previous next
whose special definition is not very different1 from the general definition of ‘man,’ though nevertheless he is really quite distinct from men in general.2 (That such persons are only called unrestrained by analogy is proved by our blaming unrestraint, whether unqualified or with reference to some particular bodily pleasure, as a vice and not merely an error, whereas we do not regard those unrestrained in regard to money, etc. as guilty of vice.) [3] But of those who exceed in relation to the bodily enjoyments with regard to which we speak of men as temperate or profligate, he who pursues excessive pleasure, and avoids the extremes3 of bodily pains such as hunger, heat, cold, and the various pains of touch and taste, not from choice but against his own choice and reason, is described as unrestrained not with a qualification—unrestrained as regards these pleasures and pains—as is one who yields to anger, but just simply as unrestrained. [4] (A proof that ‘unrestrained’ unqualified denotes unrestraint as regards bodily pleasures and pains, is that we speak of men as ‘soft’ who yield to these, but not those who yield to anger or the like.) And hence we class the unrestrained man with the profligate (and the self-restrained with the temperate)4 , but not those who yield to anger or the like, because Unrestraint and Profligacy are related to the same pleasures and pains. But as a matter of fact, although they are related to the same things, they are not related to them in the same way; the profligate acts from choice, the unrestrained man does not. Hence we should pronounce a man who pursues excessive pleasures and avoids moderate pains when he feels only weak desires or none at all, to be more profligate than one who does so owing to intense desires; for what would the former do if he possessed the ardent desires of youth, and felt violent pain when debarred from the ‘necessary’ pleasures? [5]

And inasmuch as some desires and pleasures relate to things that are noble and good in kind (for some pleasant things are desirable by nature, others the opposite, while others again are neutral—compare the classification we gave above5) : for instance money, gain, victory, honor: and inasmuch as in relation to all these naturally desirable things, as well as to the neutral ones, men are not blamed merely for regarding or desiring or liking them, but for doing so in a certain way, namely to excess (hence those6 who yield to or pursue, contrary to principle, anything naturally noble and good, for example those who care too much for honor, or for their children and their parents—for parents and children are good things and people are praised who care for them, but nevertheless it is possible even in their case to go to excess, by vying even with the gods like Niobe,7 or as Satyrus did,8

1 i.e., it requires the addition of three words. Strictly speaking, however, it is impossible to define an individual; moreover, the Olympic victor (a) was a man not merely by analogy but as a member of the species, and (b) was named Man not even by analogy but only homonymously. But a humorous illustration need not be precise.

2 Perhaps Man had some personal peculiarity which somewhat belied his name.

3 Probably this should be amended to ‘moderate bodily pains,’ cf. 4.4.

4 This parenthesis may be an interpolation.

5 See 4.2: a third class is now added, pleasures bad in themselves and not only in excess; and the ‘necessary’ pleasures are now classed as ‘intermediate,’ neither good nor bad in themselves, though good as a means of life, and bad in excess.

6 This subject is left without its verb, which apparently would be ‘are not wicked, nor yet unrestrained in the proper sense.’ Though this clause here begins as a parenthesis, it is resumed below at ‘well then’ as a fresh sentence, which really, however, constitutes the apodosis of the protasis that began at the beginning of the section, ‘And inasmuch.’

7 Niobe vaunted her children as more beautiful than those of Leto.

8 The Greek commentators tell stories of a certain Satyrus who, when his father died, committed suicide for grief. But Heliodorus appears to have read ἐπικαλούμενος τὸν πατέρα without περί, ‘or like Satyrus the Filial invoking his father as a god’ : there were kings of Bosphorus named Satyrus in the 4th century, and one may have borne the surname Philopator.

load focus Greek (J. Bywater)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: