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Passages: Defining the City State.

Passages: Defining the Citizen.

Passages: Defining the System of Government.

Passages: Defining Democracy.

Passages: Types of Democracy.

Passages: Creating Democracy.

Passages: Preserving Democracy.

Passages: Destroying Democracy.

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Democracy in the Politics of Aristotle  

Thomas R. Martin, with Neel Smith & Jennifer F.Stuart, edition of July 26, 2003

page 4 of 13

· Instructions for reading passages ·

Important information on links

Read about the evidence
Aristotle (Aristot. Pol.).
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The links from each passage are to the full text of the Politics in both an on-line Greek text and an accompanying English translation maintained by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University. Passages are cited, following the most precise standard form of reference to the Politics, as a four-digit number followed by the letter “a” or “b” (that is, 1253a, 1274b, and so on) to indicate a particular section of the work. The precise location of the cited passage within a section is indicated by the line numbers that follow the citation of the section. (This reference system is derived from the Greek edition of the Politics published by Immanuel Bekker in Berlin in 1831.)

Two crucial warnings

Each section (e.g., 1253a, 1274b, etc.) is presented as continuous text. The line numbers following the section designation are indicated in the on-line Greek text in multiples of five, while the corresponding line numbers in the accompanying English translation appear every twenty lines in brackets, but the line divisions as represented in your Web browser may not correspond exactly to this numeration.

Since, for technical reasons, the links must go to the first line of a section and therefore usually not to the first line of the cited reference itself, the particular lines referred to may appear rather far down from the beginning of the section. In some cases, the particular lines may be far enough from the beginning of the section that they will not be on the screen when the section is first displayed, and it will then be necessary to scroll until they appear. Please be sure to note the precise line number within the section to which you are linking before following that link so that you can locate that line by scrolling.

Introduction to the groups of excerpted passages

The first three groups of excerpted passages provide context for the remaining groups. The first of the three concerns elements of the definition of the ancient Greek city-state (polis) in the Politics because Aristotle’s discussion of democracy pertains to this type of political state. The next group concerns the definition of the citizen because it took citizens to constitute a system of government in the city-state, of which democracy was one. The third concerns the definition of different systems of government in the city-state, especially the notion that democracy is, in Aristotle’s view, a “diverging” system of government. The remaining groups of passages concern democracy itself. In the paraphrases of the passages, square brackets [ ] indicate editorial additions to the ancient text.

The text of the Politics is conventionally divided into eight “Books,” whose proper order is disputed. These book divisions do not appear in the continuous text to which the passages are linked. For those who wish to correlate the passages cited below to the book in which they appear, the following list indicates the division of sections in the books as traditionally numbered. Since the links go to the beginnings of sections, they will not go to the part of the section at which a particular book begins. For example, Book 4 begins at 1288b10, but the link goes to the beginning of 1288b, from which point it is necessary to scroll forward to reach line 10.

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