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And the same results do not accrue to each from the other, nor in fact ought they to be looked for: but, when children render to their parents what they ought to the authors of their being, and parents to their sons what they ought to their offspring, the Friendship between such parties will be permanent and equitable.

Further; the feeling of Friendship should be in a due proportion in all Friendships which are between superior and inferior; I mean, the better man, or the more profitable, and so forth, should be the object of a stronger feeling than he himself entertains, because when the feeling of Friendship comes to be after a certain rate then equality in a certain sense is produced, which is thought to be a requisite in Friendship.

(It must be remembered, however, that the equal is not in the same case as regards Justice and Friendship: for in strict Justice the exactly proportioned equal ranks first, and the actual numerically equal ranks second, while in Friendship this is exactly reversed.)

1159a] And that equality is thus requisite is plainly shown by the occurrence of a great difference of goodness or badness, or prosperity, or something else: for in this case, people are not any longer friends, nay they do not even feel that they ought to be. The clearest illustration is perhaps the case of the gods, because they are most superior in all good things. It is obvious too, in the case of kings, for they who are greatly their inferiors do not feel entitled to be friends to them; nor do people very insignificant to be friends to those of very high excellence or wisdom. Of course, in such cases it is out of the question to attempt to define up to what point they may continue friends: for you may remove many points of agreement and the Friendship last nevertheless; but when one of the parties is very far separated (as a god from men), it cannot continue any longer.

This has given room for a doubt, whether friends do really wish to their friends the very highest goods, as that they may be gods: because, in case the wish were accomplished, they would no longer have them for friends, nor in fact would they have the good things they had, because friends are good things. If then it has been rightly said that a friend wishes to his friend good things for that friend’s sake, it must be understood that he is to remain such as he now is: that is to say, he will wish the greatest good to him of which as man he is capable: yet perhaps not all, because each man desires good for himself most of all.


It is thought that desire for honour makes the mass of men wish rather to be the objects of the feeling of Friendship than to entertain it themselves (and for this reason they are fond of flatterers, a flatterer being a friend inferior or at least pretending to be such and rather to entertain towards another the feeling of Friendship than to be himself the object of it), since the former is thought to be nearly the same as being honoured, which the mass of men desire. And yet men seem to choose honour, not for its own sake, but incidentally: I mean, the common run of men delight to be honoured by those in power because of the hope it raises; that is they think they shall get from them anything they may happen to be in want of, so they delight in honour as an earnest of future benefit. They again who grasp at honour at the hands of the good and those who are really acquainted with their merits desire to confirm their own opinion about themselves: so they take pleasure in the conviction that they are good, which is based on the sentence of those who assert it. But in being the objects of Friendship men delight for its own sake, and so this may be judged to be higher than being honoured and Friendship to be in itself choiceworthy. Friendship, moreover, is thought to consist in feeling, rather than being the object of, the sentiment of Friendship, which is proved by the delight mothers have in the feeling: some there are who give their children to be adopted and brought up by others, and knowing them bear this feeling towards them never seeking to have it returned, if both are not possible; but seeming to be content with seeing them well off and bearing this feeling themselves towards them, even though they, by reason of ignorance, never render to them any filial regard or love.

Since then Friendship stands rather in the entertaining, than in being the object of, the sentiment, and they are praised who are fond of their friends, it seems that entertaining—*[Sidenote: II59b]the sentiment is the Excellence of friends; and so, in whomsoever this exists in due proportion these are stable friends and their Friendship is permanent. And in this way may they who are unequal best be friends, because they may thus be made equal.

Equality, then, and similarity are a tie to Friendship, and specially the similarity of goodness, because good men, being stable in themselves, are also stable as regards others, and neither ask degrading services nor render them, but, so to say, rather prevent them: for it is the part of the good neither to do wrong themselves nor to allow their friends in so doing.

The bad, on the contrary, have no principle of stability: in fact, they do not even continue like themselves: only they come to be friends for a short time from taking delight in one another’s wickedness. Those connected by motives of profit, or pleasure, hold together somewhat longer: so long, that is to say, as they can give pleasure or profit mutually.

The Friendship based on motives of profit is thought to be most of all formed out of contrary elements: the poor man, for instance, is thus a friend of the rich, and the ignorant of the man of information; that is to say, a man desiring that of which he is, as it happens, in want, gives something else in exchange for it. To this same class we may refer the lover and beloved, the beautiful and the ill-favoured. For this reason lovers sometimes show in a ridiculous light by claiming to be the objects of as intense a feeling as they themselves entertain: of course if they are equally fit objects of Friendship they are perhaps entitled to claim this, but if they have nothing of the kind it is ridiculous.

Perhaps, moreover, the contrary does not aim at its contrary for its own sake but incidentally: the mean is really what is grasped at; it being good for the dry, for instance, not to become wet but to attain the mean, and so of the hot, etc. However, let us drop these questions, because they are in fact somewhat foreign to our purpose.


It seems too, as was stated at the commencement, that Friendship and Justice have the same object-matter, and subsist between the same persons: I mean that in every Communion there is thought to be some principle of Justice and also some Friendship: men address as friends, for instance, those who are their comrades by sea, or in war, and in like manner also those who are brought into Communion with them in other ways: and the Friendship, because also the Justice, is co-extensive with the Communion, This justifies the common proverb, “the goods of friends are common,” since Friendship rests upon Communion.

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