previous next
[1243a] [1] and so represent it as not merely legal, pretending that it is a matter of trust.

For in general, of the three kinds of friendship, it is in useful friendship that most recriminations occur (for goodness is not given to recrimination, and pleasant friends having got and given their share break it off, but useful friends do not dissolve the association at once, if their intercourse is on comradely and not merely legal lines); nevertheless the legal sort of useful friendship is not given to recrimination. The legal method of discharging the obligation is a matter of money, for that serves as a measure of equality; but the moral method is voluntary. Hence in some places there is a law prohibiting friendly associates of this sort from actions as to their voluntary contracts—rightly, since it is not natural for good men to go to law,1 and these men make their contracts as good men and as dealing with trustworthy people. And in fact in this sort of friendship the recriminations are doubtful on both sides—what line of accusation each party will take, inasmuch as their confidence was of a moral kind and not merely legal.2

Indeed it is a question in which of two ways one ought to judge what is a just return, whether by looking at the actual amount or quality of the service rendered, or by its amount or quality for the recipient; for it may be as Theognis says—“ Goddess, 'tis small to thee, but great to me
”,3 and also the result may be opposite, as in the saying [20] 'This is sport to you but death to me.' Hence recriminations, as has been said4; for one party claims recompense as having rendered a great service, because he did it for his friend in need, or saying something else of the sort as to how much it was worth in relation to the benefit given to the recipient and not what it was to himself, while the other party on the contrary speaks of how much it was to the donor and not bow much it was to himself. And at other times the position is reversed: the one says how little he got out of it, the other how much the service was worth to him—for instance, if by taking a risk he did the other a shilling's worth of benefit, the one talks about the amount of the risk and the other about the amount of the cash; just as in the repayment of a money loan, for there too the dispute turns on this—one claims to be repaid the value that the money had when lent,the other claims to repay it at the present value, unless they have put a proviso in the contract.

Civic friendship, then, looks at the agreement and to the thing, but moral friendship at the intention; hence the latter is more just—it is friendly justice. The cause of conflict is that moral friendship is nobler but friendship of utility more necessary; and men begin as being moral friends and friends on grounds of goodness, but when some private interest comes into collision it becomes clear that really they were different. For most men pursue what is fine only when they have a good margin in hand, and so with the finer sort of friendship too.

1 Or, adopting another conjectural emendation, 'since it is natural for good men to be just of their own accord.'

2 Solomon renders 'It is uncertain how either will recriminate on the other, seeing that they trust each other, not in a limited legal way but on the basis of their characters.' But the Greek text may be questioned.

3 Theog. 14. This quotation illustrates that the amount of a service is 'subjective,' the next quotation shows that its quality is.

4 Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1242b 37.

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):
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 7.1242b
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: