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1. [9]

Again, as the unjust man is one who takes the larger share, he will be unjust in respect of good things; not all good things, but those on which good and bad fortune depend. These though always good in the absolute sense, are not always good for a particular person. Yet these are the goods men pray for and pursue, although they ought not to do so; they ought, while choosing the things that are good for them, to pray that what is good absolutely may also be good for them.1. [10]

The unjust man does not however always choose the larger share: of things that, speaking absolutely, are bad he chooses the smaller share; but nevertheless he is thought to take more than his due, because the lesser of two evils seems in a sense to be a good, and taking more than one's due means taking more than one's due of good. 1. [11] Let us call him ‘unfair,’ for that is a comprehensive term, and includes both taking too much of good things and too little of bad things.1 1. [12]

Again, we saw that the law-breaker is unjust and the law-abiding man just. It is therefore clear that all lawful things are just in one sense of the word, for what is lawful is decided by legislature, and the several decisions of the legislature we call rules of justice. 1. [13] Now all the various pronouncements of the law aim either at the common interest of all, or at the interest of a ruling class determined either by excellence or in some other similar way; so that in one of its senses the term ‘just’ is applied to anything that produces and preserves the happiness, or the component parts of the happiness, of the political community.1. [14]

But the law also prescribes certain conduct: the conduct of a brave man, for example not to desert one's post, not to run away, not to throw down one's arms; that of a temperate man, for example not to commit adultery or outrage; that of a gentle man, for example not to strike, not to speak evil; and so with actions exemplifying the rest of the virtues and vices, commanding these and forbidding those—rightly if the law has been rightly enacted, not so well if it has been made at random.1. [15]

Justice then in this sense is perfect Virtue, though with a qualification, namely that it is displayed towards others. This is why Justice is often thought to be the chief of the virtues, and more sublime ‘or than the evening or the morning star’2; and we have the proverb— “ In Justice is all Virtue found in sum.3

” And Justice is perfect virtue because it is the practice of perfect virtue; and perfect in a special degree,4 because its possessor can practise his virtue towards others and not merely by himself; for there are many who can practise virtue in their own private affairs but cannot do so in their relations with another.

1 Here some mss. add ‘Also a law-breaker, for this, law-breaking or else unfairness, includes all injustice and is a common term for all injustice.’

2 According to a scholiast, this is a quotation, slightly altered, from the lost play Melanippe of Euripides (fr. 490 Dindorf).

3 Theog. 147.

4 In the mss. the words ‘in a special degree’ follow ‘perfect’ in the line before.

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