Front Page Titles (by Subject) 14.: Of the bodily pleasures, and the distinction between naturally and accidentally pleasant. - The Nicomachean Ethics
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14.: Of the bodily pleasures, and the distinction between naturally and accidentally pleasant. - Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics 
The Nichomachean Ethics of Aristotle, trans. F.H. Peters, M.A. 5th edition (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co., 1893).
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Of the bodily pleasures, and the distinction between naturally and accidentally pleasant.
Those who say that though some pleasures are very desirable — to wit, noble pleasures — the pleasures of the body, with which the profligate is concerned, are not desirable, should consider the nature of these pleasures of the body. Why [if they are bad] are the opposite pains bad? for the opposite of bad is good. Are we to say that the “necessary” pleasures are good in the sense that what is not bad is good? or are they good up to a certain point?
Those faculties and those motions or activities which do not admit of excess beyond what is good,* do not admit of excessive pleasure; but those which admit of excess admit also of excessive pleasure. Now, bodily goods admit of excess, and the bad man is bad because he pursues this excess, not merely because he pursues the necessary pleasures; for men always take some delight in meat, and drink, and the gratification of the sexual appetite, but not always as they ought. But with pain the case is reversed: it is not excess of pain merely that the bad man avoids, but pain generally; [which is not inconsistent with the proposition that pain is bad,] for the opposite of excessive pleasure is not painful, except to the man who pursues the excess.*
But we ought to state not only the truth, but also the cause of the error; for this helps to produce conviction, as, when something has been pointed out to us which would naturally make that seem true which is not, we are more ready to believe the truth. And so we must say why it is that the bodily pleasures seem more desirable.
First of all, then, it is because of its efficacy in expelling pain, and because of the excessiveness of the pain to which it is regarded as an antidote, that men pursue excessive pleasure and bodily pleasure generally. But these remedies produce an intense feeling, and so are pursued, because they appear in strong contrast to the opposite pain.
(The reasons why pleasure is thought to be not good are two, as we said before: (1) some pleasures are the manifestation of a nature that is bad either from birth, as with brutes, or by habit, as with bad men: (2) the remedial pleasures imply want; and it is better to be in a [natural] state than in a transition to such a state; but these pleasures are felt while a want in us is being filled up, and therefore they are only accidentally good.† )
Again, these pleasures are pursued because of their intensity by those who are unable to take delight in other pleasures; thus we see people make themselves thirsty on purpose. When the pleasures they pursue are harmless, we do not blame them (though when they are hurtful the pursuit is bad); for they have no other sources of enjoyment, and the neutral state is painful to many because of their nature: for an animal is always labouring, as physical science teaches, telling us that seeing and hearing is labour and pain, only we are all used to it, as the saying is. And thus in youth, because they are growing, men are in a state resembling drunkenness; and youth is pleasant. But people of a melancholic nature are always wanting something to restore their balance; for their bodies are always vexing them because of their peculiar temperament, and they are always in a state of violent desire. But pain is expelled either by the opposite pleasure or by any pleasure, if it be sufficiently strong; and this is the reason why such men become profligate and worthless.
But pleasures that have no antecedent pain do not admit of excess. These are the pleasures derived from things that are naturally and not merely accidentally pleasant. I call those things accidentally pleasant that have a restorative effect; for as the restoration cannot take place unless that part of the system which remains healthy be in some way active, the restoration itself seems pleasant: but I call those things naturally pleasant that stimulate the activity of a healthy system.*
But nothing can continue to give us uninterrupted pleasure, because our nature is not simple, but contains a second element which makes us mortal beings;* so that if the one element be active in any way, this is contrary to the nature of the other element, but when the two elements are in equilibrium, what we do seems neither painful nor pleasant; for if there were a being whose nature were simple, the same activity would be always most pleasant to him. And on this account God always enjoys one simple pleasure; for besides the activity of movement, there is also activity without movement, and rest admits of truer pleasure than motion. But change is “the sweetest of all things,” as the poet says, because of a certain badness in us: for just as it is the bad man who is especially apt to change, so is it the bad nature that needs change; for it is neither simple nor good.
We have now considered continence and incontinence, and pleasure and pain, and have explained what each is, and how some of them are good and some bad. It remains to consider friendship.
FRIENDSHIP OR LOVE.
Uses of friendship. Differences of opinion about it.
After the foregoing, a discussion of friendship will naturally follow, as it is a sort of virtue, or at least implies virtue, and is, moreover, most necessary to our life. For no one would care to live without friends, though he had all other good things. Indeed, it is when a man is rich, and has got power and authority, that he seems most of all to stand in need of friends; for what is the use of all this prosperity if he have no opportunity for benevolence, which is most frequently and most commendably displayed towards friends? or how could his position be maintained and preserved without friends? for the greater it is, the more is it exposed to danger. In poverty and all other misfortunes, again, we regard our friends as our only refuge. We need friends when we are young to keep us from error, when we get old to tend upon us and to carry out those plans which we have not strength to execute ourselves, and in the prime of life to help us in noble deeds—“two together” [as Homer says]; for thus we are more efficient both in thought and in action.
Love seems to be implanted by nature in the parent towards the offspring, and in the offspring towards the parent, not only among men, but also among birds and most animals; and in those of the same race towards one another, among men especially—for which reason we commend those who love their fellow-men. And when one travels one may see how man is always akin to and dear to man.
Again, it seems that friendship is the bond that holds states together, and that lawgivers are even more eager to secure it than justice. For concord bears a certain resemblance to friendship, and it is concord that they especially wish to retain, and dissension that they especially wish to banish as an enemy. If citizens be friends, they have no need of justice, but though they be just, they need friendship or love also; indeed, the completest realization of justice* seems to be the realization of friendship or love also.
Moreover, friendship is not only an indispensable, but also a beautiful or noble thing: for we commend those who love their friends, and to have many friends is thought to be a noble thing; and some even think that a good man is the same as a friend.†
But there are not a few differences of opinion about the matter. Some hold that it is a kind of likeness, and that those who are like one another are friends; and this is the origin of “Like to like,” and “Birds of a feather flock together,”‡ and other similar sayings. Others, on the contrary, say that “two of a trade never agree.”§
Others go deeper into these questions, and into the causes of the phenomena; Euripides, for instance says—
Heraclitus also says, “Opposites fit together,” and “Out of discordant elements comes the fairest harmony,” and “It is by battle that all things come into the world.” Others, and notably Empedocles, take the opposite view, and say that like desires like.
Of these difficulties, all that refer to the constitution of the universe may be dismissed (for they do not properly concern our present inquiry); but those that refer to human nature, and are intimately connected with man’s character and affections, we will discuss—as, for instance, whether friendship can exist in all men, or whether it is impossible for men to be friends if they are bad, and whether there be one form of friendship or rather many. For those who suppose that there is only one kind of friendship, because it admits of degrees, go upon insufficient grounds. Things that differ in kind may differ also in degree (But we have already spoken about this point.* )
Three motives of friendship. Friendship defined.
Perhaps these difficulties will be cleared up if we first ascertain what is the nature of the lovable. For it seems that we do not love anything, but only the lovable, and that the lovable is either good or pleasant or useful. But useful would appear to mean that which helps us to get something good, or some pleasure; so that the good and the pleasant only would be loved as ends.
Now, do men love what is good, or what is good for themselves? for there is sometimes a discrepancy between these two.
The same question may be asked about the pleasant.
It seems that each man loves what is good for himself, and that, while the good is lovable in itself, that is lovable to each man which is good for him. It may be said that each man loves not what is really good for him, but what seems good for him. But this will make no difference; for the lovable we are speaking of will then be the apparently lovable.
The motives of love being thus threefold, the love of inanimate things is not called friendship. For there is no return of affection here, nor any wish for the good of the object: it would be absurd to wish well to wine, for instance; at the most, we wish that it may keep well, in order that we may have it. But it is commonly said that we must wish our friend’s good for his own sake. One who thus wishes the good of another is called a well-wisher, when the wish is not reciprocated; when the well-wishing is mutual, it is called friendship.
But ought we not to add that each must be aware of the other’s well-wishing? For a man often wishes well to those whom he has never seen, but supposes to be good or useful men; and one of these may have the same sentiments towards him. These two, then, are plainly well-wishers one of another; but how could one call them friends when each is unaware of the other’s feelings?
In order to be friends, then, they must be wellwishers one of another, i.e. must wish each other’s good from one of the three motives above mentioned, and be aware of each other’s feelings.
Three kinds of friendship, corresponding to the three motives Perfect friendship is that whose motive is the good.
But these three motives are specifically different from one another; the several affections and friendships based upon them, therefore, will also be specifically different. The kinds of friendship accordingly are three, being equal in number to the motives of love; for any one of these may be the basis of a mutual affection of which each is aware.
Now, those who love one another wish each other’s good in respect of that which is the motive of their love. Those, therefore, whose love for one another is based on the useful, do not love each other for what they are, but only in so far as each gets some good from the other.
It is the same also with those whose affection is based on pleasure; people care for a wit, for instance, not for what he is, but as the source of pleasure to themselves.
Those, then, whose love is based on the useful care for each other on the ground of their own good, and those whose love is based on pleasure care for each other on the ground of what is pleasant to themselves, each loving the other, not as being what he is, but as useful or pleasant.
These friendships, then, are “accidental;” for the object of affection is loved, not as being the person or character that he is, but as the source of some good or some pleasure. Friendships of this kind, therefore, are easily dissolved, as the persons do not continue unchanged; for if they cease to be pleasant or useful to one another, their love ceases. But the useful is nothing permanent, but varies from time to time. On the disappearance, therefore, of that which was the motive of their friendship, the friendship itself is dissolved, since it existed solely with a view to that.
Friendship of this kind seems especially to be found among elderly men (for at that time of life men pursue the useful rather than the pleasant) and those middle-aged and young men who have a keen eye to what is profitable. But friends of this kind do not generally even live together; for sometimes they are by no means pleasant (nor indeed do they want such constant intercourse with others, unless they are useful); for they make themselves pleasant only just so far as they have hopes of getting something good thereby.
