but it is also seen with
princes: in their case also men much below them in station do not expect to be their
friends, nor do persons of no particular merit expect to be the friends of men of
distinguished excellence or wisdom.
It is true that we
cannot fix a precise limit in such cases, up to which two men can still be friends; the
gap may go on widening and the friendship still remain1
; but when one becomes very remote from the other, as God is
remote from man, it can continue no longer.
rise to the question, is it not after all untrue that we wish our friends the greatest of
goods? for instance, can we wish them to become gods? for then they will lose us as
friends, and therefore lose certain goods, for friends are goods.2
If then it was rightly said above3
that a true friend wishes his friend's good for that friend's
own sake, the friend would have to remain himself, whatever that may be; so that he will
really wish him only the greatest goods compatible with his remaining a human being. And
perhaps not all of these, for everybody wishes good things for himself most of all.
Most men however, because they love honor, seem to be more desirous of receiving than of
bestowing affection. Hence most men like flattery, for a flatterer is a friend who is your
or pretends to be so, and to love you more than you love him; but to
be loved is felt to be nearly the same as to be honored, which most people covet.
They do not however appear to value honor for its own
sake, but for something incidental to it. Most people like receiving honor from men of
high station, because they hope for something from
them: they think that if they want something, the great man will be able to give it them;
so they enjoy being honored by him as a token of benefits to come. Those on the other hand
who covet being honored by good men, and by persons who know them, do so from a desire to
confirm their own opinion of themselves; so5
honor because they are assured of their worth by their confidence in the judgement of
those who assert it. Affection on the other hand men like for its own sake; from which we
infer that it is more valuable than honor, and that friendship is desirable in itself.
But in its essence friendship seems to consist more in giving than in receiving
affection: witness the pleasure that mothers take in loving their children. Some mothers
put their infants out to nurse, and though knowing and loving them, do not ask to be loved
by them in return, if it be impossible to have this as well, but are content if they see
them prospering; they retain their own love for them even though the children, not knowing
them, cannot render them any part of what is due to a mother.
As then friendship consists more especially in bestowing affection, and
as we praise men for loving their friends, affection seems to be the mark of a good
friend. Hence it is friends that love each other as each deserves