Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics


[Sidenote: I 1155'a'] Next would seem properly to follow a dissertation on Friendship: because, in the first place, it is either itself a virtue or connected with virtue; and next it is a thing most necessary for life, since no one would choose to live without friends though he should have all the other good things in the world: and, in fact, men who are rich or possessed of authority and influence are thought to have special need of friends: for where is the use of such prosperity if there be taken away the doing of kindnesses of which friends are the most usual and most commendable objects? Or how can it be kept or preserved without friends? because the greater it is so much the more slippery and hazardous: in poverty moreover and all other adversities men think friends to be their only refuge.

Furthermore, Friendship helps the young to keep from error: the old, in respect of attention and such deficiencies in action as their weakness makes them liable to; and those who are in their prime, in respect of noble deeds ("They 'two' together going," Homer says, you may remember), because they are thus more able to devise plans and carry them out.

Again, it seems to be implanted in us by Nature: as, for instance, in the parent towards the offspring and the offspring towards the parent (not merely in the human species, but likewise in birds and most animals), and in those of the same tribe towards one another, and specially in men of the same nation; for which reason we commend those men who love their fellows: and one may see in the course of travel how close of kin and how friendly man is to man.

Furthermore, Friendship seems to be the bond of Social Communities, and legislators seem to be more anxious to secure it than Justice even. I mean, Unanimity is somewhat like to Friendship, and this they certainly aim at and specially drive out faction as being inimical.

Again, where people are in Friendship Justice is not required; but, on the other hand, though they are just they need Friendship in addition, and that principle which is most truly just is thought to partake of the nature of Friendship.

Lastly, not only is it a thing necessary but honourable likewise: since we praise those who are fond of friends, and the having numerous friends is thought a matter of credit to a man; some go so far as to hold, that "good man" and "friend" are terms synonymous.

Yet the disputed points respecting it are not few: some men lay down that it is a kind of resemblance, and that men who are like one another are friends: whence come the common sayings, "Like will to like," "Birds of a feather," and so on. Others, on the contrary, say, that all such come under the maxim, "Two of a trade never agree."

[Sidenote: 1155b] Again, some men push their inquiries on these points higher and reason physically: as Euripides, who says,

"The earth by drought consumed doth love the rain, And the great heaven, overcharged with rain, Doth love to fall in showers upon the earth."

Heraclitus, again, maintains, that "contrariety is expedient, and that the best agreement arises from things differing, and that all things come into being in the way of the principle of antagonism."

Empedocles, among others, in direct opposition to these, affirms, that "like aims at like."

These physical questions we will take leave to omit, inasmuch as they are foreign to the present inquiry; and we will examine such as are proper to man and concern moral characters and feelings: as, for instance, "Does Friendship arise among all without distinction, or is it impossible for bad men to be friends?" and, "Is there but one species of Friendship, or several?" for they who ground the opinion that there is but one on the fact that Friendship admits of degrees hold that upon insufficient proof; because things which are different in species admit likewise of degrees (on this point we have spoken before).


Our view will soon be cleared on these points when we have ascertained what is properly the object-matter of Friendship: for it is thought that not everything indiscriminately, but some peculiar matter alone, is the object of this affection; that is to say, what is good, or pleasurable, or useful. Now it would seem that that is useful through which accrues any good or pleasure, and so the objects of Friendship, as absolute Ends, are the good and the pleasurable.

A question here arises; whether it is good absolutely or that which is good to the individuals, for which men feel Friendship (these two being sometimes distinct): and similarly in respect of the pleasurable. It seems then that each individual feels it towards that which is good to himself, and that abstractedly it is the real good which is the object of Friendship, and to each individual that which is good to each. It comes then to this; that each individual feels Friendship not for what 'is' but for that which 'conveys to his mind the impression of being' good to himself. But this will make no real difference, because that which is truly the object of Friendship will also convey this impression to the mind.