With these friendships is generally classed the kind of friendship that exists between host and guest.*
The friendship of young men is thought to be based on pleasure; for young men live by impulse, and, for the most part, pursue what is pleasant to themselves and what is immediately present. But the things in which they take pleasure change as they advance in years. They are quick to make friendships, therefore, and quick to drop them; for their friendship changes as the object which pleases them changes; and pleasure of this kind is liable to rapid alteration.
Moreover, young men are apt to fall in love; for love is, for the most part, a matter of impulse and based on pleasure: so they fall in love, and again soon cease to love, passing from one state to the other many times in one day.
Friends of this kind wish to spend their time together and to live together; for thus they attain the object of their friendship.
But the perfect kind of friendship is that of good men who resemble one another in virtue. For they both alike wish well to one another as good men, and it is their essential character to be good men. And those who wish well to their friends for the friends’ sake are friends in the truest sense; for they have these sentiments towards each other as being what they are, and not in an accidental way: their friendship, therefore, lasts as long as their virtue, and that is a lasting thing.
Again, each is both good simply and good to his friend; for it is true of good men that they are both good simply and also useful to one another.
In like manner they are pleasant too; for good men are both pleasant in themselves and pleasant to one another: for every kind of character takes delight in the acts that are proper to it and those that resemble these; but the acts of good men are the same or similar.
This kind of friendship, then, is lasting, as we might expect, since it unites in itself all the conditions of true friendship. For every friendship has for its motive some good or some pleasure (whether it be such in itself or relatively to the person who loves), and is founded upon some similarity: but in this case all the requisite characteristics belong to the friends in their own nature; for here there is similarity and the rest, viz. what is good simply and pleasant simply, and these are the most lovable things: and so it is between persons of this sort that the truest and best love and friendship is found.
It is but natural that such friendships should be uncommon, as such people are rare. Such a friendship, moreover, requires long and familiar intercourse. For, as the proverb says, it is impossible for people to know one another till they have consumed the requisite quantity of salt together. Nor can they accept one another as friends, or be friends, till each show and approve himself to the other as worthy to be loved. Those who quickly come to treat one another like friends may wish to be friends, but are not really friends, unless they not only are lovable, but know each other to be so; a wish to be friends may be of rapid growth, but not friendship.
This kind of friendship, then, is complete in respect of duration and in all other points, and that which each gets from the other is in all respects identical or similar, as should be the case with friends.
The others are imperfect copies of this.
The friendship of which pleasure is the motive bears some resemblance to the foregoing; for good men, too, are pleasant to each other. So also does that of which the useful is the motive; for good men are useful also to one another. And in these cases, too, the friendship is most likely to endure when that which each gets from the other is the same (e.g. pleasure), and not only the same, but arising from the same source—a friendship between two wits, for instance, rather than one between a lover and his beloved. For the source of pleasure in the latter case is not the same for both: the lover delights to look upon his beloved, the beloved likes to have attentions paid him; but when the bloom of youth is gone, the friendship sometimes vanishes also; for the one misses the beauty that used to please him, the other misses the attentions. But, on the other hand, they frequently continue friends, i.e. when their intercourse has brought them to care for each other’s characters, and they are similar in character.
Those who in matters of love exchange not pleasure but profit, are less truly and less permanently friends. The friendship whose motive is profit ceases when the advantage ceases; for it was not one another that they loved, but the profit.
For pleasure, then, or for profit it is possible even for bad men to be friends with one another, and good men with bad, and those who are neither with people of any kind, but it is evident that the friendship in which each loves the other for himself is only possible between good men; for bad men take no delight in each other unless some advantage is to be gained.
The friendship of good men, again, is the only one that can defy calumny; for people are not ready to accept the testimony of any one else against him whom themselves have tested. Such friendship also implies mutual trust, and the certainty that neither would ever wrong the other, and all else that is implied in true friendship; while in other friendships there is no such security.
For since men also apply the term friends to those who love one another for profit’s sake, as happens with states (for expediency is thought to be the ground on which states make alliances), and also to those who love one another for pleasure’s sake, as children do, perhaps we too ought to apply the name to such people, and to speak of several kinds of friendship—firstly, in the primary and strict sense of the word, the friendship of good men as such; secondly, the other kinds that are so called because of a resemblance to this: for these other people are called friends in so far as their relation involves some element of good, which constitutes a resemblance; for the pleasant, too, is good to those who love pleasant things. But these two latter kinds are not apt to coincide, nor do the same people become friends for the sake both of profit and pleasure; for such accidental properties are not apt to be combined in one subject.
Now that we have distinguished these several kinds of friendship, we may say that bad men will be friends for the sake of pleasure or profit, resembling one another in this respect, while good men, when they are friends, love each other for what they are, i.e. as good men. These, then, we say, are friends simply; the others are friends accidentally and so far as they resemble these.
Intercourse necessary to the maintenance of friendship.
But just as with regard to the virtues we distinguish excellence of character or faculty from excellence manifested, so is it also with friendship: when friends are living together, they take pleasure in, and do good to, each other; when they are asleep or at a distance from one another, they are not acting as friends, but they have the disposition which, if manifested, issues in friendly acts; for distance does not destroy friendship simply, but the manifestation of friendship. But if the absence be prolonged, it is thought to obliterate even friendship; whence the saying—
Old men do not seem apt to make friends, nor morose men; for there is little in them that can give pleasure: but no one can pass his days in intercourse with what is painful or not pleasant; for our nature seems, above all things, to shun the painful and seek the pleasant.
Those who accept each other’s company, but do not live together, seem to be rather well-wishers than friends. For there is nothing so characteristic of friendship as living together:* those who need help seek it thus, but even those who are happy desire company; for a solitary life suits them least of all men. But people cannot live together unless they are pleasant to each other, nor unless they take delight in the same things, which seems to be a necessary condition of comradeship.
The truest friendship, then, is that which exists between good men, as we have said again and again. For that, it seems, is lovable and desirable which is good or pleasant in itself, but to each man that which is good or pleasant to him; and the friendship of good men for one another rests on both these grounds.
But it seems that while love is a feeling, friendship is a habit or trained faculty. For inanimate things can equally well be the object of love, but the love of friends for one another implies purpose, and purpose proceeds from a habit or trained faculty. And in wishing well for their sakes to those they love, they are swayed not by feeling, but by habit. Again, in loving a friend they love what is good for themselves; for he who gains a good man for his friend gains something that is good for himself. Each then, loves what is good for himself, and what he gives in good wishes and pleasure is equal to what he gets; for love and equality, which are joined in the popular saying ϕιλότης ἰσότης, are found in the highest degree in the friendship of good men.
Impossible to have many true friends.
Morose men and elderly men are less apt to make friends in proportion as they are harsher in temper, and take less pleasure in society; for delight in society seems to be, more than anything else, characteristic of friendship and productive of it. So young men are quick to make friends, but not old men (for people do not make friends with those who do not please them), nor morose men. Such people may, indeed, be well-wishers, for they wish each other good and help each other in need; but they are by no means friends, since they do not live with nor delight in each other, which things are thought to be, more than anything else, characteristic of friendship.
It is impossible to have friendship, in the full sense of the word, for many people at the same time, just as it is impossible to be in love with many persons at once (for it seems to be something intense, but intense feeling implies a single object); and it is not easy for one man to find at one time many very agreeable persons, perhaps not many good ones. Moreover, they must have tested and become accustomed to each other, which is a matter of great difficulty. But in the way of profit or pleasure, it is quite possible to find many* agreeable persons; for such people are not rare, and their services can be rendered in a short time.
Of these other kinds, that which more nearly resembles true friendship is that whose motive is pleasure, when each renders the same service to the other, and both take pleasure in one another, or in the same things, such as young men’s friendships are wont to be; for a generous spirit is commoner in them than in others. But the friendship whose motive is utility is the friendship of sordid souls. Those who are happy do not need useful, but pleasant friends; it is people to live with that they want, and though they may for a short time put up with what is painful, yet no one could endure anything continually, not even the good itself, if it were painful to him; so they require that their friends shall be pleasant. But they ought, we may say, to require that they shall be good as well as pleasant, and good for them; then all the characteristics of a friend will be combined.
People in exalted positions seem to make distinct classes of friends. They have some who are useful, and others who are pleasant, but seldom any that unite both these qualities; for they do not seek for people who are at once agreeable and virtuous, or people who can be useful to them in noble actions, but they seek for witty persons to satisfy their craving for pleasure, while for other purposes they choose men who are clever at carrying out their instructions: but these two qualities are seldom united in one person.
The good man, indeed, as we have already said, is both pleasant and useful; but such a man does not make friends with a man in a superior station, unless he allows himself inferior in virtue:* only thus does he meet the good man on equal terms, being inferior in one respect in the same ratio as he is superior in another. But great men are by no means wont to behave in this manner.
In the friendships hitherto spoken of the persons are equal, for they do the same and wish the same for each other, or else exchange equal quantities of different things, as pleasure for profit. (We have already explained that the latter less deserve the name of friendship, and are less lasting than the former kind. We may even say that, being at once both like it and unlike it, they seem both to be and not to be friendships. On the ground of their resemblance to the friendship that is based on virtue, they seem to be friendships; for one involves pleasure, the other profit, both of which belong to true friendship; but, again, inasmuch as it is beyond calumny and is lasting, while they are liable to rapid change and different in many other respects, they seem not to be friendships because of their unlikeness to it.)
Of friendship between unequal persons and its rule of proportion. Limits within which this is possible.
But, besides these, there is another kind of friendship, in which the persons are unequal, as that of a father for a son, and generally of an elder for a younger person, or of a man for a woman, or of a ruler of any kind for a subject.
These also are different from one another; for that of parent for child is not the same as that of ruler for subject, nor even that of father for son the same as that of son for father, nor that of man for woman the same as that of woman for man. For each of these classes has a different excellence and a different function, and the grounds of their affection are different; therefore their love and their friendship also are different. What each does for the other, then, is not the same, nor should they expect it to be the same; but when children give to their parents what they owe to those who begat them, and parents on their part give what they owe to their children, then such friendship will be lasting, and what it ought to be. But in all friendships based on inequality, the love on either side should be proportional—I mean that the better of the two (and the more useful, and so on in each case) should receive more love than he gives; for when love is proportioned to desert, then there is established a sort of equality, which seems to be a necessary condition of friendship.
