we sometimes praise a man for being ambitious,
sometimes for being unambitious.
Why we do so shall be
discussed later; for the present let us classify the remaining virtues and vices on the
lines which we have laid down.
In respect of anger also we have excess, deficiency, and the observance of the mean.
These states are virtually without names, but as we call a person of the middle character
gentle, let us name the observance of the mean Gentleness, while of the extremes, he that
exceeds may be styled irascible and his vice Irascibility, and he that is deficient,
spiritless, and the deficiency Spiritlessness.
There are also three other modes of observing a mean which bear some resemblance to each
other, and yet are different; all have to do with intercourse in conversation and action,
but they differ in that one is concerned with truthfulness of speech and behavior, and the
other with pleasantness, in its two divisions of pleasantness in social amusement and
pleasantness in the general affairs of life. We must then discuss these qualities also, in
order the better to discern that in all things the observance of the mean is to be
praised, while the extremes are neither right nor praiseworthy, but reprehensible. Most of
these qualities also are unnamed, but in these as in the other cases we must attempt to
coin names for them ourselves, for the sake of clearness and so that our meaning may be
In respect of truth then, the middle character may
be called truthful, and the observance of the mean Truthfulness1
pretence in the form of exaggeration is Boastfulness, and its possessor a boaster; in the
form of understatement, Self-depreciation, and its possessor the
In respect of pleasantness and social amusement, the middle character is witty and the
middle disposition Wittiness; the excess is Buffoonery and its possessor a buffoon; the
deficient man may be called boorish, and his disposition Boorishness. In respect of
general pleasantness in life, the man who is pleasant in the proper manner is friendly,
and the observance of the mean is Friendliness; he that exceeds, if from no interested
motive, is obsequious, if for his own advantage, a flatterer; he that is deficient, and
unpleasant in all the affairs of life, may be called quarrelsome and surly.
There are also modes of observing a mean in the sphere of and in relation to the
in these also one man is spoken of as moderate and another as
excessive—for example the bashful man whose modesty takes alarm at everything;
while he that is deficient in shame, or abashed at nothing whatsoever, is shameless, and
the man of middle character modest. For though Modesty is not a virtue, it is praised, and
so is the modest man.