Sententia libri Politicorum
Commentary on the Politics
Sicut Philosophus docet in secundo physicorum, ars imitatur naturam. Cuius ratio est, quia sicut se habent principia adinvicem, ita proportionabiliter se habent operationes et effectus. Principium autem eorum quae secundum artem fiunt est intellectus humanus, qui secundum similitudinem quamdam derivatur ab intellectu divino, qui est principium rerum naturalium. Unde necesse est, quod et operationes artis imitentur operationes naturae; et ea quae sunt secundum artem, imitentur ea quae sunt in natura. Si enim aliquis instructor alicuius artis opus artis efficeret; oporteret discipulum, qui ab eo artem suscepisset, ad opus illius attendere, ut ad eius similitudinem et ipse operaretur. Et ideo intellectus humanus ad quem intelligibile lumen ab intellectu divino derivatur, necesse habet in his quae facit informari ex inspectione eorum quae sunt naturaliter facta, ut similiter operetur.
As the Philosopher teaches in Book II of the Physics, art imitates nature. The reason for this is that, as principles are related to each other, so proportionally are their works and effects related. Now the principle of those things that come to be from art is the human intellect, which is derived, after a sort of likeness, from the divine intellect, the principle of natural objects. From this, it is necessary both that art’s work imitate nature’s work, and that those things which exist by art imitate those which exist in nature. For if some instructor of some art were to effect some work of art, it would be necessary for the student, who takes up his art from it, to attend to the instructor's work, so that according to its likeness he might himself also work. And therefore, the human intellect—whose intelligible light is derived from the divine intellect—necessarily has to be informed, in those things that it makes, by looking into those things that are naturally made, so that it might work similarly.
Et inde est quod Philosophus dicit, quod si ars faceret ea quae sunt naturae, similiter operaretur sicut et natura: et e converso, si natura faceret ea quae sunt artis, similiter faceret sicut et ars facit. Sed natura quidem non perficit ea quae sunt artis, sed solum quaedam principia praeparat, et exemplar operandi quodam modo artificibus praebet. Ars vero inspicere quidem potest ea quae sunt naturae, et eis uti ad opus proprium perficiendum; perficere vero ea non potest. Ex quo patet quod ratio humana eorum quae sunt secundum naturam est cognoscitiva tantum: eorum vero quae sunt secundum artem, est et cognoscitiva et factiva: unde oportet quod scientiae humanae, quae sunt de rebus naturalibus, sint speculativae; quae vero sunt de rebus ab homine factis, sint practicae, sive operativae secundum imitationem naturae.
And because of this, the Philosopher says that if art were to make those things which are of nature, it would work similarly to nature; and also the converse, that if nature were to make those things which are of art, it would make as art makes. But nature, of course, does not perfect those things which are art's, but only prepares principles, and, in some way, supplies art with an exemplar of how to do work. Now art is indeed able to look into those things which are of nature and use them to perfect its own proper work, but it is not able to perfect the things of nature. From this it is clear that human reason is only a knower of those things that exist by nature, but of those things that exist by art, it is both a knower and a maker. From this it follows that the human science which concerns natural objects must be speculative, but that which concerns objects made by human beings must be practical, or able to do work by imitating nature.
Procedit autem natura in sua operatione ex simplicibus ad composita; ita quod in eis quae per operationem naturae fiunt, quod est maxime compositum est perfectum et totum et finis aliorum, sicut apparet in omnibus totis respectu suarum partium. Unde et ratio hominis operativa ex simplicibus ad composita procedit tamquam ex imperfectis ad perfecta.
Now nature, in its work, proceeds from what is simple towards what is complex, such that in those things which come to be through the work of nature, what is most complex is perfect and whole and the end of the others, as is apparent in every whole with respect to its parts. So also the reason of human beings, when at work, proceeds from what is simple to what is complex as from the imperfect to the perfect.
Cum autem ratio humana disponere habeat non solum de his quae in usum hominis veniunt, sed etiam de ipsis hominibus qui ratione reguntur, in utrisque procedit ex simplicibus ad compositum. In aliis quidem rebus quae in usum hominis veniunt, sicut cum ex lignis constituit navem et ex lignis et lapidibus domum. In ipsis autem hominibus, sicut cum multos homines ordinat in unam quamdam communitatem. Quarum quidem communitatum cum diversi sint gradus et ordines, ultima est communitas civitatis ordinata ad per se sufficientia vitae humanae. Unde inter omnes communitates humanas ipsa est perfectissima. Et quia ea quae in usum hominis veniunt ordinantur ad hominem sicut ad finem, qui est principalior his quae sunt ad finem, ideo necesse est quod hoc totum quod est civitas sit principalius omnibus totis, quae ratione humana cognosci et constitui possunt.