But there seems to be a difference between the equality that prevails in the sphere of justice and that which prevails in friendship: for in the sphere of justice the primary sense of “equal” [or “fair,” ἴσον] is “proportionate to merit,” and “equal in quantity” is only the secondary sense; but in friendship “equal in quantity” is the primary, and “proportionate to merit” the secondary sense.*
This is plainly seen in cases where there comes to be a great distance between the persons in virtue, or vice, or wealth, or in any other respect; for they no longer are, nor expect to be, friends. It is most plainly seen in the case of the gods; for they have the greatest superiority in all good things. But it is seen also in the case of princes; for here also those who are greatly inferior do not claim their friendship; nor do people of no consideration expect to be friends with the best and wisest in the state. It is impossible accurately to determine the limits within which friendship may subsist in such cases: many things may be taken away, and it may remain; but again, if a person be very far removed, as God is, it can no longer be.
This has suggested the objection that, after all, a friend does not wish his friend the greatest of all goods, that he should become a god; for then he would lose a friend—that is, a good; for a friend is a good thing. If then we were right in saying that a friend wishes good to his friend for his (the friend’s) sake, we must add, “the friend remaining what he is:” so far as is compatible with his being a man, he will wish him the greatest good—but perhaps not everything that is good; for every man wishes good most of all to himself.
Of loving and being loved.
Most people seem, from a desire for honour, to wish to be loved rather than to love, and on this account most men are fond of flatterers; for a flatterer is an inferior friend, or pretends to be so and to love more than he is loved: but being loved is thought to come near to being honoured, and that most men strive for.
But they seem to desire honour not for its own sake, but accidentally: it is expectation that makes most men delight in being honoured by those in authority; for they hope to get from them anything they may want: they delight in this honour, therefore, as a token of good things to come. On the other hand, those who desire the honour or respect of good men and men who know, are anxious to confirm their own opinion of themselves; they rejoice, therefore, in the assurance of their worth which they gain from confidence in the judgment of those who declare it.
But men delight in being loved for its own sake; wherefore it would seem that being loved is better than being honoured, and that friendship is desirable for its own sake.
Friendship, however, seems to lie in the loving, rather than in the being loved. This is shown by the delight that mothers take in loving; for some give their children to others to rear, and love them since they know them, but do not look for love in return, if it be impossible to have both, being content to see their children doing well, and loving them, though they receive from them, in their ignorance, nothing of what is due to a mother.
Since friendship lies more in loving [than in being loved], and since we praise those who love their friends, it would seem that the virtue of a friend is to love, so that when people love each other in proportion to their worth, they are lasting friends, and theirs is a lasting friendship.
This is also the way in which persons who are unequal can be most truly friends; for thus they will make themselves equal: but equality and similarity tend to friendship, and most of all the similarity of those who resemble each other in virtue; for such men, being little liable to change, continue as they were in themselves and to one another, and do not ask anything unworthy of one another, or do anything unworthy for one another—nay, rather restrain one another from anything of the sort; for it is characteristic of a good man neither to go wrong himself, nor to let his friend go wrong.
Bad men on the other hand [as friends] have no stability: for they do not even continue like themselves; but for a short space they become friends, rejoicing in each other’s wickedness.
Those, however, who are useful and agreeable to one another continue friends longer, i.e. so long as they continue to furnish pleasure or profit.
The friendship whose motive is utility seems, more than any other kind, to be a union of opposites, as of rich and poor, ignorant and learned; for when a man wants a thing, in his desire to get it he will give something else in exchange. And perhaps we might include the lover and his beloved, the beautiful and the ugly person, in this class. And this is the reason why lovers often make themselves ridiculous by claiming to be loved as they love; if they were equally lovable they might perhaps claim it, but when there is nothing lovable about them the claim is absurd.
But perhaps nothing desires its opposite as such but only accidentally, the desire being really for the mean which is between the two; for this is good. For the dry, for instance, it is good not to become wet, but to come to the intermediate state, and so with the hot, and with the rest of these opposites. But we may dismiss these questions; for, indeed, they are somewhat foreign to our present purpose.
Every society has its own form of friendship as of justice. All societies are summed up in civil society.
It seems, as we said at the outset, that the subject-matter and occasion of friendship and of justice are the same. Every community or association, it is thought, gives some occasion for justice, and also for friendship; at least, people address as friends their partners in a voyage or campaign, and so on with other associations. To what extent soever they are partners, to that extent is there occasion for friendship; for to that extent is there occasion for justice.
Moreover, “friends’ goods are common property,” says the proverb rightly; for friendship implies community. Brothers, indeed, and comrades have all things in common: other friends have certain definite things in common, some more and some less; for friendships also differ in degree. But what justice requires is also different in different cases; it does not require from parents towards children, for instance, the same as from brothers towards one another, nor from comrades the same as from fellow-citizens, and so on through the other kinds of friendship.
Injustice also assumes different forms in these several relations, and increases according to the degree of friendship; e.g. it is a grosser wrong to rob a comrade than a fellow-citizen, and to refuse help to a brother than to a stranger, and to strike one’s father than to strike any other man. The claims of justice, in fact, are such as to increase as friendship increases, both having the same field and growing pari passu.
But all kinds of association or community seem to be, as it were, parts of the political community or association of citizens. For in all of them men join together with a view to some common interest, and in pursuit of some one or other of the things they need for their life. But the association of citizens seems both originally to have been instituted and to continue for the sake of common interests; for this is what legislators aim at, and that which is for the common interest of all is said to be just.
Thus all other associations seem to aim at some particular advantage, e.g. sailors work together for a successful voyage, with a view to making money or something of that sort; soldiers for a successful campaign, whether their ulterior end be riches, or victory, or the founding of a state; and so it is with the members of a tribe or a deme. Some associations, again, seem to have pleasure for their object, as when men join together for a feast or a club dinner; for the object here is feasting and company. But all these associations seem to be subordinate to the association of citizens; for the association of citizens seems to have for its aim, not the interests of the moment, but the interests of our whole life, even when its members celebrate festivals and hold gatherings on such occasions, and render honour to the gods, and provide recreation and amusement for themselves.* For the ancient festivals and assemblies seem to take place after the gathering in of the harvest, being of the nature of a dedication of the first-fruits, as it was at these seasons that people had most leisure.
All associations, then, seem to be parts of the association of citizens; and the several kinds of friendship will correspond to the several kinds of association.
Of the three forms of constitution.
Now, of constitutions there are three kinds, and an equal number of perverted forms, which are, so to speak, corruptions of these. Constitutions proper are kingly government and aristocracy; and, thirdly, there is a form of government based upon an assessment of property, which should strictly be called timocracy, though most people are wont to speak of it as constitutional government simply.
Of these, kingly government is the best and timocracy the worst. The perversion of kingly government is tyranny: both are monarchies, but there is a vast difference between them; for the tyrant seeks his own interest, the king seeks the interest of his subjects. For he is not properly a king who is not self-sufficient and superabundantly furnished with all that is good; such a man wants nothing more; his own advantage, then, will not be his aim, but that of his subjects. A man of another character than this could only be the sort of king that is chosen by lot.*
Tyranny is the opposite of kingly rule, because the tyrant seeks his own good; and of this government it is quite obvious† that it is the worst of all: we may add that the opposite of the best must be the worst.
Kingly government degenerates into tyranny; for tyranny is a vicious form of monarchy: the bad king, then, becomes a tyrant.
Aristocracy degenerates into oligarchy through the vice of the rulers, who, instead of distributing public property and honours according to merit, take all or most of the good things for themselves, and give the offices always to the same people, setting the greatest store by wealth; you have, then, a small number of bad men in power, in place of the best men.
Lastly, timocracy degenerates into democracy: and indeed they border closely upon each other; for even timocracy is intended to be government by the multitude, and all those who have the property qualification are equal.
Democracy is the least bad [of the corrupt forms], for it is but a slight departure from the corresponding form of constitution.
These, then, are the ways in which the several constitutions are most apt to change; for these are the directions in which the change is slightest, and encounters the least resistance.
Likenesses of these forms of government and patterns of them, so to speak, may be found in families. For instance, the association of father and sons has the form of kingly rule; for the father cares for his children. This, also, is the reason why Homer addresses Zeus as father; for kingly government aims at being a paternal government. But in Persia the association of father and son is tyrannical; for fathers there use their sons as slaves. The association of master and slave is also tyrannical; for it is the interest of the master that is secured by it. But this seems to be a legitimate kind of tyranny, while the Persian kind seems to be wrong; for different beings require different kinds of government.
The association of man and wife seems to be aristocratic: for the husband bears rule proportionate to his worth, i.e. he rules in those matters which are his province; but he entrusts to his wife those matters that properly belong to her. But when the man lords it in all things, he perverts this relation into an oligarchical one; for he then takes rule where he is not entitled to it, and not only in those matters in which he is better. Sometimes, on the other hand, the wife rules because she is an heiress. In these cases authority is not proportionate to merit, but is given on the ground of wealth and influence, just as in oligarchies.
The association of brothers resembles a timocracy; for they are equal except in so far as they differ in age. On this account, if they differ very widely in age, their friendship can no longer be a brotherly friendship.
A democratic form of association is chiefly found in those households which have no master (for there all are on a footing of equality), or where the head of the house is weak, and every one does what he likes.
Of the corresponding forms of friendship.
In each of these forms of government friendship has place to the same extent as justice. In the first place, the king shows his friendship for his subjects* by transcendent benefits; for he does good to his subjects, seeing that he is good, and tends them with a view to their welfare, as a shepherd tends his sheep,—whence Homer calls Agamemnon “shepherd of peoples.”
The friendship of a father for his child is of a similar kind, though the benefits conferred are still greater. For the father is the author of the child’s existence, which seems the greatest of all benefits, and of his nurture and education; and we also ascribe these to our forefathers generally: and thus it is in accordance with nature that fathers should rule their children, forefathers their descendants, kings their subjects.
These friendships involve the superiority of one side to the other; and on this account parents receive honour as well [as service].* Moreover, what justice requires here is not the same on both sides, but that which is proportionate to their worth; for this is the rule of friendship also [as well as of justice].
