This is perhaps especially true
of poets, who have an exaggerated affection for their own poems and love them as parents
love their children.
The position of the benefactor then
resembles that of the artist; the recipient of his bounty is his handiwork, and he
therefore loves him more than his handiwork loves its maker. The reason of this is that
all things desire and love existence; but we exist in activity, since we exist by living
and doing; and in a sense1
one who has made something exists actively, and so he loves
his handiwork because he loves existence. This is in fact a fundamental principle of
nature: what a thing is potentially, that its work reveals in actuality.
Moreover for the benefactor there is an element of nobility in the act, and so he feels
pleased with the person who is its object; but there is nothing noble for the recipient of
the benefit in his relation to his benefactor: at most, it is profitable; and what is
profitable is not so pleasant or lovable as what is noble.
The doer's achievement therefore remains, for nobility or beauty is long-lived, but its
utility to the recipient passes away.2
But while the actuality of the present, the hope of
the future, and the memory of the past are all pleasant, actuality is the most pleasant of
the three, and the most loved. Also whereas the memory of noble things is pleasant, that
of useful ones is hardly at all so, or at least less so; although with anticipation the
reverse seems to be the case.
Again, loving seems to be an active experience,
being loved a passive one; hence affection and the various forms of friendly feeling are
naturally found in the more active party to the relationship.
Again, everybody loves a thing more if it has cost him trouble: for instance those who
have made money love money more than those who have inherited it. Now to receive a benefit
seems to involve no labor, but to confer one is an effort. （This is why mothers
love their children more than fathers, because parenthood costs the mother more trouble
[and the mother is more certain that the child is her own].3
） This also then would seem to be a characteristic of benefactors.
The question is also raised whether one ought to love oneself or someone else most. We
censure those who put themselves first, and ‘lover of self’ is used as
a term of reproach. And it is thought that a bad man considers himself in all he does, and
the more so the worse he is—so it is a complaint against him for instance that
‘he never does a thing unless you make him’ —whereas a good
man acts from a sense of what is noble, and the better he is the more he so acts, and he
considers his friend's interest, disregarding his own.
But the facts do not accord with these theories; nor is this surprising.