Monday, May 16, 2016


Aspects of the Good

Cleanthes, in Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, ed. Hans von Arnim, Vol. I: Zeno et Zenonis Discipuli (1905; rpt. Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner, 1964), pp. 126-127, fragment 557 (my translation, with underlined words to be discussed below):
The good — you ask me what kind of thing it is? Then listen:
orderly, just, holy, pious,
ruling over itself, useful, beautiful, binding,
rigorous, plain, always expedient,
without fear, without sorrow, profitable, free from pain,        5
beneficial, pleasant, unfailing, dear,
honored, charitable, agreeable,
of good reputation, not vain, careful, mild, zealous,
persevering, blameless, always enduring.

τἀγαθὸν ἐρωτᾷς μ᾿ οἷόν ἐστ'; ἄκουε δή·
τεταγμένον, δίκαιον, ὅσιον, εὐσεβές,
κρατοῦν ἑαυτοῦ, χρήσιμον, καλόν, δέον,
αὐστηρόν, αὐθέκαστον, ἀεὶ συμφέρον,
ἄφοβον, ἄλυπον, λυσιτελές, ἀνώδυνον,        5
ὠφέλιμον, εὐάρεστον, ἀσφαλές, φίλον,
ἔντιμον, <εὐχάριστον>, ὁμολογούμενον,
εὐκλεές, ἄτυφον, ἐπιμελές, πρᾶον, σφοδρόν,
χρονιζόμενον, ἄμεμπτον, ἀεὶ διαμένον.

7 suppl. von Arnim
Note the pair of asyndetic, privative adjectives (ἄφοβον, ἄλυπον) at the beginning of line 5. The underlined words also appear in Diogenes Laertius 7.98-99 (on Zeno; tr. R.D. Hicks):
All good (they say) is expedient, binding, profitable, useful, serviceable, beautiful, beneficial, desirable, and just or right. It is expedient, because it brings about things of such a kind that by their occurrence we are benefited. It is binding, because it causes unity where unity is needed; profitable, because it defrays what is expended on it, so that the return yields a balance of benefit on the transaction. It is useful, because it secures the use of benefit; it is serviceable, because the utility it affords is worthy of all praise. It is beautiful, because the good is proportionate to the use made of it; beneficial, because by its inherent nature it benefits; choiceworthy, because it is such that to choose it is reasonable. It is also just or right, inasmuch as it is in harmony with law and tends to draw men together.

πᾶν δ᾿ ἀγαθὸν συμφέρον εἶναι καὶ δέον καὶ λυσιτελὲς καὶ χρήσιμον καὶ εὔχρηστον καὶ καλὸν καὶ ὠφέλιμον καὶ αἱρετὸν καὶ δίκαιον. συμφέρον μὲν ὅτι φέρει τοιαῦτα ὧν συμβαινόντων ὠφελούμεθα· δέον δ᾿ ὅτι συνέχει ἐν οἷς χρή· λυσιτελὲς δ᾿ ὅτι λύει τὰ τελούμενα εἰς αὐτό, ὥστε τὴν ἀντικατάλλαξιν τὴν ἐκ τῆς πραγματείας ὑπεραίρειν τῇ ὠφελείᾳ· χρήσιμον δ᾿ ὅτι χρείαν ὠφελείας παρέχεται· εὔχρηστον δ᾿ ὅτι τὴν χρείαν ἐπαινετὴν ἀπεργάζεται· καλὸν δ᾿ ὅτι συμμέτρως ἔχει πρὸς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ χρείαν· ὠφέλιμον δ᾿ ὅτι τοιοῦτόν ἐστιν ὥστε ὠφελεῖν· αἱρετὸν δ᾿ ὅτι τοιοῦτόν ἐστιν ὥστε εὐλόγως αὐτὸ αἱρεῖσθαι· δίκαιον δ᾿ ὅτι νόμῳ ἐστὶ σύμφωνον καὶ κοινωνίας ποιητικόν.
On Cleanthes' list see A.C. Pearson, ed., The Fragments of Zeno and Cleanthes (London: C.J. Clay and Sons, 1891), pp. 299-301, and Édouard des Places, "Épithètes et attributs de la Sagesse (Sg 7,22-23 et SVF I 557 Arnim)," Biblica 57.3 (1976) 414-419, both of whom cite Diogenes Laertius. On virtue and vice lists (Tugendkataloge, Lasterkataloge) generally see David E. Aune, "Catalogues of vices and virtues," The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), pp. 89-91. A good modern example of a virtue list is the Boy Scout Law.


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