iruses in a well-regulated republic, for, just as wealth creates insolent men, so poverty creates desperadoes. Therefore men’s greed for money is to be restrained (as the Philosopher teaches here), for if it were to exist uncontrolled and unrestrained it would tend to a river of wealth, as if tending towards its source, which is to say that it would crave wealth itself as its end and goal, not as a means and instrument. So let this be the first argument. No means should become infinite, an abundance of resources is only a means, therefore an abundance should not be increased infinitely. This assumed, it follows that it should be permitted no man to increase and accumulate his wealth to infinity in accordance with his greed. Let another argument, taken from the result, be this. Nothing prejudicial and pernicious to the commonwealth should be permitted, the free increase of wealth is prejudicial and pernicious to the commonwealth, therefore it should not be permitted. The major premise is agreed. The assumption is proven, because out of this license of honors grows ambition, from citizens’ ambition grows sedition, from sedition grows a bane upon the commonwealth. Furthermore, possessions infinitely enhanced create envy at home, an enemy abroad, an arrogant wrinkle upon the brow, and an odious blot upon the mind, therefore it is not permitted any man to enrich himself as he wants, and to stuff his treasure house with the spoils of other men. Finally, limit and order preserve the commonwealth, but with no end imposed on the wealth of its citizens there is no limit or order, therefore it should not be permitted to any man to sate his thirst and hunger for riches with showers and banquets of gold. For what order will there be in the commonwealth it the lust of one or two of its citizens devours and consumes the homes, cottages and fields of many? Are only wealthy men and gourmands to live in the commonwealth? But you ask, is it not permissible for good men (who, good order being preserved, tend to act for the public good) to enhance their wealth from center to circumference, from small to great? Certainly it is permissible, if by virtue’s straight lines they tend from the center to the circumference of true felicity. But for the rest, lest this fever for increasing wealth grow raging and invade the all the regions and parts of the body, I think this prescription should be written for good and bad citizens alike. But just like the natural human temperament does not consist in a balance of the primary qualities taken, as they say, by the pound, but rather in that proportion which good health requires, just so the constitution of the commonwealth is not based on the equality of men or of wealth, but rather in that proportion which equity and justice demand. For, just as a certain level of heat suits the bilious but harms the melancholic, so those riches or honors which are due to one man cannot be accorded another without harm to the republic.
4. This question about the dropsy of wealth is followed by another about its atrophy and consumption, which is whether it is permissible to sell ancestral inheritances. Assuredly it is not. Oh would that it were not! For then so many spendthrift citizens overwhelmed by intoxication would not disgorge their ancestral patrimonies. Why say more? People and cottages would remain in the pastureland, our ancestors’ villages would not fall into the hands and ownership of a few. By this evil, I say by this evil our ancient families are transformed into a shadow and a kind of echo of their name. But I urge this with logic. First, a thing the doing of which would make us ungrateful to nature should not be permitted, we are ungrateful to nature if we sell our ancestral patrimonies, therefore to sell and bargain away ancestral patrimonies is not permitted. If you deny the major premise you show you are not nature’s son, but rather her bastard, for if you were her son you surely would not sell off the patrimony which nature has granted you. Furthermore, to condemn a benefit received from one’s parents argues a man is an ingrate, he who sells an ancestral patrimony rejects a benefit received from his parents, therefore he who sells his patrimony shows himself wholly to be an ingrate. You deny an inheritance bequeathed you to be a benefit, you most ungrateful of men? You scorn a token of such great love, you dangerous fellow? Are you not destroying the basis of ancient and future dignity for your posterity? You lose such a great an estate for such a small state of pleasure, and, as it were, erase your ancestors’ handwriting with that venereal digit of yours? You are unworthy of life, unworthy of a kindness who do not repay thanks to the well-deserving. I add this, that he is base and a fool who does not consult his own interest, but he who sells a hereditary right is not consulting his own interest, therefore he who sells his patrimony should be deemed base and a fool. But you say, “I’m no fool, for thus I am acquiring a greater income.” You are mistaken. For it is an injury, if you abandon nature; he is a monster who sells the soil of his birth in exchange for filthy lucre. For, as a king betrays his nation if he sells it for gold, so a man who sells off his patrimony spurns his father. What shall I add to these arguments save this, that he who sells off his hereditary right works a harm and an injury on the commonwealth? I prove thus that this is harmful for the whole commonwealth, because from it is born a smaller levy is created for the commonwealth, and a bad example is set for other citizens. For how great is the commonwealth’s exhaustion, how great the perversion of its order, when the monuments of antiquity are destroyed, when the names of ancestors are obliterated by the ingratitude of their posterity, when all sides the banners and escutcheons of the Tusculans, the Pompeians, and other most ancient families fall and are cast down? Therefore I conclude that not without crime can a king sell his empire, nor can a citizen sell his ancestral patrimony without impiety. I concede this one thing only, that when a great need is pressing, that, with the consent of their lord, it should be allowed men struggling against extreme misfortune to auction off their heredity as a means of sustaining life. For better to lose the patrimony than to lose the man, especially if he did not fall into his misery because of his own depraved life. Let the lottery addicts of our times read this law of Solon, let the courtiers and dicers read it: let them take their hands from the tables, their hands from the gaming-boards, indeed, their minds from vices.
