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‘Another method is (to extenuate the ἀδίκημα by the milder terms), (to say) that it is a mistake, or an accident, or compulsory’, done under compulsion: βίᾳ, see I 10. 14, and Appendix C to Bk. I., Introd. p. 225, and the references there. ἀνάγκη or βία, ‘overpowering force’, forza maggiore, force majeure, absolves from responsibility. Four degrees of criminality are thus distinguished in Eth. Nic. V 10, 1135 b 11, (1) ἀτύχημα, a mere accident, an injury done unintentionally without knowledge of the special circumstances of the case: (2) ἁμάρτημα, an error or mistake, where the act is intentional but the injury unintentional (the case of killing a friend with a gun supposed not to be loaded); this does not include the case of moral ignorance, ignorance of right and wrong, for which a man is responsible: (3) ἀδίκημα, a wrong, intentional in a sense, but without deliberation or malice prepense, as a deadly blow dealt in a fit of passion, when the judgment is for the moment overpowered; (this is, I believe, the only place in which this degree is distinguished from the following: at all events the ordinary division is threefold.) All these are short of actual guilt or crime. The last stage, of actual crime, is (4) ἀδικία, a wrong act committed with full knowledge of the circumstances, and deliberate purpose, ὅταν ἐκ προαιρέσεως ἄδικος καὶ μοχθηρός. With this compare III 2, on the intentional and unintentional. Comp. also Rhet. ad Alex. 4 (5). 8, 9. ‘As for instance Sophocles said that his trembling was not, as his accuser (or traducer) said, assumed to convey the appearance of old age, (and thereby obtain the sympathy and compassion of the judges) but compulsory (and therefore he was not responsible for it); for his eighty years were quite unintentional’. On Sophocles—not the poet—see note on I 14. 3. The same Sophocles is mentioned again III 18. 6. ‘And again, by a balance (compensatory interchange or substitution) of motives; (for instance) that you had no intention of injuring him; what you really intended to do was so and so, and not that which was falsely laid to your charge; the injury was an accident (not of the essence of what you did: a mere συμβεβηκός). “I should deserve to be hated if that were my intention in doing it”’. This seems to be introduced as a specimen of what might be said on such an occasion; and contrary to his usual practice, Aristotle's own manufacture.
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