This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
‘And this is why the young and the high-minded are of this character’. With οἱ νέοι comp. c. 12. 6 and 11. The latter of these two passages gives the reason why the young are inclined to emulation, it is διὰ τὸ ἀξιοῦν αὑτοὺς μεγάλων; which also makes them μεγαλόψυχοι. Emulation in the μεγαλόψυχοι must be confined to rivalry in great things, if it is to be consistent with the character assigned to them in Eth. Nic. IV 8, 1124 b 24, καὶ εἰς τὰ ἔντιμα μὴ ἰέναι, ἢ οὗ πρωτεύουσιν ἄλλοι: καὶ ἀργὸν εἶναι καὶ μελλητὴν ἀλλ᾽ ἢ ὅπου τιμὴ μεγάλη ἢ ἔργον, καὶ ὀλίγων μὲν πρακτικόν, μεγάλων δὲ καὶ ὀνομαστῶν. In fact self-sufficiency is characteristic of the μεγαλόψυχος, ὁ μεγάλων αὑτὸν ἀξιῶν ἄξιος ὤν, who therefore is devoid of all vulgar ambition, διὰ τὸ ὀλίγα τιμᾷν. ‘Also, those who are in possession (themselves, opposed to οὓς οἱ ἄλλοι ἀξιοῦσιν, in the following sentence) of such good things as are worthy of men that are held in honour: such are, namely (γάρ）1, wealth, abundance of friends (an extensive and powerful connexion), state offices, and all the like. For, on the supposition that they have a natural claim to goodness, because the good have a natural right to these things [ὅτι προσῆκε τοῖς ἀγαθῶς ἔχουσι], good things of this kind they emulously strive after’. That is to say, they start with the assumption that their natural character is virtuous, and then, because wealth and power and such like have a natural connexion with, i.e. are the proper rewards of, virtue, they are eager to obtain them, and vie with their competitors in the pursuit of them2. The meaning of this sentence is further elucidated by comparison with what is said in § 7. We are there informed that some kinds of good things, such as those that are due to fortune, or mere good luck, without merit, may be the objects not of emulation but of contempt. ἀγαθὰ ἃ τῶν ἐντίμων ἄξιά ἐστιν ἀνδρῶν are consequently confined to those good things the acquisition of which implies merit. προσῆκε] imperf. is properly ‘had a natural claim’. The past tense, precisely as in the familiar use of the imperf., ‘so and so is as I said’, referring back to a past statement, here signifies, ‘has a claim, as they were in the habit of believing’. I have not thought it worth while to express this in the transl., as the phraseology is Greek and not English. Muretus, approved by Vater, writes προσήκει, overlooking the force of the imperfect. In ἀγαθῶς ἔχουσι, ἀγαθῶς for εὖ is as abnormal as ‘goodly’ would be, used as an adverb for ‘well’. It occurs once again, Top. E 7, 136 b 28, οὐκ ἔστι τοῦ δικαίως ἴδιον τὸ ἀγαθῶς. Amongst the Classical Greek writers, Aristotle appears to enjoy the monopoly of it [but the present passage and the parallel just quoted from the Topics are the only instances given in the Index Aristotelicus]: it is found also in the Septuagint (Stephens' Thesaurus s. v.), and apparently nowhere else. ‘And also (opposed to the preceding), those whom everybody else thinks worthy of them’. They are stimulated to exertion by the praises, and exhortations, and encouragement of their friends.
1 Here and elsewhere I have followed Schleiermacher, who in his Translation of Plato, invariably renders γάρ ‘nämlich.’ The same word in English, though not so usual as in the other language, is perhaps the nearest equivalent to the Greek γάρ. It is used thus in a specification of particulars, videlicet, that is to say, in confirmation of, assigning a sort of reason for, a previous statement.
2 Brandis, in the tract on the Rhet. in Schneidewin's Philologus, IV i. p. 46, following apparently the opinion of Muretus and Vater, calls the passage a verderbte Stelle, for which I can see no foundation whatsoever. The sense and connexion are perfectly intelligible, the imperf. προσῆκε has been explained, and ἀγαθῶς defended by the use of it in the Topics. Bekker, Ed. III., retains the v. l. The version of the Anonymus (apud Brandis) ζηλοῦσι γὰρ τὰ τοιαῦτα ἀγαθὰ διὰ τὸ οἴεσθαι αὐτοὺς ἀγαθοὺς εἶναι καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἔχειν τὰ ἀγαθὰ ἃ προσήκει ἔχειν τοὺς α:γαθούς, seems to me to be sufficiently close to the received text to be intended for a paraphrase of it, and not (as Brandis thinks) to suggest a different reading.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.