Nicomachean Ethics

by Aristotle
translated by W. D. Ross
Book I Book II Book III Book IV Book V Book VI Book VII Book VIII Book IX Book X



AFTER what we have said, a discussion of friendship would
naturally follow, since it is a virtue or implies virtue, and is
besides most necessary with a view to living. For without friends no
one would choose to live, though he had all other goods; even rich men
and those in possession of office and of dominating power are
thought to need friends most of all; for what is the use of such
prosperity without the opportunity of beneficence, which is
exercised chiefly and in its most laudable form towards friends? Or
how can prosperity be guarded and preserved without friends? The
greater it is, the more exposed is it to risk. And in poverty and in
other misfortunes men think friends are the only refuge. It helps
the young, too, to keep from error; it aids older people by
ministering to their needs and supplementing the activities that are
failing from weakness; those in the prime of life it stimulates to
noble actions-'two going together'-for with friends men are more
able both to think and to act. Again, parent seems by nature to feel
it for offspring and offspring for parent, not only among men but
among birds and among most animals; it is felt mutually by members
of the same race, and especially by men, whence we praise lovers of
their fellowmen. We may even in our travels how near and dear every
man is to every other. Friendship seems too to hold states together,
and lawgivers to care more for it than for justice; for unanimity
seems to be something like friendship, and this they aim at most of
all, and expel faction as their worst enemy; and when men are
friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they
need friendship as well, and the truest form of justice is thought
to be a friendly quality.
But it is not only necessary but also noble; for we praise those who
love their friends, and it is thought to be a fine thing to have
many friends; and again we think it is the same people that are good
men and are friends.
Not a few things about friendship are matters of debate. Some define
it as a kind of likeness and say like people are friends, whence
come the sayings 'like to like', 'birds of a feather flock
together', and so on; others on the contrary say 'two of a trade never
agree'. On this very question they inquire for deeper and more
physical causes, Euripides saying that 'parched earth loves the
rain, and stately heaven when filled with rain loves to fall to
earth', and Heraclitus that 'it is what opposes that helps' and
'from different tones comes the fairest tune' and 'all things are
produced through strife'; while Empedocles, as well as others,
expresses the opposite view that like aims at like. The physical
problems we may leave alone (for they do not belong to the present
inquiry); let us examine those which are human and involve character
and feeling, e.g. whether friendship can arise between any two
people or people cannot be friends if they are wicked, and whether
there is one species of friendship or more than one. Those who think
there is only one because it admits of degrees have relied on an
inadequate indication; for even things different in species admit of
degree. We have discussed this matter previously.

The kinds of friendship may perhaps be cleared up if we first come
to know the object of love. For not everything seems to be loved but
only the lovable, and this is good, pleasant, or useful; but it
would seem to be that by which some good or pleasure is produced
that is useful, so that it is the good and the useful that are lovable
as ends. Do men love, then, the good, or what is good for them?
These sometimes clash. So too with regard to the pleasant. Now it is
thought that each loves what is good for himself, and that the good is
without qualification lovable, and what is good for each man is
lovable for him; but each man loves not what is good for him but
what seems good. This however will make no difference; we shall just
have to say that this is 'that which seems lovable'. Now there are
three grounds on which people love; of the love of lifeless objects we
do not use the word 'friendship'; for it is not mutual love, nor is
there a wishing of good to the other (for it would surely be
ridiculous to wish wine well; if one wishes anything for it, it is
that it may keep, so that one may have it oneself); but to a friend we
say we ought to wish what is good for his sake. But to those who
thus wish good we ascribe only goodwill, if the wish is not
reciprocated; goodwill when it is reciprocal being friendship. Or must
we add 'when it is recognized'? For many people have goodwill to those
whom they have not seen but judge to be good or useful; and one of
these might return this feeling. These people seem to bear goodwill to
each other; but how could one call them friends when they do not
know their mutual feelings? To be friends, then, the must be
mutually recognized as bearing goodwill and wishing well to each other
for one of the aforesaid reasons.

Now these reasons differ from each other in kind; so, therefore,
do the corresponding forms of love and friendship. There are therefore
three kinds of friendship, equal in number to the things that are
lovable; for with respect to each there is a mutual and recognized
love, and those who love each other wish well to each other in that
respect in which they love one another. Now those who love each
other for their utility do not love each other for themselves but in
virtue of some good which they get from each other. So too with
those who love for the sake of pleasure; it is not for their character
that men love ready-witted people, but because they find them
pleasant. Therefore those who love for the sake of utility love for
the sake of what is good for themselves, and those who love for the
sake of pleasure do so for the sake of what is pleasant to themselves,
and not in so far as the other is the person loved but in so far as he
is useful or pleasant. And thus these friendships are only incidental;
for it is not as being the man he is that the loved person is loved,
but as providing some good or pleasure. Such friendships, then, are
easily dissolved, if the parties do not remain like themselves; for if
the one party is no longer pleasant or useful the other ceases to love
Now the useful is not permanent but is always changing. Thus when
the motive of the friendship is done away, the friendship is
dissolved, inasmuch as it existed only for the ends in question.
This kind of friendship seems to exist chiefly between old people (for
at that age people pursue not the pleasant but the useful) and, of
those who are in their prime or young, between those who pursue
utility. And such people do not live much with each other either;
for sometimes they do not even find each other pleasant; therefore
they do not need such companionship unless they are useful to each
other; for they are pleasant to each other only in so far as they
rouse in each other hopes of something good to come. Among such
friendships people also class the friendship of a host and guest. On
the other hand the friendship of young people seems to aim at
pleasure; for they live under the guidance of emotion, and pursue
above all what is pleasant to themselves and what is immediately
before them; but with increasing age their pleasures become different.
This is why they quickly become friends and quickly cease to be so;
their friendship changes with the object that is found pleasant, and
such pleasure alters quickly. Young people are amorous too; for the
greater part of the friendship of love depends on emotion and aims
at pleasure; this is why they fall in love and quickly fall out of
love, changing often within a single day. But these people do wish
to spend their days and lives together; for it is thus that they
attain the purpose of their friendship.
Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and
alike in virtue; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and
they are good themselves. Now those who wish well to their friends for
their sake are most truly friends; for they do this by reason of own
nature and not incidentally; therefore their friendship lasts as
long as they are good-and goodness is an enduring thing. And each is
good without qualification and to his friend, for the good are both
good without qualification and useful to each other. So too they are
pleasant; for the good are pleasant both without qualification and
to each other, since to each his own activities and others like them
are pleasurable, and the actions of the good are the same or like. And
such a friendship is as might be expected permanent, since there
meet in it all the qualities that friends should have. For all
friendship is for the sake of good or of pleasure-good or pleasure
either in the abstract or such as will be enjoyed by him who has the
friendly feeling-and is based on a certain resemblance; and to a
friendship of good men all the qualities we have named belong in
virtue of the nature of the friends themselves; for in the case of
this kind of friendship the other qualities also are alike in both
friends, and that which is good without qualification is also
without qualification pleasant, and these are the most lovable
qualities. Love and friendship therefore are found most and in their
best form between such men.
But it is natural that such friendships should be infrequent; for
such men are rare. Further, such friendship requires time and
familiarity; as the proverb says, men cannot know each other till they
have 'eaten salt together'; nor can they admit each other to
friendship or be friends till each has been found lovable and been
trusted by each. Those who quickly show the marks of friendship to
each other wish to be friends, but are not friends unless they both
are lovable and know the fact; for a wish for friendship may arise
quickly, but friendship does not.

This kind of friendship, then, is perfect both in respect of
duration and in all other respects, and in it each gets from each in
all respects the same as, or something like what, he gives; which is
what ought to happen between friends. Friendship for the sake of
pleasure bears a resemblance to this kind; for good people too are
pleasant to each other. So too does friendship for the sake of
utility; for the good are also useful to each other. Among men of
these inferior sorts too, friendships are most permanent when the
friends get the same thing from each other (e.g. pleasure), and not
only that but also from the same source, as happens between
readywitted people, not as happens between lover and beloved. For
these do not take pleasure in the same things, but the one in seeing
the beloved and the other in receiving attentions from his lover;
and when the bloom of youth is passing the friendship sometimes passes
too (for the one finds no pleasure in the sight of the other, and
the other gets no attentions from the first); but many lovers on the
other hand are constant, if familiarity has led them to love each
other's characters, these being alike. But those who exchange not
pleasure but utility in their amour are both less truly friends and
less constant. Those who are friends for the sake of utility part when
the advantage is at an end; for they were lovers not of each other but
of profit.
For the sake of pleasure or utility, then, even bad men may be
friends of each other, or good men of bad, or one who is neither
good nor bad may be a friend to any sort of person, but for their
own sake clearly only good men can be friends; for bad men do not
delight in each other unless some advantage come of the relation.
The friendship of the good too and this alone is proof against
slander; for it is not easy to trust any one talk about a man who
has long been tested by oneself; and it is among good men that trust
and the feeling that 'he would never wrong me' and all the other
things that are demanded in true friendship are found. In the other
kinds of friendship, however, there is nothing to prevent these
evils arising. For men apply the name of friends even to those whose
motive is utility, in which sense states are said to be friendly
(for the alliances of states seem to aim at advantage), and to those
who love each other for the sake of pleasure, in which sense
children are called friends. Therefore we too ought perhaps to call
such people friends, and say that there are several kinds of
friendship-firstly and in the proper sense that of good men qua
good, and by analogy the other kinds; for it is in virtue of something
good and something akin to what is found in true friendship that
they are friends, since even the pleasant is good for the lovers of
pleasure. But these two kinds of friendship are not often united,
nor do the same people become friends for the sake of utility and of
pleasure; for things that are only incidentally connected are not
often coupled together.
Friendship being divided into these kinds, bad men will be friends
for the sake of pleasure or of utility, being in this respect like
each other, but good men will be friends for their own sake, i.e. in
virtue of their goodness. These, then, are friends without
qualification; the others are friends incidentally and through a
resemblance to these.

