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‘One characteristic of noble birth is that the ambition of the possessor of it is thereby increased. For everyone that has anything to start with, or to build upon’, (as a nucleus, focus, or centre of attraction: ὑπάρχειν, to underlie, to be there already, prop. as a basis or foundation for a superstructure,) ‘is accustomed to make this the nucleus of his acquisitions or accumulations, and high or noble birth implies or denotes ancestral distinction’. σωρεύειν πρός τι, lit. to bring to this, in order to heap round it, any subsequent accumulations. The meaning is, that any new acquisitions of honour or property that a man makes, will generally take the form of an addition to some stock which he already has, whenever he has one ready for the purpose, ὅταν τι ὑπάρχῃ.

‘This condition of life is inclined to look down upon even those who resemble, are on a level with, (in condition, wealth, rank, distinction, and so forth,) their own ancestors, because their distinctions, in proportion to the degree of their remoteness, are more distinguished (than those of contemporaries) and are easier to brag of’ (more readily admit of boastful exaggeration). Distance lends enchantment to the view. Honours and distinctions shine with a brighter lustre in the remote ages of antiquity, and confer more dignity upon those who by right of inheritance can claim a share in them, than those of the same kind, and equal in all other respects, when acquired by contemporaries—familiarity breeds in some degree contempt for them—just as ἀρχαιοπλουτεῖν is a higher claim to consideration than νεοπλουτεῖν, II 9. 9, q. v. Antiquity of possession carries with it a prescriptive right.

καταφρονητικόν] agrees with τὸ εὐγενές, the abstract for the concrete, und. from the preceding εὐγένεια. An abstract term is often particularised, or expressed by the component members in detail, as in construction of antecedent and relative, such as Polit. I 2, 1252 b 13, κοινωνία...οὓς Χαρώνδας καλεῖ... This construction is an instance of that wide-spread and multiform grammatical ‘figure’, the σχῆμα πρὸς τὸ σημαινόμενον, which, in a great variety of different ways, departs from the usual construction of words and adapts it ‘to the thing signified’; as, in the case above given, the abstract virtually includes all the component members of the society who are expressed in the plural relative.

εὐαλαζόνευτα] On ἀλαζονεία and ἀλαζών, see note on I 2. 7. Of the two significations of the word, that of ‘bragging’ is here uppermost.

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