“For a friend, if he is sympathetic, is a consolation both by his countenance and his words, as he knows our feelings and what grieves and comforts us.” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics IX
The ‘if’ clause is important. Not all the people we call friends are really sympathetic.
What grieves me and what comforts me are evident to me. These things are not evident to others. Only those who make an effort, will really see what grieves and comforts us. When a friend actually does, this is a great gift. In times of sorrow especially, so much is in his face, even without his saying anything. Like a healing salve, a friend is truly present through that face: whether in cherished memory, or in the flesh.
But then come the words; perhaps a few, perhaps a number, but always well-measured, springing from the root of compassion–a suffering-with-me. A friend knows what to say, as a way to buoy and be with me.
And to think that I can do this for others, in turn. May I live in such a way that my own countenance and words can be a consolation to those I hold dear.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher. The Nicomachean Ethics is his main moral treatise.
Image: Anthony van Dyck
“Goodbye Aeneas. Cherish our love in the son it gave us.” Virgil, The Aeneid This stunningly powerful goodbye between spouses says so much. A son, it says, was ‘given’ to a couple by the love they bore one another. Love between spouses is already itself a gift. That...
“And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays. The more the pity that some honest neighbors will not make them friends.” Shakespeare (Bottom, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) Lovers can be notoriously irrational. But is true love...
The bells of this campanile (bell tower) heralded Easter joy to a rural mountain community in Tuscany, as they have for hundreds of years. This Easter may we discover a joy that is more than a passing experience; a joy that endures not just as a backdrop but as the...
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.