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and the upper classes wish that the best people shall rule; for only so can all parties get what they desire.

Concord appears therefore to mean friendship between citizens, which indeed is the ordinary use of the term; for it refers to the interests and concerns of life. [3]

Now concord in this sense exists between good men, since these are of one mind both with themselves and with one another, as they always stand more or less on the same ground; for good men's wishes are steadfast, and do not ebb and flow like the tide, and they wish for just and expedient ends, which they strive to attain in common. [4] The base on the other hand are incapable of concord, except in some small degree, as they are of friendship, since they try to get more than their share of advantages, and take less than their share of labors and public burdens. And while each desires this for himself, he spies on his neighbor to prevent him from doing likewise; for unless they keep watch over one another, the common interests go to ruin. The result is discord, everybody trying to make others do their duty but refusing to do it themselves. 7.

Benefactors seem to love those whom they benefit more than those who have received benefits love those who have conferred them; and it is asked why this is so, as it seems to be unreasonable. The view most generally taken is that it is because the one party is in the position of a debtor and the other of a creditor; just as therefore in the case of a loan, whereas the borrower would be glad to have his creditor out of the way, the lender actually watches over his debtor's safety, so it is thought that the conferrer of a benefit wishes the recipient to live in order that he may receive a return, but the recipient is not particularly anxious to make a return. Epicharmus no doubt would say that people who give this explanation are ‘looking at the seamy side’1 of life; but all the same it appears to be not untrue to human nature, for most men have short memories, and are more desirous of receiving benefits than of bestowing them. [2]

But it might be held that the real reason lies deeper,2 and that the case of the creditor is not really a parallel. With him it is not a matter of affection, but only of wishing his debtor's preservation for the sake of recovering his money; whereas a benefactor feels friendship and affection for the recipient of his bounty even though he is not getting anything out of him and is never likely to do so. [3]

The same thing happens with the artist: every artist loves his own handiwork more than that handiwork if it were to come to life would love him.

1 This half-line of verse (Epicharmus doubtless wrote θαμένους) is otherwise unknown.

2 Cf. 8.3.9.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • E.C. Marchant, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 2, 2.40
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 8.461
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