Democracy sucks, the two thousand four hundred (and change) years old version.

Friday, 18 May, Year 10 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

The original Greek discussedi below is likely written before Brasidas, son of Tellis, took Acanthus, and probably by someone other than Xenophonii. We begin.

περὶ δὲ τῆς Ἀθηναίων πολιτείας, ὅτι μὲν εἵλοντο τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον τῆς πολιτείας οὐκ ἐπαινῶ διὰ τόδε, ὅτι ταῦθ᾽ ἑλόμενοι εἵλοντο τοὺς πονηροὺς ἄμεινον πράττειν ἢ τοὺς χρηστούς: διὰ μὲν οὖν τοῦτο οὐκ ἐπαινῶ. ἐπεὶ δὲ ταῦτα ἔδοξεν οὕτως αὐτοῖς, ὡς εὖ διασῴζονται τὴν πολιτείαν καὶ τἆλλα διαπράττονται ἃ δοκοῦσιν ἁμαρτάνειν τοῖς ἄλλοις Ἕλλησι, τοῦτ᾽ ἀποδείξω.

On the matter of the Athenians' arrangements, they seem ill advised, inasmuch as they benefit the worst more than the better. As outrageous as such thieveryiii is, nevertheless I will point out those factors that stabilize the mess, and how their interplay achieves all those shameful results the entire world despises them for.

πρῶτον μὲν οὖν τοῦτο ἐρῶ, ὅτι δικαίως αὐτόθι οἱ πένητες καὶ ὁ δῆμος πλέον ἔχειν τῶν γενναίων καὶ τῶν πλουσίων διὰ τόδε, ὅτι ὁ δῆμός ἐστιν ὁ ἐλαύνων τὰς ναῦς καὶ ὁ τὴν δύναμιν περιτιθεὶς τῇ πόλει, καὶ οἱ κυβερνῆται καὶ οἱ κελευσταὶ καὶ οἱ πεντηκόνταρχοι καὶ οἱ πρῳρᾶται καὶ οἱ ναυπηγοί, —οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τὴν δύναμιν περιτιθέντες τῇ πόλει πολὺ μᾶλλον ἢ οἱ ὁπλῖται καὶ οἱ γενναῖοι καὶ οἱ χρηστοί. ἐπειδὴ οὖν ταῦτα οὕτως ἔχει, δοκεῖ δίκαιον εἶναι πᾶσι τῶν ἀρχῶν μετεῖναι ἔν τε τῷ κλήρῳ καὶ ἐν τῇ χειροτονίᾳ, καὶ λέγειν ἐξεῖναι τῷ βουλομένῳ τῶν πολιτῶν.

First of all it may be observed that the poor, and the undistinguished mass of the people generally, manage to extract in the particular circumstance of Athens more than their rightful share, and proportionately more than either the personally merituous or the wealthyiv because they are particularly needed in the navy. As a larger proportion of Athens' might and wealth is derived from the working of the oar than from the working of the javelin, it then follows as a matter of practical necessity that slaves and other inconsequentials nevertheless achieve through the working of their everyday toil knowledge and experience that is in itself valuable to the city beyond its holders' proper station.v

ἔπειτα ὁπόσαι μὲν σωτηρίαν φέρουσι τῶν ἀρχῶν χρησταὶ οὖσαι καὶ μὴ χρησταὶ κίνδυνον τῷ δήμῳ ἅπαντι, τούτων μὲν τῶν ἀρχῶν οὐδὲν δεῖται ὁ δῆμος μετεῖναι: —οὔτε τῶν στρατηγιῶν κλήρῳ οἴονταί σφισι χρῆναι μετεῖναι οὔτε τῶν ἱππαρχιῶν: —γιγνώσκει γὰρ ὁ δῆμος ὅτι πλείω ὠφελεῖται ἐν τῷ μὴ αὐτὸς ἄρχειν ταύτας τὰς ἀρχάς, ἀλλ᾽ ἐᾶν τοὺς δυνατωτάτους ἄρχειν: ὁπόσαι δ᾽ εἰσὶν ἀρχαὶ μισθοφορίας ἕνεκα καὶ ὠφελείας εἰς τὸν οἶκον, ταύτας ζητεῖ ὁ δῆμος ἄρχειν.

There are of course those ranks which threathen the city as a whole, and on whose proper exercise everything rests. In those the mass claims no share. Even through the dull cloud of stupity that most properly represents them, the people nevertheless can see that there is more to be gained by not involving themselves in such ranks but preserving them instead for actual humans. Nevertheless, the people do vie for such ranks as are pecuniarily rewarding or otherwise profitable.

ἔπειτα δὲ ὃ ἔνιοι θαυμάζουσιν ὅτι πανταχοῦ πλέον νέμουσι τοῖς πονηροῖς καὶ πένησι καὶ δημοτικοῖς ἢ τοῖς χρηστοῖς, ἐν αὐτῷ τούτῳ φανοῦνται τὴν δημοκρατίαν διασῴζοντες. οἱ μὲν γὰρ πένητες καὶ οἱ δημόται καὶ οἱ χείρους εὖ πράττοντες καὶ πολλοὶ οἱ τοιοῦτοι γιγνόμενοι τὴν δημοκρατίαν αὔξουσιν: ἐὰν δὲ εὖ πράττωσιν οἱ πλούσιοι καὶ οἱ χρηστοί, ἰσχυρὸν τὸ ἐναντίον σφίσιν αὐτοῖς καθιστᾶσιν οἱ δημοτικοί.

Then there is the root of the continuation of all democracy anywhere : they assign more to the worst among them, and to the popular, than to the worthy. This is because the poor are poor for a reason, and the popular aim to popularity for a cause derived from the same reason : base men, the inferior, inadequate and insufficient, the sort that in any proper society would be castrated (at least symbolically if not properly) from a young age and used for minefield clearance, are here as everywhere the only true base of democracy, and as their numbers swell so does democracy spread. The people being by their nature dull generally, they do not even perceive their own worthlessness ; but among their ranks the few that do seek to assuage that dim vision of their own stupidity besieging them through a device most characteristic and testimony to the very stupidity in question : the approval of others such as them. Hence their seeking of popularity, and the maculation of the popular.

ἔστι δὲ πάσῃ γῇ τὸ βέλτιστον ἐναντίον τῇ δημοκρατίᾳ: ἐν γὰρ τοῖς βελτίστοις ἔνι ἀκολασία τε ὀλιγίστη καὶ ἀδικία, ἀκρίβεια δὲ πλείστη εἰς τὰ χρηστά, ἐν δὲ τῷ δήμῳ ἀμαθία τε πλείστη καὶ ἀταξία καὶ πονηρία: ἥ τε γὰρ πενία αὐτοὺς μᾶλλον ἄγει ἐπὶ τὰ αἰσχρὰ καὶ ἡ ἀπαιδευσία καὶ ἡ ἀμαθία δι᾽ ἔνδειαν χρημάτων ἐνίοις τῶν ἀνθρώπων.

Everywhere and in all times the best of mankind is opposed to democracy, for among the proper humans there is very little ineptitude or idiocy and a lot of scrupulous care for what is right and proper ; whereas among the spurious bipedals there is a lot of ignorance, often cultivated cvasi-deliberately through sheer wickedness. For poverty is both the necessary result and the ultimate cause of their idiotic behaviours, a world unto itself sufficient, bereft of knowledge or the space (or any perceived need) for thought.

—εἴποι δ᾽ ἄν τις ὡς ἐχρῆν αὐτοὺς μὴ ἐᾶν λέγειν πάντας ἑξῆς μηδὲ βουλεύειν, ἀλλὰ τοὺς δεξιωτάτους καὶ ἄνδρας ἀρίστους. οἱ δὲ καὶ ἐν τούτῳ ἄριστα βουλεύονται ἐῶντες καὶ τοὺς πονηροὺς λέγειν. εἰ μὲν γὰρ οἱ χρηστοὶ ἔλεγον καὶ ἐβουλεύοντο, τοῖς ὁμοίοις σφίσιν αὐτοῖς ἦν ἀγαθά, τοῖς δὲ δημοτικοῖς οὐκ ἀγαθά: νῦν δὲ λέγων ὁ βουλόμενος ἀναστάς, ἄνθρωπος πονηρός, ἐξευρίσκει τὸ ἀγαθὸν αὑτῷ τε καὶ τοῖς ὁμοίοις αὑτῷ.