The friendship, again, of man and wife is the same as that which has place in an aristocracy; for both benefit in proportion to their merit, the better getting more good, and each what is fitting; but this is the rule of justice also.
The friendship of brothers resembles that of comrades, for they are equal and of like age; but those with whom that is the case for the most part have the same feelings and character. And the friendship in a timocracy is of the same type as this; for the citizens here wish to be equal and fair; so they take office in turn, and share it equally: their friendship, then, will follow the same rule.
In the corrupt forms, as there is but little room for justice, so there is but little room for friendship, and least of all in the worst; in a tyranny there is little or no friendship. For where ruler and subject have nothing in common, there cannot be any friendship, any more than there can be any justice,—e.g. when the relation is that of a workman to his tools, or of the soul to the body, or of master to slave. The tools and the body and the slave are all benefited by those who use them; but our relations with inanimate objects do not admit of friendship or justice; nor our relations with a horse or an ox; nor our relations with a slave as such. For there is nothing in common between master and slave. The slave is a living tool; the tool is a lifeless slave. As a slave, then, his master’s relations with him do not admit of friendship, but as a man they may: for there seems to be room for some kind of justice in the relations of any man to any one that can participate in law and contract,—and if so, then for some kind of friendship, so far, that is to say, as he deserves the name man.
And so friendships and justice are found to some small extent even in tyrannies, but to a greater extent in democracies than in any other of the corrupt forms; for there the citizens, being equal, have many things in common.
Of the friendship of kinsmen and comrades.
All friendship, as we have already said, implies association; but we may separate from the rest the friendship of kinsmen and that of comrades. The friendships of fellow-citizens, of fellow-tribesmen, of fellow-sailors, etc., seem, as opposed to these, to have more to do with association; for they appear to be founded upon some sort of compact. The friendship of host and guest might also be included in this class.
Kinsmen’s friendship seems to include several species, but to be dependent in all its forms upon the friendship of parent and child. For parents love their children as part of themselves; children love their parents as the source of their being. But parents know their children better than the children know that these are their parents, and that which gives birth is more closely attached to that which proceeds from it, than the offspring is to that which gave it life: for that which proceeds from us belongs to us, as a tooth or a hair, or anything of that sort, to its owner; but we do not belong to it at all, or belong to it in a less degree.
Again, there is a difference in respect of time; for parents love their offspring from the moment of their birth, but children love their parents only after the lapse of time, when they have acquired understanding or sense.
These considerations also show why mothers love their children more than fathers do.
Parents, then, love their children as themselves (for what proceeds from them is as it were a second self when it is severed), but children love their parents as the source of their being, and brothers love each other because they proceed from the same source: for the identity of their relation to this source constitutes an identity between them; so that they say that they are of the same blood and stock, etc. And so they are in a way identical, though they are separate persons.
But friendship between brothers is greatly furthered by common nurture and similarity of age; for those of the same age naturally love one another, as the saying is, and those who are used to one another naturally make comrades of one another, so that the friendship of brothers comes to resemble that of comrades.
Cousins and other kinsfolk become attached to each other for the same reason—I mean because they come of the same stock. But the attachment is more or less close according to the nearness or remoteness of the founder of the family.
The friendship of children for their parents (like that of men for the gods) is friendship for what is good and superior to themselves, as the source of the greatest benefits, namely, of their life and nurture, and their education from their birth upwards.
Friendship of this kind brings with it more, both of pleasure and profit, than that of strangers, in proportion as there is more community of life.
The friendship of brothers has all the characteristics of the friendship of comrades, and has them in a greater degree (provided they are good and generally resemble one another) inasmuch as they belong more to one another and love each other from their birth up, and have more similarity of character, as being of the same stock and brought up together and educated alike; moreover, they have had the longest and the surest experience of one another.
In all other kinsmen’s friendships the same elements will be found in proportion to the relationship.
The friendship of man and wife seems to be natural; for human beings are by nature more apt to join together in couples than to form civil societies, inasmuch as the family is prior in time to the state and more indispensable, and the propagation of the species is a more fundamental characteristic of animal existence. The other animals associate for this purpose alone, but man and wife live together not merely for the begetting of children, but also to satisfy the needs of their life: for the functions of the man and the woman are clearly divided and distinct the one from the other; they supply each other’s wants, therefore, both contributing to the common stock. And so this sort of friendship is thought to bring with it both pleasure and profit. But it will be based on virtue, too, if they be good; for each sex has its own virtue, and both will rejoice in that which is of like nature.
Children also seem to be a bond that knits man and wife together (which is a reason why childless unions are more quickly dissolved); for children are a good which both have in common, but that which people have in common holds them together.
To ask on what terms a man should live with his wife, and generally friend with friend, seems the same as to ask what justice requires in these cases; for what is required of a man towards his friend is different from what is required of him towards a stranger, a comrade, or a fellow-student.
Of the terms of interchange and quarrels hence arising in equal friendships.
There are three kinds of friendship, as we said at the outset, and in each kind there are both equal and unequal friendships; I mean that sometimes two equally good persons make friends, and sometimes a better and a worse,—and so with those who are pleasant to one another, and with those who are friends with a view to profit—sometimes rendering equal services to one another, and sometimes unequal.
Now, those who are equal should effect equality by loving one another, etc., equally, but those who are unequal should effect equality by making what each renders proportionate to the greater or less merit of the other.
But accusations and reproaches arise solely or mostly in friendships whose motive is profit, as we should expect. For those whose friendship is based on virtue are eager to do good to each other (for this is the office of virtue and friendship); and between people who are thus vieing with one another no accusations or quarrels can arise; for a man cannot be embittered against one who loves him and does him a service, but, if he be of a gracious nature, requites him with a like service. And he who renders the greater service will not reproach his friend, since he gets what he desires;* for each desires what is good.
Such quarrels, again, are not apt to arise in friendships whose motive is pleasure; for both get at the same time that which they desire, if they delight in each other’s company; but if one were to accuse the other for not being agreeable to him, he would make himself ridiculous, seeing that he was under no compulsion to associate with him.
But the friendship whose motive is utility is fruitful in accusations; for as the friends here use each other solely with a view to their own advantage, each always wants the larger share and thinks he has less than his due, and reproaches the other with not doing for him so much as he requires and deserves; though, in truth, it is impossible for the one who is doing a service to supply all that the other wants.
But it seems that as the rules of justice are two-fold, the unwritten and those that are set down in laws, so the friendship whose motive is utility is of two kinds—one resting on disposition, the other on contract. And accusations are most apt to arise when the relation is understood in one sense at the commencement, and in the other sense at the conclusion.
That which rests on contract is that in which there are specified conditions, and it is of two kinds: one is purely commercial, on the principle of cash payments; the other is less exacting in point of time, though in it also there is a specified quid pro quo.
In the latter case, what is due is evident and cannot be disputed, but there is an element of friendliness in the deferment of payment; for which reason, in some states, there is no recovery by law in such cases, but it is held that when a man has given credit he must take the consequences.
That which rests on disposition has no specified conditions, but one gives another presents (or whatever else it may be) as a friend. But afterwards he claims as much or more in return, regarding what he gave not as a gift, but as a loan. And thus, wishing to terminate the relation in a different spirit from that in which he entered upon it, he will accuse the other.* And this is apt to happen because all or nearly all men, though they wish for what is noble, choose what is profitable; and while it is noble to do a good service without expecting a return, it is profitable to receive a benefit.
In such cases, then, we should, if we have the power, make an equivalent return for benefits received (for we must not treat a man as a friend if he does not wish it: we should consider that we made a mistake at the beginning, and received a benefit from a person from whom we ought not to have accepted it—for he was not a friend and did not act disinterestedly—and so we ought to terminate the relation in the same way as if we had received a service for a stipulated consideration): and the return should be what we would have agreed* to repay if able; if we were unable, the donor would not even have expected repayment. So we may fairly say that we should repay if we have the power.
But we ought at the outset carefully to consider who it is that is doing us a service, and on what understanding, so that we may accept it on that understanding or else reject it.
It is a debatable question whether the requital is to be measured by, and to be made proportionate to, the value of the service to the recipient or to the benefactor. For the recipients are apt to say that they received what was but a small matter to their benefactors, and what they might just as well have got from others, depreciating the service done them; but the others, on the contrary, are apt to say that what they gave was the best they had, and what could not be got from any one else, and that it was given in a time of danger or on some other pressing occasion.
Perhaps we may say that, if the friendship have profit for its motive, the benefit received should be taken as the measure; for it is the recipient who asks a service, which the other renders in expectation of an equal service in return: the amount of the assistance rendered, then, is determined by the extent to which the former is benefited, and he should repay as much as he received, or even more; for that would be the nobler course.
In friendships based on virtue, on the other hand, such accusations do not occur, but it would seem that the measure of the service is the purpose of him who does it; for virtue and moral character are determined by purpose.
Of the same in unequal friendships.
Quarrels occur also in unequal friendships; for sometimes each claims the larger share, but when this happens the friendship is dissolved. For instance, the better of the two thinks he ought to have the larger share; “the good man’s share is larger,” he says: the more useful of the two makes the same claim; “it is allowed,” he says, “that a useless person should not share equally; for friendship degenerates into gratuitous service unless that which each receives from the friendship be proportionate to the value of what he does.” For such people fancy that the same rule should hold in friendship as in a commercial partnership, where those who put in more take a larger share.
The needy man and the inferior man argue in the contrary way; “it is the office of a good friend,” they say, “to help you when you are in need; for what is the use of being friends with a good man or a powerful man, if you are to get nothing by it?”
It seems that the claims of both are right, and that each ought to receive a larger share than the other, but not of the same things—the superior more honour, the needy man more profit; for honour is the tribute due to virtue and benevolence, while want receives its due succour in the pecuniary gain.
This seems to be recognized in constitutions too: no honour is paid to him who contributes nothing to the common stock of good; the common stock is distributed among those who benefit the community, and of this common stock honour is a part. For he who makes money out of the community must not expect to be honoured by the community also; and no one is content to receive a smaller share in everything. To him, then, who spends money on public objects we pay due honour, and money to him whose services can be paid in money; for, by giving to each what is in proportion to his merit, equality is effected and friendship preserved, as we said before.
