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7. The persons towards whom men feel benevolent,1 and for what reasons, and in what frame of mind, will be clear when we have defined what favor is. [2] Let it then be taken to be the feeling in accordance with which one who has it is said to render a service to one who needs it, not in return for something nor in the interest of him who renders it, but in that of the recipient. And the favor will be great
if the recipient is in pressing need, or if the service or the times and circumstances are important or difficult, or if the benefactor is the only one, or the first who has rendered it, or has done so in the highest degree. [3] By needs I mean longings, especially for things the failure to obtain which is accompanied by pain; such are the desires, for instance, love; also those which arise in bodily sufferings and dangers, for when a man is in pain or danger he desires something. That is why those who help a man who is poor or an exile, even if the service be ever so small, are regarded with favor owing to the urgency and occasion of the need; for instance, the man who gave the mat2 to another in the Lyceum. [4] It is necessary then, if possible, that the service should be in the same direction3; if not, that it should apply to cases of similar or greater need.

Since then it is evident on what occasions,4 for what reasons, and in what frame of mind a feeling of benevolence arises, it is clear that we must derive our arguments from this—to show that the one side either has been, or still is, in such pain or need, and that the other has rendered, or is rendering, such a service in such a time of need. [5] It is evident also by what means it is possible to make out that there is no favor at all, or that those who render it are not actuated by benevolence5;
for it can either be said that they do, or have done so, for their own sake, in which case there is no favor; or that it was mere chance; or that they acted under compulsion; or that they were making a return, not a gift, whether they knew it or not; for in both cases it is an equivalent return, so that in this case also there is no favor. [6] And the action must be considered in reference to all the categories; for if there is a favor it is so because of substance, quantity, quality, time, or place.6 And it denotes lack of goodwill, if persons have not rendered a smaller service,7 or if they have rendered similar, equal, or greater services to our enemies; for it is evident that they do not act for our sake in this case either. Or if the service was insignificant, and rendered by one who knew it; for no one admits that he has need of what is insignificant.

1 χάρις may mean (1) benevolence, the feeling which prompts a favor; (2) an actual favor conferred; (3) gratitude.

2 Probably given to a beggar or vagrant who had nothing to sleep on.

3 That is, should have in view the satisfaction of urgent wants and desires (Cope).

4 Reading ὅτε; others read οἷς, “by whom.”

5 ἀχαρίστους: the word generally means “ungrateful,” and so Jebb takes it here: “and to make men ungrateful.”

6 The other five categories in Aristotle's list are: relation, position, possession, activity, passivity.

7 Because in that case their motives in rendering the greater service cannot be disinterested.

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