OTHER MORAL VIRTUES
I. HE EXAMINES THE MATTER OF LIBERALITY AND THE OPPOSITE VICES.
A. He shows that liberality has to do with wealth.
A’ He says what his intention is. Let us next discuss liberality, — 649-650
Let us next discuss liberality.
B’ He shows the matter of liberality.
which seems to be a mean in regard to wealth. No one is praised as liberal for exploits in war, or for conduct in matters with which the temperate man is concerned, or again for pronouncing judgments. But a man is praised as liberal for his giving and taking of wealth.
C’ He explains what he had said. — 651-653
(Wealth here means whatever can be evaluated in terms of money.)
B. He shows that there are opposite vices dealing with this matter.
A’ He states his general intention. — 654
Extravagance is the excess and miserliness, the defect in the use of wealth.
B’ He mentions... we always... charge with miserliness people who are more diligent... about... wealth than they ought to be. — 655
Miserliness is always attributed to people who are more careful about money than they should be.
C’ He explains in what manner extravagance may be concerned with wealth. — 656-657
But the intemperate are sometimes accused of extravagance by inference, for the incontinent and the intemperate are notorious as extravagant wasters. For this reason, too, they seem to be very depraved; indeed they have many vices. However, they are not properly called prodigal, for a spendthrift is a man who has acquired one vice, that of wasting his substance (he is ruined by his own fault). The dissipation of one’s substance seems to be a kind of ruin of one’s being, since a man lives by means of riches. It is in this sense that extravagance is treated here.
II. HE DEFINES THEIR ACTS CONCERNED WITH THE PROPER MATTER (I.E., OF LIBERALITY AND OPPOSITE VICES).
A. ...considering first the liberal man.
A’ He examines the act of liberality.
1. HE SHOWS WHAT THE PRINCIPAL ACT OF LIBERALITY IS.
a. He makes clear that the act of liberality is the proper use of wealth. — 658
Things that have utility—among which are riches—can be used well or badly. And the man who possesses the virtue concerned with particular objects uses each one best. Therefore he who has the virtue dealing with wealth will use riches to the best advantage. This man is the liberal man.
b. He explains what the use of wealth is. — 659
The spending and distribution of wealth seem to be the use of it; the acceptance and saving of wealth more properly are the possession.
c. He draws a conclusion.
i. He states it. — 660
For this reason liberality is rather the bestowal of wealth on the right persons than the acceptance of wealth from proper sources or the refusal from improper sources.
ii. He substantiates the conclusion by five reasons.
v. FIRST. — 661
Virtue consists more in bestowing than in receiving benefits, more in performing good actions than in refraining from disgraceful ones. But it is obvious that the conferring of benefits and the performance of good deeds accompany disbursements.
w. SECOND. — 662
Thanks and, in a special way, praise are due the giver and not the recipient.
x. THIRD. — 663
Likewise, it is easier not to take from another than to give, for people prefer not to accept what belongs to others rather than give what is theirs.
y. FOURTH. — 664
People who give donations are called liberal, but not so those who receive gifts even honorably—such persons are praised for justice rather than liberality; those who simply accept gifts, however, are praised very little.
z. FIFTH. — 665
Of all virtuous men the liberal person is particularly loved, since he is useful because of his benefactions.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
649. Having completed the study of fortitude and temperance which deals with means preservative of human life itself, he now begins to examine other mediums which concern certain subsidiary goods and evils. First he defines the laudable mediums which are the virtues. Then [Lect. 17], at “Shame is not properly spoken of etc.” (B. 1128 b 10), he defines the mediums that are not virtues but passions. On the first point he does two things. Initially, he considers the virtues that regard external things. Next [Lect. 14], at “Some men seem to be etc.” (B. 1126 b 10), he considers the virtues pertaining to human actions. In regard to the first point he considers the virtues relating to riches. Second [Lect. 8], at “Judging by the name etc.” (B. 1123 a 33), he considers the virtues having to do with honors. He handles the initial point in two ways. First he considers liberality. Then [Lect. 7, at “it seems logical etc.” (B. 1122 a 18), he investigates magnificence.
The first point he subdivides in a twofold manner. Initially [I] he examines the matter of liberality and the opposite vices. Next [II], at “Things that have utility etc.,” he defines their acts concerned with the proper matter. He discusses the initial point from two aspects. First [I, A] he shows that liberality has to do with wealth. Then [I, B], at “Extravagance is the excess etc.,” he shows that there are opposite vices dealing with this matter. The first point is developed in three ways. Initially [I, A, A’] he says what his intention is. Next [A, B’], at “which seems to be a mean etc.,” he shows the matter of liberality. Last [A, C’], at “Wealth here etc.,” he explains what he had said.
650. After the treatise on temperance, he says first that we must take up the study of liberality because of the likeness between liberality and temperance. As temperance moderates the desires of tactile pleasures, so liberality moderates the desire of acquiring or possessing external goods.
651. At “which seems” [A, B’] he defines the matter of liberality, saying that it is a certain mean in regard to wealth. This is obvious from the fact that a man is praised as liberal not in military affairs (with which fortitude is concerned), nor in tactile pleasures (temperance has to do with these), nor in judgments (which are matters for justice). But he is praised for the giving and taking, i.e., the acceptance of wealth—more in giving than in taking, as will be shown afterwards (660, 661, 665, 666, 683).
652. We must consider that something can be called the matter of moral virtue in two ways: in one way as the proximate matter (thus the passions are the matter of many moral virtues); in the other way, as the remote matter (thus the objects of the passions are called their matter). Accordingly the proximate matter of fortitude is fear and recklessness; the remote matter, the fear of death; the proximate matter of temperance is desires and pleasures but the remote matter is food, drink, and sexual acts. Hence we find that the proximate matter of liberality is desire or love of wealth, and the remote matter is wealth itself.
653. Then [A, C’], at “Wealth here,” he explains what is understood by the name “wealth,” saying that the term signifies everything the value of which can be computed in dollars and cents, like a horse, a coat, a house, or whatever can be evaluated in cash. The reason is that to give or take these objects is the same as to give or take wealth.
654. At “Extravagance is” [I, B] he shows in what manner there are vices contrary to liberality. Here he makes the following points. First [B, A’] he states his general intention, saying that extravagance and miserliness in the use of wealth are denominated such by excess and defect.
655. Next [B, B’], at “Miserliness is always,” he mentions particularly that we always connect or charge with miserliness people who are more diligent, i.e., solicitous, about making or keeping wealth than they ought to be.
656. Finally [B, C’], at “But the intemperate” he explains in what manner extravagance may be concerned with wealth. By extension the term “extravagance” is applied occasionally to the intemperate, for men who live riotously and dissipate their riches by overindulgence in food and sex are sometimes called spendthrifts. Hence they seem very depraved in the sense that they also possess many vices, like intemperance and extravagance. Although such men at times may be called extravagant, nevertheless they do not strictly deserve the name that is used to signify a vice consisting in inordinate waste or consumption of one’s substance or riches. He proves the statement by the name “extravagance.” The extravagant person is spoken of as ruined inasmuch as dissipation of his own riches, by which he ought to live, seems to destroy his existence-a thing sustained by riches.
657. This name should be predicated of a man in relation to himself because each thing receives its species and name from what pertains to it essentially. Therefore a man is truly called extravagant who dissipates his riches precisely because he does not have proper care of them. On the other hand, he who wastes his substance for some other reason, for example, intemperance, is not essentially a spendthrift but an intemperate person. It happens now and then that even the covetous and grasping waste their goods because of the influence of concupiscence. For the present then we are treating extravagance according as some squander riches themselves and do not waste them in some other way.
658. Then [II], at “Things that have,” he explains in what way liberality and the opposite vices function in this matter. Here he takes up two (three) points, considering first [II, A] the liberal man; next [Lect. 3; II, B] the spendthrift, at “But the spendthrift etc.” (B. 1120 b 25); and finally [Lect. 5; II, C], the miser, at “Illiberality etc.” (B. 1121 b 13). He treats the first point from two aspects. First [II, A, A’] he examines the act of liberality; then [Lect. 2; II, A, B’], he states certain characteristics of it at “The liberal person however” (B. 1120 b 5). He discusses the first point in a twofold manner. First [A’, 1] he shows what the principal act of liberality is; and next [Lect. 2; A’, 2], what qualities this act should have, at “Since virtuous actions” (B. 1120 a 23). He handles the initial point under two headings. First [i, a] he makes clear that the act of liberality is the proper use of wealth, by the following argument. Whatever has any utility can be used well or badly. But riches are sought because they have some utility. Therefore they can be used well or badly. Now the proper use of things pertains to that virtue which deals with those things. Consequently, the proper use of wealth belongs to liberality, which is concerned with wealth, as we proved before (651-653).
659. Next [1, b ], at “The spending,” he explains what the use of wealth is, indicating that it consists in spending which takes place by disbursements and gifts. To accept or save wealth is not to use it, for acceptance brings about possession, and saving is the preservation of wealth; acceptance is a kind of production, and saving is an habitual retention. Use, however, does not signify production or habit but act.
660. Finally [1, c], at “For this m2son,” he draws a conclusion from what has been said. First [c, i] he states it, inferring from the premises that it is more characteristic of a liberal man to distribute wealth to the right persons than to accept wealth from the proper sources (this pertains to a lawful increase of wealth), and to refuse wealth from improper sources (this pertains to removal of the contrary).
661. Then [c, ii], at “Virtue consists,” he substantiates the conclusion by five reasons. The first reason [ii, v] is that it is more characteristic of virtue to bestow than to receive benefits because the act of benefitting is better and more difficult. Likewise, it is more characteristic of virtue to perform a good action than to refrain from an evil one, because departure from a terminus is the principle of motion to which the avoidance of an evil action is likened. But the performance of a good action is likened to the arrival at the goal which perfects motion. It is obvious when someone gives gifts that he bestows a benefit and performs a good action. On the other hand, it pertains to taking or acceptance to receive benefits worthily (inasmuch as a man acquires them from proper sources), and not to act unworthily (inasmuch as a man refuses them from improper sources). Consequently, it belongs to the virtue of liberality to give well rather than to receive worthily or refrain from reprehensible acceptance of gifts.
662. The second reason [ii, w], at “Thanks and,” follows. Praise and thanks are due in return for a good act. But each one of these is ascribed with better reason to the giver than the receiver, worthy or unworthy. Therefore, the virtue of liberality consists rather in giving than receiving.
663. The third reason is presented at “Likewise it is easier” [ii, x]. Virtue is concerned with the difficult. But it is easier not to receive what belongs to others than to give what is one’s own because a person giving what is his cuts himself away, so to speak, from what was a part of him. Therefore, the virtue of liberality more property has to do with giving than receiving.
664. The fourth reason, beginning at “People who” [ii, y], is taken from common usage. Men who give gifts are said to be liberal in a marked degree; those who do not accept dishonest gifts are commended not so much for liberality as justice, and those who simply accept presents are praised very little. Therefore, the virtue of liberality seems to be concerned in a special way with giving gifts.
665. The fifth reason is given at “Of all virtuous men” [ii, z]. Among all virtuous men the liberal person is especially loved not by an honorable friendship—as if liberality was a most excellent virtue—but by a friendship of utility precisely as he is useful to others. The liberal are indeed useful in this that they make disbursements. Therefore, liberality deals especially with giving gifts.
The Act of Liberality
Chapter 1 (II, A, A’)
2. HE SHOWS WHAT ITS QUALITIES (OF THE PRINCIPAL ACT OF LIBERALITY) SHOULD BE.
a. He explains the quality of the principal act.
i. What should be the quality of giving...
x. THE GIVING OF THE LIBERAL MAN SHOULD BE ENDOWED WITH CIRCUMSTANCES... — 666
Since virtuous actions are good both in themselves and in their intent, the liberal man will give with a good intention and in the right circumstances. He will make gifts to the proper persons, at the opportune time, of whatever gifts are fitting and with all the requisites of reasonable giving.
y. THE GIVING OF A LIBERAL PERSON SHOULD BE ENJOYABLE. — 667
Besides, he will give with pleasure and without sadness, for a virtuous action is pleasurable and either not sad at all or in a very slight degree.
ii. The other kinds of donations do not pertain to liberality.
x. ONE WHO GIVES TO THE WRONG PERSONS... IS NOT CALLED LIBERAL. — 668
The man, however, who gives to the wrong persons, or not with the right intention, but for some other cause will be called not liberal but by some other name.
y. A MAN WHO GIVES WITH SADNESS IS NOT LIBERAL. — 669
Nor will anyone be called liberal who gives with sadness, for he would choose money rather than the generous deed. Such a one surely is not liberal.
b. (He explains) the qualities of the secondary acts.
i. What the liberal person avoids in accepting. — 670
Nor will a liberal man accept a gift from an improper source, since an accepting of this sort is not characteristic of one who does not pay homage to wealth. And certainly he will not be inclined to seek favors, for it is not the usual thing that a man who bestows benefactions readily accepts them.
ii. What (the liberal man) should observe. — 671
He will take from the proper b sources, i.e., from his own possessions, for money is not good itself but necessary that he may have something to give. He will not give to everyone so that he can give to the right persons when and where it is fitting.
B’ He states four properties of liberality.
1. IT PERTAINS TO THE LIBERAL PERSON TO GIVE EAGERLY AND GENEROUSLY. — 672
The liberal person, however, is characteristically eager to be generous, keeping things of lesser value for his own use, for he is not solicitous about himself.
2. LIBERALITY IS ATTRIBUTED ACCORDING TO THE... QUANTITY OF A MANS SUBSTANCE. — 673
Liberality makes allowance for the amount of one’s wealth, since the liberal deed does not lie in the number of gifts but in the condition of the giver who gives according to his means. Nothing hinders the smaller donor from being more liberal, if he contributes from more limited resources.
3. PEOPLE WHO INHERIT RICHES... ARE MORE LIBERAL THAN THOSE WHO ACQUIRE THEM BY THEIR OWN LABOR. — 674
People who inherit wealth—not having any experience of need—are more liberal than those who earn their money. All men esteem more highly what they themselves have produced, like parents and poets.
4. THE FOURTH PROPERTY.
a. He indicates the property. — 675
It is not easy to increase the wealth of the liberal man who is inclined neither to accept nor keep riches but rather to distribute them, placing value not on riches themselves but on the bestowal of them.
b. He makes clear... what he had said. — 676
Men bring the accusation against fortune that of those who deserve wealth most do not become rich—a fact that has a reasonable explanation. Here (and the same is true in other matters) it is not possible for a person to possess money who does not trouble himself about it.
c. He excludes a false opinion. — 677
The liberal man, however, will not give to the wrong persons, nor at the wrong time, nor in any other wrong manner, for he would not be directed to these things according to liberality. Besides, by this squandering he would be without the resources on which to draw. As has been explained, the liberal man then spends according to his means and in the way he ought.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
666. After the Philosopher has made clear what the principal act of liberality is, he now [(II, A, A’)2] shows what its qualities should be. First [2, a] he explains the quality of the principal act; and next [2, b] the qualities of the secondary acts, at “Nor will a liberal man accept.” In regard to the initial point he does two things. First [a, i] he shows what should be the quality of giving which is the principal act of liberality. Then [a, ii] he shows that other kinds of donations do not pertain to liberality, at “The man, however, etc.” He treats the first point in a twofold manner. First [i, x] he explains that the giving of the liberal man should be endowed with circumstances because all virtuous operations ought to be good, directed by reason according to the required circumstances and ordered to a good end. Since, then, giving is the principal act of liberality, it follows that the liberal man should give with rectitude of intention and of deed, i.e., in conformity with the norm of reason. This means that he bestows on the proper person, in a fitting manner and according to all other requisite circumstances called for by right reason.
667. Next [i, y], at “Besides, he will give with pleasure,” he shows that the giving of a liberal person should be enjoyable. This is what he means saying that the liberal man gives cheerfully, or at least without sadness. It is true of any virtue, as evident in previous discussions (265-279, 371-378), that virtuous action is either pleasurable or at least without sadness. If the virtuous man has some sadness mingled with his activity, it will be very slight compared with what other men suffer. This was said before in regard to the brave man who, even if he does not take much pleasure in his operation, nevertheless is not made sad or at least has less sadness than anyone who undergoes trials of this kind in his activities.
668. Then [a, ii], at “The Man, however,” he brings out that other donations do not pertain to the liberal man. First [ii, x] he says—speaking of disbursements that lack the proper circumstances—that one who gives to the wrong persons, or not for an honorable motive but for some other reason, good or bad, is not called liberal. But he is given a different name according to the difference of the end for which he gives, since moral matters take their species and name from the end.
669. Second [ii, y], at “Nor will anyone,” he affirms that a man who gives with sadness is not liberal. The reason is that the cheerless giver seems to prefer wealth to the virtuous action of honorable giving—which is not the case with a liberal person.
670. Next [2, b], at “Nor will a liberal man accept,” he explains the nature of the secondary acts of liberality like receiving and so on. Here he makes two points, showing first what the liberal person avoids in accepting; and then [b, ii] what he should observe, at “He will take etc.” On the first point he makes two comments. The first is that the liberal man does not take from improper sources, for to take in this way does not seem becoming to a man who does not highly prize wealth. The second is that the liberal man is not quick to make requests. As in the natural order, what is greatly active has little receptivity, for example, fire, so in the moral order the liberal person, who is prompt in making benefactions, is not eager to accept benefits from others, i.e., to be easily receptive.
671. Then [b, ii] , at “He will take,” Aristotle shows what the liberal man should observe in taking and retaining. He makes three observations, of which the first is that the liberal man takes from the proper sources, i.e., from his own possessions and not from others, since he seeks wealth not as a good itself but as something necessary for making gifts. The second is that he does not neglect the care of his own goods because he wants to have enough to bestow on others. The third is that he does not give to everyone but holds back so he can give to the right persons at a fitting place and time.
672. Then [B’], at “The liberal person,” he states four properties of liberality. The first [B’, 1] is that it pertains to the liberal person to give eagerly and generously, not however without right reason but in such a way that what he gives is more than what he retains, because he keeps less for himself than he gives to others. He is indeed content with a few things for himself but if he wants to care for many people, he must distribute much more. It is not a mark of the generous man to have himself alone in mind.
673. At “Liberality makes allowance” he gives the second property [B’, 2], saying that liberality is attributed according to the relative quantity of a man’s substance or riches. Hence there is no reason why someone who bestows smaller gifts may not be judged more liberal, if he gives from more moderate means.
674. He presents the third property at “People who inherit” [B’, 3], affirming that persons who inherit riches from their parents are more liberal than those who acquire them by their own labor. He assigns two reasons for this. The first is that people who are given wealth by their parents have never felt the pinch of need. Consequently, they are not afraid to spend, as those are who have experienced poverty at one time. The second reason is that all men naturally love their own works; parents love their children, and poets, their poems. Likewise, those who acquire riches by their labor look upon them as their own works and rather desire to keep them.
675. He presents the fourth property at “It is not easy” [B’, 4]. He considers this point under three aspects. First [4, a] he indicates the property, saying that the liberal man is not easily made rich, since he is not disposed to accept or keep riches but rather to distribute them in gifts and disbursements. Nor does he value riches for themselves but for their distribution.
676. Next [4, b], at “Men bring the accusation,” he makes clear by a certain sign what he had said. Since the liberal do not readily become wealthy, the common people blame fortune—to which they attribute riches—because those who would be especially deserving (i.e., the liberal who give generously to others) are not rich. But Aristotle says that this is not an unreasonable occurrence, for it is not possible that a person should possess wealth who troubles himself very little about it, just as it is not possible that anything else which a man does not care for should be retained.
677. Finally [4, c] he excludes a false opinion at “The liberal man, however, will not.” It was not said that the liberal man does not care about riches because he gives to the wrong person, or at the wrong time, or in the wrong manner according to some other circumstance. The reason is both that such an operation would not be liberal and that the liberal person would be hindered in this way from truly generous action, for by reason of useless waste he would lack the means to make the most worthy disbursements. As has been explained (658-659), he is called liberal, then, who gives donations in the proper manner and according to the condition of his own resources.
Chapter 1 (II)
B. He begins the consideration of the spendthrift.
A’ He treats the person who is altogether extravagant.
1. HE CONSIDERS THE SPENDTHRIFT AS SUCH.
a. In what respect the spendthrift is excessive. — 678
But the spendthrift is a man who squanders. Hence we do not call tyrants spendthrifts, for it is not easy to be excessive in gifts and expenditures with a vast sum of money in their possession.
b. Of what nature (the spendthrift’s) act is.
i. He ... resumes what was said about the act of the liberal man.
x. HOW THE LIBERAL MAN SHOULD CONDUCT HIMSELF IN MATTERS PRINCIPALLY PERTAINING TO HIM. — 679
Since liberality is the mean concerned with the giving and taking of wealth, the liberal man will both give and expend whatever he ought and in the way he ought, whether the sum be large or small. He will also do this gladly.
y. IN MATTERS SECONDARILY PERTAINING TO HIM.
aa. The liberal man’s reaction to taking. — 680
Likewise he will accept both large and small amounts from the proper sources and under the proper conditions. Since virtue consists in the mean regarding both (taking and giving), he will do both as he ought because virtuous taking goes hand in hand with virtuous giving, while improper taking is contrary to virtuous giving. Accordingly, the operations that go hand in hand exist at the same time in the liberal man, but contrary operations obviously cannot.
bb. (The liberal man’s reaction) to sadness.
a’. Saddened by disordered giving. — 681
If it should happen that he spends inopportunely and unsuccessfully, he will be sad but in a moderate and fitting manner, for it is characteristic of virtue to be pleased and saddened at the proper things and in the proper circumstances.
b’. By the privation of wealth. — 682
But the liberal man is disposed to share his wealth with others. He is even willing to suffer loss by not valuing money highly.
c’. Is grieved at inappropriate retention of money. — 683
He is more grieved over failure to make an appropriate outlay than over an inopportune expenditure-a thing displeasing to Simonides.
ii. How the act of the spendthrift is constituted. — 684
The spendthrift, however, sins in these matters too. Besides, he neither takes pleasure in the right things, nor is saddened when he should be. This will be clarified by what follows.
2. HE MAKES A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE SPENDTHRIFT AND THE MISER.
a. In regard, first to opposition. — 685
We have seen that extravagance and miserliness pertain to excess and defect, and occur in two actions, namely, giving and taking. Extravagance then abounds in giving and falls short in taking. On the other hand, miserliness falls short in giving and abounds in taking, except in trifling things.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
678. After the Philosopher has finished the study of the liberal man, he now [(II)B] begins the consideration of the spendthrift. First [A’] he treats the person who is altogether extravagant; and next [Lect. 4, B’] the person who is partly extravagant and partly liberal at “But, as we have noted etc.” (B. 1121 a 30). In regard to the first, lie does two things. Initially  he considers the spendthrift as such. Then  he makes a comparison between the spendthrift and the miser, at “We have seen etc.” He clarifies the initial point by a twofold distinction. First [1, a] he shows in what respect the spendthrift is excessive; and next [1, b], of what nature his act is, at “Since liberality is the mean etc.” Although I man may be called liberal when he spends according to his means, he is called extravagant when he spends or gives beyond his means. From this he concludes that tyrants, who have an inexhaustible supply of wealth-usurping as they do public goods for themselves-are not called extravagant. The reason is that it is not easy f or tyrants to exceed the amount of their riches by donations and expenditures because of the great amount of their possessions.
679. Then [i, b], at “Since liberality.” he discloses what the act of the spendthrift is. Because opposites are mutually revealing, he first [b, i] resumes what was said about the act of the liberal man. Next [b, ii], he shows how the act of the spendthrift is constitut ‘ ed, at “The spendthrift, however, etc.” On the first point he proceeds in two ways. First [i, x] he reviews how the liberal man should conduct himself in the matters principally pertaining to him, i.e., in giving and in the pleasure of giving; and next [i, A in matters secondarily pertaining to him, at “Likewise he will accept.” He says first that, since liberality is a certain dealing with giving and taking of wealth, the liberal person, disposes of his funds by making gifts and disbursements—and this in agreement with right reason—in the proper way, of the proper things, and according to other appropriate circumstances. By this the liberal man is distinguished from the spendthrift; by the fact that he gives both in large and small amounts he is distinguished from the munificent man, who is concerned only with great donations; by the fact that he gives with pleasure he differs from the miser who is saddened by the giving away of his wealth.
68o. Next [i, y], at “Likewise he will accept,” Aristotle reviews the way the liberal man should act in matters which secondarily pertain to liberality. He touches first [y, aa] on the liberal man’s reaction to taking; and next [y, bb], to sadness at “If it should etc.” He says first that the liberal person accepts from the proper sources and observes all proper conditions. Since the virtue of liberality abides by the golden mean in regard to both, i.e., taking and giving, the liberal man will perform both as he ought-worthy acceptance going hand in hand with worthy giving. But acceptance that is not virtuous is contrary to virtuous giving because the two proceed from contrary causes. Virtuous giving proceeds from the fact that a man prefers the reasonable good to the desire for wealth. But dishonorable taking arises from placing the desire of wealth before the reasonable good. Things that go hand in hand exist at the same time in the same subject, but not things that are contrary. Hence virtuous giving and taking that accompany one another are united in the liberal person, but dishonorable taking is not found in him together with virtuous taking, its contrary.
681. Then [y, bb], at “If it should,” he explains how the liberal man reacts to sadness arising from the loss of wealth. He develops this point in three steps. First [bb, a’] he shows in what manner the liberal person is saddened by disordered giving, affirming that if some of his own money be lost by reason of foolish spending and unfortunate conditions, he becomes sad as any virtuous man is saddened by doing something contrary to virtue. In this sorrow, however, he observes the rule of reason with moderation and as he should. The reason is that it is characteristic of the virtuous person to be delighted and to be saddened by the right thing and in the right manner.
682. Next [bb, b’], at “But the liberal man,” he shows how the generous person is saddened by the privation of wealth, saying that he is disposed to share his wealth, i.e., is inclined to possess it in common, as it were, with others. He can, without grief, permit someone to injure him in money matters because he does not attach great importance to wealth.
683. Third [bb, c’], at “He is more grieved,” he discloses in what manner the liberal man is grieved at inappropriate retention of money, explaining that he is more grieved or saddened over not using his wealth in gifts or expenditures than over spending something which he should not have spent. The reason is that he is more concerned with giving than taking and keeping, although this would not please Simonides, a certain poet, who said we ought to do the opposite.
684. Then [b, ii], at “The spendthrift, however,” he explains by the premises how the act of the spendthrift is constituted, saying that the spendthrift sins in all the preceding matters, i.e., not only in giving and accepting but also in taking pleasure
and grieving because he is neither delighted nor saddened by the right things and in the right way. This will be made clearer by what follows.
685. Next , at “We have seen,” he compares extravagance to miserliness in regard, first [2, a] to opposition; and second [Lect. 4, (A’, 2), b] to the gravity of the sin, at “The things that” (B. 1121 a 16). He affirms, as was noted before (654), that extravagance and miserliness are constituted by excess and defect in two things, viz., taking and giving. He says this because expenditures, which pertain to liberality, are included under giving. And it is precisely in expenditures that the spendthrift and the miser exceed and fall short in opposite things. The spendthrift is excessive in giving and in not taking. But the miser, on the contrary, is deficient in giving and excessive in taking, except perhaps in trifling things that he gives and does not care to take.
The Gravity of Extravagance
b. He shows that miserliness is the more serious fault for three reasons.
i. The first reason is taken from the mutability of extravagance. — 686-687
The things that are proper to extravagance are not increased very much at the same time, because a man cannot easily take nothing and at the same time give with an open hand to everyone. A generous simpleton-such the spendthrift seems to be-is soon separated from his money. A person of this sort, though, is somewhat better than the miser, for he is quickly set right both by age and want.
ii. The second reason... based on the likeness of extravagance to liberality. — 688-689
He can attain the mean of virtue, for he possesses qualities of the liberal person. He gives and does not take, although he does neither of these things properly and as he ought. If indeed he performs them out of custom or by reason of some change, he will become liberal, for he will then give to the right persons and not take from the wrong sources. For this reason he does not seem to be entirely evil in the moral sense, for it is not characteristic of an evil or vicious person, but of a foolish one, to give excessively and not to take.
iii. The third reason taken from a defect in extravagance. — 690
In this way the spendthrift seems to be much better than the miser because of what has been said and because he benefits many people while the miser benefits no one, not even himself.
(II)B’ He considers the man who is a blend of spendthrift and miser.
1. HE SHOWS IN WHAT MANNER SOME SPENDTHRIFTS HAVE A BIT OF ILLIBERALITY.
a. He... explains how some spend thrifts sin in taking.
i. He presents his proposition. — 691
But, as we have noted, many spendthrifts take from tainted sources and in this way they are ungenerous.
ii. He assigns two reasons. — 692-693
They are inclined to take because they want to spend. But they cannot readily take enough, for their resources quickly vanish forcing them to acquire from others. Likewise they care nothing about what is right, and take from any quarter whatsoever. They want to give presents, so the how and the whence make no immediate difference to them.
b. How (spendthrifts) conduct themselves in giving. — 694
For these reasons their donations are not liberal, being good neither in motive nor mode. But they make rich those who would better remain poor. They would give nothing to good men, yet are generous with flatterers and others who provide them with other pleasures.
2. HE DRAWS SOME CONCLUSIONS.
a. The first is... many spendthrifts are intemperate. — 695
Therefore, many of them are intemperate, for being inclined to spend, they waste their resources by intemperance. Moreover, since they do not order their life to good, they turn aside to sensual pleasures.
b. He draws the second conclusion. — 696
The spendthrift then who will not learn (the way of virtue) suffers consequences. But with effort he may attain the mean and adopt the right attitude.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
686. After the Philosopher has explained the opposition between extravagance and miserliness, he now shows [b] that miserliness is the more serious fault for three reasons. The first reason [b. i] is taken from the mutability of extravagance: although not readily increased it is easily eliminated. Hence he says that the things belonging to extravagance cannot at the same time be increased very much, so that a person takes nothing and gives to everyone because resources or riches are quickly exhausted for those who spend recklessly, like the simple and senseless. And spendthrifts seem to be of this type. Since then a vice, which is not increased very much but easily remedied, is not so serious, it: follows that the spendthrift is somewhat better, i.e., less evil than the miser.
687. The spendthrift is easily cured of his vice in two ways. In the first way by age because the older a man grows the more inclined he is to keep things and not give them away. The reason is that riches are desired to supply the needs of man, and as these needs become greater so a man is more prone to husband and not hand out his wealth. Second, the spendthrift is cured by poverty resulting from excessive giving, for poverty prevents extravagant spending both by reason of the impossibility of further giving and the experience of need.
688. At “He can attain” [b, ii] he gives the second re;ason, which is based on the likeness of extravagance to liberality. Hence he says that the spendthrift can easily be directed to the mean of virtue on account of the similarity he has with the liberal man. Since the spendthrift generously gives and does not readily take, he has qualities possessed by the liberal person. But he differs from the liberal man in not doing either of these actions properly and as he ought, i.e., according to right reason. Therefore, if he is induced to perform these things as he ought, either by custom or by some change in age or fortune he will become liberal so that he will give to the right persons and not take from the wrong sources.
689. He concludes from this that the spendthrift does not seem to be evil precisely as it pertains to moral virtue, which directly regards the power of the appetite. It is not characteristic of an evil or perverted appetite or of an effeminate mind to give excessively and not to take. This belongs rather to a kind of stupidity. Thus it seems that extravagance does not belong so much to moral depravity, which regards the inclination of the appetite to evil, as to a lack of common sense.
690. At “In this way” [b, iii] he presents the third reason taken from a defect in extravagance. That the spendthrift is much better than the miser is apparent not only from the two reasons already stated but also from a third, namely, the spendthrift helps many by his giving, although he may hurt himself by giving extravagantly. The miser, on the other hand, benefits no one for he fails in giving; he does not benefit even himself, for he fails in spending.
691. Then [II, B’], at “But, as we have noted,” he considers the man who is a blend of spendthrift and miser. First  he shows in what manner some spendthrifts have a bit of illiberality. Next  he draws some conclusions from what has been said, at “Therefore.” On the initial point he first [1, a] explains how some spendthrifts sin in taking; and then [1, b] how they conduct themselves in giving, at “For these reasons.” In regard to this first, he presents his proposition [a, i], saying that many who are extravagant in unnecessary donations are also ungenerous in some way, taking as they do from the wrong sources.
692. Next [a, ii], at “They are inclined” he assigns two reasons. The first is that spendthrifts are disposed to take because they want to spend their goods in superfluous gifts and expenditures. They readily succeed in this, for their resources are quickly depleted. Hence, in order that they may satisfy their desire regarding unnecessary gifts and disbursements, they are forced to acquire dishonestly from some other place the means they do not possess.
693. The second reason is that they give rather out of a desire of giving than according to right reason, tending, as it were, to some good. They want to give presents but it makes no difference to them how or whence these come. Consequently, they do not concern themselves about what is right and so take from any source without distinction.
694. Then [i, b], at “For these reasons,” he explains how spendthrifts may be at fault in making donations. He declares that, because they do not care about what is right, their gifts are neither liberal nor good, either in motive or circumstance. But sometimes they make rich evil men who would be better off poor-men who abuse their riches and thereby cause harm both to themselves and others. Yet they would give nothing to men who regulate their lives according to virtue. Thus they are deficient in giving. They are, however, generous with sycophants or others who give them pleasure in any way whatsoever, e.g., buffoons or panderers. In this way they go to excess in giving.
695. Next , at “Therefore,” he draws two conclusions from the premises. The first [2, a] is that many spendthrifts are intemperate. This is evident first, because (being inclined to spend), they readily waste their substance by intemperance in food and sex, from which many people are restrained by fear of the cost. Second, because they do not order their life to an honorable good, consequently they turn aside to the pleasures of sense. These two (the honorable and the pleasurable) are desirable in themselves—the honorable according to rational desire, the pleasurable according to sensual desire. The useful refers to both.
696. He draws the second conclusion [2, b], at “The spendthrift,” pointing out what is clear from the premises: that if the spendthrift cannot be attracted to virtue, he falls into the previously mentioned vices. But if he possesses zeal for virtue, he will easily attain the mean so that he will give and refrain from taking according to what he ought, as was stated before (688).
The Incurableness of Illiberality
(II)C. He treats illiberality.
A’ He states a quality of illiberality. — 697-698
Illiberality, however, is incurable for it seems that old age and every other disability make men miserly. Besides, it is more innate to men than extravagance because more men are lovers of wealth than donors of it.
B’ He distinguishes the... species of illiberality.
1. HE SHOWS THAT ILLIBERALITY IS CONSIDERED FROM TWO ASPECTS. — 699
Likewise illiberality can greatly increase, and is very diversified since many species of it seem to exist. It is made up of two elements, namely, deficient giving and needless grasping, which are sometimes found separately and not always together in all 20 subjects. Some indeed are always getting and others never giving.
2. HE GIVES THE SPECIES... ACCORDING TO DEFICIENCY IN GIVING. — 700-702
All those who are given names like stingy, grasping, close, fall short in giving. But they do not covet the goods of others, nor do they want to acquire them. With some this is due to a kind of moderation and fear of disgrace. They seem to be, or say that they are, careful about this in order not to be forced at times to do anything dishonorable. Among these are the cuminsplitter and anyone of the type designated before by reason of an excessive desire of not giving to anyone. Some again refrain from what is not theirs for fear that their taking of what belongs to others should make it easy for others to take what is theirs. Therefore, they are content neither to give nor to take.
3. HE GIVES THE SPECIES... ACCORDING TO UNNECESSARY TAKING.
a. Those who take in a disgraceful way. — 703
Others again are immoderate in their taking by accepting anything and from any quarter, for example, those who engage in disreputable enterprises, those who live from the proceeds of prostitution, and such like, and usurers who lend small sums and at high rates. All of these receive more than they should and from reprehensible sources. Common to them is sordid gain because they all become infamous for the sake of a little money. People who wrongly take great sums from wrong sources are not called illiberal, for instance, usurpers who plunder cities and despoil sacred places but rather wicked, impious, and unjust.
b. Who take in an unjust way. — 704
Among the illiberal, however, we count the gambler, the despoiler of the dead and the robber—shameful profit-makers. For the sake of evil gain, these engage in occupations having the stamp of infamy. Some run the risk of very great danger for gain, while others would take from friends to whom they should give. In both cases, those wishing to enrich themselves are makers of shameful profit. It is clear then that all taking of this kind is opposed to liberality.
C’ He makes a comparison of illiberality with its opposite. — 705-706
Appropriately then illiberality is said to be the vice opposed to liberality, for it is a graver evil than extravagance. Likewise men sin more by illiberality than by extravagance. So far, therefore, we have discussed liberality and the opposite vices.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
697. After the Philosopher has finished the treatise on extravagance, he now [(II)C] treats illiberality, examining it under three headings. First [A’] he states a quality of illiberality. Next [B’], he distinguishes the modes, i.e., the species of illiberality, at “Likewise etc.” Last [C’], he makes a comparison of illiberality with its opposite ar “Appropriately then etc.” He says first that illiberality is incurable, and assigns two reasons for this. The first reason is that human life, and even earthly things, tend to be defective for the most part. It is obvious from experience that old age and every other disability or defect make a man parsimonious, because it seems to him that he is very much in need. Therefore, he has a great desire for external things that supply the wants of man.
698. The second reason is this. That to which man is naturally inclined cannot easily be removed from him. But man is more inclined to illibtrality than extravagance. A sign of this is that more lovers and custodians of money exist than donors. What is natural is found in the majority of cases. And nature inclines to the love of riches to the extent that man’s life is preserved by them.
699. Then [B’], at “Likewise,” he distinguishes the modes or species of illiberality. On this point he does three things. First [i] he shows that illiberality is considered from two aspects, viz., excess in getting and defect in giving. Next , at “All those who,” he gives the species which are understood according to deficiency in giving. Last , at “Others again,” he gives the species that are able to be distinguished according to unnecessary taking. He says first that illiberality is increased greatly; it extends to a multitude of things and is diversified inasmuch as there are many kinds of illiberality. Although illiberality may exist in two forms, defect of giving and excess of taking, not all illiberal people sin in both ways as though they possessed the whole nature of illibcrality. But it is found separately in various persons so that some abound in taking who nevertheless do not fall short in dispensing, like the spendthrift previously considered (678). Others, however, fall short in dispensing and, notwithstanding, do not abound in taking.
700. Next , at “All those who,” he sets down the types of persons who are deficient in giving. He says that some are called stingy who spend very little; others are called grasping who retain nearly everything from a defect in giving. Still others are called closefisted, or cumin-splitters from an excessive tenacity they manifest in refusing to give the smallest thing without a return. However, these are not excessive in taking because they do not covet the goods of others, nor do they care much about accepting gifts. This happens for two reasons.
701. The first reason is that they pass up these opportunities out of moral consideration and fear of turpitude. They seem to keep what is theirs—they even say so expressly—lest, if they give what they have, they may be forced sometimes to a shameful act because of need. Likewise, they are unwilling to accept the goods of others since they think it dishonorable. They even hesitate lest they be induced to something unsecinly by those who gave to them. Among these seem to be the skinflint or the cumin-splitter, so named because he has an aversion to giving anyone even a tiny seed. The same reason holds in all similar cases.
702. The second reason is that some refrain from taking other people’s goods because they fear they may have to give, as if it were not easy for men to take the things that belong to others and others not to take the things which are theirs. On this account they are content neither to give nor to take.
703. Then , at “Others again,” he mentions the species of illiberality in regard first [3, a ], to those who take in a disgraceful way; and next [3, b], who take in an unjust way, at “Among the illiberal.” He says first that certain illiberal persons are immoderate in taking, not caring what or whence they take or profit. Some benefit from cheap and servile operations. Others, like pimps, make profit from sordid and unlawful dealing, e.g., prostitution and the like. Still others enrich themselves by unjust exaction, for instance, usurers and those who want at least a little gain from a large gift or loan. All these receive from reprehensible sources, i.e., mean or shameful works, or they receive more than they should, like usurers who take more than the interest. All have profit, and this paltry, in common. nose who make enormous profits, and make them b y shameful means—they are considered disgraceful for this reason—are not called illiberal but rather wicked, unjust, and impious against God, as if they were criminals. Men of this caliber are not so designated even though they take when they ought not and what they ought not, for example, usurpers who despoil cities and temples.
704. Next [3, b], at “Among the illiberal,” he mentions those who take unjustly, like the gambler who makes money by throwing dice, the fellow who steals from the dead (formerly buried in rich apparel), and the robber who plunders the living. All these are enriched by shameful means, inasmuch as, for the sake of gain, they engage in certain occupations considered disgraceful. This agrees with what was said about those persons just mentioned (703). But in these there is a special reason for turpitude. Some, for example, the despoiler of the dead and the robber expose themselves to great danger in doing things punishable by law. Others, namely, gamblers want to take something from their friends with whom they play, although it is more appropriate to liberality to give something to friends. It is obvious then that both types, by wanting to enrich themselves from improper sources, are makers of shameful profits. It is necessary, therefore, to say that all the previously mentioned taking or accepting is opposed to liberality.
705. Then [C’], at “Appropriately then,” he explains illiberality by comparison with the opposite vice, saying that illiberality is fittingly named from the contrast with liberality. It always happens that the worse vice is more opposed to the virtue. But illiberality is worse than extravagance, as was shown before (686-690). Consequently, it remains that illiberality is more opposed to liberality. The second reason is that men commit graver sins by the vice of illiberality than by the vice of extravagance. Therefore, illiberality gets its name from the privation of liberality because liberality is frequently destroyed by this vice.
706. Lastly, he sums up what has been said, stating that so far we have discussed liberality and the opposite vices.
I. HE TREATS THE MATTER OF MAGNIFICENCE AND THE OPPOSITE VICES.
A. He shows what the matter of magnificence is.
A’ He proposes the matter common to magnificence and liberality. — 707
It seems logical to pass now to the consideration of magnificence which apparently is a certain virtue concerned with wealth.
