Utopia & Utopian Literature By Sir Thomas More Summary and Analysis Book II: The Discourse on Utopia: Officials

Summary

From every 30 families a magistrate is chosen each year to represent them in the government of the country. These were formerly called Syphogrants but are now entitled Philarchs. (Hythloday sometimes uses one designation and sometimes the other.) Over every ten Syphogrants is an official called either a Tranibor or an Archphilarch. The head of the government, the Prince, is elected through secret ballot from a slate of four candidates by the assembly of Syphogrants and holds office for life. The council of Tranibors meets with the Prince every third day, or oftener if necessary. No issue concerning the public good may be settled until it has been debated in three successive meetings, for they mistrust the hasty resolution of serious matters.

Analysis

We are given only a sketchy impression of the processes for governing the kingdom in the present passage. Further particulars will be supplied later in the book. Their monarch, the Prince, attains his post through an elective method rather than through inheritance, and his powers are not specified other than that he presides at the meetings of the council of Tranibors. The selection of all other government officials appears to be by election, though the question of suffrage is not discussed. Still it is evident that the system is basically democratic.

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