4 Equality before the law has an auspicious name and is most just in its workings. For in the case of men who are endowed with the same nature, are of the same race with one another, have been brought up under the same institutions, have been trained in laws that are alike, 2 and yield in an equal degree the service of their bodies and of their minds to their country, is it not just that they should have an equal share in all other things also, and is it not best that they should secure no distinctions except as the result of excellence? 3 For equality of birth demands equality of privilege, and if it attains this object, it is glad, but if it fails, it is displeased. And the human race everywhere, sprung as it is from the gods and destined to return to the gods, gazes upward and is not content to be ruled forever by the same person, 4 nor will it endure to share in the toils, the dangers, and the expenditures and yet be deprived of partnership in the better things. Or, if it is forced to submit to anything of the sort, it hates the power which has applied coercion, and if it obtains an opportunity, takes vengeance upon what it hates. 5 All men, of course, claim the right to rule, and for this reason submit to being ruled in turn; they are unwilling to have others overreach them, and therefore are not obliged, on their part, to overreach others. They are pleased with the honours bestowed upon them by their equals, and approve of the penalties inflicted upon them by the laws. 6 Now if they live under this kind of polity and regard the blessings and also the p87opposite as belonging to all alike, they not only wish no harm to befall any one of the citizens, but devoutly hope that nothing but prosperity will fall to the lot of each and all. 7 And if one of them possesses any excellence himself, he readily makes it known, practises it enthusiastically, and exhibits it most joyfully; or if he sees it in another, he readily brings it to the light, eagerly takes part in increasing it, and bestows the most splendid honours upon it. 8 On the other hand, if any one shows himself base, everybody hates him, and if any one meets with misfortune, everybody pities him; for each person regards the loss and the disgrace that arise therefrom as shared in by the whole state.
5 “This is the character of democracies. Under tyrannies exactly the opposite conditions are found. But why go into all the details at length? The chief thing is that no one is willing to be thought to have any superior knowledge or possession, because the dominant power generally becomes wholly hostile to him on account of such superiority; 2 on the contrary, every one makes the tyrant’s character his own standard of life and pursues whatever objects he may hope to gain through him by overreaching others without personal risk. Consequently, the majority of the people are devoted only to their own interests and hate all their neighbors, regarding the others’ successes as their own losses and the others’ misfortunes as their own gains.