Should it be said that they ought not permit any and all speak in council as if their words were of the same weight and the same make and therefore capable to freely intermingle, but instead strictly separate the words spoken according to the father that spoke them, as one does with everything else that matters, it will be countered that the community of words is what draws and impels the community of people, and should words not be made into salad the salad that is democracy would in turn not be possible.

εἴποι τις ἄν, —τί ἂν οὖν γνοίη ἀγαθὸν αὑτῷ ἢ τῷ δήμῳ τοιοῦτος ἄνθρωπος; οἱ δὲ γιγνώσκουσιν ὅτι ἡ τούτου ἀμαθία καὶ πονηρία καὶ εὔνοια μᾶλλον λυσιτελεῖ ἢ ἡ τοῦ χρηστοῦ ἀρετὴ καὶ σοφία καὶ κακόνοια. εἴη μὲν οὖν ἂν πόλις οὐκ ἀπὸ τοιούτων διαιτημάτων ἡ βελτίστη, ἀλλ᾽ ἡ δημοκρατία μάλιστ᾽ ἂν σῴζοιτο οὕτως. ὁ γὰρ δῆμος βούλεται οὐκ εὐνομουμένης τῆς πόλεως αὐτὸς δουλεύειν, ἀλλ᾽ ἐλεύθερος εἶναι καὶ ἄρχειν, τῆς δὲ κακονομίας αὐτῷ ὀλίγον μέλει: ὃ γὰρ σὺ νομίζεις οὐκ εὐνομεῖσθαι, αὐτὸς ἀπὸ τούτου ἰσχύει ὁ δῆμος καὶ ἐλεύθερός ἐστιν.

One might inquire what possible benefit can the stupid draw from following the stupid, but the Athenians know that well disposed if ignorant baseness is nevertheless more productive for the ignorant base than ill disposed virtue and wisdom. Because the Athenians do not aim to improve themselves, but rather stay as they are. In the Augean stable where the eager young bride has the whip in hand, the filth will in short order be purged, and the name "Augean" will be of no further use for its description. Whereas if both bride and filth each have equal share in the government, the stable can stay Augean for all eternity, as any effort on her part to cleanliness will be well met with dirt coming back in through some other way. Therefore bad government is of little concern to them, indeed it is the very source of their perverted happiness and odorous might ; and in this way an Athenian complaining of bad government is akin to the Lacedemonian complaining of bravery in the field.

εἰ δ᾽ εὐνομίαν ζητεῖς, πρῶτα μὲν ὄψει τοὺς δεξιωτάτους αὐτοῖς τοὺς νόμους τιθέντας: ἔπειτα κολάσουσιν οἱ χρηστοὶ τοὺς πονηροὺς καὶ βουλεύσουσιν οἱ χρηστοὶ περὶ τῆς πόλεως καὶ οὐκ ἐάσουσι μαινομένους ἀνθρώπους βουλεύειν οὐδὲ λέγειν οὐδὲ ἐκκλησιάζειν. ἀπὸ τούτων τοίνυν τῶν ἀγαθῶν τάχιστ᾽ ἂν ὁ δῆμος εἰς δουλείαν καταπέσοι.

If instead good government were sought, at first the smartest men would be seen establishing the laws after their own fashion. Then you will see the good punishing the bad, and the bad left with no choice but to either improve or disappear. The sensible policy of the city would reinforce itself, and exclude lunatics, idiots, the lazy and the unfit from participating in the general affairs. As a result of such excellent measures the people would reduce in numbers, losing from among themselves all those amenable to improvement through either instruction or training, leaving the rest to the harshest slavery, distinctly directed at their extinction.vi

τῶν δούλων δ᾽ αὖ καὶ τῶν μετοίκων πλείστη ἐστὶν Ἀθήνησιν ἀκολασία, καὶ οὔτε πατάξαι ἔξεστιν αὐτόθι οὔτε ὑπεκστήσεταί σοι ὁ δοῦλος. οὗ δ᾽ ἕνεκέν ἐστι τοῦτο ἐπιχώριον ἐγὼ φράσω. εἰ νόμος ἦν τὸν δοῦλον ὑπὸ τοῦ ἐλευθέρου τύπτεσθαι ἢ τὸν μέτοικον ἢ τὸν ἀπελεύθερον, πολλάκις ἂν οἰηθεὶς εἶναι τὸν Ἀθηναῖον δοῦλον ἐπάταξεν ἄν: ἐσθῆτά τε γὰρ οὐδὲν βελτίων ὁ δῆμος αὐτόθι ἢ οἱ δοῦλοι καὶ οἱ μέτοικοι καὶ τὰ εἴδη οὐδὲν βελτίους εἰσίν.

So it is that one encounters among the slaves and meticsvii in Athens the most unconceivable superby in plain display. They take their vanity so far as to imagine they're immune from being disciplined, in public as in private ; slaves will shamelessly display their impudence through inappropriate acts such as failing to make room for you or withdraw from your way. Yet if it were common custom to discipline the urchins you'd commonly strike citizens by accident, as they are no better dressed than the slaves, nor are they any more handsome, nor in any way distinguishable.viii

εἰ δέ τις καὶ τοῦτο θαυμάζει, ὅτι ἐῶσι τοὺς δούλους τρυφᾶν αὐτόθι καὶ μεγαλοπρεπῶς διαιτᾶσθαι ἐνίους, καὶ τοῦτο γνώμῃ φανεῖεν ἂν ποιοῦντες. ὅπου γὰρ ναυτικὴ δύναμίς ἐστιν, ἀπὸ χρημάτων ἀνάγκη τοῖς ἀνδραπόδοις δουλεύειν, ἵνα λαμβάνωμεν πράττῃ τὰς ἀποφοράς, καὶ ἐλευθέρους ἀφιέναι. ὅπου δ᾽ εἰσὶ πλούσιοι δοῦλοι, οὐκέτι ἐνταῦθα λυσιτελεῖ τὸν ἐμὸν δοῦλον σὲ δεδιέναι: ἐν δὲ τῇ Λακεδαίμονι ὁ ἐμὸς δοῦλος σ᾽ ἐδεδοίκει: ἐὰν δὲ δεδίῃ ὁ σὸς δοῦλος ἐμέ, κινδυνεύσει καὶ τὰ χρήματα διδόναι τὰ ἑαυτοῦ ὥστε μὴ κινδυνεύειν περὶ ἑαυτοῦ. διὰ τοῦτ᾽ οὖν ἰσηγορίαν καὶ τοῖς δούλοις πρὸς τοὺς ἐλευθέρους ἐποιήσαμεν—καὶ τοῖς μετοίκοις πρὸς τοὺς ἀστούς, διότι δεῖται ἡ πόλις μετοίκων διά τε τὸ πλῆθος τῶν τεχνῶν καὶ διὰ τὸ ναυτικόν: διὰ τοῦτο οὖν καὶ τοῖς μετοίκοις εἰκότως τὴν ἰσηγορίαν ἐποιήσαμεν.

If anyone is confused by their letting their slaves live luxuriously, let it be said this too follows from democratic logic. The Athenians believe it is overall cheaper to entice the workings of a trireme by the perspective of profit than by the fear of punishment. If this were so, their naval wars with others working differently might inform us ; but whether it were so or not, as long as they believe it they must at least occasionally pay good silver to the crews that otherplaces are slaves. If paid enough, one such slave can be much richer in ready moneyix than any Spartan, and then should the Spartan be permitted to strike the slave, as his being a slave warrants, then the slave would fear the Spartan, and perhaps part with some of his money to buy himself an assurance of security. This then would bleed Athens of money on the whole, and out of this purely mercantilist reason they purport to be against violence, and aim to lift on a stairwell of words incidental expediency their flaws made necessary into a principle both universal and well reasoned. That this stand renders education strictly impossible does not interest them, for the same reasons we have seen before.

τοὺς δὲ γυμναζομένους αὐτόθι καὶ τὴν μουσικὴν ἐπιτηδεύοντας καταλέλυκεν ὁ δῆμος, νομίζων τοῦτο οὐ καλὸν εἶναι, γνοὺς ὅτι οὐ δυνατὸς ταῦτά ἐστιν ἐπιτηδεύειν. ἐν ταῖς χορηγίαις αὖ καὶ γυμνασιαρχίαις καὶ τριηραρχίαις γιγνώσκουσιν ὅτι χορηγοῦσι μὲν οἱ πλούσιοι, χορηγεῖται δὲ ὁ δῆμος, καὶ γυμνασιαρχοῦσιν οἱ πλούσιοι καὶ τριηραρχοῦσιν, ὁ δὲ δῆμος τριηραρχεῖται καὶ γυμνασιαρχεῖται. ἀξιοῖ γοῦν ἀργύριον λαμβάνειν ὁ δῆμος καὶ ᾁδων καὶ τρέχων καὶ ὀρχούμενος καὶ πλέων ἐν ταῖς ναυσίν, ἵνα αὐτός τε ἔχῃ καὶ οἱ πλούσιοι πενέστεροι γίγνωνται. ἔν τε τοῖς δικαστηρίοις οὐ τοῦ δικαίου αὐτοῖς μᾶλλον μέλει ἢ τοῦ αὑτοῖς συμφόρου.

