Excessive Expenditure: Aristotle on the Ethics of Gift-Giving

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 4 (1121a-b)

“Most people who spend too much, as it is said, both take what is not right and are cheap because of that. They become greedy because they want to spend but cannot do this easily because their funds quickly escape them. They are therefore compelled to procure from elsewhere. In addition, because they don’t think at all about nobility of action, they take from everywhere. They desire to give and it makes no difference how or where to them. For this reason, their giving is not liberal. For the gifts are not noble or given for nobility’s sake, nor in the way that it correct. Sometimes they make those rich who ought to be poor and they will give nothing to those humble in character, but they provide much to their flatterers and those who please them.”

ἀλλ᾿ οἱ πολλοὶ τῶν ἀσώτων, καθάπερ εἴρηται, καὶ λαμβάνουσιν ὅθεν μὴ δεῖ, καὶ εἰσὶ κατὰ τοῦτο ἀνελεύθεροι. ληπτικοὶ δὲ γίνονται διὰ τὸ βούλεσθαι μὲν ἀναλίσκειν, εὐχερῶς δὲ τοῦτο ποιεῖν μὴ δύνασθαι, ταχὺ γὰρ ἐπιλείπει αὐτοὺς τὰ ὑπάρχοντα· ἀναγκάζονται οὖν ἑτέρωθεν πορίζειν. ἅμα δὲ καὶ διὰ τὸ μηθὲν τοῦ καλοῦ φροντίζειν ὀλιγώρως καὶ πάντοθεν λαμβάνουσιν· διδόναι γὰρ ἐπιθυμοῦσι, τὸ δὲ πῶς ἢ πόθεν οὐθὲν αὐτοῖς διαφέρει. διόπερ οὐδ᾿ ἐλευθέριοι αἱ δόσεις αὐτῶν εἰσίν· οὐ γὰρ καλαί, οὐδὲ τούτου ἕνεκα, οὐδὲ ὡς δεῖ· ἀλλ᾿ ἐνίοτε οὓς δεῖ πένεσθαι, τούτους πλουσίους ποιοῦσι, καὶ τοῖς μὲν μετρίοις τὰ ἤθη οὐδὲν ἂν δοῖεν, τοῖς δὲ κόλαξιν ἤ τιν᾿ ἄλλην ἡδονὴν πορίζουσι πολλά.

 

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Excessive Expenditure: Aristotle on the Ethics of Gift-Giving

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 4 (1121a-b)

“Most people who spend too much, as it is said, both take what is not right and are cheap because of that. They become greedy because they want to spend but cannot do this easily because their funds quickly escape them. They are therefore compelled to procure from elsewhere. In addition, because they don’t think at all about nobility of action, they take from everywhere. They desire to give and it makes no difference how or where to them. For this reason, their giving is not liberal. For the gifts are not noble or given for nobility’s sake, nor in the way that it correct. Sometimes they make those rich who ought to be poor and they will give nothing to those humble in character, but they provide much to their flatterers and those who please them.”

ἀλλ᾿ οἱ πολλοὶ τῶν ἀσώτων, καθάπερ εἴρηται, καὶ λαμβάνουσιν ὅθεν μὴ δεῖ, καὶ εἰσὶ κατὰ τοῦτο ἀνελεύθεροι. ληπτικοὶ δὲ γίνονται διὰ τὸ βούλεσθαι μὲν ἀναλίσκειν, εὐχερῶς δὲ τοῦτο ποιεῖν μὴ δύνασθαι, ταχὺ γὰρ ἐπιλείπει αὐτοὺς τὰ ὑπάρχοντα· ἀναγκάζονται οὖν ἑτέρωθεν πορίζειν. ἅμα δὲ καὶ διὰ τὸ μηθὲν τοῦ καλοῦ φροντίζειν ὀλιγώρως καὶ πάντοθεν λαμβάνουσιν· διδόναι γὰρ ἐπιθυμοῦσι, τὸ δὲ πῶς ἢ πόθεν οὐθὲν αὐτοῖς διαφέρει. διόπερ οὐδ᾿ ἐλευθέριοι αἱ δόσεις αὐτῶν εἰσίν· οὐ γὰρ καλαί, οὐδὲ τούτου ἕνεκα, οὐδὲ ὡς δεῖ· ἀλλ᾿ ἐνίοτε οὓς δεῖ πένεσθαι, τούτους πλουσίους ποιοῦσι, καὶ τοῖς μὲν μετρίοις τὰ ἤθη οὐδὲν ἂν δοῖεν, τοῖς δὲ κόλαξιν ἤ τιν᾿ ἄλλην ἡδονὴν πορίζουσι πολλά.

