To see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square..


Chapters i and ii
On equity and the equal, and on right sentence and on giving sentence rightly.

HIS second book of the Great Ethics offers to readers great jewels and treasures of virtues; certainly, not only does it reflect from its rubbed and polished mirror the forms and ideas of the virtues, but it delivers the virtues themselves as if to very good jewelers, so that they might fix them in the souls of mortals as in gold rings, and move infinite numbers to the repair of those gems without which human life is death and is, as it were, hid, to the forgetfulness of life, in the sepulchre. For what does it profit a man if he be not a prudent, if he be not a just, man? Nay, what else is a man but a savage beast if he be an unjust, if he be an unfair, man?
spacer 2. The philosopher deals here first with equity and defines the same as the handmaid of justice, the reins of law, the corrective of truth, the assuaging medicine, as it were, of extreme right. This virtue has put on purple and sits before the tribunal together with justice, and hears, pleads, concludes cases without blood, without severity. But if sometimes, in the gravest causes of the republic, inexorable justice stands forth, she acknowledges the same as her mistress and yields to her command for a time, but in the meanwhile, while justice strikes the guilty with her sword, she, afflicted as it were by the feel of the blows, transforms herself into loopholes: for this outstanding virtue is all mercy. But I jest: I do not, however, jest at you, since equity is truly defined as the virtue which, in line with right reason and benevolent interpretation of justice and the laws, moderates their severity. For it is task of equity not only to explicate, in succession, the particular defects of the law, and to correct the same, but also to moderate, as far as she can, the passions of magistrates.
spacer 3. But this stands manifest in the second chapter of this Book, when the question is raised whether a right sentence of law is the same with equity and whether he who gives right sentence is the same with the good man, the philosopher replies that these are not simply the same, though they do agree especially in the fact that right sentence and he who gives right sentence have the same object as equity. For he who rightly judges of things which were omitted by the lawgivers, since there are obscurities in laws by themselves, is said to give sentence rightly; but since examples are lacking in the text, let these ones, for the sake of explication and clarity, be set forth. Suppose a law has been carried that anyone wandering the night will be cast into prison; by chance some servant, his master seized by a sudden fever, has been sent by him at an unreasonable hour of the night to summon a doctor, this servant is apprehended, and should, according to the law, be carried off to prison. For the rest, he of right sentence, intervening, judges and declares that this servant has not violated the law; of course the law was only to be understood of those who, beyond all necessity, walk in the shadows for the sake of evildoing and shun the light. Another example can be this one. Let there be a law given that whoever draws his sword on anyone is to have his right hand cut off, but a son, when his father is by chance placed in very great peril of his life, draws his sword and, alone, defends him against the deadly foe. The son is accused, but he is freed by the equal man giving sentence rightly, because the law is understood only of assassins who draw their sword to inflict injury on others, and this is, if I mistake not, the true and natural interpretation of this question.

An minuere vim iustitiae sit contra iustitiam?

spacerOBJECTION The force of justice is the form and perfection of the same, therefore to mitigate the force of justice is contrary to justice: the proof is that the life of justice is the force of the law; the force of the law is the execution of justice; given these posits it follows that equity, whose office it is (as Aristotle here teaches) to mitigate the force of justice, is a thing plainly against justice.
spacerREPLY The response is as before, that equity is a habit of choice that inclines the spirit of the judge more toward leniency of punishment than strictness of law. But equity does not, in this, so mitigate the force of justice as to take away its form, for, in fact, when the stern voice of the law orders death, yet the sense of the law, weighed in the balance of equity, orders setting free. Here the blunted sharpness of the law is not unjust, which sometimes, against the voice of the law ordering the gallows, concedes life in accordance with equity.

When the mind of the lawgiver is not known, are the words of the law, imposed on things by its form, to be followed?

spacerOBJECTION Words are the signs of the mind, as the philosopher teaches in his book On Interpretation, therefore when the mind of the lawgiver is unknown the words of the law are to be followed.
spacerREPLY Words are indeed the signs of the mind, and the same are imposed by the forms of things, but since we labor under a great scarceness of words, and a greater scarceness of forms, equivocal and complex words very often arise which have a complex sense and interpretation; and in this case, when the mind of the lawgiver is not known, it will be unjust if you follow the sound of the word and not the sense and interpretation of a good man. Besides, if the lawgiver erred as to the particular way things turn out, it is not just to cling to his mere words; therefore an equal and just man is brought in, who can and should explicate the sense and the sentence both of the law and of the lawgiver.

Are bad morals causes of good laws?

spacerOBJECTION In goods and bads as the cause is so is the effect, as the philosopher teaches in Book II of the Topics: therefore bad morals cannot be cause of good laws but rather of bad laws.
spacerREPLY By cause in this place Aristotle does not mean a cause that is really having an effect but a cause sine qua non, but in the Topics he is dealing with the true efficient cause, or, if it please, one should say that bad morals are true causes but yet the reasoning does not follow, because this maxim holds only of causes in the same genus.

Does a deficiency happen in law more on the part of the matter, which the law treats, than on the part of human actions, which are wont to vary in infinite ways?

spacerOBJECTION The matter of law is something that falls under deliberation, as Aristotle teaches, but this is variable and uncertain, therefore deficiency in law seems to happen on the part of the matter which the law treats.
spacerREPLY The matter of law is indeed something that falls under deliberation, and it is complex, variable, and contingent. Law’s error, however, does not occur on the part of the matter, but on the part of human actions; the reason is that the matter of the law is not said to be complex, variable, and contingent with respect to its own nature (for the nature of any thing is simple and stable), but because it is handled in various ways and means by man, whose actions are wont to change and vary in a thousand ways.
spacerOBJECTION The ignorance and lack of foresight of the lawgiver generate the deficiency of law, therefore the deficiency of law is not always on the part of the matter or of human actions: the antecedent is patent, because the lawgiver, being ignorant of the future happenings of things and the future actions of men, easily goes wrong, and furnishes a thousand occasions for going wrong.
spacerREPLY Badly indeed do you accuse the oracles of the city of ignorance: for as most wise nature is sometimes said to err in a particular case, since whether from deficiency or abundance… [continuation missing]


Chapter iii
On good deliberating, and on the connection of the virtues with prudence.

S the life of man is in the heart, and as the living spirits are carried through the arteries, as by canals, into all parts and regions of the body, so the whole force of virtue consists in action which, as through the hands of prudence and deliberation, offers the pulse and motion of a most just life to the individual parts and members of the republic. Hence it is that again and again deliberation, prudence, and justice are dealt with in these books, so that by deliberation a true choice, by prudence virtuous action, by justice the perfection itself of human life, might be obtained. The order and tie between these things will be evident if we read through this third chapter, wherein the philosopher so connects good deliberation with justice and prudence that you can see the golden chain of all the virtues within them.
spacer 2. Deliberation is here defined, therefore, as to be the index on the sundial of prudence, which indicates the movements of the virtues and the shadows of the vices: or, if it please, it is defined as that part of prudence whereby it always shows what is best and most useful among things to be done by man; best, I say, because good deliberation (which is being dealt with here) does not treat of painted goods and goods subject to fortune, but especially not those which happen unexpectedly to men and against hope. For we are not wont to say that he to whom any such thing has happened beyond intention and expectation is a man of deliberation but that he is fortunate, and the contingent things here we call favorable and propitious. I will conclude this part in a word. Good deliberating is not without true prudence. For these twins are like sisters that are always gazing at each other in turn in the mirror of virtue, for they live or die together: certainly, deliberation is said to be the judge of prudence, and prudence is said to be the judge of deliberation; the relation of the two is necessary and the one is defined by the other. What need is there of words? The things that follow in the text are doubts about justice by which, as we taught before, every virtue of civil life stands. For justice is, so to speak, the very itself-ness of every virtue of life. For as without prudence there is in virtues no direction of moral actions, so without justice there is in them no perfection of the same. But I pass over the doubts in this analysis of the chapter for the sake of brevity, since my intention is to propose them at the end of the exposition in the usual manner of questions and to unravel them with arguments applied on this side and on that. In the meantime I say this, that Aristotle has in this place joined together deliberation, prudence, and justice, because without them the other moral virtues and the actions thereof cannot stand firm. Here, near the end of the chapter, he demonstrates that chain of virtues which he delivers as it were in the hands of prudence, so that the chain might draw each single one of them, connected as it were by bonds, to right reason and justice. For thus he says: between prudence and the moral virtues there is so great relationship and connection that the virtues easily err in their actions if they are not directed as it were by the finger and counsel of prudence; but the finger and counsel of prudence is right reason or good deliberation, which pays regard to justice in its bringing forth of every action. Thus prudence is as it were the center around which the heaven of the moral virtues turns and in which they hold together as lines most rightly traced from the circumference: for the virtues are as it were the stars; the spirit in which they are can be called the heaven; the center about which this heaven turns is right reason or prudence. The upright action of human life can be called the motion of this heaven; the sun in this heaven is God; the end is beatitude. Happy is he who follows this motion. But I come now to explicating in order the doubts of this chapter.

Are deliberation and prudence concerned with the same objects?

spacerOBJECTION Deliberation (as the philosopher taught before) is about things uncertain, but prudence is about things certain, since it is itself a virtue, therefore they are not concerned with the same objects.
spacerREPLY They are concerned with the same objects but not in the same way; certainly the things to be done and things doable (as they say), which fall under action and choice, are the objects of each, namely of deliberation as they are uncertain but of prudence so that , with the circumstances applied, they become certain and be referred to a certain end.

Do chance things fall under deliberation?

spacerOBJECTION In the Ethics the philosopher teaches that they do: therefore in this place he does badly in denying that very fact.


Chance things are taken:

Either for things uncertain which fall under our choice, and thus are they objects of deliberation;
Or for the happenings of chance and fortune itself, and thus are they not objects: certainly chances and fortune are not introduced into counsel.

Is it more the mark of a just man or a flatterer to make equal return, in the mutual conversation and intercourse of life, to anyone at all?

spacerOBJECTION Of justice alone is it the function to make equal return in every action: therefore it regards rather the just man than the flatterer to make equal return, in the mutual conversation and intercourse of life, to anyone at all.
spacerREPLY It is the mark of a just man to make equal return to anyone at all in every action when the distinction of persons is taken into account; but if, for example, a bad man lays snares for a just man with flattering conversation, it is not the mark of a just man to give an equal load of flattering words in return but, having made distinction between the good and the bad, the deserved and undeserved, to rebuke his snares: for to make return greeting in like manner and speech is the mark of a flatterer and not of a just man.

Is an unjust man ever truly said to be prudent?

spacerOBJECTION An unjust man endowed with moral and civil science can prescribe most truly the circumstances of right acting and living, but he who most truly prescribes the circumstances of acting and living is truly prudent, therefore an unjust man can be and be called prudent. The major and minor are evident from Aristotle.
spacerREPLY An unjust man can in now wise inquire with right reason and deliberation into what is good so as to embrace it, nor can a corrupt man discern by his judgment what is simply and absolutely good. For as a corrupt sense errs about its proper object, so the unjust man basely errs in discerning the good, because he is a depraved man. There is a beautiful similitude in the text which the philosopher uses in solving this argument. For in the same way, he says, that almost everyone knows that hellebore and wild cucumber and the cutting and cauterizing of limbs are wholesome instruments of health, and yet they are not thereby said to be truly doctors unless they make right use of them, so the unjust man does indeed recognize in general that the circumstances of acting well are the means and instruments of virtue, yet he ought not thereby to be said to be truly prudent because he does not fit them to the use of his life.

Should one wink at the unjust man so that he might grow rich beyond measur ?

spacerOBJECTION Too great abundance of things in the possession of an unjust man is as a weapon in the hand of a mad man wherewith he cuts his throat, therefore one should connive at a unjust man if he grow beyond measure rich, since he falls, of course, under his immoderately accumulated wealth like an ass laden and weighed down.
spacerREPLY Very great profusion and dominion of resources, as the philosopher here teaches, are in general and simply good, but bad for the unjust man, because he uses the same for inflicting injury on others: wherefore as among flowers the wild plant is to be dug up, lest, by its increase, it harm the healthful plants with its toxic poison, so an unjust man, sated beyond measure with robberies from others, is not to be spared lest his injustice suffocate the plants and fruits.

Is any wrong done to the bad or unjust man when he is despoiled of his goods?

spacerOBJECTION A bad and unjust man is the scum of the city and ruin of virtue, therefore it is not possible for wrong to be done to him. For all punishment is due to him. Besides, every wrong consists in harm to another, but no one harms a bad or unjust man by taking away his goods, because the goods of fortune are bad for the unjust man, therefore he who takes the goods of fortune from an unjust man takes evils from him: but he who takes evils from someone does not do him wrong: therefore wrong is not done to a bad and unjust man when he is despoiled of his goods of fortune.
spacerREPLY Although an unjust man be the scum of the city and the ruin of virtue, yet he suffers wrong when his fortunes are taken away by force. For although he has acquired his goods unjustly, yet the republic, which is always ruled by the right and voice of the law, should do nothing unjustly or against the law. When you say that these goods of fortune are bad, I reply that they are so only by reason of the abuse that has made them bad: besides, they are not to be snatched from the bad by force but to be removed by right and equity. For as prudent doctors remove foods gradually and step by step from those laboring under a putrid fever or a fever full of humors and prescribe a more slender diet of victuals, so do wise magistrates diminish the rivers of gold, as they say, for unjust men who abound in riches, not by force, but by right, not in one blow but gradually and successively, and give them water to drink in place of nectar so as to strip away their dropsical thirst for riches. Thus perhaps they will become just from unjust, and this indeed is what the magistrate should most of all look for in punishing any crime and outrage, which, if he has considered, he will be a doctor, not a tyrant, a good and not an unfair man. But, however, if when some humor or other is little swollen he gives hellebore to someone, he will kill and not heal his patients; the advice of the poet is here to be listened to: blue

Then is need of hellebore when swells the skin sick.

But today politicians follow a new maxim and give hellebore to drink not so much to the swollen and opulent but to the emaciated and the wretched and those in need of everything.

