IN HIS TREATISE CONCERNING
THE GOOD AND HAPPY MAN.
In the first place, it is requisite to know this, that the good man is not immediately happy from necessity; but that this is the case with the man who is both happy and good. For the happy man obtains both praise and the predication of blessedness; but the good man [so far as he is good] obtains praise alone. The praise also arises from virtue; but the predication of blessedness from good fortune. And the worthy man, indeed, becomes such from the goods which he possesses; but the happy man is sometimes deprived of his felicity. For the power of virtue is perfectly free, but that of felicity is subject to restraint. For long-continued diseases of the body, and depri-vations of the senses, cause the flourishing condition of felicity to waste away. God, however, differs from a good man in this, that God indeed not only possesses virtue genuine and purified from every mortal passion, but his power also is unwearied and unrestrained, as being adapted to the most venerable and magnificent production of eternal works. Man indeed, by the mortal condition of his nature, not only enjoys this power and this virtue in a less degree; but sometimes through the want of symmetry1 in the goods which he possesses, or through powerful custom, or a depraved nature, or through many other causes, he is unable to possess in the extreme a good which is perfectly true.
Since therefore of goods, some are eligible for their own sakes, and not for the sake of another thing; but others are eligible for the sake of something else, and not on their own account; there is also a certain third species of goods, which is eligible both on its own account, and for the sake of another thing. What, therefore, is the good which is eligible on its own account, and not for the sake of something else? It is evident that it is felicity. For we aspire after other things for the sake of this, but we do not desire this for the sake of any thing else. Again, what are those goods which we desire indeed for the sake of something else, but which we do not desire on their own account? It is evident they are such things as are useful, and pre-eligible goods, which become the causes of our obtaining things which are eligible [on their own account]; such as corporeal labors, exercise, and frictions which are employed for the sake of a good habit of body; and also reading, meditation, and study, which are undertaken for the sake of things beautiful and virtue. But what are the things which are eligible on their own account, and also for the sake of something else? They are such things as the virtues, and the habits of them, deliberate choice and actions, and whatever adheres to that which is really beautiful. Hence, that indeed which is eligible on its own account, and not on account of something else, is a solitary good and one. But that which is eligible for its own sake, and for the sake of another thing, is triply divided. For one part of it indeed subsists about the soul; another about the body; and another pertains to externals. And that which is about the soul, consists of the virtues of the soul; that which is about the body, of the virtues of the body; and that which pertains to externals, consists of friends, glory, honor, and wealth. There is likewise a similar reasoning with respect to that which is eligible on account of something else. For one part of it indeed is effective of the goods of the soul; another part of it, of the goods of the body; and that which pertains to externals is the cause of wealth, glory, honor, and friendship.
That virtue however happens to be eligible for its own sake, is evident from the following considerations. For if things which are naturally subordinate, I mean the goods of the body, are eligible for their own sakes, but the soul is better than the body, it is evident that we love the goods of the soul on their own account, and not for the sake of the consequences with which they are attended.
There are likewise three definite times of human life; one of prosperity; another of adversity; and a third subsisting between these. Since therefore, he is a good man who possesses and uses virtue; but he uses it according to three seasons; for he uses it either in adversity, or in prosperity, or in the time between these; and in adversity indeed he is unhappy, but in prosperity happy, and in the middle condition, he is not happy [though he is not miserable];—this being the case, it is evident that felicity is nothing else than the use of virtue in prosperity. We now speak, however, of the felicity of man. But man is not soul alone, but is likewise body. For the animal which consists of both, and that which is constituted from things of this kind is man. For though the body is naturally adapted to be the instrument of the soul, yet this as well as the soul is a part of man [so far as he is an animal.2] Hence of goods also, some are the goods of man, but others, of the parts of man. And the good of man, indeed, is felicity. But of the parts of man, the good of the soul is prudence, fortitude, justice, and temperance. And the good of the body is beauty, health, a good corporeal habit, and excellence of sensation. With respect to externals however, wealth, glory, honor, and nobility, are naturally adapted to be attendant on man, and to follow precedaneous goods. The less, also, are ministrant to the greater goods. Thus friendship, glory, and wealth, are ministrant both to the body and the soul; but health, strength, and excellence of sensation, are subservient to the soul; and prudence [i.e. wisdom] and justice are ministrant to the intellect of the soul. Intellect, however, is the satellite of Deity. For God is the most excellent, and the leader and ruler of all things. And for the sake of these, it is necessary that other goods should be present. For the general, indeed, is the leader of the army; the pilot, of the ship; God, of the world; and intellect, of soul. But prudence is the leader of the felicity pertaining to life. For prudence is nothing else than the science of the felicity which respects human life, or the science of the goods which naturally pertain to man.
And the felicity, indeed, and life of God are most excellent; but the felicity of man consists of science, and virtue, and in the third place of prosperity3 corporalized. But I mean by science, the wisdom pertaining to things divine and demoniacal; and by prudence, the wisdom pertaining to human concerns, and the affairs of life. For it is requisite to call the virtues which employ reasonings and demonstrations, sciences. But it is fit to denominate virtue ethical, and the best habit of the irrational part of the soul, according to which we are said to possess certain qualities pertaining to manners; viz. by which we are called liberal, just, and temperate. But it is requisite to call prosperity, the preter-rational presence of goods, [or a supply of goods without the assistance of reason,] and which is not effected on account of it. Since therefore virtue and science are in our power, but prosperity is not; and since also felicity consists in the contemplation and performance of things [truly] beautiful; but contemplations and actions, when they are not prosperous, are attended with ministrant offices and necessity, but when they proceed in the right path, produce delight and felicity; and these things are effected in prosperity;—this being the case, it is evident that felicity is nothing else than the use of virtue in prosperity. Hence the good man is disposed with respect to prosperity, in the same manner as he who has an excellent and robust body. For such a one is able to endure heat and cold, to raise a great burden, and to sustain easily many other molestations.