There are then three causes from which men feel Friendship: but the term is not applied to the case of fondness for things inanimate because there is no requital of the affection nor desire for the good of those objects: it certainly savours of the ridiculous to say that a man fond of wine wishes well to it: the only sense in which it is true being that he wishes it to be kept safe and sound for his own use and benefit. But to the friend they say one should wish all good for his sake. And when men do thus wish good to another (he not *[Sidenote: 1156a] reciprocating the feeling), people call them Kindly; because Friendship they describe as being "Kindliness between persons who reciprocate it." But must they not add that the feeling must be mutually known? for many men are kindly disposed towards those whom they have never seen but whom they conceive to be amiable or useful: and this notion amounts to the same thing as a real feeling between them.

Well, these are plainly Kindly-disposed towards one another: but how can one call them friends while their mutual feelings are unknown to one another? to complete the idea of Friendship, then, it is requisite that they have kindly feelings towards one another, and wish one another good from one of the aforementioned causes, and that these kindly feelings should be mutually known.


As the motives to Friendship differ in kind so do the respective feelings and Friendships. The species then of Friendship are three, in number equal to the objects of it, since in the line of each there may be "mutual affection mutually known."

Now they who have Friendship for one another desire one another's good according to the motive of their Friendship; accordingly they whose motive is utility have no Friendship for one another really, but only in so far as some good arises to them from one another.

And they whose motive is pleasure are in like case: I mean, they have Friendship for men of easy pleasantry, not because they are of a given character but because they are pleasant to themselves. So then they whose motive to Friendship is utility love their friends for what is good to themselves; they whose motive is pleasure do so for what is pleasurable to themselves; that is to say, not in so far as the friend beloved 'is' but in so far as he is useful or pleasurable. These Friendships then are a matter of result: since the object is not beloved in that he is the man he is but in that he furnishes advantage or pleasure as the case may be. Such Friendships are of course very liable to dissolution if the parties do not continue alike: I mean, that the others cease to have any Friendship for them when they are no longer pleasurable or useful. Now it is the nature of utility not to be permanent but constantly varying: so, of course, when the motive which made them friends is vanished, the Friendship likewise dissolves; since it existed only relatively to those circumstances.

Friendship of this kind is thought to exist principally among the old (because men at that time of life pursue not what is pleasurable but what is profitable); and in such, of men in their prime and of the young, as are given to the pursuit of profit. They that are such have no intimate intercourse with one another; for sometimes they are not even pleasurable to one another; nor, in fact, do they desire such intercourse unless their friends are profitable to them, because they are pleasurable only in so far as they have hopes of advantage. With these Friendships is commonly ranked that of hospitality.

But the Friendship of the young is thought to be based on the motive of pleasure: because they live at the beck and call of passion and generally pursue what is pleasurable to themselves and the object of the present moment: and as their age changes so likewise do their pleasures.

This is the reason why they form and dissolve Friendships rapidly: since the Friendship changes with the pleasurable object and such pleasure changes quickly.

[Sidenote: 1156b] The young are also much given up to Love; this passion being, in great measure, a matter of impulse and based on pleasure: for which cause they conceive Friendships and quickly drop them, changing often in the same day: but these wish for society and intimate intercourse with their friends, since they thus attain the object of their Friendship.

That then is perfect Friendship which subsists between those who are good and whose similarity consists in their goodness: for these men wish one another's good in similar ways; in so far as they are good (and good they are in themselves); and those are specially friends who wish good to their friends for their sakes, because they feel thus towards them on their own account and not as a mere matter of result; so the Friendship between these men continues to subsist so long as they are good; and goodness, we know, has in it a principle of permanence.

Moreover, each party is good abstractedly and also relatively to his friend, for all good men are not only abstractedly good but also useful to one another. Such friends are also mutually pleasurable because all good men are so abstractedly, and also relatively to one another, inasmuch as to each individual those actions are pleasurable which correspond to his nature, and all such as are like them. Now when men are good these will be always the same, or at least similar.

Friendship then under these circumstances is permanent, as we should reasonably expect, since it combines in itself all the requisite qualifications of friends. I mean, that Friendship of whatever kind is based upon good or pleasure (either abstractedly or relatively to the person entertaining the sentiment of Friendship), and results from a similarity of some sort; and to this kind belong all the aforementioned requisites in the parties themselves, because in this the parties are similar, and so on: moreover, in it there is the abstractedly good and the abstractedly pleasant, and as these are specially the object-matter of Friendship so the feeling and the state of Friendship is found most intense and most excellent in men thus qualified.

Rare it is probable Friendships of this kind will be, because men of this kind are rare. Besides, all requisite qualifications being presupposed, there is further required time and intimacy: for, as the proverb says, men cannot know one another "till they have eaten the requisite quantity of salt together;" nor can they in fact admit one another to intimacy, much less be friends, till each has appeared to the other and been proved to be a fit object of Friendship. They who speedily commence an interchange of friendly actions may be said to wish to be friends, but they are not so unless they are also proper objects of Friendship and mutually known to be such: that is to say, a desire for Friendship may arise quickly but not Friendship itself.


Well, this Friendship is perfect both in respect of the time and in all other points; and exactly the same and similar results accrue to each party from the other; which ought to be the case between friends.

[Sidenote: II57a] The friendship based upon the pleasurable is, so to say, a copy of this, since the good are sources of pleasure to one another: and that based on utility likewise, the good being also useful to one another. Between men thus connected Friendships are most permanent when the same result accrues to both from one another, pleasure, for instance; and not merely so but from the same source, as in the case of two men of easy pleasantry; and not as it is in that of a lover and the object of his affection, these not deriving their pleasure from the same causes, but the former from seeing the latter and the latter from receiving the attentions of the former: and when the bloom of youth fades the Friendship sometimes ceases also, because then the lover derives no pleasure from seeing and the object of his affection ceases to receive the attentions which were paid before: in many cases, however, people so connected continue friends, if being of similar tempers they have come from custom to like one another's disposition.

Where people do not interchange pleasure but profit in matters of Love, the Friendship is both less intense in degree and also less permanent: in fact, they who are friends because of advantage commonly part when the advantage ceases; for, in reality, they never were friends of one another but of the advantage.

So then it appears that from motives of pleasure or profit bad men may be friends to one another, or good men to bad men or men of neutral character to one of any character whatever: but disinterestedly, for the sake of one another, plainly the good alone can be friends; because bad men have no pleasure even in themselves unless in so far as some advantage arises.

And further, the Friendship of the good is alone superior to calumny; it not being easy for men to believe a third person respecting one whom they have long tried and proved: there is between good men mutual confidence, and the feeling that one's friend would never have done one wrong, and all other such things as are expected in Friendship really worthy the name; but in the other kinds there is nothing to prevent all such suspicions.

I call them Friendships, because since men commonly give the name of friends to those who are connected from motives of profit (which is justified by political language, for alliances between states are thought to be contracted with a view to advantage), and to those who are attached to one another by the motive of pleasure (as children are), we may perhaps also be allowed to call such persons friends, and say there are several species of Friendship; primarily and specially that of the good, in that they are good, and the rest only in the way of resemblance: I mean, people connected otherwise are friends in that way in which there arises to them somewhat good and some mutual resemblance (because, we must remember the pleasurable is good to those who are fond of it).

These secondary Friendships, however, do not combine very well; that is to say, the same persons do not become friends by reason of advantage and by reason of the pleasurable, for these matters of result are not often combined. And Friendship having been divided into these kinds, bad [Sidenote: '1157b'] men will be friends by reason of pleasure or profit, this being their point of resemblance; while the good are friends for one another's sake, that is, in so far as they are good.

These last may be termed abstractedly and simply friends, the former as a matter of result and termed friends from their resemblance to these last.


Further; just as in respect of the different virtues some men are termed good in respect of a certain inward state, others in respect of acts of working, so is it in respect of Friendship: I mean, they who live together take pleasure in, and impart good to, one another: but they who are asleep or are locally separated do not perform acts, but only are in such a state as to act in a friendly way if they acted at all: distance has in itself no direct effect upon Friendship, but only prevents the acting it out: yet, if the absence be protracted, it is thought to cause a forgetfulness even of the Friendship: and hence it has been said, "many and many a Friendship doth want of intercourse destroy."