May the action of one virtue be opposed to another?

spacerOBJECTION The action of fortitude is not without anger (which is the sting of him who acts bravely), but the action of mildness lacks all anger, therefore one action of virtue is repugnant to another: besides an appetition or inclination for acting properly is necessary for someone to become good, but this inclination is without reason, yet the action of virtue is always conjoined to reason, therefore not only is the action of one virtue contrary to another but it seems that the action of one virtue is contrary to itself, when it consists and does not consist with reason.
spacerREPLY Anger in the action of a strong man does move as a sting and not as virtue, but it does not extinguish virtue, and thus the action of fortitude is not contrary to the action of mildness, because each wields the scepter of reason. To the second part of the argument I say that appetition or inclination for acting properly is not contrary to the action of virtue: for although the former occurs without reason, yet the latter is conjoined with reason, but the natural inclination yields to the command of reason and thus it is made to be possessed of reason by participation, as is the appetite itself, which is always being turned and deflected in the direction in which the reins of reason and virtue pull it.

Does virtue make people worse in any way?

spacerOBJECTION The property of virtue is praise, which indeed, when made more illustrious by the accession of a nobler virtue, renders mortals more insolent and worse no otherwise than does the smile of fortune; therefore virtue does make people in some way worse.
spacerREPLY Virtue is not a good either of fortune or of the body which someone can use or abuse. For virtue is never matter or efficient cause of evil: the more illustrious the virtue, therefore, or the louder the praise, the better the good man is made to be, not worse; for the applause of the people and the sounding air fill the ear but do not inflate the mind: but, if it please, I yield to you in this, that virtues may make people worse because the bare-toothed companion of virtue is envy, which always bites the virtuous and the aspirants of virtue.


Chapters iv and v
On continence and incontinence, and on savagery and the virtue opposed to the same.

HESE very brief arguments of what is later set out by the philosopher on the same things. It must be noted here that continence and incontinence are not taken for habits, but for passions moving to good or bad, but a likeness and relationship to virtue brings it about that virtue is talked of in this place; finally this reasoning proves that it is not a virtue because, in every action of virtue, reason and appetite, which lacks reason, work together, but in continence these too are very sharp adversaries of each other; indeed, if reason impels to what is honorable, appetite, striving against it, entices toward a provocative and treacherous pleasure. Continence can therefore be defined as a very good passion of the spirit, endowed with which we are moved to a chaste integrity and innocence of life, even though that serpent appetite lays wait for us with the bait and hook of pleasure. The final thing which arises in this chapter is the explication of grades in good and evil. Here the passion, here continence, is called good; virtue better; heroic virtue, the felicity of self, best. Here incontinence is called bad; vice worse; savagery worst of all.
spacer 2. But the next chapter now follows in which savagery is dealt with. What need of more? Savagery is as the madness of Hercules, the Fury’s torch, the monster and portent of extreme depravity. It has no measure, but surpasses human force above all measure. Hence it is defined (so to say) as viciousness itself, which binds every vice with uncleanness, baseness, and malice. If anyone, therefore, is infected with this vice, we no longer call him a man but an unmanageable beast. But he is to be called divine who has the contrary virtue. For it is divine virtue and virtue most worthy of God – if there were any virtue in God, but there is no virtue in God, because God (as the philosopher here teaches) is better than every virtue, which indeed would not be the case if virtue adhered to him, because if God be said to be good by inherent virtue, virtue would be concluded to be better that God, which is plainly false and absurd, as here Aristotle concludes. The reason is that, as he teaches in the Metaphysics, no accident or cause of change can exist in God; whatever he is is his essence, is his subsistence, and virtue in God is God himself. But what name finally does this virtue have which here is called divine par excellence? Certainly it has no name: no other account does the philosopher give than that it is a divine virtue which conquers human force in its heroic excellence as savagery does in malice. But what these times are! in which so many beasts and furies live among the nations everywhere but of gods or saints there appear almost none: I will, in hushed voice, intensify what I said: there appear none. I will add an emphatic voice: there appear absolutely none, or if there are any gods they are gods of earth and not of heaven.

Do reason and appetite fight in the actions of continence?

spacerOB JECTION Continence is a passion that lays low the attack of pleasure which it always holds captive: therefore reason and appetite do not fight in those actions.
spacer REPLY Although continence leads pleasure, appetite’s most sweet food, captive in triumph, yet the continent man feels appetite or concupiscence as a perpetual prick and holds it as a mortal enemy.

Do goods and bads differ by a threefold degree of comparison?

spacerOBJECTION Nothing is better than the good, as the philosopher teaches in the Ethics, therefore nothing is worse than the bad, and accordingly Aristotle does not rightly teach here that goods and bads differ by a threefold degree of comparison.
spacerREPLY The place in Aristotle where he says that nothing is better than the good is to be understood of the essence of good, which is one and simple, not of its existence, which has a grade of comparison.

Is savagery a vice surpassing the human condition?

spacerOBJECTION Savagery is in man, therefore it does not surpass the human condition: the antecedent is in the text, where he proves that through this vice men are transformed into beasts.
spacerREPLY Aristotle says that savagery surpasses the human condition because it makes a man so different from himself that the savage is called rather a monstrous brute than a man; for savagery is as it were the exchange of a man into a brute.

Is there virtue in God?

spacerOBJECTION Praise, honor, and virtue are attributed to God: therefore there seems to be virtue in God.
spacerREPLY This argument is solved above, namely that virtue is not an accident in God. For in God there is no accident, for thus there would be change in God which is absurd: for God is not said to be good by a supervening virtue, but by his very essence. For virtue in God is God.


Chapter vi
On continence and incontinence.

HE philosopher is now about to talk of continence and incontinence and first he discusses and refutes the doctrines of others that are repugnant to truth so that thereby the truth of the matter might more shine forth. If you ask in this place why Aristotle again discusses continence and incontinence, it is either because before he only touched on them by the way, or because he defines the same things here in another sense than elsewhere, or because a richer consideration of each renders people more holy. But that I may come to the matter itself. First, Aristotle here refutes Socrates who denied altogether that incontinence existed. Then he disputes the opinions of those who taught that the incontinent act without knowledge of the evil that they are doing. Third, he acts against those who thought that the incontinent are not moved by sharper stimuli of desires and pleasures than the temperate. Fourth, he is hostile to those who dreamt that incontinence was praiseworthy. Fifth, he proves against them that continence and incontinence are not properly concerned with the objects of the other virtues. Sixth, he demonstrates against several that incontinence in pleasures of the body is more to be blamed than incontinence that is concerned with any other object of the spirit. Seventh, he resolves the doubt of certain people whether continence is nothing other than endurance and incontinence nothing other than softness. Eighth, he shows manifestly to those who are intent on the opposite, that the intemperate and the incontinent are not the same, although each of the two is concerned with pleasures of the body. Ninth, he concludes that the intemperate is cured with more difficulty than the incontinent, although very many follow the opposite judgment and opinion. Tenth, and finally, he accuses of hallucinating those who concede to the incontinent not merely knowledge of the evil that they are doing but also prudence for acting well. All these doubts, I say, the philosopher poses and resolves in the text; but so that right use might be had of all of them, I will more accurately treat of them in order singly after the manner of those who dispute in academic locales.

is better to be ignorant of incontinence than to define it?

spacerOBJECTION Soft speech sometimes breaks the spirit of the strong and wise, therefore it is dangerous to define that harlot, to wit incontinence, lest she entice to evil by her lascivious eyes, breasts, words. For a sweet evil when known adds sharpness to flavor and taste, nay more, it urges on and carries away to evil. For evil seen and known fascinated our first parents, infected their nature, left behind the sting of evil.
spacerREPLY The feminizing of the spirit does not get its birth from knowledge of evil but from the knowledge of a will ready for evil; therefore incontinence is defined by the philosopher and more accurately treated of so that the infinite and multiple evil of it might be avoided. For a known evil, as is in the proverb, is more easily avoided; besides, lest a double offense happen in human life (the one from gross ignorance, which increases sin, the second from incontinence itself, which no less depraves man when not known than when known), Aristotle rightly uncovers and defines this harlot, so that she might do less harm when defined than when deceitfully hidden.

Can incontinence really be said to exist?

spacerOBJECTION Socrates, wise thanks to the oracle, denied that it existed, as is in the text, therefore Aristotle, lesser in age and wisdom, should not be affirming it. The syllogism of Socrates whereby he confirms this can be thus: for there is no one who loves evils and does them knowing the same to be evil; but the incontinent chooses evils and acts knowing them to be evil; therefore no one is incontinent.
spacerREPLY It does not belong to a wise man to doubt what is evident, but it is everywhere too evident that the incontinent exist. The reasoning of Socrates is fallacious, and the minor proposition in it is false, because the incontinent cannot truly be prudent and wise, as we proved before.

Does the incontinent have any science of the evil intended, and, if he does, is that science true science or opinion?

spacerOBJECTION Science (of all notions that are in the spirit) is the most certain, which cannot be by force turned to its opposite; therefore the incontinent does not have science, since he is seized by force and impetus of appetite against his awareness; it seems, therefore, to be opinion doubtful and ambiguous rather than indubitable and certain that the incontinent has.
spacerREPLY If it was science formed in habit and act, the antecedent of this enthymeme would be true, but the science of the incontinent is weak, blind, under the veil of furious pleasure, and carried to insanity by the chariot of raging appetite; but yet this science is not merely wavering and fickle opinion; for then the incontinent would deserve pardon; therefore it is certain knowledge of the intended evil, but dulled by the evil feeling of pleasure; it is certain if you look at fighting reason, uncertain if at conquering appetite.

Does the temperate man feel less force and impetus of desire than the incontinent one?

spacer OBJECTION Everyone temperate is continent, as Aristotle teaches, therefore the temperate does not feel less force and impetus of desire; the reason holds, because something the same does not differ from itself.
spacerREPLY Everyone temperate is continent, but not conversely; for the continent, besides the desires of taste and touch, has also all the pleasures of the senses in some way as his objects; therefore he sustains a greater force and impetus of treacherous pleasures than the other.

Is the incontinent ever deserving of praise?

spacerOBJECTION The incontinent, mocked sometimes by fallacious and sophistical reason, believes that things that are good are bad, whom, thus persuaded, raging appetite drags off to the opposite of them; and if the incontinent will have done these things that are really good, he will deserve praise, because he has done the work of virtue; therefore the incontinent is sometimes worthy of praise.
spacerREPLY Epicurus perhaps invented this argument in the text against the philosopher and philosophy. For only Epicurus sought his praises from the delights of Venus and pleasure; but let him learn this one thing, that he is not worthy of praise who does the work of virtue when Minerva is unwilling; wherefore, even if, deceived by sophism and driven by appetite, he does what is good, yet he did not do this good in a good way, he is therefore not good, nor worthy of praise.

Is science of hte intended evil totally lost when the incontinent follows his feeling?

spacerOBJECTION Passion of spirit, furious with deceitful pleasure, takes away knowledge of evil, therefore it does not remain when the incontinent conducts himself in depraved and shameful manner. The antecedent is evident, because appetite and pleasure generate in the spirit of the incontinent an ignorance opposite to the knowledge.
spacerREPLY These do not take away science of evil nor do they altogether induce the contrary habit; but, as the sleeping, who have science of good and evil, sometimes indeed do and suffer very terrible evils in sleep, being without, at that time, the use of the science which they have when awake, so the incontinent, caught as it were by sleep and drowsiness, do not let their knowledge of evil in but are without the use of science when they commit evil; they do not therefore lose the habit of science but the use of it.

Is the lapse of the incontinent more against nature than that of all other vices?

spacerOBJECTION The appetite for and act of procreating are natural to every animate thing, so that in this way it might be preserved in its species; blue but the lapse of the incontinent is nothing other than appetite for and act of procreating; therefore the lapse of the incontinent is natural and consequently not more against nature than of other vices; nay it is more with nature, because by procreating and multiplying it preserves nature and the city more.
spacerREPLY The act of procreating is natural, but the abuse of the same is frightful and an error and monster of nature; but the lapse of the incontinent is this monster, and something worse than this monster, for the incontinent sins not only against nature but also against the order of nature, against reason, against his own knowledge and judgment and conscience, against human society, against the law of civil life. Against nature, I say, because he destroys it; against the order of nature because he does not preserve its mode; against reason because he follows the snares of appetite; against knowledge because, knowing and prudent, he sins with impudence; against judgment and conscience because the judge of his life condemns him; against human society because he violates it; lastly against the law of civil life, because he both inflicts injury on another and gives an example of sinning to many. Therefore this monster is deformed, whose beginning is called blindness, whose movement is called presumption, whose end for the most part is called despair.

Can error and knowledge exist at once in the incontinent?

spacerOBJECTION Contraries cannot exist at the same time in the same subject; but error and knowledge are contraries; therefore they cannot exist at the same time in the incontinent.
spacerREPLY Although error and knowledge are contraries, yet they can exist in the same subject in different respects; thus in respect of mind and reason, science exists in the incontinent; in respect of appetite and will error exists in him. Or, if it please, it must be replied that knowledge and error are not true contraries; for error is only a lapse of the knower and not of the knowledge, to which alone is ignorance of its own force opposed.

Is the use of reason wholly taken away in an act of pleasure?

spacerOBJECTION Of the incontinent this is said: I see the better; I follow the worse; but the incontinent cannot see the better if the use of reason is wholly taken away; therefore in the act of pleasure all use of reason is not taken away.
spacerREPLY The use of reason is not only to see the better but to follow the better when seen. Why say more? The condition of the incontinent and the drunkard are very similar; for as in drunkards, when they are covered and buried in wine, reason is impeded, but when passion has in the meantime become quiet and subsided, it returns to action and use, so when the flame of libidinous pleasure has been extinguished, the incontinent comes to his former state of mind and to right judgment of reason. Besides, herein does the incontinent sin in a very ugly and serious way, because he, a fisherman, does not notice the bite, and does not (with the doctor) feel his own dangerous errors.

Does incontinence eventually make men mad?

spacerOBJECTION Once the cloud of passion is removed and dissipated, as the philosopher here teaches, he returns to right use of reason; therefore incontinence does make men mad.
spacerREPLY The incontinent returns to the use of reason as the drunk to sobriety, but he relapses; and as relapse in a disease brings on a graver crisis, so a return to vomit generates madness in this crime. The reason is that that pestilential fever (I mean incontinence) always sends the putrid vapors of lust upwards into the head and chest; from hence the incontinent, tossed by a thousand passions as by the waves, is at length made mad. I pass over here the cares, griefs, sleepless nights, furies of Venus, in which infinite numbers pine away. But let the Sardanapaluses return to the use and helm of reason; otherwise earth does not cover their crimes (as it does the mistakes of doctors), the graves do not cover them, whereon, if not written down yet nevertheless heard, will be this epitaph:


Are the incontinent and the soft man the same?

spacerOBJECTION Incontinence is nothing other than softness; therefore the incontinent and soft man are the same. The antecedent is proved because incontinence is an unrestrained motion of spirit for illicit pleasures, which definition is consistent with softness. The reason holds from the union of the premises, because if incontinence is softness the incontinent will necessarily be soft.


Softness is taken in two ways:

Either for motion of spirit for illicit pleasures, and in this way it does not differ in its being from incontinence..
Or for an impatience of labors and troubles, and in this way it does differ. It follows therefore that the incontinent and soft man are not the same. I admit, however, that sometimes the name ‘softness’ is taken for that frightful and not to be named crime against nature, against the order of nature, against sex, from which the wise instinct in brute animals wholly shrinks back, while the blind, soft, and unjust man often does not blush to commit it. St. Thomas says that the incontinent and the soft man agree in this, that each chooses illicit pleasures, but they differ because the incontinent concerns pleasures while the soft man is about the sadness that arises from the lack or loss of pleasures; and again, because pleasures more strongly move the incontinent by drawing him to evil than the privation or lack of pleasure draws the soft man from what is good; and lastly, because the incontinent is more properly said to be conquered and overcome when fighting with his reason against his passions; the soft man is more said to be lacking, because he yields without any effort to an enticing pleasure.

10. Are the soft man and the delicate man the same?

spacerOBJECTION The delicate man is defined in the Ethics as he who lives softly and effeminately; therefore the soft and delicate man are the same.
spacerREPLY They differ only according to the more and less, as they say. For the soft man is he who incontinently flees from every sadness and pain; but the delicate man is he who flees from the sadness and trouble of labors, as is evident in him who drags his cloak behind him in the dust and mud, because it seems more troublesome to him to wrap it or carry it on his shoulders. Here I accuse those stupid parents who strain to educate their children so softly and so delicately that they scarcely allow them to crawl forth and go out into the air, and make them impatient of all pains; nay I accuse those more who are so lost and maddened with blind emotion of spirit for their children that they offer them the breasts of illicit pleasure to squeeze and permit them to play and roll with harlots. Hence they become not only delicate but soft and incontinent.

11. Is the incontinent man more easily cured than the intemperate man?

spacerOBJECTION The incontinent sinks himself in all the pleasures of the individual senses; but the intemperate man deals only with the pleasures of taste and touch, as was proved before; therefore the intemperate man is more easily cured than the incontinent; although Aristotle defends the opposite of this in the text.
spacerREPLY The intemperate man labors under a graver illness than the incontinent because he does not, like the incontinent, feel his illness. For although reason is in both of them it is not however in them in the same way if you regard the cure of their illness. Indeed in the incontinent reason can be the medicine; because, as we just taught, he fights against his pleasures, his appetite, his cupidity, even though while fighting he is overcome by the impetus and snares of pleasure. In addition, in the intemperate, reason cannot be the medicine because it is caught and captive and is wholly a worker of evil. Besides, reason in the incontinent has its eyes open and sees its evil although it follows the worse; but reason in the intemperate is blind and, not seeing the evil, concludes that it is good; wherefore the intemperate is cured with more difficulty than the incontinent. Many add this, that the intemperate is evil by habit but the incontinent only by emotion; but a habit is cured with more difficulty than an emotion, because it drives its roots deeper.

12. The question is whether the incontinent is more easily returned to a sane mind than the intemperate?

spacerOBJECTION Where battle is greater, there victory is harder; but there is greater battle of reason with pleasure in the incontinent than in the intemperate, as you teach; therefore victory is harder and so cure is harder. The reason holds, because in this battle the incontinent sustains graver wounds inflicted than the intemperate, since the intemperate does not wage war at all.
REPLY The philosopher contends that the incontinent can more easily be returned. The reason is that he has his reason both seeing the evil and fighting with the evil, and he allows the same in some way to conquer, if it can. But the intemperate blinds this reason with the veil of his malice, and does not permit it to see and fight back, and, traitor to himself, subjects his intellect and will to the tyrant of appetite and pleasure, and thus by not feeling his illness he gives it birth in the manner of one raving without any hope. But each is bad; each is a monster; but when comparison is made, the wound can be more easily cured and healed in this one than the other.

Does appetite wounded with concupiscence immediately carry off the incontinent to the pursuit of evil?

spacerOBJECTION It does not seem that wounded appetite is victorious at once; because the reason and knowledge of the incontinent are still alive and knit syllogisms together as it were against the snares and impetus of pleasure.
spacerREPLY As soon as appetite apprehends something delectable, it at once carries of the pliant incontinent man; and although the reason and knowledge of the incontinent may dispute against pleasures, yet appetite, neither hearing nor following the syllogisms of reason, is said to snatch to evil the incontinent who is prone to evil. For reason, conquered as it were by the furor within him, softened by the nectar of pleasure, is made for the time captive, is led to evil asleep, drunk, blind.

13. Is one complexion [of body] more subject to the motions of incontinence than another?

spacerOBJECTION Pleasure (that Circe of human nature), as the philosopher teaches, agrees with everyone equally. For it is an evil quality that is nourished with us in our cradles. Besides, the appetite of procreating is similarly present in everyone by nature; therefore the flames of each, that is the motions of incontinence, do not stimulate this complexion more than that.
spacerREPLY Two species are assigned to incontinence: one indeed anticipates and precedes judgment and reason and bursts forth suddenly; as, when a beautiful woman is noticed by someone, at once he is affected by passion for her and is urged on to evil; but the second is as it were a certain weakness in resisting evil, which often arises, not without reason fighting back and calling the spirit back to good. The first of these, as the philosopher teaches in the text, happens very often in the choleric, the full-blooded, the intelligent. But the latter agrees more with the cold and the melancholic, who have time for deliberating and of fortifying themselves against the snares and impetus of pleasure. The philosopher concludes therefore that these are more to be blamed than those, because these are in a way fortified in advance because of the coldness of their nature; those, however, because of the quickness of their spirits, and, that I may so speak, because of the vivacity of their complexion, are quickly caught and captured.

14. Is temperance better than continence?

spacerOBJECTION Intemperance is more difficult to cure and is a worse affection than incontinence; therefore, contrariwise, temperance is not better than continence.
spacerREPLY Continence is considered in two ways; either for an affection subject to the command of reason, resisting the seductions of pleasure, and in this way it is not better than temperance, for its affection is not better than virtue; or for a virtuous habit that not only opposes pleasures but breaks their impetus, and thus it is a better and holier virtue, because it makes us chaste and holy.

Is he more continent who represses anger than pleasure?

spacerOBJECTION He is to be held to be stronger who repulses dangers that have arisen suddenly than he who repulses foreseen wounds; so, by similarity, he is to be held to be more continent who represses the sudden affection of anger than he who represses pleasure that, as they say, enters with slow foot.
spacerREPLY Pleasure is an inborn traitor; but anger is a sudden affection that has sprung up; but he is not more continent who conquers anger than he who conquers pleasure. The reason is that anger is a calmer and more open enemy of nature than pleasure, because it is a slow poison that creeps slowly but without sense into the breast. Therefore the similitude is not valid in this argument, because an open enemy is more quickly conquered than an insidious one.

15. Is lust poured out on beasts incontinence?

spacerOBJECTION This horrendous deed exceeds the limit of vice; therefore it should not be called incontinence. The antecedent is proved, because not only reason but nature itself is stupefied by this deed, and as a sign of the stupefaction, it produces for the most part a prodigious monster, by which astonished everyone marvels at and detests the deed. The argument holds because incontinence is a vice if it is made firm by custom.
spacerREPLY You rightly dispute indeed who prove that lust not to be a vice and yet conclude it to be a horrendous monster of vices and blindness. I reply to your reason, however, and say that that lust is incontinence, because it is borne to illicit and filthy pleasures by the impetus of passion. But I will conclude with you that it is a thing horrendous to speak of and to do, and that they are monsters of men who rear that monstrosity against God, against nature, against reason, knowledge, conscience. But, terrified by these monsters, I spring back and I say that scarcely less monstrous are those who drag off virgins by force to lust and pleasure, or who spurt their incestuous froth into mothers, sisters, kindred women and relations, not to speak of those who against the law of God and nature enter upon marriages with them. For what else is this than either to return to the womb that conceived us or to despise God who forbade it?


Chapter vii
On pleasure.

INCE pleasure is the matter and field wherein move continence and the other affections of spirit, most opportunely is it now treated of. For pleasure is a sweet passion of nature which, when subject to the command of reason, is called the handmaid of virtue and the muse (that I may so speak) or love-muse of happiness, but, with the reins relaxed and set free, the harlot and tinder of all evils. It is wine if you drink it in moderation but poison if you let it dominate. What need of more? Pleasure is an inborn affection of spirit whereby man is moved and urged on by delight to act well or badly; or if you please, pleasure is a delightful motion and pulse as it were of the soul, whereby man is moved to pursuit of the agreeable good and to flight from what is or seems to be sad and disagreeable.
spacer2. If you wish to define it physically it is nothing other indeed than a dilation of heart and vital spirits caused by joy conceived in some true or apparent good, whether in use of the same as present or by hope of it as future. These definitions of pleasure are proper to and regard man alone; but taken generally pleasure is defined so as to be an instinct or tune of nature whereby all things are moved to generation of a similar or to conservation of self. Hence it is that certain philosophers (whom Aristotle refutes first in this chapter) have said that pleasure is nothing other than the coming to be and generation of things – not that it is the coming to be of things but because without an occult quality that is equivalent to pleasure nothing is led on to coming to be.
spacer 3. Delight and pleasure differ as cause and effect. For delight is either an immanent or transient act of pleasure. Both need to be treated of, as the philosopher teaches in this place, because the virtues (of which we are speaking) turn about pleasure and pain, and because some philosophers have dreamed that pleasure itself is happiness itself, and finally because they wished there to be no discussion about pleasure supposing the same not to be the companion of the virtues and good human acts but to repose always in the bad. But, so that their error may be refuted at the beginning, pleasure must be divided into a universal and individual motion of nature. Universal pleasure is either infinite and essential to the first cause, or finite in the same cause’s effects. Particular pleasure is either external or internal: internal as a calm motion and instinct whereby any natural thing is moved to its own well being; external as a delightful affection whereby it is, with Minerva’s consent, drawn, like iron to a magnet, to some external object as to a friend and ally of nature. Thus by the former motion of pleasure a thing is allured to the form that is the term of its perfection; by the latter motion a thing is allured to some place or end or object that is the term of conservation and delight. Again this particular pleasure is divided into sensitive pleasure, as they say, and intellective. The former is of the body and common to us with the beasts; the latter is proper to the mind and virtue. Hence finally emerges that division of pleasure into good and bad, and also into better, best, worse, and worst, according to grade of comparison. For there is, as is taught in the text, some pleasure that is best, and the same either joined together with its good, as that which follows human felicity, or separate, as that which is perceived in contemplation of the first cause. Thus the human mind, center of the first essence, has in itself, as in a point united, infinite lines of perennial pleasure drawn from an infinite circumference; blessed indeed is that mind which seizes these metaphysical lines and by the right lines of the virtues directs its life to this cause. But so that everything might be clear from the text, the fact that there is universal pleasure is manifest, for thus are the words of the philosopher: because just as good is in all the categories, so is pleasure, the attendant itself of good; nay also, as good and one transcend them all, so there is a certain highest pleasure which follows the good and the one.
spacerspacer 4. That, finally, there is a particular pleasure, as in our division before, is clear also from hence, because Aristotle says in open words that there are diverse species of pleasure, and he distinguishes the same by their subjects, their objects, and their categories. Lastly in scattered fashion he relates them in accord with the same distinctions of pleasures which we, for the sake of clarity, have tried to collect into one table; which thing we by this the more willingly did so that the use of this teaching might be destined for the fruit of human life, which however is a thing difficult to do in this place for beginners, because in this chapter the philosopher is wholly engaged in the refutation of errors about pleasure, and indeed in that refutation, as is his wont, he speaks obscure oracles and hidden mysteries. Lest, therefore, sophistic errors, covered by the cloak and veil of truth, thrust onto the young a sordid for an honest pleasure, a harlot for a virgin, I have thought it worth the pains to do the very thing which I did, so that, having handed on and treated the distinction of pleasure, there might be accurate cognition of true pleasure from false, chaste pleasure from unjust; otherwise there is surely a danger lest the young (who are least suited as hearers of moral philosophy) may choose the sweet poison of ugly pleasure rather than the preventive medicine or antidote of most chaste virtue.
spacer 5. For the rest, so that you might understand in sum the individual things which are handled by Aristotle in this chapter and in what order they are divided up, it must be observed first that he refutes the opinion of those who define pleasure as coming to be or generation; next he teaches that those err who said that no pleasure exists among the good; from hence he no less shows that they are deceived who taught that pleasure was for this reason bad, that it agreed with bad men and with the beasts themselves, as if in truth the same pleasure agrees with the good and the bad; afterwards he solves the objections of those who considered no pleasure to be best; lastly he concludes that they are mad and raving who dreamed that pleasure is an impediment to the acts of the virtues. Their arguments are sophisms and of almost no use; therefore I omit them and will come to things more necessary; by the by, however, and cursorily I will say this, that pleasure is not generation, because there is no natural motion from not being to being; second, that it is plain there is some pleasure in the good, because it follows the actions of virtue; to the third objection I reply that the argument does not hold, because the same pleasure does not agree with the good and the bad but differs in kind; fourth, it is manifest that some pleasure is best, because the blessed cannot life without pleasure; lastly, since good pleasure is an aid to serious action, it is foolishly objected that it is an impediment. This is the sum of the things that are dealt with in this chapter; now, if any doubts occur, I will resolve them.

6. Is pleasure a being per se?

spacerOBJECTION Pleasure is in every category, as the philosopher here teaches; therefore it is substance; and consequently it is a being per se.
spacerREPLY Pleasure is in every category, but per se it is in none except quality as it is specially taken for passion of spirit or body; pleasure is therefore a being per se in quality, but in no sense is it a subsistent per se being as is substance, to which it is reduced as accident to subject and as effect to cause.

7. Can pleasure be defined? And is it well defined?

spacerOBJECTION Pleasure is a thing equivocal; therefore it cannot be defined. The antecedent is proved because, as Aristotle says here, it is in every category.
spacerREPLY Pleasure is taken either confusedly, and thus it is equivocal; or distinctly, and thus it can be defined as a thing univocal in this way, that it be a delightful passion of a thing, consequent upon action, not impeded, through which an active power is joined to its object, in which it delights.
spacerOBJECTION The action of a young man in disposition to virtue is not impeded so as to prevent the will, which is an active power, being joined to its object, namely virtue; but pleasure does not always follow this action; therefore pleasure is not rightly defined. That the action is not impeded is proved because it is an action of will which, according to the philosophers, is free. But that pleasure does not follow it is also proved because the appetite mightily resists and brings dislike with it.
spacerREPLY An action in disposition to virtue is not simply impeded, as you say, wherefore delight rather than pain follows it. The reason is that although the appetite resists strongly, nevertheless the will and reason repel its impetus with much more strongly, whence victory, whence even delight, is born.

8. Is pleasure in every being?

spacerOBJECTION Pain is a being; but pleasure is not in pain; therefore pleasure is not in every being.
spacerREPLY When it is said that pleasure is in every being, it is understood with respect to the existence and good existence of things, not to the death and non existence of things; but pain or sadness is the privation of pleasure. Or if it please, I say that as everything desires its own good, evil not excepted because it desires the conservation of itself, that is, its good, so everything desires its own joy, pain not excepted which has its own good and joy. For if being and good are convertible, and pleasure itself is a perpetual and individual companion of good, it necessarily follows that pleasure is in every being per se, but not in the privation of being. But notice must be taken here that as appetite in desiring good is in this place taken universally so is pleasure in quickly pursuing good. For as there is natural appetite in all things (for all things desire their own good), so there is natural pleasure in every being, whereby this appetite is sharpened for pursuing good.

Is any pleasure to be chosen for itself?

spacerOBJECTION Nothing is to be chosen for itself except virtue, as Aristotle teaches in the books of the Ethics and the Topics; but pleasure is not virtue; therefore it is not to be chosen for itself.
spacerREPLY Neither in the Ethics nor in the Topics does he refer choice per se back to virtue alone but to the good of the spirit; but some pleasure, as that which follows virtue and beatitude, is the good of the spirit; wherefore some pleasure is to be chosen for itself. Others reply that the pleasure of the mind, by respect to the pleasure which is perceived by the senses, is to be chosen for itself; in the text, however, Aristotle concludes that some pleasure is best for itself and to be chosen for itself.

9. Is sensitive pleasure more perceived from the lack than from the use of good?

spacerOBJECTION On the use and act of pleasure sadness for the most part follows, as Aristotle has it in the book of Problems (where he asks why every animal is sad after coitus), therefore pleasure is known more from the lack than from the use. Besides there is that old idea that we perceive the use of things more when we are missing them than when we are enjoying them; and, lest I be tiresome in this matter, this at any rate is agreed, that more pleasing far is liberty to the bound, health to the ill, food to the hungry, pleasure to the wretched than to those who do not experience these evils. Therefore pleasure is perceived more from the lack than from the use.
spacerREPLY If you understand by being more perceived being more known in some way, we concede that all this that you object is true; but in this place we understand by being more perceived more felt, since to be sure the question is posed only about sensitive pleasure, which pleasure indeed has in use and act no sadness or pain joined with it; but pleasure that is located in lack is full of hope, fear, and pain, and has more of pain than of pleasure; drink therefore is more pleasing to a thirsty man, not because of the lack, which generates pain, but because of the present use, which a man so parched perceives; the same is to be said of the other examples which are adduced.

10. Are the melancholic most given to pleasure?

spacerOBJECTION The melancholic are very short lived and the most weak, as the philosopher teaches in his book On Length and Shortness of Life; therefore they are not given most of all to pleasure. Besides, in the previous chapter the philosopher called the melancholic cold and less incontinent.
spacerREPLY The melancholic are like the earth, and are drawn with slow foot toward pleasure; but once drawn and captured by the allurements of pleasure they feel the caught flame for a very long time and hold always to the grave the form of Venus impressed on them. Oh Sophocles, your reputation is tarnished, because you have lived, an old man, a philosopher, a dead man, in the delights of Venus, a girl was on your knee, a bird of ill omen on your grave! blue Let me proceed. The melancholic are indeed weak, but the more devoted by that fact to pleasure, both because their imagination is corrupted and because the enemy is more easily victorious when he has a languid weakness fighting back, or consenting rather. That the melancholic are said to be colder and less incontinent, this is said with respect to the first motion toward pleasure, not with respect to the custom whereby the melancholic become, of all men in every crime, especially in luxury of life, the most dissolute. But they are the most talented and most zealous of men if they have given themselves to religion and piety. Hence the saying: gods or demons are the melancholic.

11. Is pleasure a coming to be?

spacerOBJECTION Pleasure is the first delightful act of nature; but this is coming to be; therefore pleasure is a coming to be. The major premise is clear, because nothing in the constitution of things precedes the pleasure of acting. The minor premise is proved because if this action is not a coming to be, nothing is, because of the fact that this is what nature first intends.
spacerREPLY The major is false; for pleasure is not an action but a quality and cause that is coadjutant to the thing acting. The minor is also not true, because coming to be is not properly action; this is abundantly proved with examples in the text drawn from the senses and the intellect. For the pleasure that is born of the vision of a beautiful thing, or of the hearing of a sweet harmony, is not a coming to be, because it is not generated from need; similar things must be said of the other examples which are adduced by Aristotle.

Is pleasure a good?

spacerOBJECTION Pleasure consorts with bad men and wild beasts; therefore pleasure is not good. The reason holds because good has no affinity, no fellowship, with evil.
spacerREPLY The argument in the text is a fallacy from what is so in a certain respect to what is so simply, as they say; for it does not follow that because pleasure consorts with bad men and wild beasts therefore no pleasure consorts with the good; since indeed there is good pleasure and bad, as is shown in the text by many examples from artisans and the arts.

spacer12. Is pleasure an impediment to acts of virtue?

spacerOBJECTION Pleasure calls the spirit away from virtue, as in the seventh Book of the Ethics; therefore it is an impediment to acts of virtue.
spacerREPLY Bad or foul pleasure is an impediment to acts of virtue; but honest and moderate pleasure is a coadjutant cause, as we showed before, because it moves, it incites, it impels a man to the habit of good actions.

Is pain simply and always contrary to pleasure?

spacerOBJECTION Pain is sometimes cause of pleasure; therefore it is not always contrary to pleasure. The antecedent is proved, because just and patient men sometimes rejoice amidst torments. For to just and good men death itself is sport.
spacerREPLY I reply that the patience, justice, conscience of a zealous man is most strong, like a wall, against all the assaults and tempests of tyrants, but this does not prove that pain is not contrary to pleasure. For although by his force of mind and confidence in his cause the patient man does not perhaps feel the wounds of pain, yet is pain simply contrary to pleasure with respect to that part in which each is; but if you divide the subject and you put pleasure in the mind of him as he contemplates but pain in the appetite of the body as it suffers, this your argument is a treacherous one from things well divided to a thing badly united, because you are not regarding the same part of the subject wherein you posit the pain and the pleasure.

13. An sit voluptas in Deo?

spacerOBJECTION Pleasure is an accident; therefore it is not in God; for, according to the philosopher, there is no accident in God.
spacerREPLY Pleasure divine not human is in God, and the same is not an accident but God self-subsistent. Oh sweet pleasure! What shall I add? I shall add nothing, because nothing can be added to so great pleasure.


Chapter viii
On good fortune.

ESIDES pleasure of the mind and of virtue, of which we have just spoken, certain other goods are required for felicity, namely the ornaments of fortune: I say ornaments because they are not principles but they do clothe and much adorn the happy man; they regard of course the existence and not the essence of felicity. Since therefore this discussion is about felicity, it must be about good fortune, both because it adorns felicity and because it makes the happy man fortunate. And so that all this might be done in order, the philosopher first asks what fortune is, whether it is nature itself or the human mind or the providence of God. He denies that it is nature because it is uncertain; he denies that it is the human mind because it is not subject to the command of reason; he denies that it is the providence of God because it is plainly unstable and often unjust. But God (to use the words of the philosopher) is worthy of all honor, both because he is lord of everything which is contained in the ambit of the world, and because he distributes to each what each is worthy of according to his merit, namely rewards to the good and punishments to the bad; but blind fortune very often does the contrary, so fortune is not the care or providence of God.
spacer 2. What then is it? Certainly it is one of these, as Aristotle says, namely nature, not however that absolute nature which is the principle of motion and rest and always acts for a definite end, but a certain hidden force without reason that escapes those who have eyes and are wise, and reigns among the blind and the less prudent. Hence what is said in the text, that fortune is very rare where reason, prudence, and providence are victors. That it is a certain force of nature the philosopher shows because it is in the sorts of things which are not lodged in our power and which happen to us rarely and contrary to expectation: as, digging in the ground, if one meets with a serpent one is wretched and if with gold fortunate; if you consider the motion of the digger, it is called a force of nature but if the event, fortune itself. Nature gave the motion, fortune the result. But if you look carefully, neither is without the force of nature’s working. For nature is the per se cause and does the work; but fortune is the per accidens cause and does nothing. To those who do not know causes this nothing is something; but to the wise the something seems most plainly to be nothing. Nature then is not fortune per se but can, in a certain way and part, be called fortune, but most of all then when the causes of contingent things are unknown. For when the causes are hidden, then we say that the works of nature are the events of fortune. But more on this in the Physics, if God should indulge me life, and the world, against expectation, give me the resources, so that I myself may be fortunate in publishing them. blue But, as I am dealing now with fortune, I jest with my own fortune and case, my name of Case.
spacer3. There are many examples of good fortune in the text of Aristotle, which I pass over as being sufficiently known and evident, and I come to solving the problems and doubts which are elicited by the words of Aristotle.

4.Is ignorance the cause of fortune?

spacerOBJECTION Fortune is defined in the text with the name of nature, therefore ignorance of that is not its cause. The reason holds, because ignorance is uncertain and cannot be conjoined with the certain acting of nature. Besides ignorance is a privation, therefore it is per se the cause of nothing. The argument holds because privation is a non-being, which cannot be a cause, for nothing comes to be from non-being.
spacerREPLY By its own force fortune is a being only per accidens: thus it does not have an absolute but an accidental cause, namely ignorance. But in fortune two things are considered, the incertitude of the thing and the contingent thing itself. If you look at the incertitude, ignorance is the cause; if you consider the contingent thing or event, it is said to be a certain occult force of nature.

5. Is fortune repugnant to divine providence?

spacerOBJECTION Aristotle in the text most openly opposes fortune to divine providence, since he calls the latter certain, necessary, and just, but the former contingent and unfair; therefore the one opposes the other.
spacerREPLY You too little notice and observe the meaning of the philosopher, who opposes the two only as regards us and in respect of our ignorance, with respect to which (since it does not perceive the causes, forces, and motions of everything) many things happen contrary to expectation, and the same seem to be marvelous and are called fortuitous; besides to God (as he here splendidly and wisely teaches) all things are present, all things certain, all things searched out, therefore are all things done by his providence. As for what the philosopher says in the text, that God is not the author and cause of contingent things but fortune is, and that he does not have any care at all of the bad, whom fortune most of all favors, that is to be understood in exactly the same way as we said, namely that he is not cause and does not have care as regards our ignorance of the cause and care. But that God, according to Aristotle, is the cause of all things, these words in the text manifestly teach: God, he says, is lord of all things which are in the ambit of the world. That he has care of the bad, this is limpidly clear when he says that nothing can be done, nothing can happen, without divine providence. But, lastly, as for what he says in this place that God does not have care of the bad, that is to be understood (if you wish to consider the text thoroughly) as that he does not have care in this respect, that he give the goods of fortune to the same for their wicked deeds and their criminal life; in this way, he says, God would be held to be unfair and unjust: but, he says, from God all unfairness and all injustice is utterly foreign.

6. Does felicity have any traffic with fortune?

spacerOBJECTION Where wisdom prevails there fortune holds no place: but in felicity wisdom prevails: therefore in felicity fortune holds no place. The major and minor are in Aristotle.
spacerREPLY The happy man is said in this place to use fortune, not as mistress, but as the captive and servant of his own actions, and that, not as regards his essence and internal habit but as regards his existence and external adornment: thus although the happy man be wise yet can he have some traffic with fortune; not so as to be drawn to the uncertain event of things but so that, with fortune herself serving him, he become more adorned: for the happy man allows of a smiling fortune but scorns an insolent one.

7. Does good fortunem ore become the wise than the foolish?

spacerOBJECTION The wise are said to be truly fortunate, the foolish to be mindless and disreputable: therefore fortune more becomes the wise than the foolish.
spacerREPLY There is the old saying: fortune favors the fool. blue The reason is the definition itself of good fortune, which is here conveyed by Aristotle in the text. Good fortune, he says, is in a way nature without reason, that is (if you interpret it) a cause without reason, varying, inconstant, blind, which brings the one-eyed and the blind, that is the foolish and ignorant, her friends, to wealth, dignities, and honors; the learned, however, the just, and the wise she always repulses as enemies, except she be as it were captured in battle, and compelled for a time to serve their use, but thus captured she remains insolent, faithless, and impudent, until she return from them to her friends. As for what you urge in the argument, that the wise are truly fortunate, it is true in this sense that they are fortunate, either because they use good fortune correctly or because they readily despise adverse fortune: but the learned, just, and wise are rarely fortunate in the first way. The reason is that they rely on divine providence and not on fortune.

8. Are all the uncertain actions of nature said to be fortuitous?

spacerOBJECTION All the uncertain actions of nature are contrary to the intention of nature, therefore they are fortuitous. The antecedent is proved, because nature always intends an end for the sake of the good. The argument holds from the definition of fortune, which is a cause in things that happen rarely, against the intention of the thing which comes about.


Uncertain actions have a double respect:


Either of their cause, and in this way no natural actions at all can be said to be fortuitous;
Or of our ignorance, and in this way they can be fortuitous, because they are unknown to us (who do not know the causes). But as to what you say that uncertain actions happen contrary to the intention of nature, as for example when a monstrous birth comes about, I reply that this mistake happens in particular nature and not in universal nature.

9. Is anyone happy by chance?

spacerOBJECTION By his natural propensity to virtue someone can be good by chance; therefore by the same reasoning he can be happy. The antecedent is in Aristotle’s text, where he teaches that by their native generosity of spirit and other endowments even children are sometimes moved to embrace virtue; and if, he says, you ask them whence they have this propensity, they say that they do not know; if you seek further why they do it then they reply because it pleases them. The philosopher concludes that these are good and virtuous by chance; one may argue in the same way about felicity.
spacerREPLY Neither is the good man nor the happy man born by chance. I reply therefore to this passage from Aristotle that he has become good by chance, not that fortune has made him good, but that, being so affected towards virtue, the cause of his affection does not appear: but the cause is, of its own force, certain, though perhaps to the one well affected and acting well from the inclination of his nature it be not sufficiently known.

