As is his custom, Aristotle first surveys the existing political theories, discusses their strong and weak points, and then provides his own theory, describing the different forms of government, the reason of their existence and the means of their maintenance.
The Licence of the Lacedaemonian Women
The old mythologer would seem to have been right in uniting Ares and Aphrodite, for all warlike races are prone to the love either of men or of women. This was exemplified among the Spartans in the days of their greatness; many things were managed by their women. But what difference does it make whether women rule, or the rulers are ruled by women? The result is the same.
Who is a Citizen?
He is a citizen in the highest sense who shares in the honours of the state. Compare Homer’s words ‘like some dishonoured stranger’ [Achilles complains of Agamemnon’s so treating him]; he who is excluded from the honours of the state is no better than an alien. But when this exclusion is concealed , then the object is that the privileged class may deceive their fellow inhabitants.
What is a State?
A state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange. These are conditions without which state cannot exist; but all of them do not constitute a state, .. these are created by friendship, for the will to live together is friendship. The end of the state is the good life, and these are the means towards it. And the state is the union of families and villages in a perfect and self-sufficing life, by which we mean a happy and honourable life.