Accordingly, neither the old nor the morose appear to be calculated for Friendship, because the pleasurableness in them is small, and no one can spend his days in company with that which is positively painful or even not pleasurable; since to avoid the painful and aim at the pleasurable is one of the most obvious tendencies of human nature. They who get on with one another very fairly, but are not in habits of intimacy, are rather like people having kindly feelings towards one another than friends; nothing being so characteristic of friends as the living with one another, because the necessitous desire assistance, and the happy companionship, they being the last persons in the world for solitary existence: but people cannot spend their time together unless they are mutually pleasurable and take pleasure in the same objects, a quality which is thought to appertain to the Friendship of companionship.

The connection then subsisting between the good is Friendship 'par excellence', as has already been frequently said: since that which is abstractedly good or pleasant is thought to be an object of Friendship and choiceworthy, and to each individual whatever is such to him; and the good man to the good man for both these reasons. (Now the entertaining the sentiment is like a feeling, but Friendship itself like a state: because the former may have for its object even things inanimate, but requital of Friendship is attended with moral choice which proceeds from a moral state: and again, men wish good to the objects of their Friendship for their sakes, not in the way of a mere feeling but of moral state.).

And the good, in loving their friend, love their own good (inasmuch as the good man, when brought into that relation, becomes a good to him with whom he is so connected), so that either party loves his own good, and repays his friend equally both in wishing well and in the pleasurable: for equality is said to be a tie of Friendship. Well, these points belong most to the Friendship between good men.

But between morose or elderly men Friendship is less apt to arise, because they are somewhat awkward-tempered, and take less pleasure in intercourse and society; these being thought to be specially friendly and productive of Friendship: and so young men become friends quickly, old men not so (because people do not become friends with any, unless they take pleasure in them); and in like manner neither do the morose. Yet men of these classes entertain kindly feelings towards one another: they wish good to one another and render mutual assistance in respect of their needs, but they are not quite friends, because they neither spend their time together nor take pleasure in one another, which circumstances are thought specially to belong to Friendship.

To be a friend to many people, in the way of the perfect Friendship, is not possible; just as you cannot be in love with many at once: it is, so to speak, a state of excess which naturally has but one object; and besides, it is not an easy thing for one man to be very much pleased with many people at the same time, nor perhaps to find many really good. Again, a man needs experience, and to be in habits of close intimacy, which is very difficult.

But it 'is' possible to please many on the score of advantage and pleasure: because there are many men of the kind, and the services may be rendered in a very short time.

Of the two imperfect kinds that which most resembles the perfect is the Friendship based upon pleasure, in which the same results accrue from both and they take pleasure in one another or in the same objects; such as are the Friendships of the young, because a generous spirit is most found in these. The Friendship because of advantage is the connecting link of shopkeepers.

Then again, the very happy have no need of persons who are profitable, but of pleasant ones they have because they wish to have people to live intimately with; and what is painful they bear for a short time indeed, but continuously no one could support it, nay, not even the Chief Good itself, if it were painful to him individually: and so they look out for pleasant friends: perhaps they ought to require such to be good also; and good moreover to themselves individually, because then they will have all the proper requisites of Friendship.

Men in power are often seen to make use of several distinct friends: for some are useful to them and others pleasurable, but the two are not often united: because they do not, in fact, seek such as shall combine pleasantness and goodness, nor such as shall be useful for honourable purposes: but with a view to attain what is pleasant they look out for men of easy-pleasantry; and again, for men who are clever at executing any business put into their hands: and these qualifications are not commonly found united in the same man.

It has been already stated that the good man unites the qualities of pleasantness and usefulness: but then such a one will not be a friend to a superior unless he be also his superior in goodness: for if this be not the case, he cannot, being surpassed in one point, make things equal by a proportionate degree of Friendship. And characters who unite superiority of station and goodness are not common. Now all the kinds of Friendship which have been already mentioned exist in a state of equality, inasmuch as either the same results accrue to both and they wish the same things to one another, or else they barter one thing against another; pleasure, for instance, against profit: it has been said already that Friendships of this latter kind are less intense in degree and less permanent.