Can fate and fortune stand at the same time together in the natural events of things?

spacerOBJECTION Fate is an inevitable necessity in things and a cause per se; therefore it cannot stand together with fortune.
spacerREPLY Fate and fortune can stand together at the same time but in different ways. For necessary fate regards the order and connection of causes for producing the effect, but fortune the ignorance of the order and connection of causes.

10. Can the entranced, when speaking marvels, do so by chance?

spacerOBJECTION The entranced, as statecin the text, are lunatic and mad by chance: therefore much more is it by chance they speak marvelous things; they have, to be sure, neither the intention of speaking thus nor the sagacity of understanding.
spacerREPLY The entranced are such by chance and speak by chance if you consider their ignorance of causes and the distraction of their intention; but neither fact is by chance if you consider the causes themselves. For a certain intemperateness in their humors is the cause of their sickness; a certain possession by demons or divine agitation of mind is the cause of their speaking marvels. For often men afflicted by sicknesses and very close to death speak marvels. The reason is that the spirit is then close to its freedom: for the human mind has divinity in it and by its own force tastes of secret things: but while it is under this mass of the body it rarely shows its splendor, until it fly off to the proper sphere of its liberty. Hence it is that on the very point of death men often become prophets, and even sometimes in life, through raising of the spirit to the first cause in which they see all marvels: such are for the most part the melancholic, gods or demons in their manners, their native genius, or their life, as we taught before. For those of this sort (as the philosopher teaches in the text) are often inspired by a deity and have, beyond reason, a certain appetition for doing something. But they are said to be inspired by a deity and, being struck mad because of the presence, as it were, of the deity, and driven into a mental seizure (which they call ecstasy), and thus with their mind elevated or taken over, they do nothing by the force of reason but by the power of the deity.

11.Is there something divine in all fortune?

spacerOBJECTION Everything divine is a constant and excellent good: but there is not in every fortune a constant and excellent good: therefore there is not something divine in all fortune. The major is evident, because everything divine has the providence of God for its cause. The minor is clear because fortune is conjoined with ignorance and rashness.
spacerREPLY To reply to this argument, let this be the turning point of the discussion about fortune, that fortune is altogether nothing if you look at heaven, nature, God: for fortune is said to be there only where the cause of contingent things is unknown; but no cause escapes or can escape God, since he is the first cause of heaven, nature, and of all causes and things, but there is something divine or, if it please, some deity in all fortune, not as Juvenal sang, blue

spacerBut thee, Fortune, do we make to be a god, and place in heaven,

but as Hippocrates once said that in every sickness there was something divine, as if he were to say, something in sickness is known to God but unknown to man; thus in fortune there is something divine; with respect to human ignorance of its cause it is said to be fortuitous, but with respect to God who disposes all things it is said to be certain and necessary. Oh God, give to true wisdom the light of understanding and it will yield to fortune its name and its numinous deity!


Chapters ix and x
On perfect uprightness and right reason.

ISTOTLE does in this place that which Apelles once did who, after he had graphically depicted the individual parts and limbs of Venus on distinct panels, collected them together into one panel: so, since the philosopher has dealt with each virtue one after the other, now he collects all the virtues as it were into one body, and with one common name calls it honored uprightness. Uprightness is therefore as it were the mirror of all the virtues, and the reflection, so to say, of all just actions: for the duties of those zealous of virtue are contained in it no otherwise than the precepts of the arts are contained in a synopsis or epitome. Rightly therefore is uprightness defined as the collective habit of all the virtues, or rather as the habit of rightly acting according to every virtue and rightly judging the duties and actions of the virtues. Hence he indeed is held to be upright who is perfectly zealous, who accurately distinguishes true goods from false, genuine from spurious, the external goods of the body and of fortune from the internal wealth and goods of the spirit, and who lastly does not (as the parasites today do) sing and give the ear pleasing words, does not give hemlock for medicine, does not (to use the words of Aristotle) ever give what is unhealthy in place of what is healthy to drink, does not give wine to the fevered patient but water, does not bestow the rewards of honor on the unworthy but shame. Wherefore, as he is not held to be healthy who flees healthy things and chooses poisons (like those for the most part do who labor over feverish patients), so the man is not to be held upright and honorable who points to and follows those goods which often tend to the ruin and hurt of the user: such are the goods of fortune, as rulership, honor, riches, which mortals, set aflame as it were by burning fever, seek after to their own destruction, and continue not sating their thirst until they rush, wretched, into the grave and Gehenna. But he to whom all things that of their own nature are good (whether things of the soul, or the body, or fortune) are also good and healthful, and who is not depraved and drawn by the empty goods of fortune or of the body into crime, he, I say, is most truly said to be upright, as he is most truly said to be healthy who, when he has received healthy medicines, is made safe and sound and seeks health.
spacer 2. In the following chapter the philosopher discusses right reason, of which he had before treated by the by in the last chapter of the first book. The reason that he deals with right reason is that living according to virtue is nothing other than living according to right reason. It is therefore necessary that he demonstrate what right reason is and what living according to right reason is. Why say more? Right reason is as it were the law, the gnomon, or the just voice of the prudent man: or, if it please, more accurately thus: right reason is a habit of mind which subjects to itself sense, appetite, passion and always keeps them in the duty of virtue. Hence living according to right reason is nothing other than to subjugate the sensible part of the soul, the part without reason, and all the passions in it, and not at all to allow the senses, the appetite, the passions to predominate or triumph in the spirit; this tyranny, of course, a nature does not endure that subjects the senses and all the inferior powers of the soul to mind and reason and also subjects reason and mind to nothing save to the first cause, from which it gets its light. That is most beautiful which is said about this matter in the text: namely that the body is made for the sake of the soul and every inferior power in the nature of things for the sake of the superior.
spacer 3. B ut if you ask here how it comes about that sense, appetite, and passion, being by their nature impudent and insolent slaves, should be curbed under the yoke of reason, the philosopher replies that this is more easily perceived by the sense of one who considers it by himself than by the art and precepts of one who philosophizes. For as a doctor is not held to know everything, or to reply to everything, that the sick patient uselessly doubts, so the philosopher does not solve everything which is either obvious to absolutely anyone or is little necessary. For a man must make consideration of something by his own sense and spirit and hold onto it when verified and not seek everything from others: you therefore turn it over in yourself and resolve for me this doubt whether sense, appetite, the other inferior powers of the soul with their passions be subservient to reason? You yourself indeed know this better than Plato himself; for there lies within you either fight or victory: this is for you alone, the philosopher teaches; if you give the palm to the senses, O wretch you fall; if right reason conquer, you live thrice happy; and that you might so live I pray long to the author of life, and ask that you pray for that very thing.

4. Is uprightness the union of all the virtues?

spacerOBJECTION Distinctarum There cannot be a union of distinct species: but the virtues are distinct species; therefore there cannot be a union of them; and consequently uprightness cannot be defined as the union and collection of all the virtues. The major is Porphyry’s in his substitutions and differences of the predicables; the minor is clear, because the virtues are species of distinct quality.
spacerREPLY Uprightness is taken in this place for a habit more common than virtue itself and in this way species distinct in nature can be united and joined, since certainly everything more common contains things less common. Others reply that this proposition is only to be understood of the forms of substance, which can never be mixed together so that a third species arise therefrom.

5. Can anyone besides the happy man be perfectly virtuous?

spacerOBJECTION No one is perfectly virtuous unless he act perfectly according to every virtue: but no one but the happy man acts perfectly according to every virtue: therefore only the happy man is perfectly virtuous. The major is Aristotle’s in his definition of virtue: the minor in his definition of happiness.


The perfectly virtuous man can be considered in two ways:

Either with respect to the active life, and in this it is not possible for anyone to be perfectly virtuous unless he also act perfectly according to virtue;
Or with respect to the contemplative life, and in this it is possible.

But it must be noted that the upright man is in this place called perfectly virtuous in an equivocal way, not that he always perfectly act according to every virtue but that he most rightly choose perfect goods as a knowledgeable doctor chooses healthy medicines.

6. Is right reason always the norm of virtue?

spacerOBJECTION Virtue sometimes follows the spirit’s passion in work and action: therefore right reason is not always the norm of virtue. The antecedent is patent in fortitude which follows anger, in equity which follows mercy, in modesty which follows shame. The reason holds because passion is defined as a certain turning aside from right reason.
spacerREPLY Not every turning away from the high level of virtue, as the philosopher teaches in the Ethics, is to be blamed, if it tend to a greater good and not to vice: for example, if compassion for another’s misery and hope of future innocence call a judge from the strictness of law and the extreme of justice. I say this in addition, that this definition of passion is not in every respect true: for only a vehement passion of spirit turns us from virtue and right reason.

7. Is the inferior part of the soul naturally subject to the superior?

spacerOBJECTION The spirit is an incorporeal substance and the parts of the same are foreign to the motion of nature: therefore one part is not naturally subject to another. Besides, the soul is by its nature an indivisible substance: therefore it cannot be divided into a prior and a posterior part. Lastly, what happens by nature cannot happen otherwise: therefore if one part of the soul be subject to another it cannot be made otherwise: but the opposite is clear to experience, since sense and appetite more often conquer reason than they are conquered by it.


The spirit can be considered in two ways:


Either absolutely, as it is spirit, and thus it is, along with its parts, foreign to all motion and division of nature;
Or comparatively, as it is an act of the body, and this it can be naturally moved, divided, and changed; but per accidens only and in respect of its existence in the body not in respect of its essence, which it always holds empty of all motion, division, and change, as Aristotle openly teaches in the third Book of the De Anima. The use of this book is that you should understand that the body is made because of the soul; the sense and appetite because of reason; and reason because of God.

8. Is there any certain law for subjecting the passions to the command of right reason?

spacerOBJECTION Vehement passions are natural motions of the spirit away from right reason, as the philosopher teaches in the text: therefore there is no law of subjecting them to the command of reason. I prove the argument because what is naturally present in a thing cannot be otherwise.
spacerREPLY The passions are indeed natural, but inchoately and not absolutely: and accordingly they can be changed and restrained by the law of right reason and use so as to obey the command of reason. This law indeed is certain because the reason is certain that does the commanding, the virtue is certain which rules, the action is certain which perfects the work of reason and virtue. But to know this very fact is indeed a most difficult thing for any man, because there are many recesses to the spirit and many hiding places which no one can understand better than he who feels either the wound of the passions or the victory of the virtues.

9. Is anyone made happy by enquiry or right reason?

spacerOBJECTION Enquiry instructs the spirit what is to be done, right reason directs it: therefore it can happen that someone be made blessed by enquiry and right reason. Besides, as the philosopher taught before, someone can be good by the propensity of his nature for virtue: therefore much more can he be made happy when endowed with enquiry and right reason.
spacerREPLY Right reason is taken here for the intention or instruction of the spirit alone, not for the execution or the action of virtue, and in this way right reason can exist in the bad as the knowledge of healing can exist in a sick doctor. But as a sick doctor cannot always heal himself, so he who has right reason does not always of necessity tend to virtue. For many rightly prescribe to others who however themselves live criminally and wickedly. I say to the second part of your argument that the reason does not hold, because to the propensity of nature, of which Aristotle spoke above, is added the use and action of virtue, which bring about felicity and the happy man.
spacerOBJECTION Someone is made happy, as the philosopher teaches in Book X of the Ethics, by contemplation: but enquiry of the spirit joined with right reason is contemplation: therefore someone can be made happy by enquiry.
spacerREPLY Contemplation is, in addition to the enquiry of the spirit, an immanent action of the mind, and is totally fixed on virtue and the first cause: if therefore you mean enquiry of this sort, I readily concede everything; but here enquiry of the spirit is taken for science alone or for the intention of the spirit.


Chapter xi
Of friendship and its parts.

spacerphoenix among mortals now flies into the theatre, a rare bird, a single bird, a beautiful bird, friendship. Pylades and Orestes once seized this bird, but it quickly flew from them to heaven; it was received there, it did not return to earth; however I will say about it that if by chance it fall to earth, let it, known by its signs, be firmly held onto. Hail, most holy friendship, your presence is most welcome. Certainly, I am deceived. For where are you welcome, whom I have named holy? Your shadow appeared, your shadow I will follow. O sweet friendship, by whose shadow we are so much delighted.
spacer2. But I jest, and yet I do not jest, because only the name of friendship lives, the thing itself does not live; for if it did live, there would not be so great dearth of charity. For friendship renders all dear and prized, renders them blessed rather, as here the philosopher teaches; for from hence the first conclusion of this chapter is taken, namely that for this reason friendship must be treated of, because in every state of life, the highest, the lowest, in every fortune, prosperous, miserable, in every time, first, last, friendship is necessary for virtue and felicity. For a man is not just if he lack concord, not happy if he lack friendship. But so that this very thing may be more clearly evident, Aristotle hands on here many precepts, moves also many doubts and difficulties about friendship. The precepts which he hands on consist mainly in two things, namely in the distinction and definition of friendship. The distinction is that one friendship is innate, another acquired. The innate is double, one common, which is the concord and as it were harmony of all things, another less common, which is clearly seen in things that use sense and reason; thus jackdaw with jackdaw, dove with dove, is easily joined; and thus between father and son, man and wife, master and servant, by a certain force of nature is love implanted, which is called natural friendship.
spacer 3. To acquired friendship three species are assigned in this place by the philosopher, the useful, the pleasant, the honorable in itself. The useful rests on hope of gain, the pleasant on hope of pleasure, the honorable on the anchor of virtue alone. The two prior species of friendship can consort as well with the good as the bad, but more frequently with the bad, because the bad watch out for profit and pleasure more avidly than the good. Good and upright men, however, sometimes have their useful and pleasant friends, but they are not sordid ones, who dig out wealth from dung heaps, or live wantonly like pimps and parasites, but who acquire riches justly and who are caught by the salt of an honest mind. For good and just men (though they be mortals) seek with moderation both wealth for use and pleasure for delight of spirit. But since those two prior species of friendship are in goods that more often flow toward what is bad than what is good, it is the mark of good men to take precautions for themselves lest when sailing to port they run against sandbanks; surely sweet food lies hid in riches and delights but it is full of poison. Therefore the useful and pleasant friendships, both of them, I say, are rather more often harlots and, with their painted faces, draw heedless men into their embrace. The echo alone of virtue is in them, not the voice of virtue itself; for the greedy and the parasites are not ignorant how to hide their evils beneath the cloak of friendship and the name of friend; the poets to be sure have learnt to the fingertips that saying: blue

A safe and common way to deceive is through the name of friend.