B’ He explains the difference between the two.
1. HE PROPOSES THE DIFFERENCE. — 708
Unlike liberality it does not embrace all but only lavish expenditures of money; it is in wealth’s magnitude (as the name itself indicates) that magnificence exceeds liberality, although the amount expended is not out of proportion.
2. HE MAKES CLEAR WHAT HE SAID. — 709
But magnitude is a relative term, for the same expenditure is not fit for a captain of a trireme and a leader of a solemn mission to Delphi; it is fitting according to the spender, the thing, and the purpose.
C’ He proves his proposition. — 710
The man, however, who spends small or moderate sums in a becoming manner is not called munificent, for instance, if he makes frequent donations that in the aggregate are large; only he who gives on a grand scale. The munificent man is indeed liberal, but man certain qualities pertaining to the one who is liberal and nothing more is not munificent.
B. (He shows) what the vices opposed to it are. — 711
In this matter the habit of defect is called meanness, and of excess banausia (ostentation); the name apirocalia (lack of taste) is given to all other such defects that are not excessive in the sums expended on the right projects but in the wrong circumstances and with a certain vulgar display. We shall discuss these vices afterwards.
II. HE EXPLAINS IN WHAT MANNER MAGNIFICENCE AND THE OPPOSITE VICES OPERATE.
A’ He assigns to the munificent manner of spending.
1. HE ATTRIBUTES... SIX QUALITIES: THE FIRST... — 712-713
A munificent person is like a wise man, for he can judge rightly and spend great sums prudently. (As we said in the beginning, habit is determined by operations and is a product of them.) He makes great and dignified expenditures, and the effects are of a like nature. Thus his expenses will be great and also suited to the work. Therefore, the work must be worth the cost, and the cost equal to or in excess of the work.
2. THE SECOND QUALITY... ON THE PART OF THE END. — 714
Things of this kind he spends for the sake of good, and this is common to virtues.
3. THE THIRD... TO SPEND GREAT SUMS CHEERFULLY. — 715
Furthermore, he acts cheerfully and open-handedly, for closeness in reckoning is niggardly.
4. THE FOURTH QUALITY. — 716
He plans how the best and most splendid work may be achieved rather than how he may acquire as much for a minimum cost.
5. THE FIFTH... ONE WHO IS MUNIFICENT SHOULD BE LIBERAL. — 717
Likewise the munificent man is necessarily liberal, since the liberal person makes the right expenditures in the right manner; and it is in this that the greatness of the munificent person lies—a greatness in these matters being a kind of grand liberality.
6. THE SIXTH QUALITY. — 718
Besides, for the same cost he will produce a more magnificent work, for the perfection of possession and work does not reside in the same thing. But the perfect possession consists of what is most valued and honored, for example, gold. On the other hand, the perfect work consists of what is great and good, for consideration of it brings about admiration. And truly a magnificent work is a cause of admiration, and the perfection of the work, magnificence, resides in its magnitude.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
707. After the Philosopher has finished the study of liberality, he now begins to consider magnificence, the treatment of which he divides into two parts. In the first part [I] he treats the matter of magnificence and the opposite vices. In the second [II] he explains in what manner magnificence and the opposite vices operate in their respective matter, at “A munificent person is like a wise man etc.” On the first point he does two things. First [I, A] he shows what the matter of magnificence is; and second [I, B] what the vices opposed to it are, at “In this matter etc.” To clarify the first division he does three things. First [I, A, A’] he proposes the matter common to magnificence and liberality. Next [I, A, B’] he explains the difference between the two, at “Unlike liberality etc.” Last [I, A, C] he proves his proposition, at “The man, however etc.” He says first it seems appropriate that the treatise on magnificence should follow that on liberality. The reason is that magnificence, like liberality, is apparently a virtue concerned with wealth.
708. Then [1, A, B’], at “Unlike liberality,” he explains the difference between the matter of magnificence and liberality. He explains this point in a twofold manner. First [1, A, B’, 1] he proposes the difference. Next [1, A, B’, 2] he makes clear what he said, at “But magnitude etc.” Regarding the first he mentions two differences. The first is that liberality refers to all transactions concerned with money, viz., expenditures, receipts and donations. But magnificence refers only to disbursements or expenditures. The second difference is that in disbursements or expenditures magnificence exceeds liberality in the magnitude of the amount expended. Magnificence deals only in princely outlays, as the name implies, while liberality can be concerned also with moderate or excessive expenditures. Although magnitude indicates a kind of excess, we are not to understand that the munificent person spends on such a grand scale that he exceeds the bounds of reason, but his expenditures are made in amounts that are also in keeping with what is becoming. It is in keeping with both the one who spends and the projects on which the money is spent, as will be pointed out later (721-724).
709. Next [I, A, B, 2], at “But magnitude,” he explains what he said, i.e., the manner in which the greatness of the expense is becoming to a munificent person. Because the word “great” is predicated relatively, as stated in the Categories (Ch. 6, 5 b 15), it is said here that the greatness of the expenditure is judged in reference to something else, for instance, the thing for which the expenditures are made or the person spending. The reason is that not the same outlay is considered large for a triarch (a commander of galleys having three rows of oars and called a trireme) and for a leader of a solemn enterprise, i.e., the chief superintendent, like a master of a temple or a school. The expenditure must be suitable in comparison with the dispenser and the thing for which the money is spent. Likewise the purpose for which the thing is used must be taken into consideration. Thus if expenses are incurred for the building of a house, we must consider further for whom the house is intended, whether for a public official or a private person, because different expenditures are demanded for different purposes.
71o. Then [I, A, C’], at “The man, however,” he proves his statement, i.e., that great expenditure pertains to magnificence. The reason is that one who spends small or even moderate sums in a proper manner is not called munificent, for instance, if he frequently makes many separate disbursements for trifling things, so that all his expenditures taken together would make as great an amount as that which the munificent man spends, nevertheless he would not be called munificent even though he disbursed these small sums promptly and generously. Because every munificent person is liberal, it does not follow that every liberal person is munificent.
711. At “In this matter” [I, B ] he shows what vices are contrary to magnificence. He says that the vice opposed to the habit of magnificence by defect is called meanness; but the vice by excess, banausia (ostentation) from baunos meaning furnace,’ because such as have the vice consume all their goods as in a furnace. If other terms of this kind exist, they come under the name apirocalia (lack of taste): offenders being, as it were, without experience of what is suitable because they do not know how to do the proper thing. Such names signify excess not because they surpass the munificent person in the amount of disbursements on the right projects, but they are excessive in going beyond right reason, spending, with a certain display, great sums on the wrong things. It is obvious from this that the mean and the extremes in moral virtues are not taken according to absolute quantity but in relation to right reason. He adds that he will discuss these vices afterwards in this book (784-790).
712. Next [II], at “A munificent person,” he explains in what manner magnificence and the opposite vices are concerned with the previously mentioned matter. First [II, A] he treats magnificence, and then [Lect. 7 (II) B] the opposite vices, at “One who sins etc.” (B. 1123 a 19). On the initial point he does two things. First [II, A, A’] he assigns to the munificent man certain qualities pertaining to the manner of spending. Then [Lect. 6, (II, A), B’] he shows on what objects the munificent person makes expenditures, at “Magnificence belongs etc.” (B. 1122 b 19). In regard to the first he attributes to the munificent person six qualities, the first (II, A, A’, 1] of which is that he is like a wise man. The reason is that, as it belongs to a wise craftsman to know the proportion of one thing to another, so also it belongs to the munificent man to know the proportion between expenditures and that for which the expenditures are made. In virtue of his habit the munificent man is able to judge what may be proper to spend. Thus he will make grand disbursements in a prudent way because prudent operation is required for every moral virtue.
713. The Philosopher clarifies the statement by what was said in the second book (322), that every habit is determined by operations and objects of which it is the habit, because determined habits have their own proper operations and objects. Since the operations of magnificence are expenditures, and the objects of the operations are the things for which the expenditures are made, it is therefore the duty of the munificent man to consider and expend large and handsome sums, which cannot be done without prudence. In this way the vast outlay will be in keeping with the operation, for instance, the construction of a house or something of this sort. So then the project on which the money is spent must be such that it is worthy of the cost or expense and this ought to be worthy of the work, or in excess of it. It is very difficult to attain the mean; hence if a departure from the mean should occur, virtue always inclines to what has less evil, as the brave man to less fear, the liberal man to giving and so the munificent man to more spending.
714. He gives the second quality [II, A, A’, 2], at “Things of this kind,” which is understood on the part of the end. The munificent person, he says, consumes grand and proper amounts for an honorable good as for an end. Now, to work for a good is common to all the virtues.
715. At “‘Furthermore” [II, A, A’, 3] he presents the third consideration, saying that it is characteristic of the munificent man to spend great sums cheerfully and with an open hand, dispensing them promptly and readily. The reason is that great caution in accounting or computing expenses pertains to illiberality.
716. He introduces the fourth quality at “He plans” [II, A, A’, 4], affirming that the munificent person plans how he may accomplish the best and most splendid work rather than how he can spend the least in doing the desired work.
717. He enumerates the fifth quality, at “Likewise the munificent” [II, A, A’, 5] when he says that one who is munificent should be liberal. The reason is that the liberal person should make the right expenditures in the right manner. The munificent man, too, acts in this way, for he makes outlays for great and noble achievements, as was just said (708); and he docs this cheerfully, generously, and for a good purpose. But it is characteristic of the munificent person to do something on a grand scale touching this matter. In fact magnificence is nothing other than a kind of magnified liberality concerning these things.
718. At “Besides, for the same cost” [II, A, A’, 6] he gives the sixth quality. He says that, although the munificent person incurs great expense for some noble work, he produces a more magnificent work with equal expenditure. This is so because excellence (what is ultimate and best) is not the same in possession of money and in a work for which money is spent. Excellence (what is greatest and best) in possessions is found in the most valued object, viz., gold, which men highly honor and prize. But excellence in a work is found in this that a work is great and good; for the contemplation of such a work gives rise to admiration-and this is what magnificence does. So it is evident that the “virtue” of a work, i.e., its greatest excellence corresponds to magnificence involving expenditures on a large scale.
The Objects of Magnificence
B’ He shows the principal object on which the munificent person should spend money.
1. FOR WHAT THINGS THE MUNIFICENT MAN SHOULD MAKE EXPENDITURES.
a. The principal objects for which the munificent should spend money.
i. The principal objects... for which the munificent person disburses funds. — 719-720
Magnificence belongs to those princely outlays we call most honorable, like votive offerings to the gods, preparations, sacrifices and other things pertaining to divine worship. It belongs, also, to any lavish gifts made for the common good, such as a splendid donation for the benefit of all, or the fitting out of a trireme, or the giving of a banquet to the whole community.
ii. Who should make such expenditures.
x. FOR WHOM, IN GENERAL, SUCH EXPENDITURES ARE APPROPRIATE. — 721
But in all these things, as was just stated, reference is made to the agent—who he is and what possessions he has, for the disbursements must be commensurate with these circumstances and appropriate not only to the work but also to the spender.
y. FOR WHOM, IN PARTICULAR, THEY ARE INAPPROPRIATE. — 722
For this reason the poor man will not be munificent, since he has not the resources from which he may spend large sums becomingly. If he tries to do so, he is unwise for this would be improper and inopportune. And what is according to virtue is done rightly.
z. FOR WHOM, IN PARTICULAR, THEY ARE APPROPRIATE. — 723-724
A great expenditure is suitable for those who have wealth themselves, from their parents, or from others transferring it to them; likewise for the noble and those renowned for fame or other similar public acclaim, since all these things have a certain greatness and distinction.
iii. He sums up his views. — 725
Such then, especially, is the munificent person, and as we have said, by such expenditures magnificence is exercised in the greatest and most honorable works;
b. The secondary objects (for which the munificent person should spend money).
i. The first. — 726
or even in any private affair that happens once, for example, a wedding and the like;
ii. The second kind. — 727
or in any event of great interest to the whole city and the dignitaries; or in the reception and departure of foreign guests, in the presentation of gifts and in the repayment of favors. Yet the munificent man does not spend lavishly on himself but donates for the public welfare gifts that have a likeness to those consecrated to God.
iii. The third kind. — 728-729
It is the privilege of the munificent man to use his riches to build a home which is indeed an ornament, and to spend larger sums on whatever portions are of a permanent nature, for these are best.
2. HE PRESERVES PROPORTION BETWEEN THE COST AND THE OBJECTS PAID FOR. — 730-731
He will spend in a manner proper to each thing. The same expenditure is not appropriate to gods and men, nor in building a temple and a tomb. He will make an outlay for each thing according to the kind, being most munificent in spending a great amount on a great work. But the expense will be great in comparison with the things. What is great in regard to the work differs from what is great in cost considered in itself. A very pretty ball or jar takes on magnificence when presented as a gift to a child, although the price is trivial and not in the category of liberal. Hence the munificent person has the advantage of performing a great work in any category. And a work, great in its class and reasonable in its cost, can hardly be surpassed. This, then, is a description of the munificent person.
B. He treats the opposite vices.
A’ First, considering excess. — 732
One who sins by excess, i.e., the vulgarian, is immoderate in spending contrary to what he ought, as has been pointed out. He expends great sums on paltry things, and his lavishness is out of harmony, figuratively speaking. He banquets buffoons with dishes fit for a marriage feast, gives presents to comedians, and rolls out a red carpet for their entry like the Megarians. In all such affairs he does not act to attain the good but to show off his wealth, hoping in this way for admiration. Where grand outlays are called for, he spends little; where small expenditures are in order, he lays out much.
B’ Next (considering) defect. — 733
But the petty person falls short in everything; and after spending very much he will spoil the whole good effect for the sake of a trifle. Whatever expenditures he makes, he makes tardily and he takes care to spend as little as he can. Moreover, he does this glumly and is of the opinion that he has done more than he should.
C’ Finally (considering) what is common to both. — 734
These, then, are habits of vice; yet they do not bring shame because they do not injure our neighbor and are not very disgraceful.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
719.After the Philosopher has shown in what manner the munificent person should be concerned with spending, he now [II, B’] shows the principal object on which the munificent person should spend money. He gives two explanations of this point. First [B’, 1] he explains for what things the munificent man should make expenditures; and next [B’, 2.], how he preserves proportion between the cost and the objects paid for, at “He will spend in a manner proper to each etc.” He manifests the initial point in a twofold manner. First [i, a] he sets forth the principal objects for which the munificent should spend money; and then [i, b], the secondary objects, at “or even in any private etc.” On this first point he does three things. First [a, i] he discloses what the principal objects are for which the munificent person disburses funds. Next [a, ii], he indicates who should make such expenditures, at “But in all these things etc.” Last [a, iii], he sums up his views, at “Such then, especially etc.” He says first that the munificent man lays out large amounts for things that are honorable in the highest dcgree. These sums are of two kinds. The first of them pertains to divine things (for example, the placing of votive offerings in the temples of the gods) and preparations (the building of the temple or some other things of this kind). Even sacrifices come under this heading. The gentiles, however, worshipped not only gods, i.e., certain separated substances, but also demons whom they held to be intermediaries between gods and men. Therefore, he adds that everything expended on the worship of any demon whatsoever belongs to this same classification. The Philosopher speaks here of a heathen custom that has been abrogated by the plain truth. Hence if someone now spent any money on the worship of a demon he would not be munificent but sacrilegious.
720. The second kind of honorable expenditures are those made for the common good in a sumptuous manner: a person nobly and lavishly gives a becoming donation of something useful to the community; a man, charged with an office by the state like the captaincy of a trireme (a fleet of ships or galleys), makes great expenditures in the execution of that office; or someone gives a banquet for the whole community according to a custom, as is said in the second book of the Politics (Ch. 9, 11271 a 33; StTh. Lect. 14, 317).
721. Next [a, ii], at “But in all these,” he shows for whom such expenditures are appropriate. Regarding this he does three things. First [ii, x] he explains for whom, in general, such expenditures are appropriate. Then [ii, y], at “For this reason the poor man,” he infers for whom, in particular, they are inappropriate. Finally [ii, z], at “A great expenditure etc.,” he shows for whom, in particular, they are appropriate. He says first that in all these things that are expended—as was just mentioned (712-713).we must have regard not only for the objects for which a Person spends money (so that we should consider whether the spender is a prince or a private person, a noble or a commoner) but also what possessions, large or small, he may have. Expenditures must be proper, i.e., well proportioned to the wealth and station of the person, so that the expenses may be suited not only to the work for which they are incurred but also to the spender.
722. Then [ii, y], at “For this rcason,” he infers that such expenditures may not be appropriate. Because of what was just said, the poor man who has little wealth cannot be munificent, for he does not have so great an amount that he can rightly afford to spend much. If he attempts to spend more, he is foolish since it is contrary to good taste and beyond what is proper. So it does not pertain to the virtue of magnificence because, by means of virtue, all things are done correctly, i.e., properly.
723. Next [ii, z], at “A great expenditure,” he discloses who may make these expenditures fittingly, understanding this in regard to two things. First he takes it according to the amount of riches. He says that great expenditures should be made by men who are wealthy, i.e., who possess great riches, much of which can be expended becomingly. It makes no difference whether they possess this abundant wealth of themselves, i.e., by acquiring it through their own industry, or have it from their parents (whose heirs they are), or even from ‘any others through whom riches come to them, for example, when they become heirs of those outside the family.
724. Second, he considers the proposition according to the condition of persons. It is becoming that great sums be disbursed by the highborn and the renowned, i.e., those established in honor and other similar things. Everything of this nature has about it a certain greatness and decorum, so that such splendid donations may be made appropriately.
725. Then [a, iii], at “Such, then,” he sums up his views, affirming that the munificent person is of the sort described above, and that magnificence consists in expenditures of this kind—as was stated in 719-720—viz., on things for divine worship and the public welfare, for such are the greatest and most honorable among all human goods.
726. Next [i, b], at “or even,” he shows on what secondary objects the munificent person spends money. He mentions three kinds of objects, the first [b, i] of which consists in the munificent man spending great sums on affairs pertaining properly to himself and happening only once, like marriage, military service, and so on.
72.7. He gives the second kind [b, ii], at “or in any event.” If the whole city or the rulers are anxious to do something and a man makes great expenditures on this he will be munificent, for instance, if he should honorably receive some guests such as princes or kings, if he should give them great banquets, or even personally offer presents to them, or if he should repay certain favors received; in all these situations, the munificent person will spend large sums. He is not lavish with himself so that he spends much for his own use, but he makes great expenditures for the common good. The splendid gifts bestowed on some resemble those given to God. The reason is that, as offerings are consecrated to God not because He needs them but out of reverence and honor, so also presents are made to distinguished men more on account of honor than any need.
728. Then [b, iii], at “It is the privilege,” he mentions the third kind, stating that it pertains to magnificence to build a home in the proper manner with one’s own riches, for a decent home adds to a man’s distinction. And in constructing buildings the munificent man desires to spend money rather on lasting and permanent parts than on fragile decorations, for instance, on marble columns in the house rather than on glass windows. Things that are more permanent are best.
729. Hence, it is clear from what has been said that the munificent man spends money principally on the things destined for divine worship and the public welfare, but secondarily on things pertaining to private persons under three conditions: first that the things happen once, second that in addition the common good is pursued, third that they are of a permanent nature. These are the requisites making for greatness in private matters.
730. Next [B’, 2], at “He will spend,” he explains in what way the munificent person maintains the proportion Of costs appropriate to the things for which the expenditure is made, spending on each object what is fitting both in kind and quantity. It is obvious that not the same kind and quantity of outlay is suitably offered to gods and men, nor used in the construction of a temple and a tomb. He will see to it that he spends a sum large according to the kind of thing. Hence he will be very munificent when he makes a great expenditure on a great work. But in this work he will make what is great in this class. So, sometimes what is great in regard to the work differs from what is absolutely great in expense. From the fact that someone makes a very pretty globe, i.e., a ball, or a vase (a small vessel) as a gift to a boy, he is said to possess magnificence in the genus of children’s gifts, although the price of the beautiful globe in itself is small, not belonging to the class of generous donations. Obviously, therefore, the munificent person has the advantage of performing a great work in any genus, making expenditures commensurate with the merit of the work. A production of this sort, which is great according to its kind and reasonable in its cost, can hardly be surpassed.
731. Last, he succinctly states the conclusion that the munificent man is such as has been described.
732. Then [(II) B], at “One who sins by excess,” he treats the opposite vices: first [B, A’], considering excess; next [B, B’] defect, at “But the petty person etc.”; and last [B, C’] what is common to both, at “These, then, are.” He says that the man who is immoderate in grand outlays—called banausos because he consumes his goods as in a furnace—exceeds the munificent person not in the absolute amount spent but in spending in a way contrary to what he should. The reason is that he uses much money in superfluous expenses, and wants to make lavish expenditures contrary to harmony, i.e., against the right proportion—which is said by way of metaphor—for instance, he entertains buffoons and comedians with nuptial banquets, contributes much to actors, even rolling out the red carpet for their entry, as the Megarians (certain Greek citizens) are in the habit of doing. He does all these and similar things not for some good but for rpaking a show of his riches, thinking that he will be admired for this reason. However, he does not always spend lavishly but sometimes he falls short. Where he ought to spend much, he spends little; but where little, much. The reason is that he does not keep his eye on the good but on vanity.
733. Next [B, B’], at “But the petty person,” he considers the vice of defect and states that the petty person falls short in everything, assigning him five traits. The first is that when the petty person does make great expenditures he fails to do well because of a trifle. The second, what sums he expends he expends tardily. The third, he always keeps his mind on how he may spend the least. The fourth, he is a gloomy spender. The fifth, when he lays out everything, he thinks he has done more than he should, for it seems to him that he ought to spend less.
734. Then [B, C’], at “These, then,” he considers what is common to either vice. He comes to the conclusion that the two previously mentioned habits are certain vices because they are opposed to virtue by a departure from the mean. However, they are not opprobrious since they do not injure our neighbor in any way, and are not very disgraceful because it is difficult in disbursing large amounts not to depart from the mean.
I. HE INVESTIGATES THE MATTER OF MAGNANIMITY AND THE OPPOSITE VICES.
A. He sets forth his proposition. — 735
Judging by the name, magnanimity seems to be concerned with great things the nature of which we should first understand. However, it does not matter whether we consider the habit or the man who operates according to the habit.
B. He explains it.
A’ He exposes the matter of magnanimity generally.
1. MAGNANIMITY REFERS TO GREAT THINGS.
a. He exposes his viewpoint. — 736
A person seems to be magnanimous in thinking himself worthy of great things when he is worthy.
b. The magnanimous person must be worthy of great things. — 737
But he who presumes this when it is not really so is foolish; yet the man who operates according to virtue in these matters is not unwise or foolish. Consequently, the magnanimous person is such as we have described.
c. The magnanimous man should think himself worthy of great things. — 738
He who is worthy of small things and considers himself so is temperate, although he is not magnanimous. Magnanimity consists in greatness, as beauty consists in a good build. Short-statured people may be fair and well-proportioned but hardly handsome.
2. HOW THE OPPOSITE VICES OCCUR IN REGARD TO THE SAME MATTER.
a. First regarding the vice of excess.
Ile person who judges himself worthy of great things and is in fact unworthy is conceited. But one who judges himself worthy of greater things than he merits is not always said to be conceited. 730
b. Then (regarding) the vice of defect. — 740
On the other hand, the man who thinks he deserves lesser things than he deserves—whether the things be great, ordinary, or little—is pusillanimous. This will be especially evident in one capable of splendid achievements. What would he have done if he had not this capability?
3. HOW THE VIRTUE CONSISTS IN THE MEAN. — 741
However, the magnanimous man holds an extreme in extension but a mean in appropriateness, for he thinks himself deserving in accord with his worth. Others exceed and fall short of this mean.
B’ He exposes (the matter of magnanimity) specifically.
1. MAGNANIMITY IS CONCERNED WITH HONOR.
a. (The magnanimous man) should deem himself deserving of the greatest things. — 742
If a man deems himself deserving of great things and especially of the greatest things when he deserves them, then he will be concerned with one particular object. He is said to be deserving in reference to external goods. But we place that external good highest which we attribute to the gods, which is desired most of all by prominent men and is the reward for virtuous action. Such a good is honor, for it is the best of all external goods. Therefore, the magnanimous man wil manage honors and dishonors in a manner which is fitting.
b. He manifests his proposition by experience. — 743
Even independent of reasoning, the magnanimous seem to be concerned about honors, for the great exalt themselves in dignity principally by honor.
2. HOW THE OPPOSITE VICES SHOULD DEAL WITH THIS MATTER. — 744
The pusillanimous person is deficient in regard both to his own merit and the worthiness of the magnanimous man. But one who is presumptuous is excessive respecting his own merit although he does not exceed the merit of the magnanimous person.
3. IN WHAT MANNER MAGNANIMITY IS RELATED TO OTHER VIRTUES.
a. Magnanimity is related to the other virtues.
i. First by a general argument. — 745
But the magnanimous man as worthy of the greatest goods will be best. Since the better person is worthy of greater things, the best will be worthy of the greatest. Therefore, the magnanimous person must be truly good.
x. WHAT MAKES MAGNANIMITY A SPECIAL VIRTUE. — 746
What is great in every virtue pertains to magnanimity.
y. HE REJECTS AN ERROR. — 747
It is never becoming for a magnanimous man to flee one about to give unsought advice, nor to practice injustice. Will not the man who considers nothing great be the one to do disgraceful deeds for gain?
ii. By the things appearing in individual cases. — 748
To an observer of what happens in individual cases, that person will seem altogether ludicrous who thinks himself magnanimous when he is not really virtuous. One who is in fact evil will not be magnanimous nor deserving of honor, for honor is a reward of virtue and is attributed to the virtuous.
b. Next drawing certain conclusions from what has been said. — 749
Therefore, it seems that magnanimity is an embellishment of the virtues, since it makes virtue more excellent and does not exist without them. It is difficult to be truly magnanimous because this is not possible without goodness.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
735. After the Philosopher has finished the treatise on the virtues concerning money, he treats here the virtues having to do with honors. First he considers magnanimity, which regards great honors [Lects. 8, 9, 10, 11]; and then a nameless virtue concerned with ordinary honors [Lect. 12], at “As we remarked in the beginning etc.” (B. 1125 b). In the first consideration he does two things. First [I] he investigates the matter of magnanimity and the opposite vices; and second [Lect. 9; II] their acts and properties, at “For the most part etc.” (B. 1124 a 4). On the first point he does two things. First [A] he sets forth his proposition; and next [B] he explains it, at “A person seems to be etc.” He says first: from its name, magnanimity apparently is concerned with great things. But at the beginning we must understand the nature of the things with which it deals. Then he designates the manner of consideration, viz., it does not matter whether we speak of the habit of magnanimity or of the man who is disposed by the habit, i.e., the magnanimous person.
736. Next [B], at “A person seems,” he explains his proposition by doing two things. First [A’] he exposes the matter of magnanimity generally; and then [B’] specifically, at “If a man etc.” On the first point he does two (three) things: First [A’, i] he shows that magnanimity refers to great things; and then [A’, 2], at “The person who judges etc.,” how the opposite vices occur in regard to the same matter. Last [A’, 3] he explains how the virtue consists in the mean, at “However, the magnanimous etc.” He treats the first point under three aspects. First [A’, i, a] he exposes his viewpoint, saying that a person seems to be magnanimous who thinks himself worthy of great things, viz., that he may perform great deeds and that great things should happen to him when in fact he is worthy.
737. Then [A’, i, b], at “But he who presumes,” he teaches that the magnanimous person must be worthy of great things. One who thinks himself worthy of great things contrary to truth, i.e., of which he is not really worthy, is foolish. It is characteristic of a wise man to keep everything in proper order. But the virtuous man is neither unwise nor foolish because virtue operates according to right reason, as was affirmed in the second book (257, 322, 335). Consequently, it is clcar that the magnanimous man is the person just described, i.e., one worthy of great things who thinks himself worthy.
738. Finally [A’, i, c], at “He whois worthy,” he shows that the magnanimous man should think himself worthy of great things. One who is worthy of small things and considers himself so, can be called temperate in the sense that temperance is taken for any moderation whatsoever. However, he cannot be called magnanimous because magnanimity consists in a certain size, just as beauty properly consists in a good build. Hence those who are short can be called fair by reason of complexion or well-proportioned members but not handsome because they lack size.
739. Next [A’, 2], at “The person who judges” he shows in what manner the opposite vices should be concerned with great things, first [A’, 2, a] regarding the vice of excess; and then [A’, 2, b] the vice of defect, at “on the other hand etc.” Aristotle says first that the man who thinks himself worthy of great things when he is really unworthy is called conceited, i.e., puffed up-we can call him inflated or presumptuous. But the person who is really worthy of great things and thinks himself worthy of still greater things is not always called conceited, because it is difficult to find an exact norm so that someone may judge himself not worthy of great things.
740. Then [A’, 2, b], at “On the other hand,” he explains how the vice of defect is concerned with great things, saying that the man who thinks himself worthy of lesser things than he is worthy is called pusillanimous. This is so, whether in fact he is worthy of great, mediocre, or small things. However, the small-souled person is one who refuses to strive after great accomplishments and aims at certain petty undertakings when he is truly capable of what is great. Hc would bring hiinsclf down to affairs more trifling still, except for the fact that he is capable of great things.
741. Next [A’, 3], at “However, the magnanimous man,” he shows how magnanimity is in the mean, for, treating as it does of great things, magnanimity seems to consist in the extreme. Since the average is the mean between the large and the small, the great has the nature of an extreme. Hence he says that the magnanimous person holds an extreme in reference to great things of which he deems himself worthy. But heholds the mean inasmuch as he does this in an appropriate manner in considering himself deserving according to his worth. The mean of virtue is not Judged according to the quantity of the thing but according to right reason. Hence a man is not placed outside the mean of virtue by a work no matter what its size, provided he does not depart from reason. But the opposite vices exceed and fall short of what should be.
742. Then [B’], at “If a man deems,” he explains the matter of magnanimity specifically, taking up three points. He shows first [B’, 1] that magnanimity is concerned with honor; second [B’, 2] how the opposite vices should deal with this matter, at “The pusillanimous person etc.”; and third [B’, 3] in what manner magnanimity is related to other virtues at “But the magnanimous man etc.” He explains the first point in two ways. First he reasons that if the magnanimous man deems himself worthy of great things when he is worthy of them, consequently [B’, i, a] he should deem himself deserving of the greatest things when he is deserving of the greatest. He says further that magnanimity is concerned with one object in particular, for what is predicated by excellence is attributed to one. When someone is said to be worthy of certain things, the worthiness refers to external goods which come to a man as a reward. But that must be placed highest which is attributed to God, which is desired especially by those in eminent positions, and which is the reward of the most noble deeds. Such is honor, for honor is shown to God, is sought by the prominent and is the reward of virtuous action. Obviously then honor is the best of all external goods. Consequently, magnanimity should give the greatest consideration to honors and dishonors, inasmuch as the magnanimous person manages things of this kind in the proper manner.
743. Second [B’, i, b], at “Even independent of reasoning,” he manifests his proposition by experience, saying that, even without discussion, it is clear that magnanimity has to do with honor for the most part because experience shows the magnanimous deem themselves worthy of honor but not above their deserts.
744. Next [B’, 2], at “The pusillanimous,” he explains in what manner the opposite vices should be concerned with the previously mentioned matter. He says that the small-souled person is deficient in regard to himself because he considers himself deserving of lesser things than he deserves, and also in regard to the worthiness of the magnanimous man because he considers himself deserving of lesser things than a magnanimous man deserves. But the conceited or presumptuous person is excessive in regard to himself because he makes himself greater than his worth, however, not in regard to the magnanimous man because he does not consider himself deserving of greater things than the magnanimous man deserves.
745. Then [B’, 3], at “But the magnani.tnous,” he compares magnanimity with other virtues: first [B’, 3, a] showing that magnanimity is related to the other virtues; and next [B’, 3, b] drawing certain conclusions from what has been said, at “Therefore it seems.” On the first point he does two things: he shows that magnanimity is related to the other virtues, first [i] by a general argument; and then [ii] by the things appearing in individual cases, at “To an observer etc.” Regarding the first he does two things. First [x] he explains what makes magnanimity a special virtue, at “What is great etc.”; and next [y] he rejects an error, at “It is never becoming etc.” Aristotle says first that when the magnanimous person deems himself worthy of the greatest goods and is really worthy of them, it follows that he is best. The. better man is always deserving of greater things, and consequently he who is deserving of the greatest must be best. Therefore, the magnanimous man must be truly good, otherwise he would not be deserving of the highest honors.
746. Then [x], at “What is great,” he shows how magnanimity is a special virtue when it accompanies other virtues. He says that what is great in any virtue seems to pertain to magnanimity because one who does not perform a great act of virtue is not worthy of great honor. So, when that virtue strives for what is proper to itself, it performs an act of another virtue, for example, fortitude intends a courageous action, magnanimity strives for a great deed in the courageous action. Since moral acts take their species from the end to which they tend, it is clear that magnanimity and fortitude differ in species (although they operate in the same matter) because neither virtue follows the same motive.
747. Next [y], at “It is never becoming,” he rejects an error. Some seem to think that the magnanimous man should rely upon his own opinion and follow the advice of no one. Likewise, that he should not hesitate to do injustice to anyone. The Philosopher, however, says this is false because no one does a shameful deed except for the desire of something. But the magnanimous person does not place so great a value on any external thing that he would wish to do a shameful action for it.
748. Then [ii], at “To the observer” he explains the clause: “of what happens in individual cases.” He says that to someone willing to observe individual cases, that man will seem altogether ridiculous who judges himself magnanimous without being virtuous. The reason is that if a man is evil he is not deserving of honor, for honor is the reward of virtue. Hence the magnanimous man thinks himself worthy of great honors. Consequently, no evil person is able to be magnanimous.
749. Last [B’, 3, b], at “Therefore it seems’ “ he draws two conclusions from the premises. The first is that magnanimity seems to be an ornament of all the virtues because they are made more excellent by magnanimity, which seeks to perform a great work in all the virtues. In this way the virtues increase. Likewise, magnanimity accompanies the other virtues and so seems to be added to them as their ornament. The second conclusion is that it is difficult to be magnanimous because magnanimity cannot exist without the goodness of virtue, and even without great virtue to which honor is due. But it is difficult to attain this. Consequently, it is difficult for a man to be magnanimous.
The Acts of Magnanimity
II. HE... STUDIES... ACTS AND PROPERTIES (OF MAGNANIMITY AND THE OPPOSITE VICES).
A. First as touching magnanimity.
A’ How the magnanimous person should work on matter proper to him.
1. HOW THE MAGNANIMOUS MAN SHOULD CONDUCT HIMSELF TOWARD HONORS.
a. The matter of magnanimity. — 750
For the most part the magnanimous man deals with honors and dishonors.
b. How the magnanimous man deals with matter of this kind.
i. The nature and mode of this man’s reaction to great honors. — 751
He takes moderate delight in great and desirable honors, receiving good things as his own or less than his due. In his opinion, honor is not an appropriate tribute to perfect virtue, but still he accepts it from men who have nothing greater to bestow on him.
ii. The way... the magnanimous person should regard trifling honors. — 752
Honors given him by transitory things and for insufficient reasons he values very little as unworthy of him.
iii. In what manner the magnanimous should deal with dishonor. — 753
He likewise counts of little value any dishonor that will be imputed to him unjustly. As we have said, then, the magnanimous man for the most part will be concerned with honors.
2. (HE SHOWS HOW THE MAGNANIMOUS MAN SHOULD CONDUCT HIMSELF) TOWARD OTHER THINGS.
a. How the magnanimous man should act in regard to such objects. — 754-755
Moreover, he will observe moderation about wealth, power, good fortune, and adversity, no matter what may happen. He will not be exalted by prosperity nor cast down by misfortune, nor does he even regard honor as if it were a very great thing. Power and wealth should be desirable for the sake of honor; and those who possess them seek to be honored by reason of them. But a man to whom honor is a trifle will place little value on the other things. For this reason the magnanimous seem to be disdainful.
b. How the objects benefit magnanimity.
i. They increase it. — 756
The goods of fortune seem to contribute something to magnanimity, for the noble, the powerful, and the rich are thought to be worthy of honor as possessing goods of great excellence. But anything that excels in goodness is held in greater honor. For this reason such things make men more magnanimous, since they are honored by some people, but in fact the good or virtuous man alone is to be honored. However, he who possesses both (virtue and goods of fortune) becomes more worthy of honor.
ii. Without virtue they cannot make a man magnanimous. — 757-758
Men who possess goods of this kind without virtue are not justified in thinking themselves worthy of great things, nor are they rightly called magnanimous, for this supposes perfect virtue. But those having such things become evil by disdaining and harming others, since it is not easy to bear the goods of fortune with moderation. They are not able to endure good b fortune gracefully, but thinking themselves more excellent, they look down on others, and do as they please. Although not similar to the magnanimous man, they imitate him in the way they can, not by acting according to virtue, but in disdaining others. The magnanimous person justly disdains and properly glorifies others but many do not always act in this manner.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
750. After the Philosopher has investigate&-the matter of magnanimity and the opposite vices, he now [II] studies their acts and properties, first [A] as touching magnanimity; and then [Lect. 11; B] the opposite vices, at “But the man who fails etc.” (B. 1125 a 16). On the initial point he does two things. First [A’] he shows how the magnanimous person should work on matter proper to him. Next [Lect. 10; B’] he defines the traits of the magnanimous person, at “The magnanimous man does not run risks foolishly etc.” (B. 1124 b 6). He explains the first point by a twofold procedure. Initially  he shows how the magnammous man should conduct himself toward honors, the matter of magnanimity; and then  toward other things, at “Moreover, he will etc.” He treats the first in two ways. First [1, a] he resumes the previous discussion (735-749) about the matter of magnanimity, reaffirming what was clear from the premises, that someone is called magnanimous especially and principally from the fact that he conducts himself well in regard to honors and the opposites, viz., dishonors. The same virtue is concerned with opposites; fortitude, for instance, deals with fear and rashness.
751. Then [1, b], at “He takes moderate delight,” he shows how the magnanimous man deals with matter of this kind. First [1, b, i] he shows the nature and mode of this man’s reaction to great honors, saying that great and desirable honors bestowed on the magnanimous for virtuous activity are a source of moderate delight to them. A man might take inordinate plcasurr in goods acquired because they come to him unexpectedly, and value them far above their worth. But when the magnanimous person acquires things, he looks upon them as goods peculiarly suitable to him and, besides, less than his due. He judges that no honor outwardly shown to men is a sufficient reward of virtue. The reason is that the good of reason, for which virtue is praised, exceeds all external goods. Nevertheless, he is not displeased because lesser honors are bestowed on him than he deserves. But he accepts them with equanimity considering that men have nothing better to give him.
752. [1, b, ii], at “Honors given him,” he sets forth the way in which the magnanimous person should regard trifling honors. If honors are given him by transitory things and for any other reason than virtue (for example, if he is extolled for riches or the like, or by some insignificant honors), he will despise such honors because he considers himself undeserving of this type of thing. It is not enough for the virtuous to be honored like the rich.
753. Last [1, b, iii], at “He likewise counts,” he explains in what manner the magnanimous man should deal with dishonor, saying that here also he shows moderation. As his mind is not exalted by great honors, so it is not cast down by insults which he considers imputed to him unjustly. Hence it is obvious that the magnanimous person is especially praised in regard to honors.
754. Then , at “Moreover, he will observe,” he shows in what way the magnanimous person should deal with secondary matters, for example, riches and so forth. On this point he does two things. First [2, a] he explains how the magnanimous man should act in regard to such objects; and next [2, b] how the objects benefit magnanimity, at “The goods of fortune etc.” He says first that, although the magnanimous person is concerned with honors principally, nevertheless secondarily he has to do with riches, power, and everything belonging to good fortune, inasmuch as someone is honored for these reasons. Likewise he will show moderation about such things and about misfortune, whatever may be the turn of events, so that he will not rejoice exceedingly in prosperity nor grieve unduly in adversity.
755. He proves the point by the argument given before (741-742) that the magnanimous man conducts himself with moderation in regard to honors that are the greatest of all external goods. This is clear from the fact that both power and riches are desired for the sake of honor according as men who have such things want to be honored for them. If then the magnanimous person thinks honor itself of little account so tNat he does not rejoice in it exceedingly, for a greater reason he will judge the other things of small moment, so that he will not rejoice in them immoderately. As a consequence, some judge the magnanimous to be disdainful because they despise external goods and value only the internal goods of virtue.
756. Next [2, b], at “The goods of fortune,” he shows how external goods of fortune do confer something on magnanimity. He explains first [2, b, i] that they increase it when accompanying virtue; and second [2, b, ii] that without virtue they cannot make a man magnanimous, at “Men who possess.” He says that all external goods of fortune seem to add something to magnanimity inasmuch as, for these very things, some are judged worthy of honor, viz., the noble, the powerful, and the rich. All such goods consist of a certain great excellence, just as the noble surpass the baseborn in excellence, and so on. Everything that is surpassing in goodness is honorable in a high degree, for honor is a kind of reverence due to a very excellent good. Since the magnanimous person is worthy of honor, such goods consequently make men more magnanimous accordingly as they are honored by some people who recognize only these goods. But really only the good or virtuous man should be honored because honor is the proper reward for virtue. If someone should possess both at the same time, viz., virtue and the goods of fortune, he will become worthier of honor inasmuch as each matter is honorable. According to truth and opinion, even the goods of fortune are a help to virtuous operations after the manner of instruments.