The mob has ruined athletics and music at Athens because they aimed to "improve" them from their present "unfitting" form (rather -- they know they can't do either well, so they purport to be doing something else instead, transparently contrived to better fit their incapacity). They like the part where they take great sums of money for singing, and for participating in athletic contests, so they become wealthier and the wealthy poorer ; but they dislike the part where this money is tied with performance of a rare or uncommon sort, and so they've managed to construct a sham, whereby rich people foolish enough to throw their wealth away may do so at the least possible inconvenience to the democratic arrangements. Similarily in the courts, they are muchly disinterested in any notion of justice that fails to allign with their own interest ; for this reason justice in Athens is more changing than the wind.

περὶ δὲ τῶν συμμάχων, ὅτι ἐκπλέοντες συκοφαντοῦσιν ὡς δοκοῦσι καὶ μισοῦσι τοὺς χρηστούς, —γιγνώσκοντες ὅτι μισεῖσθαι μὲν ἀνάγκη τὸν ἄρχοντα ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀρχομένου, εἰ δὲ ἰσχύσουσιν οἱ πλούσιοι καὶ οἱ χρηστοὶ ἐν ταῖς πόλεσιν, ὀλίγιστον χρόνον ἡ ἀρχὴ ἔσται τοῦ δήμου τοῦ Ἀθήνησι, διὰ ταῦτα οὖν τοὺς μὲν χρηστοὺς ἀτιμοῦσι καὶ χρήματα ἀφαιροῦνται καὶ ἐξελαύνονται καὶ ἀποκτείνουσι, τοὺς δὲ πονηροὺς αὔξουσιν. οἱ δὲ χρηστοὶ Ἀθηναίων τοὺς χρηστοὺς ἐν ταῖς συμμαχίσι πόλεσι σῴζουσι, γιγνώσκοντες ὅτι σφίσιν ἀγαθόν ἐστι τοὺς βελτίστους σῴζειν ἀεὶ ἐν ταῖς πόλεσιν.

As far as foreign policy is concerned, the Athenians sail out always with the aim of crushing the aristocrats of other cities, and especially of the ones thriving. They know well that their system of entrenched stupidity is strictly dependant upon the lack of choice, for as history has shown time and again given the choice of a good ruler the people will always desert democracy and form a monarchy, given as it is that the human will to improvement is indomitable. Just as the girl gives herself willingly into the hand of a man, so as through chastisement and the shedding of her own blood she may be ripened into womanhood, just so people would rather be slaves than waste away in the superficial meaninglessness of democracy. Therefore the only possible venue for extending the impermanent nature of the most shameful system by a few more days at a time is through pillage, arson and murder.

εἴποι δέ τις ἂν ὅτι ἰσχύς ἐστιν αὕτη Ἀθηναίων, ἐὰν οἱ σύμμαχοι δυνατοὶ ὦσι χρήματα εἰσφέρειν. τοῖς δὲ δημοτικοῖς δοκεῖ μεῖζον ἀγαθὸν εἶναι τὰ τῶν συμμάχων χρήματα ἕνα ἕκαστον Ἀθηναίων ἔχειν, ἐκείνους δὲ ὅσον ζῆν, καὶ ἐργάζεσθαι ἀδυνάτους ὄντας ἐπιβουλεύειν.

One might think the Athenians' strength comes from their allies' strength, but the rabble would rather see itself elevated to an aristocracy over the others, who in turn be kept as slaves, without concern of their worth or merit but simply on the grounds of some indistinct distinction the Athenians think they themselves can meet and would readily exclude the foreigner. If it weren't for practical impediments they would love nothing more than to enact exactly such a system ; and if circumstances one day permit they are sure to attempt.

δοκεῖ δὲ ὁ δῆμος ὁ Ἀθηναίων καὶ ἐν τῷδε κακῶς βουλεύεσθαι, ὅτι τοὺς συμμάχους ἀναγκάζουσι πλεῖν ἐπὶ δίκας Ἀθήναζε. οἱ δὲ ἀντιλογίζονται ὅσα ἐν τούτῳ ἔνι ἀγαθὰ τῷ δήμῳ τῷ Ἀθηναίων: πρῶτον μὲν ἀπὸ τῶν πρυτανείων τὸν μισθὸν δι᾽ ἐνιαυτοῦ λαμβάνειν: εἶτ᾽ οἴκοι καθήμενοι ἄνευ νεῶν ἔκπλου διοικοῦσι τὰς πόλεις τὰς συμμαχίδας, καὶ τοὺς μὲν τοῦ δήμου σῴζουσι, τοὺς δ᾽ ἐναντίους ἀπολλύουσιν ἐν τοῖς δικαστηρίοις: εἰ δὲ οἴκοι εἶχον ἕκαστοι τὰς δίκας, ἅτε ἀχθόμενοι Ἀθηναίοις τούτους ἂν σφῶν αὐτῶν ἀπώλλυσαν οἵτινες φίλοι μάλιστα ἦσαν Ἀθηναίων τῷ δήμῳ. πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ὁ δῆμος τῶν Ἀθηναίων τάδε κερδαίνει τῶν δικῶν Ἀθήνησιν οὐσῶν τοῖς συμμάχοις. πρῶτον μὲν γὰρ ἡ ἑκατοστὴ τῇ πόλει πλείων ἡ ἐν Πειραιεῖ: ἔπειτα εἴ τῳ συνοικία ἐστίν, ἄμεινον πράττει: ἔπειτα εἴ τῳ ζεῦγός ἐστιν ἢ ἀνδράποδον μισθοφοροῦν: ἔπειτα οἱ κήρυκες ἄμεινον πράττουσι διὰ τὰς ἐπιδημίας τὰς τῶν συμμάχων. πρὸς δὲ τούτοις, εἰ μὲν μὴ ἐπὶ δίκας ᾔεσαν οἱ σύμμαχοι, τοὺς ἐκπλέοντας Ἀθηναίων ἐτίμων ἂν μόνους, τούς τε στρατηγοὺς καὶ τοὺς τριηράρχους καὶ πρέσβεις: νῦν δ᾽ ἠνάγκασται τὸν δῆμον κολακεύειν τὸν Ἀθηναίων εἷς ἕκαστος τῶν συμμάχων, γιγνώσκων ὅτι δεῖ ἀφικόμενον Ἀθήναζε δίκην δοῦναι καὶ λαβεῖν οὐκ ἐν ἄλλοις τισὶν ἀλλ᾽ ἐν τῷ δήμῳ, ὅς ἐστι δὴ νόμος Ἀθήνησι: καὶ ἀντιβολῆσαι ἀναγκάζεται ἐν τοῖς δικαστηρίοις καὶ εἰσιόντος του ἐπιλαμβάνεσθαι τῆς χειρός. διὰ τοῦτο οὖν οἱ σύμμαχοι δοῦλοι τοῦ δήμου τῶν Ἀθηναίων καθεστᾶσι μᾶλλον.

One might think another point of Athenian policy is ill advised, namely that they force their allies to sail to Athens for judicial proceedings. The reason they do this however is that it's to their great benefit. First, they shavex from the deposits at law their misfortunate allies are compelled to make. Then, sitting at home without having to go out in ships, they manage the affairs of others towards their own interest. In their irrational proceedings they nevertheless always protect the democrats and ruin their opponents, but the pretexts are always different thereby confusing they naive enough to try and approach the matter soundly. If instead the allies were to hold trials locally, they would ruin those citizens who were the leading friends of the Athenians ; but, as the young slavegirl is compelled to nudity and the proper behaviours of the harem through being taken, alone, in the overwhelming company of already inhabituated girls, who think nothing of their nudity and regard their subservience as natural, so are the allies, stripped of the natural clothing of their cities and their kin, taken to Athens to teach each other perversity and stupidity. Such is the way of Athens, that it employs all the means but towards craftily perverted ends, and in the end there is nothing else to democracy. Furthermore, were the Athenians to sail out, the allies would only respect those Athenians that did ; whereas with the allies sailing in they are forced to submit to lodgers, food sellers, and all sort and manner of Athenian scum.

