republic (books 6 - 10)
timidation has not already done their work.
And this, speaking generally, is the way in which oligarchy
Yes, he said; but what are the characteristics of this form of
government, and what are the defects of which we were
First of all, I said, consider the nature of the qualification
Just think what would happen if pilots were to be chosen ac-
cording to their property, and a poor man were refused permis-
sion to steer, even though he were a better pilot?
You mean that they would shipwreck?
Yes; and is not this true of the government of anything?
I should imagine so.
Except a city?--or would you include a city?
Nay, he said, the case of a city is the strongest of all, inas-
much as the rule of a city is the greatest and most difficult
This, then, will be the first great defect of oligarchy?
And here is another defect which is quite as bad.
The inevitable division: such a State is not one, but two
States, the one of poor, the other of rich men; and they are
living on the same spot and always conspiring against one
That, surely, is at least as bad.
Another discreditable feature is, that, for a like reason, they
are incapable of carrying on any war. Either they arm the
multitude, and then they are more afraid of them than of the
enemy; or, if they do not call them out in the hour of battle,
they are oligarchs indeed, few to fight as they are few to rule.
And at the same time their fondness for money makes them
unwilling to pay taxes.
And, as we said before, under such a constitution the same
persons have too many callings--they are husbandmen, trades-
men, warriors, all in one. Does that look well?
Anything but well.
There is another evil which is, perhaps, the greatest of all,
and to which this State first begins to be liable.