851. habet autem aliquam rationem boni in quantum est utilis humanae vitae: sicut enim homo indiget a corporalibus laboribus interdum desistendo quiescere, ita etiam indiget ut ab intentione animi qua rebus seriis homo intendit interdum anima hominis requiescat, quod quidem fit per ludum. Et ideo dicit quod, cum sit quaedam requies hominis ab anxietate sollicitudinum in hac vita et in conversatione humana per ludum et sic ludus habet rationem boni utilis, consequens est quod in ludis possit esse quaedam conveniens collocutio hominum ad invicem, ut scilicet homo dicat et audiat qualia oportet et sicut oportet; et tamen in talibus multum differt dicere et audire, multa enim aliquis homo decenter audit, quae non decenter diceret. Ubicumque autem est differentia eorum quae oportet fieri et eorum quae non oportet, ibi non solum est medium, sed etiam superabundantia et defectus a medio. Unde circa ludum contingit esse medium virtutis et extrema.
851. But amusement does have an aspect of good, inasmuch as it is useful for human living. As man sometimes needs to give his body rest from labors, so also he sometimes needs to rest his soul from the mental strain that ensues from his application to serious affairs. This is done by amusement. For this reason, Aristotle says that, since there should be some relaxation for man from the anxieties and cares of human living and social intercourse by means of amusement—thus amusement has the aspect of useful good—it follows that, in amusement, there can be a certain agreeable association of men with one another, so they may say and hear such things as are proper and in the proper way. Yet, in matters of this kind, talking and listening are very different, for a man properly listens to things he could not properly say. But wherever difference exists between the things that ought to be done and those that ought not to done, there is found not only a mean but also excess and defect in regard to this mean. Hence, we have a virtuous mean and extremes concerned with amusement.
852. Deinde cum dicit: qui quidem in derisione etc., determinat de medio et extremis.
852. At people who engage (1128a4), he considers the mean and the extremes.
Et primo ostendit quid sit circa unumquodque eorum;
First, he speaks about the nature of each habit;
secundo ostendit quid unicuique eorum conveniat, ibi: medio autem habitui etc.
second, at tact belongs (1128a16; ), he shows what is proper to each habit.
Circa primum tria facit:
He discusses the first point in a threefold manner:
primo ostendit quid sit medium et extremum in ludo;
first, he explains what the mean and the extremes in amusement are;
secundo ostendit quod hoc pertineat ad diversitatem morum, ibi: moris enim etc.;
second, at actions of this kind (1128a10; ), he shows that they belong to a difference of character;
tertio ostendit quod quandoque extremum accipitur pro medio, ibi: redundante autem risu etc.
third, at since laughter is quite (1128a12; ), he discloses that the extreme is sometimes taken for the mean.
Circa primum tria facit.
He treats this first point from three aspects.
Primo ostendit quid pertineat ad superabundantiam. Et dicit quod illi qui superabundant in derisione ludi dicuntur bomolochi, id est raptores templi, ad similitudinem milvorum qui volabant circa templum ut raperent intestina animalium immolatorum; ita et isti insidiantur ad hoc quod possint aliquid rapere quod convertant in derisionem; et ideo tales sunt onerosi, quia desiderant undecumque facere risum, ad quod magis student quam ad hoc quod dicant aliqua decora, id est honesta, et quod non turbent illum cui ingerunt convicium ex ludo: magis enim volunt dicere aliqua turpia vel ex quibus alii turbentur quam quod non inducant homines ad risum.
In the beginning, he shows what belongs to excess, saying that those who indulge excessively in playful derision are bomolochi, or temple plunderers, because of a resemblance to birds of prey who used to fly over the temple to pounce upon the entrails of sacrificed animals. In that way, these people lie in wait so they can pounce upon something to turn into a laugh. On this account, persons of this kind are a nuisance because they want to make laughter out of everything. They make more effort to do this than to engage in becoming or polite conversation and avoid disturbing the man they heap with playful reproach. They would rather tell scandalous stories, even at the risk of offending others, than not cause men to laugh.
853. Secundo ibi: qui autem neque ipsi etc., ostendit quid sit vitium per defectum. Et dicit quod illi qui neque volunt dicere aliquid ridiculum et molesti sunt illis qui dicunt, dum ex hoc irrationabiliter turbantur, videntur esse agrii, id est agrestes, et duri, quasi qui non emolliantur delectatione ludi.
