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[1242b] [1] Hence in the household are first found the origins and springs of friendship, of political organization and of justice.

And since there are three sorts of friendship, based on goodness, on utility and on pleasure, and two varieties of each sort (for each of them is either on a basis of superiority or of equality), and what is just in relation to them is clear from our discussions, in the variety based on superiority the proportionate claims are not on the same lines, but the superior party claims by inverse proportion—the contribution of the inferior to stand in the same ratio to his own as he himself stands in to the inferior, his attitude being that of ruler to subject; or if not that, at all events he claims a numerically equal share (for in fact it happens in this way in other associations too—sometimes the shares are numerically equal, sometimes proportionally: if the parties contributed a numerically equal sum of money, they also take a share equal by numerical equality, if an unequal sum, a share proportionally equal). The inferior party on the contrary inverts the proportion, and makes a diagonal conjunction1; but it would seem that in this way the superior comes off worse, and the friendship or partnership is a charitable service.2 Therefore equality must be restored and proportion secured by some other means; and this means is honor, [20] which belongs by nature to a ruler and god in relation to a subject. But the profit3 must be made equal to the honor.

Friendship on a footing of equality is civic friendship. Civic friendship is, it is true, based on utility, and fellow-citizens are one another's friends in the same way as different cities are, and "Athens no longer knoweth Megara,"4 nor similarly do citizens know one another, when they are not useful to one another; their friendship is a ready-money transaction.5 Nevertheless there is present here a ruling factor and a ruled—not a natural ruler or a royal one, but one that rules in his turn, and not for the purpose of conferring benefit, as God rules, but in order that he may have an equal share of the benefit and of the burden. Therefore civic friendship aims at being on a footing of equality. But useful friendship is of two kinds, the merely legal and the moral. Civic friendship looks to equality and to the object, as buyers and sellers do—hence the saying “ Unto a friend his wage—
”.6

When, therefore, it is based on a definite agreement, this is civic and legal friendship; but when they trust each other for repayment, it tends to be moral friendship, that of comrades. Hence this is the kind of friendship in which recriminations most occur, the reason being that it is contrary to nature; for friendship based on utility and friendship based on goodness are different, but these people wish to have it both ways at once—they associate together for the sake of utility but make it out to be a moral friendship as between good men,

1 The inferior party p claims to draw a larger share of benefit B and to leave the smaller share b to the superior party P, the result of which would be p+B and P+b. The superior party P also invokes the principle of inverse proportion (line 7), but applies it to their contributions to the common cause, not to the benefits drawn from it: he claims to make a smaller contribution c, while the inferior party makes a larger one C, the result of which would be P-c and p-C. The proposed conjunctions are in fact both of them diagonal, connecting the larger person with the smaller thing and vice versa.

2 Perhaps the Greek should be altered to give 'friendship is a charity and not a partnership.'

3 i.e. the advantage in the shape of protection, guidance, etc., that the inferior party derives from the friendship.

4 Lit. 'the Athenians no longer recognize the Megarians.' Author unknown Fr. Eleg. Adespota 6 (Bergk).

5 Cf. Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1262b 26.

6 Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1164a 28. Hes. WD 371μισθὸς δ᾽ ἀνδρὶ φίλῳ εἰρημένος ἄρκιος ἔστω'let the wage stated for a friend stand good.

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  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1164a.20
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 371
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