757. Then [2, b, ii], at “Men who possess’ “ he establishes that goods of fortune without virtue cannot make a man magnanimous. He says that those who have goods of this kind without virtue cannot rightly esteem themselves deserving of great honors. Hence they are not correctly called magnanimous because it cannot happen that a man deserves great things and is magnanimous without perfect virtue, as was pointed out before (749). But because of the excellence of external goods men who lack virtue look down on others, do them injury, and fall into similar evils, since without virtue it is not easy for someone reasonably to bear the goods of fortune. To conduct oneself with moderation among the goods of fortune is a great work of virtue. Those who lack virtue cannot bear good fortune gracefully. Consequently, thinking themselves better absolutely, they despise those whom they exceed in riches. Since they do not consider that any excellence is acquired by virtue, they take no pains to do anything good but do whatever comes to mind.
758. They want to imitate the magnanimous person when in fact they are not like him. They imitate him in the way they can, not I grant in operating according to virtue—a thing the magnanimous man does especially—but in despising others although, not in the same way as he does. The magnanimous person justly despises the wicked, and properly glorifies the virtuous. But many, who are without virtue, manifest disdain and honor indiscriminately, i.e., sometimes despise the virtuous and honor the wicked.
Properties of Magnanimity
B’ He considers the traits of the magnanimous person.
1. THE TRAITS THAT ARE TAKEN BY COMPARISON WITH MATTERS OF THE VIRTUES.
a. The traits ... understood in comparison with externally connected things.
i. The traits ... by a comparison with external dangers,
x. FIRST. — 759-760
The magnanimous man does not run risks foolishly, nor is he a lover of danger since he places a high value on few things. But he does undergo danger for things of great worth.
y. SECOND. — 761
When in danger, he exposes his life as if it were altogether unbecoming to continue living.
ii. (The traits) by comparison with external benefits.
v. FIRST. — 762
He is good at helping others—which is a mark of the man of excellence, but he shies away from taking favors—a thing characteristic of a man of lesser gifts.
w. SECOND. — 763
He makes lavish, recompense, so that the man who gave in the beginning will receive abundantly and become a debtor.
x. THIRD. — 764
The magnanimous person likes to remember those he benefits but not those by whom he is or was treated generously. That man is less noble who gratefully receives benefits than he who bestows them. Hence it is in the bestowal that the magnanimous man wants to be eminent.
y. FOURTH. — 765
Likewise he gladly hears of the benefits he has bestowed but not of those he has received, For this reason Thetis did not recount to Jove [Iliad i. 503], nor the Spartans to the Athenians the favors they had done but the benefits received.
z. FIFTH. — 766
The magnanimous person likes to show himself in need of nothing or hardly anything, but to minister to the needs of others promptly.
iii. (The trait) by a comparison with honors.
x. THE TRAIT. — 767
He acts with great dignity toward those in high places and the wealthy but with moderation toward the middle class.
y. TWO REASONS FOR WHAT HE SAID. — 768-769
To attain excellence among the great is difficult and worthy of reverence, but among the mediocre it is easy. To seek respect from the great is not without nobility, but from the lowly is to make oneself irksome,
z. AN ILLUSTRATION. — 770
for instance, to display one’s power against the weak, and to avoid tasks that are generally honorable or at which others excel.
b. (The traits) in comparison with human acts.
i. Pertaining to himself. — 771
Leisure and slowness are marks of the magnanimous man, but where there is either great honor or great work he performs at least some great and noteworthy operations.
ii. (Pertaining) then to others.
x. IN REGARD TO TRUTH.
aa. First. — 772
Of necessity he is an evident friend or enemy, for to be so in secret smacks of timidity.
bb. Second. — 773
He cares more for the truth than the opinion of men.
cc. Third. — 774
He speaks and works in the open, freely divulging things in public, since he pays little attention to others.
dd. Fourth. — 775
He is truthful in his speech, excepting what he says in irony, which 30 he uses with the common people.
y. IN REGARD TO PLEASANTNESS. — 776
He cannot conform his life to that of another, except perhaps a friend, since this is servile. Because of servility all flatterers are obsequious and lowly people flatterers.
2. (THE TRAITS THAT ARE TAKEN) ACCORDING TO THE INCLINATION OF THE MAGNANIMOUS MAN.
a. Some that exist in the soul.
i. First. — 777
Nor is he given to admiration, for nothing seems great to him.
ii. Next. — 778
Nor is he mindful of injuries, since it is not becoming that a magnanimous person remembers evils at all, but rather despises them.
b. Others which exist in speech.
i. First. — 779
Neither is he a gossip, for he does not speak about himself or others. He is not anxious that he be praised, and he neither blames nor praises others. Therefore, he does not speak evil of his enemies except to ward off injuries.
ii. Third (second). — 780
In necessary or trivial matters he does not lament or seek help, for this is characteristic of one who cares excessively about these things.
c. Traits that exist in communication with others.
i. In regard to external possessions. — 781
He is willing to possess unfruitful rather than fruitful and useful goods, for he is somewhat self-sufficient.
ii. In regard to bodily movements. — 782-783
But the movements of the magnanimous man seem deliberate, his voice solemn and his speech measured. He is not hasty since he is concerned about few things. As he considers nothing too important, he is not given to contention from which sharpness of voice and hastiness of speech arise.
Such then is the magnanimous person.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
759. After the Philosopher has explained how the magnanimous man should work on proper matter, he here [B’] considers the traits of the magnanimous person. First  he proposes the traits that are taken by comparison with matters of the virtues; and then those according to the inclination of the magnanimous man himself, at “Nor is he given to admiration etc.” On the initial point he proceeds in a twofold manner. First [1, a] he sets forth the traits of the magnanimous person, which are understood in comparison with externally connected things; and next [1, b] in comparison with human acts, at “Leisure and slowness etc.” In regard to the first he makes a triple enumeration. He enumerates the traits of the magnanimous person first [1, a, i] by a comparison with external dangers that are the matter of fortitude; then [1, a, ii] by a comparison with external benefits that properly pertain to liberality, at “He is good at helping others etc.”; and last [1, a, iii] by a comparison with honors that properly pertain to magnanimity, at “He acts with great dignity etc.” He passes over the matter of temperance, which does not have any greatness of itself but deals with material common to man and brute, as was stated in the third book (612). Nevertheless magnanimity tends to do what is great in all the virtues-this was pointed out before (746, 749).
760. Touching on the first point he sets forth two traits, the first [1, a, 1, x] of which is that the magnanimous man is not microkindinos, does not expose himself to dangers for trifles, nor is he philokindinos, i.e., a lover of danger, as it were exposing himself to dangers hastily and lightly. This is so because no one lays himself open to danger except for something having considerable value. But it is characteristic of the magnanimous man that he values few things to such a degree that he is willing to expose himself to dangers for them. Hence he does not undergo danger readily nor for insignificant things. However, the magnanimous man is megalokindinos, i.e., braves great dangers for great things because fie puts himself in all kinds of danger for great things, for instance, the common welfare, justice, divine worship, and so forth.
761. He assigns the second trait [1, a, i, y] at “When in danger.” He affirms that the magnanimous person in exposing himself to danger acts ardently, so that he does not spare his own life, as if it were unfitting for him to prefer to live rather than gain great good by his death.
762. Next [1, a, ii], at “He is good,” he enumerates five traits of the magnanimous man, which are understood by comparison with benefits proper to liberality. The first [1, a, ii, v] is that the magnanimous person is proficient at doing good for others, i.e., prompt to bestow benefits, but is ashamed to accept favors from others. To receive favors pertains to one who has lesser gifts, while the magnanimous man tries to surpass others in virtue.
763. At “He makes lavish recompense,” he indicates the second trait [1, a, ii, w], saying that if the magnanimous person does accept benefits he is anxious to return greater ones. In this way the man who bestowed benefits in the beginning will rather receive them, i.e., becomes the recipient of benefits inasmuch as he receives more than he gave.
764. At “The magnanimous person likes to remember,” he gives the third trait [1, a, ii, x], which does not follow the choice but the disposition of the magnanimous man-he is so disposed that he cheerfully confers but unwillingly receives benefits. We think often about the things that delight us and consequently remember them. However, we rarely think of things which displease us and consequently hardly ever recall them. Accordingly it seems characteristic of the magnanimous person to remember those for whom he does favors but not those who do favors for him, since this is contrary to his desire of wanting to excel in goodness. That man who is properly receptive, i.e., accepts favors, is less noble than he who grants favors. The magnanimous man does not choose to be unmindful of favors received but is anxious to bestow greater favors, as was just said (763).
765. At “Likewise,” he places the fourth trait [1, a, ii, y ], saying that the magnanimous person cheerfully listens to the benefits he has bestowed but does not enjoy hearing of the benefits he has accepted. He can take delight in the love of him on whom he has conferred benefits but does not find pleasure in the fact that he himself has accepted benefits. He gives two examples of this. The first is taken from the writings of Homer who represents Thetis (called the goddess of water) approaching Jove (called the king of all the gods). She does not recount the benefits she herself has conferred on Jove, as if this would not be acceptable to him, but rather the benefits she has received from Jove. To this Jupiter listened more willingly. The other example is taken from Greek history in which it is narrated that certain Spartans, when seeking the help of the Athenians, did not recite the favors they had done for the Athenians but the favors received from them.
766. He assigns the fifth trait [1, a, ii, z], at “The magnanimous person likes to show,” saying that it pertains to the magnanimous man not to show himself in need of anything at all or at least not readily, inasmuch as he does not ask for or take anything, but to be prompt to minister to the needs of others.
767. Then [1, a, iii], at “He acts with great dignity,” he indicates a trait of the magnanimous person by a comparison with honors. He treats the first point in a threefold manner. First [1, a, iii, x] he names the trait, saying that it belongs to the magnanimous man to show himself noble and honorable to men of dignity and wealth, but to display a certain moderation with the middle class, not using a grand manner toward them.
768. Second [1, a, iii, y ], at “To attain excellence,” he offers two reasons for what he said. The first is that every virtue strives for what is difficult and honorable. That someone should excel great men in virtue is difficult and worthy of honor, but to excel mediocre men is easy.
769. The second reason is that it is characteristic of a manly soul to show himself worthy of respect among the great. But to wish respect shown him by men of lowly rank is the attitude of a man who is a nuisance to others.
770. Finally [1, a, iii, z], at “for instance,” he gives an illustration, stating that such a condition indicates lack of virtue, namely, that a man demonstrates his strength against the weak, and does not undertake difficult and honorable ventures in which others excel.
771. Next [1, b], at “Leisure and slowness” he distinguishes the traits of the magnanimous person by means of human acts pertaining first [1, b, i] to himself; and then [1, b, ii ] to others, at “Of necessity etc.” Aristotle says first that the magnanimous man is disposed to be leisurely, i.e., does not engage in many undertakings, and is disinclined, i.e., not readily occupied with business. He devotes himself only to those activities that are connected with some great honor or the accomplishment of some great work. Therefore, the magnanimous person performs at least some great operations that are worthy of the name.
772. Then [1, b, ii], at “Of necessity,” he indicates the traits of the magnanimous person concerned with human acts that are related to another, first [1, b, ii, x] in regard to truth; and next [i, b, ii, y] in regard to pleasantness, at “He cannot conform.” These things are required especially for social intercourse with others, as will be explained later (816-849). To the first he ascribes four traits, the first [aa] of which regards internal inclination. The magnanimous man, he says, cannot make a secret of his friends and enemies. The reason is that a secret love or hatred of another arises from some fear, and fear is repugnant to a magnanimous person.
773. At “He cares more” [bb] he notes the second trait, saying that it is characteristic of the magnanimous man to be more solicitous about the truth than the opinion of man. He does not depart from what he ought to do according to virtue because of what men think.
774. At “He speaks” [cc] he gives the third trait, saying that it is a mark of the magnanimous person to speak and work openly because he pays little attention to others. Consequently, he publicly divulges his words and deeds. That a man hides what he does and says arises from the fear of others. But no one fears those he contemns. Therefore, these two things are interchangeable, viz., that a man freely divulge things and that he cares little for others. However, we do not say that the magnanimous man cares little for others in the sense that he despises them—as it were depriving them of proper respect—but because he does not value them above their worth.
775. At “He is truthful” [dd] he assigns the fourth trait, saying that the magnanimous man does not speak falsehood but the truth, except perhaps that he playfully utters certain things in irony. However, he does use irony in the company of the common people.
776. Next [1, b, ii, y], at “He cannot conform,” he indicates the trait concerned with pleasure that arises from companionship, saying that the magnanimous person does not easily associate with others; he finds company only with his friends. The servile soul has a tendency to occupy himself with the intimate affairs of everyone. Consequently all flatterers, who want to please everybody without distinction are obsequious, i.e., prepared to be subservient. People of low station who lack greatness of soul are flatterers.
777. Then , at “Nor is he given,” he enumerates the traits of the magnanimous man which arise from his natural bent. Aristotle first [2, a] gives some that exist in the soul; then [2, b] others existing in speech, at “Neither is he a gossip etc.” Last [2, c], he sets forth those traits that exist in communication with others, at “He is willing etc.” In regard to the first he places two traits, the first [2, a, i] of which is that the magnanimous person is not quick to show admiration because this is prompted by great things. But there is nothing great for him among the things that can happen externally, because his whole life is busy with internal goods, which are truly great.
778. Next [2, a, ii], at “Nor is he mindful,” he says that the magnanimous person is not too mindful of the evils he has suffered, giving two reasons for this. The first is that the magnanimous man refuses to remember many things, just as he refuses to wonder at them. Another reason is that the magnanimous person deliberately determines to forget injuries he has suffered inasmuch as he despises the things by which he could not be disparaged. Hence Cicero said of Julius Caesar that he was in the habit of forgetting nothing but injuries.
779. Then [2, b], at “Neither is he a gossip,” he gives two traits of the magnanimous man concerned with speech. First [2, b, i] he seldom speaks about men because he does not value highly their particular affairs. But his whole attention is taken up with the goods of the community and God. Consequently, he says little either about himself or others. He is not solicitous that lie be praised nor that others be blamed. Hence he does not have much praise for others nor does he speak evil of others, even his enemies, except to ward off an injury inflicted on him by them.
780. At “In necessary or trivial” [2, b, ii] he assigns a third (second) trait, that the magnanimous person neither complains by lamenting and grumbling about his lack of the necessities of life and other things, nor asks that they be given to him. This is the characteristic of one who is anxious about the necessities of life, as if they were great things, and this view is contrary to magnanimity.
781. Next [2, c], at “He is willing,” he indicates the traits that have a relation to external things, and first [2, c, i] in regard to external possessions. He says that the magnanimous man is more ready to own certain honorable and unfruitful goods which are profitless than goods which are profitable and useful. The reason is that a self-sufficient man has no need of profit from other quarters.
782. Then [2, c, ii], at “But the movements,” he gives the trait of the magnanimous man referring to bodily movements, stating that his movements seem deliberate, his voice solemn, his speech measured and slow. Assigning the reason for these things, Aristotle says that the movements of the mag nanimous person cannot be hasty since he is intent on few things. Likewise he is not contentious because he holds nothing external of value. Now, no one contends except for something of value. But sharpness of voice and hastiness of speech are resorted to be cause of contention. Therefore, the temperament of the magnanimous man obviously requires a solemn voice together with deliberate speech and movement. The Philosopher says in the Categories (Ch. 8, 9 b 12 sq.) that if someone is naturally inclined to a passion, for example, bashfulness, he must have by nature that complexion which corresponds to bashfulness Hence if a man has a natural prone ness toward magnanimity, consequently he should have a natural disposition to qualities of this kind.
783. He concludes with the summary observation that the magnanimous man is just as we have described him.
Vices Opposed to Magnanimity
B. He now begins to treat the opposite vices.
A’ What is common to each vice. — 784
But the man who fails by defect is small-souled, and the man who fails by excess is conceited. These people, however, do not seem to be criminals although they do sin.
B’ Each (vice) in itself.
1. THAT WHICH IS ACCORDING TO DEFECT.
a. The act proper to the small-souled man. — 785
The small-souled person, although indeed worthy of excellent things, deprives himself of them.
b. The cause of small-mindedness. — 786
There seems something bad in such a man because he does not consider himself deserving of good. Besides, he does not really know himself; otherwise he would want the goods of which he is worthy. However, men of this kind are more lazy than stupid.
c. The effect of small-mindedness. — 787
This opinion (of themselves) seems to make them worse, for everybody strives after the things they deserve. But, thinking themselves unfitted, they forsake good works and undertakings, and even external goods.
2. THAT (WHICH IS) ACCORDING TO EXCESS.
a. The cause of this vice. — 788
Conceited people are silly and obviously ignorant of their capability, for they set about those things to which honor is attached and thereupon they are discredited.
b. The act of this vice. — 789
They adorn themselves with clothing and outward show, and such like. They want these goods of fortune to be indicative of themselves. They even talk about themselves in order to receive honor from their conversation.
C’. He compares one vice with the other. — 790-791
But small-mindedness is more opposed to magnanimity than presumption is. As more opposed, it is also worse. Magnanimity then is concerned with great honor, as was said.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
784. After the Philosopher has finished the treatise on magnanimity, he now [B] begins to treat the opposite vices. Here he does two (three) things. First [A’] he determines what is common to each vice. Then [B’] he considers each in itself, at “The small-souled person etc.” Last [C’] he compares the one vice with the other, at “But small-mindedness etc.” He says first that the man who falls short of the mean of magnanimity is called small-souled. But he who exceeds the mean is said to be conceited, i.e., puffed up-what we call inflated or presumptuous. These persons are not said to be evil to the extent of being criminals, for they injure no one and do nothing disgraceful. However, they do sin in this: they depart from the mean of reason.
785. At “The small-souled person” [B’] he considers each vice: first  that which is according to defect; and next  that according to excess, at “Conceited people etc.” He discusses the first point in a threefold manner. First [i, a] he states the act proper to the small-souled man, saying that although such a man is worthy of good things, he deprives himself of those he deserves by not attempting to work or obtain things due to him.
786. Next [1, b], at “There seems,” he shows the cause of small-mindedness, pointing out that in this cause three things must be taken by turns. That a man deprive himself of goods he is deserving of happens first from the fact that he does not think himself worthy of such goods when in fact he is worthy. This occurs because he is ignorant of his ability. If the smallsouled man knew himself, he would strive for the things he deserves because they are good and desirable, since one’s own good is desirable to everyone. Ignorance of this kind does not come from stupidity-for the stupid are not worthy of great things -but rather from a certain laziness by reason of which they are unwilling to engage in great things according to their dignity. This is the third source from which the other two arise.
787. Third [ 1, c], at “This opinion,” he explains the effect of small-mindedness. A person’s opinion that he is unworthy of the goods he really deserves appears to make him worse. Individual men strive for the things befitting their own worth. Hence when they are ignorant of their worth, they suffer a twofold damage to their goodness. First, they abandon works of virtue and the pursuit of speculative truths, as if they were unfitted for and unequal to things of this kind. From this omission of great and good works, they become worse, since it is such actions that make men more virtuous. Second, by reason of this opinion they shirk certain external good works of which they are capable and which instrumentally serve for the performance of virtue.
788. Then , at “Conceited people,” he discusses the vice of excess under two considerations. First [2, a], he gives the cause of this vice, saying that the conceited or presumptuous are both stupid and ignorant of their ability not because of laziness like the small-souled but because of stupidity. This is obvious because they attempt to do or attain certain honorable things utterly beyond their ability. So, when they fail in the action or accomplishment they manifestly appear to be discredited.
789. Next [2, b], at “They adorn themselves,” he introduces the act of this vice, which consists in a kind of external glorification, inasmuch as the presumptuous greatly exalt themselves. First, they do this by certain external signs, that is, they wear elegant clothing and set off their figure by walking pompously. Likewise they do other things to show their excellence in the external goods of fortune. Second, they manifest things of this sort by words, as if wishing to achieve honor in this way.
790. At “But small-mindedness” [C’] he compares these two vices with one another, stating that small-mindedness is more opposed to magnanimity than conceit is. He assigns two reasons for this. The first reason, given in the second book (368), is that the vice, which occurs more frequently because of a stronger inclination of human nature toward it, is more opposed to virtue whose chief purpose is to restrain man’s inclination to evil. But some men are obviously more inclined to be small-souled (i.e., to omit the virtuous deeds possible to them) than to extend themselves in the performance of laudable feats beyond them. Hence small-mindedness is more opposed to virtue. The other reason is that small-mindedness is worse from the aspect of making men less virtuous, as was just stated (787). But what is worse is more opposed to virtue. Therefore, it is evident that small-mindedness is more opposed to virtue.
791. He summarily concludes that magnanimity is concerned with great honor, as has been pointed out (346, 742-744, 750, 754).
The Virtue Concerned with Ordinary Honors
1. HE POINTS OUT THAT SUCH A VIRTUE EXISTS AT TIMES. — 792
As we remarked in the beginning, there appears to be a virtue that deals with honor and is compared to magnanimity as liberality is to magnificence. Neither of these virtues is in any way concerned with what is great, but both rightly dispose us in regard to mediocre and small things.
2. HE PROVES HIS STATEMENT.
a. First by reasoning from similarity. — 793
Just as one can take and give small sums of money according to a mean, and also according to excess and defect, so too one can desire honor more or less than he ought, and also from the source he ought and as he ought.
b. By the general manner of speaking.
i. The ordinary manner of usage. — 794
We blame the ambitious man because he desires honor inordinately and from the wrong sources. Likewise we blame the unambitious man for not choosing to be honored even for the good that he does. On the other hand, it is a fact that we praise the ambitious person as noble and enamored of what is virtuous, but the unambitious person as moderate and temperate. We indicated this in our earlier discussion of the subject.
ii. Then (he) argues from this to the proposition. — 795
Clearly, inasmuch as the term lover of honor (or ambitious man) has been used in different contexts, the expression does not always receive the same meaning. But we praise him as more concerned about honor than most people and we blame him for desiring honor more than is right.
3. HE EXPLAINS IN WHAT MANNER THE MEAN AND THE EXTREME MAY BE CONSIDERED.
a. The uncertainty occurring here.
i. The uncertainty. — 796
Since the mean lacks a name, being as it were abandoned, the extremes are not clearly distinguished.
ii. What the truth is. — 797
Now, where there is an excess and defect, there also is a mean. But people strive for honor more than is becoming and less than is becoming, hence also becomingly.
iii. The basis for this uncertainty. — 798
Therefore, this unnamed habit as being a mean concerned with honor is praised. By comparison with ambition it seems to be contempt of honor, but by comparison with lack of ambition, love of honor. But by comparison with each, the habit seems to be one as well as the other. This seems to be true in regard to other virtues also.
b. The consequences of that uncertainty. — 799
However, here the extremes appear to be contradictory because the mean has no name.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
792. After the Philosopher has concluded his study of magnanimity, which treats of honors on a grand scale, he now considers a certain unnamed virtue having to do with ordinary honors. To explain it he does three things. First  he points out i that such a virtue exists at times. Next  he proves his statement, at “Just as one can etc.” Last , he explains in what manner the mean and the extreme may be considered in this virtue, at “Since the mean lacks a name etc.” lie says first, as was stated in the second book (346-348), that there appears to be a virtue concerned with honor. That virtue seems to be related to magnanimity as liberality is to magnificence. Both these virtues, i.e., liberality and the virtue under consideration, are separated from magnificence and magnanimity as from something great. The reason is that magnanimity deals with great honors and magnificence with great expenditures. But the two virtues, liberality and the virtue under consideration, dispose us in regard to small and mediocre things, either honors or riches.
793. Then , at “Just as one can,” he proves his statement, first [2, a] by reasoning from similarity; and second [2, b] by the general manner of speaking, at “We blame the ambitious man etc.” He says that in taking and giving of small or ordinary sums of money there is a mean-and also an excess and defect-as was said before (679, 710-711). Likewise in the desire of small or mediocre honors, it happens that a man strives more or less than he ought, or for improper reasons inasmuch as one desires to be honored for more or greater things than he ought and another for fewer and lesser things. Likewise it happens that a man strives to be honored rightly in all things. So, clearly there is reason to hold for a mean of virtue and extremes of vice in small or mediocre honors as in smaller sums of money.
794. Next [2, b], at “We blame the ambitious man,” he explains his proposition by an ordinary use of words. On this point he does two things. First [2, b, i] he indicates the ordinary manner of usage; and then [2, b, ii] he argues from this to the proposition, at “Clearly, inasmuch etc.” He says first that sometimes we blame the ambitious man, i.e., the lover of honor, for desiring honor more than he ought and from an improper source. Likewise, we blame at times the unambitious person for not wanting to do those good actions by reason of which he would be honored. On the other hand, we praise at times one who is a lover of honor as being manly or having a noble soul, and as a lover of the good, i.e., virtuous action to which honor is due. Again we praise occasionally a man who does not love honor—as it were regulating and ruling himself—so that he does not exceed his ability, as was stated in the second book (345-348).
795. At “Clearly, inasmuch” [2, b, ii] he draws a conclusion from this manner of speaking, saying that at times we praise then again we blame the lover of honor. But it is obvious that one is called a lover of honor in various senses, and for this reason we do not praise and blame him for the same thing. But we praise the lover of honor according as he is more concerned than the general run of people for the things pertaining to honor. We blame him, however, inasmuch as he desires honors more than is proper. The same line of reasoning applies to one who does not love honor. Consequently, the mean in this matter is praiseworthy according as honor and desire for honor are valued at their true worth. However, the extremes are blameworthy insofar as one desires more than he ought or less than he ought.
796. Next , at “Since the mean,” he treats the mean and the extreme of this virtue. On this point he does two things. First [3, a] he shows the uncertainty occurring here; and then [3, b] the consequences of that uncertainty, at “However, here the extremes etc.” He discusses the first point under three headings. First [3, a, i] he indicates the uncertainty with the observation that, since the mean concerned with desire for honor has no name-and so, because of this lack, appears as if passed over the extremes do not seem consequently to be clearly drawn, inasmuch as they are sometimes praised, sometimes blamed.
797. Then [3, a, ii], at “Now, where there is,” he explains what the truth is concerning mean and extremes. He says that whenever we find an excess and defect, there also we must find a mean. Therefore, since some strive for honor both more and less than they ought, it follows that some strive as they ought—which belongs to the notion of a true mean.
798. Finally [3, a, iii ],at “Therefore, this unnamed habit etc.,” he shows the basis for this uncertainty. Because there is reason to accept a mean in regard to honors, the habit of the medium is praised. Likewise, because unnamed, it is designated by the names of extremes, as by a comparison with one of the extremes it seems to have a likeness to the other extreme. By comparison with excessive love of honor, the medium appears to have contempt of honor; but by comparison with contempt of honor, love of honor; by comparison with each it appears to be one as well as the other in some way. This is evident also in other virtues, for the brave man seems reckless by comparison with the timid man but timid by comparison with the reckless man. So, then, in our proposition the extremes considered in themselves are censured but as attributed to the mean they are praised.
799. Then [3, b], at “However, here,” he explains how it follows from this uncertainty that the extremes seem opposed only to one another but not to the mean of virtue because the as well as the other in some way. This mean has no name.
Meekness and Its Opposed Vices
I. HE TREATS MEEKNESS AND ITS OPPOSED VICES.
A. He shows how the mean and the extreme are discovered for anger. — 800
Meekness is a kind of moderation concerned with anger. The mean in the strict sense being without a name (and the extremes nearly so), we refer to meekness as the mean, although it inclines to the defect which is also nameless. However, the excess can be called irascibility.
B. Then he discusses them.
A’ He treats meekness.
1. WHAT BELONGS TO MEEKNESS AS... A VIRTUE. — 801
Anger is a passion arising from many and various causes. Hence a man who is angry over the right things, with the right persons, and moreover in the right way, at the right time, and for the right interval is praised. He is a meek man. But if meekness is an object of praise, the meek man seeks to be undisturbed and not controlled by passion, but to be angry at the things and for the length of time that reason directs.
2. WHAT BELONGS TO (MEEKNESS) ACCORDING TO THE REAL MEANING OF THE WORD. — 802
However, he seems to sin more on the side of defect, for the meek person is not vindictive but rather forgiving.
B’ (He treats) the opposite vices.
1. FIRST THE VICES OF DEFECT.
a. The defect of anger... is censurable for three reasons... the first. — 803-804
But the defect—either a certain apathy or something of the kind—is censured, for a man seems to be foolish who does not get angry at the things he should both in regard to the manner, the time, and the persons. Such a one appears not to feel things nor to be pained at them.
b. Second. — 805
Moreover, he who does not get angry will not stand up for himself;
c. Third. — 806
and it is considered slavish to endure insults to oneself and to suffer one’s associates to be insulted.
2. THEN THOSE OF EXCESS.
a. This vice takes place in many ways. — 807-808
The excess can happen in all likely ways, for a man can be angry with the wrong people, at the wrong things, more than he should, more readily than he should, and for a longer time than he should. However, all these excesses do not belong to the same man who certainly would not be able to survive, for evil which is complete destroys itself and would be unendurable.
b. He considers its species
i. Three kinds of excess in anger. First. — 809
Those persons are hot-tempered who become angry too readily, with the wrong people, at the wrong things, and more than they should. They do quiet down quickly—a very commendable trait which belongs to them because they do not retain anger, but in accord with their openness retaliate in a flare-up of temper, and then become tranquil. But the irascible (acrocholi) are intense in their excess, and get angry on every occasion and at every turn. It is from this that the name is derived.
ii. Second. — 810
However, the sullen are angry for a long time and are mollified with difficulty, for they do not relinquish their anger. But they are appeased when they have taken vengeance. The infliction of punishment calms the surge of anger and brings delight in place of sadness. When this is not done they are glum because they do not externally express their anger, and no one can prevail upon them. In this case time is needed to absorb the anger. Such persons are burdensome to themselves and especially to their friends.
iii. Third. — 811
We call those persons ill-tempered who are angry at the wrong things, more than they should be, for too long a time, and who are not appeased until they inflict vengeance and punishment.
3. HE COMPARES THESE TWO VICES WITH ONE ANOTHER. — 812
Excess is more opposed to meekness, for it happens more frequently since man is prone to take vengeance, and it makes the ill-tempered worse to live with.
II. HE ANSWERS AN IMPLIED QUESTION.
A. This cannot be determined with certitude. — 813
As was observed in previous discussions and made plain, it is not easy to determine how, at what, and how long one ought to be angry, or when one acts rightly or makes a mistake. Persons, who transgress slightly, either in great or lesser things, are not blamed. In fact, sometimes we praise men as meek who are wanting in anger, and as manly and competent to rule who abound in anger. However, it is not readily ascertain able by reason to what extent and in what manner a transgressor is blameworthy, for judgment is to be made according to sense perception in individual cases.
B. What is clear in this matter. — 814-815
But it is evident in these matters that the mean habit is praiseworthy according to which we are angry with the right people, about the right things, in the right manner, and so on in other circumstances. Likewise, it is evident that excess and defect are blameworthy, in such a way however that if they are slight, they can be tolerated; if greater, then more blameworthy; and if very great, then very blameworthy. But obviously one must adhere to the mean habit. We have now discussed the habits concerned with anger.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
800. After the Philosopher has finished the consideration of the virtues dealing with external goods, riches, and honors, he now considers meekness, which deals with the external evils which provoke people to anger. On this point he does two things. First [I] he treats meekness and its opposed vices; and then [II] he answers an implied question, at “As was observed.” On the initial point he does two things. First [I, A] he shows how the mean and the extreme are discovered for anger; and then [I, B] he discusses them, at “Anger is a passion etc.” He says first that meekness is a certain mean for anger. However, in this matter the mean taken in the proper sense has received no name. The same can almost be said about the extremes because they are not distinguished by explicit names. The name meekness is taken to signify a mean, although the word implies a lack of anger. People are called meek because they are not violent, as it were like domesticated animals who lose their irascibility. Even the disordered lack of anger has not been given a name. Someone is said to be meek who is not angry for any reason whatsoever, either good or bad. However, the excess is called rage or irascibility.
801. Then [I, B], at “Anger is a passion,” he first [A’] treats meekness; and then [B’], the opposite vices. He treats the first point from two aspects. Initially [A’, I] he explains what belongs to meekness as it is considered a virtue; and then [A’, 2] what belongs to it according to the real meaning of the word, at “However, he seems to sin etc.” He says first that irascibility is considered the vice of the extreme because it implies an excess of anger which is a passion arising from many and various causes. So, according to the diversity of these things, a mean and an extreme are found in anger. Consequently, the praiseworthy man is the one who is angry about the right things, at the right people, and in due moderation (since he is angry as he should be, when he should be, and as long as he should be). However, if the word meekness is used as a compliment, it would seem that the meek man is so disposed: first, that he is not disturbed internally in the judgment of reason by anger; second, he is not led by anger in external choice, for reason determines the objects of anger and the length of time within which anger should react.
802. Next [A’, 2], at “However, he seems to sin,” he explains, in accord with the true meaning of the word, the character of the meek man who (he says) in this respect seems to err more in approaching the defect. When we call a person meek, we signify that he is not inclined to punish but to forgive and remit punishments. This is a thing belonging to a lack of anger which is a desire for vengeance achieved by punishment.
803. At “But the defect” [B’], he treats the opposite vices, taking up first [B’, i] the vices of defect; and then [B’, 2] those of excess, at “The excess etc.” Last [B’, 3], he compares these two vices with one another, at “Excess is more opposed etc.” He says that the defect of the mean in anger is censured whether we call it apathy or any other name whatsoever.
804. Since the Stoics were of the opinion that all anger is censurable, he consequently shows that the defect of anger sometimes is censurable for three reasons [B’, i, a]. He proposes the first reason at “a man seems to be foolish etc.” Whatever indicates, a lack of wisdom is blameworthy because virtue is praised for working in accord with the right understanding of prudence. But for a man to fail to be angry at the things, in the manner, at the time, and with the persons he should be angry seems to denote a lack of wisdom. It is evident that anger is caused by sadness. But sadness is a feeling of injury. If then someone fails to be angry at the things he should, he does not grieve for them and so does not feel they are evil. This pertains to a lack of wisdom. Therefore it is clear that a defect of anger is blameworthy.
805. He gives the second reason [B’, i, b] at “Moreover, he who does not get angry.” Anger is a desire for vengeance. Hence one who is not angry at the things he should, accordingly does not punish the actions he ought to punish. This is blameworthy. However, this explanation is not to be understood as if another vengeance cannot be taken according to the judgment of the reason without anger, but as if the movement of anger stirred up by the judgment of the reason makes one more prompt to take vengeance in the right way. If the sensitive appetite did not help to carry out the judgment of the reason, it would be useless in human nature.
806. He introduces the third reason [B’, i, c] at “and it is considered,” saying only a cringing man suffers his household to be insulted and permits others to injure him without repelling the injury with due force. This follows from a defect of anger which renders a man slothful and remiss in warding off injury. Hence it is evident that the defect of anger is blameworthy.
807. Then [B’, 2], at “The excess can happen,” he treats the excess of anger. First [B’, 2, a] he shows that this vice takes place in many ways; and second [B’, 2, b] he considers its species, at “These persons are hot-tempered etc.” He says first that excess of anger can occur according to all the circumstances. It happens that someone is angry with the wrong people and in the wrong things, that he is provoked too much and too easily angered, that he is angry too long. However, all these excesses are not found in one man, both because of the trouble he himself would suffer from his own anger, and also because, being burdensome to all, he could not live with others.
808. This is universally true of evil -if it were complete, it would destroy itself. It could not continue to exist in taking away the subject by which it must be sustained if it is to continue to be. What does not exist can hardly be called evil, because evil is a privation of good. But every being precisely as existing is good. Obviously then evil does not take away good entirely, but some particular good of which evil is a privation. In such a way blindness takes away sight but does not destroy the animal. If the animal were destroyed, blindness would cease to exist. Manifestly, then, evil cannot be complete because in so taking away the good entirely, it would destroy itself.
8og. Next [B’, 2, b], at “Those persons,” he presents three kinds of excess in anger. The first [2, b, i] is that of those called hot-tempered, those easily aroused to wrath, readily becoming angry both with the wrong persons, and at the wrong things, and too vehemently. However, their anger does not last long but quickly subsides. This is very fortunate in a way for them that anger is not retained internally in their heart, but immediately bursts forth externally because they either take vengeance at the time or show their anger in some other way by clear indications with a burst of temper. In this way, when their anger is expressed they quiet down. So, also, heat which is shut up is kept at a higher degree, but when dispersed in vapor it disappears rather quickly. To this kind of anger the choleric seem disposed most readily by reason of the subtlety or speed of the bile. It is from this speed that excess is acquired by the irascible or acrocholi, i.e., those excessive in anger, from acros meaning extreme and cholos meaning anger, because they are intense and quick in anger.
8ro. He presents the second kind (of anger) [2, b, ii], at “However, the sullen,” saying that some are called sullen whose anger is dispelled with difficulty and lasts a long time because they keep it pent up in their hearts. But they cease to be angry only when they have satisfaction for the injury inflicted. Punishment calms the surge of passion when the previous sadness is replaced by delight, inasmuch as a man takes pleasure in vengeance. But if this does not happen, that is, if punishment is not inflicted, they are sorely grieved inwardly, since they do not show their anger. No one can persuade them to moderate this wrath that is not indulged. But the dissolution of anger requires a long time in which the fire of wrath may cool off gradually and be extinguished. Such persons who retain anger for a long time are a trial to themselves and especially their friends with whom they cannot live pleasantly. For this reason they are called sullen. To this kind of excess, the melancholic seem particularly inclined because the influence received from the coarseness of the humor lasts a long time in them.
811. He introduces the third kind (of anger) [2, b, iii], at “We call those persons,” saying that some are called ill-tempered or morose who are angry at improper things, in an improper degree and for an improper length of time, and do not leave anger until they wreak vengeance on or punish those with whom they are angry. Indeed their anger lasts long not because of a retention alone that can be dissolved in time but because of a firm resolve to inflict punishment.
812. Then [B’, 3], at “Excess is more opposed,” he compares the things just treated with one another, stating that the excess of anger is more opposed to meekness than the defect is. He proves this by two arguments: first, it is the usual occurrence. Man is inclined more naturally to inflict punishment after suffering an injury to himself, while he is naturally inclined to meekness when he has not suffered any injury. The second reason is that the excessive in anger are more difficult to live with and to this extent are worse. Hence they are more in opposition to the good of virtue.
813. Next [II], at “As was observed,” he answers an implied question, namely, at what things and in what manner ought a man be angry. On this point he does two things. First [II, A] he affirms that this cannot be determined with certitude; and second [II, B] he states what is clear in this matter, at “But it is evident etc.” He says first that, as was observed in the second book (379) and there made clear, it is not easy to determine in what manner one should be angry, i.e., at things of what nature, for how long a time, and up to what point one acts correctly or errs in becoming angry. One who departs a little from the mean, either in great or small matters, is not blamed. In fact, at times we praise those who are somewhat deficient in anger and call them meek, but those who are a little excessive we call manly, as if able and qualified to rule by reason of their promptness for vengeance, which is appropriate to rulers. It is not easy to determine by reason the extent and kind of deviation from the mean for which a man should or should not be blamed. The reason is that judgment in this case depends on particulars and on sense perception which is more an interior than an exterior evaluation.
814. At “But it is evident” [II, B] he shows what is obvious in these matters, saying it is evident that the mean according to which we are angry with the right persons, at the right things, and so on with regard to the other circumstances, is praiseworthy. Likewise, it is evident that excess and defect are blameworthy, in such a way however that if they are slight they can be tolerated; if they are greater, they are more blameworthy; ana if very great, they are blameworthy in the highest degree. Hence a man ought to draw himself towards the mean.
815. Last, he says in the epilogue that we have discussed the habits that deal with anger.
I. HE TREATS THE SERIOUS (ACTIONS).
A. He investigates the virtue concerned with pleasantness and sadness arising from the serious actions of men.
A’ A mean and extremes are found.
1. THE VICE PERTAINING TO THE EXCESS OF PLEASANTNESS. — 816
Some men seem to be obsequious in association with others and in interchange of words and deeds. They praise everything for the sake of pleasantness, and never contradict anyone, being of the opinion that unpleasantness ought to be avoided.
2. THE VICE WHICH PERTAINS TO THE DEFECT. — 817
Others, on the contrary, always find fault, taking care to emphasize anything unpleasant. They are called perverse and quarrelsome.
3. THE CONCLUSION... THE MEAN IS PRAISEWORTHY. — 818
These habits being reprehensible, obviously the mean habit is laudable—that habit according to which a person approves what he should and also disapproves what he should.
B’.He examines (the mean and extremes).
1. FIRST THE MEAN.
a. The name of the mean habit.
i. The mean habit has no name. — 819
This mean habit has not been given a name.
ii. He gives the habit a name from friendship. — 820
But it has a remarkable resemblance to friendship, for the man who is disposed according to the mean habit is a man worthy of friendship, assuming that he loves us.
iii. How this virtue differs from friendship.
x. THE DIFFERENCE. — 821
However, since this virtue is with out passion or affection for people with whom we associate, it differs from friendship. A man does not take particular things as becoming because he is influenced by love or hatred but because he is disposed in this way. He will act similarly with strangers, intimates, and outsiders.
y. A FALSE UNDERSTANDING OF IT. — 822
Nevertheless, in particular cases, he does the proper thing; it is not becoming to treat intimates and strangers in the same way, nor similarly to show displeasure toward them.
b. Properties (of the mean habit).
i. First. — 823
Therefore, as has been pointed out, he always communicates with others in an amiable manner.
ii. Second. — 824
Considering it honorable and useful, he aims to cause no offense, and even to give pleasure, for he is concerned with pleasure and sadness which occur in social intercourse.
iii. Third. — 825
Any virtuous man of this type will refuse to give pleasure and will choose to cause pain over what is dishonorable and harmful to himself or to the person doing an injury or a great wrong. Although his opposition brings not a little offense, he will disregard it.
iv. Fourth. — 826
He converses differently with persons in high places and with others, with friends, and with acquaintances. Likewise, according to other differences he attributes what is becoming to each.
v. Fifth. — 827
He primarily strives to give pleasure and declines to inflict pain, considering that future events may b1of greater importance. (I speak of what is honorable and useful.) But he will cause grief especially in a slight degree for the sake of a pleasure in a good that is to come. The mean then is of this nature but is nameless.
2. (HE DEFINES) THE EXTREMES.
a. The vice that belongs to the excess of pleasantness. — 828
Of those who are agreeable, the man who aims at being pleasant without personal profit is called affable, but he who does so for money and things valued in terms of money is called a flatterer.
b. He refers to the opposite vice. — 829
But the individual who is a trial to everyone is called quarrelsome and perverse, as has been stated.
c. He compares the two vices. — 830
However, the extremes seem to be mutually opposed because the mean is nameless.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
816. After the Philosopher has considered virtues relating to external things, now he considers the virtues that relate to human actions. First [I] lie treats the serious; and then [Lect. 16, II] the humorous actions, at “Since recreation should have a place etc.” (B. 1127 b 33). In the investigation of the serious actions, he examines pleasantness and veracity. First [A] he investigates the virtue concerned with pleasantness and sadness arising from the serious actions of men; and then [Lect. 15, B] the virtue concerned with veracity, at “Likewise, the mean opposed to boasting etc.” (B. 1127 a 13). He develops the first point in a twofold fashion. Initially [A’] he shows that a mean and extremes are found in regard to pleasantness and sadness in human acts; and then [B’] he examines these, at “This mean habit has not etc.” He discusses the first from three aspects. First [A’, 1] he presents the vice pertaining to the excess of pleasantness. He says that in human conversation (by which men especially associate with one another according to a natural tendency) and generally in all human companionships (made possible by the fact that men communicate with one another in words and deeds) some seem to be obsequious, as it were straining to please men. Wherefore, they praise everything that others say and do for the purpose of making themselves agreeable. They never contradict people for fear of giving offense, thinking they must live without causing pain to anyone.
817. Second [A’, 2], at “Others, on the contrary,” he introduces the vice that pertains to the defect in such matters. He states that people who are cross-grained wish to be contrary to everything said or done as if trying to make others sad and taking care to emphasize anything that will make life unpleasant for others. These persons are called perverse or quarrelsome.
818. Last [A’, 3], at “These habits’ he draws the conclusion that the mean is praiseworthy, saying that these habits, which consist in an extreme, are unworthy of praise. Obviously, then, the mean habit is worthy of praise—that habit by which a man accepts what others say or do, or rightly rejects and contradicts it.
819. Next [B’], at “This mean habit,” he defines the previous matter: first [B’, 1] the mean; and then [B’, 2] the extremes, at “Of those who are etc.” He handles the initial point in a twofold manner. First [B’, 1, a] he treats the name of the mean habit; and then [B’, 1, b] its properties, at “Therefore, as has been pointed out.” He considers the name under three headings. First [a, i] he states that the mean habit has no name.
820. Second [a, ii], at “But kt has he gives the habit a name from a resemblance to friendship. This virtue, he says, is very much like friendship because there is agreement in the external act which is especially proper to friendship, viz., to live amicably with friends. That person, who is disposed according to the mean habit of this virtue, conducts himself in agreeable association with others in a manner becoming to a friend whose friendship is moderated by reason-a thing that pertains to honorable friendship. Not every friendship is virtuous, as will be pointed out later (1574-1577). If the man who has this virtue should love those with whom he lives, his friendship will be entirely virtuous.
821. Last [a, iii], at “However, since,” he shows how this virtue differs from friendship. He treats this point in a twofold manner. First [iii, x] he presents the difference; and then [iii, y] rejects a false understanding of it, at “Nevertheless, in particular cases etc.” He says first that, since this virtue is without love (which is a passion of the sensitive appetite) and without affection (which pertains to the intellective appetite) for those with whom we associate, it differs from true friendship. A man does not take the particular things said or done by others as becoming, because he is influenced by hatred or love of them but because he is disposed in this way by habit. This is proved by the fact that he observes the same not only with friends but generally with all acquaintances and strangers, intimates and outsiders. Liberality is like this. A friend gives gifts to his friends because he loves; the liberal man however gives not because he loves but because his nature is to be a free spender.
822. Then [iii, y], at “Nevertheless,” he rejects a false understanding of these things. Since he just stated (821) that this virtue is practiced alike toward strangers and acquaintances, a man might consider this likeness as extending to everything. But the previously mentioned likeness must be taken as referring to this common characteristic, which is to live agreeably with others. There is a difference in regard to the special ways of living with others. The reason is that the virtue affects the proper actions in particular cases, for a person should not delight or displease intimates and outsiders in the same way.
823. At “Therefore, as has been” [B’, 1, b], he enumerates the five properties of this virtue; the first [b, i] of which is taken from the manner of communicating with others. As has been noted (821), one having this virtue always communicates with others in a becoming way.
824. At “Considering,” Aristotle gives the second property [b, ii], which is understood on the part of the end, saying that one having this virtue aims at living with others without offense or even with pleasure. This end pertains to a good that is honorable and advantageous, i.e., useful, because it is concerned with pleasure and sadness occurring in associations in which human companionship principally and fittingly consists. This is proper to men in contrast to animals who share food and the like in common.
825. At “Any virtuous man,” he introduces the third property [b, iii], which is understood by comparison with pain, saying that the man who possesses this virtue sometimes refuses to give pleasure to another, in fact sometimes chooses to cause pain. This may take place in two ways. In one way it can happen on his part: if a thing is not honorable to him, for instance, another uses indecent language; or if a thing is harmful to him, for instance, another injures him in word. In the other way, it can happen on the part of the person he lives with. This person may say or do something pertaining to his own great disgrace, or he may be greatly harmed. By reason of the fact that he is contradicted he is grieved to some extent. So the virtuous man will not take what is said by others, or if he does he will nonetheless reprove them.
826. At “He converses differently” he introduces the fourth property [b, iv], which is understood by comparison with different persons. He says that a virtuous man speaks and converses in a different way with persons in high places and with private persons, with friends and with acquaintances, and so on according to other distinctions of persons, ascribing to each individual what is appropriate.
827. At “He primarily strives,” he presents the fifth property [b, v] which is taken by comparison of pleasure with pain. He affirms that the virtuous man primarily strives to give pleasure and declines to inflict pain. However, at times he causes some grief considering that future events will outweigh the existing affliction in what concerns decency and utility or even a future important consideration, the evidence for which is provided by the present distress. He concludes that the mean habit is like this but is without a name, although we can call it affability.
828. Then [B’, 2], at “Of those who,” he defines the opposite vices, doing three things. First [B’, 2, a] he treats the vice belonging to the excess of pleasantness. He says that the man who is immoderate in being pleasant—if he does not act for something else—is called obsequious. But if he acts to acquire money or any other thing computable in money, he is called a sycophant or a flatterer.
829. Next [B’, 2, b], at “But the individual,” he refers to the opposite vice, saying that the individual who is a trial to everyone is called contentious and perverse, as has been stated previously (817).
83o. Finally [B’, 2, c], at “However, the extremes, “ he compares the two vices one with the other, saying that the extremes seem to be opposed to one another but not to the virtue because the mean of the virtue is nameless.
B. A virtue ... that possesses a mean in the same human actions.
A’ He explains his intention.
1. A CERTAIN VIRTUE IS A MEAN OPPOSED TO BOASTING. — 831
Likewise, the mean opposed to boasting treats of almost the same subject, and it too is nameless.
2. WE MUST TREAT THIS VIRTUE.
a. First (reason). — 832
It is not a loss to examine these matters, for in making the investigation we will learn more about particular habits.
b. Second. — 833
Observing what is so in all cases, we are assured that virtues are certain median states.
3. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AND THE PRECEDING VIRTUE. — 834
We have already discussed the people who cause pleasure or pain in their association with others. In like manner we will now investigate those persons who manifest truth and falsehood by words, operations, and pretense.
B’ He defines his proposition. —
1. HE PRESENTS THE VIRTUE AND THE OPPOSITE VICES.
a. What belongs to the mean and extremes in this matter. — 835
The boaster simulates non-existent qualities, or claims a greater distinction than he really has. On the contrary, the dissembler denies or minimizes the qualities he has. But the man who observes the mean is admirable, being truthful both in life and speech, acknowledging that his own qualities are neither more nor less excellent than they really are.
b. How the things... discussed pertain to the median habit and the extremes. — 836
Each of these acts may be done both for the sake of something else and for nothing other than itself. As a man is, so he speaks, acts, and lives, unless some other cause affects him.
c. The median habit is praiseworthy. — 837
A lie is intrinsically evil and to be avoided but the truth is both good and to be praised. So, the man who speaks the truth is worthy of praise as being better, while the above two who do not tell the truth are worthy of blame, more especially the boaster.
2. HE INVESTIGATES THEM.
a. First the virtue.
i. What truthful person we are discussing. — 838
We will discuss both, but first the truthful man. We are not going to investigate the person who speaks the truth in his agreements nor on any subject pertaining to right or its b violation, for this belongs to another virtue. But we do intend to study the person who manifests the truth by his conversation and way of living (insofar as he does this from habit) in matters not touching justice and injustice.
ii. What is especially characteristic of this person. — 839
Such a man seems to observe moderation, for he is a lover of the truth and, being truthful where it makes little difference, he will speak the truth all the more where it does matter. He will fear a lie as disgraceful because he feared it in itself. Such a man is worthy of praise.
iii. To what extreme the person is most inclined. — 840
He turns aside from the truth more by understatement, for this seems rather prudent since overstatements are irritating.
b. Then the opposite vices.
i. The vice pertaining to excess.
x. IN HOW MANY WAYS WE MAY COMMIT... BOASTING. — 841-842
The person who boasts more excellent talents than he possesses for 10 no ulterior motive has a semblance of evil; otherwise, he would not find pleasure in lying. He is really, though, more vain than evil. But one who boasts for something else, like glory or honor, does not deserve great blame. However, the man who boasts for the sake of money or objects valued in money is more vicious.
y. IN WHAT RESPECT WE MAY... TAKE INTO ACCOUNT BOASTING. — 843
A boaster is constituted not by capability but by choice. He is such in accordance with a habit, as is the case with the liar who finds pleasure in lying itself, or the one who lies because he desires glory or profit.
z. IN WHAT WAY...WE. COMMIT... BOASTING. — 844-845
Therefore, people who boast for the sake of fame simulate qualities that win praise and admiration. Those who boast for the sake of gain pretend things more closely connected with profit and things whose absence is not clearly apparent. For this reason many braggarts pretend to be doctors, soothsayers, or wise men, for the qualities mentioned are verified in them.
ii. The vice pertaining to defect.
x. HE COMPARES THIS VICE WITH BOASTING. — 846
Dissemblers, however, who say less than what is true seem to be more gracious. For they apparently speak not to acquire gain but to avoid offense and vanity.
y. HE POINTS OUT ITS DIFFERENCE. — 847-848
Some people especially deny qualities about themselves that bring renown, as Socrates did. Others, who disclaim insignificant and obvious things are called affected humbugs (blato-panurgi). They are readily despised; and at times they seem guilty of ostentation, like the Spartans by their clothing. For this reason excess and immoderate deficiency seem characteristic of the boastful. Still others who moderately employ dissimulation, even dissembling about things obvious and ready at hand, seem rather agreeable.
iii. The opposition of vices among themselves. — 849
As being more vicious, the boaster seems more opposed to the truthful man.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
831. After the Philosopher has finished the treatise on the virtue possessing the mean in human actions in regard to amiability, he now [B] treats a virtue called veracity, which possesses a mean in the same human actions. First [A’] he explains his intention; and then [B’] he defines his proposition, at “The boaster simulates etc.” He develops the first point in three ways. First [A’, 1] he discloses that a certain virtue is a mean opposed to boasting. Next [A’, 2], at “It is not a loss etc.,” he shows that we must treat this virtue. Last [A’, 3], at “We have already discussed etc.,” he explains the difference between this and the preceding virtue. He says first that the mean opposed to boasting treats about nearly the same subject as the previous virtue. The reason is that it is concerned with human actions, but not in relation to the same thing, since it does not regard pleasantness but another topic to be discussed shortly (838). As in the case of the previous virtue, this mean too is nameless.
832. Then [A’, 2], at “It is not a loss,” he explains why it is necessary to investigate this virtue, giving two reasons. First [A’, 2, a] he says that it is not profitless but in fact useful to moral science to treat the virtues as we go along. In this way we will learn better what pertains to morals if, as we proceed, we treat the material pertaining to individual habits. The reason is that the science of moral matters is completed by a knowledge of particulars.
833. At “Observing what,” he presents the second reason [A’, 2, b]. We shall be assured that the virtues are kinds of median states by seeing how this is the case in the individual virtues.
834. Next [A’, 3], at “We have already,” he defines the difference between this and the preceding virtue. He states that we have already considered (816-830) the people who in some way give pleasure or pain in their association and conversation with others. But we must still discuss those people who are truthful or deceitful in their words and actions or who simulate these qualities by their deeds.
835. Then [B’], at “The boaster simulates,” he treats the virtues and vices. First [B’, 1] he presents the virtue and the opposite vices; and then [B’, 2], at “We will discuss both etc.,” he investigates them. He handles the first point from three aspects. First [B’, 1, a] he shows what belongs to the mean and extremes in this matter. Next [B’, 1, b], at “Each of these etc.,” he explains how the things which were discussed pertain to the median habit and the extremes. Third [B’, 1, c], at “A lie is intrinsically etc.,” he reveals that the mean habit is praiseworthy but the extremes, vicious. He says first that the boaster who sins by excess pretends certain praiseworthy qualities, and this in two ways. In one way he pretends to have some distinctions that he does not possess. In the other way, he claims distinctions greater than they really are. But the person who sins by defect is called a dissembler. However, the man who possesses the mean is said to be autocastos, i.e., admirable in himself, because he does not seek to be admired more than becomes him. He is also said to be autophastos, i.e., essentially sincere, manifesting himself to be what he is. He is truthful inasmuch as the things he divulges about himself are true. He does this not only by word but also by his manner of living, according as his exterior conduct and his speech conform to his nature.
836. At “Each of these” [B’, 1, b], he explains how these things pertain to the three specified habits, saying that each of the above-mentioned acts may happen in two ways. In one way, it may be done for the sake of something else, for instance, a man denies that he is what he is because of fear; in the other way, not for the sake of something else but because he takes delight in the act itself. This property belongs to a habit, since everyone speaks, acts and lives according to the quality of his habit. Of course at times he may act differently because something else arises.
837. Then [B’, 1, c], at “A lie is intrinsically etc.,” he discloses what deserves praise and what blame in the habits mentioned, saying that a lie is essentially evil and to be avoided, but truth is good and to be praised. Signs were instituted to represent things as they are. Therefore, if a person represents a thing otherwise than it is by lying, he acts in an inordinate and vicious manner. But if he speaks the truth, he acts in an orderly and virtuous manner. Now, it is clear that the man who speaks the truth possesses the mean because he designates a thing as it is. The truth consists in an equality that is a mean between great and small. But the person who lies stands in an extreme either by excess because he affirms more than really is, or by defect because less than really is. Hence, it is evident that both are blameworthy. But the boaster who sins by excess deserves more blame since he departs farther from the truth; for the less, not the more, is found in the mean.
838. Next [B’, 2], at “We will discuss both,” he investigates the previously mentioned habits, treating first [B’, 2, a] the virtue and then [B’, 2, b] the opposite vices, at “The person who boasts etc.” He treats the first point in a threefold manner. First [a, i] he determines what truthful person we are discussing. Next [a, ii], at “Such a man etc.,” he shows what is especially characteristic of this person. Third [a, iii], at “He turns aside etc.,” he explains to what extreme the person is more inclined. He says first that we must talk about these habits, but first about the truthful man. However, we do not have in mind now the person who speaks the truth in judicial testimony, for example, a witness who reveals the truth when questioned by a judge; nor the person who speaks the truth in any matter touching right—this pertains to another virtue, viz., justice. But we are directing our attention to that truthful man who manifests the truth in his life and conversation in matter not having distinction of justice and injustice. However, he manifests the truth only by reason of the disposition of the habit, as was said before about a previous virtue (821) that it aims at living pleasantly with others, not by reason of love but by reason of its habit. So, too, this virtue shows the truth not on account of the observance of justice but on account of the inclination it has to manifest the truth.
839. At “Such a man” [a, ii], Aristotle explains what particularly pertains to the truthful man we have in mind, saying he is one who apparently observes moderation in his actions, avoiding excess and defect. He loves truthfulness and the truth even where damage or profit is of little importance. The reason is that he hates a lie as something shameful in itself, and not only because it injures another. A person of this kind is to be commended.
840. Then [a, iii], at “He turns aside,” he explains to what extreme the truthful man more inclines, affirming that since sometimes it is quite difficult to tell the exact truth, he wishes to lean towards understatement rather than overstatement, This seems to pertain more to prudence since men tend to excess, and when speaking about themselves, they become tiresome to others. The reason for annoyance is that they seem in this to prefer themselves to others.
841. Next [B’, 2, b], at “The person who boasts,” he examines the opposite vices. He considers this point under three aspects. First [b, i] he investigates the vice pertaining to excess; next [b, ii] the vice pertaining to defect, at “Dissemblers, however etc.”; and last [b, iii] the opposition of vices among themselves, at “As being more vicious etc.” He treats the first point in a threefold manner. First [i, x] he shows in how many ways we may commit the vice of boasting which is an extreme by excess. Second [i, y], at “A boaster is constituted etc.,” he explains in what respect we may especially take into account the vice of boasting. Finally [i, z], at “Therefore, people who etc.,” he shows in what things we may principally commit the vice of boasting.
842. He states first that sometimes a man says boastfully about himself things that are untrue or exaggerated, not for some other purpose but for the enjoyment he gets out of it. Such a man is said to have a semblance of evil, otherwise he would not find pleasure in lying, for this arises from a disordered soul. However, he is not at all evil since he does not intend any malice; he is only vain for taking pleasure in a thing which is really neither good nor useful. In another way, a person speaks boastfully about himself because he wants glory or honor. This person really ought not to be blamed since glory and honor have a certain relationship to honorable things for which people are praised and honored. in still another way, people brag about themselves for the sake of money or some other thing that can be valued in moncy. An individual belonging to this class is more vicious because he lies for an inferior good.
843. At “A boaster is constituted” [i, y], he explains in what respect we may take boasting into account, saying that a man is not considered a boaster from the fact that he has or has not the capability, but from the fact that he chooses to boast. He is called a boaster according to the habit that this choice follows. It is the same with any liar who is such in choosing to lie, or finding pleasure in lying, or lies out of his desire for fame or profit.
844. Then [i, z], at “Therefore, people who,” he explains the things that people usually boast about. Obviously, persons who find enjoyment in boasting boast indiscriminately. But those who boast for the sake of fame pretend things that seem worthy of praise, like virtuous works, or that have referencc to good fortune, like the dignity of wealth and so on. Those, however, who boast for the sake of profit pretend things in which others find pleasure, otherwise it would profit them nothing. Again, when the things they boast about are not true, they take care that this fact can be hidden so their lie may not be discovered.
845. He takes an example from two fields: first, from things belonging to medicine, since everyone wants health and no one can find out whether the doctor makes a mistake; second, from divination, which naturally disturbs men and where they cannot easily discover a lie. For this reason people who boast for profit especially pretend to be doctors or men wise in foretelling the future. Perhaps his use of the word “wise” can be referred to this that these men boast that they have a knowledge of divine things that is desirable and hidden.
846. Next [b, ii], at “Dissemblers, however,” he considers the vice belonging to the defect. On this point he docs two things. First [ii. x] he compares this vice with boasting; and then [ii, y] points out its difference at “Some people especially etc.” He says first that dissemblers who minimize the truth about themselves seem to have more pleasing ways than boasters, because they apparently do not speak this way for the sake of gain but as if fleeing from vanity.
847. At “Some people especially” [ii, y] he explains how this vice is practiced in different ways, saying there are some who especially deny about themselves things pertaining to great renown, for example, Socrates denied that he was wise. There are others who want to show by certain insignificant and obvious things that they do not pretend more excellent things about themselves than they possess. Such are called blato-panurgi, i.e., men who have their delight in a certain cunning pretense. Panurgi is a Greek word for “cunning fellow,” while blaton means something done amusingly. These, he says, arereadily despised because their pretense is too obvious. A defect of this nature in external things sometimes seems to pertain to boasting when in this way they want to appear better and more observant of moderation, like the Spartans who wore clothing humbler than became their state. For this reason an excess and an immoderate deficiency in externals seem to pertain to boasting precisely because a certain singularity in a man is displayed in case of each.
848. Still others exercise this vice in a mitigated form, since they neither altogether deny famous deeds done by themselves nor do they even attribute to themselves negligible qualities, practicing the vice in matter obvious and at hand. People like this seem to be pleasing, as was just said (846).
