Constitutional theory defines a timocracy as either:
# a state where only property owners may participate in government; or
# a government where rulers are selected and perpetuated based on the degree of honour they hold relative to others in their society, peers and the ruling class. The word derives from the Greek words "timē / τιμή" , meaning "honour" or "worth", and "-kratia" meaning "rule" (as in government).

Timocracy and property

Solon introduced the ideas of "timokratia" as a graded oligarchy in his Solonian Constitution for Athens (early 6th century BC). His, the first known deliberately-implemented form of timocracy, allotted political rights and economic responsibilities depending on membership of one of four tiers of the population. Solon defined these tiers by measuring how many bushels of produce each man could produce in a year, namely:

* Pentacosiomedimni ("Men of the 500 bushel", those who produced 500 bushels of produce per year, could serve as generals in the army)
* Hippeis (knights, those who could equip themselves and one cavalry horse for war, valued at 300 bushels per year)
* Zeugitae (tillers, owners of at least one pair of beasts of burden, valued at 200 bushels per year, could serve as Hoplites)
* "Thetes" (manual labourers)

N.G.L. Hammond supposes that Solon instituted a graduated tax upon the upper classes, levied in a ratio of 6:3:1, with the lowest class of thetes paying nothing in taxes but remaining ineligible for elected office.

Aristotle later wrote in his "Nicomachean Ethics" ( [http://virtuescience.com/ethics8.html#8.10 Book 8, Chapter 10] ) about three "true political forms" for a state, each of which could appear in corrupt form, becoming one of three negative forms. Aristotle describes timocracy in the sense of rule by property-owners: it comprised one of his true political forms. Aristotelian timocracy approximated to the constitution of Athens, although Athens exemplified the corrupted version of this form, described as democracy.

Timocracy and honour

Plato produced the earliest surviving text using the term in the rule-by-honour sense. In "The Republic", he describes four forms of unjust state, with timocracy as the preferable of the four and closest to the ideal society. The city-state of Sparta provided Plato with a real-world model for this form of government. (Modern observers might describe Sparta as a totalitarian or one-party state, although the details we know of its society come almost exclusively from Sparta's enemies.) The idea of militarism often attaches to the honour-oriented timocracy.

This form of Timocracy is very similar to Meritocracy, in the sence that individuals of outstanding character or faculty are placed in the seat of power.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Timocracy — Ti*moc ra*cy, n. [Gr. ?; ? honor, worth (fr. ? to honor) + ? to govern: cf. F. timocratie.] (Gr. Antiq.) (a) A state in which the love of honor is the ruling motive. (b) A state in which honors are distributed according to a rating of property.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • timocracy — (n.) 1580s, from M.Fr. tymocracie, from M.L. timocratia (13c.), from Gk. timokratia, from time honor, worth (related to tiein to place a value on, to honor ) + kratia rule (see CRACY (Cf. cracy)). In Plato s philosophy, a form of government in… …   Etymology dictionary

  • timocracy — [tī mäk′rə sē] n. [MFr tymocracie < ML timocratia < Gr timokratia < timē, honor, worth (< IE base * kwei , to heed, value > Lith káina, worth, price) + kratia (see CRACY)] 1. in the philosophy of Plato, a form of government in… …   English World dictionary

  • timocracy — noun Etymology: Middle English tymotracie, from Middle French tymocracie, from Medieval Latin timocratia, from Greek timokratia, from timē price, value, honor + kratia cracy; akin to Greek tiein to honor, Sanskrit cāyati he respects Date: 15th… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • timocracy — timocratic /tuy meuh krat ik/, timocratical, adj. /tuy mok reuh see/, n., pl. timocracies. 1. a form of government in which love of honor is the dominant motive of the rulers. 2. a form of government in which a certain amount of property is… …   Universalium

  • timocracy — noun a) (Platonism) A form of government in which ambition for honor, power and military glory motivates the rulers. b) (Aristotelianism) A form of government in which civic honor or political power increases with the amount of property one owns …   Wiktionary

  • timocracy — government by the propertied class Forms of Government …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • timocracy — [tɪ mɒkrəsi] noun (plural timocracies) chiefly Philosophy 1》 a form of government in which possession of property is required in order to hold office. 2》 a form of government in which rulers are motivated by ambition or love of honour.… …   English new terms dictionary

  • timocracy — ti·moc·ra·cy …   English syllables

  • timocracy — ti•moc•ra•cy [[t]taɪˈmɒk rə si[/t]] n. pl. cies 1) gov government in which love of honor is the dominant motive of the rulers 2) gov government in which a certain amount of property is requisite as a qualification for office • Etymology: 1580–90; …   From formal English to slang

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