As in regard to the virtues some men are called good in respect of a
state of character, others in respect of an activity, so too in the
case of friendship; for those who live together delight in each
other and confer benefits on each other, but those who are asleep or
locally separated are not performing, but are disposed to perform, the
activities of friendship; distance does not break off the friendship
absolutely, but only the activity of it. But if the absence is
lasting, it seems actually to make men forget their friendship;
hence the saying 'out of sight, out of mind'. Neither old people nor
sour people seem to make friends easily; for there is little that is
pleasant in them, and no one can spend his days with one whose company
is painful, or not pleasant, since nature seems above all to avoid the
painful and to aim at the pleasant. Those, however, who approve of
each other but do not live together seem to be well-disposed rather
than actual friends. For there is nothing so characteristic of friends
as living together (since while it people who are in need that
desire benefits, even those who are supremely happy desire to spend
their days together; for solitude suits such people least of all); but
people cannot live together if they are not pleasant and do not
enjoy the same things, as friends who are companions seem to do.
The truest friendship, then, is that of the good, as we have
frequently said; for that which is without qualification good or
pleasant seems to be lovable and desirable, and for each person that
which is good or pleasant to him; and the good man is lovable and
desirable to the good man for both these reasons. Now it looks as if
love were a feeling, friendship a state of character; for love may
be felt just as much towards lifeless things, but mutual love involves
choice and choice springs from a state of character; and men wish well
to those whom they love, for their sake, not as a result of feeling
but as a result of a state of character. And in loving a friend men
love what is good for themselves; for the good man in becoming a
friend becomes a good to his friend. Each, then, both loves what is
good for himself, and makes an equal return in goodwill and in
pleasantness; for friendship is said to be equality, and both of these
are found most in the friendship of the good.

Between sour and elderly people friendship arises less readily,
inasmuch as they are less good-tempered and enjoy companionship
less; for these are thou to be the greatest marks of friendship
productive of it. This is why, while men become friends quickly, old
men do not; it is because men do not become friends with those in whom
they do not delight; and similarly sour people do not quickly make
friends either. But such men may bear goodwill to each other; for they
wish one another well and aid one another in need; but they are hardly
friends because they do not spend their days together nor delight in
each other, and these are thought the greatest marks of friendship.
One cannot be a friend to many people in the sense of having
friendship of the perfect type with them, just as one cannot be in
love with many people at once (for love is a sort of excess of
feeling, and it is the nature of such only to be felt towards one
person); and it is not easy for many people at the same time to please
the same person very greatly, or perhaps even to be good in his
eyes. One must, too, acquire some experience of the other person and
become familiar with him, and that is very hard. But with a view to
utility or pleasure it is possible that many people should please one;
for many people are useful or pleasant, and these services take little
Of these two kinds that which is for the sake of pleasure is the
more like friendship, when both parties get the same things from
each other and delight in each other or in the things, as in the
friendships of the young; for generosity is more found in such
friendships. Friendship based on utility is for the commercially
minded. People who are supremely happy, too, have no need of useful
friends, but do need pleasant friends; for they wish to live with some
one and, though they can endure for a short time what is painful, no
one could put up with it continuously, nor even with the Good itself
if it were painful to him; this is why they look out for friends who
are pleasant. Perhaps they should look out for friends who, being
pleasant, are also good, and good for them too; for so they will
have all the characteristics that friends should have.
People in positions of authority seem to have friends who fall
into distinct classes; some people are useful to them and others are
pleasant, but the same people are rarely both; for they seek neither
those whose pleasantness is accompanied by virtue nor those whose
utility is with a view to noble objects, but in their desire for
pleasure they seek for ready-witted people, and their other friends
they choose as being clever at doing what they are told, and these
characteristics are rarely combined. Now we have said that the good
man is at the same time pleasant and useful; but such a man does not
become the friend of one who surpasses him in station, unless he is
surpassed also in virtue; if this is not so, he does not establish
equality by being proportionally exceeded in both respects. But people
who surpass him in both respects are not so easy to find.
However that may be, the aforesaid friendships involve equality; for
the friends get the same things from one another and wish the same
things for one another, or exchange one thing for another, e.g.
pleasure for utility; we have said, however, that they are both less
truly friendships and less permanent.
But it is from their likeness and their unlikeness to the same thing
that they are thought both to be and not to be friendships. It is by
their likeness to the friendship of virtue that they seem to be
friendships (for one of them involves pleasure and the other
utility, and these characteristics belong to the friendship of
virtue as well); while it is because the friendship of virtue is proof
against slander and permanent, while these quickly change (besides
differing from the former in many other respects), that they appear
not to be friendships; i.e. it is because of their unlikeness to the
friendship of virtue.

