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Moreover, being indifferent to nobility of conduct, they are careless how they get their money, and take it from anywhere; their desire is to give, and they do not mind how or where they get the means of giving. 1. [35] Hence even their giving is not really liberal: their gifts are not noble, nor given for the nobility of giving, nor in the right way; on the contrary, sometimes they make men rich who ought to be poor, and will not give anything to the worthy, while heaping gifts on flatterers and others who minister to their pleasures. Hence most prodigal men are also profligate; for as they spend their money freely, some of it is squandered in debauchery; and having no high moral standard they readily yield to the temptation of pleasure.1. [36]

This then is what the prodigal comes to if he is not brought under discipline; but if he is taken in hand, he may attain the due mean and the right scale of liberality. 1. [37] Meanness on the contrary is incurable; for we see that it can be caused by old age or any form of weakness. Also it is more ingrained in man's nature than Prodigality; the mass of mankind are avaricious rather than open-handed. 1. [38] Moreover Meanness is a far-reaching vice, and one of varied aspect: it appears to take several shapes. For as it consists in two things, deficiency in giving and excess in getting, it is not found in its entirety in every case, but sometimes the two forms occur separately, some men going too far in getting, while others fall short in giving. 1. [39] The characters described by such names as niggardly, close-fisted, and stingy all fall short in giving, but they do not covet the goods of others nor wish to take them. With some of them this is due to an honorable motive of a sort, namely a shrinking from base conduct—since some persons are thought, or at all events profess, to be careful of their money because they wish to avoid being forced at some time or other to do something base; to this class belong the skinflint1 and similar characters, who get their names from an excessive reluctance to give. But some keep their hands off their neighbors' goods from fear; they calculate that it is not easy to take what belongs to others without others taking what belongs to oneself, and so they ‘prefer (as they say) neither to take nor to give.’ 1. [40] The other sort of people are those who exceed in respect of getting, taking from every source and all they can; such are those who follow degrading trades, brothel-keepers and all people of that sort, and petty usurers who lend money in small sums at a high rate of interest;

1 κυμινοπρίστης means literally ‘one who saws cumminseed in half.’

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