πρὸς δὲ τούτοις διὰ τὴν κτῆσιν τὴν ἐν τοῖς ὑπερορίοις καὶ διὰ τὰς ἀρχὰς τὰς εἰς τὴν ὑπερορίαν λελήθασι μανθάνοντες ἐλαύνειν τῇ κώπῃ αὐτοί τε καὶ οἱ ἀκόλουθοι: ἀνάγκη γὰρ ἄνθρωπον πολλάκις πλέοντα κώπην λαβεῖν καὶ αὐτὸν καὶ τὸν οἰκέτην, καὶ ὀνόματα μαθεῖν τὰ ἐν τῇ ναυτικῇ: καὶ κυβερνῆται ἀγαθοὶ γίγνονται δι᾽ ἐμπειρίαν τε τῶν πλόων καὶ διὰ μελέτην: ἐμελέτησαν δὲ οἱ μὲν πλοῖον κυβερνῶντες, οἱ δὲ ὁλκάδα, οἱ δ᾽ ἐντεῦθεν ἐπὶ τριήρεσι κατέστησαν: οἱ δὲ πολλοὶ ἐλαύνειν εὐθὺς οἷοί τε εἰσβάντες εἰς ναῦς, ἅτε ἐν παντὶ τῷ βίῳ προμεμελετηκότες.

What's more, the necessities of this travel have imperceptibly inhabituated the allies to row, for as a matter of course the man who is often at sea will take up an oar, as does his slave, and they also learn naval terminology. Both through the experience of constant voyages and through practice they become fine steermen, and this provides Athens with a ready supply of recruits who are often able to row as soon as they board their ships -- for they had been practicing for it throughout their whole lives, on their own dime.

τὸ δὲ ὁπλιτικὸν αὐτοῖς, ὃ ἥκιστα δοκεῖ εὖ ἔχειν Ἀθήνησιν, οὕτω καθέστηκεν, καὶ τῶν μὲν πολεμίων ἥττους τε σφᾶς αὐτοὺς ἡγοῦνται εἶναι καὶ ὀλείζους, τῶν δὲ συμμάχων, οἳ φέρουσι τὸν φόρον, καὶ κατὰ γῆν κρατιστεύουσι, καὶ νομίζουσι τὸ ὁπλιτικὸν ἀρκεῖν, εἰ τῶν συμμάχων κρείττονές εἰσι.

The Athenian infantry has the reputation of being very weak, but it has been deliberately neglected. They think that they count as more than their enemies even if fewerxi, and even though their tributary allies exceed their strength in the field they nevertheless flatter themselves with the rationalization that since they're being paid tribute they nevertheless must be the stronger.

πρὸς δὲ καὶ κατὰ τύχην τι αὐτοῖς τοιοῦτον καθέστηκε: τοῖς μὲν κατὰ γῆν ἀρχομένοις οἷόν τ᾽ ἐστὶν ἐκ μικρῶν πόλεων συνοικισθέντας ἁθρόους μάχεσθαι, τοῖς δὲ κατὰ θάλατταν ἀρχομένοις, ὅσοι νησιῶταί εἰσιν, οὐχ οἷόν τε συνάρασθαι εἰς τὸ αὐτὸ τὰς πόλεις: ἡ γὰρ θάλαττα ἐν τῷ μέσῳ, οἱ δὲ κρατοῦντες θαλασσοκράτορές εἰσιν: εἰ δ᾽ οἷόν τε καὶ λαθεῖν συνελθοῦσιν εἰς ταὐτὸ τοῖς νησιώταις εἰς μίαν νῆσον, ἀπολοῦνται λιμῷ: ὁπόσαι δ᾽ ἐν τῇ ἠπείρῳ εἰσὶ πόλεις ὑπὸ τῶν Ἀθηναίων ἀρχόμεναι, αἱ μὲν μεγάλαι διὰ δέος ἄρχονται, αἱ δὲ μικραὶ πάνυ διὰ χρείαν: οὐ γὰρ ἔστι πόλις οὐδεμία ἥτις οὐ δεῖται εἰσάγεσθαί τι ἢ ἐξάγεσθαι. ταῦτα τοίνυν οὐκ ἔσται αὐτῇ, ἐὰν μὴ ὑπήκοος ᾖ τῶν ἀρχόντων τῆς θαλάττης.

There is also the following circumstance that they exploit : people on land can effectively combine smaller cities together and work or fight arrayed ; but people at sea, by virtue of the properties of islands, can not join their cities together into an effective unit. This property allows the Athenians to pretend to an importance they would not otherwise warrant, in having each individual ally deal with them as they were a combine equal to the sea itself ; and then from the value they thus extracted they waste some, and finance the pretense with whatever's left over. There is no city that doesn't need to import or export, and from interfacing these needs rather than allowing the cities to deal directly the Athenians derive their power -- for man alone is always forced to accept the terms of the world around him.

τὸν δὲ πλοῦτον μόνοι οἷοί τ᾽ εἰσὶν ἔχειν τῶν Ἑλλήνων καὶ τῶν βαρβάρων. εἰ γάρ τις πόλις πλουτεῖ ξύλοις ναυπηγησίμοις, ποῖ διαθήσεται, ἐὰν μὴ πείσῃ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς θαλάττης; τί δ᾽ εἴ τις σιδήρῳ ἢ χαλκῷ ἢ λίνῳ πλουτεῖ πόλις, ποῖ διαθήσεται, ἐὰν μὴ πείσῃ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς θαλάττης; ἐξ αὐτῶν μέντοι τούτων καὶ δὴ νῆές μοί εἰσι, παρὰ μὲν τοῦ ξύλα, παρὰ δὲ τοῦ σίδηρος, παρὰ δὲ τοῦ χαλκός, παρὰ δὲ τοῦ λίνον, παρὰ δὲ τοῦ κηρός.

So it is that of all Greeks and non-Greeks, the Athenians alone are capable of possessing wealth. If some city is rich in ship-timber, where will it distribute it without the consent of the rulers of the sea ? And if some city is rich in iron, copper, or flax, where will it distribute without the consent of the rulers of the sea ? However, it is from these very things that Athens has its ships: timber from one place, iron from another, copper from another, flax from another, wax from another, all drained together into constituting the very mechanism of the draining.

καὶ ἐγὼ μὲν οὐδὲν ποιῶν ἐκ τῆς γῆς πάντα ταῦτα ἔχω διὰ τὴν θάλατταν, ἄλλη δ᾽ οὐδεμία πόλις δύο τούτων ἔχει, οὐδ᾽ ἔστι τῇ αὐτῇ ξύλα καὶ λίνον, ἀλλ᾽ ὅπου λίνον ἐστὶ πλεῖστον, λεία χώρα καὶ ἄξυλος: οὐδὲ χαλκὸς καὶ σίδηρος ἐκ τῆς αὐτῆς πόλεως οὐδὲ τἆλλα δύο ἢ τρία μιᾷ πόλει, ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν τῇ, τὸ δὲ τῇ. πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ἄλλοσε ἄγειν οὐκ ἐάσουσιν οἵτινες ἀντίπαλοι ἡμῖν εἰσιν ἢ οὐ χρήσονται τῇ θαλάττῃ.

So they, without doing anything, have all this from the land because of the sea; yet no other city has even two of these things: the same city does not have timber and flax, but wherever there is flax in abundance, the land is smooth and timberless. There is not even copper and iron from the same city, not any two or three other things in a single city, but there is one product here and another there. In addition, they will forbid export to wherever enemies it arbitrarily designates, on pain of being unable to use the sea.

ἔπειτα δὲ τοῖς ἄρχουσι τῆς θαλάττης οἷόν τ᾽ ἐστὶ ποιεῖν ἅπερ τοῖς τῆς γῆς ἐνίοτε, τέμνειν τὴν γῆν τῶν κρειττόνων: παραπλεῖν γὰρ ἔξεστιν ὅπου ἂν μηδεὶς ᾖ πολέμιος ἢ ὅπου ἂν ὀλίγοι, ἐὰν δὲ προσίωσιν, ἀναβάντα ἀποπλεῖν: καὶ τοῦτο ποιῶν ἧττον ἀπορεῖ ἢ ὁ πεζῇ παραβοηθῶν.

There is a further advantage, that land movement being slower than on sea, the Athenians can even ravage the lands of the stronger. They bide the time when there is no enemy present, put in along the coast and, should opposition arise they run back to their ships and sail away. It is cheaper for them to board and unboard than it is for the land lord to summon and deploy infantry, and in this manner they can harass strong opponents such as they could never confront in the field otherwise, and even profit booty by it.

