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but it is not possible in regard to those virtues which entitle a man to be called good without qualification. For if a man have the one virtue of Prudence he will also have all the Moral Virtues together with it.) [7]

It is therefore clear1 that, even if Prudence had no bearing on conduct, it would still be needed, because it is the virtue of2 that part of the intellect to which it belongs; and also that our choice of actions will not be right without Prudence any more than without Moral Virtue, since, while Moral Virtue enables us to achieve3 the end, Prudence makes us adopt the right means to the end. [8]

But nevertheless it is not really the case that Prudence is in authority4 over Wisdom, or over the higher part of the intellect, any more than medical science is in authority over health. Medical science does not control health, but studies how to procure it; hence it issues orders in the interests of health, but not to health. And again, one might as well say that Political Science governs the gods, because it gives orders about everything5 in the State.

Book 7

1. Let us next begin a fresh part of the subject by laying down that the states of moral character to be avoided are of three kinds—Vice, Unrestraint, and Bestiality.6 The opposite dispositions in the case of two of the three are obvious: one we call Virtue, the other Self-restraint. As the opposite of Bestiality it will be most suitable to speak of Superhuman Virtue, or goodness on a heroic or divine scale; just as Homer7 has represented Priam as saying of Hector, on account of his surpassing valor— “ nor seemed to be
The son of mortal man, but of a god.

1. [2]

Hence if, as men say, surpassing virtue changes men into gods, the disposition opposed to Bestiality will clearly be some quality more than human; for there is no such thing as Virtue in the case of a god, any more than there is Vice or Virtue in the case of a beast: divine goodness is something more exalted than Virtue, and bestial badness is different in kind from Vice. 1. [3] And inasmuch as it is rare for a man to be divine, in the sense in which that word is commonly used by the Lacedaemonians as a term of extreme admiration—‘Yon mon's divine,’they say—, so a bestial character is rare among human beings; it is found most frequently among barbarians, and some cases also occur as a result of disease or arrested development. We sometimes also use ‘bestial’ as a term of opprobrium for a surpassing degree of human vice.8 1. [4]

But the nature of the bestial disposition will have to be touched on later; and of Vice we have spoken already. We must however discuss Unrestraint and Softness or Luxury, and also Self-restraint and Endurance.

1 The writer recapitulates the solution reached in the last two chapters of the difficulty stated in 12.1.

2 The text should probably be emended ‘of one of the two parts of the intellect’: see 12.4.

3 At 12.6 Aristotle says more precisely that Virtue ‘makes the End right,’ i.e., makes us choose the right End; strictly speaking, to achieve the End requires also Prudence in the choice of the right means.

4 This is the solution of the difficulty stated in 12.3.

5 Including religious observances.

6 Or Brutality: the two English words have acquired slightly different shades of meaning, which are combined in the Greek.

7 Hom. Il. 24.258. The preceding words are, ‘ Hector, who was a god.’

8 Lit. ‘for those who surpass (the rest of) men in Vice’ (i.e., human, not bestial wickedness).

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