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E. H. WARMINGTON, m.a., f.b.hist.soc.













First prinled 1932

Reprinted with some corrections 1944

Reprinted 1950, 1959

Printed in Great Britain

Introduction :


Book VI Book VII Book VIII .




05 .



Index I. Subjects Index II. -Persons and Places







It seems to me to show a Shake-

spearian understanding of human beings and their ways, together with a sublime good sense."Henry Jackson,


" It is an amazing book.


1. Practical Prolegomena

In this edition of Politics the Books are in the MS.

order ; the division into chapters and sections is that

of Schneider (1809) 5 also, to facilitate reference,

there are indicated in the margin the pages, columns

and lines of Bekker's Berlin text (1831), which with

its volumes of scholia (1836) and Bonitz's index (1870)

has rendered invaluable service to students (its lines

are numbered, and its two columns denoted by later

editors by a and b, so that it affords a reference to

every line of the extant works of Aristotle except The

Athenian Constitution, only rediscovered in 1890).

Some modern editors have reaiTanged the Books,

placing the 7th and 8th as 4th and 5th, and the 4th,

5th and 6th either as 6th, 7th and 8th, or as 6th, 8th and

7th. Also some number them by the Greek alphabet,

but others by the Greek numerals, using -, ,

instead of , ,

modes of dividing the Books into chapters are in

vogue, and with one of these two different divisions of the chapters into sections have been used. The

result is that such a reference as ' Politics, Z, v. 6


Moreover, two

to denote 6, 7, 8.

might denote twelve different passages in twelve

different editions.

The arguments for the two different rearrange- ments of the order of the Books are based on their contents, and editors have made conjectural altera- tions of the cross-references in the text to suit these


rearrangements ; but the reasons, based on these

cross-references and on the general contents, in

favour of retaining the traditional order seem to me almost or quite as strong, while the reasons of con- venience (vigorously stated by Immisch in his

edition, pp. vi f.) are overwhelming.

It also seems desirable to explain that this transla-

tion is designed primarily to serve as an assistance to readers of the Greek, not as a substitute for it

it aims at being explanatory, so far as is possible without expanding into mere paraphrase. A version

intended to be read instead of the Greek might well

be on different lines.

It might be quite literal and

non-committal, keeping as close as possible to the form of the Greek and reproducing even its gaps of

expression and what are or seem to our ignorance to be its ambiguities, and leaving the student to go

for explanation to the commentators ; or, on the

other hand, it might render the meaning but ignore the form, and substitute terse and finished English

for Aristotle's great variety of stylesfor he ranges

from mere jottings and notes to passages of ample

discourse, not devoid of eloquence, though hardly

models of Attic distinction and grace.

A rendering on the latter lines was provided for English readers once and for all by Jowett, whose

translation with notes and essays (1885) is an English classic. This version, revised by Ross (1921), is of

the greatest service to the student who wants to know the things that Aristotle said, but not the way he had of saying them.

2. Mss. and Text of Politics

The mss. are not very old nor very good.



oldest evidence for the text is a translation in bar-

barous Latin by a Dominican monk of the thirteenth

century, William of Moeibeke in Flanders. It is

occasionally quoted here as Guil., and when the readings of its lost Greek original can be inferred

from it, they are given as L. a

The five best extant

Greek copies are of the fifteenth century :

one at

Berlin, Hamiltonianus (H), one at Milan (M), and

three at Paris (P 1 , P a , P 3 ).

Of these


an older text than any other ;

and P 1 form a

family with L ; P 2 and P 3 group with various inferior

mss., and are usually considered less reliable than the other family. 6 The text of Politics is thus very

uncertain in detail, although uncertainties affect-

ing the meaning are fortunately not very numerous.

Some inaccuracies of expression attested by all the mss. are precisely similar to inaccuracies in other places attested by some mss. and avoided by others ;

but as to how far the former inaccuracies are to be accredited to the author and how far to his trans-

mitters, no two scholars will agree.