But there is another kind of friendship, viz. that which involves an
inequality between the parties, e.g. that of father to son and in
general of elder to younger, that of man to wife and in general that
of ruler to subject. And these friendships differ also from each
other; for it is not the same that exists between parents and children
and between rulers and subjects, nor is even that of father to son the
same as that of son to father, nor that of husband to wife the same as
that of wife to husband. For the virtue and the function of each of
these is different, and so are the reasons for which they love; the
love and the friendship are therefore different also. Each party,
then, neither gets the same from the other, nor ought to seek it;
but when children render to parents what they ought to render to those
who brought them into the world, and parents render what they should
to their children, the friendship of such persons will be abiding
and excellent. In all friendships implying inequality the love also
should be proportional, i.e. the better should be more loved than he
loves, and so should the more useful, and similarly in each of the
other cases; for when the love is in proportion to the merit of the
parties, then in a sense arises equality, which is certainly held to
be characteristic of friendship.
But equality does not seem to take the same form in acts of
justice and in friendship; for in acts of justice what is equal in the
primary sense is that which is in proportion to merit, while
quantitative equality is secondary, but in friendship quantitative
equality is primary and proportion to merit secondary. This becomes
clear if there is a great interval in respect of virtue or vice or
wealth or anything else between the parties; for then they are no
longer friends, and do not even expect to be so. And this is most
manifest in the case of the gods; for they surpass us most
decisively in all good things. But it is clear also in the case of
kings; for with them, too, men who are much their inferiors do not
expect to be friends; nor do men of no account expect to be friends
with the best or wisest men. In such cases it is not possible to
define exactly up to what point friends can remain friends; for much
can be taken away and friendship remain, but when one party is removed
to a great distance, as God is, the possibility of friendship
ceases. This is in fact the origin of the question whether friends
really wish for their friends the greatest goods, e.g. that of being
gods; since in that case their friends will no longer be friends to
them, and therefore will not be good things for them (for friends
are good things). The answer is that if we were right in saying that
friend wishes good to friend for his sake, his friend must remain
the sort of being he is, whatever that may be; therefore it is for him
oily so long as he remains a man that he will wish the greatest goods.
But perhaps not all the greatest goods; for it is for himself most
of all that each man wishes what is good.