Moreover, since human reason has to arrange not only those things that come into human use, but also human beings themselves, who are ruled by reason, in both cases it proceeds from simple things to something composed. It does this with those things that come into human use as when it builds a ship out of timber, and a house out of timber and stones; and with human beings themselves, as when it orders many human beings into one community. Of which communities, indeed—since there are various levels and orders—the last one is the community of the city, which is ordered toward the self-sufficiency of human life. So among all human communities it is the most perfected. And since what comes into human use is ordered to human beings as to an end—which end is more principal than those things which are toward the end—it is therefore necessary that this whole which is the city is more principal than all other wholes that can be known and constituted by human reason.
Ex his igitur quae dicta sunt circa doctrinam politicae, quam Aristoteles in hoc libro tradit, quatuor accipere possumus.
From these things that have been said about political doctrine, which Aristotle hands down in this book, four things may be gathered.
Primo quidem necessitatem huius scientiae. Omnium enim quae ratione cognosci possunt, necesse est aliquam doctrinam tradi ad perfectionem humanae sapientiae quae philosophia vocatur. Cum igitur hoc totum quod est civitas, sit cuidam rationis iudicio subiectum, necesse fuit ad complementum philosophiae de civitate doctrinam tradere quae politica nominatur, idest civilis scientia.
First, the necessity of this science. For to attain the perfection of human wisdom, which is called philosophy, it is necessary to hand down some doctrine about all things that can be known by reason. Since, therefore, this whole that is the city is subject to some judgment of reason, it was necessary, for the completion of philosophy, to hand down a doctrine about the city, which is named political science, that is, the science of civic affairs.
Secundo possumus accipere genus huius scientiae. Cum enim scientiae practicae a speculativis distinguantur in hoc quod speculativae ordinantur solum ad scientiam veritatis, practicae vero ad opus; necesse est hanc scientiam sub practica philosophia contineri, cum civitas sit quiddam totum, cujus humana ratio non solum est cognoscitiva, sed etiam operativa. Rursumque cum ratio quaedam operetur per modum factionis operatione in exteriorem materiam transeunte, quod proprie ad artes pertinet, quae mechanicae vocantur, utpote fabrilis et navifactiva et similes: quaedam vero operetur per modum actionis operatione manente in eo qui operatur, sicut est consiliari, eligere, velle et hujusmodi quae ad moralem scientiam pertinent: manifestum est politicam scientiam, quae de hominum considerat ordinatione, non contineri sub factivis scientiis, quae sunt artes mechanicae, sed sub activis quae sunt scientiae morales.
Second, we can gather the genus of this science. For since a practical science is distinguished from a speculative science in that the speculative is ordered only toward the knowledge of truth, but practical toward a work, it is necessary that this science be contained under practical philosophy, since the city is some whole which human reason is not only able to know about, but also to do work upon. Furthermore, since reason does work upon some things in the mode of manufacturing—when the work has gone over into external material, which properly belongs to the arts that are called mechanical, such as the smith and the shipwright and the like—but works upon other things in the mode of acting—when the work remains in the one who is at work, as when he takes counsel, chooses, wills, and other things of this sort which belong to moral science—it is therefore clear that political science, which studies the ordering of human beings, is not contained under the manufacturing sciences, which are the mechanical arts, but under the acting ones, which are the moral sciences.
Tertio possumus accipere dignitatem et ordinem politicae ad omnes alias scientias practicas. Est enim civitas principalissimum eorum quae humana ratione constitui possunt. Nam ad ipsam omnes communitates humanae referuntur. Rursumque omnia tota quae per artes mechanicas constituuntur ex rebus in usum hominum venientibus, ad homines ordinantur, sicut ad finem. Si igitur principalior scientia est quae est de nobiliori et perfectiori, necesse est politicam inter omnes scientias practicas esse principaliorem et architectonicam omnium aliarum, utpote considerans ultimum et perfectum bonum in rebus humanis. Et propter hoc philosophus dicit in fine decimi Ethicorum quod ad politicam perficitur philosophia, quae est circa res humanas.
