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→ Introduction.


Instructions for reading passages.

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.

Selective Bibliography.

Index of Citations

General Index

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Democracy in the Politics of Aristotle  

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

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· Introduction ·

Read about the evidence
Aristotle (Aristot. Pol.).

The goal of this article is to provide one possible aid for those wishing to meet this challenge. It therefore offers a series of topical headings under which selected passages relevant to the study of democracy in the Politics are rearranged. That is, under each topic the passages are listed not in the order in which they occur in the Politics, but are instead arranged in an order that attempts to suggest connections in thought between Aristotle’s various remarks on democracy. The passages are paraphrased rather than translated word for word, although the paraphrases of the shorter excerpts attempt to stay as close to the Greek wording as is practical. Since the paraphrased passages are meant to serve as jumping-off points for consideration of the full text of the Politics, each passage has an active link to the full text of the Politics. A glossary of Greek terms and a very selective bibliography of recommended print readings are also included.

Read about the evidence
Aristotle (Aristot. Pol.).

Since the approach adopted for this site rearranges the order of material on democracy from the Politics, it necessarily removes each passage from its context in order to suggest connections in thought that might not be easy to grasp when the text is read serially from beginning to end. This displacement of the passages suggests an interpretation of the connections in Aristotle’s thought on democracy in the Politics. The potential danger of this method, of course, is that reading excerpted and paraphrased passages without considering their full context can be seriously misleading. It must be strongly emphasized, therefore, that reading the Politics thoroughly from beginning to end (and more than once!) is the only way to try to understand fully its complex and interwoven arguments. With this caution firmly in mind, users can consider the arrangement of excerpted passages as a guide to further study of Aristotle’s reflections on ancient Greek democracy.

In the environment provided by electronic publication, all readers can immediately confront our implied interpretation with the underlying evidence and offer suggestions for improvement by electronic response to the author and contributors. In this way the collaborative work that produced this article can continue as a scholarly conversation on a wide scale.

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