Book II, Chapter 1
Since, however, virtue is twofold, one kind being dianoétic, but the other ethic; the dianoétic, indeed, for the most part receives both its generation and increase from doctrine; on which account it requires experience and time; but the ethic is produced from custom, from whence, also, it derives its name, which declines but a little from effog, eth0s, custom. From which, likewise, it is evident, that no one of the ethical virtues is ingenerated in us by nature; for nothing that has a natural subsistence can by custom be brought to act differently from its natural tendency. Thus a stone, which naturally tends downward, cannot be accustomed to tend upward, though some one should hurl it upward ten thousand times; nor can fire be accustomed to tend downward, nor can any thing else among the things which have natural tendencies different from these, be accustomed to any other tendency than that which it has from nature. The virtues, therefore, are neither from nature, nor are ingenerated in us preternaturally; but they are produced in us in consequence of our being naturally adapted to receive them, and becoming perfect through habit. Again, with respect to such things as are ingenerated in us by nature, of these, we first receive the powers, but afterwards employ the energies of those powers; which is evident in the senses. For it is not from frequently seeing, or frequently hearing, that we receive these senses, but, on the contrary, having these senses we use them, and we do not have them by using them. With respect to the virtues, however, we receive them by first energizing according to them, in the same manner as in the other arts; for those things which it is necessary to do, in consequence of having learnt how to do them, these by doing we learn how to do. Thus, by building we become builders, and by playing on the harp we become harpers. Thus too, by acting justly we become just, prudent by acting prudently, and brave by acting bravely. But what happens in cities bears testimony to the truth of this. For the legislators by accustoming the citizens [to virtue, render them worthy characters; and this indeed is the intention of every legislator; but such as do not effect this well, err. And in this one polity differs from another, the good from the bad. Farther still, from the same things, and through the same things, every virtue is generated and corrupted; and in a similar manner every art. For from playing on the harp, both good and bad harpers are produced; and analogously builders of houses, and all other artists. For from building well, they will be good builders, but bad from building ill; since if it were not so, there would be no occasion for a preceptor, but all men would be [naturally] good or bad artists. The like also takes place in the virtues. For by acting in our compacts with men, we become some of us indeed just, but others unjust ; and by acting in things of a dreadful nature, and by being accustomed either to be terrified or to be confident in danger, some of us become brave, but others timid. The reasoning, likewise, is similar with respect to desire and anger; for some men, indeed, become temperate and mild, but others intemperate and irascible; these from being in this way conversant with these things, but those from being conversant with them in that way. And in one word, habits are produced from similar energies. Hence, it is necessary to render energies endued with a certain quality; for habits follow from the differ. ences of these. It is of no small consequence, therefore, to be thus or thus accustomed immediately from our youth, but it is of very great consequence; or rather, it is every thing.
Book II, Chapter 2
Since, therefore, the present treatise is not for the sake of theory, like other discussions; for our attention is not directed to this business, that we may know what virtue is, but that we may become good men, since otherwise no advantage would be derived from it;-this being the case, it is necessary to consider with respect to actions how they are to be performed; for as we have said, they are the mistresses of the qualities which habits possess. To act, therefore, according to right reason is common, ‘ and is now assumed to be so. We shall, however, hereafter speak concerning this, and show what right reason is,” and how it subsists with reference to the other virtues. But this must be previously granted, that every treatise of practical affairs ought only to be an adumbration, and not an accurate discussion, as also we observed in the beginning, because reasonings are required conformable to the subject matter; and in practical affairs, and things contributing to them, there is nothing stable, as neither is there in things which are salubrious.’ Such, therefore, being the universal reason, in a still greater degree will the discussion of particulars be deficient in accuracy; for it neither falls under art, nor under any precept. It is, however, necessary that those who are engaged in practical affairs should always direct their attention to an opportune time, in the same manner as in medicine, and in the pilot’s art. But though the present discussion is of this nature, we must endeavour to give it assistance.
