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Now it appears that each of these rival claims is right. Both parties should receive a larger share from the friendship, but not a larger share of the same thing: the superior should receive the larger share of honor, the needy one the larger share of profit; for honor is the due reward of virtue and beneficence, while need obtains the aid it requires in pecuniary gain. [3]

The same principle is seen to obtain in public life.1 A citizen who contributes nothing of value to the common stock is not held in honor, for the common property is given to those who benefit the community, and honor is a part of the common property. For a man cannot expect to make money out of the community and to receive honor as well. For2 nobody is content to have the smaller share all round, and so we pay honor to the man who suffers money loss by holding office, and give money to the one who takes bribes; since requital in accordance with desert restores equality, and is the preservative of friendship,3 as has been said above.

This principle therefore should also regulate the intercourse of friends who are unequal: the one who is benefited in purse or character must repay what he can, namely honor. [4] For friendship exacts what is possible, not what is due; requital in accordance with desert is in fact sometimes impossible, for instance in honoring the gods, or one's parents: no one could ever render them the honor they deserve, and a man is deemed virtuous if he pays them all the regard that he can. Hence it would appear that a son never ought to disown his father, although a father may disown his son; for a debtor ought to pay what he owes, but nothing that a son can do comes up to the benefits he has received, so that a son is always in his father's debt. But a creditor may discharge his debtor, and therefore a father may disown his son. At the same time, no doubt it is unlikely that a father ever would abandon a son unless the son were excessively vicious; for natural affection apart, it is not in human nature to reject the assistance that a son will be able to render. Whereas a bad son will look on the duty of supporting his father as one to be avoided, or at all events not eagerly undertaken; for most people wish to receive benefits, but avoid bestowing them as unprofitable.

So much then for a discussion of these subjects.

1 Cf. 5.2.12, 5.4.2.

2 This explains why a benefactor of the commonwealth must receive a reward in the shape of honor.

3 i.e., the friendly feeling between the citizens as such, see 9.1. But that this is maintained by τὸ κατ᾽ ἀξίαν has not been said before: indeed the phrase is an odd description of what precedes, and its applicability to private friendship is denied just below. Perhaps ‘since requital . . . above’ is an interpolation.

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