 

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Looking For Love During the Holidays? Don’t Eat Lettuce.

Deipnosophists 2.52f

“You walk like a donkey to a heap of treats.”

ὄνος βαδίζεις εἰς ἄχυρα τραγημάτων

The next few weeks present almost endless opportunities for gluttony and gastronomic delights. What author could offer us more in this season than Athenaeus? As might not surprise you, he has some eating advice for all occasions.

Deipnosophists 2.69b-d

“Nikandros of Kolophon says in the second book of his Glossary that lettuce (thridaks) is called brenthis among the Kyprians, for Adonis fled to lettuce when he was mortally wounded by the boar. Amphis writes in his Lamentations:

…in the worst, accursed lettuce,
If anyone eats it who is under sixty-years old
When he shares any space with a woman
He can twist the whole night without accomplishing
What he wants. Instead of getting any help,
He presses his hand on his necessary fate.

Kallimachus adds too that Aphrodite hid Adonis in a lettuce patch—a poet’s way of saying that men who continuously eat lettuce are weakened in their sexual ability. Euboulos in his Impotent Men:

Don’t serve me lettuce at the table,
Woman, or you will blame yourself.
The story goes that once Kypris placed Adonis
In this plant after he died—
Now it is food for corpses.

ADonis

Νίκανδρος δ’ ὁ Κολοφώνιος ἐν β′ Γλωσσῶν (fr. 120 Schn) βρένθιν λέγεσθαί φησι παρὰ Κυπρίοις θρίδακα, οὗ ὁ ῎Αδωνις καταφυγὼν ὑπὸ τοῦ  κάπρου διεφθάρη. ῎Αμφις τε ἐν ᾿Ιαλέμῳ φησίν

(II 241 K)·

ἐν ταῖς θριδακίναις ταῖς κάκιστ’ ἀπολουμέναις,

ἃς εἰ φάγοι τις ἐντὸς ἑξήκοντ’ ἐτῶν,

ὁπότε γυναικὸς λαμβάνοι κοινωνίαν,

στρέφοιθ’ ὅλην τὴν νύκτ’ ἂν οὐδὲ ἓν πλέον

ὧν βούλεται δρῶν, ἀντὶ τῆς ὑπουργίας

τῇ χειρὶ τρίβων τὴν ἀναγκαίαν τύχην.

καὶ Καλλίμαχος δέ φησιν (fr. 371 Schn.) ὅτι ἡ ᾿Αφροδίτη τὸν ῎Αδωνιν ἐν θριδακίνῃ κρύψειεν, ἀλληγορούντων τῶν ποιητῶν ὅτι ἀσθενεῖς εἰσι πρὸς ἀφροδίσια οἱ συνεχῶς χρώμενοι θρίδαξι. καὶ Εὔβουλος δ’ ἐν ᾿Αστύτοις φησί (II 169 K)·

μὴ παρατίθει <σύ> μοι θριδακίνας, ὦ γύναι,

ἐπὶ τὴν τράπεζαν, ἢ σεαυτὴν αἰτιῶ.

ἐν τῷ λαχάνῳ τούτῳ γάρ, ὡς λόγος, ποτὲ

τὸν ῎Αδωνιν ἀποθανόντα προὔθηκεν Κύπρις·

ὥστ’ ἐστὶ νεκύων βρῶμα.