853. Second, at on the other hand (1128a7), he explains the nature of the vice by defect, stating that men who never want to say anything funny and are disagreeable to the people who do (these being reasonably disturbed) seem to be uncultured or boorish and coarse, like those who are not mellowed by amusing recreation.
854. Tertio ibi: moderate autem ludentes etc., ostendit quid sit medium in ludo. Et dicit quod illi qui moderate se habent in ludis vocantur eutrapeli, quasi bene vertentes, quia scilicet ea quae dicuntur vel fiunt convenienter in risum convertunt.
854. Third, at but men indulging (1128a9), he explains the nature of the mean in amusement, saying that men who devote themselves to amusement in moderation are called witty (eutrapeli), or good at turning (as it were), because they becomingly give an amusing turn to what is said and done.
855. Deinde cum dicit: moris enim etc., ostendit quod praedicta pertineant ad diversitatem morum. Et dicit quod praedicti motus, scilicet quod aliquis velit facere risum vel superabundanter vel diminute vel moderate, est quoddam indicium interioris moralis dispositionis; sicut enim per motus corporales exteriores discernuntur interiores corporum dispositiones, ita etiam per exteriores hominum operationes discernuntur interiores mores.
855. Then, at actions of this kind (1128a10), he shows that the actions just mentioned belong to different habits. He says that these movements by which a person wishes to amuse others too much, or too little, or in a moderate way are indications of internal dispositions of habit. As external movements of bodies clearly indicate their internal dispositions, so external actions manifest internal characters.
856. Deinde cum dicit: redundante autem risu etc., ostendit quomodo extremum quandoque sumitur pro medio. Et dicit quod, quia risus ad multos redundat et multi sunt qui magis quam oportet delectantur in ludo et in hoc quod dicant aliis convicia iocosa, inde est quod apud eos bomolochi vocantur eutrapeli, quia sunt eis gratiosi; superabundant enim in ludo, quem plures hominum superabundanter diligunt. Differunt tamen non parum bomolochi ab eutrapelis, ut ex supra dictis patet.
856. At since laughter is quite (1128a12), he explains how the extreme sometimes is taken for the mean. He says that many people bubble over with laughter and take more pleasure than they should in jest and in joking reproach of others. Hence, they give the name witty to buffoons who please them by excessive indulgence in jest, which the majority of men love immoderately. Nevertheless, as is clear from what was said before [852–4], buffoons are quite different from witty people.
857. Deinde cum dicit: medio autem habitui etc., ostendit quid proprie pertineat ad praedictos habitus.
857. Next, at tact belongs (1128a16), he shows what properly belongs to the preceding habits.
Et primo ostendit quid proprie pertineat ad medium virtutis;
First, he explains what is peculiar to the mean of the virtue;
secundo quid ad extremum superabundantiae, ibi: bomolochus autem etc.;
second, at however, the buffoon (1128a33; ), what is proper to the extreme by excess;
tertio quid pertineat ad extremum defectus, ibi: agrios autem etc.
third, at but the lout (1128b1; ), he discloses what pertains to the extreme by defect.
Circa primum duo facit:
He handles the initial point from two aspects.
primo ostendit qualiter se habeat eutrapelus universaliter circa ludum;
First, he shows how the witty person conducts himself in general with reference to fun;
secundo qualiter se habeat specialiter circa convicia iocosa, ibi: et utrum igitur etc.
second, at we must determine (1128a25; ), how he acts especially in friendly banter.
Circa primum tria facit.
He considers this first in a threefold way.
Primo proponit quod ad medium habitum pertinet convenientibus ludis uti. Et dicit quod ad medium habitum huius virtutis pertinet id quod est proprium epydexiotis, id est bene aptati et dispositi ad hoc quod cum hominibus conversetur. Ad talem enim pertinet quod dicat et audiat talia ludicra quae congruant viro modesto et liberali, qui scilicet liberum animum habet a servilibus passionibus.
In the beginning, he brings out that the use of clean fun pertains to the mean habit. He affirms that what is characteristic of a tactful person (epydexiotis)—that is, of a man well-fitted and prepared to engage in conversation with others—belongs to the mean habit of this virtue. It is proper to men of this sort to narrate and listen to such amusing incidents as become a decent and liberal man who possesses a soul free from slavish passions.