But they do not hear the voice of virtue, or if they hear it, they do not indeed understand it rightly:

Though the way be safe and common, it is criminal.

What remains? Only that I conclude with the philosopher that neither as common nor as less common in the concert of things, neither as implanted nor as acquired, is that friendship (namely the one located in utility or pleasure) true friendship; but only the one that is among the good and is defined by the name of virtue. For this alone is constant and stable and firm because the virtue whereby it grows remains firm and unshaken.
spacer 4. But what need is there of words? This soul, this true friendship, is defined by the philosopher as a mutual, firm, and zealous benevolence between two men, undertaken for the sake of virtue, strengthened by the similitude of their characters and pursuits, by a just equality, by holy felicity. Friendship is a virtue, or affection very similar to virtue, which makes good men only happy with mutual love. But very briefly in this way: friendship is the affection of the good in agreement of virtue, located in alliance of true love. The object of it is the lovable good per se, not the useful, not the enjoyable, not the pleasurable one we just spoke of. I will be brief: the father of this virtue is reciprocal love, the mother is likeness of morals, its first daughter sweetness of life, its second perfection of life, namely beatitude. For nothing in this life more makes men blessed than true friendship, whether it be formed with others or turned back on yourself. What? Can anyone be friends with himself? How does this agree with the definition of friendship wherein are required, at a minimum, two? Ask Aristotle and he will teach you how two become one since a friend is an alter ego, and also how you become friends with yourself, since the parts of the soul, which are otherwise by nature enemies and in discord, are united in the agreement of the virtues. Do you wish to exist? Do you wish to exist well? Do you affect good things? Do you love yourself most? Certainly you are friends with yourself, for these are the offices of true friendship. If therefore you subject your will and mind to the command of virtue, you have lived in accord with right reason and virtue, if you have loved what are true goods, friendship is turned back on yourself, and if you miss Laelius, yet Laelius lives within you. But O wretched age of the world wherein we are truly friends neither to others nor to ourselves. Lastly what Aristotle requires in this chapter is that friends be equals; hence he only insinuates the fact that unequal friendship, of the sort that is between king and subject, between master and slave, between father and son, between man and wife, is not to be called friendship perfect and per se; for it is said to be natural or civil love rather than faithful friendship.

5. Is friendship necessary in every state of life?

spacerOBJECTION There is a certain solitary state of life, and the same is alien from all society, as the philosopher teaches in the first Book of the Politics; therefore there is some state of life in which friendship is not necessary. The reason holds, because there is society in every friendship; for otherwise there cannot be reflection and reciprocation of love.
spacerREPLY Life is twofold: the theoretical which is what is understood here and the active which is what is understood there. In the theoretical life it sometimes happens that either God or a demon arises among mortals who puts all society and communion to flight: God, if with another mind he live fixed on God; a demon, if transfixed by the conscience of his crimes, he flee light and society. Besides, in the state of the active life, which is being dealt with here, no part can lack friendship and society. Moreover I say that that sort of God-lovers, who delight in the eremitic life, feel the use of friendship in the agreement of appetite and reason, of pleasure and mind, of the body now conquered and the soul triumphant.

6. Is there a natural friendship, and is the same among the similar or the dissimilar?

spacerOBJECTION In every friendship there should be reciprocal love; but in natural friendship there is no reciprocal love; therefore there is no natural friendship. The major is in Aristotle in this chapter; the minor is proved because there is in natural things no use of reason and sense, which alone give birth to this reciprocal love.
spacerREPLY Although in the first Book of the Physics Aristotle denies that friendship is a cause and principle of things, yet he does not say that natural things are without friendship; whereby he there concludes that there arises from contrary principles, as it were, an incredible concord and harmony in the effects, as is plain in the best song which is composed of discordant sounds and diverse voices. As to what you urge, given this supposition, that reflection is required in love, I reply indeed that there is in things that lack sense and reason a mutual movement, as it were, of love. For by an instinct of nature inanimate things become welcome as it were; but this mutual love exists perfectly only in man, in whom properly and per se is friendship located.
spacerOBJECTION Natural friendship is nothing other than the union of diverse and not of similar things; therefore natural friendship exists rather among things contrary and diverse than things cognate and similar. The antecedent is plain because the principles themselves that are contrary become friends in their every affection. The reason holds because the contrary is more in need of its contrary than of its similar; for earth loves the rain (as Euripides says) when it is dry.


The principles of natural things are considered in two ways:

Either in themselves and thus are they contraries.
Or in their effects and thus are they friends and united among themselves by the bonds, as it were, of friendship. You therefore badly urge that natural friendship is made of contraries because the principles considered in themselves are diverse; what you urge would be something if you were to prove that they were distinct in the very composites. As to what you urge at the end, the poet and the example from him, I say that it does not prove the proposition, because in the union of rain with the earth there is no contradiction, but a singular agreement, which is called natural friendship.

7. Is nothing in this life harder to achieve than to become a friend?

spacerOBJECTION What is present from nature, or follows nature, is not difficult to do; but becoming a friend is from nature or follows nature; therefore becoming a friend is not difficult. The major is clear; the minor is proved, because friendship is a natural affection, and its cause is love; therefore becoming a friend is natural and being born for society is for the sake of it. Besides it is more difficult to be happy than to become a friend.


Friendship is considered in two ways:


Either as natural love, begun by likeness of morals, confirmed by habit of life, and in this way it is a natural affection and easy to do.
Or for the internal habit of will, begun by reason and confirmed by virtue, and in this way, because it is difficult to be zealous, becoming a friend is a more difficult thing to do. For there are so many traps and allurements both of nature and of fortune, as pleasures, riches, honors, by which mortals are summoned away from the faith and compact of friendship. What you add, that it is more difficult to become happy than a friend, I deny, because it is enough for the happy man that he become truly zealous of virtue; but this is not enough to become a true friend. Besides, the happy man is one and individual in himself, but a friend has to observe faith with another; but nothing is more difficult than for one spirit from two to come to be; nothing is more difficult than to observe all the hiding places and recesses in the spirit of another, and so to conquer him and bind him to yourself by duty that he with you and you with him become one and the same.

8. Is reciprocal love of the lover for the beloved the proper cause of friendship?

spacerOBJECTION The likeness of morals and society of life are proximate causes of friendship; but love is the first, common, and remote cause; therefore it is not the proper cause. Love is first cause because it moves first; it is remote because it is first; it is common because it is suited even to the beasts themselves.


Amor reciprocus sumitur trifariam, vel pro:

Either for a natural instinct, in every being, whereby a thing is moved to generating and as it were loving its like.
Or for a certain sensible motion and appetite, as in the brute animals, which give back the pleasing office of their spirit to those that love them, as it were..
Or for a kindly affection of appetite in man, which draws us by reason to friendship and to constancy therein; and this love is proximate, proper, and the conjoined cause of true friendship. For here love is the individual companion of friends, which makes all things of friends common, and renders friends equal in genius, in morals, in faith, in benevolence.

9. Are the lovable good and the to-be-loved good the same?

spacerOBJECTION The lovable and the to-be-loved are of one conjugation; therefore they are in reality the same. The reason holds, because things of one conjugation differ in reason only.
spacerREPLY In this place these two are not referred by Aristotle to the same thing. For the lovable good is said to be that which is good per se; but the to-be-loved is that which is called good in respect of this or that opportune occasion, as resources in respect of liberality, honor in respect of magnanimity. The lovable therefore is the object per se of true friendship, but not always the to-be-loved. For that is often loved which is not per se lovable. For virtue alone is lovable and other things are to be loved because of virtue. I reply therefore that these are not truly of one conjugation, since they are not referred to the same thing.

Is there any friendship between the upgright man and the bad man?

spacerOBJECTION The bad man can be useful and pleasant to the zealous man; therefore he can be his friend; and as a result there can be friendship between an upright man and a bad man. For friendship is divided into useful, pleasant, and honorable.
spacerREPLY That only is useful and pleasant which is lovable and honorable. But the bad man is neither lovable nor honorable, and for that reason he should be held to be neither a useful nor a pleasant friend; yet it is permitted for the upright and wise man to use him, but to use him as a slave not as a friend; as an instrument, not as an ally; in this way the useful and pleasant society of the bad man is joined with true friendship.

10. Can the love of God towards mortals be called friendship?

spacerOBJECTION If that which is more agrees, then that which is less will agree; but the noblest and most divine good in friendship agrees with God; therefore friendship itself also agrees. The minor is proved, because it is the greatest good in friendship to love another for himself and to make one’s friend good and similar in virtue to oneself; but this does most agree with God, who loves man for himself and joins him to himself in virtue alone.
spacerREPLY God is more than a friend to men because he is God; therefore the love of God is more than friendship, because it is the love of God. To the argument I say therefore that that axiom is most true in things that can be compared; but of the infinite with the finite, of the eternal with the perishable, of the divine with the human, of God himself with man there can be no comparison, no reciprocation of equal love. But God’s loving us belongs to his will; his drawing us to himself to his power; his making us similar to himself in virtue, so that we are called friends of God, to his goodwill and kindness alone; we merit nothing, we return nothing that is worthy of so great love.

11. Is friendship divided into the useful, the pleasant, and the honorable as a genus into its species?

spacerOBJECTION Aristotle says in the text that friendship is a genus and he enumerates these three species; therefore it is the division of a genus into its species.
spacerREPLY The name of genus is in this place taken analogically and not properly; for these are equivocally species of friendship. Besides note, if you understand the name of useful and pleasant friendship in the truest way, to wit that nothing is useful without virtue, nothing pleasant without affability or civility, then rightly can these be called species, because the virtues have their own distinct causes and foundations.

Are equality of persons, proportion of things, likeness of morals always and necessarily required for true friendship?

spacerOBJECTION The true and essential form of friendship exists without that proportion of persons, things, and morals; therefore these three are not required for true friendship. The antecedent is proved, because the true and essential form of friendship is a mutual and (that I may so speak) an identical love of friends. Besides, if these three were necessary for friendship, as no poor man is magnificent, so no poor man would be a friend; certainly between a powerful man and a poor, there is no equality of persons, no proportion of things.
spacerREPLY The reply to this reason will be in one word, because here equality of persons, things, morals, is not understood as concerns weight but as concerns justice. But justice does not observe an equal balance of arithmetical but of geometrical proportion; and thus with great men the honorable and zealous poor can be equal; and certainly I do not see the reason why nobility of family in the former should despise the ornament of virtue in the latter. Rarely does the love or friendship of nobles flow upon the zealous needy. blue O would that they did flow more often, so that these might from those get resources that pass away and those from these virtues and honors that last.

12. Is it better in true friendship to love or to be loved?

spacerOBJECTION To be loved is the perfection of love, but to love is the motion of the same and is, as it were, the passing of the lover into the beloved; therefore to be loved is better than to love. The antecedent is clear, because to love is a transient act of the lover himself; but action is a certain motion that is not yet fixed; but when it will have reached its term or the subject loved, then love is fixed and perfect; but here love is called not action but passion, not to love but to be loved.
spacerREPLY As it is better in liberality to give than to receive, so in true friendship it is better to love than to be loved. But as to what you urge, that to be loved is the active perfection of the lover, I freely concede that it is a perfection, but I reply that here respect is not had to the work done but to the better merit; but none of the philosophers, having made the comparison, will deny that he who loves is more deserving by far than he who is loved.

13. Do mutual love in friendship suffice when fortunes fail?

spacerOBJECTION When friends fail, as the philosopher teaches, a man is not blessed; therefore much less is he a friend when fortunes fail; and consequently, when things fail, mutual love does not suffice. This argument holds from the greater to the less. For it seems greater for a happy man to be able to stand without friends than for a friend to stand without fortune, since a proportion of things is required in friendship.


The happy man and the friend can be considered in two ways:

Either as regards existence, and thus it is possible for a happy man to be without friends and for a friend to be without fortune.
Or as regards existing well, and thus it is not possible; for, as great ardor of mind in happiness as regards its existence, so mutual love of the will in friendship suffices.

Are wanting and not wanting the same in all things proper to friends?

spacerOBJECTION Of true friends this fact is true, that they have one mind and one will; therefore wanting and not wanting the same seems to be proper to friends. Posit, if it please, disagreement of friends in wanting and not wanting; there will doubtless be a divorce of the friends.
spacerREPLY I reply briefly, that wanting and not wanting the same in the actions of virtue is indeed proper to friends; besides, among true friends sometimes there can be disagreement about things that are less necessary, nay sometimes even about suspect morals, if occasion is given; but all altercation between friends should be light and brief; for a grave and long one leaves a wound, whose scar the honey of friendship can scarcely ever cure.

14. Is a friend to be abandoned for commission of any crime?

spacerOBJECTION There is no true friendship with a bad man; but when he commits a crime a friend becomes bad; therefore he is to be abandoned for the commission of crime.
spacerREPLY True friendship is to be abandoned for crime committed if the friend has done the offense willingly and from malice; but if he was weak and unguarded in committing it, and was not stubborn in the commission of it, the friendship should remain with as it were, a cured wound; in this way the good man will be a faithful doctor and a friend. For as a good doctor will not be absent from an infirm patient who has received a wound, but will restore the same to health, with his wound cured, so a true friend should not leave a penitent friend but, insofar as it is in him, bring solace to the same.


Chapters xii, xiii, and xiv
On friendship among those related by blood, and of friendship toward oneself.

spacer field exceeding spacious for discourse is given when friendship, honey-flowing virtue, is being dealt with. I will therefore follow copious Aristotle, and yet, having collected the little flowers and pressed out their juices as it were, I will conclude everything briefly. In this three chapters that now follow a double question emerges: one, whether friendship is among those who are akin, two, whether the upright man loves himself.
spacer 2. That friendship comes to be among those akin and related by blood is evident from hence, because it is grafted by nature in allg types of living things that they are affected by a certain wonderful love for those who are their own. Indeed, neither the fierce lioness nor the Indian tiger (a beast as ferocious as you wish) lacks this affection; still less a man, who has reason conjoined to common nature. Moreover, it must be understood that this friendship is the natural one, not the moral one, unlike not equal, which we dealt with before. If you wish to define this friendship, it is nothing else than an affection of human nature, wherewith those joined among themselves by blood vehemently love each other. For as by a certain occult force of nature itself the parts and members of the body are formed in the very womb, where all things seem to be kind and friendly among themselves, so this force is transfused in those joined by blood so that they pursue each other with a greater love than others, unless, as monsters out of the order and motion of nature, they are thoroughly deficient themselves; hence the saying: The man is he who hates his own blood, that is, those he is joined with by blood is an abomination in the sight of God and Man. blue For a father is a monster if he hate his son, a son a monster if he hate his father. For these has nature itself taught love not hate, friendship not discord. Oh Nero, oh you viper, oh you monster of nature, why do you cut your mother’s, your nurse’s, throat? Rather would I exclaim, oh the times in which many Neros, many vipers and monsters live, who delight more in the blood of their own parents and blood relations than in the most sweet nectar of the Gods!
spacer 3. But I proceed. There are doubts moved in the text: the first is why a father loves his son more than the son the father. Aristotle resolves it with this word, because the father loves his son as an artisan his work, for a son is the image, the hope, the work, and love of the father. A second doubt is whether kindness is friendship; he responds that properly indeed it is not friendship, because kindness is more common than friendship itself, for we are often kind to those whom we never saw, but unless connection, familiarity, custom of life intervene, we are not friends. For there is required for true friendship that you consume some pecks of salt with a friend. The last doubt of this chapter is whether concord is friendship; he replies that it is an affection akin and cognate but not in reality altogether the same. For it extends more broadly, as he teaches openly in the text with examples.
spacer 4. Of the following two chapters the sum is this, that an upright man loves himself as a true friend loves. The thing will be clear when a distinction is made. The lover of himself, therefore, is said in two ways: either he who seeks private utility or pleasure without stint for the sake of which things he does everything, and in this way the upright man is not at all a lover of himself but rather the bad man is; or who he does all things for the sake of virtue alone and gathers the solid goods of character and mind, and in this way the upright and honest man is said to be truly a self lover or a friend to himself; nay, as the philosopher teaches in fourteenth chapter (which is the last of the three which we are now treating of together), the upright man, having accumulated as true riches these goods of character and mind, loves himself most of all. For although (if you regard the goods of nature and fortune) he loves his friend more than himself, yet in the goods of the spirit (in which true friendship consists) he embraces himself with much more love than his friend. For the upright man is greedy for these goods and deposits them eagerly in the treasure-house of his own spirit; but now

The times are changing and we are changing with them. blue

Much larger, of course, and more numerous is the crowd of men who are carried by vehement affection to useful and pleasant goods, and love their friends and themselves for the sake of these, than those who seek for what is per se honorable and for the sake of these render themselves truly friends to themselves and to others. Hard it is if I am to say what Aristotle says: men are traitors not lovers to themselves, mortal enemies not faithful friends to themselves, if, having abandoned the goods of the spirit, they fondly kiss utility and pleasure, the two greatest idols of the world; and yet they dream they are lovers of themselves. Perhaps this love is sweet for a time, but in reality it is hatred and contains a lethal poison.

5. Should the father love the son more than the son the father?

spacerOBJECTION All the benefits of nature are united and accumulated in the son; therefore by the force of nature the son would love the father more than the father the son. The antecedent is proved, because the son is the image, the hope, the love, and the work of the father. The argument holds, because a united force of love is stronger than one that is diffused; but love is united in the son, while in the father it is as it were in motion and transient toward the son. Besides, it is probable that he loves more who receives more benefits; but the son receives more benefits than the father; therefore the son loves the father more than the father the son.
spacerREPLY The father loves as the principle of the son and of his love; but the son is as it were the reflected image of the father. But as the image is a shadow in respect of the thing of which it is, so the love of the son is a shadow in respect of the love that flows from the father. Wherefore, although paternal love is united in the son and all benefits of paternal love are accumulated in him, yet the reflection is weaker because action is more discerned in the acting principle than in the passive subject, but the father is the acting principle and the son the passive subject. For the father loves but the son is loved; the one loved also loves back, but the loving father is more weakly loved, as an agent in acting is acted on back but it feels a lesser force. To the second part of the argument I say that the son, having received more benefits, may be held to love more the father morally but not naturally, which kind of love alone is being brought into comparison in this place.

6. Is the son more the work of the father than the mother? blue

spacerOBJECTION The son is more the work of the mother than of the father; therefore Aristotle is deceived who here teaches the contrary. The antecedent is clear, because the substance itself is fashioned, nourished, strengthened in the womb of the mother; nay, neither does nature thus stop in the mother but forms with the mother’s hands the parts and members of the infant, feeds it with her breasts, perfects with her milk this its work. Therefore the son seems to be more the work of the mother than of the father. Besides, the father is the remote cause but the mother the proximate cause. Lastly the son loves the mother more than the father for this reason alone, that he took proximately from his mother his matter and form.
spacerREPLY There is a twofold cause of the son, the formal and the material (as they say); the formal is the father, the material the mother; but anything whatever has its name and its being from the formal agent cause; therefore the son, who has form from the father, is said to be more the work of the father than the mother. Yet I say that the son is shaped, nourished, strengthened in the womb of his mother. But in the way that a work is in the workshop of the artisan and as the artisan gives form to his work, in this way the father gives form to his son; thence has the work its name and its essence. Besides, the father is not the remote cause if you consider the perfection of the work, for he remains the active and shaping power until the work of nature is perfected. Lastly, you ascribe to the son a false cause of loving his mother, inasmuch as he does not take his form but his matter from his mother. Nevertheless, as you say, for the most part he loves his mother more than his father, because he dwells for a longer time unborn under her roof and cloister, as it were, and because once born he perceives the greater force and influence of maternal than of paternal love, as one who is always hanging from the maternal breasts, and arms, and embraces, and who perceives her sweet sounding voice, her tears, and the several affections and sparks of true love for himself her infant.

7. Are benevolence and concord species of friendship?

spacerOBJECTION Those who are benevolent and in concord are said more to be friends than those who are said to be so because of utility or pleasure; therefore, from things of the same conjugation and also from the less to the greater, it follows that benevolence and concord are more species of friendship than useful and pleasant friendships, which Aristotle confirmed before were species. The antecedent is proved, because those are said to be benevolent and in concord who are in unison with themselves in one mind, as it were, and one heart.
spacerREPLY He is benevolent who wishes well for another; he is in concord who agrees with another in spirit and will. Each can be a friend but not properly; each affection can be friendship, but not if the name of friendship is taken strictly. Of course these two names extend broadly and very often hold the place of the genus in the definition of friendship. For benevolence is benign affection of spirit, by whose force we are moved to wishing others well, not only because of internal but also because of external goods, and the same whether they are proper to them or shared with us. But concord is defined as an easy affection of spirit, whereby many are moved to unanimous agreement in consideration and choice of things. Thus, as you see, both benevolence and concord spread themselves more broadly than friendship, because the former exist in all kinds of goods but the latter concerns itself only with goods of the spirit.

8. Is fraternal friendship firmer than that which is contracted with others?

spacerOBJECTION Nature adds more of strength to fraternal friendship, which friendship contracted among others lacks; therefore fraternal friendship is firmer. The antecedent is proved, because everything of a certain sort added to a thing of that sort makes that thing to be itself more of that sort.
spacerREPLY Nature adds no strength to friendship to make it firmer, but adds something of dignity to adorn it more. For the internal goods of the spirit, in which alone true friendship consists, have strength, constancy, firmness; but the goods of nature and of fortune endow friendship only with dignity and ornament. Per se, therefore, the friendship of brothers is not firmer than that of others.

Does a friend love himself more than he loves his friend?

spacerOBJECTION For true friendship Aristotle requires equality of love; therefore a friend does not love himself more than he loves his friend. Besides, a friend is an alter ego; therefore he loves himself and his friend equally. Lastly, a friend ought to have the same likes and dislikes; therefore he would not love himself more than his friend.
spacerREPLY Aristotle solves this argument by drawing a distinction, to wit, that a friend loves himself more than his friend in goods of the spirit but loves his friend more than himself in goods of the body and of fortune, which he gladly cedes to his friend. When you say that equality is required for true friendship, I reply that the equality of proportion and not of weight must be understood. For it is enough in true friendship if the unanimous agreement of the friends in virtue stand firm, which virtue is said to be a middle with respect to justice not a middle with respect to weight and the midpoint.

9. Does an upright man love himself most of all?

spacerOBJECTION It is a property of virtue to flow and pour into others and not to remain in itself, according to the saying, that the more common the good the better the good; therefore it is not property of an upright man to bury his greatest love, as it were, in his very own breast, but rather to communicate the same to his friend. Besides, love is a transient act of the lover to the beloved not an immanent one; therefore no one truly loves himself, and consequently the upright man does not love himself most. For if he were to love himself, the same thing would be agent and patient and in the same thing would be action and passion, that is to say, loving and being loved would be present together at once.
spacerREPLY Virtue flows into others if you regard existence, but it flows back into itself if you regard mind and essence. Therefore the more common the good the better it is with respect to the existence but not to the essence of good; for thus nothing is better than the good. As for what you urge about love as a transient action, I reply that that is true with respect to the external object into which it is transient, not with respect to the internal principle from which it flows and into which it at length flows back. Thus when an upright man (who is the principle of his actions) loves himself most, this love is not transient into another but is united within itself and remains firm in the will of the lover, unless you say it is transient from this into the mind. To the last part of your argument, I say that action and passion are not at once in the same subject. For love is in one part of the spirit as in its principle but in another as in its subject; and thus action and passion can, in a diverse respect, be the same together at once.


Chapters xv and xvi
About the blest man, does he need friends and is it expedient he have many friends?

N this place the philosopher moves another doubt about friendship, namely whether he who is enough for himself and is sufficient of himself, that is, the blest man, needs friendship. He seems not to need it, he says. For God is alone per se enough for himself and is abundantly sufficient of himself; but God does not need friendship; therefore he who is enough for himself and sufficient of himself does not need friendship. Moreover, after the philosopher has said many things about divine contemplation and perfection, he passes to a consideration of human nature, which alone, he says, the talk and discussion here is about. For the question is whether a man who abounds in every kind of good things and is sufficient for himself needs friends. He responds that he does indeed. In the text he adds three reasons. The first is that the goods in this life bring nothing of comfort with them, nothing of dignity, if friends with whom to share them are lacking. The second is that no human life is without society and hence the perfect life cannot lack the best society, namely friendship. The last is that no one sufficient of himself would lead a solitary life, but an eminent one, whereby he would draw others to virtue, for by his example he attracts very greatly to virtue and the honest life.
spacer 2. The philosopher adds another reason not less valid (in my opinion indeed) than those, namely that for this the blest man needs friendship because he recognizes himself better in his friend than if he were to pass a private life in obscurity and in the desert. For as we fix our eyes on a mirror placed before us when we wish to see our face and form, which we cannot contemplate in ourselves without the reflection of a mirror, so no one certainly indeed (even if he be wise, even if blest) can recognize himself and his morals better than if he should give more intense consideration with his eyes fixed on his friend in whom he may see himself far better than in himself. For there is some I know not what natural love toward ourselves which is for the most part blind and deceives us in passing judgment on ourselves. There is need then of mirrors, need of friends, to show us our blemishes and dirges. Come, therefore, do you abound in all goods? By that much more have you need of friends lest you fall from the high seat of your fortune, lest you live wretchedly and solitarily by yourself, lest you run out of sociable nature, lest finally you should less correctly and accurately recognize yourself; but it is necessary to recognize yourself if you are wise, if you are blest. For no one is perfectly wise, no one blest who does not know himself; but he does not know himself if he lacks friends.
spacer 3. The doubt which is moved in the next chapter (whether it is expedient to have many friends) is explained very briefly by Aristotle after he has made a distinction. For if you consider the true friendship that is located in the goods of the spirit, one friend is sufficient, one, I say, if you can catch one. But if you consider the useful and pleasant friendship, it is permitted to have several, but not many. For as the sharpness of the external senses is blunted if they are directed to many objects for a rather long time without intermission, on account of the weakness of nature, so friendship languishes if it pours itself out on many friends. Certainly all human things are by their nature finite in this life, and have their infirmity and their decline. Besides a multitude of friends is very often cause of great pain. For since they are many, something of adversity and misfortune will be happening almost always to some one of them, because, when it has happened, the plight of the friend must grieve the rest. Thus in a crowd of friends always some occasion of bad will emerge, some cause of sorrow. Finally the philosopher concludes that as it is not expedient to have many friends so it is not expedient to have very few. For one, he says, or two will not perhaps suffice when things are difficult.
spacer4. But why now do I deal with number of friends? For scarcely one – scarcely one did I say? Nay not one friend would you find in reality. He is a Phoenix, if he exist; you are happy if you have a Phoenix as a friend; but if you do have him, hold him, and do not look for more. For it is enough to have one, because he is happy who has one.

5. Does he who is affluent in all goods need friends?

spacerOBJECTION Beyond the state of perfection there is no motion to a further or more excelling good; but he who is affluent in all goods is in the state of perfection; therefore there is in him no motion to a further or more excelling good; and hence such a one does not need friends. For this very ‘need’ argues that he does not abound in all goods.
spacerREPLY The philosopher wisely notes that in this life there is no state without motion, there is no perfection without some decay. When therefore he says that the happy man is affluent in and abounds with all goods, he means to the extent human nature is capable of goods, which in respect to the virtues (with which the happy man most abounds) is said to be in the state of human perfection. Further, if you consider that these very goods are to be shared, if you consider the infinite rocks and dangers to which we are exposed, you will not deny that the happy man himself needs friends; nor does this ‘need’ argue imperfection or deficiency of goods, but teaches the use of external goods and solace in the use of them with very friends. The happy man is said therefore to need friends, not because he needs goods, with which he most abounds, but so that he might of his will share those goods with others, and console himself in them. Others respond to this argument that the active happy man needs friends but not the contemplative, who lives contented and drawn into himself, as it were, in the sole contemplation of the first causes and of the virtues.

6. Do you learn to recognize yourself better from a friend than from yourself?

spacerOBJECTION No one knows you better than you know yourself; no one judges more correctly the occult hiding places and affections of the spirit; no one has in your regard greater faith or conscience that you should believe another more than yourself; therefore you learn to recognize and judge yourself better from yourself than from a friend.
spacerREPLY A friend is as it were a faithful mirror to a friend, reflected images of morals from whom are confronted graphically in a friend’s eyes. Yet I say that no one recognizes yourself more certainly than yourself, if affection be zealous, if mind have eyes, if all faculties of the spirit be honestly affected. But since in this mortal and failing circle of life we are for the most part blind toward ourselves, and our blemishes we either cover with a veil or do not see, Aristotle requires a faithful friend like a lynx to inspect, to recognize, to discern with its eyes more than we, being affected toward ourselves, are able to. But if some Phoenix, having put aside the spoils of the body, should return into himself from too great love of himself, such a one he allows to be able to have a more correct judgment of himself.

Is it expedient to have many friends?

spacerOBJECTION The more common a good is the better it is; therefore to have more friends is better than to have few. The antecedent is clear, because to have friends is an excellent good.
spacerREPLY As a spring, when it pours itself forth in many rivulets, flows at last with a weaker force and motion, so human friendship, when divided among several, loses its force, its strength, and influence. Therefore I say that the axiom which you adduce is appropriate only in those goods which can be communicated with many; but true and perfect friendship cannot be communicated, since it is a very unity of two drawn together into a simple unity. For in true friendship, although there are two friends, yet each is said to be a one that is the same and an alter ego.

7. Is old age the most suitable time of life for friendship?

spacerOBJECTION Old age is by nature dry and morose; therefore of all ages it is not the most apt for friendship. The antecedent is from Aristotle in the Ethics and is proved by reason: because this age is in a way melancholy itself, which is the sponge of very nature and a plainly perverse nature. Hence the saying: old men are misers, old men are morose; misers because nature is failing; morose because melancholy is abundant.
spacerREPLY What must be considered here is not the humor of the body but the humor of the mind. For venerable grey hairs are not dry, are not morose; nay it is not, as you say, very melancholy but, changing the name, the very age of wisdom. I reply to the argument, therefore, that old age formed by the precepts of philosophy and adorned with the best habit of life is very apt for friendship, in as much as it has experience of things, constancy of actions, moderation of affections, and the anchor and target of the whole of life, virtue and wisdom; but these things can no other age lay claim to. If you urge here that it is necessary to consume pecks of salt with one who loves before you make him a friend, which is not indeed possible with an old man who already has, as it were, one foot in the grave; I reply that by pecks of salt are to be understood strength of natural intelligence, of counsel, of experience, and of other virtues, which are vigorous and stand out more in old age than in another age. If you find these and enter upon friendship with an old man who has the same, you have consumed pecks of salt, and you have the salt of natural intelligence.

8. Is it expedient for an upright man to have several useful and pleasant friends?

spacerOBJECTION A friend for the sake of utility is a glutton for good things; but a pleasant friend is the tinder of evils, as Aristotle insinuated before; therefore it is not expedient to have more than one friend of this sort; nay not even one, for one may harm an upright man more than enough.
spacerREPLY Read the philosopher at the end of this chapter and you will understand that under the name of friends are understood familiars. As if you were to say: if you wish to be blest, do not choose many familars. For as too much familiarity breeds contempt, so a multitude of friends of this sort has pain as companion; especially if anything of misfortune or misery should happen to those whom you have made your friends by familiarity. I reply therefore that you are not skillfully and appropriately interpreting Aristotle. For although in this place, perhaps, he means useful and pleasant friends, yet he does not take useful and pleasant in the sense in which you take it here. For he wishes as many of them to be associated in friendship with an upright man as can rightly and justly serve the uses of an honest man, as his own words in the text manifestly teach.


Chapter xvii
On the use of a friend and friendship.

ORTHY of the philosopher is this discussion of morals to be held, which begins from virtue and finishes in the sweetest muse of virtue, friendship. I will not in any way use roundabout riddles. Much has the philosopher said about friendship, much about friends. Now therefore he concludes the work, but he so concludes it that he locates his last farewell in the use of friend and friendship. For he teaches how to use a friend, how to live with him. This thing is indeed necessary. For as a treasure is in vain gathered if you are altogether ignorant of the use of the same, so a friend is most vainly acquired if the use of friendship is not known. But since there are many kinds of friends, as some are called natural, some civic, some again equal, some unequal, and to these lastly some are useful, some pleasant, some honest, perhaps the question must be asked what type of friends it is that the philosopher especially understands in this place. I reply in a word, that above all he understands those friends who prefer and set virtue and the goods of the spirit before utility and pleasure. Moreover, I do not deny that when handing on other laws and conditions he may understand also other kinds of friends; as when he says that it is permitted to a friend vehemently to rebuke his friend, nay also to correct and castigate him if there be need, he understands here unequal friends; again when he says that it is necessary that friends vie equally with themselves in faith, in love, in benefits, without doubt he understands equal and matching friends. But most of all he hands on the use of the truest friendship and the art of living with the truest friends.
spacer 2. What need of many words? The first law is that this friendship be as it were the metamorphosis or conversion of two into one. The second that there be the most firm agreement of friends in the virtues of character and of mind. Third that there be the greatest likeness of pursuits and affections. Fourth that there be equal proportion, not in weight but in justice, of things and fortunes. Fifth that there be daily intimacy of life. Sixth that there be perpetual love on account of virtue without any dissimulation. Lastly that the end or target of all actions be true beatitude. For to this end or target good men tend. Friends are either good or not friends at all. Indeed true friendship, which is now being dealt with, reigns only among good men and men zealous for virtue. What? Is there so much sympathy and consent of spirit among friends (turtle-doves and twins of nature) that there is no contention between them, no dissension? That indeed I do not say (for I know that friends in this life are mortals not gods, and that they can dissent among themselves), but this I affirm: as in music a dissonant voice so in friendship a slight contention can there be; and again, as in music a dissonant voice does not take away the harmony, so in friendship a slight dissension of friends does not extinguish or break up the concord. If therefore occasion ever be given, it belongs to a friend to admonish a friend; but if this is not sufficient, it is permitted to rebuke him; if still his life does not amend, it will be permitted to thunder at him and to behave with threats; but if still then he persist in behaving badly, it will be permitted to dissolve the friendship; yet permitted so to dissolve it that you do not become a capital enemy to him whom once you loved no less than yourself. Let the mark of friendship remain in you though the image of friendship be destroyed. For when virtue is extinguished faithful friendship vanishes, but while nature remains love does not cease. For friendship is the daughter of virtue, love the servant of nature. Whom then you once loved, do not hate at the last. Indeed while the friend lives, there is hope that, returning to you, he may recognize you his own faithful friend.

3. Is reproach licit only among equal friends?

spacerOBJECTION It is permitted for a citizen to rebuke a vicious magistrate, it is permitted for a wife to rebuke a criminal husband, nay it is permitted to a son and a servant to accuse a father and a master of his shameful deeds; therefore rebuke is licit in unequal friendship. For among all these friendship is said in this place to be unequal. The antecedent is clear from almost all the histories of the times in which it is permitted to hear many Nathans, many Elijahs boldly rebuking and accusing kings. Besides according to Aristotle in the Politics, blue magistrates and fathers are to be accused if they violate the laws, if they betray the fatherland. For there ought to be greater love of citizens and sons for the fatherland than for a vicious magistrate or father if they contrive anything criminal against the republic.
spacerREPLY When Aristotle teaches in this place that it is licit for superiors in unequal friendship to rebuke their inferiors but not licit for inferiors to accuse those more important, he understands this to be true only according to human laws. But if superiors violate not only the laws of friendship but also the laws of the fatherland and of justice, the friendship is already dissolved; to inferiors also it is permitted to admonish their superiors of their crimes, but justly, prudently, considerately. For to concede to subjects and inferiors the license of accusing their betters is to open the window to criminals for great audacity as well as great mischief, who will take up the slightest occasions for accusation and rebuke.
spacer 4.OBJECTION A wife is a matched and equal friend to a husband; therefore to her above all it will be permitted to rebuke a husband. The antecedent is plain, because in the Politics and Economics a wife is said to be an individual companion not a servant, a partner not a guest-friend to the husband. I conclude therefore that here in the text Aristotle is very much deceived, both because he names the wife an unequal friend to her husband and because he does not concede to her the right of reproaching him.
spacerREPLY You are now indeed humoring the women, whom perhaps you do not dare to offend. But I do not accuse you who now submit to the office of opponent, who for the most part weave together deceptive and false conclusions with the color of reason. I reply therefore that a wife is equal and unequal to her husband: equal if you regard the love that is due, unequal if you regard the natural command of the man. Wherefore although she is called by the philosopher in the Politics a companion in life not a servant, yet she is unequal and subject to the command of the husband, as the same philosopher presently expounds. I conclude therefore that Aristotle is not deceived, neither here in that he calls her unequal nor there in that he has not given her the liberty of reproaching. For if he had put kindling on the woman’s tongue he would excite a flame inextinguishable and a great conflagration. If you are wise, therefore, in use of your command, you will put a bridle in a wife’s jaw. But if you do not do it, you will not go begging for thunderbolts of words and you will join Socrates in prevailing by sheer patience alone.

5. When friendship is destroyed should any love for the person remain?

spacerOBJECTION Causes for dissolving friendship merit a just hatred; therefore when friendship is dissolved love for no person should remain. The antecedent is proved, because the causes for dissolving friendship are the crimes and wickedness of the dissembling friend. The reason holds because he is scarcely an upright man who loves criminals and the wicked.
spacerREPLY Causes for dissolving friendship certainly merit hatred, because they are sins, but not hatred for the person. For it is one thing to hate the guilt, it is another thing to hate the person. Come therefore, when a crime is committed the friendship is cast off, but malice is not put on when the friendship is destroyed. As therefore a doctor cuts off a putrid member and yet cures the man, so a friend abandons the dissembling enemy but does not hate the man. He abandons the enemy because he is wicked; he does not hate the man because it can happen that, conquered by love and friendship, he may cherish a friendship faithful and firm.

spacer6. Is true friendship dissolved by death?

spacerOBJECTION Every human affection is dissolved by death; but true friendship is a human affection; therefore true friendship is dissolved by death. The major is plain, because an affection is a motion of appetite itself, which perishes together with the human body. The minor is from Aristotle in these books and even in the Ethics where he names friendship an affection. Besides, if friendship be conceded to be a virtue, yet is it extinguished by death, because it is defined to be not a virtue of mind but of character. Certainly, it is concerned with the good which is the object of the will and not with the true which is the object of the mind.
spacerREPLY Friendship can be considered in two ways, either as it is a certain motion of the spirit toward agreement with virtue, and thus it passes together with human life; or as it is virtue itself and thus it survives. For although when a man dies the act of friendship ceases, yet the far more excellent and divine essence survives as it was before. If you urge that it cannot remain because its subject is taken away, I reply that the subject is not taken away. For it is the will and the will is, I declare, not that sensitive one, as they say, which is common to us with the beasts, but the intellective one, which of its own nature is immortal and always remains. What therefore? Do you wish that friends love each other after death? Do you wish that they recognize and have regard for each other? I will not refer you to Aristotle discoursing on the care of the departed; nor to the greater Africanus who disputes in friendly manner from heaven with his grandson. blue But if you wish to inspect a domestic example I refer you to that star of happy memory, Philip Sydney, who in his Arcadia, blue a noble monument of his genius, discourses most acutely on this matter. This alone now as philosopher I add, that no good of the spirit is taken away by the death of the body nor is it hid in the grave, but, made more excellent and more divine, it shines more in the spirit after death and is joined more closely to the first cause, the most clear fountain and mirror of all goods. Whence I conclude that as many things are seen from behind through reflection in a mirror, so after death many things can, as by reflection, appear to us gazing upon the first cause. The reason is that the infinite cause of causes and the mover of things is he whom we gaze upon. But you will learn more about these things if you read him (whom I just named for honor’s sake) attentively and diligently, him who disputed, when dying (as I received from men who were friends and worthy of faith), of nothing more solicitously and more wisely than of the immortality of the spirit and of the reason whereby after death he would recognize his sister, the Countess Pembroke, the most beautiful gem of virtues and honors, and other friends left here behind.



RIEND and most civil reader, since to you and your Muses I have devoted all the studies of my old age, kindly receive, I ask, this pledge from my right hand now extended to you. It is not indeed a great work, but it is not unworthy of your favor. Certainly there is presented to you in it, as you see, not the colors of Iris but the images of virtue through reflection from a mirror. Images of virtue I say, not ideas, not shadows, not false and vain pictures of things. For to this tends all my effort, and all my labor in this work, that moral images of the virtues might speak to your spirit; might speak, I say, for certainly they have the voice, the genius, the art of speaking. If you excel in the powers of nature, fortitude speaks; temperance speaks if pleasure titillates. If ambition afflicts you, modesty speaks; justice speaks if injury harms. What need of more? Inspired as if by celestial fire all the images of all the virtues speak. If ever adverse fortune, if ever misery should wound you, you are fortunate if you hear them speaking. For these speak better to you than once the image of Alexander spoke to Caesar, whom however (as the historians relate) it provoked to non-pretended tears. But I stay not.
spaceren 2. With these images (zealous reader) I commend myself and my genius to you. For I am now an old man, I am infirm, and I cannot for long be absent from my grave; but however long I live I will speak with you, nay, having o’er run the stadium of life, I will yet, if it please, speak with you, I will dispute with you in the schools, I will oppose, I will reply. What do you say? Do you wish to dispute with me dead? You will dispute certainly, if you read these my rather rough writings. For in them as far as I live, and from them, as it is permitted, I will dispute with you. What remains? Nothing certainly unless I entreat you that I may understand this little work, given by me in thankful spirit, has been received by you in kindly spirit. But if I understand, I promise more things which my genius, faithful messenger from the grave (if I myself am not alive), will offer and speak to you. I hope for my part that it will speak, and in fitting way, the oracles of philosophy; but (most kind reader) if you are a philosopher, and you notice that it is speaking either incautiously or wandering unwillingly, warn, correct humanely, if it please. For I am a man and I can err, but willingly do I wish not to be stubborn and perverse in error. But if you read me for the sake of learning, I dare to say this, that I have not rashly commended Aristotle, read ten times o’er with the interpreters, to you and your studies. “Read ten times o’er you say? I accuse you of vanity who have so often adored the idol of the philosophers.” I excuse myself; twice ten years, compelled by necessity, I have been a professor of philosophy. I purposed then indeed neither to deceive my hearers (whom I taught) with words nor to commend to you (whom, reader, I love) the shadow and appearance of the philosophy I have now written. Therefore to read Aristotle very often and the interpreters of the same was to me religion, not superstition. For to both reading well and to writing carefully was reason always drawing me, conscience always moving me. Farewell (zealous reader) and if Christ the light of life should give oil for the lantern of my life, I will not let the lantern of my studies be extinguished until I have given more to you better than these I have given. Meanwhile again farewell, and, I beg, remember me in your prayers poured out to God, (I will redouble the word) remember me.

Farewell, 20 September, 1596.