In the first place, therefore, this must be observed, that things of this kind [viz. actions which produce in us the habits of the virtues, are naturally adapted to be corrupted by excess and defect, as we see in strength and health, [which are the virtues of the body; (for it is necessary to use things apparent as testimonies, in things which are unapparent), since exercises which are excessive, and also those which are deficient, corrupt the strength of the body. In like manner meat and drink, when taken in too great or too small a quantity, corrupt the health; but these, when commensurate, produce increase, and preserve it. This, therefore, is also the case in temperance and fortitude, and the other virtues. For he who flies from and is afraid of all things, and endures nothing, becomes timid; and he who in short is afraid of nothing, but marches up to all things, becomes audacious. In a similar manner, he indeed who gives himself up to the enjoyment of every pleasure, and abstains from none, is intemperate; but he who flies from all pleasures, like rustic men, is an insensate person. For temperance and fortitude are corrupted by excess and defect, but are preserved by mediocrity. Not only, however, generations, increments and corruptions, are produced from and by the same things, but the energies also [of the virtues] will subsist after the same manner; since this likewise is the case in other things which are more apparent; as, for instance, in strength. For strength is produced by taking much food, and enduring many labours, and the strong man is especially able to do both these. Thus, too, it is in the virtues; for by abstaining from pleasures we become temperate, and having become temperate we are especially able to abstain from them. The like also takes place in fortitude; for by being accustomed to despise things of a terrible nature, and to endure them, we become brave, and having become brave, we are especially able to endure terrible things.
Book II, Chapter 3
It is necessary, however, to consider as an indication of habits the pleasure or pain which is attendant on actions. For he who abstains from corporeal pleasures, and is delighted in so doing, is a temperate man; but he who is grieved when he abstains from them, is intemperate. And he, indeed, who endures dreadful things, and is delighted with his endurance, or feels no pain from it, is a brave man; but he who feels pain from the endurance of them, is a timid man. For ethical virtue is conversant with pleasures and pains. For we act basely through the influence of pleasure; but we abstain from beautiful conduct through the influence of pain. Hence it is necessary, as Plato says, to be so educated in a certain respect immediately after our youth, that we may be delighted and pained with things from which it is requisite to feel pleasure or pain; for this is right education. Farther still, if the virtues are conversant with actions and passions, but pleasure and pain are consequent to every passion and action, on this account also virtue will be conversant with pleasures and pains. The punishments, likewise, which are inflicted through these, indicate the truth of this ; for they are certain remedies; but remedies are naturally adapted to operate through contraries. Again, as we have also before observed, the nature of every habit of the soul is referred to and conversant with those things, by which it is adapted to become better and worse. But habits become depraved through pleasures and pains, by pursuing or avoiding these, either such as ought not to be pursued or avoided, or when it is not proper, or in such a way as is not proper, or in as many other modes as such things are distinguished by reason. Hence, some persons define the virtues to be certain apathies and tranquillities; but they do not define them well, because they speak simply, and do not add, in such a way as is proper, and when it is proper, and such other additions as are usually made. It is admitted, therefore, that virtue is a thing of this kind, which is conversant with pleasures and pains, and practises things of the most excellent nature; but vice is the contrary. From what has been said, likewise, we may obtain still greater evidence about these things. For as there are three things which pertain to choice, and also three which pertain to aversion, viz. the beautiful in conduct, the advantageous, and the delightful, and three the contraries to these, the base, the disadvantageous, and the painful; the good man, indeed, acts rightly in all these, but the bad man erroneously, and especially in what pertains to pleasure. For pleasure is common to all animals, and is consequent to every thing which is the object of choice; for the beautiful and the advantageous appear to be delightful. Again, pleasure is co-nourished with all of us from our infancy; on which account also it is difficult to wipe away this passion, with which our life is imbued. We likewise direct our actions by pleasure and pain, as by a rule, some of us in a greater, and others in a less degree. On this account, therefore, it is necessary that the whole of this discussion should be conversant with these things; for to rejoice or be pained properly or improperly, is of no small consequence in actions. Farther still, it is more difficult to fight with pleasure, than with anger, as Heraclitus says. But both art and virtue are always conversant with that which is more difficult; for that which is well done, is better when it is effected with greater difficulty. Hence, on this account, also, the whole business both of ethics and politics is conversant with pleasures and pains. For he who employs these well will be a good man, but he will be a bad man who employs them badly. We have shown, therefore, that virtue is conversant with pleasures and pains, and that it is increased and corrupted by the same things by which it is produced, when they do not exist after the same manner; and that it likewise energizes about the things from which it originated.
Book II, Chapter 4
It may, however, be doubted what our meaning is in asserting that men by acting justly become just, and temperate by acting temperately; for if they act justly and temperately, they are already just and temperate; just as those who perform things pertaining to grammar and music, are grammarians and musicians. Or shall we say, that this is not the case in the arts? For it is possible that a man may do something grammatical both from chance and the suggestion of another person. He will, therefore, then be a grammarian if he both does something grammatical and grammatically, that is, according to the grammatical art which he possesses. Again, neither is the thing similar in the arts and the virtues; for things produced by the arts contain in themselves efficient excellence. It is sufficient, therefore, to these to be effected with a certain mode of subsistence; but things which are performed according to the virtues, are not done justly or temperately, if they subsist in a certain way, but if he who does them does them in consequence of being disposed in a certain way. And, in the first place, indeed, if he does them knowingly, in the next place, if with deliberate choice, and also deliberately choosing to do them on their own account; and, in the third place, if he does them with a firm and immutable disposition of mind. These things, however, are not connumerated as requisites to the possession of the other arts, except the knowledge of them alone. But to the acquisition of the virtues, the knowledge of them is of little or no efficacy, while the other particulars pertaining to them are capable of effecting no small thing, but are all-powerful; and these are obtained from frequently acting justly and temperately. Things, therefore, are said to be just and temperate, when they are such as a just or temperate man would perform. But he is a just and temperate man, not who [merely] does these things, but who does them so as just and temperate men do them. It is well said, therefore, that a man becomes just from acting justly, and temperate from acting temperately, but that from not doing these things, no one will ever become a good man. The multitude, however, do not thus act, but flying to words they fancy they shall philosophize, and thus become worthy characters; acting similarly to sick persons, who attentively indeed hear what the physicians say, but do nothing which they order them to do. As, therefore, these by such a method of cure, never have their body in a healthy condition, so neither is the soul of those ever well who thus philosophize.
Book II, Chapter 5
In the next place, we must consider what virtue is. Since, therefore, three things are produced in the soul, viz. passions, powers, and habits, virtue will be some one of these. But I call passions, indeed, desire,’ anger, audacity, envy, joy, love, hatred, cupidity, emulation, pity, and, in short, those things to which pleasure or pain are consequent. And I denominate powers, those things according to which we are said to be susceptible of the passions; viz. according to which we are able to be angry, or pained, or are inclined to pity. But I call habits those things according to which we are well or illdisposed towards the passions. Thus, for instance, with respect to being angry, if we are vehemently or remissly disposed towards it, we are badly affected; but if moderately, we are well affected ; and in a similar manner with respect to the other passions. Neither the virtues, therefore, nor the vices are passions; because we are not said to be worthy or depraved according to the passions, but we are said to be so according to the virtues or vices; and because according to the passions we are neither praised nor blamed. For neither he who is afraid, nor he who is angry is praised, nor is he who is simply angry blamed, but he who is angry after a certain manner; but we are praised or blamed according to the virtues and vices. Farther still, we may be angry and afraid without any deliberate intention of being so; but the virtues are certain deliberate elections, or are not without deliberate choice. In addition to this also, we are said to be moved according to the passions, but we are not said to be moved according to the virtues and vices, but to be disposed in a certain way. On this account neither are the virtues powers; for we are neither said to be good nor bad from being able simply to suffer, nor are we through this either praised or blamed. And again, we possess powers indeed from nature; but from nature we do not become either good or bad. We have, however, spoken concerning this before. If, therefore, the virtues are neither passions nor powers, it remains that they are habits. And thus we have shown what virtue is generically.
