The connection between individual character and the body politic is a recurring theme in the classical political tradition. "The type of character appropriate to the constitution," wrote Aristotle, "is the power which continues to sustain it, as it is also the force which originally creates it."1 When he spoke of the constitution Aristotle was thinking of something broader than an "arrangement of offices." He had in mind "a scheme of life, directed to attain a particular quality of life," which is conception close to the inclusiveness of the modern idea of "a culture."2 Writing of what we would today call a well-functioning democracy Aristotle emphasized the favorable effect of relying upon men of a middle condition in all "gifts of fortune." "Those who belong to either extreme -- the over-handsome, the over-strong, the over-noble, the over-wealthy; at the opposite end the over-poor, the over-weak, the utterly ignoble -- find it hard to follow the lead of reason." The privileged ones incline more toward "violence and serious crime," while the underprivileged tend to "roguery and petty offenses." Those enjoying too many advantages are "both unwilling to obey and ignorant how to obey." At the other end of the scale are the "mean and poor-spirited."
We thus have, on the one hand, people who are ignorant how to rule and only know how to obey, as if they were so many slaves, and, on the other hand, people who are ignorant how to