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and this is most fully realized in the friendships of the good. 6.

Morose and elderly people rarely make friends, as they are inclined to be surly, and do not take much pleasure in society; good temper and sociability appear to be the chief constituents or causes of friendship. Hence the young make friends quickly, but the old do not, since they do not make friends with people if they do not enjoy their company; and the same applies to persons of a morose temper. It is true that the old or morose may feel goodwill for each other, since they may wish each other well and help each other in case of need; but they cannot properly be called friends, as they do not seek each other's society nor enjoy it, and these are thought to be the chief marks of friendship. [2]

It is not possible to have many friends in the full meaning of the word friendship, any more than it is to be in love with many people at once (love indeed seems to be an excessive state of emotion, such as is naturally felt towards one person only); and it is not easy for the same person to like a number of people at once, nor indeed perhaps can good men be found in large numbers. [3] Also for perfect friendship you must get to know a man thoroughly, and become intimate with him, which is a very difficult thing to do. But it is possible to like a number of persons for their utility and pleasantness, for useful and pleasant people are plentiful, and the benefits they confer can be enjoyed at once. [4]

Of these two inferior kinds of friendship, the one that more closely resembles true friendship is that based on pleasure, in which the same benefit is conferred by both parties, and they enjoy each other's company, or have common tastes; as is the case with the friendships of young people. For in these there is more generosity of feeling, whereas the friendship of utility is a thing for sordid souls. Also those blessed with great prosperity have no need of useful friends, but do need pleasant ones, since they desire some society; and though they may put up with what is unpleasant for a short time, no one would stand it continually: you could not endure even the Absolute Good itself for ever, if it bored you; and therefore the rich seek for friends who will be pleasant. No doubt they ought to require them to be good as well as pleasant, and also good for them, since then they would possess all the proper qualifications for friendship. [5] But princes and rulers appear to keep their friends in separate compartments: they have some that are useful, and some that are pleasant, but rarely any that are both at once. For they do not seek for friends who are pleasant because they are good, or are useful for noble purposes, but look for witty people when they desire pleasure, and for the other sort seek men who are clever at executing their commissions; and these two qualities are rarely found in the same person. [6] The good man, as we have said, is both useful and pleasant, but the good man does not become the friend of a superior, unless his superior in rank be also his superior in virtue; otherwise the good man as the inferior party cannot make matters proportionally equal.1 But potentates of such superior excellence are scarcely common.

1 For this ‘proportional equalization’ of the parties to an unequal friendship see 7.2, 13.1. It would appear that the meaning here is, that unless the great man is also better than the good man, the good man cannot give more love or respect to the great man than the great man gives to him, which is the only way in which the good man can compensate the great man for giving more benefits than he gets, and so be put on an equality; see further on 9.1.1.

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