Book II, Chapter 6
It is necessary, however, not only to show that virtue is a habit, but likewise to show what kind of a habit it is. We must say, therefore, that every virtue, renders that of which it is the virtue well disposed, and causes its work to be well accomplished. Thus, for instance, the virtue of the eye, causes both the eye and the work of it to be good; for by the virtue of the eye we see well. In a similar manner the virtue of a horse causes the horse to be good for the race, for carrying his rider, and sustaining the enemy in battle. But if this be the case in all things, the virtue of man also will be a habit, from which man becomes good, and from which he accomplishes his own work. And how this indeed will be effected we have already shown; but it will again be now manifest, if we consider what the quality is of the nature of virtue. In every thing, therefore, which is continued and divisible, it is possible, indeed, to assume the more, the less, and the equal; and this either with respect to the thing itself, or with reference to us. But the equal is a certain middle between excess and defect. I call, however, the middle of a thing, that which is equally distant from each of the extremes, and which is one and the same in all things. But with reference to us the middle is that which neither exceeds nor falls short of the becoming. This, however, is neither one nor the same in all things. Thus, for instance, if ten things are many, but two a few, six are assumed as a medium with reference to the thing, for six equally surpasses and is surpassed. But this is a middle according to arithmetical proportion. The middle or medium, however, with reference to us, is not thus to be assumed. For if to eat ten pounds, is to eat much, but two pounds a little, it does not follow that the master of the gymnastic exercises will order six pounds to be eaten; for this perhaps will be too much or too little for him who is to take food. For Milo, indeed, it would be too little; but for him who is beginning the exercises it would be too much. And the like must be understood of the course and wrestling. Thus, therefore, every scientific man will avoid excess and defect, but will search for the medium, and make this the object of his choice. He will, however, explore that medium, which is not the middle of the thing, but is a middle with reference to us. If, therefore, every science thus well accomplishes its work, when it looks to the middle, and refers its works to this; whence it is usual to say of works that are well finished, that nothing can be added to or taken away from them, acknowledging by this, that excess and defect corrupt that which is excellent in them, but that mediocrity preserves this; and if good artists, as we say, operate looking to this, but virtue, in the same manner as nature, is more accurate and better than all art; if this be the case, it will tend to the medium as a boundary. I speak, however, of ethical virtue; for this is conversant with passions and actions; but in these there is excess and defect, and the middle. Thus, for instance, it is possible to be afraid, to be confident, to desire and abhor, to be angry and to pity, and, in short, to be pleased and pained in a greater and less degree, and to be both these improperly. But to have these passions when it is proper, and in such things, towards such persons, and for the sake of that which, and as, it is proper—this is the middle and the best, and pertains to virtue. In a similar manner also in actions, there is excess and defect, and the middle; but virtue is conversant with passions and actions, in which the excess indeed is erroneous, and the defect is blamed, but the medium is praised and possesses rectitude: and both these pertain to virtue. Hence, virtue is a certain medium, and tends to the middle as a boundary. Again, to err is manifold; for evil, as the Pythagoreans conjecture, belongs to the infinite, and good to the finite; but it is only possible to act rightly in one way. Hence, the one is easy, but the other difficult; it is easy, indeed, to deviate from the mark, but difficult to hit it; and on this account, excess and defect belong to vice, but the medium to virtue. For,
Simple the good, all-various are the bad.
