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But it may perhaps be doubted whether our discussion of suffering and doing injustice has been sufficiently definite; and in the first place, whether the matter really is as Euripides has put it in the strange lines1— “ I killed my mother—that's the tale in brief!
Were you both willing, or unwilling both?

” Is it really possible to suffer injustice2 voluntarily, or on the contrary is suffering injustice always involuntary, just as acting unjustly is always voluntary? And again, is suffering injustice always voluntary, or always involuntary, or sometimes one and sometimes the other? [2] And similarly with being treated justly (acting justly being always voluntary). Thus it would be reasonable to suppose that both being treated unjustly and being treated justly are similarly opposed to acting unjustly and acting justly respectively: that either both are voluntary or both involuntary. But it would seem paradoxical to assert that even being treated justly is always voluntary; for people are sometimes treated justly against their will. [3] The fact is that the further question might be raised, must a man who has had an unjust thing done to him always be said to have been treated unjustly, or does the same thing hold good of suffering as of doing something unjust? One may be a party to a just act, whether as its agent or its object, incidentally.3 And the same clearly is true of an unjust act: doing what is unjust is not identical with acting unjustly, nor yet is suffering what is unjust identical with being treated unjustly, and the same is true of acting and being treated justly; for to be treated unjustly requires someone who acts unjustly, and to be treated justly requires someone who acts justly. [4]

But if to act unjustly is simply to do harm voluntarily, and voluntarily means knowing the person affected, the instrument, and the manner of injury, it will follow both that the man of defective self-restraint, inasmuch as he voluntarily harms himself, voluntarily suffers injustice, and also that it is possible for a man to act unjustly towards himself (for the possibility of this is also a debated question). [5] Moreover, lack of self-restraint may make a person voluntarily submit to being harmed by another; which again would prove that it is possible to suffer injustice voluntarily. But perhaps this definition of acting unjustly is incorrect, and we should add to the words ‘to do harm knowing the person affected, the instrument and the manner’ the further qualification ‘against that person's wish.’ [6] If so, though a man can be harmed and can have an unjust thing done to him voluntarily, no one can suffer injustice voluntarily, because no one can wish to be harmed: even the unrestrained man does not, but acts contrary to his wish, since no one wishes for a thing that he does not think to be good, and the unrestrained man does what he thinks he ought not to do. [7] One who gives away what is his own—as Homer4 says that Glaucus gave to Diomede “ golden arms for bronze,
An hundred beeves' worth for the worth of nine—

” cannot be said to suffer injustice; for giving rests with oneself, suffering injustice does not—there has to be another person who acts unjustly. [8]

It is clear then that it is not possible to suffer injustice voluntarily.

There still remain two of the questions that we proposed to discuss: (1) Is it ever he who gives the unduly large share, or is it always he who receives it, that is guilty of the injustice? and (2) Can one act unjustly towards oneself? [9]

If the former alternative is possible, that is, if it may be the giver and not the receiver of too large a share who acts unjustly, then when a man knowingly and voluntarily assigns a larger share to another than to himself— as modest people are thought to do, for an equitable man is apt to take less than his due—this is a case of acting unjustly towards oneself. But perhaps this also requires qualification. For the man who gave himself the smaller share may possibly have got a larger share of some other good thing, for instance glory, or intrinsic moral nobility. Also the inference may be refuted by referring to our definition of acting unjustly: in the case supposed, the distributor has nothing done to him against his wish; therefore he does not suffer injustice merely because he gets the smaller share: at most he only suffers damage. [10]

And it is clear that the giver as well as the receiver of an undue share may be acting unjustly, and that the receiver is not doing so in all cases. For the charge of injustice attaches, not to a man of whom it can be said that he does what is unjust, but to one of whom it can be said that he does this voluntarily, that is to say one from whom the action originates; and the origin of the act in this case lies in the giver and not in the receiver of the share. [11]

Again, ‘to do a thing’ has more than one meaning. In a certain sense a murder is done by the inanimate instrument, or by the murderer's hand, or by a slave acting under orders. But though these do what is unjust, they cannot be said to act unjustly.5 [12]

Again, although if a judge has given an unfair judgement in ignorance, he is not guilty of injustice, nor is the judgement unjust, in the legal sense of justice (though the judgement is unjust in one sense, for legal justice is different from justice in the primary sense), yet if he knowingly gives an unjust judgement, he is himself taking more than his share, either of favor or of vengeance. [13] Hence a judge who gives an unjust judgement for these motives takes more than his due just as much as if he shared the proceeds of the injustice; for even a judge who assigns a piece of land on that condition does not receive land but money. [14]

Men think that it is in their power to act unjustly and therefore that it is easy to be just. But really this is not so. It is easy to lie with one's neighbor's wife or strike a bystander or slip some money into a man's hand, and it is in one's power to do these things or not; but to do them as a result of a certain disposition of mind is not easy, and is not in one's power. [15] Similarly men suppose it requires no special wisdom to know what is just and what is unjust, because it is not difficult to understand the pronouncements of the law. But the actions prescribed by law are only accidentally just actions. How an action must be performed, how a distribution must be made to be a just action or a just distribution—to know this is a harder task than to know what medical treatment will produce health. Even in medicine, though it is easy to know what honey, wine and hellebore, cautery and surgery are, to know how and to whom and when to apply them so as to effect a cure is no less an undertaking than to be a physician. [16] And for this very reason6 men think that the just man will act unjustly no less than justly, because the just man is not less but rather more able than another to do any particular unjust thing: for example, he can lie with a woman, or strike a blow, and a brave man can throw away his shield, and can wheel to the right or left and run away. But to be a coward and to be guilty of injustice consists not in doing these things (except accidentally), but in doing them from a certain disposition of mind; just as to be a physician and cure one's patients is not a matter of employing or not employing surgery or drugs, but of doing so in a certain manner. [17]

Claims of justice exist between persons who share in things generally speaking good, and who can have too large a share or too small a share of them. There are persons who cannot have too large a share of these goods: doubtless, for example, the gods. And there are those who can derive no benefit from any share of them: namely, the incurably vicious; to them all the things generally good are harmful. But for others they are beneficial within limits; and this is the case with ordinary mortals.

1 Apparently from a dialogue between Alcmaeon and (possibly) Phegeus in the lost play of Euripides named after the former. Cf. 3.1.8.

2 i.e., to suffer wrong: for the wide sense of ἀδικεῖν see 1.1, note.

3 Cf. 8.1.

4 Hom. Il. 6.236.

5 It is not clear whether this is meant to apply, in certain circumstances, to the distributor, or to the receiver, or to both.

6 i.e., that acting unjustly is in our own power, 9.14.

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