849. Then [b, iii], at "As being more vicious," he considers the opposition between the vice and the virtue, saying that the boaster is more in opposition to the truthful man because more vicious, as we have already noted (837). The worse vice is always more opposed to virtue.
II. HE CONSIDERS A CERTAIN VIRTUE THAT DEALS WITH AMUSEMENT.
A. There can be a virtue and vice having to do with amusement. — 850-851
Since recreation should have a place in out life and our social living by means of playful conversation, this would be a suitable time for a discussion of what things are proper to say and hear. In matters of this nature, speaking and listening are different, but it is clear that we have both excess and defect in respect to the mean.
B. He treats the virtue and the opposite vices concerned with amusement.
A'. The nature of each habit.
1. WHAT THE MEAN AND THE EXTREMES IN AMUSEMENT ARE.
a. What belongs to excess. — 852
People who engage in too much derision are buffoons and nuisances wanting laughter at any cost. They try more to get a laugh than to converse politely and avoid offending the persons they mock.
b. The nature of the vice by defect. — 853
On the other hand, persons who say nothing funny and are disagreeable to those who do, seem uncultured and rude.
c. The nature of the mean in amusement. — 854
But men indulging in jest with good taste are called witty, like those who give a humorous turn to things.
2. (THE MEAN AND THE EXTREMES) BELONG TO A DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER. — 855
Actions of this kind seem to belong to character, for as bodies are judged from their movements, so too are characters.
3. THE EXTREME IS SOMETIMES TAKEN FOR THE MEAN. — 856
Since laughter is quite popular, most people take more pleasure in fun and in joking reproach of others than they should. Hence they are pleased with buffoons who are called witty. However, from what has been said it is obvious that buffoons are quite different from persons of wit.
B’ What is proper to each habit.
1. WHAT IS PECULIAR TO THE MEAN OF THIS VIRTUE.
a. How the witty person conducts himself in general.
i. That the use of clean fun pertains to the mean habit. — 857
Tact belongs to the mean habit of this virtue. It is characteristic of a tactful person to tell and listen to such tales as become a decent and liberal man.
ii. Proof for what he has said. — 858
Now, the witty person speaks and listens to what is becoming in jest. But the jesting of the liberal man differs from that of the servile man; the jesting of the cultured man from that of the uncultured.
iii. The jesting of the cultured and the uncultured person differs. — 859
Anyone can see this in the comedies of the ancient and modern authors. In the earlier plays obscene language appears and is an object of laughter; in the later it is rather implied. This difference towards obscenities is of no small importance for decency.
b. How (the witty person) especially acts in friendly banter.
i. He asks (a) question. — 860
We must determine, then, whether a man is good at raillery because he says what becomes a liberal man, or because he does not offend his listener, or because he even delights him.
ii. He answers the second part. — 861
This norm is indefinite to the extent that what is hateful to one person is pleasing to another. But each will listen to the things which give him pleasure, while he seems to encourage the things which he permits.
iii. Something is settled as to the first part. — 862-863
The virtuous person will not employ every kind of jest, for some jokes are in fact an insult. But legislators forbid the making of some insulting remarks. Actually they should forbid all reviling. Here the pleasing and liberal man will be as it were a law unto himself. Therefore, either the witty or the tactful person possesses the mean in this matter.
2. WHAT IS PROPER TO THE EXTREME BY EXCESS. — 864
However, the buffoon, less vicious than the derider, spares neither himself nor others for the sake of a laugh. Likewise, he says such things as the polite person would never think of saying-would not in fact listen to.
3. WHAT PERTAINS TO THE EXTREME BY DEFECT. — 865
But the lout is useless at these conversations, contributing nothing and making everyone uncomfortable. Nevertheless, recreation and jest seem to be necessary for human life.
C. The difference between this and those virtues already considered. — 866
In human living there are three median courses, all of which regard communication in speech and action. They differ, however, for one deals with truthfulness and the others with what is pleasing. Of this second class, one concerns pleasure taken in amusements, the other concerns pleasure in things according to another aspect of life, viz., conversations.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
850. After the Philosopher has finished the consideration of the virtues dealing with human actions of a serious nature, he now considers a certain virtue which deals with amusement [II]. He develops this point in three ways. First [A] he shows there can be it virtue and vice having to do with amusement. Next [B], at “People who engage in too much etc.,” he treats the virtue and the opposite vices concerned with amusement. Third [C], at “In human living there are etc.,” he explains the difference between this and those virtues already considered. In regard to the first we must consider that, as has been shown (329), there can be no corresponding virtue and vice concerned with what is intrinsically evil and incapable of having an aspect of good. Consequently, if no aspect of good can be found in amusement there will be no virtue connected with it.
851. But amusement does have an aspect of good inasmuch as it is useful for human living. As man sometimes needs to give his body rest from labors, so also he sometimes needs to rest his soul from mental strain that ensues from his application to serious affairs. This is done by amusement. For this reason Aristotle says that, since there should be some relaxation for man from the anxieties and cares of human living and social intercourse by means of amusement—thus amusement has the aspect of useful good—it follows that in amusement there can be a certain agreeable association of men with one another, so they may say and hear such things as are proper and in the proper way. Yet, in matters of this kind, talking and listening are very different, for a man properly listens to things he could not properly say. But wherever difference exists between the things that ought to be done and ought not to done, there is found not only a mean but also excess and defect in regard to this mean. Hence we have a virtuous mean and extremes concerned with amusement.
852. At “People who engage” [B] he considers the mean and the extremes. First [A] he speaks about the nature of each habit; then [B’], at “Tact belongs etc.,” he shows what is proper to each habit. He discusses the first point in a threefold manner: initially [A’, 1] he explains what the mean and the extremes in amusement are; then [A’, 2] at “Actions of this kind etc.,” he shows that they belong to a difference of character; last [A’, 3], at “Since laughter is quite etc.,” he discloses that the extreme is sometimes taken for the mean. He treats this first point from three aspects. In the beginning [A’, 1, a] he shows what belongs to excess, saying that those who indulge excessively in playful derision are bomolochl or temple plunderers because of a resemblance to birds of prey who used to fly over the temple to pounce upon the entrails of sacrificed animals. In that way these people lie in wait so they can pounce upon something to turn into a laugh. On this account persons of this kind are a nuisance because they want to make laughter out of everything. They make more effort to do this than to engage in becoming or polite conversation and avoid disturbing the man they heap with playful reproach. They would rather tell scandalous stories, even at the risk of offending others, than (not) cause men to laugh.
853. Second [A’, 1, b], at “On the other hand,” he explains the nature of the vice by defect, stating that men who never want to say anything funny and are disagreeable to the people who do (these being reasonably disturbed) seem to be uncultured or boorish and coarse, like those who are not mellowed by amusing recreation.
854. Third [A’, 1, c], at “But men indulging,” he explains the nature of the mean in amusement, saying that men who devote themselves to amusement in moderation are called witty (eutrapeli), as it were, good at turning because they becomingly give an amusing turn to what is said and done.
855. Then [A’, 2], at “Actions of this kind,” he shows that the actions just mentioned belong to different habits. lie says that these movements by which a person wishes to amuse others too much, or too little, or in a moderate way are indications of internal dispositions of habit. As external movements of bodies clearly indicate their internal dispositions, so external actions manifest internal characters.
856. At “Since laughter is quite” [A’, 3], he explains how the extreme sometimes is taken for the mean. He says that many people bubble over with laughter and take more pleasure than they should in jest and in joking reproach of others. Hence, they give the name witty to buffoons who please them by excessive indulgence in jest which the majority of men love immoderately. Nevertheless, as is clear from what was said before (852-854), buffoons are quite different from witty people.
857. Next [B’] at “Tact belongs,” he shows what properly belongs to the preceding habits. First [B’, 1] he explains what is peculiar to the mean of the virtue; and then [B’, 2], at “However, the buffoon etc.,” what is proper to the extreme by excess. Finally [B’, 3], at “But the lout etc.,” he discloses what pertains to the extreme by defect. He handles the initial point from two aspects. First [B’, 1, a] he shows how the witty person conducts himself in general with reference to fun; and then [B’, 1, b], at “We must determine etc.,” how he acts especially in friendly banter. He considers this first in a threefold way. In the beginning [a, i] he brings out that the use of clean fun pertains to the mean habit. He affirms that what is characteristic of a tactful person (epydexiotis), i.e., of a man well-fitted and prepared to engage in conversation with others, belongs to the mean habit of this virtue. It is proper to men of this sort to narrate and listen to such amusing incidents as become a decent and liberal man who possesses a soul free from slavish passions.
858. Next [a, ii], at “Now, the witty person,” he gives a reason as proof for what he has said, viz., that wherever something is found that can be done in a becoming manner, there is a thing that belongs to virtue. But it happens that a witty person says and listens to what is becoming. This is obvious from the different kinds of jest. The jesting of the liberal man who spontaneously strives to act virtuously differs from the jesting of the servile man who is engaged in disreputable activities. The jesting of the cultured man who has been instructed how he should recreate differs from the jesting of the uncultured man who has not been trained by any instruction in jesting. Hence, it is clear that it pertains to the mean habit of virtue to speak and listen to what is becoming in jesting.
859. Last [a, iii], at “Anyone can see,” he introduces a proof for the previous statement that the jesting of the cultured and the uncultured person differs. This, he says, is particularly evident in considering the conversation of the players with one another in the old and new comedies or plays. The evidence is that where these narratives in places contain obscene language, some create derision when they turn the obscene words into laughter; but others create a suspicion when they imply that those who were speaking in an obscene manner had evil in their hearts. However, obviously it is of great importance to human decency whether a man in playful conversation speaks obscenely or properly.
86o. At “We must determine” [B’, 1, b], he explains how the virtuous man conducts himself regarding jesting insults. On this point Aristotle does three things. First [b, i] he asks the question whether we must decide that a person does well at raillery by reason of the things which he says, i.e., because he says what is becomingly said by a liberal man who is virtuous and decent; or that lie is not determined according to this but rather by reason of the end or effect, i.e., because he aims not to offend his listener; or, what is more, aims to give him pleasure.
861. Then [b, ii], at “This norm is indefinite,” he answers the second part of the question, saying that it is indeterminate what may offend or please the listener because different things are odious and pleasant to different people. Everyone will gladly listen to what pleases him. And, as long as no offense is intended, a man seems to promote those things which he patiently hears by co-operating in them with others.
862. Third [b, iii], at “The virtuous person,” he shows that something is settled as to the first part, viz., as to affronts that are offered. It is clear that the virtuous man does not make use of every reproach, since reproach is a kind of insult. Besides, legislators forbid the hurling of any insult that defames a man. They do not forbid reproachful remarks that are fittingly uttered for amusement or for a man’s correction (a thing to be managed without loss of good name). That man who acts in a pleasing and polite manner in raillery seems to be a law unto himself, provided. that by his own choice he avoids the things forbidden by the law and makes use of the things sanctioned by the law.
863. Finally, he comes to the conclusion that the man possessing the mean is such as was described, whether he is called epidexios, i.e., tactful, or eutrapelos, i.e., witty.
864. Next [B’, 2], at “However, the buffoon,” he explains the viciousness of the excess, saying that the buffoon is less vicious than the mocker because the mocker tries to put another to shame while the buffoon does not aim at this but only at getting a laugh. The latter spares neither himself nor others in attempting to create laughter, since he makes fun both of his own tales and of the sayings and deeds of others. Besides, he says things that a polite and virtuous person would not say, and some that he should not say and should not even listen to.
865. Then [B’, 3], at “But the lout,” he treats the vice by defect, saying that the man who is uncultured, i.e., boorish, is useless at these witty conversations. He contributes nothing to them but is disagreeable to everyone. He is vicious in that he completely abhors jest, which is necessary for human living as a kind of recreation.
866. Next [C], at “In human living there are,” he deduces the difference between this virtue and the two previously discussed, stating that in human life there are the three median states mentioned, all of which regard communication in words and works. But they differ among themselves, since one of them deals with truthfulness in speech and action, while the others pertain to what is pleasing. One of these concerns pleasure taken in amusement; the other concerns pleasure taken in conversation according to our usual way of living, i.e., in serious matters.
A. He shows that shame is not a virtue.
A’ He investigates the genus of shame.
1. HE PRESENTS HIS PROPOSITION. — 867
Shame is not properly spoken of as a virtue because it is more like a passion than a habit.
2. HE PROVES HIS PROPOSITION.
a. By means of a definition of shame. — 868
In any case shame is defined as fear of disgrace.
b. By the effect of shame. — 869-870
Like fear, shame is brought about by reason of danger, for people who feel ashamed blush, and those who fear death grow pale. Both qualities are in some measure modifications of the body, and so pertain rather to passion than habit.
B’ He examines its subject.
1. AT WHAT AGE IT IS BECOMING.
a. He presents his proposition. — 871
This passion is not becoming to persons of every age but only to the young.
b. Shame is becoming to adolescence. — 872
We are of the opinion that it is well for the young to feel shame because, living according to their emotions, many of them would fall into sin but are restrained by shame. Moreover, we are in the habit of praising youngsters who have a sense of shame.
c. Shame is not becoming to... old age. — 873
But no one praises an old man because he is shamefaced, for we think it unbecoming of him to commit acts giving rise to shame.
2. FOR WHAT CONDITION (SHAME IS BECOMING).
a. It is not becoming to the virtuous person. — 874
Likewise, shame is not characteristic of a virtuous person but follows evil actions such as must not be done.
b. He answers certain frivolous objections against his thesis.
i. First. — 875-876
If some actions are shameful in fact and others only considered such, this does not matter for neither kind should be done, and so should not be objects of shame. The wicked, however, perform disgraceful actions of this kind.
ii. Second. He proves in two ways that this (shame belongs to the virtuous person) is untenable.
x. SHAME... REGARDS FAILINGS FOR WHICH BLAME IS DUE. — 877-878
It is unreasonable to hold that if a man is so constituted that he is ashamed if he does a disgraceful action, he is considered virtuous on this account. Shame is felt because of acts voluntarily done, and no virtuous man voluntarily does evil.
y. HE EXCLUDES THE PRECEDING OBJECTION. — 879
Shame will be a virtue resulting from the supposition of something else, viz., if a man did such an act, he would be ashamed. But virtue does not work this way.
iii. Third. — 880-882
But, if shamelessness and the absence of shame at doing dishonorable actions is evil, it is not on that account virtuous to be ashamed to do things of this kind.
B. He says a similar thing about continence which... is not a virtue. — 883-884
Likewise, continence is not a virtue but has a mixture of virtue. Hence, we shall consider this in a later treatise, but now we must treat justice.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
867. After the Philosopher has completed the treatise on the median qualities that are virtues, he now treats a median quality that is not a virtue, viz., shame. First [A] he shows that shame is not a virtue. Then [B], at “Likewise, continence is not etc.,” he says a similar thing about continence, which, although laudable, is not a virtue. He discusses the first point from two aspects. First [A] he investigates the genus of shame; and then [B’], at “This passion is not etc.,” he examines its subject. He treats this first in a twofold manner. Initially [A’, 1] he presents his proposition, saying that shame is not properly called a virtue. But shame is more like a passion than a habit which is the genus of virtue.
868. Next [A’, 2.], at “In any case,” he proves his proposition in two ways: first [A’, 2, a] by means of a definition of shame. Shame is said to be fear of disgrace or confusion which is the opposite of glory. But fear is a certain passion. Consequently, shame belongs to the genus of passion.
869. Then [A’, 2, b], at “Like fear,” he proves the same thing by the effect of shame. In this regard we must consider that passions are movements of the sensitive appetite that uses bodily organs. Hence all the passions are accompanied by some corporeal change. Shame and fear—which is concerned with the danger of death—have a general resemblance in that each passion is judged by a change in the color of the body.
870. But they have particular differences, since people who are ashamed blush, while those who fear death turn pale. The reason for this difference is that the spirit and the humors naturally
rush to the place feeling the need. Now, the seat of life is the heart, and so when danger of death is feared, the spirit and the humors speed to the heart. Consequently, the surface of the body, being as it were deserted, grows pale. On the other hand, honor and confusion are numbered among external things. Therefore, since a man fears the loss of honor by shame, he blushes as the humors and spirits stream back to the surface. It is evident then that both shame and fear of death are certain alterations of the body inasmuch as they are accompanied by a change. Because this apparently belongs rather to passion than habit, it is obvious that shame is not a virtue.
871. At “This passion” [B’], he discloses what is the fitting subject of shame. First [B’, 1] he shows at what age it is becoming; and then [B’, 2], at “Likewise shame is not etc.,” for what condition. He develops the first point in a threefold fashion. First [B’, 1, a] he presents his proposition, viz., that it is not becoming to persons of every age but to the young.
872. Then [B’, 1, b], at “We are of the opinion,” he proves in two ways that shame is becoming to adolescence. In one way he shows this from the peculiar nature of youth, namely, that on account of the intense desires of their age they live according to their emotions. For that reason they are inclined to sin in various ways. But they are restrained from this because of shame by which they fear disgrace. Therefore, shame is becoming to youth. In the other way he gives evidence of the same thing from usage. We are accustomed to praise young people who have a sense of shame.
873. Third [B’, 1, c], at “But no one praises,” he explains that shame is not becoming to another period of life, i.e., old age, saying that no one praises an old man for feeling shame. The reason is that we think it unbecoming of him to do any shameful deed from which shame usually arises. Besides, we think both that old men have been proved by their years and that they ought not to do any shameful act from passion after the fire of youth has subsided.
874. Next [B’, 2], at “Likewise, shame is not” he shows to what condition shame is or is not becoming. He handles this point under two headings. First [B’, 2, a] he explains that it is not becoming to the virtuous person. Then [B’, 2, b], at “If some actions etc.,” he answers certain frivolous objections against his thesis. He says that shame does not belong to the man of virtue, for it occurs in regard to evil deeds. But the virtuous man does not do wicked actions because virtue is a quality which makes good both its possessor and his work. Therefore, shame is not becoming to a virtuous person.
875. Then [B’, 2, b], at “If some actions,” he answers three objections dealing with what has just been said. The first [b, i] is that someone might say that shame arises not only from truly disgraceful acts, which are contrary to virtue, but also from actions believed to be disgraceful.
876. But Aristotle says that it does not make any difference for our thesis, since the morally good man must not do things shameful either according to truth or opinion, and so is not in danger of being ashamed of anything, But the wicked person characteristically is of the sort who perform acts certainly disgraceful or held to be such.
877. He introduces a second objection at “It is unreasonable” [b, ii]. A person could say that, although the man of virtue does not have anything to be ashamed of, nevertheless he is so disposed that if he did something of the kind, he would be ashamed of it. Therefore, in case anyone should think on this account that shame belongs to the virtuous person, he proves in two ways that this is untenable.
878. First [ii, x] he says that shame, strictly speaking, regards only voluntary failings for which blame is due. But it is inconsistent with virtue that someone should voluntarily do evil. Therefore, shame does not belong to virtue for the reason just given. The case would be otherwise if shame were among the things which can happen involuntarily like sickness. Hence, it can be proper for the virtuous man even when well to be solicitous about a doctor on account of the sickness that can happen.
879. Second [ii, y], he excludes the preceding objection at “Shame will be.” He says that if the objection were valid, shame would be a certain conditional virtuous state, for the virtuous man would be ashamed if he were to do wrong. But a conditional state (that a man would be ashamed) is not one of the qualities that properly belong to virtuous people. Rather, it belongs to them absolutely, as is the case of all the virtues. We must conclude then that shame is not a special quality in a virtuous person.
88o. At “But if shamelessness” [b, iii] he gives a third objection. Someone could draw the conclusion that, because shamelessness and the absence of shame concerning a disreputable operation is an evil thing, for this reason shame is virtuous.
881. But Aristotle says that this is not a necessary inference because both shame and shamelessness suppose a dishonorable act which is not attributable to a morally good man. On this basis it is more reasonable that a man should reject the disgraceful operation by reason of shame than not care about it by reason of shamelessness. From this it is clear also that shame is not a virtue, for if it were a virtue it would exist in a virtuous person.
882. We must take into account that the Philosopher previously (356) treated the praiseworthy passion of righteous indignation (nemesis), and that here he does not mention it because it is not his intention to treat these passions on this occasion. This matter pertains rather to rhetoric, as is clear from the second book of the Rhetoric (Ch. 9, 1386 b 9 sq.). Hence, neither does he here consider shame except to show that it is not a virtue. He leaves the same thing to be understood about righteous indignation.
883. Then [B], at “Likewise, continence,” he introduces something similar concerning continence which, although laudable, is not a virtue but has an admixture of virtue. Certainly, the continent man follows right reason, and this pertains to virtue. Nevertheless, he suffers vehement and evil desires, and this pertains to lack of virtue. We will discuss these subjects afterwards in the seventh book (1435-1454). It is enough that he brings out in a fitting manner shame’s resemblance to continence because shame is especially necessary where evil passions abound, as they do in continent people. We have already remarked this (873).
884. Finally, he makes a connection with what follows, saying that we must next discuss justice. With this the teaching of the fourth book comes to an end.