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But to resume: the forms of friendship of which we have spoken are friendships of equality, for both parties render the same benefit and wish the same good to each other, or else exchange1 two different benefits, for instance pleasure and profit. (These2 are less truly friendships, and less permanent, as we have said; and opinions differ as to whether they are really friendships at all, owing to their being both like and unlike the same thing. In view of their likeness to friendship based on virtue they do appear to be friendships, for the one contains pleasure and the other utility, and these are attributes of that form of friendship too; but in that friendship based on virtue is proof against calumny, and permanent, while the others quickly change, besides differing in many other respects, they appear not to be real friendships, owing to their unlikeness to it.) 7.

But there is a different kind of friendship, which involves superiority of one party over the other, for example, the friendship between father and son, and generally between an older person and a younger, and that between husband and wife, and between any ruler and the persons ruled. These friendships also vary among themselves. The friendship between parents and children is not the same as that between ruler and ruled, nor indeed is the friendship of father for son the same as that of son for father, nor that of husband for wife as that of wife for husband; for each of these persons has a different excellence and function, and also different motives for their regard, and so the affection and friendship they feel are different. [2] Now in these unequal friendships the benefits that one party receives and is entitled to claim from the other are not the same on either side; but the friendship between parents and children will be enduring and equitable, when the children render to the parents the services due to the authors of one's being, and the parents to the children those due to one's offspring. The affection rendered in these various unequal friendships should also be proportionate3: the better of the two parties, for instance, or the more useful or otherwise superior as the case may be, should receive more affection than he bestows; since when the affection rendered is proportionate to desert, this produces equality in a sense between the parties, and equality is felt to be an essential element of friendship. [3]

Equality in friendship, however, does not seem to be like equality in matters of justice. In the sphere of justice, ‘equal’ (fair) means primarily proportionate to desert, and ‘equal in quantity’ is only a secondary sense; whereas in friendship ‘equal in quantity’ is the primary meaning, and ‘proportionate to desert’ only secondary. [4] This is clearly seen when a wide disparity arises between two friends in point of virtue or vice, or of wealth, or anything else; they no longer remain nor indeed expect to remain friends. This is most manifest in the case of the gods, whose superiority in every good attribute is pre-eminent;

1 i.e., equivalent amounts of two different things.

2 i.e., friendships based on pleasure or utility or both, in contrast to those based on virtue; although the latter also are, of course, ‘friendships of equality.’ The parenthesis breaks the flow of the argument.

3 i.e., unequal, and proportionate to the benefits received.

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