Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Aristotle on the Right to Bear Arms

In Book II, chapter 8 of Politics Aristotle describes the city of Hippodamus, the son of Euryphon. Aristotle credits Hippodamus with the invention of the art of planning of cities. As well, Aristotle says that he was "the first person not a statesman who made inquiries about the best form of government."

In critiquing the city that Hippodamus proposed, which was to be of 10,000 citizens divided among artisans, farmers and warriors, Aristotle writes:

"The first of these proposals to which objection may be taken is the threefold division of the citizens. The artisans and the husbandmen, and the warriors, all have a share in government. But the husbandmen have no arms, and the artisans neither arms nor land, and therefore they become all but slaves of the warrior class. That they should share in all the offices is an impossibility; for generals and guardians of the citizens, and nearly all the principal magistrates, must be taken from the class of those who carry arms. Yet, if the two other classes have no share in the government, how can they be loyal citizens? It may be said that those who have arms must necessarily be masters of both the other classes, but this is not so easily accomplished unless they are numerous; and if they are, why should the other classes share in government at all..."

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