Third, we are able to gather the dignity and order of political science with regard to all other practical sciences. For the city is most principal of those things that can be constituted by human reason, for all human communities exist in reference to it. Furthermore, every whole that is constituted through the mechanical arts from objects that have come into human use is ordered towards human beings as toward an end. Therefore, if a more principal science is that of the more noble and more perfected things, it is necessary that political science, among all the practical sciences, is a more principal science, and architectonic of all the others, inasmuch as it studies the last and perfect good in human affairs. And because of this, the philosopher says at the end of the Ethics X that the philosophy concerned with human affairs is perfected in political science.
Quarto ex praedictis accipere possumus modum et ordinem huiusmodi scientiae. Sicut enim scientiae speculativae quae de aliquo toto considerant, ex consideratione partium et principiorum notitiam de toto perficiunt passiones et operationes totius manifestando; sic et haec scientia principia et partes civitatis considerans de ipsa notitiam tradit, partes et passiones et operationes eius manifestans: et quia practica est, manifestat insuper quomodo singula perfici possunt: quod est necessarium in omni practica scientia.
Fourth, from what has been said we can gather the method and order of this sort of science. For just as the speculative sciences—which consider some whole—perfect the knowledge of the whole by clarifying the experiences and works of the whole, through a consideration of its parts and its principles, so also does this science deliver knowledge about the city by considering its principles and parts, thereby clarifying its parts and experiences and works. And because it is practical, it additionally clarifies how each particular can be perfected, as is necessary in all the practical sciences.
Quoniam omnem civitatem videmus communitatem quandam existentem et omnem communitatem boni alicuius gratia institutam eius enim quod videtur boni gratia omnia operantur omnes, manifestum quod omnes quidem bonum aliquod coniecturant,
Since we see every city existing as a community of some kind, and every community is instituted for the sake of some good (for everyone always works for the sake of what seems good to them) it is clear that every city aims at some good.
maxime autem principalissimum omnium, omnium maxime principalis, et omnes alias circumplectens, haec autem est quae vocatur civitas et communicatio politica.
And the most principal community aims at the most principal good of all, and embraces all others. Now this is what is called the city, and the political union.
Quicumque quidem igitur existimant politicum et regale et yconomicum et despoticum, idem non bene dicunt.
Anyone, therefore, who thinks that the political, the kingly, the economic and the despotic are the same does not speak well.
Multitudine enim et paucitate putant differre, sed non specie horum unumquodque, puta si quidem paucorum, patremfamilias, si autem plurium, yconomum, si autem adhuc plurium, politicum aut regale; tamquam nihil differentem magnam domum aut parvam civitatem: et politicum et regale, quando quidem ipse praeest, regale, quando autem secundum sermones disciplinae talis secundum partem principans et subiectus, politicum.
For they believe them to differ by multitude or fewness, but not in kind. For example, if over a few, it is a paterfamilias; if over more, it is economic; over a still larger number, it is political or kingly, as if there were no difference between a great household and a small city. And [they think] the difference between the political and the kingly is, when the one himself is foremost, it is kingly; when, according to a discipline's discourses, such a one is partly principal and subject, it is political.
Haec autem non sunt vera: manifestum autem erit quod dicitur intendentibus secundum subiectam methodum. Sicut enim in aliis compositum usque ad incomposita necesse dividere haec enim minimae partes totius, sic et civitatem ex quibus componitur considerantes videbimus et de hiis magis quidque differunt ab invicem, et si quid artificiale contingit accipere circa unumquodque dictorum. Si quis enim ex principio res nascentes viderit , quemadmodum et in aliis, et in hiis optime utique sic contemplabitur.
Now these things are not true. And the things said will be clear to those inquiring according to the method of the subject. As in other areas, it is necessary to divide what is composite into what is not composite; for these are the smallest parts of the whole. So, also, considering those things from which the city is composed, we will see also about these things [i.e. the different kinds of rule] in what they differ from each other, and whether anything might be artfully grasped concerning each of the things that was said. For if anyone, from the beginning, will look to nascent things, then in the same way in other things and also in these, he will best contemplate both.
Necesse itaque primum combinare sine invicem non possibiles esse, puta feminam et masculum generationis gratia; et hoc non ex electione , sed sicut in aliis animalibus et plantis naturale appetere quale ipsum tale derelinquere alterum.
So first, it is necessary to combine what cannot exist without each other, namely, female and male, for the sake of generation. And this is not by choice, but as with the other animals and with plants, from a natural appetite to leave behind another like oneself.
