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This is plainly the principle acted upon in Political Communities: he receives no honour who gives no good to the common stock: for the property of the Public is given to him who does good to the Public, and honour is the property of the Public; it is not possible both to make money out of the Public and receive honour likewise; because no one will put up with the less in every respect: so to him who suffers loss as regards money they award honour, but money to him who can be paid by gifts: since, as has been stated before, the observing due proportion equalises and preserves Friendship.

Like rules then should be observed in the intercourse of friends who are unequal; and to him who advantages another in respect of money, or goodness, that other should repay honour, making requital according to his power; because Friendship requires what is possible, not what is strictly due, this being not possible in all cases, as in the honours paid to the gods and to parents: no man could ever make the due return in these cases, and so he is thought to be a good man who pays respect according to his ability.

For this reason it may be judged never to be allowable for a son to disown his father, whereas a father may his son: because he that owes is bound to pay; now a son can never, by anything he has done, fully requite the benefits first conferred on him by his father, and so is always a debtor. But they to whom anything is owed may cast off their debtors: therefore the father may his son. But at the same time it must perhaps be admitted, that it seems no father ever would sever himself utterly from a son, except in a case of exceeding depravity: because, independently of the natural Friendship, it is like human nature not to put away from one’s self the assistance which a son might render. But to the son, if depraved, assisting his father is a thing to be avoided, or at least one which he will not be very anxious to do; most men being willing enough to receive kindness, but averse to doing it as unprofitable.

Let thus much suffice on these points.



1164a] Well, in all the Friendships the parties to which are dissimilar it is the proportionate which equalises and preserves the Friendship, as has been already stated: I mean, in the Social Friendship the cobbler, for instance, gets an equivalent for his shoes after a certain rate; and the weaver, and all others in like manner. Now in this case a common measure has been provided in money, and to this accordingly all things are referred and by this are measured: but in the Friendship of Love the complaint is sometimes from the lover that, though he loves exceedingly, his love is not requited; he having perhaps all the time nothing that can be the object of Friendship: again, oftentimes from the object of love that he who as a suitor promised any and every thing now performs nothing. These cases occur because the Friendship of the lover for the beloved object is based upon pleasure, that of the other for him upon utility, and in one of the parties the requisite quality is not found: for, as these are respectively the grounds of the Friendship, the Friendship comes to be broken up because the motives to it cease to exist: the parties loved not one another but qualities in one another which are not permanent, and so neither are the Friendships: whereas the Friendship based upon the moral character of the parties, being independent and disinterested, is permanent, as we have already stated.

Quarrels arise also when the parties realise different results and not those which they desire; for the not attaining one’s special object is all one, in this case, with getting nothing at all: as in the well-known case where a man made promises to a musician, rising in proportion to the excellence of his music; but when, the next morning, the musician claimed the performance of his promises, he said that he had given him pleasure for pleasure: of course, if each party had intended this, it would have been all right: but if the one desires amusement and the other gain, and the one gets his object but the other not, the dealing cannot be fair: because a man fixes his mind upon what he happens to want, and will give so and so for that specific thing.

The question then arises, who is to fix the rate? the man who first gives, or the man who first takes? because, prima facie, the man who first gives seems to leave the rate to be fixed by the other party. This, they say, was in fact the practice of Protagoras: when he taught a man anything he would bid the learner estimate the worth of the knowledge gained by his own private opinion; and then he used to take so much from him. In such cases some people adopt the rule,

  “With specified reward a friend should be content.”

They are certainly fairly found fault with who take the money in advance and then do nothing of what they said they would do, their promises having been so far beyond their ability; for such men do not perform what they agreed, The Sophists, however, are perhaps obliged to take this course, because no one would give a sixpence for their knowledge. These then, I say, are fairly found fault with, because they do not what they have already taken money for doing.

1164b] In cases where no stipulation as to the respective services is made they who disinterestedly do the first service will not raise the question (as we have said before), because it is the nature of Friendship, based on mutual goodness to be reference to the intention of the other, the intention being characteristic of the true friend and of goodness.

And it would seem the same rule should be laid down for those who are connected with one another as teachers and learners of philosophy; for here the value of the commodity cannot be measured by money, and, in fact, an exactly equivalent price cannot be set upon it, but perhaps it is sufficient to do what one can, as in the case of the gods or one’s parents.

But where the original giving is not upon these terms but avowedly for some return, the most proper course is perhaps for the requital to be such as both shall allow to be proportionate, and, where this cannot be, then for the receiver to fix the value would seem to be not only necessary but also fair: because when the first giver gets that which is equivalent to the advantage received by the other, or to what he would have given to secure the pleasure he has had, then he has the value from him: for not only is this seen to be the course adopted in matters of buying and selling but also in some places the law does not allow of actions upon voluntary dealings; on the principle that when one man has trusted another he must be content to have the obligation discharged in the same spirit as he originally contracted it: that is to say, it is thought fairer for the trusted, than for the trusting, party, to fix the value. For, in general, those who have and those who wish to get things do not set the same value on them: what is their own, and what they give in each case, appears to them worth a great deal: but yet the return is made according to the estimate of those who have received first, it should perhaps be added that the receiver should estimate what he has received, not by the value he sets upon it now that he has it, but by that which he set upon it before he obtained it.


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