In this edition room has only been found for the

most interesting variant readings.

3. Editions

The commentary of Newman on the whole work

(4 vols., 1887-1902) and that of Susemihl and Hicks

on five Books (1894) are most valuable collections

of information. The Teubner edition of Susemihl

revised by Immisch (2nd ed., 1929) gives a useful

brief presentation of the evidence for the text.

" Also the version of Aretinus (Leonardo Bruno of Arezzo)

1438, is once or twice cited as Ar.

* Codd. cet. in the critical notes of this edition.


4. Life of Aristotle

Diogenes Laertius's Lives of the Philosophers, supple- mented from other sources, gives us a fairly detailed

knowledge of Aristotle's life. His father was an

hereditary member of the medical profession, and physician to the king of Macedon, Amyntas II.

Aristotle was born in 384 b.c. at the little colonial

city of Stagirus, on the Gulf of the Strymon, of which he remained a citizen all his life, although he

passed half of it at Athens. Perhaps it is possible to find some trace of his northern origin in his

writings ; if in some details of his thought he is more

Athenian than the Athenians, his style has little

Attic neatness, fluency or grace, even though his

vocabulary has no definitely non-Attic features.

He came to Athens at the age of seventeen to pursue

his education, and became a pupil of Plato, remaining

a member of the Academy for twenty years, till

Plato's death. Speusippus then became head of the

school, and Aristotle left Athens for Atarneus in

Asia Minor, where his former fellow-pupil Hermeias

He entertained Aristotle for

three years, and gave him his niece as wife ; but then

he fell into the hands of the Persians. Aristotle fled

to the neighbouring island of Lesbos, and in 342 was

invited by King Philip to return to Macedon and

become the tutor of Alexander, now thirteen years old. At sixteen the prince became regent, Philip

being engaged in war with Byzantium. His tutor

retired to Stagirus, which had been destroyed by Philip in the Olynthian war, but which Aristotle

had been allowed to restore. But he returned to

Athens when Alexander succeeded to his father's


now ' tyrant.'


throne in 336 B.C., and set up as a professor of philo-

sophy, breaking away from the Academy and estab-

lishing a kind of college in the Lyceum. This was a

precinct of Apollo

city, and its


and the Muses just outside the

or walks, in which Aristotle

taught, gave the new school its name of Peripatetic ; he equipped it with a large library and a natural

history museum.

Aristotle's professorship lasted till 322 B.C., when

on Alexander's death Athens led a Greek revolt

against Macedon.

Aristotle, an alien, a protege of

the court and friend of the viceroy Antipater, and

a critic of democracy, fell a victim to anti-Macedonian

feeling ; like Socrates before him, he was prosecuted

for impiety. Saying that he would not let Athens ' sin twice against philosophy,' he withdrew to his

estate at Chalcis in Euboea, and died in the same year.

His body was taken to Stagirus for burial, and his

memory was honoured there by a yearly festival.


left his library and the originals of his own

writings to his pupil Theophrastus, who succeeded

him as head of the Lyceum.

5. Aristotle's Writings

Aristotle's writings were partly more or less popular works on philosophical subjects, and partly

The former were published

and are doubtless included

among the ' exoteric discourses ' referred to in his

extant works (e.g. Pol. 1323 a 32), though that term

seems to cover the writings of other philosophers also.

They are all lost, unless The Athenian Constitution






is held to belong to this group. No doubt they had

the charm and flow of style

tilian praise in Aristotle.


( ),

which Cicero and Quin-

the latter group belong

the extant works, and these are for the most part


' lectures '

and in

singularly devoid of those qualities of style. They


fact each consists of a collection of separate dis-

courses on different parts of a subject, loosely put

together to form a treatise on the whole, with transi- tional passages of summary and preface, and cross-

references, often untraceable. Some passages are

mere outlines of the argument, others set it out fully but baldly, and others are copious and even eloquent,

as if written to be read by the professor to his class.

actual drafts for courses of

Doubtless they are

lectures, put together by Aristotle or his pupils to

form treatises, and kept in the library of the school

as an encyclopaedia for the use of students. It is to them that Cicero refers when in another passage he

speaks of Aristotle's writings as ' notes ' (commentarii).