Principans autem et subiectum natura propter salutem quod qui dem enim potest mente praevidere principans natura et dominans natura. Quod autem potest haec corpore facere, subiectum et natura servum; propter quod domino et servo idem expedit.
And the natural principal and subject are for the sake of preservation. For that which can foresee by the mind is by nature the principal and master, and that which can enact this with its body is a subject, and by nature a slave. Hence the same thing is advantageous for both master and slave.
Natura quidem igitur distinguuntur femina et servum. Nihil enim natura facit tale quale aeris figuratores Delphicum gladium paupere sed unum ad unum. Sic enim utique perficiet optime organorum unumquodque, non multis operibus sed uni serviens.
Now nature has distinguished between the female and the slave. For nature makes nothing as did the smith of the Delphian knife, from poverty, but for one thing; for every tool is best made when it is thus at the service of one, and not of many works.
Inter barbaros autem femina et servum eundem habent ordinem.
But among barbarians, women and slaves are in the same order.
Causa autem, quia natura principans non habent, sed fit communicatio ipsorum servae et servi: propter quod dicunt poetae barbaris quidem Graecos principari congrue, tamquam sit idem natura barbarum et servum.
The reason is because they do not have a natural principal among them, but they are a union of slaves, male and female. Because of this, the poets say, It is fitting that Greeks should be principal over barbarians; as though the nature of barbarian and slave were the same.
Ex his quidem igitur duabus communitatibus domus prima, et recte Hesiodus dixit poetizans: domum quidem praeeminenter mulierem que et bovem aratorem, bos enim pro ministro pauperibus est.
Out of these two communities comes the first home, and Hesiod is correct when he says poetically, First home and wife and an ox for the plough, for the ox stands in as a servant for the poor.
In omnem quidem igitur diem constituta communitas secundum naturam domus est, quos Charondas quidem vocat homosipyos, Epimenides autem okres homokapnos.
Therefore, the community constituted for every day, according to nature, is the home, which indeed Charondas called homosipyos [of one dish], but Epimenides of Ocres [sic] called homokapnos [of one smoke].
Ex pluribus autem domibus communicatio prima usus non diurnalis gratia vicus.
From several homes, the first union for the sake of non-daily use is the village.
Maxime autem videtur secundum naturam vicus vicinia domuum esse, quos vocant quidam collactaneos puerosque et puerorum pueros.
And the village that seems most according to nature seems to be a neighborhood of homes, composed of the children and grandchildren, who are said to be suckled 'with the same milk.'
Propter quod et primum rege regebantur civitates, et nunc adhuc gentes : ex subiectis enim regi: omnis enim domus regitur a senissimo. Quare et viciniae propter cognationem. et hoc est quod dicit Homerus: leges statuit unusquisque pueris et uxoribus. dispersivi enim: et sic antiquitus habitabant.
And because of this, cities were first ruled by kings, as tribes are still, from being subjected to a king; for every home is ruled by the eldest, which is why it happened in the neighborhoods on account of consanguinity. As Homer says: Each one gives law to his children and to his wives. For they lived dispersedly, as was the habit in ancient times.
Et deos autem propter hoc omnes dicunt regi, quia et ipsi hi quidem adhuc et nunc, hi autem antiquitus regebantur, sicut autem et species sibi ipsis assimilant homines, sic et vitas deorum.
Wherefore men say that the gods have a king, because they themselves either are or were in ancient times under the rule of a king. For human beings project themselves not only upon the forms of the Gods, but also on their ways of life.
His igitur praelibatis, sciendum est quod Aristoteles in hoc libro praemittit quoddam prooemium, in quo manifestat intentionem huius scientiae:
After these preliminary remarks, it should be understood that Aristotle introduces this book with a prologue in which he first clarifies the intention of this science;
et deinde accedit ad propositum manifestandum, ibi, quoniam autem manifestum ex quibus partibus et cetera.
and then he proceeds to clarify what he has proposed, at: quoniam autem manifestum ex quibus partibus.
Circa primum duo facit.
Concerning the first point he does two things.
Primo ostendit dignitatem civitatis, de qua est politica, ex eius fine:
First, he shows the dignity of the city, which political science is about, from its end;
secundo ostendit comparationem civitatis ad alias communitates, ibi, quicumque quidem igitur et cetera.
second, he compares the city to the other communities, at quicumque quidem igitur.