Aristotle, that great, ancient, and influential Greek philosopher, has been a great guide and companion to me in my life, particularly in developing virtue. I want to share some of his own words on the topic of Magnanimity, or Pride, or being a Great-Souled person. I refer to these words often to help be become a Magnanimous man; I hope they help you too.
I’m quoting from D.P. Chase’s translation published by SDE Classics.
“Pride (read, “greatness of soul” or “magnanimous”) seems even from its name to be concerned with great things. Now the man is thought to be proud who thinks himself worthy of great things, [and] being worthy of them; for he does so beyond his deserts (what he deserves) is a fool, but no virtuous man is foolish or silly.”
“For he who is worthy of little and thinks himself worthy of little is temperate, but not proud; for pride implies greatness. On the other hand, he who thinks himself worthy of great things, being unworthy of them, is vain…The man who thinks himself worthy of less than is really worthy of is unduly humble, whether his deserts be great or moderate.”
“The proud man, then, is an extreme in respect of the greatness of his claims, but a mean in respect of the rightness of them; for he claims what is accordance with his merits, while the others go to excess of fall short.”
“The unduly humble man fall short both in comparison with his own merits and in comparison with the proud man’s claims. The vain man goes to excess in comparison with his own merits, but does not exceed the proud man’s claims.”
“Pride then, seems to be a sort of crown of the virtues; for it makes them greater, and it is not found without them. Therefore it is hard to be truly proud; for it is impossible without nobility and goodness of character.”
“He does not run into trifling dangers, nor is he fond of danger, because he honors few things; but he will face great dangers, and when he is in danger he is unsparing of his life, knowing that there are conditions on which life is not worth having.”
“And he is the short of man to confer benefits, but he is ashamed of receiving them; for the one is the mark of the superior, the other of an inferior. And he is apt to confer greater benefits in return; for thus the original benefactor besides being paid will incur a debt to him, and will be gainer by the transaction. It is a mark of the proud man also to ask for nothing or scarcely anything, but to give help readily, and to be dignified towards people enjoy high position and good fortune, but unassuming towards those of the middle class; for it is a difficult and lofty thing to be superior to the former, but to be easy to the latter.”
“He must also be open in his hate and in his love (for toe conceal one’s feelings, i.e. to care less for truth than for what people think, is a coward’s part), and must speak and act openly; for he is free of speech because he is contemptuous, and he is given to telling the truth, except when he speaks in irony to the vulgar.”
“He must be unable to make his life revolve round another (another translation: “living at the will of another”), unless it be a friend; for this is slavish and for this reason all flatterers are servile and people lacking in self-respect are flatterers.”
“Nor is he given to admiration; for nothing to him is great. Nor is he mindful of wrongs; for it is not part of the proud man to have a long memory, especially for wrongs, but rather to overlook them. Nor is he a gossip; for he will speak neither about himself nor about another, since he cares not to be praised nor others to be blamed; nor again is he given to praise; and for the same reason he is not an evil-speaker, even about his enemies, except from haughtiness.”
“Further, a slow step is thought to be proper to the proud man, a deep voice, and a level utterance; for the man who takes few things seriously is not likely to be hurried, nor the man who thinks nothing great to be excited, while a shrill voice and a rapid gait are the results of hurry and excitement.”
“Such, then, is the proud man; the man who falls short of him is unduly humble, and the man who goes beyond him is vain.”
“Pride then, is concerned with honor on the grand scale.”
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