Since therefore felicity is the use of virtue in prosperity, we must speak concerning virtue and prosperity, and in the first place concerning prosperity. For of goods, some indeed do not admit of excess, and this is the case with virtue. For there is not any virtue which is excessive, nor any worthy man who is beyond measure good. For virtue has the fit and becoming for a rule, and is the habit of the decorous in practical concerns. But prosperity receives excess and diminution. And when it is excessive indeed, it generates certain vices, and removes a man from his natural habit; so that he frequently through this opposes the constitution of virtue. And this is not only the case with prosperity, but many other causes likewise may effect the same thing. For it is by no means proper to wonder, that some of those who play on the pipe should be arrogant men, who, bidding farewell to truth, ensnare by a certain false imagination those who are unskilled in music; and to disbelieve that a thing of this kind does not take place in virtue. For the more venerable a thing is, so much the more numerous are those that pretend to the possession of it. For there are many things which distort the habit and form of virtue; some of which are insidious arts and affectation; others are kindred physical passions, which sometimes produce an indecorum4 contrary to the true disposition [of virtue]. This also is effected through manners in which men have been nurtured for a long time; and it not unfrequently happens that it is produced through youth or old age, and through prosperity or adversity; and by other very numerous ways. Hence, we ought never to wonder, if sometimes a distorted judgment is formed of all things, the true disposition being changed.5 Thus we see that the most excellent carpenter frequently errs in the works which are the subjects of his art; and this is also the case with the general, the pilot, the painter, and in short, with all artists. And yet at the same time we do not deprive them of the habit which they possess. For as we do not rank among bad men him who at certain times acts intemperately, or unjustly, or timidly; so neither do we place him in the class of good men, who does something right in things pertaining to temperance, or justice, or fortitude. But it must be said that the conduct of bad men in things of this kind is casually right, and that good men [sometimes] err. A true judgment however [in these instances] is to be formed, not by looking to a certain occasion, or to a certain extent of time, but to the whole of life. But as indigence and excess are injurious to the body, yet excess and what are called superfluities, are naturally adapted to produce greater diseases [than those caused by indigence]; thus also prosperity or adversity injure the soul, when they unseasonably happen; yet that which is called by all men prosperity, is naturally adapted to produce greater diseases [than adversity], since it intoxicates like wine the reasoning power of good men.
Hence it is more difficult to bear prosperity in a becoming manner than adversity. For all men when they continue in adversity, are seen for the most part to be moderate and orderly in their manners; but in prosperity they are brave, magnificent, and magnanimous [when they bear it in a becoming manner]. For adversity has the power of contracting and depressing the soul; but prosperity, on the contrary, elevates and expands it. Hence all those that are unfortunate, are in their manners cautious and prudent; but those that are fortunate are insolent and confident. But the boundary of prosperity, is that which a good man would deliberately choose to co-operate with him in his own proper actions; just as the [proper] magnitude of a ship, and the [proper] magnitude of a rudder, are such as will enable a good pilot to sail over a great extent of sea, and to accomplish a great voyage. An excess of prosperity, however, is not naturally adapted to be vanquished by, but to vanquish the soul. For as a [very] splendid light causes an obscuration of sight in the eyes; thus also excessive prosperity darkens the intellect of the soul. And thus much may suffice concerning prosperity.
1. For ου μετρίαν here, I read ἀσυμμετρίαν.
2. i.e. So far as he is considered as energizing in conjunction with the body; but so far as he has an energy independent of the body, viz. so far as he is a rational soul, the body is not to be considered as apart of his essence. And the energy of the rational soul by itself alone, without any assistance from the corporeal organs, constitutes the true man, into the definition of which body does not enter.
3. Canter, in his version of these Pythagoric fragments, uniformly translates εὐτύχια felicitas, contrary to the obvious meaning of the word, as is evident in this, and many other passages. It is also directly contrary to what Aristotle says in cap. 13. lib. 7. of his Nicomachean Ethics :
δια δε το προσδεισθαι της τυχης, δοκει τισι ταυτον ειναι η ευτυχια τῃ ευδαιμονιᾳ, ουκ ουσα· επει και αυτη υπερβαλλουσα, εμποδιος εστι.
i.e. “Because felicity requires fortune, it appears to some persons that prosperity is the same with felicity. This however is not the case; since prosperity, when it is excessive, is an impediment to felicity.”
But Canter did not, I believe, pretend to have any knowledge of philosophy: and Gale, who did, has not corrected him in this and many other places in which he has erred through the want of this knowledge. Gale however, though verbally learned, was but a garrulous smatterer in philosophy, as is evident from his notes on Iamblichus de Mysteriis.
4. For ὲπιπρέπειαν here, I read ἀπρέπειαν.
5. In the original, ὤστε οὐδέποκα δεῖ θαύμαινεν, εἰ παντ’ ἀντεστραμμένως ἐνιόκα κρίνεται, τάς ἀληθινας διαθέσιος μεταπίπτοισας, which Canter erroneously translates as follows: “Quocirca mirandum non est, si cuncta nonnunquam, verâ affectione mutatâ, aliter eveniunt.” Nor is the error noticed by Gale.