ἔπειτα δὲ τοῖς μὲν κατὰ θάλατταν ἄρχουσιν οἷόν τ᾽ ἀποπλεῦσαι ἀπὸ τῆς σφετέρας αὐτῶν ὁπόσον βούλει πλοῦν, τοῖς δὲ κατὰ γῆν οὐχ οἷόν τε ἀπὸ τῆς σφετέρας αὐτῶν ἀπελθεῖν πολλῶν ἡμερῶν ὁδόν: βραδεῖαί τε γὰρ αἱ πορεῖαι καὶ σῖτον οὐχ οἷόν τε ἔχειν πολλοῦ χρόνου πεζῇ ἰόντα. καὶ τὸν μὲν πεζῇ ἰόντα δεῖ διὰ φιλίας ἰέναι ἢ νικᾶν μαχόμενον, τὸν δὲ πλέοντα, οὗ μὲν ἂν ᾖ κρείττων, ἔξεστιν ἀποβῆναι, ταύτῃ τῆς γῆς, ἀλλὰ παραπλεῦσαι, ἕως ἂν ἐπὶ φιλίαν χώραν ἀφίκηται ἢ ἐπὶ ἥττους αὑτοῦ. ἔπειτα νόσους τῶν καρπῶν αἳ ἐκ Διός εἰσιν οἱ μὲν κατὰ γῆν κράτιστοι χαλεπῶς φέρουσιν, οἱ δὲ κατὰ θάλατταν ῥᾳδίως. οὐ γὰρ ἅμα πᾶσα γῆ νοσεῖ: ὥστε ἐκ τῆς εὐθενούσης ἀφικνεῖται τοῖς τῆς θαλάττης ἄρχουσιν.

Further in this way, a ship can leave port for anywhere at all, whereas a land power can only journey a few days from its territory. This is because land movement is slower, and because a ship on water can effortlessly carry large loads such as man on land can not even budge ; therefore Athens can venture two weeks' travel in which time it covers hundreds of miles each day, whereas Sparta can venture a few days' travel in which time it covers maybe twenty miles each day, and at the burdensome cost of victuals and materials breaking the back of its men. Further still, the infantry must either pass through friendly country or else fight and win, but ships can pass through the ocean unhindered ; and all manners of diseases and visitations are more easily borne by they afloat, for the whole world does not ail at the same time.

εἰ δὲ δεῖ καὶ σμικροτέρων μνησθῆναι, διὰ τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς θαλάττης πρῶτον μὲν τρόπους εὐωχιῶν ἐξηῦρον ἐπιμισγόμενοι ἄλλῃ ἄλλοις: ὅ τι ἐν Σικελίᾳ ἡδὺ ἢ ἐν Ἰταλίᾳ ἢ ἐν Κύπρῳ ἢ ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ ἢ ἐν Λυδίᾳ ἢ ἐν τῷ Πόντῳ ἢ ἐν Πελοποννήσῳ ἢ ἄλλοθί που, ταῦτα πάντα εἰς ἓν ἥθροισται διὰ τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς θαλάττης. ἔπειτα φωνὴν πᾶσαν ἀκούοντες ἐξελέξαντο τοῦτο μὲν ἐκ τῆς, τοῦτο δὲ ἐκ τῆς: καὶ οἱ μὲν Ἕλληνες ἰδίᾳ μᾶλλον καὶ φωνῇ καὶ διαίτῃ καὶ σχήματι χρῶνται, Ἀθηναῖοι δὲ κεκραμένῃ ἐξ ἁπάντων τῶν Ἑλλήνων καὶ βαρβάρων.

In another way, the lack of depth in a democracy fits well with an expansion of surface ; and so the Athenians have mingled with various types and imported their specific luxuries. Whatever the delicacy in Sicily, Italy, Cyprus, Egypt, Lydia, Pontus, the Peloponnese, or anywhere else, all these have been brought together into one place by virtue of naval power. Hearing every kind of dialect, they have taken something from each; the Greeks rather tend to use their own dialect, way of life, and type of dress, but the Athenians use a mixture from all the Greeks and non-Greeks alike.

θυσίας δὲ καὶ ἱερὰ καὶ ἑορτὰς καὶ τεμένη γνοὺς ὁ δῆμος ὅτι οὐχ οἷόν τέ ἐστιν ἑκάστῳ τῶν πενήτων θύειν καὶ εὐωχεῖσθαι καὶ ἵστασθαι ἱερὰ καὶ πόλιν οἰκεῖν καλὴν καὶ μεγάλην, ἐξηῦρεν ὅτῳ τρόπῳ ἔσται ταῦτα. θύουσιν οὖν δημοσίᾳ μὲν ἡ πόλις ἱερεῖα πολλά: ἔστι δὲ ὁ δῆμος ὁ εὐωχούμενος καὶ διαλαγχάνων τὰ ἱερεῖα. καὶ γυμνάσια καὶ λουτρὰ καὶ ἀποδυτήρια τοῖς μὲν πλουσίοις ἔστιν ἰδίᾳ ἐνίοις, ὁ δὲ δῆμος αὐτὸς αὑτῷ οἰκοδομεῖται ἰδίᾳ παλαίστρας πολλάς, ἀποδυτήρια, λουτρῶνας: καὶ πλείω τούτων ἀπολαύει ὁ ὄχλος ἢ οἱ ὀλίγοι καὶ οἱ εὐδαίμονες.

It is indeed impossible for each of the poor to individually offer sacrifices, to give lavish feasts, to set up shrines, and to manage a city which will be beautiful and great. Nevertheless, they found that sacrifices at public expense can be more grandiose and imposing than private ones, and any of the multitude feels a greater share in the proceedings in his mind than would him be due. An aristocrat giving the gods a strong ox may feel at peace, but a mob of ten thousand giving to the gods a hundred oxen do not feel each to have given a hundredth part of a single ox ; but rather each of the ten thousand feels as if he personally offered at least a dozen oxen, if not more, of the full hundred. This blindness of the rabble to the others, along its universal incapacity to add or substract, follows in the same way from their satisfaction of the public wrestling-quarters, dressing-rooms, and baths. These may be filthy, and populated by the lowest sort, and missing on all the actual reasons why real people even frequent them ; but nevertheless they are larger and from a distance appear more impressive, which is sufficient to the Athenian mind.

ἔτι δὲ πρὸς τούτοις παρὰ πᾶσαν ἤπειρόν ἐστιν ἢ ἀκτὴ προύχουσα ἢ νῆσος προκειμένη ἢ στενόπορόν τι: ὥστε ἔξεστιν ἐνταῦθα ἐφορμοῦσι τοῖς τῆς θαλάττης ἄρχουσι λωβᾶσθαι τοὺς τὴν ἤπειρον οἰκοῦντας. ἑνὸς δὲ ἐνδεεῖς εἰσιν: εἰ γὰρ νῆσον οἰκοῦντες θαλασσοκράτορες ἦσαν Ἀθηναῖοι, ὑπῆρχεν ἂν αὐτοῖς ποιεῖν μὲν κακῶς, εἰ ἐβούλοντο, πάσχειν δὲ μηδέν, ἕως τῆς θαλάττης ἦρχον, μηδὲ τμηθῆναι τὴν ἑαυτῶν γῆν μηδὲ προσδέχεσθαι τοὺς πολεμίους: νῦν δὲ οἱ γεωργοῦντες καὶ οἱ πλούσιοι Ἀθηναίων ὑπέρχονται τοὺς πολεμίους μᾶλλον, ὁ δὲ δῆμος, ἅτε εὖ εἰδὼς ὅτι οὐδὲν τῶν σφῶν ἐμπρήσουσιν οὐδὲ τεμοῦσιν, ἀδεῶς ζῇ καὶ οὐχ ὑπερχόμενος αὐτούς.

Moreover, every place has either a projecting headland or an offshore island or some strait, so that it is possible for a naval power to put in there and to injure those who dwell on the land ; but this is something the Athenians lack. Thus secure in that it is possible for them to inflict harm, if they wished, but as long as they ruled the sea, to suffer none, -- neither the ravaging of their land nor the taking on of enemies, they can afford the luxury of the only bad system of government. Other people, more vulnerable, are naturally forced to come to more sensible arrangements, and even in Athens the farmers and the wealthy curry favour with the enemy ; yet the people, knowing that nothing of theirs will be burnt or cut down, live without fear and refuse to consider any matter they do not feel inclined to.