And it is their resemblance or dissimilarity to the same thing which makes them to be thought to be and not to be Friendships: they show like Friendships in right of their likeness to that which is based on virtue (the one kind having the pleasurable, the other the profitable, both of which belong also to the other); and again, they do not show like Friendships by reason of their unlikeness to that true kind; which unlikeness consists herein, that while that is above calumny and so permanent these quickly change and differ in many other points.


But there is another form of Friendship, that, namely, in which the one party is superior to the other; as between father and son, elder and younger, husband and wife, ruler and ruled. These also differ one from another: I mean, the Friendship between parents and children is not the same as between ruler and the ruled, nor has the father the same towards the son as the son towards the father, nor the husband towards the wife as she towards him; because the work, and therefore the excellence, of each of these is different, and different therefore are the causes of their feeling Friendship; distinct and different therefore are their feelings and states of Friendship.

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.)

[Sidenote: 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.

[1160a] Now brothers and intimate companions have all in common, but other people have their property separate, and some have more in common and others less, because the Friendships likewise differ in degree. So too do the various principles of Justice involved, not being the same between parents and children as between brothers, nor between companions as between fellow-citizens merely, and so on of all the other conceivable Friendships. Different also are the principles of Injustice as regards these different grades, and the acts become intensified by being done to friends; for instance, it is worse to rob your companion than one who is merely a fellow-citizen; to refuse help to a brother than to a stranger; and to strike your father than any one else. So then the Justice naturally increases with the degree of Friendship, as being between the same parties and of equal extent.

All cases of Communion are parts, so to say, of the great Social one, since in them men associate with a view to some advantage and to procure some of those things which are needful for life; and the great Social Communion is thought originally to have been associated and to continue for the sake of some advantage: this being the point at which legislators aim, affirming that to be just which is generally expedient. All the other cases of Communion aim at advantage in particular points; the crew of a vessel at that which is to result from the voyage which is undertaken with a view to making money, or some such object; comrades in war at that which is to result from the war, grasping either at wealth or victory, or it may be a political position; and those of the same tribe, or Demus, in like manner.

Some of them are thought to be formed for pleasure's sake, those, for instance, of bacchanals or club-fellows, which are with a view to Sacrifice or merely company. But all these seem to be ranged under the great Social one, inasmuch as the aim of this is, not merely the expediency of the moment but, for life and at all times; with a view to which the members of it institute sacrifices and their attendant assemblies, to render honour to the gods and procure for themselves respite from toil combined with pleasure. For it appears that sacrifices and religious assemblies in old times were made as a kind of first-fruits after the ingathering of the crops, because at such seasons they had most leisure.

So then it appears that all the instances of Communion are parts of the great Social one: and corresponding Friendships will follow upon such Communions.


Of Political Constitutions there are three kinds; and equal in number are the deflections from them, being, so to say, corruptions of them.

The former are Kingship, Aristocracy, and that which recognises the principle of wealth, which it seems appropriate to call Timocracy (I give to it the name of a political constitution because people commonly do so). Of these the best is Monarchy, and Timocracy the worst.

[Sidenote: II6ob] From Monarchy the deflection is Despotism; both being Monarchies but widely differing from each other; for the Despot looks to his own advantage, but the King to that of his subjects: for he is in fact no King who is not thoroughly independent and superior to the rest in all good things, and he that is this has no further wants: he will not then have to look to his own advantage but to that of his subjects, for he that is not in such a position is a mere King elected by lot for the nonce.

But Despotism is on a contrary footing to this Kingship, because the Despot pursues his own good: and in the case of this its inferiority is most evident, and what is worse is contrary to what is best. The Transition to Despotism is made from Kingship, Despotism being a corrupt form of Monarchy, that is to say, the bad King comes to be a Despot.

From Aristocracy to Oligarchy the transition is made by the fault of the Rulers in distributing the public property contrary to right proportion; and giving either all that is good, or the greatest share, to themselves; and the offices to the same persons always, making wealth their idol; thus a few bear rule and they bad men in the place of the best.

From Timocracy the transition is to Democracy, they being contiguous: for it is the nature of Timocracy to be in the hands of a multitude, and all in the same grade of property are equal. Democracy is the least vicious of all, since herein the form of the constitution undergoes least change.