6. Politics and Ethics

For Aristotle Political Science is the second half of

a subject of which Ethics is the first half; indeed in

the opening chapters of The Nicomachean Ethics the

It is

term Politike is applied to the whole subject.

the science of human affairs, of man's happiness or


This consists in a certain mode of life, and

man's life is shaped for him by his social environment,

the laws, customs and institutions of the community

to which he belongs. Aristotle describes man in

biological terms as ' by nature a political animal ' ; he

only develops his capacities in society, rightly organ-


ized for his welfare.

The aim of Politike is to dis-

cover first in what mode of life man's happiness

consists, then by what form of government and what

social institutions that mode of life can be secured.

The former question requires the study of man's

ethos or character, which occupies The Nicomachean Ethics ; the latter is the subject of the constitution


of the state, which is treated in Politics.

is a sequel to Ethics, the second half of a single treatise, although it bears the title that in the preface has been given to the whole subject ; this subject is covered by Plato in the single dialogue of The

Republic. In Aristotle's whole scheme of science, Politike belongs to the group of Practical Sciences, which seek knowledge as a means to action, whereas the

Theoretic Sciences (such as theology, metaphysics,

pure mathematics and astronomy) seek knowledge

for its own sake. The Practical Sciences fall into two groups again ; the ' Poietic ' or Productive Sciences,

which tell us how to make things, and the Practical Sciences in the narrower sense of the term, which

tell us how to do things : the former aim at some

product or result, of the latter the actual practice

The former include the

of the art is itself the end.

professions and the handicrafts, the latter the fine

arts, like dancing and music, which are pursued for

their own sake (though in Greek the term


1 art ' or craft, is sometimes confined to the former

groupcompare the English word ' technology ').

The supreme Practical Science is Politike ;



the science of man's welfare or happiness as a whole. It is practical in the wider sense of the term, because it studies not only what happiness is (the topic of


Ethics), but also how it is to be secured (that of Poli-

tics) ; and it is also practical in the narrower sense,

because happiness is found (in Ethics) not to be a

product of action but itself to consist in action of a certain sort.

7. Other Aristotelian Works on Politics

? (a dialogue),


The short essay Oeconomicus included among the

works of Aristotle is certainly



Aristotle recorded



by one or more

political works of

Peripatetics of a later date. Other


dialogue on colonization), -



(formal pleadings on points of difference

submitted by the Greek states to the arbitration of



(an account of

the institutions of non-Hellenic peoples, including the Etruscans), and most important of all, (a series of accounts of the constitutions of a large

number of Greek states, enlivened with legends, local

proverbs, and even anecdotes).

This last work,

until the discovery of The Athenian Constitution in

1890, was only known to us from a number of quota-

It was a collec-

tions and references in later writers.

tion of materials upon which Politics was based, and is referred to as such at the conclusion of The Nico-

machean Ethics.

8. Date of Composition of Politics

The latest event mentioned in Politics (V. viii.

10, 1311 b 2) is the death of Philip of Macedon,

336 b.c. The work is not finished, and Aristotle died

in 322 b.c.


9. Structure of the Work

Most of Aristotle's extant works look like com-

pilations of several logoi or discourses dealing with different parts of the subject, and somewhat loosely



applies to Politics more than to any other ;

seems to consist of three sets of lectures, not com-

pletely finished, not systematically connected, and partly overlapping : viz. (1) Books I.-IIL, Prole-

put together to form a treatise on the whole.

gomenathe theory of the state in general and a

classification of the varieties of constitution ; (2)

Books IV., V., VI., Practical Politicsthe nature of

existing constitutions, and principles for their good

government ; (3) Books VII., VIII., Ideal Politics

the structure of the best state (unfinished).

