26 October 2006

Charles Young on Aristotelian "Grace"

I wish to consider next a curious passage from Charles Young's essay, "Aristotle's Justice", also in the Kraut anthology which I have been examining.

Young takes a passing comment of Aristotle and finds within it a full doctrine of "Aristotelian grace". But does he do so with a good basis, or only through distortion?

Here is Young's translation of the relevant text:

For people seek to return both evil for evil (if they cannot, it seems to be slavery) and good for good, since otherwise exchange does not occur ... This is why people put up shrines to the Graces in prominent places: that there shall be paying back. For what is special about grace is that it's gracious for one who has been shown favor to do a kindness in return, and for him to go first in showing favor next time out (V.5.1132b33-1134a5)
Now, if you are like me, given what we have seen in Meyer's and Whiting's essays, you will be curious about the ellipsis--especially since that missing content immediately precedes the etiology ("this is why...") which is the focus of Young's attention.

The Greek is as follows, but I shall provide a fuller context for the passage. The passage that Young translates I'll highlight in blue.

a)ll' e0n me\n tai=j koinwni/aij tai=j a)llaktikai=j sune/xei to_ toiou~ton di/kaion, to_ a)ntipeponqoj kat' a)nalogi/an kai\ mh_ kat' i0so&thta. tw|~ a)ntipoiei=n gar a)na&logon summe/nei h( po&lij. h2 ga_r to_ kakw~j zhtou~sin: ei0 de\ mh&, doulei/a dokei= ei]nai [ei0 mh_ a)ntipoih&sei]: h2 to_ eu}: ei0 de\ mh&, meta&dosij ou) gi/netai, th|~ metado&sei de\ summe/nousin. dio_ kai\ Xari/twn i9ero_n e0mpodw_n poiou~ntai, i3n' a)ntapo&dosij h|}: tou~to ga_r i1dion xa&ritoj: a)nquphreth~sai ga_r dei= tw|~ xarisame/nw|, kai\ pa&lin au)to_n a1rcai xarizo&menon.

And here is Ross, for a comparison:
But in associations for exchange this sort of justice does hold men together-reciprocity in accordance with a proportion and not on the basis of precisely equal return. For it is by proportionate requital that the city holds together. Men seek to return either evil for evil-and if they cannot do so, think their position mere slavery-or good for good-and if they cannot do so there is no exchange, but it is by exchange that they hold together. This is why they give a prominent place to the temple of the Graces-to promote the requital of services; for this is characteristic of grace-we should serve in return one who has shown grace to us, and should another time take the initiative in showing it.
That's the text. In subsequent posts I'll say what seems to me perhaps misleading in Young's treatment of this passage, and I'll give his remarks also on Aristotelian 'grace'.