Friends to Find, Friends to Avoid

Xenophon, Memorabilia 2.6

“Tell me, Kritoboulos, he said, if we wanted a good friend, how could we go about finding one? Must we search first for someone who is in control of his stomach, and drinking, a master of lust, sleep and sloth? For the person who is controlled by these things can’t do what is needed for for himself or a friend.

Certainly, he can’t, he said

So, you think that we need to avoid someone who is ruled by these things.

Absolutely, he said.

Ok, he said, what about the cheapskate who is never happy but is always asking those near him for hings and then does not pay back what he borrows or gets hateful when he doesn’t get anything. Does that kind of person seem to be an annoying friend?


So, we need to avoid him too?

Yeah. Avoid that guy.

Ok. What about the person who is really good at making money and is really eager for possessions and for this reason is hard to deal with and takes pleasure in getting things but does not want to give anything?

Well, that guy seems to be to be even worse than the last one.”

Εἰπέ μοι, ἔφη, ὦ Κριτόβουλε, εἰ δεοίμεθα φίλου ἀγαθοῦ, πῶς ἂν ἐπιχειροίημεν σκοπεῖν; ἆρα πρῶτον μὲν ζητητέον, ὅστις ἄρχει γαστρός τε καὶ φιλοποσίας καὶ λαγνείας καὶ ὕπνου καὶ ἀργίας; ὁ γὰρ ὑπὸ τούτων κρατούμενος οὔτ᾿ αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ δύναιτ᾿ ἂν οὔτε φίλῳ τὰ δέοντα πράττειν.
Μὰ Δί᾿ οὐ δῆτα, ἔφη.
Οὐκοῦν τοῦ μὲν ὑπὸ τούτων ἀρχομένου ἀφεκτέον δοκεῖ σοι εἶναι;
Πάνυ μὲν οὖν, ἔφη.
Τί γάρ; ἔφη, ὅστις δαπανηρὸς ὢν μὴ αὐτάρχης ἐστίν, ἀλλ᾿ ἀεὶ τῶν πλησίον δεῖται καὶ λαμβάνων μὲν μὴ δύναται ἀποδιδόναι, μὴ λαμβάνων δὲ τὸν μὴ διδόντα μισεῖ, οὐ δοκεῖ σοι καὶ οὗτος χαλεπὸς φίλος εἶναι;
Πάνυ γ᾿, ἔφη.
Οὐκοῦν ἀφεκτέον καὶ τούτου;
Ἀφεκτέον μέντοι, ἔφη.
Τί γάρ; ὅστις χρηματίζεσθαι μὲν δύναται, πολλῶν δὲ χρημάτων ἐπιθυμεῖ καὶ διὰ τοῦτο δυσσύμβολός ἐστι καὶ λαμβάνων μὲν ἥδεται, ἀποδιδόναι δὲ μὴ βούλεται;
Ἐμοὶ μὲν δοκεῖ, ἔφη, οὗτος ἔτι πονηρότερος ἐκείνου εἶναι.

Would this face lie to you? 

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