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1. [25]

If the liberal man should happen to spend in a manner contrary to what is right and noble, he will feel pain, though in a moderate degree and in the right manner; for it is a mark of virtue to feel both pleasure and pain on the right occasions and in the right manner. 1. [26] Also the liberal man is an easy person to deal with in money matters; 1. [27] he can be cheated, because he does not value money, and is more distressed if he has paid less than he ought than he is annoyed if he has paid more: he does not agree with the saying of Simonides.1 1. [28]

The prodigal on the other hand errs in his feelings with regard to money as well as in his actions; he feels neither pleasure nor pain on the right occasions nor in the right manner. This will become clearer as we proceed.1. [29]

We have said2 then that Prodigality and Meanness are modes of excess and of deficiency, and this in two things, giving and getting—giving being taken to include spending. Prodigality exceeds in giving [without getting3], and is deficient in getting; Meanness falls short in giving and goes to excess in getting, only not on the great scale. 1. [30] Now the two forms of Prodigality are very seldom found united in the same person, because it is not easy to give to everyone without receiving from anyone: the giver's means are soon exhausted, if he is a private citizen, and only such persons are considered prodigal.4 1. [31] In fact, a man who is prodigal in both ways may be thought considerably superior to the mean man; for he is easily cured by age or by poverty, and is able to be brought to the due mean, because he possesses the essentials of the liberal character—he gives, and he refrains from taking, though he does neither in the proper way or rightly. Correct this by training, or otherwise reform him, and he will be liberal, for he will now give his money to the right objects, while he will not get it from the wrong sources. This is why he is felt to be not really bad in character; for to exceed in giving without getting is foolish rather than evil or ignoble. 1. [32] The prodigal of this type therefore seems to be much superior to the mean man, both for the reasons stated, and because the former benefits many people, but the latter benefits nobody, not even himself.1. [33]

But the majority of prodigal people, as has been said, besides giving wrongly, take from wrong sources; in respect of getting they are in fact mean. 1. [34] And what makes them grasping is that they want to spend, but cannot do so freely because they soon come to the end of their resources, and so are compelled to obtain supplies from others.

1 Several parsimonious aphorisms, sincere or ironical, are ascribed to Simonides, but none exactly fits this allusion.

2 See 1.2.

3 These words seem to be interpolated.

4 Cf. 1.23 above.

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