Virtue, therefore, is a pre-elective habit, [or a habit accompanied with deliberate choice] existing in a medium with reference to us, and which is defined by reason, and in such a way as a prudent man would define it. It is also the medium between two vices, the one being characterized by excess, but the other by defect. And farther still, it is defined by this, that some of the vices fall short of, but others surpass the becoming, both in passions and actions, but virtue both discovers and chooses the medium. Hence, according to essence, and the definition which explains the very nature of a thing, virtue is a medium; but according to that which is best, and subsists well, it is a summit. Not every action, however, nor every passion, receives a medium; for some passions, as soon as they are named, are complicated with depravity, such as malevolence, rejoicing in the evils of others, impudence, envy; and in actions, adultery, theft, and murder. For all these, and others of the like kind, are thus denominated, because they are themselves bad, and not the excesses, nor the defects of them. Hence, it is not possible at any time to act rightly in these, but they are always attended with error. Nor does acting well, or not acting well, in things of this kind, consist in committing adultery, when, and as it is proper, but simply to do any of these things is to act wrong. To require, therefore, a medium in these, is just as if some one should think it proper that there should be a medium, excess, and defect, in doing an injury, and in acting timidly and intemperately; for thus there would be a middle of excess and defect, and an excess of excess, and a deficiency of defect. As, however, there is no excess and defect of temperance and fortitude, because the middle is in a certain respect the summit; so neither is there a middle, excess and defect in those passions and actions, but in whatever manner they are exerted they are attended with error. For, in short, neither is there a middle of excess or defect, nor are there excess and defect of the middle.
Book II, Chapter 7
It is necessary, however, not only to assert this universally, but also to adapt it to particulars. For in what is said concerning actions, universal assertions indeed are more common; but those that are particular are more true; since actions are conversant with particulars, with which assertions ought to accord. These, therefore, are to be assumed from description. Of fear and confidence, therefore, fortitude is the medium. Of the characters, however, which exceed, the one indeed which exceeds by a privation of fear is anonymous; but that which exceeds in confidence is audacious. And he who exceeds in being afraid, but is deficient in confidence, is timid. In pleasures and pains, however, though not in all pleasures, [but in such as are corporeal, and in those especially which pertain to the touch, and in a less degree in pains, the medium indeed is temperance, but the excess intemperance. But those who are deficient in the pursuit of pleasures do not very frequently occur ; on which account neither have they obtained a name. They may, however, be called insensate. In giving and receiving money, the medium indeed is liberality, but the excess and defect are prodigality and illiberality; in which men exceed and are deficient in a contrary way. For the prodigal indeed exceeds in spending money, but is deficient in receiving it; and the illiberal man exceeds in receiving, but is deficient in spending money. At present, therefore, we think it sufficient summarily to adumbrate these things; but afterwards we shall discuss them more accurately. With respect to wealth, however, there are also other dispositions of the mind; and the medium, indeed, is magnificence. For the magnificent differs from the liberal man in this, that the former is conversant with great, but the latter with small things. The excess, however, is an ignorance of elegance and decorum, and illiberal profusion; but the defect is an indecorous parsimony in spending money. And these vices differ from those which surround liberality; but in what they differ, we shall afterwards show. With respect to honour and ignominy, the medium indeed is magnanimity, but the excess is called a certain inflation of the mind, and the defect pusillanimity. As we have said, however, that liberality corresponds to magnificence, but differs from it in this, that it is conversant with small things; so to magnanimity which is conversant with great honour, another certain virtue corresponds, and which also is itself conversant with what is small. For it is possible to aspire after honour in such a manner as is proper, and more and less than is proper. But he who exceeds in his desires of honour is said to be ambitious, he who is deficient is unambitious, and the middle characer between both is anonymous. The dispositions also are anonymous, except the disposition of the ambitious man, which is denominated ambition. Hence, the extremes contend for the middle place. And we indeed sometimes call the middle character ambitious, and sometimes unambitious; and sometimes we praise the ambitious, and sometimes the unambitious man. But from what cause we do this, will be shown hereafter, Now, however, conformably to the manner in which we begun, let us speak about the rest.
