previous next
[1244a] [1]

About the good friend and the friend on the basis of goodness, we must consider whether one ought to render useful services and assistance to him or to the friend who is able to make an equal return. This is the same problem as whether it is more one's duty to benefit a friend or a virtuous man. If a man is a friend and virtuous, perhaps1 it is not over-difficult, provided one does not exaggerate the one factor and underrate the other, benefiting him greatly as friend but only slightly as good. But in other cases many problems arise, for instance, if A was a friend but is going not to be and B is going to be but is not now, or if A became one but is not one now and B is one now but was not and is going not to be. But the former problem2 is more difficult. For possibly there is something in the lines of Euripides3:

“ Prithee take words as thy just pay for words,
But he, that gave a deed, a deed shall have;

Eur. Fr. 882 (Nauck)
and it is not one's duty to give everything to one's father, but there are other things that one ought to give to one's mother, although the father is the superior; for even to Zeus not all the sacrifices are offered, nor does he have all the honors but some particular ones. Perhaps, therefore, there are some services that ought to be rendered to the useful friend and others to the good friend: for instance, if a friend gives you food and necessaries you are not therefore bound to give him your society, and accordingly also you are not bound to render to the friend to whom you give your society the things that you do not get from him but from the useful friend; but those who by so doing wrongly give everything to one whom they love are good-for-nothing people. [20] And the defining marks of friendship stated in the discourses all belong to friendship in some sense, but not to the same kind of friendship. It is a mark of the useful friend that one wishes the things good for him, and so of the benefactor, and in fact a friend of any sort (for this definition of friendship is not distinctive); of another friend, that one wishes his existence, of another that one wishes his society; of the friend on the ground of pleasure, that one shares his grief and his joy. All these defining marks are predicated in the case of some friendship, but none of them with reference to friendship as a single thing. Hence there are many of them, and each is thought to belong to friendship as one, though it does not: for instance, the desire for the friend's existence—for the superior friend and benefactor wishes existence to belong to his own work4—and to him who gave one existence5 it is one's duty to give existence in return; but he wishes the society not of this friend but of the pleasant one.

Friends in some cases wrong each other, because they love things more, not the possessor of them, and are friends of the possessor too on this account (just as a man chose his wine because it was sweet and chose his wealth because it was useful), for he is more useful.6 Hence naturally he is annoyed, just as if they had preferred his possessions to himself as being inferior; and they complain, for now they look to find in him the good man, having previously looked for the pleasant or the useful man.

1 Or, altering the punctuation with Fritsche, 'is a friend and virtuous equally.'

2 See the first sentence of the chapter.

3 Eur. Fr. 882 (Nauck).

4 i.e. the beneficiary.

5 This also means the beneficiary, who is the cause of the benefactor's being a benefactor; so the benefactor ought to repay him in kind by wishing his existence (as he does also for the reason that he is his own product.)

6 Sc. on account of his possessions.

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)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: