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Teaching with Primary Sources

Excerpts from The Constitution of the Athenians
by the "Old Oligarch" (Pseudo-Xenophobe)

And as for the fact that the Athenians have chosen the kind of constitution that they have, I do not think well of their doing that inasmuch as in making their choice they have chosen to let the worst people be better off than the good. Therefore, on this account, I do not think well of their constitution….

There is a point which some find extraordinary, that they everywhere assign more to the worst persons, to the poor, and to the popular types than to the good men: in this very point they will be found manifestly preserving their democracy…. And everywhere on earth the best element is opposed to democracy. For among the best people there is minimal wantonness and injustice but a maximum of ignorance, disorder, and wickedness; for poverty draws them rather to disgraceful actions, and because of a lack of money some men are uneducated and ignorant….

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