Well, these are generally the changes to which the various Constitutions are liable, being the least in degree and the easiest to make.

Likenesses, and, as it were, models of them, one may find even in Domestic life: for instance, the Communion between a Father and his Sons presents the figure of Kingship, because the children are the Father's care: and hence Homer names Jupiter Father because Kingship is intended to be a paternal rule. Among the Persians, however, the Father's rule is Despotic, for they treat their Sons as slaves. (The relation of Master to Slaves is of the nature of Despotism because the point regarded herein is the Master's interest): this now strikes me to be as it ought, but the Persian custom to be mistaken; because for different persons there should be different rules. [Sidenote: 1161a] Between Husband and Wife the relation takes the form of Aristocracy, because he rules by right and in such points only as the Husband should, and gives to the Wife all that befits her to have. Where the Husband lords it in everything he changes the relation into an Oligarchy; because he does it contrary to right and not as being the better of the two. In some instances the Wives take the reins of government, being heiresses: here the rule is carried on not in right of goodness but by reason of wealth and power, as it is in Oligarchies.

Timocracy finds its type in the relation of Brothers: they being equal except as to such differences as age introduces: for which reason, if they are very different in age, the Friendship comes to be no longer a fraternal one: while Democracy is represented specially by families which have no head (all being there equal), or in which the proper head is weak and so every member does that which is right in his own eyes.


Attendant then on each form of Political Constitution there plainly is Friendship exactly co-extensive with the principle of Justice; that between a King and his Subjects being in the relation of a superiority of benefit, inasmuch as he benefits his subjects; it being assumed that he is a good king and takes care of their welfare as a shepherd tends his flock; whence Homer (to quote him again) calls Agamemnon, "shepherd of the people." And of this same kind is the Paternal Friendship, only that it exceeds the former in the greatness of the benefits done; because the father is the author of being (which is esteemed the greatest benefit) and of maintenance and education (these things are also, by the way, ascribed to ancestors generally): and by the law of nature the father has the right of rule over his sons, ancestors over their descendants, and the king over his subjects.

These friendships are also between superiors and inferiors, for which reason parents are not merely loved but also honoured. The principle of Justice also between these parties is not exactly the same but according to proportiton, because so also is the Friendship.

Now between Husband and Wife there is the same Friendship as in Aristocracy: for the relation is determined by relative excellence, and the better person has the greater good and each has what befits: so too also is the principle of Justice between them.

The Fraternal Friendship is like that of Companions, because brothers are equal and much of an age, and such persons have generally like feelings and like dispositions. Like to this also is the Friendship of a Timocracy, because the citizens are intended to be equal and equitable: rule, therefore, passes from hand to hand, and is distributed on equal terms: so too is the Friendship accordingly.

[Sidenote: 1161b] In the deflections from the constitutional forms, just as the principle of Justice is but small so is the Friendship also: and least of all in the most perverted form: in Despotism there is little or no Friendship. For generally wherever the ruler and the ruled have nothing in common there is no Friendship because there is no Justice; but the case is as between an artisan and his tool, or between soul and body, and master and slave; all these are benefited by those who use them, but towards things inanimate there is neither Friendship nor Justice: nor even towards a horse or an ox, or a slave 'quâ' slave, because there is nothing in common: a slave as such is an animate tool, a tool an inanimate slave. 'Quâ' slave, then, there is no Friendship towards him, only 'quâ' man: for it is thought that there is some principle of Justice between every man, and every other who can share in law and be a party to an agreement; and so somewhat of Friendship, in so far as he is man. So in Despotisms the Friendships and the principle of Justice are inconsiderable in extent, but in Democracies they are most considerable because they who are equal have much in common.


Now of course all Friendship is based upon Communion, as has been already stated: but one would be inclined to separate off from the rest the Friendship of Kindred, and that of Companions: whereas those of men of the same city, or tribe, or crew, and all such, are more peculiarly, it would seem, based upon Communion, inasmuch as they plainly exist in right of some agreement expressed or implied: among these one may rank also the Friendship of Hospitality,

The Friendship of Kindred is likewise of many kinds, and appears in all its varieties to depend on the Parental: parents, I mean, love their children as being a part of themselves, children love their parents as being themselves somewhat derived from them. But parents know their offspring more than these know that they are from the parents, and the source is more closely bound to that which is produced than that which is produced is to that which formed it: of course, whatever is derived from one's self is proper to that from which it is so derived (as, for instance, a tooth or a hair, or any other thing whatever to him that has it): but the source to it is in no degree proper, or in an inferior degree at least.

