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Nicomachean Ethics   


virtue it is not easy to bear gracefully the goods of fortune; and,
being unable to bear them, and thinking themselves superior to others,
they despise others and themselves do what they please. They imitate
the proud man without being like him, and this they do where they can;
so they do not act virtuously, but they do despise others. For the
proud man despises justly (since he thinks truly), but the many do so
at random.
He does not run into trifling dangers, nor is he fond of danger,
because he honours few things; but he will face great dangers, and
when he is in danger he is unsparing of his life, knowing that there
are conditions on which life is not worth having. And he is the sort
of man to confer benefits, but he is ashamed of receiving them; for
the one is the mark of a superior, the other of an inferior. And he is
apt to confer greater benefits in return; for thus the original
benefactor besides being paid will incur a debt to him, and will be
the gainer by the transaction. They seem also to remember any service
they have done, but not those they have received (for he who receives
a service is inferior to him who has done it, but the proud man wishes
to be superior), and to hear of the former with pleasure, of the
latter with displeasure; this, it seems, is why Thetis did not mention
to Zeus the services she had done him, and why the Spartans did not
recount their services to the Athenians, but those they had received.
It is a mark of the proud man also to ask for nothing or scarcely
anything, but to give help readily, and to be dignified towards people
who enjoy high position and good fortune, but unassuming towards those
of the middle class; for it is a difficult and lofty thing to be
superior to the former, but easy to be so to the latter, and a lofty
bearing over the former is no mark of ill-breeding, but among humble
people it is as vulgar as a display of strength against the weak.
Again, it is characteristic of the proud man not to aim at the things
commonly held in honour, or the things in which others excel; to be
sluggish and to hold back except where great honour or a great work is
at stake, and to be a man of few deeds, but of great and notable ones.
He must also be open in his hate and in his love (for to conceal one's
feelings, i.e. to care less for truth than for what people will think,
is a coward's part), and must speak and act openly; for he is free of
speech because he is contemptuous, and he is given to telling the
truth, except when he speaks in irony to the vulgar. He must be unable
to make his life revolve round another, unless it be a friend; for
this is slavish, and for this reason all flatterers are servile and
people lacking in self-respect are flatterers. Nor is he given to
admiration; for nothing to him is great. Nor is he mindful of wrongs;
for it is not the part of a proud man to have a long memory,
especially for wrongs, but rather to overlook them. Nor is he a
gossip; for he will speak neither about himself nor about another,
since he cares not to be praised nor for others to be blamed; nor
again is he given to praise; and for the same reason he is not an
evil-speaker, even about his enemies, except from haughtiness. With
regard to necessary or small matters he is least of all me given to
lamentation or the asking of favours; for it is the part of one who
takes such matters seriously to behave so with respect to them. He is
one who will possess beautiful and profitless things rather than
profitable and useful ones; for this is more proper to a character
that suffices to itself.
Further, a slow step is thought proper to the proud man, a deep voice,
and a level utterance; for the man who takes few things seriously is
not likely to be hurried, nor the man who thinks nothing great to be
excited, while a shrill voice and a rapid gait are the results of
hurry and excitement.
Such, then, is the proud man; the man who falls short of him is unduly
humble, and the man who goes beyond him is vain. Now even these are
not thought to be bad (for they are not malicious), but only mistaken.
For the unduly humble man, being worthy of good things, robs himself
of what he deserves, and to have something bad about him from the fact

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