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for wealth is a kind of standard of value of everything else, so that everything seems purchasable by it. [2] They are luxurious and swaggerers, luxurious because of their luxury and the display of their prosperity, swaggerers and ill-mannered because all men are accustomed to devote their attention to what they like and admire, and the rich suppose that what they themselves are emulous of is the object of all other men's emulation. At the same time this feeling is not unreasonable; for those who have need of the wealthy are many in number. Hence the answer of Simonides to the wife of Hiero concerning the wise and the rich, when she asked which was preferable, to be wise or to be rich. “Rich,” he answered, “for we see the wise spending their time at the doors of the rich.” [3] And the rich think they are worthy to rule, because they believe they possess that which makes them so.1 In a word, the character of the rich man is that of a fool favored by fortune. [4] At the same time there is a difference between the character of the newly rich and of those whose wealth is of long standing, because the former have the vices of wealth in a greater degree and more; for, so to say, they have not been educated to the use of wealth. Their unjust acts are not due to malice, but partly to insolence, partly to incontinence, which tends to make them commit assault and battery and adultery.

17. In regard to power, nearly all the characters to which it gives rise are equally clear; for power, compared with wealth, exhibits partly identical, and partly superior characteristics. [2] Thus, the powerful are more ambitious and more manly in character than the rich, since they aim at the performance of deeds which their power gives them the opportunity of carrying out. [3] And they are more energetic; for being obliged to look after their power, they are always on the watch.2 [4] And they are dignified rather than heavily pompous; for their rank renders them more conspicuous, so that they avoid excess; and this dignity is a mild and decent pomposity. And their wrongdoings are never petty, but great.

[5] Good fortune in its divisions3 exhibits characters corresponding to those which have just been mentioned; for those which appear to be the most important kinds of good fortune tend in their direction; further, good fortune furnishes advantages over others in the blessing of children and bodily goods.

1 “What makes power worth having” (Cope).

2 ἐν ἐπιμελείᾳ: “because they are administrators” (Jebb).

3 The three divisions are noble birth, wealth, and power. The meaning is that the highest kinds of good fortune tend or converge to these (i.e., to noble birth, wealth, and power). κατὰ τὰ μόρια might also mean “in part.” Hobbes, in his Brief of the Art of Rhetorick, paraphrases: “the manners of men that prosper, are compounded of the manners of the nobility, the rich, and those that are in power, for to some of these all prosperity appertains.”

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    • J. Adam, A. M. Adam, Commentary on Plato, Protagoras, CHAPTER XXVI
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