Then again the greater length of time comes in: the parents love their offspring from the first moment of their being, but their offspring them only after a lapse of time when they have attained intelligence or instinct. These considerations serve also to show why mothers have greater strength of affection than fathers.

Now parents love their children as themselves (since what is derived from themselves becomes a kind of other Self by the fact of separation), but children their parents as being sprung from them. And brothers love one another from being sprung from the same; that is, their sameness with the common stock creates a sameness with one another; whence come the phrases, "same blood," "root," and so on. In fact they are the same, in a sense, even in the separate distinct individuals.

Then again the being brought up together, and the nearness of age, are a great help towards Friendship, for a man likes one of his own age and persons who are used to one another are companions, which accounts for the resemblance between the Friendship of Brothers and that of Companions.

[Sidenote:1162a] And cousins and all other relatives derive their bond of union from these, that is to say, from their community of origin: and the strength of this bond varies according to their respective distances from the common ancestor.

Further: the Friendship felt by children towards parents, and by men towards the gods, is as towards something good and above them; because these have conferred the greatest possible benefits, in that they are the causes of their being and being nourished, and of their having been educated after they were brought into being.

And Friendship of this kind has also the pleasurable and the profitable more than that between persons unconnected by blood, in proportion as their life is also more shared in common. Then again in the Fraternal Friendship there is all that there is in that of Companions, and more in the good, and generally in those who are alike; in proportion as they are more closely tied and from their very birth have a feeling of affection for one another to begin with, and as they are more like in disposition who spring from the same stock and have grown up together and been educated alike: and besides this they have the greatest opportunities in respect of time for proving one another, and can therefore depend most securely upon the trial. The elements of Friendship between other consanguinities will be of course proportionably similar.

Between Husband and Wife there is thought to be Friendship by a law of nature: man being by nature disposed to pair, more than to associate in Communities: in proportion as the family is prior in order of time and more absolutely necessary than the Community. And procreation is more common to him with other animals; all the other animals have Communion thus far, but human creatures cohabit not merely for the sake of procreation but also with a view to life in general: because in this connection the works are immediately divided, and some belong to the man, others to the woman: thus they help one the other, putting what is peculiar to each into the common stock.

And for these reasons this Friendship is thought to combine the profitable and the pleasurable: it will be also based upon virtue if they are good people; because each has goodness and they may take delight in this quality in each other. Children too are thought to be a tie: accordingly the childless sooner separate, for the children are a good common to both and anything in common is a bond of union.

The question how a man is to live with his wife, or (more generally) one friend with another, appears to be no other than this, how it is just that they should: because plainly there is not the same principle of Justice between a friend and friend, as between strangers, or companions, or mere chance fellow-travellers.


[Sidenote:1162b] There are then, as was stated at the commencement of this book, three kinds of Friendship, and in each there may be friends on a footing of equality and friends in the relation of superior and inferior; we find, I mean, that people who are alike in goodness, become friends, and better with worse, and so also pleasant people; again, because of advantage people are friends, either balancing exactly their mutual profitableness or differing from one another herein. Well then, those who are equal should in right of this equality be equalised also by the degree of their Friendship and the other points, and those who are on a footing of inequality by rendering Friendship in proportion to the superiority of the other party.

Fault-finding and blame arises, either solely or most naturally, in Friendship of which utility is the motive: for they who are friends by reason of goodness, are eager to do kindnesses to one another because this is a natural result of goodness and Friendship; and when men are vying with each other for this End there can be no fault-finding nor contention: since no one is annoyed at one who entertains for him the sentiment of Friendship and does kindnesses to him, but if of a refined mind he requites him with kind actions. And suppose that one of the two exceeds the other, yet as he is attaining his object he will not find fault with his friend, for good is the object of each party.

