The Treatise On Felicity from Hippodamus the Thurian

September 9, 2015

Of animals, some are the recipients of felicity, but others are incapable of receiving it.

Those animals are receptive of it that have reason. For felicity cannot subsist without virtue; and virtue is first ingenerated in that which possesses reason.

But those animals are incapable of receiving felicity, that are destitute of reason. For neither can that which is deprived of sight, receive the work or the virtue of sight; nor can that which is destitute of reason, be the recipient of the work, or the virtue of that which possesses reason.

With respect to felicity, however, and virtue, the former is as a work, but the latter as a certain art, to that which possesses reason.

But of animals which possess reason, some are self-perfect, and these are such as are perfect through themselves, and are indigent of nothing external, either to their existence, or to their existing well and beautifully. And such, indeed, is God.

Those animals, however, are not self-perfect, which are not perfect through themselves, but are in want of external causes to their perfection. And man is an animal of this kind.

Of animals, therefore, which are not self-perfect, some indeed are perfect, but others are not perfect. And those indeed are perfect which derive their subsistence both from their own [proper] causes, and from external causes. And they derive it indeed from their own causes, because they obtain from thence both an excellent nature and deliberate choice; but from external causes, because they receive from thence equitable legislation and good rulers.

But the animals which are not perfect, are either such as participate of neither of these, or of some one of these, or whose souls are entirely depraved. And such will the man be who is of a description different from the above.

Moreover, of perfect men there are two differences. For some of them are naturally perfect; but others are perfect according to life. And those indeed alone that are good, are naturally perfect. But these are such as possess virtue. For the virtue of the nature of every thing is a summit and perfection. Thus the virtue of the eye is the summit 197 and perfection of the nature of the eye.

But the virtue of man is the summit and perfection of the nature of man. Those also are perfect according to life, who are not only good, but happy. For felicity, indeed, is the perfection of human life.

But human, life is a system of actions. Felicity gives completion to the actions.

Virtue also and fortune give completion to actions; virtue, indeed, according to use; but good fortune according to prosperity.

God therefore is neither good through learning virtue from any one, nor is he happy through being attended by good fortune.

For he is good by nature, and happy by nature, and always was and will be, and will never cease to be, such; since he is incorruptible, and naturally good. But man is neither happy nor good by nature, but requires discipline and providential care.

In order to become good, he requires virtue. But in order to become happy, good fortune.

On this account, human felicity summarily consists of these two things:

  • praise
  • the predication of beatitude

Of praise indeed, from virtue; but of the predication of beatitude, from prosperity.

It possesses virtue therefore, through a divine destiny, but prosperity through a mortal allotment. But mortal are suspended from divine concerns, and terrestrial from such as are celestial. Things subordinate, also, are suspended from such as are more excellent.

On this account, the good man who follows the Gods is happy; but he who follows mortal natures is miserable. For to him who possesses wisdom, prosperity is good and useful.

It is good, indeed, through his knowledge of the use of it; but it is useful, through his co-operating with actions.

It is beautiful, therefore, when prosperity is present with intellect, and when sailing as it were with a prosperous wind, actions are performed looking to virtue; just as a pilot looks to the motions of the stars. For thus, he who does this will not only follow God, but will also co-arrange human with divine good.

Human life becomes different from disposition and action.

But it is necessary that the disposition should be either worthy or depraved; and that action should be attended either with felicity or misery.

A worthy disposition participates of virtue, but a bad one of vice.

With respect to actions, also, those that are prosperous are attended with felicity; (for they derive their completion through looking to reason) but those that are unfortunate, are attended with misery; for they are frustrated of the end. Hence, it is not only necessary to learn virtue, but also to possess and use it, either for security, or increase, [of property when it is too little] or, which is the greatest thing of all, for the emendation of families and cities.

For it is not only necessary to have the possession of things beautiful, but also the use of them. All these things, however, will take place, when a man lives in a city that uses equitable laws.

These are called ’the horn of Amalthea’. All things are contained in equitable legislation.

Wwithout this, the greatest good of human nature can neither be effected, nor, when effected, be increased and become permanent.

For this comprehends in itself virtue, and the tendency to virtue; because excellent natures are generated according to it. Manners, likewise, studies, and laws, subsist through this in the most excellent condition; and besides these, rightly-deciding reason, and piety and sanctity towards the most honorable natures.

So that it is necessary that he who is to be happy, and whose life is to be prosperous, should live and die in a country governed by equitable laws, relinquishing all illegality. At the same time what has been said is attended with necessity.

For man is a part of society, and hence from the same reasoning, will become entire and perfect, if he not only associates with others, but associates in a becoming manner. For some things are naturally adapted to subsist in many things, and not in one thing; others in one thing, and not in many; but others both in many, and in one thing, and on this account in one thing, because in many. For harmony, indeed, and symphony and number, are naturally adapted to be ingenerated in many things.

For nothing which makes a whole from these parts, is sufficient to itself.[57] But acuteness of seeing and hearing, and swiftness of feet, subsist in one thing alone.

Felicity, however, and the virtue of soul, subsist both in one thing and in many, in a whole, and in the universe. And on this account they subsist in one thing, because they also subsist in many= and they subsist in many, because they are inherent in a whole and in the universe. For the orderly distribution of the whole nature of things methodically arranges each particular.

The orderly distribution of particulars gives completion to the whole of things and to the universe.

But this follows from the whole being naturally prior to the part, and not the part to the whole. For if the world was not, neither the sun nor the moon would exist, nor the planets, nor the fixed stars. But the world existing, each of these also exists.

The truth of this also may be seen in the nature itself of animals. For if animal had no existence, there would neither be eye, nor mouth, nor ear. But animal existing, each of these likewise exists.

As the whole, however, is to the part, so is the virtue of the whole to the virtue of the part. For harmony not existing, and a divine inspection of 201 mundane affairs, things which are adorned would no longer be able to remain in an excellent condition.

Equitable legislation not existing in a city, it is not possible for a citizen to be good or happy.

Health, likewise, not existing in the animal, it is not possible for the foot or the hand to be strong and healthy. For harmony indeed is the virtue of the world; equitable legislation is the virtue of a city; and health and strength are the virtue of the body.

Each of the parts likewise in these things is co-arranged on account of the whole and the universe. For the eyes see on account of the whole body. And the other parts and members are co-arranged for the sake of the whole [body] and the universe.


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