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So also the number of one's friends must be limited, and should perhaps be the largest number with whom one can constantly associate; since, as we saw,1 to live together is the chief mark of friendship, [4] but it is quite clear that it is not possible to live with and to share oneself among a large number of people. Another essential is that one's friends must also be the friends of one another, if they are all to pass the time in each other's company; but for a large number of people all to be friends is a difficult matter. [5] Again, it is difficult to share intimately in the joys and sorrows of many people; for one may very likely be called upon to rejoice with one and to mourn with another at the same time.

Perhaps therefore it is a good rule not to seek to have as many friends as possible, but only as many as are enough to form a circle of associates. Indeed it would appear to be impossible to be very friendly with many people, for the same reason as it is impossible to be in love with several people. Love means friendship in the superlative degree, and that must be with one person only; so also warm friendship is only possible with a few. [6]

This conclusion seems to be supported by experience. Friendships between comrades2 only include a few people, and the famous examples of poetry3 are pairs of friends. Persons of many friendships, who are hail-fellow-well-met with everybody, are thought to be real friends of nobody ´╝łotherwise than as fellow-citizens are friends´╝ë : I mean the sort of people we call obsequious. It is true that one may be friendly with many fellow-citizens and not be obsequious, but a model of excellence; but it is not possible to have many friends whom we love for their virtue and for themselves.

1 Cf. 8.5.1.

2 See note on 8.5.3.

3 Such as Achilles and Patroclus, Orestes and Pylades, Theseus and Pirithous. It is not quite clear whether they are quoted as examples of comradeship or friendship in general.

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