previous next
and the return made should be in proportion to the intention of the benefactor, since intention is the measure of a friend, and of virtue. This is the principle on which it would seem that payment ought to be made to those who have imparted instruction in philosophy; for the value of their service is not measurable in money, and no honor paid them could be an equivalent, but no doubt all that can be expected is that to them, as to the gods and to our parents, we should make such return as is in our Power. 1. [8]

When on the other hand the gift is not disinterested but made with a view to a recompense, it is no doubt the best thing that a return should be made such as both parties concur in thinking to be what is due. But failing such concurrence, it would seem to be not only inevitable but just that the amount of the return should be fixed by the party that received the initial service, since the donor will have recovered what the recipient really owes when he has been paid the value of the service to him, or the sum that he would have been willing to pay as the price of the pleasure. 1. [9] For in buying and selling also this seems to be the practice1; and in some countries the law does not allow actions for the enforcement of voluntary covenants,2 on the ground that when you have trusted a man you ought to conclude the transaction as you began it. For it is thought fairer for the price to be fixed by the person who received credit than by the one who gave credit.3 For as a rule those who have a thing value it differently from those who want to get it. For one's own possessions and gifts always seem to one worth a great deal; but nevertheless the repayment is actually determined by the valuation of the recipient. But he ought no doubt to estimate the gift not at what it seems to him to be worth now that he has received it, but at the value he put on it before he received it. 2.

Other questions that may be raised are such as these: Does a man owe his father unlimited respect and obedience, or ought he when ill to take the advice of a physician, and when electing a general to vote for the best soldier? and similarly, ought he to do a service to a friend rather than to a virtuous man, and ought he to repay his obligation to a benefactor rather than make a present to a comrade, when he is not in a position to do both? 2. [2]

Now perhaps with all these matters it is not easy to lay down an exact rule, because the cases vary indefinitely in importance or unimportance, and in nobility or urgency. 2. [3] But it is quite clear that no one person is entitled to unlimited consideration. As a general rule one ought to return services rendered rather than do favors to one's comrades, just as one ought to pay back a loan to a creditor rather than give the money to a friend. 2. [4] Yet perhaps even this rule is not without exceptions. For example, (a) suppose one has been ransomed from brigands; ought one to ransom one's ransomer in turn, whoever he may be—or even if he has not been captured himself but asks for his money back, ought one to repay him—

1 The price is fixed by what the buyer is willing to pay.

2 Cf. 8.13.6. The phrase occurs in Plat. Rep. 556a: cf. the ‘voluntary private transactions’ of 5.2.13.

3 This sentence seems to come in better at the end of the chapter. The sentences immediately preceding and following have been plausibly rejected as interpolations.

load focus Greek (J. Bywater)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: