Book 8: Friendship or Love.
It seems, as we said at the outset, that the subject-matter and occasion of friendship and of justice are the same. Every community or association, it is thought, gives some occasion for justice, and also for friendship; at least, people address as friends their partners in a voyage or campaign, and so on with other associations. To what extent soever they are partners, to that extent is there occasion for friendship; for to that extent is there occasion for justice.
Moreover, “friends’ goods are common property,” says the proverb rightly; for friendship implies community. Brothers, indeed, and comrades have all things in common: other friends have certain definite things in common, some more and some less; for friendships also differ in degree. But what justice requires is also different in different cases; it does not require from parents towards children, for instance, the same as from brothers towards one another, nor from comrades the same as from fellow-citizens, and so on through the other kinds of friendship.
Injustice also assumes different forms in these several relations, and increases according to the degree of friendship; e.g. it is a grosser wrong to rob a comrade than a fellow-citizen, and to refuse help to a brother than to a stranger, and to strike one’s father than to strike any other man. The claims of justice, in fact, are such as to increase as friendship increases, both having the same field and growing pari passu.
But all kinds of association or community seem to be, as it were, parts of the political community or association of citizens. For in all of them men join together with a view to some common interest, and in pursuit of some one or other of the things they need for their life. But the association of citizens seems both originally to have been instituted and to continue for the sake of common interests; for this is what legislators aim at, and that which is for the common interest of all is said to be just.
Thus all other associations seem to aim at some particular advantage, e.g. sailors work together for a successful voyage, with a view to making money or something of that sort; soldiers for a successful campaign, whether their ulterior end be riches, or victory, or the founding of a state; and so it is with the members of a tribe or a deme. Some associations, again, seem to have pleasure for their object, as when men join together for a feast or a club dinner; for the object here is feasting and company. But all these associations seem to be subordinate to the association of citizens; for the association of citizens seems to have for its aim, not the interests of the moment, but the interests of our whole life, even when its members celebrate festivals and hold gatherings on such occasions, and render honour to the gods, and provide recreation and amusement for themselves. For the ancient festivals and assemblies seem to take place after the gathering in of the harvest, being of the nature of a dedication of the first-fruits, as it was at these seasons that people had most leisure.
All associations, then, seem to be parts of the association of citizens; and the several kinds of friendship will correspond to the several kinds of association.