858. Secundo ibi: est enim quaedam etc., probat et inducit rationem ad hoc quod dixerat. Quia scilicet ubicumque est invenire aliquid quod decenter fieri potest, hoc pertinet ad virtutem. Sed contingit aliquem ludentem dicere et audire quaedam convenientia; et hoc patet ex differentia ludorum; ludus enim liberalis hominis, qui scilicet intendit propria sponte bonum agere, differt a ludo hominis servilis, qui circa servilia occupatur, et ludus hominis disciplinati, qui scilicet instructus est qualiter debeat ludere, differt a ludo hominis indisciplinati, qui nulla disciplina in ludo refrenatur. Unde manifestum est quod ad medium habitum virtutis pertinet decentia in ludo dicere et audire.
858. Second, at now, the witty person (1128a19), he gives a reason as proof for what he has said: wherever something is found that can be done in a becoming manner, there is a thing that belongs to virtue. But it happens that a witty person says and listens to what is becoming. This is obvious from the different kinds of jest. The jesting of the liberal man who spontaneously strives to act virtuously differs from the jesting of the servile man who is engaged in disreputable activities. The jesting of the cultured man who has been instructed how he should recreate differs from the jesting of the uncultured man who has not been trained by any instruction in jesting. Hence, it is clear that it pertains to the mean habit of virtue to speak and listen to what is becoming in jesting.
859. Tertio ibi: videbit autem utique aliquis etc., inducit quoddam signum ad supra dicta, quod scilicet differat ludus disciplinati et indisciplinati. Et dicit quod hoc maxime apparet considerando tam in veteribus quam in novis comoediis, id est repraesentationibus collocutionum hominum ad invicem. Quia, si alicubi in talibus narrationibus occurreret aliquod turpiloquium, ex hoc quibusdam generabatur derisio dum talia turpia in risum vertebantur, quibusdam vero generabatur suspicio dum scilicet suspicabantur eos qui turpia loquebantur habere aliquod malum in corde. Manifestum est autem quod non parum differt ad honestatem hominis utrum dicat in ludendo turpia vel honesta.
859. Third, at anyone can see (1128a22), he introduces a proof for the previous statement that the jesting of the cultured and the uncultured person differs. This, he says, is particularly evident in considering the conversation of the players with one another in the old and new comedies or plays. The evidence is that, where these narratives in places contain obscene language, some create derision when they turn the obscene words into laughter; but others create a suspicion when they imply that those who were speaking in an obscene manner had evil in their hearts. However, it is obviously of great importance to human decency whether a man in playful conversation speaks obscenely or chastely.
860. Deinde cum dicit: et utrum igitur etc., ostendit qualiter se habeat virtuosus circa convicia iocosa.
860. At we must determine (1128a25), he explains how the virtuous man conducts himself regarding jesting insults.
Et circa hoc tria facit.
On this point, Aristotle does three things.
Primo movet quaestionem, utrum scilicet determinandum sit quod aliquis bene convicietur in ludo ex parte eorum quae dicit, quia scilicet dicit ea quae decet dicere liberalem hominem, id est virtuosum et modestum, vel non determinatur penes hoc bene convicians, sed potius ex parte finis vel effectus, quia scilicet intendit non contristare audientem, vel etiam, quod plus est, intendit eum delectare.
First, he asks the question whether we must decide that a person does well at raillery by reason of the things that he says, namely, because he says what is becomingly said by a liberal man who is virtuous and decent; or decide that he is not determined according to this, but rather by reason of the end or effect, namely, because he aims not to offend his listener (or, what is more, aims to give him pleasure).
861. Secundo ibi: vel et tale quidem etc., respondet quaestioni quantum ad secundum membrum. Et dicit quod hoc est indeterminatum, quid scilicet contristet vel delectet audientem, quia scilicet diversis diversa sunt odibilia et delectabilia, talia autem unusquisque libenter audiet quae sunt sibi delectabilia; illa enim quae aliquis patienter sustinet audire, haec facere videtur, scilicet ingerendo ea aliis, dummodo non intendat eos contristare.
861. Then, at this norm is indefinite, he answers the second part of the question, saying that it is indeterminate what may offend or please the listener, because different things are odious and pleasant to different people. Everyone will gladly listen to what pleases him. And, as long as no offense is intended, a man seems to promote those things that he patiently hears by cooperating in them with others.
