republic (books 6 - 10)
or rather, as our plan requires, begin with the State.
By all means.
I believe that oligarchy follows next in order.
And what manner of government do you term oligarchy?
A government resting on a valuation of property, in which
the rich have power and the poor man is deprived of it.
I understand, he replied.
Ought I not to begin by describing how the change from
timocracy to oligarchy arises?
Well, I said, no eyes are required in order to see how the one
passes into the other.
The accumulation of gold in the treasury of private individ-
uals is the ruin of timocracy; they invent illegal modes of ex-
penditure; for what do they or their wives care about the law?
And then one, seeing another grow rich, seeks to rival him,
and thus the great mass of the citizens become lovers of money.
And so they grow richer and richer, and the more they think
of making a fortune the less they think of virtue; for when
riches and virtue are placed together in the scales of the balance
the one always rises as the other falls.
And in proportion as riches and rich men are honored in the
State, virtue and the virtuous are dishonored.
And what is honored is cultivated, and that which has no
honor is neglected.
That is obvious.
And so at last, instead of loving contention and glory, men
become lovers of trade and money; they honor and look up to
the rich man, and make a ruler of him, and dishonor the poor
They do so.
They next proceed to make a law which fixes a sum of money
as the qualification of citizenship; the sum is higher in one
place and lower in another, as the oligarchy is more or less ex-
clusive; and they allow no one whose property falls below the
amount fixed to have any share in the government. These
changes in the constitution they effect by force of arms, if in-