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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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