The same principles, then, must regulate the intercourse of individuals who are unequal; and he who is benefited by another in his purse or in his character, must give honour in return, making repayment in that which he can command. For friendship exacts what is possible rather than what is due: what is due is sometimes impossible, as, for instance, in the case of the honour due to the gods and to parents; for no one could ever pay all his debt to them; but he who gives them such service as he can command is held to fulfil his obligation.
For this reason it would seem that a man may not disown his father, though a father may disown his son; for he who owes must pay: but whatever a son may do he can never make a full return for what he has received, so that he is always in debt. But the creditor is at liberty to cast off the debtor; a father, therefore, is at liberty to cast off his son. But, at the same time, it is not likely that any one would ever disown a son, unless he were a very great scoundrel; for, natural affection apart, it is but human not to thrust away the support that a son would give. But to the son, if he be a scoundrel, assisting his father is a thing that he wishes to avoid, or at least is not eager to undertake; for the generality of men wish to receive benefits, but avoid doing them as unprofitable. So much, then, for these questions.
FRIENDSHIP OR LOVE—continued.
Of the rule of proportion in dissimilar friendships.
In all dissimilar friendships* it is proportionate exchange that maintains equality and preserves the friendship (as we have already said), just as in the association of citizens, where the shoemaker, in exchange for his shoes, receives some return proportionate to his desert, and so on with the weaver and the rest.
Now, in these latter cases, a common measure is supplied by money; money is the standard to which everything is referred, and by which it is measured.
In sentimental friendships, on the other hand, the lover sometimes complains that while he loves excessively he gets no love in return, although, maybe, there is nothing lovable about him; often the beloved complains that whereas the other used to promise everything, he now performs nothing.
Complaints of this sort are wont to arise when, pleasure being the motive of the friendship with one person and profit with the other, they do not both get what they want. For the friendship, being based on these motives, is dissolved whenever they fail to obtain that for the sake of which they made friends; for it was not the other’s self that each loved, but only something which he had, and which is not apt to endure; for which reason these friendships also are not apt to endure. But friendship based on character, being pure, is likely to last, as we said.
Sometimes, again, friends quarrel when they find they are getting something different from what they want, for failing to get what you want is like getting nothing. This may be illustrated by the story of the harper: a man promised him that the better he played, the more he should receive; but when, as dawn drew near, the harper claimed the fulfilment of his promise, the other replied that he had already paid him pleasure* for pleasure. Now, if this was what both wished, there would be nothing more to say: but if the one wanted pleasure and the other profit, and the one has what he wants, while the other has not, the bargain will not be fairly carried out; for it is what a man happens to want that he sets his heart on, and consents for the sake of it to render this particular service.
But whose business is it to fix the value of the service? his who first gives, or rather his who first receives?—for he who first gives seems to leave it to the other. This, they say, was the custom of Protagoras: when he had been giving lessons in any subject, he used to tell his pupil to estimate the value of the knowledge he had acquired, and so much he would take.
Some, however, think the rule should be, “Let a friend be content with his stated wage.”*
But if a man, after being paid in advance, fulfils none of his engagements, because he had promised more than he could perform, he is rightly held chargeable; for he does not fulfil his contract. But the sophists, perhaps, are compelled to adopt this plan [of payment in advance]; for otherwise no one would give anything for what they know.
He, then, who fails to do that for which he has already been paid, is rightly chargeable. But when there is no express agreement about the service rendered, (a) when one voluntarily helps another for that other’s sake, no accusation can arise, as we said: for this is the nature of friendship based on virtue. The return must here be regulated by the purpose of him who renders the first service; for it is purpose that makes both friend and virtue. The same rule would seem to apply also to the relations of a philosopher and his disciples; for desert cannot here be measured in money, and no honour that could be paid him would be an adequate return; but, nevertheless, as in our relations to gods and parents, the possible is accepted as sufficient. (b) If, however, the first gift has been made, not in this spirit, but on the understanding that there shall be some return, the return should, if possible, be such as both deem proportionate to desert: but if this cannot be, it would seem to be not only necessary, but just, that the recipient of the first benefit should assess it; for whatever be the amount of the advantage he has received, or whatever he would have been willing to give for the pleasure, the other, in receiving the same amount, will receive as much as is due from him. For even in sales this is plainly what takes place; and in some states there is no recovery by law in voluntary contracts, as it is held that when you have given a man credit, you must conclude your bargain with him in the same spirit in which you began it. It is held to be fairer that the service should be valued by him who is trusted than by him who trusts. For most things are differently valued by those who have them and by those who wish to get them: what belongs to us, and what we give away, always seems very precious to us. Nevertheless, the return to be made must be measured by the value which is set upon the service by the receiver. But perhaps he ought to put it, not at what it seems to be worth when he has got it, but at the value he set upon it before he had it.
Of the conflict of duties.
There are some further questions that here suggest themselves, such as whether the father’s claims to service ought to be unlimited, and the son should obey him in everything, or whether in sickness he should obey the physician, and in the election of a general should choose him who is skilled in war; and, similarly, whether one ought to help one’s friend rather than a good man, and repay a benefactor rather than make a present to a comrade, if one cannot do both.
We may, perhaps, say that to lay down precise rules for all such cases is scarcely possible; for the different cases differ in all sorts of ways, according to the importance or unimportance, the nobility or necessity of the act. But it is tolerably evident that no single person’s claims can override all others; and that, as a general rule, we ought to repay benefits received before we do a favour to a comrade—just as, if we had borrowed money, we ought to pay our creditors before we make presents to our comrades.
But it may be that even this rule will not hold good in all cases; for instance, if a man has been ransomed from a band of brigands, ought he in turn to ransom his ransomer, whoever he may be, or repay him when he demands it, even though he be not captured, in preference to ransoming his father? For it would seem that a man ought to ransom his father even before himself.
As we said then, generally speaking, we should repay what we owe: but if giving [instead of repaying] be more noble or meet a more pressing need, it is right to incline in this direction; for sometimes it is not even fair to repay the original service, e.g. when one man has helped another, knowing him to be a good man, while the latter in repaying him would be helping one whom he believes to be a bad man. And so a man is sometimes not bound to lend in turn to one who has lent him money: A may have lent to B in full expectation of being repaid, as B is an honourable man; but B may have no hope of being repaid by A, who is a rascal. If this be the real state of the case, the demand for a loan in return is not fair; but even if the facts be otherwise, yet, if they think thus of each other, their conduct would be regarded as natural.
As we have often said, statements concerning human affections and actions must share the indefiniteness of their subject.
It is tolerably plain, then, that, on the one hand, the claims of all men are not the same, but that, on the other hand, the father’s claims do not override all others, just as Zeus does not receive all our sacrifices; the claims of parents, brothers, comrades, and benefactors are all different, and to each must be rendered that which is his own and his due.
And this is the way in which men appear to act: to a wedding they invite their kinsfolk; for they have a share in the family, and therefore in all acts relating thereto: and for the same reason it is held that kinsfolk have more claim than any others to be invited to funerals.
Parents would seem to have a special claim upon us for sustenance, as we owe it them, and as it is nobler to preserve the life of those to whom we are indebted for our own than to preserve ourselves.
Honour, also, we should pay to our parents, as to the gods; but not all honour: for the honour due to a father is not the same as that due to a mother; nor do we owe them the honour due to a wise man or a good general, but that which is due to a father and that which is due to a mother.
To all our elders, again, we should pay the honour due to their age, by rising up at their approach and by giving them the place of honour at the table, and so forth. But between comrades and brothers there should be freedom of speech and community in everything. And to kinsfolk and fellow-tribesmen and fellow-citizens, and all other persons, we should always try to give their due, and to assign to each what properly belongs to him, according to the closeness of his connection with us, and his goodness or usefulness. When the persons are of one kind this assignment is comparatively easy, but when they are of different kinds it is more difficult. We must not, however, on this account shirk the difficulty, but must distinguish as best as we can.
Of the dissolution of friendships.
Another difficult question is, whether we should or should not break off friendship with those who have ceased to be what they were.
We may, perhaps, say that those whose friendship is based on profit or pleasure naturally part when these cease; for it was these that they loved: when these are gone, therefore, it is to be expected that the love goes too. But complaints would be likely to arise if a man who loved another for profit or pleasure’s sake pretended to love him for his character; for, as we said at the outset, quarrels between friends very frequently arise from a difference between the real and the supposed motives of the friendship. If, then, a man deceives himself, and supposes that he is beloved for his character, though the other’s behaviour gives no ground for the supposition, he has only himself to blame; but if he is deceived by the other’s pretence, then there is a fair ground of complaint against such an impostor, even more than against those who counterfeit the coinage, inasmuch as it is a more precious thing that is tampered with.
But if a man admit another to his friendship as a good man, and he becomes and shows himself to be a bad man, is he still to be loved? Perhaps we may answer that it is impossible, as it is not everything that is lovable, but only the good. A bad man, then, is not lovable, and ought not to be loved: for we ought not to love what is bad, nor to make ourselves like what is worthless; but, as we said before, it is like that makes friends with like.
Is the friendship, then, to be immediately broken off? Perhaps not in all cases, but only in the case of those who are incurably bad: when their reformation is possible, we are more bound to help them in their character than their fortune, inasmuch as character is a nobler thing, and has more to do with friendship than fortune has. But a man who withdraws his friendship in such a case, would seem to do nothing unnatural; for it was not with such a man that he made friends: his friend has become another man, and as he cannot restore him, he stands aloof from him.
But suppose that the one remains what he was while the other gets better and becomes far superior in virtue: is the latter still to treat the former as a friend? Perhaps it is hardly possible that he should do so. We see this most plainly if the interval between the two be very considerable. Take, for instance, a boyish friendship: if one of the two remains a child in understanding, while the other has become a man in the fullest sense of the word, how can they any longer be friends, now that the things that will please them, and the sources of their joys and sorrows, are no longer the same? for not even in regard to each other’s character will their tastes agree, and without this, we found, people cannot be friends, since they cannot live together. (But this point has been already discussed.)
Shall we, then, simply say that the latter should regard the former as no more a stranger than if he had never been his friend? Perhaps we may go further than this, and say that he should not entirely forget their former intercourse, and that just as we hold that we ought to serve friends before strangers, so former friends have some claims upon us on the ground of past friendship, unless extraordinary depravity were the cause of our parting.
