THE place of the Athenian Constitution in the encyclopedia of Aristotle's writings is known to us from the concluding paragraph of the Nicomachean Ethics. That work forms the first volume of a treatise on the welfare of man as a social being, of which the Politics forms the second volume; and at the end of the former ( N.E. x. ix. 21, 23) a prefatory outline of the latter is given, in which occur the phrases 'the collections of constitutions,' 'the collected constitutions'; it is stated that on these will be based that division of the Politics (i.e. Books III.-VI.) which will deal with the stability of states in general and of the various special forms of constitution, and with the causes of good and bad government.
These treatises are said in ancient lists of Aristotle's writings to have been a hundred and fifty-eight in number. Each no doubt consisted, like the volume before us, of a constitutional history of the state in question followed by a description of its constitution at the time of writing. They are frequently spoken of as the work of Aristotle, but he may well have employed the aid of pupils in their compilation. They were not preserved through the Middle Ages in the Aristotelian Corpus, and until fifty years ago