Neither can there well be quarrels between men who are friends for pleasure's sake: because supposing them to delight in living together then both attain their desire; or if not a man would be put in a ridiculous light who should find fault with another for not pleasing him, since it is in his power to forbear intercourse with him. But the Friendship because of advantage is very liable to fault-finding; because, as the parties use one another with a view to advantage, the requirements are continually enlarging, and they think they have less than of right belongs to them, and find fault because though justly entitled they do not get as much as they want: while they who do the kindnesses, can never come up to the requirements of those to whom they are being done.

It seems also, that as the Just is of two kinds, the unwritten and the legal, so Friendship because of advantage is of two kinds, what may be called the Moral, and the Legal: and the most fruitful source of complaints is that parties contract obligations and discharge them not in the same line of Friendship. The Legal is upon specified conditions, either purely tradesmanlike from hand to hand or somewhat more gentlemanly as regards time but still by agreement a 'quid pro quo'.

In this Legal kind the obligation is clear and admits of no dispute, the friendly element is the delay in requiring its discharge: and for this reason in some countries no actions can be maintained at Law for the recovery of such debts, it being held that they who have dealt on the footing of credit must be content to abide the issue.

That which may be termed the Moral kind is not upon specified conditions, but a man gives as to his friend and so on: but still he expects to receive an equivalent, or even more, as though he had not given but lent: he also will find fault, because he does not get the obligation discharged in the same way as it was contracted.

[Sidenote:1163a] Now this results from the fact, that all men, or the generality at least, 'wish' what is honourable, but, when tested, 'choose' what is profitable; and the doing kindnesses disinterestedly is honourable while receiving benefits is profitable. In such cases one should, if able, make a return proportionate to the good received, and do so willingly, because one ought not to make a disinterested friend of a man against his inclination: one should act, I say, as having made a mistake originally in receiving kindness from one from whom one ought not to have received it, he being not a friend nor doing the act disinterestedly; one should therefore discharge one's self of the obligation as having received a kindness on specified terms: and if able a man would engage to repay the kindness, while if he were unable even the doer of it would not expect it of him: so that if he is able he ought to repay it. But one ought at the first to ascertain from whom one is receiving kindness, and on what understanding, that on that same understanding one may accept it or not.

A question admitting of dispute is whether one is to measure a kindness by the good done to the receiver of it, and make this the standard by which to requite, or by the kind intention of the doer?

For they who have received kindnesses frequently plead in depreciation that they have received from their benefactors such things as were small for them to give, or such as they themselves could have got from others: while the doers of the kindnesses affirm that they gave the best they had, and what could not have been got from others, and under danger, or in such-like straits.

May we not say, that as utility is the motive of the Friendship the advantage conferred on the receiver must be the standard? because he it is who requests the kindness and the other serves him in his need on the understanding that he is to get an equivalent: the assistance rendered is then exactly proportionate to the advantage which the receiver has obtained, and he should therefore repay as much as he gained by it, or even more, this being more creditable.

In Friendships based on goodness, the question, of course, is never raised, but herein the motive of the doer seems to be the proper standard, since virtue and moral character depend principally on motive.


Quarrels arise also in those Friendships in which the parties are unequal because each party thinks himself entitled to the greater share, and of course, when this happens, the Friendship is broken up.

The man who is better than the other thinks that having the greater share pertains to him of right, for that more is always awarded to the good man: and similarly the man who is more profitable to another than that other to him: "one who is useless," they say, "ought not to share equally, for it comes to a tax, and not a Friendship, unless the fruits of the Friendship are reaped in proportion to the works done:" their notion being, that as in a money partnership they who contribute more receive more so should it be in Friendship likewise.

On the other hand, the needy man and the less virtuous advance the opposite claim: they urge that "it is the very business of a good friend to help those who are in need, else what is the use of having a good or powerful friend if one is not to reap the advantage at all?"

[Sidenote: 1163b] Now each seems to advance a right claim and to be entitled to get more out of the connection than the other, only 'not more of the same thing': but the superior man should receive more respect, the needy man more profit: respect being the reward of goodness and beneficence, profit being the aid of need.

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.