A man’s relation to his friend like his relation to himself.
Friendly relations to others, and all the characteristics by which friendship is defined, seem to be derived from our relations towards ourselves. A friend is sometimes described as one who wishes and does to another what is good or seems good for that other’s sake, or as one who wishes his friend to exist and to live for his (the friend’s) sake. (This is what mothers feel towards their children, and what friends who have had a difference feel for one another.) Others describe a friend as one who lives with another and chooses what he chooses, or as one who sympathizes with the griefs and joys of his friend. (This, also, is especially the case with mothers.) And, similarly, friendship is usually defined by some one or other of these characteristics.
Now, every one of these characteristics we find in the good man’s relations to himself (and in other men just so far as they suppose themselves to be good; but it seems, as we have said, that virtue and the good man are in everything the standard): for the good man is of one mind with himself, and desires the same things with all his soul, and wishes for himself what both is and seems good, and does that (for it is characteristic of him to work out that which is good) for his own sake—for the sake, that is to say, of the rational part of him, which seems to be a man’s self. And he wishes his self to live and be preserved, and especially that part of his self by which he thinks: for existence is good to the good man. But it is for himself that each wishes the good; no one would choose to have all that is good (as e.g. God is in complete possession of the good) on condition of becoming some one else, but only on condition of still being just himself.* But his reason would seem to be a man’s self, or, at least, to be so in a truer sense than any other of his faculties.
Such a man also wishes to live with himself; for his own company is pleasant to him. The memory of his past life is sweet, and for the future he has good hopes; and such hopes are pleasant. His mind, moreover, is well stored with matter for contemplation: and he sympathizes with himself in sorrow and in joy; for at all seasons the same things give him pain and pleasure, not this thing now, and then another thing,—for he is, so to speak, not apt to change his mind.
Since, then, all these characteristics are found in the good man’s relations to himself, and since his relations to his friend are the same as his relations to himself (for his friend is his second self), friendship is described by one or other of these characteristics, and those are called friends in whom these characteristics are found.
The question whether friendship towards one’s self is or is not possible may be dismissed at present; but that it is possible so far as one has two or more selves would seem to follow from what has been already said, and also from the fact that the extreme of friendship for another is likened to friendship for one’s self.
But the characteristics we have mentioned appear to be found in the generality of men, though they are not good.* Perhaps we may say that so far as they are agreeable to themselves, and believe they are good, so far do they share these characteristics. People who are utterly worthless and impious never have them, nor do they even seem to have them. But we might almost say roundly that they are wanting in all who are not good; for such men are not at one with themselves: they desire one thing while they wish another, as the incontinent do, for instance (for, instead of what they hold to be good, they choose what is pleasant though injurious). Others, again, through cowardice or laziness, shrink from doing that which they believe is the best for them; while those who have done many terrible things out of wickedness, hate life, and wish to get rid of it, and sometimes actually destroy themselves.
Bad men try to find people with whom to spend their time, and eschew their own company; for there is much that is painful in the past on which they look back and in the future to which they look forward when they are by themselves, but the company of others diverts them from these thoughts. As there is nothing lovable in them, they have no friendly feelings towards themselves.
He who is not good, then, cannot sympathize with himself in joy or sorrow; for his soul is divided against itself: one part of him, by reason of its viciousness, is pained at being deprived of something, while another part of him is pleased; one part pulls this way, another that, tearing him to pieces, as it were, between them. Or if it be impossible to be pained and pleased at the same time, yet, at any rate, after a short interval he is pained that he was pleased, and wishes that he had never partaken of this pleasure; for those who are not good are full of remorse.
Thus we may say roundly that he who is not good has no friendly feelings even for himself, as there is nothing lovable in him. If, then, to be in this state is utterly miserable, we ought to strain every nerve to avoid vice, and try to be good; for thus we may be friendly disposed towards ourselves, and make friends with others.
Friendship and goodwill.
Well-wishing seems to be friendly, but is not friendship: for we may wish well to those who are unknown to us, and who are not aware that we wish them well; but there can be no friendship in such cases. But this we have already said.
Neither is well-wishing the same as love; for it has none of the intense emotion and the desire which accompany love.
Love, moreover, implies intimate acquaintance, while well-wishing may spring up in a moment; it does so, for instance, when athletes are competing for a prize: we may wish well to a competitor, and be eager for his success, though we would not do anything to help him; for, as we said, we suddenly become well-wishers and conceive a sort of superficial affection in such cases.
The truth seems to be that well-wishing is the germ of friendship, in the same way as pleasure in the sight of a person is the germ of love: for no one falls in love unless he is first pleased by visible beauty; but he who delights in the beauty of a person is not one whit in love on that account, unless he also feels the absence and desires the presence of that person. Just so it is impossible for people to be friends unless they first become well-wishers, but people who wish each other well are not a whit on that account friends; for they merely wish good to those whose well-wishers they are, but would never help them in any enterprise, or put themselves out for them. One might say, then—extending the meaning of the term—that well-wishing is an undeveloped friendship, which with time and intimate acquaintance may become friendship proper,—not that friendship whose motive is profit, nor that whose motive is pleasure; for well-wishing is no element in them. He who has received a benefit does indeed give his good wishes in return to his benefactor, and it is but just that he should; but he who wishes that another may prosper, in the hope of good things to be got by his means, does not seem really to wish well to the other, but rather to himself, just as he is not really a friend if he serves him with an eye to profit.
But, generally speaking, well-wishing is grounded upon some kind of excellence or goodness, and arises when a person seems to us beautiful or brave, or endowed with some other good quality, as we said in the case of the athletes.
Friendship and unanimity
Unanimity [or unity of sentiment] also seems to be an element in friendship; and this shows that it is not mere agreement in opinion, for that is possible even between people who know nothing of each other.
Nor do we apply the term to those who agree in judgment upon any kind of subject, e.g. upon astronomy (for being of one mind in these matters has nothing to do with friendship); but we say that unanimity prevails in a state when the citizens agree in their judgments about what is for the common interest, and choose the same course, and carry out the decision of the community. It is with regard to practical matters, therefore, that people are said to be of one mind, especially with regard to matters of importance and things that may be given to both persons, or to all the persons concerned; for instance, a state is said to be of one mind when all the citizens are agreed that the magistracies shall be elective, or that an alliance be made with Sparta, or that Pittacus be governor, Pittacus himself being willing to accept the office. But when each wishes the government for himself, like the brothers in the Phœnissæ of Euripides, then they are at discord: for being of one mind means that each not merely thinks of the same thing (whatever it be), but thinks of it under the same conditions—as, for instance, if both the populace and the upper classes agree that the best men shall govern; for thus they all get what they want.
Unanimity, then, seems to be, as it is called, the kind of friendship that prevails in states; for it has to do with what is for the common interest, and with things that have a considerable influence upon life.
This kind of unanimity is found in good men; for they are of one mind with themselves and with each other, standing, so to speak, always on the same ground: for the wishes of such people are constant, and do not ebb and flow like the Euripus; they wish what is just and for the common interest, and make united efforts to attain it. But people who are not good cannot be of one mind, just as they cannot be friends except for a little space or to a slight extent, as they strive for more than their share of profit, but take less than their share of labours and public services: but every man, while wishing to do this himself, keeps a sharp eye upon his neighbour, and prevents him from doing it; for if they are not thus on their guard, the community is ruined. The result is that they are at discord, striving to compel one another to do what is just, but not willing to do it themselves.
Why benefactors love more than they are loved.
Benefactors seem to love those whom they have benefited more than those who have received benefits love those who have conferred them; and as this appears irrational, people seek for the cause of this phenomenon.
Most people think the reason is that the one is in the position of a debtor, the other in the position of a creditor; and that, therefore, just as in the case of a loan the debtor wishes his creditor were out of the way, while the lender, on the other hand, is anxious that his debtor may be preserved, so here the benefactor desires the existence of him whom he has benefited in hopes of receiving favours in return, while the other is not at all anxious to repay.
Epicharmus, indeed, might perhaps say that this is only the view of “those who have bad places at the play,”* but it seems to be true to life; for the generality of men have short memories, and are more eager to receive benefits than to confer them.
But it would seem that the real cause is something that lies deeper in the nature of things, and that the case of creditors does not even resemble this: for creditors have no real affection for their debtors, but only a wish that they may be preserved in order that they may repay; but those who have conferred benefits have a real love and affection for those whom they have benefited, even though they are not, and are never likely to be, of any service.
The same phenomenon may be observed in craftsmen; for every craftsman loves the work of his own hands more than it would love him if it came to life. But perhaps poets carry it furthest; for they love their own poems to excess, and are as fond of them as if they were their children.
Now, the case of the benefactors seems to resemble theirs; those whom they have benefited they have made, so to speak: that which they have made, then, they love more than the work loves its maker. And the reason of this is that we all desire existence and love it: but it is in the exercise of our faculties, or in the realization of ourselves, that our existence lies (for it lies in living and doing): but* that which a man makes is, in a way, a realization of his self; therefore he loves it, because he loves existence.
But this is in accordance with the nature of things; for it is a law of nature that what a thing is as yet potentially is exhibited in realization by that which it makes or does.
Moreover, the manifestation of his action is beautiful to the benefactor, so that he delights in the person that makes it manifest; but to him who has received the benefit there is nothing beautiful in the benefactor, but at the most something useful; and such an object is less pleasing and less lovable.
Again, we take pleasure in realizing ourselves in the present, in hopes for the future, and in memories of the past; but that in which we are realizing ourselves is the most pleasant, and likewise the most lovable. Now, for the benefactor what he has done endures (for that which is beautiful is lasting), while for him who has received the benefit the advantage soon passes away.
Again, the memory of beautiful deeds is pleasant, of profitable actions not at all pleasant, or not so pleasant; but with expectation the reverse seems to be the case.
Again, loving seems like doing something, being loved like having something done to you: but those who have the better part in the transaction naturally feel and show more love.
Again, we all have more affection for what we have achieved with toil, as those who have made money love it more than those who have inherited it; but receiving a benefit seems to involve no labour, while conferring one seems to be troublesome. And for this reason mothers have more affection for their children than fathers; for they have more trouble in giving them birth, and fuller assurance that they are their own. But this would seem to be a characteristic of benefactors also.
In what sense it is right to love one’s self.
Another question which is raised is, whether we ought most to love ourselves or others.
We blame, it is said, those who love themselves most, and apply the term self-loving to them as a term of reproach: and, again, he who is not good is thought to have regard to himself in everything that he does, and the more so the worse he is; and so we accuse him of doing nothing disinterestedly. The good man on the other hand, it is thought, takes what is noble as his motive, and the better he is the more is he guided by this motive, and by regard for his friend, neglecting his own interest.
But this theory disagrees with facts, nor is it surprising that it should. For it is allowed that we ought to love him most who is most truly a friend, and that he is most truly a friend who, in wishing well to another, wishes well to him for his (the other’s) sake, and even though no one should ever know. But all these characteristics, and all the others which go to make up the definition of a friend, are found in the highest degree in a man’s relations to himself; for we have already seen how it is from our relations to ourselves that all our friendly relations to others are derived. Moreover, all the proverbs point to the same conclusion—such as “Friends have one soul,” “Friends have all things in common,” “Equality makes friendship,” “The knee is nearer than the shin.” All these characteristics are found in the highest degree in a man’s relations to himself; for he is his own best friend: and so he must love himself better than any one else.
People not unnaturally are puzzled to know which of these two statements to adopt, since both appeal to them. Perhaps the best method of dealing with conflicting statements of this kind is first to make out the difference between them, and then to determine how far and in what sense each is right. So here, if we first ascertain what self-loving means in each statement, the difficulty will perhaps be cleared up.
Those who use self-loving as a term of reproach apply the name to those who take more than their due of money, and honour, and bodily pleasures; for the generality of men desire these things, and set their hearts upon them as the best things in the world, so that they are keenly competed for. Those, then, who grasp at more than their share of these things indulge their animal appetites and their passions generally—in a word, the irrational part of their nature. But this is the character of the generality of men; and hence the term self-loving has come to be used in this bad sense from the fact that the greater part of mankind are not good. It is with justice, then, that we reproach those who are self-loving in this sense.
That it really is to those who take more than their due of these things that the term is usually applied by the generality of men, may easily be shown; for if what a man always set his heart upon were that he, rather than another, should do what is just or temperate, or in any other way virtuous—if, in a word, he were always claiming the noble course of conduct, no one would call him self-loving and no one would reproach him.
And yet such a man would seem to be more truly self-loving. At least, he takes for himself that which is noblest and most truly good, and gratifies the ruling power in himself, and in all things obeys it. But just as the ruling part in a state or in any other system seems, more than any other part, to be the state or the system, so also the ruling part of a man seems to be most truly the man’s self. He therefore who loves and gratifies this part of himself is most truly self-loving.
Again, we call a man continent or incontinent,* according as his reason has or has not the mastery, implying that his reason is his self; and when a man has acted under the guidance of his reason he is thought, in the fullest sense, to have done the deed himself, and of his own will.
It is plain, then, that this part of us is our self, or is most truly our self, and that the good man more than any other loves this part of himself. He, then, more than any other, will be self-loving, in another sense than the man whom we reproach as self-loving, differing from him by all the difference that exists between living according to reason and living according to passion, between desiring what is noble and desiring what appears to be profitable.
Those who beyond other men set their hearts on noble deeds are welcomed and praised by all; but if all men were vieing with each other in the pursuit of what is noble, and were straining every nerve to act in the noblest possible manner, the result would be that both the wants of the community would be perfectly satisfied, and at the same time each individually would win the greatest of all good things—for virtue is that.
The good man, therefore, ought to be self-loving; for by doing what is noble he will at once benefit himself and assist others: but the bad man ought not; for he will injure both himself and his neighbours by following passions that are not good.
Thus, with the bad man there is a discrepancy between what he ought to do and what he does: but with the good man what he ought to do is what he does; for reason always chooses that which is best for itself; and the good man obeys the voice of reason.
Again, it is quite true to say of the good man that he does many things for the sake of his friends and of his country, and will, if need be, even die for them. He will throw away money and honour, and, in a word, all the good things for which men compete, claiming for himself that which is noble; for he will prefer a brief period of intense pleasure to a long period of mild pleasure, one year of noble life to many years of ordinary life, one great and noble action to many little ones. This, we may perhaps say, is what he gets who gives his life for others: and so he chooses for himself something that is noble on a grand scale.
Such a man will surrender wealth to enrich his friend: for while his friend gets the money, he gets what is noble; so he takes the greater good for himself.
His conduct will be the same with regard to honours and offices: he will give up all to his friend; for this he deems noble and praiseworthy.
Such a man, then, is not unreasonably considered good, as he chooses what is noble in preference to everything else.
But, again, it is possible to give up to your friend an opportunity for action, and it may be nobler to cause your friend to do a deed than to do it yourself.
It is plain, then, that in all cases in which he is praised the good man takes for himself a larger share of what is noble. And in this sense, as we have said, a man ought to be self-loving, but not in the sense in which the generality of men are self-loving.
Why a happy man needs friends.
Another disputed question is whether a happy man needs friends or not.
It is said that those who are blessed and self-sufficient have no need of friends; for they are already supplied with good things: as self-sufficient, then they need nothing more, while a friend is an alter ego who procures for you what you cannot procure yourself; whence the saying—
“When the god favours you, what need of friends?”
But it seems strange, while endowing the happy man with all good things, to deny him friends, which are thought to be the greatest of all external goods.
And if it is more characteristic of a friend to confer than to receive benefits, and if it is characteristic of a good man and a virtuous character to do good to others, and if it is nobler to confer benefits on friends than on strangers, the good man will need friends to receive benefits from him.
And so people ask whether friends are more needed in prosperity or adversity, considering that in adversity we want some one to help us, and in prosperity some one that we may help.
Again, it is surely absurd to make the happy man a solitary being: for no one would choose to have all conceivable good things on condition of being alone; for man is a social being, and by nature adapted to share his life with others. The happy man, then, must have this good, since he has whatever is naturally good for man. But it is obvious that it is better to live with friends and good people, than with strangers and casual persons. The happy man, then, must have friends.
What, then, do those who maintain the former opinion mean? and in what sense are they right? Is it that the generality of men think that friends means useful people? Friends in this sense certainly the happy or blessed man will not need, as he already has whatever is good. And, again, he will have no need, or but little need, of the friendship that is based on pleasure; for his life is pleasant and does not require adventitious pleasure. Because he does not need these kind of friends then, people come to think he does not need friends at all.
But I think we may say that this opinion is not true. For we said at the outset that happiness is a certain exercise of our faculties; but the exercise of our faculties plainly comes to be in time, and is not like a piece of property acquired once for all. But if happiness consists in living and exercising our faculties; and if the exercise of the good man’s faculties is good and pleasant in itself, as we said at the outset; and if the sense that a thing belongs to us is also a source of pleasure, but it is easier to contemplate others than ourselves, and others’ acts than our own—then* the acts of the good men who are his friends are pleasant to the good man (for both the natural sources of pleasure are united in them).† The happy or blessed man, therefore, will need such friends, since he desires to contemplate acts that are good and belong to him, and such are the acts of a good man who is his friend.
Again, it is thought that the happy man’s life must be pleasant. Now, if he is solitary, life is hard for him; for it is very difficult to be continuously active by one’s self, but not so difficult along with others, and in relation to others. With friends, then, the exercise of his faculties will be more continuous, being pleasant in itself. And this is what ought to be the case with the blessed man; for the good man, as such, delights in acts of virtue and is vexed by acts of vice, just as a musician is pleased by good music and pained by bad.
Again, he would get a sort of practice in virtue by living with good men, as Theognis says.*
But if we look a little deeper into the nature of things, a good friend appears to be naturally desirable to the good man:—
What is naturally good, we have already said, is good and pleasant in itself to the good man.
Now, life is defined in the case of animals by the power of feeling, in the case of man by the power of feeling or thought: but the power involves reference to its exercise; and it is in this exercise that the reality lies: life, then, in its reality, seems to be feeling or thinking.
Life, again, is one of the things that are good and pleasant in themselves; for it is determinate or formed, and the determinate or formed is of the nature of the good; but that which is naturally [or in itself] good is good to the good man. (And hence life seems to be pleasant to all men. But by life we must not understand a bad or corrupt life, or a life of pain; for such a life is formless, as are all its constituents. We shall endeavour, presently, to throw some light on the nature of pain.)
Life itself, then, is good and pleasant (as appears also from the fact that all desire it, and especially the good and the blessed; for life is most desirable to them, and their life is the most blessed).
But he who sees feels that he sees, and he who hears feels that he hears, and he who walks feels that he walks; and similarly, whatever else we do, there is something that perceives that we are putting forth power, so that whether we feel or think, we must be conscious of feeling or thinking.
But to be conscious of feeling or thinking is to be conscious of existence; for our existence, we found, is feeling or thinking.
But consciousness of life is a thing that is pleasant in itself; for life is naturally good, and to be conscious of the presence of a good thing is pleasant.
Life, then, is desirable, and most of all desirable to the good man, because his existence is good to him, and pleasant; for he is pleased by the consciousness of that which is good in itself.
But the good man stands in the same relation to his friend as to himself, for his friend is another self: just as his own existence, then, is desirable to each, so, or nearly so, is his friend’s existence desirable.
But existence, we found, is desirable because of the consciousness that one’s self is good, such a consciousness being pleasant in itself.
The good man, then, should be conscious of the existence of his friend also, and this consciousness will be given by living with him and by rational converse with him (for this would seem to be the proper meaning of living together, when applied to man, and not merely feeding in the same place, which it means when applied to beasts).
Putting all this together, then, if his own existence is desirable in itself to the good man, being naturally good and pleasant, and if his friend’s existence is also desirable to him in nearly the same way, it follows that a friend is a desirable thing for him. But that which is desirable for him he ought to have, or in that respect he will be incomplete. Our conclusion, therefore, is that he who is to be happy must have good friends.
Of the proper number of friends.