πρὸς δὲ τούτοις καὶ ἑτέρου δέους ἀπηλλαγμένοι ἂν ἦσαν, εἰ νῆσον ᾤκουν, μηδέποτε προδοθῆναι τὴν πόλιν ὑπ᾽ ὀλίγων μηδὲ πύλας ἀνοιχθῆναι μηδὲ πολεμίους ἐπεισπεσεῖν: πῶς γὰρ νῆσον οἰκούντων ταῦτ᾽ ἂν ἐγίγνετο; μηδ᾽ αὖ στασιάσαι τῷ δήμῳ μηδέν, εἰ νῆσον ᾤκουν: νῦν μὲν γὰρ εἰ στασιάσαιεν, ἐλπίδα ἂν ἔχοντες ἐν τοῖς πολεμίοις στασιάσειαν, ὡς κατὰ γῆν ἐπαξόμενοι: εἰ δὲ νῆσον ᾤκουν, καὶ ταῦτ᾽ ἂν ἀδεῶς εἶχεν αὐτοῖς. ἐπειδὴ οὖν ἐξ ἀρχῆς οὐκ ἔτυχον οἰκήσαντες νῆσον, νῦν τάδε ποιοῦσι: τὴν μὲν οὐσίαν ταῖς νήσοις παρατίθενται, πιστεύοντες τῇ ἀρχῇ τῇ κατὰ θάλατταν, τὴν δὲ Ἀττικὴν γῆν περιορῶσι τεμνομένην, γιγνώσκοντες ὅτι εἰ αὐτὴν ἐλεήσουσιν, ἑτέρων ἀγαθῶν μειζόνων στερήσονται.

If they lived on an island, they would have been relieved of another fear: the city could never be betrayed by oligarchs nor could the gates be thrown open nor enemies invade, for how would these things happen to islanders ? Besides no one would rebel against the democracy, if they lived on an island, or rather, if democracy was the whole world. As it is, in any civil strife the rebels would place their hope in bringing in the enemy by land ; but if they lived on an island even this would be of no concern to them. However, since from the beginning they happen not to have lived on an island, they now do the following: they place their property on islands, trusting in their naval might to protect them, and allow their land to be ravaged. This because they realize that if they concerned themselves with this, they would be forced to yield other greater goods.

ἔτι δὲ συμμαχίας καὶ τοὺς ὅρκους ταῖς μὲν ὀλιγαρχουμέναις πόλεσιν ἀνάγκη ἐμπεδοῦν: ἢν δὲ μὴ ἐμμένωσι ταῖς συνθήκαις, †ἢ ὑφ᾽ ὅτου ἀδικεῖ† ὀνόματα ἀπὸ τῶν ὀλίγων οἳ συνέθεντο: ἅσσα δ᾽ ἂν ὁ δῆμος σύνθηται, ἔξεστιν αὐτῷ ἑνὶ ἀνατιθέντι τὴν αἰτίαν τῷ λέγοντι καὶ τῷ ἐπιψηφίσαντι ἀρνεῖσθαι τοῖς ἄλλοις ὅτι Οὐ παρῆν οὐδὲ ἀρέσκει ἔμοιγε, ἃ συγκείμενα πυνθάνονται ἐν πλήρει τῷ δήμῳ, καὶ εἰ μὴ δόξαι εἶναι ταῦτα, προφάσεις μυρίας ἐξηύρηκε τοῦ μὴ ποιεῖν ὅσα ἂν μὴ βούλωνται. καὶ ἂν μέν τι κακὸν ἀναβαίνῃ ἀπὸ ὧν ὁ δῆμος ἐβούλευσεν, αἰτιᾶται ὁ δῆμος ὡς ὀλίγοι ἄνθρωποι αὐτῷ ἀντιπράττοντες διέφθειραν, ἐὰν δέ τι ἀγαθόν σφίσιν αὐτοῖς τὴν αἰτίαν ἀνατιθέασι.

Further, for oligarchic cities it is necessary to keep to alliances and oaths, because if they do not abide by agreements or if injustice is done there are the names of the few who made the agreement. Whatever agreements the indistinct mobs of Athens make can be repudiated by referring the blame to the one who spoke or took the vote, while the others declare that they were absent or did not approve of the agreement made in the full assembly. If it seems advisable for their decisions not to be effective, they invent myriad excuses for not doing what they promised but no longer want to do. And if there are any bad results from the people's plans, they charge that a few persons, working against them, ruined their plans; but if there is a good result, they take the credit for themselves.

κωμῳδεῖν δ᾽ αὖ καὶ κακῶς λέγειν τὸν μὲν δῆμον οὐκ ἐῶσιν, ἵνα μὴ αὐτοὶ ἀκούωσι κακῶς, ἰδίᾳ δὲ κελεύουσιν, εἴ τίς τινα βούλεται, εὖ εἰδότες ὅτι οὐχὶ τοῦ δήμου ἐστὶν οὐδὲ τοῦ πλήθους ὁ κωμῳδούμενος ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ, ἀλλ᾽ ἢ πλούσιος ἢ γενναῖος ἢ δυνάμενος, ὀλίγοι δέ τινες τῶν πενήτων καὶ τῶν δημοτικῶν κωμῳδοῦνται, καὶ οὐδ᾽ οὗτοι ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πολυπραγμοσύνην καὶ διὰ τὸ ζητεῖν πλέον τι ἔχειν τοῦ δήμου: ὥστε οὐδὲ τοὺς τοιούτους ἄχθονται κωμῳδουμένους.

They do not permit the collective to be ill spoken of in comedy, so that they may not have a bad reputation; but if anyone wants to attack private persons, they bid him do so, knowing perfectly well that the person so treated in comedy does not, for the most part, come from the populace and mass of people but is a person of either wealth, high birth, or influence. Some few poor and plebeian types are indeed abused in comedy but only if they have been meddling in others' affairs and trying to rise above their class, so that the people feel no vexation at seeing such persons abused in comedy.

φημὶ οὖν ἔγωγε τὸν δῆμον τὸν Ἀθήνησι γιγνώσκειν οἵτινες χρηστοί εἰσι τῶν πολιτῶν καὶ οἵτινες πονηροί: γιγνώσκοντες δὲ τοὺς μὲν σφίσιν αὐτοῖς ἐπιτηδείους καὶ συμφόρους φιλοῦσι, κἂν πονηροὶ ὦσι, τοὺς δὲ χρηστοὺς μισοῦσι μᾶλλον: οὐ γὰρ νομίζουσι τὴν ἀρετὴν αὐτοῖς πρὸς τῷ σφετέρῳ ἀγαθῷ πεφυκέναι, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τῷ κακῷ: καὶ τοὐναντίον γε τούτου ἔνιοι, ὄντες ὡς ἀληθῶς τοῦ δήμου, τὴν φύσιν οὐ δημοτικοί εἰσι. δημοκρατίαν δ᾽ ἐγὼ μὲν αὐτῷ τῷ δήμῳ συγγιγνώσκω: αὑτὸν μὲν γὰρ εὖ ποιεῖν παντὶ συγγνώμη ἐστίν: ὅστις δὲ μὴ ὢν τοῦ δήμου εἵλετο ἐν δημοκρατουμένῃ πόλει οἰκεῖν μᾶλλον ἢ ἐν ὀλιγαρχουμένῃ, ἀδικεῖν παρεσκευάσατο καὶ ἔγνω ὅτι μᾶλλον οἷόν τε διαλαθεῖν κακῷ ὄντι ἐν δημοκρατουμένῃ πόλει μᾶλλον ἢ ἐν ὀλιγαρχουμένῃ.

It is my opinion that the people at Athens know which citizens are good and which bad, but that in spite of this knowledge they cultivate those who are complaisant and useful to themselves, even if bad; and they tend to hate the good. For they do not think that the good are naturally virtuous for the people's benefit, but for their hurt. In fact it is the case that the whole democratic system is successful in spite of itself, much in the way a scion born to great wealth he had no hand in building can nevertheless squander it, and after a lifetime of squandering could still be left in possession of enough to be wealthier than another who tended his farm diligently all his life. Any other man in his place would have done much better still ; but as there didn't happen to be another in his place, the shortsighted might perhaps even propose his dissolute, lazy idiocy as something virtuous, and to be emulated. Whoever is not a man of the people and yet prefers to live in a democratic city rather than in an oligarchic one has readied himself to do wrong and has realized that it is easier for an evil man to escape notice in a democratic city than in an oligarchic.

καὶ περὶ τῆς Ἀθηναίων πολιτείας, τὸν μὲν τρόπον οὐκ ἐπαινῶ: ἐπειδήπερ δ᾽ ἔδοξεν αὐτοῖς δημοκρατεῖσθαι, εὖ μοι δοκοῦσι διασῴζεσθαι τὴν δημοκρατίαν τούτῳ τῷ τρόπῳ χρώμενοι ᾧ ἐγὼ ἐπέδειξα.

There is nothing admirable or praiseworthy in rot ; yet nevertheless rot does preserve and spread itself, by the means I have indicated.

ἔτι δὲ καὶ τάδε τινὰς ὁρῶ μεμφομένους Ἀθηναίους, ὅτι ἐνίοτε οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτόθι χρηματίσαι τῇ βουλῇ οὐδὲ τῷ δήμῳ ἐνιαυτὸν καθημένῳ ἀνθρώπῳ. καὶ τοῦτο Ἀθήνησι γίγνεται οὐδὲν δι᾽ ἄλλο ἢ διὰ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν πραγμάτων οὐχ οἷοί τε πάντας ἀποπέμπειν εἰσὶ χρηματίσαντες.

Some also complain that it is sometimes not possible for a person, though he sit in the city for a whole year, to negotiate with the council or the assembly. This is a naive view : for the aforestated reasons there is no substantial difference between having dealt or having not dealt with the Athenians except in the mind of the foreigner. The Athenians themselves well understand this, and therefore see no drawback with either dealing or not dealing with any one matter, which is why the situation continues.

πῶς γὰρ ἂν καὶ οἷοί τε εἶεν, οὕστινας πρῶτον μὲν δεῖ ἑορτάσαι ἑορτὰς ὅσας οὐδεμία τῶν Ἑλληνίδων πόλεων (ἐν δὲ ταύταις ἧττόν τινα δυνατόν ἐστι διαπράττεσθαι τῶν τῆς πόλεως), ἔπειτα δὲ δίκας καὶ γραφὰς καὶ εὐθύνας ἐκδικάζειν ὅσας οὐδ᾽ οἱ σύμπαντες ἄνθρωποι ἐκδικάζουσι, τὴν δὲ βουλὴν βουλεύεσθαι πολλὰ μὲν περὶ τοῦ πολέμου, πολλὰ δὲ περὶ πόρου χρημάτων, πολλὰ δὲ περὶ νόμων θέσεως, πολλὰ δὲ περὶ τῶν κατὰ πόλιν ἀεὶ γιγνομένων, πολλὰ δὲ καὶ τοῖς συμμάχοις, καὶ φόρον δέξασθαι καὶ νεωρίων ἐπιμεληθῆναι καὶ ἱερῶν; ἆρα δή τι θαυμαστόν ἐστιν, εἰ τοσούτων ὑπαρχόντων πραγμάτων μὴ οἷοί τ᾽ εἰσὶ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις χρηματίσαι; λέγουσι δέ τινες,

How could it be otherwise ? For one thing, they hold more festivals than any other Greek city, next they busy themselves with presiding over private and public trials and investigations into the conduct of magistrates to a degree beyond that seen anywhere among sane men, and then they blather on about war, revenues, laws, and so following. When all these are treated in the same indistinct and indecisive manner specific of democracy, and with the ambiguous results universally seen in democracies, is there any wonder that dealing with the lords of the sea or drinking a cup of water have overall about the same effect ?

— ἤν τις ἀργύριον ἔχων προσίῃ πρὸς βουλὴν ἢ δῆμον, χρηματιεῖται. ἐγὼ δὲ τούτοις ὁμολογήσαιμ᾽ ἂν ἀπὸ χρημάτων πολλὰ διαπράττεσθαι Ἀθήνησι, καὶ ἔτι ἂν πλείω διαπράττεσθαι, εἰ πλείους ἔτι ἐδίδοσαν ἀργύριον: τοῦτο μέντοι εὖ οἶδα, διότι πᾶσι διαπρᾶξαι ἡ πόλις ... τῶν δεομένων οὐχ ἱκανή, οὐδ᾽ εἰ ὁποσονοῦν χρυσίον καὶ ἀργύριον διδοίη τις αὐτοῖς. δεῖ δὲ καὶ τάδε διαδικάζειν, εἴ τις τὴν ναῦν μὴ ἐπισκευάζει ἢ κατοικοδομεῖ τι δημόσιον: πρὸς δὲ τούτοις χορηγοῖς διαδικάσαι εἰς Διονύσια καὶ Θαργήλια καὶ Παναθήναια καὶ Προμήθια καὶ Ἡφαίστια ὅσα ἔτη: καὶ τριήραρχοι καθίστανται τετρακόσιοι ἑκάστου ἐνιαυτοῦ, καὶ τούτων τοῖς βουλομένοις διαδικάσαι ὅσα ἔτη: πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ἀρχὰς δοκιμάσαι καὶ διαδικάσαι καὶ ὀρφανοὺς δοκιμάσαι καὶ φύλακας δεσμωτῶν καταστῆσαι.

Yet some say, "if you bring money with you to the council, you will have your business transacted." Of course it is the case that the ambitious population of Athens would ever exchange empty words for ready money ; but why the foreigner involved in this particular sort of theatrical sponsorship imagines himself any different from the more regular kind -- who similarily has trouble retaining the services of his preferred chorists, and entirely counterfit trouble, made up for the same reason (that if there was none, the prices charged would indeed be much lower) ? They have to settle disputes every year for chorus leaders at the Dionysia, Thargelia, Panathenaea, Promethia, and Hephaestia, and scarcely manage, yet the case is never understood by the naive visitor. Similarily four hundred trierarchs are appointed every year, and disputes are settled in the same manner for any of these who so wish, and then magistrates and prisoners' guards and so following, every year.

ταῦτα μὲν οὖν ὅσα ἔτη: διὰ χρόνου δὲ δικάσαι δεῖ †στρατιᾶς καὶ ἐάν τι ἄλλο ἐξαπιναῖον ἀδίκημα γίγνηται, ἐάν τε ὑβρίζωσί τινες ἄηθες ὕβρισμα ἐάν τε ἀσεβήσωσι. πολλὰ ἔτι πάνυ παραλείπω: τὸ δὲ μέγιστον εἴρηται πλὴν αἱ τάξεις τοῦ φόρου: τοῦτο δὲ γίγνεται ὡς τὰ πολλὰ δι᾽ ἔτους πέμπτου. φέρε δὴ τοίνυν, ταῦτα οὐκ οἴεσθαι χρῆναι διαδικάζειν ἅπαντα; εἰπάτω γάρ τις ὅ τι οὐ χρῆν αὐτόθι διαδικάζεσθαι. εἰ δ᾽ αὖ ὁμολογεῖν δεῖ ἅπαντα χρῆναι διαδικάζειν, ἀνάγκη δι᾽ ἐνιαυτοῦ: ὡς οὐδὲ νῦν δι᾽ ἐνιαυτοῦ δικάζοντες ὑπάρχουσιν ὥστε παύειν τοὺς ἀδικοῦντας ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους τῶν ἀνθρώπων. φέρε δή, ἀλλὰ φήσει τις χρῆναι δικάζειν μέν, ἐλάττους δὲ δικάζειν. ἀνάγκῃ τοίνυν, ἐὰν μὴ ὀλίγα ποιῶνται δικαστήρια, ὀλίγοι ἐν ἑκάστῳ ἔσονται τῷ δικαστηρίῳ: ὥστε καὶ διασκευάσασθαι ῥᾴδιον ἔσται πρὸς ὀλίγους δικαστὰς καὶ συνδεκάσαι πολὺ ἧττον δικαίως δικάζειν. πρὸς δὲ τούτοις οἴεσθαι χρὴ καὶ ἑορτὰς ἄγειν χρῆναι Ἀθηναίους, ἐν αἷς οὐχ οἷόν τε δικάζειν. καὶ ἄγουσι μὲν ἑορτὰς διπλασίους ἢ οἱ ἄλλοι: ἀλλ᾽ ἐγὼ μὲν τίθημι ἴσας τῇ ὀλιγίστας ἀγούσῃ πόλει.

Now and again there are also cases of desertion and other unexpected misdeeds, and whether it be an irregular act of wantonness or an act of impiety just as often a surprise to the alleged perpetrator himself ; and almost every time based in substance on some novel reading of some past event. Yet notwithstanding the constant churn of this activity, the inexplicably numerous misdeeds and misdoers of Athens far outstrip these efforts ; how is it that this city is itself home to more malfaisants than the entire world combined nobody has time to ask, for all the work of judging. And should one say they could do better with fewer courts and fewer jurors in them, Athenians would in their own democratic spirit protest that it will then be easier to adapt oneself to a few jurors and to bribe them, and thus easier to judge much less justly ; for such are the notions of justice in Athens.

