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Further, it is characteristic of the Great-minded man to ask favours not at all, or very reluctantly, but to do a service very readily; and to bear himself loftily towards the great or fortunate, but towards people of middle station affably; because to be above the former is difficult and so a grand thing, but to be above the latter is easy; and to be high and mighty towards the former is not ignoble, but to do it towards those of humble station would be low and vulgar; it would be like parading strength against the weak.

And again, not to put himself in the way of honour, nor to go where others are the chief men; and to be remiss and dilatory, except in the case of some great honour or work; and to be concerned in few things, and those great and famous. It is a property of him also to be open, both in his dislikes and his likings, because concealment is a consequent of fear. Likewise to be careful for reality rather than appearance, and talk and act openly (for his contempt for others makes him a bold man, for which same reason he is apt to speak the truth, except where the principle of reserve comes in), but to be reserved towards the generality of men.

II25a] And to be unable to live with reference to any other but a friend; because doing so is servile, as may be seen in that all flatterers are low and men in low estate are flatterers. Neither is his admiration easily excited, because nothing is great in his eyes; nor does he bear malice, since remembering anything, and specially wrongs, is no part of Great-mindedness, but rather overlooking them; nor does he talk of other men; in fact, he will not speak either of himself or of any other; he neither cares to be praised himself nor to have others blamed; nor again does he praise freely, and for this reason he is not apt to speak ill even of his enemies except to show contempt and insolence.

And he is by no means apt to make laments about things which cannot be helped, or requests about those which are trivial; because to be thus disposed with respect to these things is consequent only upon real anxiety about them. Again, he is the kind of man to acquire what is beautiful and unproductive rather than what is productive and profitable: this being rather the part of an independent man. Also slow motion, deep-toned voice, and deliberate style of speech, are thought to be characteristic of the Great-minded man: for he who is earnest about few things is not likely to be in a hurry, nor he who esteems nothing great to be very intent: and sharp tones and quickness are the result of these.

This then is my idea of the Great-minded man; and he who is in the defect is a Small-minded man, he who is in the excess a Vain man. However, as we observed in respect of the last character we discussed, these extremes are not thought to be vicious exactly, but only mistaken, for they do no harm.

The Small-minded man, for instance, being really worthy of good deprives himself of his deserts, and seems to have somewhat faulty from not having a sufficiently high estimate of his own desert, in fact from self-ignorance: because, but for this, he would have grasped after what he really is entitled to, and that is good. Still such characters are not thought to be foolish, but rather laggards. But the having such an opinion of themselves seems to have a deteriorating effect on the character: because in all cases men’s aims are regulated by their supposed desert, and thus these men, under a notion of their own want of desert, stand aloof from honourable actions and courses, and similarly from external goods.

But the Vain are foolish and self-ignorant, and that palpably: because they attempt honourable things, as though they were worthy, and then they are detected. They also set themselves off, by dress, and carriage, and such-like things, and desire that their good circumstances may be seen, and they talk of them under the notion of receiving honour thereby. Small-mindedness rather than Vanity is opposed to Great-mindedness, because it is more commonly met with and is worse.

125b] Well, the virtue of Great-mindedness has for its object great Honour, as we have said: and there seems to be a virtue having Honour also for its object (as we stated in the former book), which may seem to bear to Great-mindedness the same relation that Liberality does to Magnificence: that is, both these virtues stand aloof from what is great but dispose us as we ought to be disposed towards moderate and small matters. Further: as in giving and receiving of wealth there is a mean state, an excess, and a defect, so likewise in grasping after Honour there is the more or less than is right, and also the doing so from right sources and in right manner.

For we blame the lover of Honour as aiming at Honour more than he ought, and from wrong sources; and him who is destitute of a love of Honour as not choosing to be honoured even for what is noble. Sometimes again we praise the lover of Honour as manly and having a love for what is noble, and him who has no love for it as being moderate and modest (as we noticed also in the former discussion of these virtues).

It is clear then that since “Lover of so and so” is a term capable of several meanings, we do not always denote the same quality by the term “Lover of Honour;” but when we use it as a term of commendation we denote more than the mass of men are; when for blame more than a man should be.

And the mean state having no proper name the extremes seem to dispute for it as unoccupied ground: but of course where there is excess and defect there must be also the mean. And in point of fact, men do grasp at Honour more than they should, and less, and sometimes just as they ought; for instance, this state is praised, being a mean state in regard of Honour, but without any appropriate name. Compared with what is called Ambition it shows like a want of love for Honour, and compared with this it shows like Ambition, or compared with both, like both faults: nor is this a singular case among the virtues. Here the extreme characters appear to be opposed, because the mean has no name appropriated to it.


Meekness is a mean state, having for its object-matter Anger: and as the character in the mean has no name, and we may almost say the same of the extremes, we give the name of Meekness (leaning rather to the defect, which has no name either) to the character in the mean.

The excess may be called an over-aptness to Anger: for the passion is Anger, and the producing causes many and various. Now he who is angry at what and with whom he ought, and further, in right manner and time, and for proper length of time, is praised, so this Man will be Meek since Meekness is praised. For the notion represented by the term Meek man is the being imperturbable, and not being led away by passion, but being angry in that manner, and at those things, and for that length of time, which Reason may direct. This character however is thought to err rather on [Sidenote:1126a] the side of defect, inasmuch as he is not apt to take revenge but rather to make allowances and forgive. And the defect, call it Angerlessness or what you will, is blamed: I mean, they who are not angry at things at which they ought to be angry are thought to be foolish, and they who are angry not in right manner, nor in right time, nor with those with whom they ought; for a man who labours under this defect is thought to have no perception, nor to be pained, and to have no tendency to avenge himself, inasmuch as he feels no anger: now to bear with scurrility in one’s own person, and patiently see one’s own friends suffer it, is a slavish thing.

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