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Nearly all the actions or possessions which make men desire glory or honor and long for fame, and the favors of fortune, create envy, especially when men long for them themselves, or think that they have a right to them, or the possession of which makes them slightly superior or slightly inferior.

[5] And it is evident whom men envy, for it has just been stated by implication. They envy those who are near them in time, place, age, and reputation, whence it was said, “ Kinship knows how to envy also;1

” and those with whom they are in rivalry, who are those just spoken of; for no man tries to rival those who lived ten thousand years ago, or are about to be born, or are already dead; nor those who live near the Pillars of Hercules;2 nor those who, in his own opinion or in that of others, are either far inferior or superior to him; and the people and things which one envies are on the same footing.3 [6] And since men strive for honor with those who are competitors, or rivals in love, in short, with those who aim at the same things, they are bound to feel most envious of these; whence the saying, “ Potter [being jealous] of potter.4

” [7] And those who have succeeded with difficulty or have failed envy those whose success has been rapid. [8] And those whose possessions or successes are a reproach to themselves, and these, too, are those near or like them; for it is clear that it is their own fault
that they do not obtain the same advantage, so that this pains and causes envy. [9] And those who either have or have acquired what was naturally theirs or what they had once acquired; this is why an older man is envious of a younger one. [10] Those who have spent much envy those who have only spent little to obtain the same thing. [11] And it is clear at what things and persons the envious rejoice, and in what frame of mind; for, as when they do not possess certain things, they are pained, so when they do possess them, they will rejoice in the opposite circumstances.5 So that if the judges are brought into that frame of mind, and those who claim their pity or any other boon are such as we have stated, it is plain that they will not obtain pity from those with whom the decision rests.

11. The frame of mind in which men feel emulation, what things and persons give rise to it, will be clear from the following considerations. Let us assume that emulation is a feeling of pain at the evident presence of highly valued goods, which are possible for us to obtain, in the possession of those who naturally resemble us—pain not due to the fact that another possesses them, but to the fact that we ourselves do not. Emulation therefore is virtuous and characteristic of virtuous men, whereas envy is base and characteristic of base men; for the one, owing to emulation, fits himself to obtain such goods, while the object of the other, owing to envy, is to prevent his neighbor possessing them.

1 According to the scholiast, from Aeschylus.

2 Two rocks at the east end of the Straits of Gibraltar, supposed to be the limit westwards of the ancient world.

3 That is, no one will attempt to compete with them in their special branch of study. Roemer reads καὶ πρὸς τοὺς περὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα, translated by Jebb as if there were a full stop at ὑπερέχειν. “In like manner we vie with those engaged in such or such pursuits.”

4 2.4.21.

5 “The same state of mind which is absent in the painful feeling will be present in the joy excited by the opposite occasions,” meaning that, if one set of circumstances produces pain, the opposite will produce pleasure (Cope). Or, omitting οὐκ before ἔχοντες, “For in the same frame of mind as they are pained (at another's good fortune) they will rejoice in the contrary state of things” (at another's bad fortune).

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