A probable view ° is that the work was begun on

one plan and later finished on another. Book I., a

prefatory treatise on domestic economy, was prob-

ably written for the first plan ; it is unfinished, and clumsily fitted on to its present sequel. Book II.

also looks like part of the first plan, kept to form part

of the second one ;

the same applies to Book III.,

perhaps the oldest part of all, which shows signs of incomplete revision to fit the new plan. Books IV.,

V., VI. are the newer work, and contemporary with

the conclusion of The Nicomachean Ethics. Books

VII VIII., the Best State, are the earlier work, put

aside unfinished when the plan was changed, and

their substitute was never written.

a Stocks in Classical Quarterly, xxi M partly following von

Arnim and Jaeger.

Barker in Classical Review, xlv. p. 162,

discusses the point in relation to Aristotle's life and political



10. Outline of Contents

(1) Prolegomena, Books L, II., III.

Book I. The Family.The state (c. i.) is not merely

a large family (a retort to Plato's communism), but

different in kind, yet it is a natural outgrowth from

an aggregation of villages, as the village is from

an aggregation of families.

The family (c. ii.) is a

partnership of master and slave, husband and wife,

father and children ; it involves the business of pro-


Mastership (c. ii. continued) : the slave is a

live tool, and slavery is naturalthe division into ruler

and ruled permeates nature (soul and body, reason

and appetites, man and animals, male and female),

and some men have only bodily capacities. Criticism

really hits

' legal slavery ' ;

' natural slavery ' is

recognized by common sense, and there is community

of interest and friendship between master and slave. But the acquisition of slaves and the direction of

their tasks are not part of mastership proper. The

business of provision (c. iii.)is it part of family economy, or subsidiary ? Nature supplies food for

animals, and animals for the food and service of man ;

so one kind of acquisitionthe supply of the limited

wealth needed for the good lifedoes belong to family economy. But another kind uses goods for exchange,

aided by the invention of money, which led to com-

merce ; hence the mistaken beliefs that money is the

sole wealth and that the good life is bodily enjoyment.

The natural and necessary art of provision is sub-

sidiary to family economy ; the other kind is justly

disliked, especially usurymoney breeding money. The branches of natural and unnatural provision are


outlined (c. iv.), with a third intermediate kind, the ap-

propriation of the uncultivated gifts of the soil ; and reference is made to former treatises, dealing in

particular with monopoly. The relation of the head

of the family (c. v.) to the wife resembles republi- can government, and that to the children royalty.

All three classes of household subjects have their

virtues, the slaves' imparted by the master's ad- monition, the women's and children's by education directed in the interest of the state.

Book II., The best Constitutions known, theoretical

and actual (c. i.). Plato's Republic aims at unity

by communism ; but complete unity of the state is

not desirable, his system (c. ii.) will not produce it,

his account is incomplete, and there are other minor

objections. The communism of Laws (c. iii.) is less

The equalitarian constitution of


Phaleas and that of Hippodamus (cc. iv., v.) are criti-

cized, with a short essay on the dangers of political

innovation ; then the constitution of Sparta (c. vi.),

that of Crete, said to have been its model (c. vii.), and that of Carthage (c. viii.). There follow notes on Solon and a few other law-givers (c. ix.).

Book III., The Nature of the State.Political Science

(cc. i.-iii.) asks ' What is a citizen ? ' and ' Is the good-


ness of a citizen the same as the goodness of a man ? (in other words, What share in government constitutes

citizenship and what classes should possess it ? and

in order to perform its duties, must one possess all

the moral virtues or only special political abilities ?).