Most people seem, owing to ambition, to wish to be loved rather than
to love; which is why most men love flattery; for the flatterer is a
friend in an inferior position, or pretends to be such and to love
more than he is loved; and being loved seems to be akin to being
honoured, and this is what most people aim at. But it seems to be
not for its own sake that people choose honour, but incidentally.
For most people enjoy being honoured by those in positions of
authority because of their hopes (for they think that if they want
anything they will get it from them; and therefore they delight in
honour as a token of favour to come); while those who desire honour
from good men, and men who know, are aiming at confirming their own
opinion of themselves; they delight in honour, therefore, because they
believe in their own goodness on the strength of the judgement of
those who speak about them. In being loved, on the other hand,
people delight for its own sake; whence it would seem to be better
than being honoured, and friendship to be desirable in itself. But
it seems to lie in loving rather than in being loved, as is
indicated by the delight mothers take in loving; for some mothers hand
over their children to be brought up, and so long as they know their
fate they love them and do not seek to be loved in return (if they
cannot have both), but seem to be satisfied if they see them
prospering; and they themselves love their children even if these
owing to their ignorance give them nothing of a mother's due. Now
since friendship depends more on loving, and it is those who love
their friends that are praised, loving seems to be the
characteristic virtue of friends, so that it is only those in whom
this is found in due measure that are lasting friends, and only
their friendship that endures.
It is in this way more than any other that even unequals can be
friends; they can be equalized. Now equality and likeness are
friendship, and especially the likeness of those who are like in
virtue; for being steadfast in themselves they hold fast to each
other, and neither ask nor give base services, but (one may say)
even prevent them; for it is characteristic of good men neither to
go wrong themselves nor to let their friends do so. But wicked men
have no steadfastness (for they do not remain even like to
themselves), but become friends for a short time because they
delight in each other's wickedness. Friends who are useful or pleasant
last longer; i.e. as long as they provide each other with enjoyments
or advantages. Friendship for utility's sake seems to be that which
most easily exists between contraries, e.g. between poor and rich,
between ignorant and learned; for what a man actually lacks he aims
at, and one gives something else in return. But under this head,
too, might bring lover and beloved, beautiful and ugly. This is why
lovers sometimes seem ridiculous, when they demand to be loved as they
love; if they are equally lovable their claim can perhaps be
justified, but when they have nothing lovable about them it is
ridiculous. Perhaps, however, contrary does not even aim at contrary
by its own nature, but only incidentally, the desire being for what is
intermediate; for that is what is good, e.g. it is good for the dry
not to become wet but to come to the intermediate state, and similarly
with the hot and in all other cases. These subjects we may dismiss;
for they are indeed somewhat foreign to our inquiry.

Friendship and justice seem, as we have said at the outset of our
discussion, to be concerned with the same objects and exhibited
between the same persons. For in every community there is thought to
be some form of justice, and friendship too; at least men address as
friends their fellow-voyagers and fellowsoldiers, and so too those
associated with them in any other kind of community. And the extent of
their association is the extent of their friendship, as it is the
extent to which justice exists between them. And the proverb 'what
friends have is common property' expresses the truth; for friendship
depends on community. Now brothers and comrades have all things in
common, but the others to whom we have referred have definite things
in common-some more things, others fewer; for of friendships, too,
some are more and others less truly friendships. And the claims of
justice differ too; the duties of parents to children, and those of
brothers to each other are not the same, nor those of comrades and
those of fellow-citizens, and so, too, with the other kinds of
friendship. There is a difference, therefore, also between the acts
that are unjust towards each of these classes of associates, and the
injustice increases by being exhibited towards those who are friends
in a fuller sense; e.g. it is a more terrible thing to defraud a
comrade than a fellow-citizen, more terrible not to help a brother
than a stranger, and more terrible to wound a father than any one
else. And the demands of justice also seem to increase with the
intensity of the friendship, which implies that friendship and justice
exist between the same persons and have an equal extension.
Now all forms of community are like parts of the political
community; for men journey together with a view to some particular
advantage, and to provide something that they need for the purposes of
life; and it is for the sake of advantage that the political community
too seems both to have come together originally and to endure, for
this is what legislators aim at, and they call just that which is to
the common advantage. Now the other communities aim at advantage bit
by bit, e.g. sailors at what is advantageous on a voyage with a view
to making money or something of the kind, fellow-soldiers at what is
advantageous in war, whether it is wealth or victory or the taking
of a city that they seek, and members of tribes and demes act
similarly (Some communities seem to arise for the sake or pleasure,
viz. religious guilds and social clubs; for these exist respectively
for the sake of offering sacrifice and of companionship. But all these
seem to fall under the political community; for it aims not at present
advantage but at what is advantageous for life as a whole), offering
sacrifices and arranging gatherings for the purpose, and assigning
honours to the gods, and providing pleasant relaxations for
themselves. For the ancient sacrifices and gatherings seem to take
place after the harvest as a sort of firstfruits, because it was at
these seasons that people had most leisure. All the communities, then,
seem to be parts of the political community; and the particular
kinds friendship will correspond to the particular kinds of community.

There are three kinds of constitution, and an equal number of
deviation-forms--perversions, as it were, of them. The constitutions
are monarchy, aristocracy, and thirdly that which is based on a
property qualification, which it seems appropriate to call timocratic,
though most people are wont to call it polity. The best of these is
monarchy, the worst timocracy. The deviation from monarchy is
tyrany; for both are forms of one-man rule, but there is the
greatest difference between them; the tyrant looks to his own
advantage, the king to that of his subjects. For a man is not a king
unless he is sufficient to himself and excels his subjects in all good
things; and such a man needs nothing further; therefore he will not
look to his own interests but to those of his subjects; for a king who
is not like that would be a mere titular king. Now tyranny is the very
contrary of this; the tyrant pursues his own good. And it is clearer
in the case of tyranny that it is the worst deviation-form; but it
is the contrary of the best that is worst. Monarchy passes over into
tyranny; for tyranny is the evil form of one-man rule and the bad king
becomes a tyrant. Aristocracy passes over into oligarchy by the
badness of the rulers, who distribute contrary to equity what
belongs to the city-all or most of the good things to themselves,
and office always to the same people, paying most regard to wealth;
thus the rulers are few and are bad men instead of the most worthy.
Timocracy passes over into democracy; for these are coterminous, since
it is the ideal even of timocracy to be the rule of the majority,
and all who have the property qualification count as equal.
Democracy is the least bad of the deviations; for in its case the form
of constitution is but a slight deviation. These then are the
changes to which constitutions are most subject; for these are the
smallest and easiest transitions.
One may find resemblances to the constitutions and, as it were,
patterns of them even in households. For the association of a father
with his sons bears the form of monarchy, since the father cares for
his children; and this is why Homer calls Zeus 'father'; it is the
ideal of monarchy to be paternal rule. But among the Persians the rule
of the father is tyrannical; they use their sons as slaves. Tyrannical
too is the rule of a master over slaves; for it is the advantage of
the master that is brought about in it. Now this seems to be a correct
form of government, but the Persian type is perverted; for the modes
of rule appropriate to different relations are diverse. The
association of man and wife seems to be aristocratic; for the man
rules in accordance with his worth, and in those matters in which a
man should rule, but the matters that befit a woman he hands over to
her. If the man rules in everything the relation passes over into
oligarchy; for in doing so he is not acting in accordance with their
respective worth, and not ruling in virtue of his superiority.
Sometimes, however, women rule, because they are heiresses; so their
rule is not in virtue of excellence but due to wealth and power, as in
oligarchies. The association of brothers is like timocracy; for they
are equal, except in so far as they differ in age; hence if they
differ much in age, the friendship is no longer of the fraternal type.
Democracy is found chiefly in masterless dwellings (for here every one
is on an equality), and in those in which the ruler is weak and
every one has licence to do as he pleases.

Each of the constitutions may be seen to involve friendship just
in so far as it involves justice. The friendship between a king and
his subjects depends on an excess of benefits conferred; for he
confers benefits on his subjects if being a good man he cares for them
with a view to their well-being, as a shepherd does for his sheep
(whence Homer called Agamemnon 'shepherd of the peoples'). Such too is
the friendship of a father, though this exceeds the other in the
greatness of the benefits conferred; for he is responsible for the
existence of his children, which is thought the greatest good, and for
their nurture and upbringing.
These things are ascribed to ancestors as well. Further, by nature a
father tends to rule over his sons, ancestors over descendants, a king
over his subjects. These friendships imply superiority of one party
over the other, which is why ancestors are honoured. The justice
therefore that exists between persons so related is not the same on
both sides but is in every case proportioned to merit; for that is
true of the friendship as well. The friendship of man and wife, again,
is the same that is found in an aristocracy; for it is in accordance
with virtue the better gets more of what is good, and each gets what
befits him; and so, too, with the justice in these relations. The
friendship of brothers is like that of comrades; for they are equal
and of like age, and such persons are for the most part like in
their feelings and their character. Like this, too, is the
friendship appropriate to timocratic government; for in such a
constitution the ideal is for the citizens to be equal and fair;
therefore rule is taken in turn, and on equal terms; and the
friendship appropriate here will correspond.
But in the deviation-forms, as justice hardly exists, so too does
friendship. It exists least in the worst form; in tyranny there is
little or no friendship. For where there is nothing common to ruler
and ruled, there is not friendship either, since there is not justice;
e.g. between craftsman and tool, soul and body, master and slave;
the latter in each case is benefited by that which uses it, but
there is no friendship nor justice towards lifeless things. But
neither is there friendship towards a horse or an ox, nor to a slave
qua slave. For there is nothing common to the two parties; the slave
is a living tool and the tool a lifeless slave. Qua slave then, one
cannot be friends with him. But qua man one can; for there seems to be
some justice between any man and any other who can share in a system
of law or be a party to an agreement; therefore there can also be
friendship with him in so far as he is a man. Therefore while in
tyrannies friendship and justice hardly exist, in democracies they
exist more fully; for where the citizens are equal they have much in

Every form of friendship, then, involves association, as has been
said. One might, however, mark off from the rest both the friendship
of kindred and that of comrades. Those of fellow-citizens,
fellow-tribesmen, fellow-voyagers, and the like are more like mere
friendships of association; for they seem to rest on a sort of
compact. With them we might class the friendship of host and guest.
The friendship of kinsmen itself, while it seems to be of many
kinds, appears to depend in every case on parental friendship; for
parents love their children as being a part of themselves, and
children their parents as being something originating from them. Now
(1) arents know their offspring better than there children know that
they are their children, and (2) the originator feels his offspring to
be his own more than the offspring do their begetter; for the
product belongs to the producer (e.g. a tooth or hair or anything else
to him whose it is), but the producer does not belong to the
product, or belongs in a less degree. And (3) the length of time
produces the same result; parents love their children as soon as these
are born, but children love their parents only after time has
elapsed and they have acquired understanding or the power of
discrimination by the senses. From these considerations it is also
plain why mothers love more than fathers do. Parents, then, love their
children as themselves (for their issue are by virtue of their
separate existence a sort of other selves), while children love
their parents as being born of them, and brothers love each other as
being born of the same parents; for their identity with them makes
them identical with each other (which is the reason why people talk of
'the same blood', 'the same stock', and so on). They are, therefore,
in a sense the same thing, though in separate individuals. Two
things that contribute greatly to friendship are a common upbringing
and similarity of age; for 'two of an age take to each other', and
people brought up together tend to be comrades; whence the
friendship of brothers is akin to that of comrades. And cousins and
other kinsmen are bound up together by derivation from brothers,
viz. by being derived from the same parents. They come to be closer
together or farther apart by virtue of the nearness or distance of the
original ancestor.
The friendship of children to parents, and of men to gods, is a
relation to them as to something good and superior; for they have
conferred the greatest benefits, since they are the causes of their
being and of their nourishment, and of their education from their
birth; and this kind of friendship possesses pleasantness and
utility also, more than that of strangers, inasmuch as their life is
lived more in common. The friendship of brothers has the
characteristics found in that of comrades (and especially when these
are good), and in general between people who are like each other,
inasmuch as they belong more to each other and start with a love for
each other from their very birth, and inasmuch as those born of the
same parents and brought up together and similarly educated are more
akin in character; and the test of time has been applied most fully
and convincingly in their case.
Between other kinsmen friendly relations are found in due
proportion. Between man and wife friendship seems to exist by
nature; for man is naturally inclined to form couples-even more than
to form cities, inasmuch as the household is earlier and more
necessary than the city, and reproduction is more common to man with
the animals. With the other animals the union extends only to this
point, but human beings live together not only for the sake of
reproduction but also for the various purposes of life; for from the
start the functions are divided, and those of man and woman are
different; so they help each other by throwing their peculiar gifts
into the common stock. It is for these reasons that both utility and
pleasure seem to be found in this kind of friendship. But this
friendship may be based also on virtue, if the parties are good; for
each has its own virtue and they will delight in the fact. And
children seem to be a bond of union (which is the reason why childless
people part more easily); for children are a good common to both and
what is common holds them together.
How man and wife and in general friend and friend ought mutually
to behave seems to be the same question as how it is just for them
to behave; for a man does not seem to have the same duties to a
friend, a stranger, a comrade, and a schoolfellow.

There are three kinds of friendship, as we said at the outset of our
inquiry, and in respect of each some are friends on an equality and
others by virtue of a superiority (for not only can equally good men
become friends but a better man can make friends with a worse, and
similarly in friendships of pleasure or utility the friends may be
equal or unequal in the benefits they confer). This being so, equals
must effect the required equalization on a basis of equality in love
and in all other respects, while unequals must render what is in
proportion to their superiority or inferiority. Complaints and
reproaches arise either only or chiefly in the friendship of
utility, and this is only to be expected. For those who are friends on
the ground of virtue are anxious to do well by each other (since
that is a mark of virtue and of friendship), and between men who are
emulating each other in this there cannot be complaints or quarrels;
no one is offended by a man who loves him and does well by him-if he
is a person of nice feeling he takes his revenge by doing well by
the other. And the man who excels the other in the services he renders
will not complain of his friend, since he gets what he aims at; for
each man desires what is good. Nor do complaints arise much even in
friendships of pleasure; for both get at the same time what they
desire, if they enjoy spending their time together; and even a man who
complained of another for not affording him pleasure would seem
ridiculous, since it is in his power not to spend his days with him.
But the friendship of utility is full of complaints; for as they use
each other for their own interests they always want to get the
better of the bargain, and think they have got less than they
should, and blame their partners because they do not get all they
'want and deserve'; and those who do well by others cannot help them
as much as those whom they benefit want.
Now it seems that, as justice is of two kinds, one unwritten and the
other legal, one kind of friendship of utility is moral and the
other legal. And so complaints arise most of all when men do not
dissolve the relation in the spirit of the same type of friendship
in which they contracted it. The legal type is that which is on
fixed terms; its purely commercial variety is on the basis of
immediate payment, while the more liberal variety allows time but
stipulates for a definite quid pro quo. In this variety the debt is
clear and not ambiguous, but in the postponement it contains an
element of friendliness; and so some states do not allow suits arising
out of such agreements, but think men who have bargained on a basis of
credit ought to accept the consequences. The moral type is not on
fixed terms; it makes a gift, or does whatever it does, as to a
friend; but one expects to receive as much or more, as having not
given but lent; and if a man is worse off when the relation is
dissolved than he was when it was contracted he will complain. This
happens because all or most men, while they wish for what is noble,
choose what is advantageous; now it is noble to do well by another
without a view to repayment, but it is the receiving of benefits
that is advantageous. Therefore if we can we should return the
equivalent of what we have received (for we must not make a man our
friend against his will; we must recognize that we were mistaken at
the first and took a benefit from a person we should not have taken it
from-since it was not from a friend, nor from one who did it just
for the sake of acting so-and we must settle up just as if we had been
benefited on fixed terms). Indeed, one would agree to repay if one
could (if one could not, even the giver would not have expected one to
do so); therefore if it is possible we must repay. But at the outset
we must consider the man by whom we are being benefited and on what
terms he is acting, in order that we may accept the benefit on these
terms, or else decline it.
It is disputable whether we ought to measure a service by its
utility to the receiver and make the return with a view to that, or by
the benevolence of the giver. For those who have received say they
have received from their benefactors what meant little to the latter
and what they might have got from others-minimizing the service; while
the givers, on the contrary, say it was the biggest thing they had,
and what could not have been got from others, and that it was given in
times of danger or similar need. Now if the friendship is one that
aims at utility, surely the advantage to the receiver is the
measure. For it is he that asks for the service, and the other man
helps him on the assumption that he will receive the equivalent; so
the assistance has been precisely as great as the advantage to the
receiver, and therefore he must return as much as he has received,
or even more (for that would be nobler). In friendships based on
virtue on the other hand, complaints do not arise, but the purpose
of the doer is a sort of measure; for in purpose lies the essential
element of virtue and character.

Differences arise also in friendships based on superiority; for each
expects to get more out of them, but when this happens the
friendship is dissolved. Not only does the better man think he ought
to get more, since more should be assigned to a good man, but the more
useful similarly expects this; they say a useless man should not get
as much as they should, since it becomes an act of public service
and not a friendship if the proceeds of the friendship do not answer
to the worth of the benefits conferred. For they think that, as in a
commercial partnership those who put more in get more out, so it
should be in friendship. But the man who is in a state of need and
inferiority makes the opposite claim; they think it is the part of a
good friend to help those who are in need; what, they say, is the
use of being the friend of a good man or a powerful man, if one is
to get nothing out of it?
At all events it seems that each party is justified in his claim,
and that each should get more out of the friendship than the other-not
more of the same thing, however, but the superior more honour and
the inferior more gain; for honour is the prize of virtue and of
beneficence, while gain is the assistance required by inferiority.
It seems to be so in constitutional arrangements also; the man who
contributes nothing good to the common stock is not honoured; for what
belongs to the public is given to the man who benefits the public, and
honour does belong to the public. It is not possible to get wealth
from the common stock and at the same time honour. For no one puts
up with the smaller share in all things; therefore to the man who
loses in wealth they assign honour and to the man who is willing to be
paid, wealth, since the proportion to merit equalizes the parties
and preserves the friendship, as we have said. This then is also the
way in which we should associate with unequals; the man who is
benefited in respect of wealth or virtue must give honour in return,
repaying what he can. For friendship asks a man to do what he can, not
what is proportional to the merits of the case; since that cannot
always be done, e.g. in honours paid to the gods or to parents; for no
one could ever return to them the equivalent of what he gets, but
the man who serves them to the utmost of his power is thought to be
a good man. This is why it would not seem open to a man to disown
his father (though a father may disown his son); being in debt, he
should repay, but there is nothing by doing which a son will have done
the equivalent of what he has received, so that he is always in
debt. But creditors can remit a debt; and a father can therefore do so
too. At the same time it is thought that presumably no one would
repudiate a son who was not far gone in wickedness; for apart from the
natural friendship of father and son it is human nature not to
reject a son's assistance. But the son, if he is wicked, will
naturally avoid aiding his father, or not be zealous about it; for
most people wish to get benefits, but avoid doing them, as a thing
unprofitable.-So much for these questions.