Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

LCL 73: 518-519

Go To Section
Go To Section


ἐπειδὰν ὁ μὲν δι᾿ ἡδονὴν τὸν ἐρώμενον φιλῇ, ὁ δὲ διὰ τὸ χρήσιμον τὸν ἐραστήν, ταῦτα δὲ μὴ ἀμφοῖν ὑπάρχῃ. διὰ ταῦτα γὰρ τῆς φιλίας οὔσης διάλυσις γίνεται, ἐπειδὰν μὴ γίνηται ὧν ἕνεκα10 ἐφίλουν· οὐ γὰρ αὐτοὺς ἔστεργον ἀλλὰ τὰ ὑπάρχοντα, οὐ μόνιμα ὄντα· διὸ τοιαῦται καὶ αἱ φιλίαι. ἡ δὲ τῶν ἠθῶν καθ᾿ αὑτὴν οὖσα μένει, καθάπερ 4εἴρηται. διαφέρονται δ᾿1 ὅταν ἕτερα γίγνηται αὐτοῖς καὶ μὴ ὧν ὀρέγονται· ὅμοιον γὰρ τῷ μηθὲν γίγνεσθαι ὅταν οὗ ἐφίεται μὴ τυγχάνῃ,15 οἷον καὶ τῷ κιθαρῳδῷ ὁ ἐπαγγελλόμενος,2 καὶ ὅσῳ ἄμεινον ᾄσειεν, τοσούτῳ πλείω· εἰς ἕω δ᾿ ἀπαιτοῦντι τὰς ὑποσχέσεις ἀνθ᾿ ἡδονῆς ἡδονὴν ἀποδεδωκέναι ἔφη. εἰ μὲν οὖν ἑκάτερος τοῦτο ἐβούλετο, ἱκανῶς ἂν εἶχεν· εἰ δ᾿ ὁ μὲν τέρψιν ὁ δὲ κέρδος, καὶ ὁ μὲν ἔχει ὁ δὲ μή, οὐκ ἂν εἴη τὰ20 κατὰ τὴν κοινωνίαν καλῶς· ὧν γὰρ δεόμενος τυγχάνει, τούτοις καὶ προσέχει, κἀκείνου γε 5χάριν ταῦτα3 δώσει. τὴν ἀξίαν δὲ ποτέρου τάξαι ἐστί, τοῦ προϊεμένου ἢ τοῦ προλαμβάνοντος4; ὁ γὰρ προϊέμενος ἔοικ’ ἐπιτρέπειν ἐκείνῳ. ὅπερ φασὶ καὶ Πρωταγόραν ποιεῖν· ὅτε γὰρ διδάξειεν25


Nicomachean Ethics, IX.

pleasure is the motive of the friendship on the lover’s side and profit on the side of the beloved, and when they no longer each possess the desired attribute. For in a friendship based on these motives, a rupture occurs as soon as the parties cease to obtain the things for the sake of which they were friends; seeing that neither loved the other in himself, but some attribute he possessed that was not permanent; so that these friendships are not permanent either. But friendship based on character is disinterested, and therefore lasting, as has been said.a

4Differences arise when the friends do not obtain what they desire, but something else; for not to get what you want is almost the same as not to get anything at all. For instance, there is the story of the man who hired a harper, and promised that the better he played the more he would pay him; but next morning, when the harper asked him to fulfil his promise, he said that he had already paid for the pleasure he had received by the pleasure he had given.b This would have been all right if both had wanted pleasure; but when one wants amusement and the other gain, and one gets what he wants and the other does not, it would not be a fair bargain; for it is the thing that a man happens to need that he sets his heart on, and only to get that is he ready to give what he does.

5Which party’s business is it to decide the amount of the return due? Should it be assessed by the one who proffers the initial service? Or rather by the one who receivesc it, since the other by proffering it seems to leave the matter to him? This we are told was the practice of Protagorasd; when he gave

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-nicomachean_ethics.1926