Book 9: Friendship or Love—Continued.

Chapter 6: Friendship and unanimity

Unanimity [or unity of sentiment] also seems to be an element in friendship; and this shows that it is not mere agreement in opinion, for that is possible even between people who know nothing of each other.

Nor do we apply the term to those who agree in judgment upon any kind of subject, e.g. upon astronomy (for being of one mind in these matters has nothing to do with friendship); but we say that unanimity prevails in a state when the citizens agree in their judgments about what is for the common interest, and choose the same course, and carry out the decision of the community. It is with regard to practical matters, therefore, that people are said to be of one mind, especially with regard to matters of importance and things that may be given to both persons, or to all the persons concerned; for instance, a state is said to be of one mind when all the citizens are agreed that the magistracies shall be elective, or that an alliance be made with Sparta, or that Pittacus be governor, Pittacus himself being willing to accept the office. But when each wishes the government for himself, like the brothers in the Phœnissæ of Euripides, then they are at discord: for being of one mind means that each not merely thinks of the same thing (whatever it be), but thinks of it under the same conditions—as, for instance, if both the populace and the upper classes agree that the best men shall govern; for thus they all get what they want.

Unanimity, then, seems to be, as it is called, the kind of friendship that prevails in states; for it has to do with what is for the common interest, and with things that have a considerable influence upon life.

This kind of unanimity is found in good men; for they are of one mind with themselves and with each other, standing, so to speak, always on the same ground: for the wishes of such people are constant, and do not ebb and flow like the Euripus; they wish what is just and for the common interest, and make united efforts to attain it. But people who are not good cannot be of one mind, just as they cannot be friends except for a little space or to a slight extent, as they strive for more than their share of profit, but take less than their share of labours and public services: but every man, while wishing to do this himself, keeps a sharp eye upon his neighbour, and prevents him from doing it; for if they are not thus on their guard, the community is ruined. The result is that they are at discord, striving to compel one another to do what is just, but not willing to do it themselves.


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