Are we to make as many friends as possible? or, as in the case of guest-friendship* we approve of the saying, “neither a host of guest-friends nor yet none,” shall we say that in the case of friendship also it is best neither to be friendless nor yet to have too many friends?
With regard to friends who are chosen with a view to being useful, the saying would seem to be perfectly appropriate; for it would be troublesome to repay the services of a large number, and indeed life is not long enough to enable us to do it. Of such friends, therefore, a larger number than is sufficient for one’s own life would be superfluous and a hindrance to noble living; so we do not want more than that number.
Again, of friends chosen with a view to pleasure a small number is enough, as a small proportion of sweets is enough in our diet.
But are we to have as many good men for friends as we can, or is there any limit of numbers in friendship, as there is in a state? for you could not make a state out of ten men, and if you had a hundred thousand your state would cease to be a state. But perhaps the right number of citizens is not one fixed number, but any number within certain limits. And so with friends there is a limit to their number, and that is, we may say, the largest number that one can live with (for living together is, as we saw, one of the most essential characteristics of friendship); but it is quite evident that it is impossible to live with and spread one’s self abroad among a large number.
Moreover, a man’s friends must be friends with one another, if all are to spend their time together; but this is difficult with a large number.
Again, it becomes hard for him to sympathize duly with the joys and sorrows of a large number; for then he is likely to have at the same time to rejoice with one and to grieve with another. Perhaps, then, the best plan is not to try to have as many friends as possible, but so many as are sufficient for a life in common; and indeed it would be impossible to have an ardent friendship with a great number.
And, for the same reason, it is impossible to be in love with many persons at once; for it seems that love is a sort of superlative friendship, and that this is only possible towards one person, and an ardent friendship towards a few only.
And this seems, in fact, to happen: we do not find a number of people bound together by the sort of friendship that exists between comrades, but the friendships that the poets celebrate are friendships of two persons. And the man of many friends, who is hail-fellow-well-met with everybody, seems to be really friends with no one (in any other way than as fellow-citizens are friends)—I mean the man whom we call obsequious.
After the manner of fellow-citizens, indeed, it is possible to be friends with a great number, and yet not to be obsequious, but to be a truly good man; but that kind of friendship which is based on virtue and on regard for the friend’s self one cannot have for many, but must be well satisfied if one can find even a few such persons.
Friends needed both in prosperity and adversity.
Is it in prosperity or adversity that we most need friends? For under both circumstances we have recourse to them: in misfortune we need help, in prosperity we need people to live with and to do good to; for we wish to do good.
In adversity, it may be answered, the need is more pressing; we then require useful friends: but friendship is a nobler thing in prosperity; we then seek out good men for friends; for it is more desirable to do good to and to live with such people.
The mere presence of friends is sweet, even in misfortune; for our grief is lightened when our friends share it. And so it might be asked whether they literally take a share of it as of a weight, or whether it is not so, but rather that their presence, which is sweet, and the consciousness of their sympathy, make our grief less. But whether this or something else be the cause of the relief, we need not further inquire; the fact is evidently as we said.
But their presence seems to be complex in its effects. On the one hand, the mere sight of friends is pleasant, especially when we are in adversity, and contributes something to assuage our grief; for a friend can do much to comfort us both by sight and speech, if he has tact: he knows our character, and what pleases and what pains us. But, on the other hand, to see another grieving over our misfortunes is a painful thing; for every one dislikes to be the cause of sorrow to his friends. For this reason he who is of a manly nature takes care not to impart his grief to his friends, shrinking from the pain that would give them, unless this is quite outweighed by the relief it would give him;* and generally he does not allow others to lament with him, as he is not given to lamentations himself; but weak women and effeminate men delight in those who lament with them, and love them as friends and sympathizers. (But evidently we ought in all circumstances to take the better man for our model.)
In prosperity, again, the presence of friends not only makes the time pass pleasantly, but also brings the consciousness that our friends are pleased at our good fortune. And for this reason it would seem that we should be eager to invite our friends to share our prosperity, for it is noble to be ready to confer benefits,—but slow to summon them to us in adversity, for we ought to be loth to give others a share of our evil things: whence comes the saying, “That I am in sorrow is sorrow enough.” But we should be least unwilling to call them in when they will be likely to relieve us much without being greatly troubled themselves.
But, on the other hand, when our friends are in trouble, we should, I think, go to them unsummoned and readily (for it is a friend’s office to serve his friend, and especially when he is in need and does not claim assistance, for then it is nobler and pleasanter to both): when they are in prosperity, we should go readily to help them (for this is one of the uses of a friend), but not so readily to share their good things; for it is not a noble thing to be very ready to receive a benefit. But we may add that we ought to be careful that our refusal shall not seem ungracious, as sometimes happens.
The presence of friends, then, in conclusion, is manifestly desirable on all occasions.
Friendship is realized in living together.
Lovers delight above all things in the sight of each other, and prefer the gratification of this sense to that of all the others, as this sense is more concerned than any other in the being and origin of love. In like manner, we may venture to say, do friends find living together more desirable than anything else; for friendship is essentially community, and a man stands to his friend in the same relation in which he stands to himself; but with regard to himself the consciousness of existence is desirable; therefore the same consciousness with regard to his friend is desirable; but it is in a common life that they attain this consciousness; therefore they naturally desire a life in common.
Again, whatever that be which a man holds to constitute existence, or for the sake of which he chooses to live, in that he wishes to pass his time together with his friends; and thus some drink together, others gamble, others practise gymnastics, or hunt, or study philosophy together—in each case spending their time together in that which they love most of all things in life; for, wishing to live in common with their friends, they do those things and take part together in those things which, as they think, constitute life in common.
Thus the friendship of those who are not good comes to be positively bad; for, having no stability of character, they confirm each other in things that are not good, and thus become positively bad as they become more like one another. But the friendship of good men is good, and grows with their intercourse; and they seem to become better as they exercise their faculties and correct each other’s deficiencies: for each moulds himself to the likeness of that which he approves in the other; whence the saying, “From good men thou shalt learn good things.”*
So much, then, for friendship. We will now pass to the consideration of pleasure.
[* ]Virtuous faculties and activities (II. 6, 20) do not admit of excess, because by their very nature they are right and occupy the mean; too much of them would be a contradiction in terms.
[* ]Pain generally (ὅλως) is bad, to be avoided.
[† ]As these words disturb the order of the argument, I have, following Ramasauer, put them in brackets; but I see no sufficient reason for regarding them as spurious.
[* ]Cf. supra, 12, 2.
[* ]Cf. X. 7, 8.
[* ]τω̂ν δικαίων τὸ μάλιστα, sc. τὸ ἐπιεικές: cf. V. 10, and VI. 11, 2.
[† ]Cf. Plato, Rep., 334.
[‡ ]Literally, “Crow to crow.”
[§ ]Literally, “say that all who thus resemble one another are to one another like potters,” alluding to the saying of Hesiod,—
[* ]See Ramsauer.
[* ]A family of importance in a Greek state was usually connected by ties of hospitality with other families in other states: persons so connected were not ϕίλοι, not strictly friends, since they lived apart; but ξένοι, for which there is no English equivalent.
[* ]To a Greek, of course, this does not necessarily imply living under the same roof, as it does to us with our very different conditions of life.
[* ]Reading πολλοὺς.
[* ]The words [Editor: illegible character]ν μὴ καὶ τῃ̑ ἀρετῃ̑ ὑπερέχηται literally mean “unless he also be surpassed in virtue.” Who is “he”? Not the former, for ὁ σπουδαɩ̂ος, the ideally good man, cannot be surpassed in virtue; therefore the latter—the great man, the tyrant, king or prince. The whole passage displays a decided animus against princes (perhaps, as Stabr suggests, a reminiscence of experiences in the Macedonian court).
[* ]The general rule of justice is that what different people receive is different, being proportionate to their respective merits (τὸ κατ’ ἀξίαν ἴσον, or ἰσότνς λόγων: cf. V. 3, 6, 5, 6 and 17); in exceptional cases, when the merits of the persons are the same, what they receive is equal (τὸ κατ’ ἀξίαν becomes τὸ κατὰ ποσὸν ἴσον). But friendship in the primary sense is friendship between equals, so that the general rule here is that both give and take equal amounts of love, etc.; in the exceptional case of inequality between the persons, the amounts must be proportionate.
[* ]It is the institution of the state which gives a permanent significance to these amusements of a day.
[* ]As the ἄρχ[Editor: illegible character]ν βασιλεύς at Athens.
[† ]Lit. “more evident,” sc. than that kingly rule is the best.
[* ]Scarcely consistent with 7, 4; but cf. 7, 1.
[* ]We pay taxes to the king, and tend our parents in their old age; but, as this is no adequate repayment of what they have done for us, we owe them honour besides.
[* ]For he desires the good of his friend.
[* ]In the papers of October 8, 1880, a suit is reported in which A tries in vain to recover from B certain goods given during courtship,—according to B as presents, according to A ἐπὶ ῥητοɩ̂ς, viz. on condition of marriage, which condition had not been fulfilled.
[* ]Reading ὃ ὡμολόγησεν.
[* ]Where the two friends have different motives.
[* ]Viz. the pleasure of anticipation.
[* ]μισθὸς δ’ ἀνδρὶ ϕίλῳ εἰρημένος ἄρκιος ἔστω.—Hesiod.
[* ]Omitting ἐκεɩ̂νο τὸ γενόμενον, after Bywater, Journal of Philology, vol. xvii. p. 71.
[* ]ϕαν̂λος here as elsewhere includes all who are not good, the incontinent as well as the vicious.
[* ]Epicharmus was a Sicilian dramatist.
[* ]Reading Ἐνεργείᾳ δ’ ὁ ποιήσας τὸ ἔργον ἐστί πως.
[* ]ἐγκρατής, continent, in whom the true masters the false self; ἀκρατής, incontinent, in whom the true self is mastered.
[* ]Reading δὴ. See Stewart.
[† ](1) They are good, (2) they belong to him.
[* ]Cf. the last words of this book.
[* ]Cf. note on viii. 3, 4.
[* ]See a few lines on, end of § 5.
[* ]ἐσθλω̂ν μὲν γὰρ ἄπ’ ἐσθλὰ μαθήσεαι.—Theognis.