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all these take from wrong sources, and more than their due. 1. [41] The common characteristic of all these seems to be sordid greed, since they all endure reproach for gain, and for a small gain. 1. [42] Those who make improper gains from improper sources on a great scale, for instance princes who sack cities and rob temples, are not termed mean, but rather wicked or impious or unjust. 1. [43] But the dicer and the foot-pad or brigand are to be classed as mean, as showing sordid greed, for both ply their trade and endure reproach for gain, the robber risking his life for plunder, and the dicer making gain out of his friends, to whom one ought to give; hence both are guilty of sordid greed, trying as they do to get gain from wrong sources. And all similar modes of getting wealth are mean for the same reasons.1. [44]

Meanness is naturally spoken of as the opposite of Liberality; for not only is it a greater evil than Prodigality, but also men more often err on the side of Meanness than on that of Prodigality as we defined it.1 1. [45]

Let this suffice as an account of Liberality and of the vices which are opposed to it.2.

Next it would seem proper to discuss Magnificence,2 for this also appears to be a virtue concerned with wealth. It does not however, like Liberality, extend to all actions dealing with wealth, but only refers to the spending of wealth; and in this sphere it surpasses Liberality in point of magnitude, for, as its name itself implies, it consists in suitable expenditure on a great scale.2. [2]

But this greatness of scale is relative. An amount of outlay that would be great for a person fitting out a galley for the navy would not be great for one equipping a state pilgrimage. 2. [3] The suitability of the expenditure therefore is relative to the spender himself, and to the occasion or object. At the same time the term magnificent is not applied to one who spends adequate sums on objects of only small or moderate importance, like the man who said ‘Oft gave I alms to homeless wayfarers’3; it denotes someone who spends suitably on great objects. For though the magnificent man is liberal, the liberal man is not necessarily magnificent.2. [4]

The defect corresponding to the magnificent disposition is called Paltriness, and the excess Vulgarity, Want of Taste or the like. The latter vices do not exceed by spending too great an amount on proper objects, but by making a great display on the wrong occasions and in the wrong way. We will however speak of them later.4 2. [5]

The magnificent man is an artist in expenditure: he can discern what is suitable, and spend great sums with good taste.

1 See 1.5.

2 μεγαλοπρέπεια denotes Munificence of a magnificent kind, the spending of money on a grand scale from the motive of public spirit. In discussing it Aristotle is thinking especially of the λῃτουργίαι or public services discharged at Athens, and in other Greek cities, by wealthy individuals; such as the refitting of a naval trireme, the equipment of a dramatic chorus, and the defraying of the cost of a θεωρία or delegation representing the State at one of the great Hellenic festivals. The word literally means ‘great conspicuousness’ or splendor, but in eliciting its connotation Aristotle brings in another meaning of the verb πρέπειν, viz. ‘to be fitting,’ and takes the noun to signify ‘suitability on a great scale’; and also he feels that the element ‘great’ denotes grandeur as well as mere magnitude.

3 Hom. Od. 17.420; said by Odysseus pretending to be a beggar who formerly was well-to-do.

4 2.20-22.

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