Aristotle, Politics 1314a-1315b

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טקסט

1314a

In fact owing to this tyranny is a friend of the base; for tyrants enjoy being flattered, but nobody would ever flatter them if he possessed a free spirit—men of character love their ruler, or at all events do not flatter him. And the base are useful for base business, for nail is driven out by nail, as the proverb goes.And it is a mark of a tyrant to dislike anyone that is proud or free-spirited; for the tyrant claims for himself alone the right to bear that character, and the man who meets his pride with pride and shows a free spirit robs tyranny of its superiority and position of mastery; tyrants therefore hate the proud as undermining their authority. And it is a mark of a tyrant to have men of foreign extraction rather than citizens as guests at table and companions, feeling that citizens are hostile but strangers make no claim against him.These and similar habits are characteristic of tyrants and preservative of their office, but they lack no element of baseness. And broadly speaking, they are all included under three heads; for tyranny aims at three things, one to keep its subjects humble (for a humble-spirited man would not plot against anybody), second to have them continually distrust one another (for a tyranny is not destroyed until some men come to trust each other, owing to which tyrants also make war on the respectable, as detrimental to their rule not only because of their refusal to submit to despotic rule, but also because they are faithful to one another and to the other citizens, and do not inform against one another nor against the others); and the third is lack of power for political action (since nobody attempts impossibilities, so that nobody tries to put down a tyranny if he has not power behind him). These then in fact are the three aims to which the wishes of tyrants are directed; for all the measures taken by tyrants one might class under these principles—some are designed to prevent mutual confidence among the subjects, others to curtail their power, and others to make them humble-spirited. Such then is the nature of one method by which security is obtained for tyrannies. The other tries to operate in a manner almost the opposite of the devices mentioned. And it can be ascertained from considering the downfall of royal governments. For just as one mode of destroying royalty is to make its government more tyrannical, so a mode of securing tyranny is to make it more regal, protecting one thing only, its power, in order that the ruler may govern not only with the consent of the subjects but even without it; for if he gives up this, he also gives up his position as tyrant. But while this must stand as a fundamental principle, all the other measures he may either adopt or pretend to adopt by cleverly acting the royal part. The first step is to be careful of the public funds,

1314b

not squandering presents such as the multitudes resent, when tyrants take money from the people themselves while they toil and labor in penury and lavish it on mistresses and foreigners and craftsmen, and also rendering account of receipts and expenditure, as some tyrants have done already (for this careful management would make a ruler seem a steward of the state and not a tyrant, and he need not be afraid of ever being at a loss for funds while he is master of the state; on the contrary, for those tyrants who go abroad on foreign campaigns this is actually more expedient than to leave their money there collected into one sum, for there is less fear of those guarding it making an attempt on power; since for tyrants campaigning abroad the keepers of the treasury are more to be feared than the citizens, for the citizens go abroad with him but the others stay at home). Secondly he must be seen to collect his taxes and benevolences for purposes of administration and to meet his occasional requirements for military emergencies, and generally must pose as guardian and steward as it were of a public fund and not a private estate. And his bearing must not be harsh but dignified, and also such as to inspire not fear but rather respect in those who encounter him, though this is not easy to achieve if he is a contemptible personality; so that even if he neglects the other virtues he is bound to cultivate military valor, and to make himself a reputation as a soldier. And further more not only must he himself be known not to outrage any of his subjects, either boy or girl, but so also must everybody about him, and also their wives must similarly show respect towards the other women, since even the insolences of women have caused the fall of many tyrannies. And in regard to bodily enjoyments he must do the opposite of what some tyrants do now (for they not only begin their debaucheries at daybreak and carry them on for many days at a time, but also wish to be seen doing so by the public, in order that people may admire them as fortunate and happy), but best of all he must be moderate in such matters, or if not, he must at all events avoid displaying his indulgences to his fellows (for not the sober man but the drunkard is easy to attack and to despise, not the wakeful man but the sleeper). And he must do the opposite of almost all the things mentioned some time back, for he must lay out and adorn the city as if he were a trustee and not a tyrant. And further he must be seen always to be exceptionally zealous as regards religious observances (for people are less afraid of suffering any illegal treatment from men of this sort,

1315a

if they think that their ruler has religious scruples and pays regard to the gods, and also they plot against him less, thinking that he has even the gods as allies, though he should not display a foolish religiosity. And he must pay such honor to those who display merit in any matter that they may think that they could never be more honored by the citizens if they were in dependent; and honors of this kind he should bestow in person, but inflict his punishments by the agency of other magistrates and law-courts. And it is a protection common to every sort of monarchy to make no one man great, but if necessary to exalt several (for they will keep watch on one another), and if after all the ruler has to elevate an individual, at all events not take a man of bold spirit (for such a character is most enterprising in all undertakings); and if he thinks fit to remove somebody from his power, to do this by gradual stages and not take away the whole of his authority at once. And again he should carefully avoid all forms of outrage, and two beyond all, violent bodily punishments and outrage of the young. And this caution must especially be exercised in relation to the ambitious, for while to be slighted in regard to property annoys the lovers of wealth, slights that involve dishonor are what men of honorable ambition and high character resent. Hence the tyrant should either not consort with men of this kind, or appear to inflict his punishments paternally and not because of contempt, and to indulge in the society of the young for reasons of passion, not because he has the power, and in general he should buy off what are thought to be dishonors by greater honors. And among those who make attempts upon the life of a ruler the most formidable and those against whom the greatest precaution is needed are those that are ready to sacrifice their lives if they can destroy him. Hence the greatest care must be taken to guard against those who think that insolent outrage is being done either to themselves or to those who happen to be under their care; for men attacking under the influence of anger are reckless of themselves, as Heraclitus1 also observed when he said that anger was hard to combat because it would buy revenge with a life. And since states consist of two parts, the poor people and the rich, the most important thing is for both to think that they owe their safety to the government and for it to prevent either from being wronged by the other, but whichever class is the stronger, this must be made to be entirely on the side of the government, as, if this support for the tyrant's interests is secured, there is no need for him to institute a liberation of slaves or a disarming of the citizens, for one of the two parts of the state added to his power will be enough to make him and them stronger than their attackers. But to discuss each of such matters separately is superfluous; for the thing to aim at is clear,

1315b

[1] that it is necessary to appear to the subjects to be not a tyrannical ruler but a steward and a royal governor, and not an appropriator of wealth but a trustee, and to pursue the moderate things of life and not its extravagances, and also to make the notables one's comrades and the many one's followers. For the result of these methods must be that not only the tyrant's rule will be more honorable and more enviable because he will rule nobler subjects and not men that have been humiliated, and will not be continually hated and feared, but also that his rule will endure longer, and moreover that he himself in his personal character will be nobly disposed towards virtue, or at all events half-virtuous, and not base but only half-base. Nevertheless oligarchy and tyranny1 are less lasting than any of the constitutional governments. For the longest-lived was the tyranny at Sicyon, that of the sons2 of Orthagoras and of Orthagoras himself, and this lasted a hundred years. The cause of this was that they treated their subjects moderately and in many matters were subservient to the laws, and Cleisthenes because he was a warlike man was not easily despised, and in most things they kept the lead of the people by looking after their interests. At all events it is said that Cleisthenes placed a wreath on the judge who awarded the victory away from him, and some say that the statue [20] of a seated figure in the market-place is a statue of the man who gave this judgement. And they say that Pisistratus also once submitted to a summons for trial before the Areopagus. And the second longest is the tyranny at Corinth, that of the Cypselids, for even this lasted seventy-three and a half years, as Cypselus was tyrant for thirty years, Periander for forty-four, and Psammetichus son of Gordias for three years. And the reasons for the permanence of this tyranny also are the same: Cypselus was a leader of the people and continuously throughout his period of office dispensed with a bodyguard; and although Periander became tyrannical, yet he was warlike. The third longest tyranny is that of the Pisistratidae at Athens, but it was not continuous; for while Pisistratus was tyrant he twice fled into exile, so that in a period of thirty-three years he was tyrant for seventeen years out of the total, and his sons for eighteen years, so that the whole duration of their rule was thirty-five years. Among the remaining tyrannies is the one connected with Hiero and Gelo at Syracuse, but even this did not last many years, but only eighteen in all, for Gelo after being tyrant for seven years ended his life in the eighth, and Hiero ruled ten years, but Thrasybulus was expelled after ten months. And the usual tyrannies have all of them been of quite short duration.

The causes therefore of the destruction of constitutional governments and of monarchies and those again of their preservation have almost all of them been discussed.

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