862. Tertio ibi: non utique omne etc., ostendit aliquid esse determinatum quantum ad primum membrum, scilicet quantum ad convicia quae dicuntur. Manifestum est enim quod virtuosus non faciet, id est non proponet, omne convicium, quia convicium est quaedam contumelia, dum tale quid in convicio dicitur ex quo homo infamatur, et hoc prohibent dicere legispositores. Sunt autem quaedam convicia quae non prohibent, quae oportet dicere propter delectationem vel propter hominum emendationem, [quae fit] dummodo fiat absque infamia; ille enim qui se habet in conviciando sicut gratiosus et liberalis vir, est sibi ipsi lex, dum scilicet per propriam electionem vitat ea quae lex prohibet et utitur his quae lex concedit.
862. Third, at the virtuous person (1128a28), he shows that something is settled as to the first part, namely, as to affronts that are offered. It is clear that the virtuous man does not make use of every reproach, since reproach is a kind of insult. Besides, legislators forbid the hurling of any insult that defames a man. They do not forbid reproachful remarks that are fittingly uttered for amusement or for a man’s correction (a thing to be managed without loss of good name). That man who acts in a pleasing and polite manner in raillery seems to be a law unto himself, provided that, by his own choice, he avoids the things forbidden by the law and makes use of the things sanctioned by the law.
863. Ultimo autem concludit quod talis qualis dictus est, est medius, sive nominetur epydissius, id est aptus, sive eutrapelus, id est bene vertens.
863. Finally, he comes to the conclusion that the man possessing the mean is such as was described, whether he is called “epidexios,” meaning tactful, or “eutrapelos,” meaning witty.
864. Deinde cum dicit: bomolochus autem etc., determinat de vitio superabundantiae. Et dicit quod bomolochus est minor derisore, quia scilicet derisor intendit aliquem confundere, quod non intendit bomolochus, sed solum intendit risum facere. Et neque recedit a se ipso neque ab aliis, si debeat risum facere, quia scilicet exempla sua et aliorum dicta et facta convertit in risum. Et talia dicit quorum nullum diceret homo gratiosus, id est virtuosus, et quaedam eorum non solum non diceret, sed nec etiam audiret.
864. Next, at however, the buffoon (1128a33), he explains the viciousness of the excess, saying that the buffoon is less vicious than the mocker because the mocker tries to put another to shame while the buffoon does not aim at this, but only at getting a laugh. The latter spares neither himself nor others in attempting to create laughter, since he makes fun both of his own tales and of the sayings and deeds of others. Besides, he says things that a polite and virtuous person would not say, and some that he should not say and should not even listen to.
865. Deinde cum dicit: agrios autem etc., determinat de vitio defectus. Et dicit quod ille qui est agrios, id est agrestis, est inutilis ad tales collocutiones, scilicet ludicras; nihil enim confert ad eas, sed in omnibus contristatur. Et in hoc est vitiosus, dum totaliter abominatur ludum, qui est necessarius ad vitam humanam sicut requies quaedam.
865. Then, at but the lout (1128b1), he treats the vice by defect, saying that the man who is uncultured or boorish is useless at these witty conversations. He contributes nothing to them, but is disagreeable to everyone. He is vicious in that he completely abhors jest, which is necessary for human living as a kind of recreation.
866. Deinde cum dicit: tres igitur etc., ostendit differentiam huius virtutis ad praedictas duas. Et dicit quod tres sunt medietates praedictae in vita humana, quae omnes sunt circa communicationem sermonum et operum. Differunt autem ab invicem quia una earum consistit circa veritatem in dictis vel factis, aliae vero duae circa delectabile. Quarum una consistit circa delectationem quae est in ludis, alia vero consistit circa delectationem quae est in colloquiis quae est secundum aliam vitam, consistentem scilicet in seriis.
866. Next, at in human living (1128b4), he deduces the difference between this virtue and the two previously discussed, stating that, in human life, there are the three median states mentioned, all of which regard communication in words and works. But they differ among themselves, since one of them deals with truthfulness in speech and action while the others pertain to what is pleasing. One of these concerns pleasure taken in amusement; the other concerns pleasure taken in conversation according to our usual way of living, that is, in serious matters.