Citizenship means at least membership of the

judiciary and the assembly, and therefore requires

some property and leisure ; and manual work and

trade are incompatible with the necessary mental


On this basis the. forms of government

They vary according as

the sovereign is one man or a few or the many, and according as these govern for the common good or for

their own ; this gives three Correct Constitutions Royalty, Aristocracy, Constitutional Government

and three DeviationsTyranny, Oligarchy, Demo- cracy (i.e., essentially, the rule of the poor and un-

leisured, not the rule of the many). The distribution

are classified (cc. iv., v.).


of power (c. vi.) : the state is a partnership for the good life, and in principle those who contribute

most to this have most right to power. In practice,

perhaps, the laws should be sovereign ; but they may

be bad. The rule of the many is a simple solution they have at least collective wisdom and wealth ;

but they should not share the highest offices, only elect

to and control them. The subject is treated afresh



viii.) :

education and virtue are the best

claims to powerwealth, birth and numbers have


puts a man or group of men above the law : hence

the value of ostracism, for even in the ideal state

supereminence would be dangerousexcept super- eminence in virtue, which should make a man

monarch. Royalty (c. ix.)Spartan, oriental, elective

(the aesymnete), that of heroic times, and (c. x.)

absolute monarchy. It calls for supreme virtue in an

relative but not absolute claims.

individual ; but royalty passed into aristocracy as virtue spread, and aristocracy degenerated into

oligarchy ; this was overthrown by tyrants, and these

Truly (c. xi.) the law

should rule, i.e. reason ; and the monarch must have

helpers, which points to aristocracy. But surpassing

individual excellence does occur, and then absolute

put down by democracy.


Recapitulation on Royalty

monarchy is justified.

(c. xii.)•

(Of the other five constitutions, four are treated,

though not on a symmetrical plan, in Books IV., V.,

VI. Aristocracy was touched on as a variant to Royalty

in III. x., xi., and actual cases of it are alluded to in

IV. vii., but it is replaced by the Best Constitution,

the unfinished essay on which forms Books VII. and


equivalent for

in IV. iii. 1 (1289 a 31 if.) : is this an interpolation ?)

The substitution of

as an

is justified


(2) Practical Politics, Books IV., V., VI.

Book IV. Existing Constitutions.Science (c. i.)

must study not only the ideally best form of state

but the best under given conditions.


and Aristocracy (c. ii.) have been dealt with ; there

remain Constitutional Government, and the Devia-

tions (in descending order of merit), Democracy, Oligarchy, Tyrannytheir varieties and their suit-

ability to various peoples, their establishment and

their preservation against revolution (the contents

Constitutions (c. iii.) vary

of Books IV., V., VI).

in the distribution of power according to rank and

wealth. Democracy and Oligarchy are usually

thought the chief forms ; they really differ (c. iv.)

not merely as the rule of the free and of the wealthy, but as that of the free majority and the wealthy

minority. The necessary classes are farmers, arti-

sans, shopkeepers, labourers, soldiers, councillors

and judges, rich men, magistrates (Plato wrongly

omitted the last three). Some may overlap, but

rich and poor are distinct, so that Oligarchy and


Democracy are the normal forms of government.

Democracy (c. iv.) has four varieties, according as

the qualifications of property and citizen-birth, and

the supremacy of law over decrees of the assembly, are in force or are not. Oligarchy (c. v.) also has four varieties, according as power goes by a moderate or

a high property-qualification, or by heredity, or is the arbitrary rule of powerful families called a

Dynasty. The normal historical succession of the

four varieties of Democracy and of Oligarchy are

traced. Aristocracy, in a secondary sense, is a blend of these two, based on merit and numbers, or on

merit, numbers and wealth. Constitutional Govern-

ment (cc. vi., vii.) is also a blend of Oligarchy and Democracy (approximating more to the latter), being

based on numbers and wealth ; it is brought about

by the institution of pay for service in the courts,

and of either a moderate property-qualification

for the assembly or else election without property- qualification of magistrates ; it brings contentment,

and so is stable. Tyranny (c. viii.) is monarchy based

on force, irresponsible and selfish. Constitutional

Government (c. ix.), based on the virtues of the

middle class, is best on the average.

But (c. x.)

the best constitution for a given state depends

on the relative numbers of the free, the middle

Citizenship should be


and the wealthy.

limited to those who bear arms, with a property-