5. Now, finally, follows the final doubtful issue in the chapter, namely whether during time of peace the martial arts should be practiced? Although peace is indeed God’s great boon by which a happy commonwealth flourishes, and abandoned by which it fails, nevertheless, just as the Athenians depicted their Pallas as armed, so we should fortify and defend peace not as a naked Diana, but as a warlike divinity. For it is the mark of an improvident man to live only for the day, and only see the things lying before one’s feet. When you are healthy is the time to take precautions lest you fall into the clutches of disease, when you are living at peace is the time to take measures do you do not fall into those of the enemy, for the enemy catches you most unawares when you recline asleep at leisure, and are living at peace carefree. Therefore with justice Phaleas is criticized by Aristotle here, because in the description of his commonwealth he drew no picture of Mars. But to confirm by arguments only this issue which is being treated, I take my first argument from the opportunity of the time in this way. No commonwealth is so fortunate that its peace is not envied by some men, therefore in time of peace it should bethink itself of the enemy and war, so we may live more securely at peace. If you deny the antecedent, pray continue and show a single commonwealth, a single nation or empire that always flourished in peace, which ever flourished with no enemy. If you cannot do this, you must confess that at no time can we more opportunely practise the martial arts than when we are at peace. The second argument is from a similarity. For, in the same way that we can most safely take precaution against disease when we have our health and strength, thus we may most advisedly forestall the enemy when tranquillity and prosperity are flourishing in the commonwealth. I seek my third argument from the damage that results from the neglect of martial exercise, and do so in this way. It is perilous to neglect that in the commonwealthby the use of which citizens may be trained to come to the aid of their country and ready to repel the enemy, by the use of martial exercise the citizens learn these things, therefore it is perilous to abandon the use of the martial arts in the commonwealth. All the things in this syllogism are self-evident, for who would deny that experience in anything at all, but most of all in the martial arts, arise and proceed from practice? I add this too, that unforeseen weapons work more harm, and unanticipated evils oppress us the harder. How much more atrocious, how much more savage will that war seem which suddenly befalls citizens, as it were, yawning amidst the playthings of peace? Oh my sweetest, my most happy nation, now you have long been safe from the enemy by se and land, and on this score alone you are most praiseworthy, that in such great, protracted tranquillity you have created so many Scipios against Hannibals, I mean captains against the enemy made expert by practise in the martial arts! You have wooden walls, you have the lofty towers and ramparts of your citizens, for the sturdiness and salvation of our commonwealth resides, not in towers, but in our muscle. May Christ long preserve you, and I pray that, while the commotion of war resounds in nearby nations like the prologue to a tragedy, you witness no act of Raging Hercules on your stage and theater. I do not rehearse examples and stratagems for the proving of this thing, but I cannot pass over in silence that device of the Syrian, who, when he perceived the nation of Lydia to be most bellicose, first forbade them arms, and then the practise of the military arts, and next provided them with banquets and musicians, and finally with his slender voice cast terror into a nation, now rendered wholly idle and effeminate, which before he had scarce overcome with fire and flame. So who does not see that in peacetime a great and singular care must be had for the martial arts, instructed in which the citizens, when need arises, will not rush from their banquets to a cave, but from the wall towards the enemy?
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Should it be permitted any man to grow wealthy?
It is not permitted any man to grow wealthy to an immense degree, according to his will and ability, since wealth increased beyond limit frequently creates:
Its possessor’s arrogance, whence arises
6. OBJECTION It is a bad thing to forbid that in the commonwealth which renders the commonwealth safe and prosperous, increased wealth renders the commonwealth safe and prosperous, therefore it is a bad thing to forbid the ability to increase it. The major premise is true. The minor is proven, since the splendor of the commonwealth consists in its enhanced goods of fortune.
RESPONSE The moderate increase of wealth is not denied to citizens, but the insatiable thirst for increase is not permitted. For, as the honor of the commonwealth lies in the former, so the fear of sedition does in the latter. It is therefore no bad thing to impose a limit on the increase of property, it is not ill-advised to cast a bridle on human greed.
OBJECTION In the republic external goods such as honor and wealth are to be distributed according to men’s merits, there are many (like Horatius Colces, who liberated Rome) who have infinitely deserved well of their commonwealths, therefore it ought to be permitted them to increase their fortunes infinitely. The major premise is Aristotle’s in Book V of the Ethics.
RESPONSE Merits are rewarded not only with riches, but with praise (which pertains more to virtue). Their riches are therefore to be increased, so they may live more honorably, but their praises are to be amplified without measure, so that they may shine the brighter for posterity.
OBJECTION Riches are constantly being drawn from the treasuries of the best citizens for the use of the commonwealth, therefore it is to be hoped that it be permitted the best citizens to accumulate infinite wealth. The argument follows, since good men tend towards the accumulation of a fortune, not for private good, but for the public and common good.
RESPONSE This indeed would be something to hope for, if the chaff did not grow along with the wheat, that is if a throng of evil men did not grow along with the good. But since in the commonwealth there live more bad than devoted citizens, a law must be prescribed for everybody, lest the example of good citizens be turned to the danger of the commonwealth by bad ones.
OBJECTION Riches infinitely increased enhance the power of the citizenry, and this power terrifies the enemy, therefore it should be permitted any man to accumulate wealth. The antecedent is proven: since the wealthy are powerful among their own fellow and an object of terror to the enemy, they are deemed the best guardians of their commonwealths.
RESPONSE It must be admitted that power often grows from wealth, but the jury is still out whether this power inflicts more terror on fellow citizens at home or on external enemies. Therefore, lest this evil creep abroad further in the commonwealth, it is to be prohibited by law lest many a Crassus lives in the city.
OBJECTION It is not only a difficult thing, but almost an impossible one that a proportion of wealth can be assigned to each individual, therefore every man is to be left to his own devices.
RESPONSE It is indeed an impossible thing to implement an arithmetical proportion, but a very easy one to prescribe and observe a geometrical proportion for each individual in the commonwealth.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Should it be permissible to sell ancestral patrimonies?
It is not permissible to sell ancestral patrimonies, since:
Nature granted it to us so we should be
7. OBJECTION Whatever is ours according to the law of nature and the commonwealth is rightly ours to sell, patrimonies are ours according to the law of nature and the commonwealth, therefore patrimonies are rightly ours to sell.
RESPONSE In patrimonies (as in other matters) two things are considered, possession and use. The use of patrimonies is not that they are to be sold, but that in them, no less than in signatures signed, as it were, in their blood as seals, the images of our fathers and forefathers be preserved, and, having been preserved, be piously transmitted to posterity. So I deny that this thing is permitted any man either by the law of nature or that of a well-regulated commonwealth.
OBJECTION In many well-regulated commonwealths hereditary rights can be sold, therefore it is permissible. Experience teaches the antecedent.
RESPONSE I indeed believe this evil is permitted and tolerated in many a well-regulated commonwealth, yet it is not prescribed and approved. Thus usury is often permitted but not approved.
OBJECTION Contracts and agreements regarding sold patrimonies are confirmed by law, therefore the selling itself appears to be legitimate.
RESPONSE Unrestrained freedom and a profusion of evils has introduced these laws, not the intention of the commonwealth. For justice, perceiving that if this evil were to be curbed a monster would attack, namely, if the sale of patrimonies were forbidden sedition would break out, permitted this by law, but did not prescribe ti; she tolerated it as an evil, she did not define it as a good.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE THIRD QUESTION
Should the martial arts be practiced in time of peace?
That the martial arts should be practiced in time of peace is proved in manifold ways, namely:
By the opportunity of the time..
8. OBJECTION The martial arts disturb the peace of the commonwealth, therefore in time of peace it is not permitted to practise the martial arts. The antecedent is proven, since nothing is more opposed to peace than war, nothing more opposed to the quiet of the commonwealth than the throng and strife of soldiery.
RESPONSE It is one thing to practise war, but another to wage it. In time of peace war is practiced, not that the peace might be disturbed, but so the commonwealth might be protected from the enemy. Therefore this throng of soldiery need not be troublesome, since it is protecting rather than invading the commonwealth.
OBJECTION Men are made bold and contentious by practise and the art of fighting, therefore it is to be feared lest they become seditious. If this should happen, the republic would receive more danger than convenience from this exercise.
RESPONSE Any slight shadow of evil ought not to frighten us, no good is acquired without a suspicion of evil. But he who neglects the good in order to shun the evil acts amiss so he might live honorably. And so I respond, although by practise and the art of fighting men are frequently made bold and contentious, nevertheless this useful work is not to be interrupted in peacetime, since by its omission a greater peril is created for the commonwealth, should the enemy invade, than could arise from the contention of a few soldiers, who are controlled by the laws and their officers.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Should craftsmen be citizens?
9. Tell me, indomitable Mars, why you banish limping Vulcan from the commonwealth? Because he was a smith? Or are you seeking Venus for a mistress, you impudent fellow, and so deny that her husband was a citizen? Unjustly done. You do better, Alexander, for bidding painter Apelles be numbered among the nobility and sculptor Polyclitus among the citizens. I certainly don’t know what to say about you, learned Phaleas, for affirming here that craftsmen are slaves, not citizens, and dregs rather than parts of the populace. At Athens Diophantes once legislated this, but foolishly. The state of Epidamnus passed this law, but unfortunately. For he was hissed at and ostracized, it was oppressed by tyranny and unhappily perished as a city. You want me to prove this idea of yours to be unjust? Thus, briefly, I dispute. Craftsmen are freeborn, therefore should be citizens. Again, take away its craftsmen and the greater part of the commonwealth will fail, therefore they should not be debarred from the freedom of the commonwealth. Then too, craftsmen bear the republic’s greatest burdens, therefore it is unjust if they should have no share in the commonwealth. Finally, craftsmen are no less conducive to the good of the commonwealth than are soldiers, soldiers are citizens, therefore craftsmen should be too. Therefore, Phaleas, contrary to yourself, I conclude that all craftsmen are citizens rather than slaves. But I agree with you in excluding those who wallow about in the sewers and dung of the commonwealth, who feed their hungry guts by handling the unclean and filthy garbage of the commonwealth: these are feeble of intellect or slaves by nature, or, nearest to slaves, are deemed unworthy of the light and the theater of the commonwealth, and are thoroughly incompetent for the performance of offices. But those who excel in their art ought not boorishly to lack their liberty. For the Philosopher calls Zeuxis, Apelles and Polyclitus wise artisans. Indeed God chose Bezaleel and Aholiab, right noble artisans, for the tabernacle of the Covenant, to the ark of witness, to the place of offering, for the making of all the vessels of the Temple.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE DOUBTFUL QUESTION
That artisans are citizens is proven by:
The authority of our ancestors, which thus instituted it.
10. OBJECTION In the commonwealth all citizens have a share in counsel and dignity, but it is unseemly for artisans engaged in the sordid arts to have a share in counsel and dignity, therefore it is absurd for artisans to be reckoned among citizens.
RESPONSE Even though when compared to the liberal arts the mechanical ones can be called sordid, this is not so simply and altogether, nor for this reason are artisans to be banished from counsel, since they deal in humbler affairs. For Cincinnatus, Curius and Fabricius worked the plow, and Cato concerned himself with agriculture.
OBJECTION In Book III, chapter 3 Aristotle denies that artisans are citizens, therefore they are not.
RESPONSE He does not deny this simply and absolutely, but only teaches this, that sordid artisans and hirelings are not to be deemed citizens in any constitution of the republic, and particularly in an aristocracy.
OPPOSITION Consultation demands acumen and dignity demands experience, but artisans are intent on their arts and have no acumen of intellect or experience of affairs, therefore artisans are unfit for the commonwealth.
RESPONSE It is not required that every citizen who has a share in government and consultation (as Aristotle says) must be a philosopher per se, it is enough if he heeds counsel and strives for the public good to the best of his ability.
Go to the second part of Book II