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and this is what praising them amounts to, since praise, as we said, involves a reference of its object to something else. [4] But if praise belongs to what is relative, it is clear that the best things do not merit praise, but something greater and better: as indeed is generally recognized, since we speak of the gods as blessed and happy,1 and also ‘blessed’ is the term that we apply to the most godlike men; and similarly with good things—no one praises happiness as one praises justice, but we call it a ‘blessing,’ deeming it something higher and more divine than things we praise. [5]

Indeed it seems that Eudoxus2 took a good line in advocating the claims of pleasure to the prize of highest excellence, when he held that the fact that pleasure, though a good, is not praised, is an indication that it is superior to the things we praise, as God and the Good are, because they are the standards to which everything else is referred. [6]

For praise belongs to goodness, since it is this that makes men capable of accomplishing noble deeds, while encomia3 are for deeds accomplished, whether bodily feats or achievements of the mind. [7] However, to develop this subject is perhaps rather the business of those who have made a study of encomia. For our purpose we may draw the conclusion from the foregoing remarks,

1 But we do not praise them.

2 For a criticism of the hedonism of this unorthodox pupil of Plato see Bk. 10.2, 3.

3 Encomia or laudatory orations are the chief constituent of Epideictic or Declamatory Oratory, one of the three branches (the others being Deliberative and Forensic) into which rhetoric is divided by Aristotle (Rhet. 1.3.). The topics of encomia are virtue and vice, the noble and disgraceful, which are analyzed from this point of view in Rhet. 1.9. That chapter contains a parenthesis (9.33,34) distinguishing praise, as proper to πράξεις, actions in operation, from encomia, which belong to ἔργα, the results achieved by action; but this distinction is not maintained in the context (9.35, and cf. 9.2 where God as well as man is given as an object of praise).

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