It will make no difference whether we examine the
quality itself or the person that displays the quality. 3.
Now a person is thought to be great-souled if he claims much and deserves much; he who
claims much without deserving it is foolish, but no one of moral excellence is foolish or
senseless. The great-souled man is then as we have described. 3.
He who deserves little and claims
little is modest or temperate, but not great-souled, 3.
since to be great-souled involves greatness just as
handsomeness involves size: small people may be neat and well-made, but not handsome.
He that claims much
but does not deserve much is vain; though not everybody who claims more than he deserves
He that claims less than
he deserves is small-souled, whether his deserts be great or only moderate, or even though
he deserves little, if he claims still less. The most small-souled of all would seem to be
the man who claims less than he deserves when his deserts are great; for what would he
have done had he not deserved so much?3.
Though therefore in regard to the greatness of his claim the great-souled man is an
by reason of its
rightness he stands at the mean point, for he claims what he deserves; while the vain and
the small-souled err by excess and defect respectively.3.
If then the great-souled man claims and is worthy of great things and most of all the
greatest things, Greatness of Soul must be concerned with some one object especially.
‘Worthy’ is a term of relation: it denotes having a claim to goods
external to oneself. Now the greatest external good we should assume to be the thing which
we offer as a tribute to the gods, and which is most coveted by men of high station, and
is the prize awarded for the noblest deeds; and
such a thing is honor, for honor is clearly the greatest of external goods. Therefore the
great-souled man is he who has the right disposition in relation to honors and disgraces.
And even without
argument it is evident that honor is the object with which the great-souled are concerned,
since it is honor above all else which great men claim and deserve.3.
The small-souled man3
falls short both as judged by his own deserts and in comparison with the
claim of the great-souled man; 3.
the vain man on the other hand exceeds as judged by his own standard,
but does not however exceed the great-souled man.4
And inasmuch as the great-souled man deserves most, he must be the best of men; for the
better a man is the more he deserves, and he that is best deserves most. Therefore the
truly great-souled man must be a good man. Indeed greatness in each of the virtues would
seem to go with greatness of soul. 3.
For instance, one cannot imagine the great-souled man running at full
speed when retreating in battle,5
nor acting dishonestly; since what motive for base conduct
has a man to whom nothing is great?6
Considering all the virtues
in turn, we shall feel it quite ridiculous to picture the great-souled man as other than a
good man. Moreover, if he were bad, he would not be worthy of honor, since honor is the
prize of virtue, and the tribute that we pay to the good.