With respect to anger, therefore, there is likewise excess, defect, and a medium; but since these are nearly anonymous, we call the middle character a mild man, and the medium mildness. But of the extremes, let him who exceeds be wrathful, and the vice be wrathfulness. And let him who is deficient be a man void of anger, and the defect a privation of anger. There are likewise three other media, which have, indeed, a certain similitude to each other, but differ from each other. For all of them are conversant with the communion of words and actions; but they differ, because one of them is conversant with the truth which is in them, but the others are conversant with the delectable. And of this (viz. the delectable) one kind consists in jest; but another, in all the concerns of life. We must, therefore, also speak concerning these, in order that we may in a greater degree perceive, that in every thing the medium is laudable, but the extremes are neither right nor laudable, but reprehensible. Of these, therefore, the greater part also are anonymous ; but we must endeavour, in the same manner as in the rest, to give names to them, for the sake of perspicuity, and the facility of understanding what follows. t
With respect to truth, therefore, the middle character may be called veracious, and the medium, truth; but of dissimulation, that kind which exaggerates may be called arrogance, and he who possesses it an arrogant man; and that which extenuates may be called irony, and he who employs it may be denominated ironical, or a dissembler. With respect, however, to the delectable, and that kind which consists in jest, the middle character, indeed, may be called facetious, and the disposition itself facetiousness; but the excess may be denominated scurrility, and he who possesses it a scurrilous man; and he who is deficient may be called a rustic man, and the habit itself, rusticity. In the other species of the delectable, which pertains to the concerns of life, he who delights in such a way as is proper, is a friend, and the medium is friendship; but he who exceeds, if it is not with a view to any advantage, is studious of pleasing, but if for the sake of advantage, is a flatterer. And he who is deficient, and in all things unpleasant, is contentious, and difficult to be pleased. There are, likewise, media in the passions, and in things pertaining to the passions; for bashfulness is not a virtue, and yet the modest man is praised. For in these things, one indeed is called the middle character, another is said to exceed, and another to be deficient. And he indeed who exceeds, and is bashful in all things, is as it were astounded; but he who is deficient, and is not ashamed of any thing, is impudent; and the middle character is the modest man. Indignation is a medium between envy and joy for the calamities of others; but these habits are conversant with the pain and pleasure arising from what happens to others. For he who is propense to indignation, is indeed pained from those that do well undeservedly; but he who is envious, surpassing the indignant man, is pained from all that do well; and he who rejoices in the calamities of others, is so much deficient in feeling pain [from the prosperity of bad men,J that he is delighted with it. These things, however, are discussed by us elsewhere, [i. e. in the 2nd book of the Rhetoric..] With respect to justice, however, since it is not predicated simply, we shall make it the subject of discussion hereafter, [viz. in the 5th book, I and show how each of its parts is a medium. In a similar manner, also, we shall speak concerning the rational [or intellectual] virtues [in the 6th book].
Book II, Chapter 8
Since, however, there are three dispositions of the soul, two indeed of vices, of which the one subsists according to excess, but the other according to defect, and since virtue is one of these dispositions, and is a medium, all these three dispositions are in a certain respect opposed to all. For the extremes are contrary to the middle, and to each other, but the middle is contrary to the extremes. For as the equal is, with reference to the less, greater, but with reference to the greater, less; thus the middle habits exceed with reference to the deficiencies, but are defective with reference to the excesses, both in passions and actions. For the brave with reference to the timid man appears to be audacious, but with reference to the audacious man, timid. In a similar manner, also, the temperate man with reference to him who is insensate appears to be intemperate, but with reference to the intemperate man, insensate. But the liberal when contrasted with the illiberal man appears to be a prodigal, but when compared with the prodigal, illiberal. Hence, the extremes propel the medium each to the other, and the timid calls indeed the brave man audacious, but the audacious man calls him timid; and analogously in the other extremes. These, however, being thus opposed to each other, there is a greater contrariety in the extremes to each other, than to the medium; for these are more remote from each other than from the medium ; just as the great is more remote from the small, and the small from the great, than both of them are from the equal. Farther still, in some extremes there appears to be a certain similitude to the medium, as in audacity to fortitude, and in prodigality to liberality; but in the ex. tremes there is the greatest dissimilitude to each other. Things, however, which are very distant from each other, are defined to be contraries; so that those things which are more distant are more contrary to each other. But to the medium, in some things, indeed, the deficiency is more opposed, and in others the excess. Thus, to fortitude, audacity, indeed, which is an excess, is not opposed, but timidity, which is a defect; and to temperance, the want of sensibility, which is an indigence, is not opposed, but intemperance, which is an excess. . This, however, happens from two causes; one indeed from the thing itself; for one of the extremes being nearer to, and more similar to the medium than the other, hence, not this, but the contrary, is more opposed to it. Thus, for instance, since audacity appears to be more similar and nearer to fortitude, but timidity appears to be more dissimilar, on this account we oppose the latter to fortitude rather than the former. For things which are more distant from the medium, appear to be more contrary. This, therefore, is one cause from the thing itself; but another cause is from ourselves. For those vices to which we are naturally more adapted, appear to be more contrary to the medium. Thus, because we are naturally more adapted to pleasures, we are more easily impelled to intemperance than to moderation in the pursuit of pleasure. Those things, therefore, are said to be in a greater degree contraries, to which a greater accession is made; and on this account intemperance, which is an excess, is more contrary to temperance [than the other extremel.
Book II, Chapter 9
That ethical virtue, therefore, is a medium, and how it is so, and that it is a medium between two vices, the one existing according to excess, but the other according to defect, and that it is such in consequence of looking to the medium in passions and actions as to a mark, has been sufficiently shown. Hence, also, it is laborious to be worthy; for in every thing it is laborious to obtain the middle. Thus, the middle of a circle cannot be discovered by every one, but by him who is skilled [in geometry]. In like manner, to be angry, and to give and spend money, is in the power of every one, and is easy; but to be angry, and to give and spend money to whom, and as much, and when, and on what account, and as it is proper, cannot be accomplished by every one, nor is it easy. For this is to act rightly, and is rare, and laudable, and beautiful. Hence, it is necessary that he whose attention is directed to the medium as to a mark, should first recede from that which is more contrary, as Calypso also admonishes:
Far from the smoke and waves direct the helm.
For of the extremes, the one, indeed, is more erroneous, but the other less. Since, therefore, it is difficult to obtain the medium accurately, by making a second ‘navigation, as they say, the least of the evils must be assumed; but this will especially be effected in the way we have mentioned. It is likewise requisite to consider what the vices are to which we are most propense; for different men are naturally prone to different vices. But this will be known from the pleasure and pain with which we are affected. We ought, however, to draw ourselves to the contrary part; for by removing ourselves very far from error, we shall arrive at the medium, which those do who straighten distorted pieces of wood. But in every thing we should especially avoid the delectable and pleasure; for we are not uncorrupted judges of it. In the same manner, therefore, as the Trojan nobles were affected towards Helen, we ought to be affected towards pleasure, and in every thing [where pleasure is concerned, to employ their decision; for thus, by dismissing it, we shall err in a less degree. By thus acting, therefore, in short, we shall be especially able to obtain the medium. Perhaps, however, this is difficult, and principally in particulars; for it is not easy to determine how, and with whom, and on what account, and for how long a time, it is requisite to be angry. For we, indeed, sometimes praise those who are defective in anger, and call them mild; but at other times we praise those who are exasperated, and call them virile. He, however, who deviates but a little from rectitude, whether he inclines to the more or to the less, is not blamed; but he who deviates much from it; for the error of such a one is not latent, It cannot, however, be easily determined to what extent, and how much he is blameable; as neither is this easy in any other sensible thing. But things of this kind rank among particulars, and the judgment of them pertains to sense. Thus much, therefore, is indeed manifest, that the middle habit is in all things laudable; and that it is necessary at one time to incline to excess, and at another to deficiency; for thus we shall easily obtain the medium, and rectitude of conduct.