previous next
[1233a] [1] But there is left here the man who is the opposite of both of these, who being worthy of great things claims them as his desert,1 and is of such a character as to deem himself worthy2: he is praiseworthy, and he is in the middle between the two. Since, therefore, greatness of spirit is the best disposition in relation to the choice and the employment of honor and of the other good things that are esteemed, and not in relation to useful things, and since we assign this to the great-spirited man, and since also at the same time the middle state is most praiseworthy, it is clear that even greatness of spirit must be a middle state. And of the opposites as shown in our diagram, the one in the direction of deeming oneself worthy of great goods when one is not worthy is vanity (for the sort of men that fancy themselves worthy of great things though they are not we call vain), and the one that is concerned with not deeming oneself worthy of great things when one is worthy of them is smallness of spirit (for if a man does not think himself worthy of anything great although he possesses qualities which would justly make him considered worthy of it, he is thought small-spirited); so that it follows that greatness of spirit is a middle state between vanity and smallness of spirit. But the fourth of the persons in our classification is neither entirely reprehensible nor is he great spirited, as he is concerned with nothing possessing greatness, for he neither is nor thinks himself worthy of great things; owing to which he is not the opposite of the man of great spirit. [20] Yet thinking oneself worthy of small things when one is worthy of small things might be thought the opposite of thinking oneself worthy of great ones when one is worthy of great ones; but he is not opposite to the great-spirited man because he is not blameworthy either, for his character is as reason bids, and in nature he is the same as the great-spirited man, for both claim as their desert the things that they are worthy of. And he might become great-spirited, for he will claim the things that he is worthy of; whereas the small-spirited man, who when great goods corresponding to his worth are available does not think himself worthy of them—what would he have done if his deserts were small? For either he would have conceitedly thought himself worthy of great things, or of still less.3 Hence nobody would call a man small-spirited for not claiming to hold office and submitting to authority if he is a resident alien, but one would do so if he were of noble birth and attached great importance to office.

The Magnificent Man also (except in a case when we are using the term metaphorically) is not concerned with any and every action and purposive choice, but with expenditure. Without expenditure there is no magnificence, for it is what is appropriate in ornament, and ornament does not result from any chance expenditure, but consists in going beyond the merely necessary. Therefore the magnificent man is the man who purposively chooses the appropriate greatness in great expenditure, and who even on the occasion of a pleasure4 of this nature aims at this sort of moderation. There is no name denoting the man who likes spending to excess and inappropriately; however the persons whom some people call tasteless and swaggering have a certain affinity to him.5

1 The Greek phrase combines the senses of rating one's deserts high and asserting one's claims.

2 Or, emending the text, 'and is as worthy as he claims to be.'

3 The Ms. reading hardly gives a sense. An emendation gives 'for if he conceitedly thought himself worthy of great things when unworthy,' and supposes a gap in the text before the following words.

4 A probable emendation substitutes 'expenditure' for 'pleasure.'

5 The Ms. text gives 'he has a certain set of neighbors whom some people call . . .': but γειτνίασις is abstract at Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1232a 21 and Aristot. Pol. 1257a 2. Its concrete use in later Greek, 'neighborhood'='set of neighbors' (Plutarch, etc.) has led to corruption here.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1884)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: