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Nicomachean Ethics   


is and what means he has; for the expenditure should be worthy of his
means, and suit not only the result but also the producer. Hence a
poor man cannot be magnificent, since he has not the means with which
to spend large sums fittingly; and he who tries is a fool, since he
spends beyond what can be expected of him and what is proper, but it
is right expenditure that is virtuous. But great expenditure is
becoming to those who have suitable means to start with, acquired by
their own efforts or from ancestors or connexions, and to people of
high birth or reputation, and so on; for all these things bring with
them greatness and prestige. Primarily, then, the magnificent man is
of this sort, and magnificence is shown in expenditures of this sort,
as has been said; for these are the greatest and most honourable. Of
private occasions of expenditure the most suitable are those that take
place once for all, e.g. a wedding or anything of the kind, or
anything that interests the whole city or the people of position in
it, and also the receiving of foreign guests and the sending of them
on their way, and gifts and counter-gifts; for the magnificent man
spends not on himself but on public objects, and gifts bear some
resemblance to votive offerings. A magnificent man will also furnish
his house suitably to his wealth (for even a house is a sort of public
ornament), and will spend by preference on those works that are
lasting (for these are the most beautiful), and on every class of
things he will spend what is becoming; for the same things are not
suitable for gods and for men, nor in a temple and in a tomb. And
since each expenditure may be great of its kind, and what is most
magnificent absolutely is great expenditure on a great object, but
what is magnificent here is what is great in these circumstances, and
greatness in the work differs from greatness in the expense (for the
most beautiful ball or bottle is magnificent as a gift to a child, but
the price of it is small and mean),-therefore it is characteristic of
the magnificent man, whatever kind of result he is producing, to
produce it magnificently (for such a result is not easily surpassed)
and to make it worthy of the expenditure.
Such, then, is the magnificent man; the man who goes to excess and is
vulgar exceeds, as has been said, by spending beyond what is right.
For on small objects of expenditure he spends much and displays a
tasteless showiness; e.g. he gives a club dinner on the scale of a
wedding banquet, and when he provides the chorus for a comedy he
brings them on to the stage in purple, as they do at Megara. And all
such things he will do not for honour's sake but to show off his
wealth, and because he thinks he is admired for these things, and
where he ought to spend much he spends little and where little, much.
The niggardly man on the other hand will fall short in everything, and
after spending the greatest sums will spoil the beauty of the result
for a trifle, and whatever he is doing he will hesitate and consider
how he may spend least, and lament even that, and think he is doing
everything on a bigger scale than he ought.
These states of character, then, are vices; yet they do not bring
disgrace because they are neither harmful to one's neighbour nor very
unseemly.
3
Pride seems even from its name to be concerned with great things; what
sort of great things, is the first question we must try to answer. It
makes no difference whether we consider the state of character or the
man characterized by it. Now the man is thought to be proud who thinks
himself worthy of great things, being worthy of them; for he who does
so beyond his deserts is a fool, but no virtuous man is foolish or
silly. The proud man, then, is the man we have described. For he who
is worthy of little and thinks himself worthy of little is temperate,
but not proud; for pride implies greatness, as beauty implies a
goodsized body, and little people may be neat and well-proportioned
but cannot be beautiful. On the other hand, he who thinks himself
worthy of great things, being unworthy of them, is vain; though not
every one who thinks himself worthy of more than he really is worthy

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