Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

LCL 73: 512-513

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Aristotle

τὸ κοινὸν γὰρ δίδοται τῷ τὸ κοινὸν εὐεργετοῦντι, ἡ τιμὴ δὲ κοινόν. οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἅμα χρηματίζεσθαι ἀπὸ τῶν κοινῶν καὶ τιμᾶσθαι· ἐν πᾶσι γὰρ τὸ ἔλαττον οὐδεὶς ὑπομένει. τῷ δὴ περὶ χρήματα10 ἐλαττουμένῳ τιμὴν ἀπονέμουσι καὶ τῷ δωροδόκῳ χρήματα· τὸ κατ᾿ ἀξίαν γὰρ ἐπανισοῖ καὶ σῴζει τὴν φιλίαν, καθάπερ εἴρηται.1 οὕτω δὴ καὶ2 τοῖς ἀνίσοις ὁμιλητέον, καὶ τῷ εἰς χρήματα ὠφελουμένῳ ἢ εἰς ἀρετὴν τιμὴν ἀνταποδοτέον, 4ἀποδιδόντα3 τὸ ἐνδεχόμενον. τὸ δυνατὸν γὰρ ἡ15 φιλία ἐπιζητεῖ, οὐ τὸ κατ᾿ ἀξίαν· οὐδὲ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐν πᾶσι, καθάπερ ἐν ταῖς πρὸς τοὺς θεοὺς τιμαῖς καὶ τοὺς γονεῖς· οὐδεὶς· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἄν ποτε τὴν ἀξίαν ἀποδοίη, εἰς δύναμιν δὲ ὁ θεραπεύων ἐπιεικὴς εἶναι δοκεῖ. διὸ κἂν δόξειεν οὐκ ἐξεῖναι υἱῷ πατέρα ἀπείπασθαι, πατρὶ δ᾿ υἱόν· ὀφείλοντα γὰρ20 ἀποδοτέον, οὐθὲν δὲ ποιήσας ἄξιον τῶν ὑπηργμένων δέδρακεν, ὥστ᾿ ἀεὶ ὀφείλει. οἷς δ᾿ ὀφείλεται, ἐξουσία ἀφεῖναι· καὶ τῷ πατρὶ δή. ἅμα δ᾿ ἴσως οὐδείς ποτ᾿ ἂν ἀποστῆναι δοκεῖ μὴ ὑπερβάλλοντος μοχθηρίᾳ· χωρὶς γὰρ τῆς φυσικῆς

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Nicomachean Ethics, VIII.

common stock is not held in honour, for the common property is given to those who benefit the community, and honour is a part of the common property. For a man cannot expect to make money out of the community and to receive honour as well. Fora nobody is content to have the smaller share all round, and so we pay honour to the man who suffers money loss by holding office, and give money to the one who takes bribes; since requital in accordance with desert restores equality, and is the preservative of friendship,b as has been said above.

This principle therefore should also regulate the intercourse of friends who are unequal: the one who is benefited in purse or character must repay what 4he can, namely honour. For friendship exacts what is possible, not what is due; requital in accordance with desert is in fact sometimes impossible, for instance in honouring the gods, or one’s parents: no one could ever render them the honour they deserve, and a man is deemed virtuous if he pays them all the regard that he can. Hence it would appear that a son never ought to disown his father, although a father may disown his son; for a debtor ought to pay what he owes, but nothing that a son can do comes up to the benefits he has received, so that a son is always in his father’s debt. But a creditor may discharge his debtor, and therefore a father may disown his son. At the same time, no doubt it is unlikely that a father ever would abandon a son unless the son were excessively vicious; for natural affection apart, it is not in human nature to

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-nicomachean_ethics.1926