τούτων τοίνυν τοιούτων ὄντων οὔ φημι οἷόν τ᾽ εἶναι ἄλλως ἔχειν τὰ πράγματα Ἀθήνησιν ἢ ὥσπερ νῦν ἔχει, πλὴν ἢ κατὰ μικρόν τι οἷόν τε τὸ μὲν ἀφελεῖν τὸ δὲ προσθεῖναι: πολὺ δ᾽ οὐχ οἷόν τε μετακινεῖν, ὥστε μὴ οὐχὶ τῆς δημοκρατίας ἀφαιρεῖν τι. ὥστε μὲν γὰρ βέλτιον ἔχειν τὴν πολιτείαν, οἷόν τε πολλὰ ἐξευρεῖν, ὥστε μέντοι ὑπάρχειν μὲν δημοκρατίαν εἶναι, ἀρκούντως δὲ τοῦτο ἐξευρεῖν, ὅπως βέλτιον πολιτεύσονται, οὐ ῥᾴδιον, πλήν, ὅπερ ἄρτι εἶπον, κατὰ μικρόν τι προσθέντα ἢ ἀφελόντα.

And besides, one must remember all the numerous festivals Athens holds. Under such circumstances, it is not possible for affairs at Athens to be otherwise than as they now are, except insofar as it is possible to take away a bit here and add a bit there; a substantial change is impossible without removing some part of the democracy. Yet this is no great concern to them, as the adding and substracting bits -- often, the same bits being added and then substracted cyclically over the years -- thoroughly satisfies whatever empty verbiage they may have failed to adequately discharge in the course of the festivals and the other affairs.

δοκοῦσι δὲ Ἀθηναῖοι καὶ τοῦτό μοι οὐκ ὀρθῶς βουλεύεσθαι, ὅτι τοὺς χείρους αἱροῦνται ἐν ταῖς πόλεσι ταῖς στασιαζούσαις. οἱ δὲ τοῦτο γνώμῃ ποιοῦσιν. εἰ μὲν γὰρ ᾑροῦντο τοὺς βελτίους, ᾑροῦντ᾽ ἂν οὐχὶ τοὺς ταὐτὰ γιγνώσκοντας σφίσιν αὐτοῖς: ἐν οὐδεμιᾷ γὰρ πόλει τὸ βέλτιστον εὔνουν ἐστὶ τῷ δήμῳ, ἀλλὰ τὸ κάκιστον ἐν ἑκάστῃ ἐστὶ πόλει εὔνουν τῷ δήμῳ: οἱ γὰρ ὅμοιοι τοῖς ὁμοίοις εὖνοί εἰσι. διὰ ταῦτα οὖν Ἀθηναῖοι τὰ σφίσιν αὐτοῖς προσήκοντα αἱροῦνται.

In cities embroiled in civil strife they regularly take the side of the lower class. This they do unthinkingly, but were they to prefer the upper class, they would prefer those who are contrary-minded to themselves. In no city is the superior element well disposed to the populace, but in each city it is the worst part which is well disposed to the populace. For like is well disposed to like, and accordingly the Athenians prefer those sympathetic to themselves.

ὁποσάκις δ᾽ ἐπεχείρησαν αἱρεῖσθαι τοὺς βελτίστους, οὐ συνήνεγκεν αὐτοῖς, ἀλλ᾽ ἐντὸς ὀλίγου χρόνου ὁ δῆμος ἐδούλευσεν ὁ ἐν Βοιωτοῖς: τοῦτο δὲ ὅτε Μιλησίων εἵλοντο τοὺς βελτίστους, ἐντὸς ὀλίγου χρόνου ἀποστάντες τὸν δῆμον κατέκοψαν: τοῦτο δὲ ὅτε εἵλοντο Λακεδαιμονίους ἀντὶ Μεσσηνίων, ἐντὸς ὀλίγου χρόνου Λακεδαιμόνιοι καταστρεψάμενοι Μεσσηνίους ἐπολέμουν Ἀθηναίοις.

Whenever they have undertaken to support the upper class it has not turned out well for them : within a short time the people in Boeotia were enslaved, similarly when they preferred the Milesian upper class within a short time that class had revolted and cut down the people, and similarly when they preferred the Spartans to the Messenians, within a short time the Spartans had overthrown the Messenians and were making war on the Athenians.

ὑπολάβοι δέ τις ἂν ὡς οὐδεὶς ἄρα ἀδίκως ἠτίμωται Ἀθήνησιν. ἐγὼ δέ φημί τινας εἶναι οἳ ἀδίκως ἠτίμωνται. ὀλίγοι μέντοι τινές : ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ὀλίγων δεῖ τῶν ἐπιθησομένων τῇ δημοκρατίᾳ τῇ Ἀθήνησιν, ἐπεί τοι καὶ οὕτως ἔχει, οὐδὲν ἐνθυμεῖσθαι ἀνθρώπους οἵτινες δικαίως ἠτίμωνται, ἀλλ᾽ εἴ τινες ἀδίκως. πῶς ἂν οὖν ἀδίκως οἴοιτό τις ἂν τοὺς πολλοὺς ἠτιμῶσθαι Ἀθήνησιν, ὅπου ὁ δῆμός ἐστιν ὁ ἄρχων τὰς ἀρχάς; ἐκ δὲ τοῦ μὴ δικαίως ἄρχειν μηδὲ λέγειν τὰ δίκαια πράττειν, ἐκ τοιούτων ἄτιμοί εἰσιν Ἀθήνησι. ταῦτα χρὴ λογιζόμενον μὴ νομίζειν εἶναί τι δεινὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ἀτίμων Ἀθήνησιν.

Someone might interject that no one has been unjustly disfranchised at Athens. I say that all have been disenfranchied, both in Athens and everywhere else, even if they never heard the word ever spoken. All men are disenfranchised simply by the continued existence of Athens, and whether they realise it or not. In the same way disease breaking out in Persia, whether known at home or not yet, nevertheless spells in due time the doom of many and suffering for all, just so Athens existing is poverty, dullness and misery for all.

———
  1. Not exactly translated, because such a thing as a translation from Greek, and especially into this language, and even more so for the sort of flat and hallucinatory intellects that currently drive it is flatly impossible. []
  2. The author of Anabasis, and from Antiquity throughout the early modern period rightfully regarded as superior to Plato,

    for that the one, in the exquisite depth of his judgement, formed a Commune welth* such as it might be ; but the other, in the person of Cyrus, and the Persians, fashioned a government such as might best be : so much more profitable and gratious is doctrine by example than by rule.

    ------
    * Welth, derived from the same root as Welsh (the Punjabi word for excrement), is how English speakers in the time of Spenser denoted the utter misery married to abject penury as is the inextricable lot of millitant idiocy. []

  3. Redistribution, if you prefer. []
  4. Wealth being the result of the merits of ancestors, therefore in and of itself a guarantee of stability. []
  5. This observation is far sighted in that it correctly if implicitly predicts the rise as well as the fall of the European slave class, with early industrialization bringing about delusions of equality only for postmodernism to see them completely shattered. Indeed, as the utility of the many slowly sinks back under the waters that spawned them, their political and social standing returns to where it always truly belonged. []
  6. Conceivably even the copacetic concept of "the people" would dissapear into the chasm separating the worthy from the worthless, for its only function is to excuse the laziness and ineptitude of the lost that democracies support and favour under the guise of a vast and hopefully impenetrable blanket woven of deliberate silence. []
  7. People living under the protection of another in the WoT. []
  8. The great benefit of socialism -- bringing all down to the same lowest level. []
  9. Ie, not richer in any proper sense, much in the way the pigs fed diamonds are not all that rich. []
  10. One percent tax, by the way. []
  11. A point echoed by all socialists everywhere, from the later Byzantines all through say Richard Cobden's pointing out that one English worker on the continent is worth three locals. []
Category: Trilenciclopedia
Comments feed : RSS 2.0. Leave your own comment below, or send a trackback.

One Response

  1. [...] men, not really "guys", certainly not humans -- never come up with anything, nor could in any sense carry anything like a name. [↩]The quotes are there because this prefab construction is actually a bit of pantsuit [...]

Add your cents! »
    If this is your first comment, it will wait to be approved. This usually takes a few hours. Subsequent comments are not delayed.