Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Click here for the text in ancient Greek.]

[image ALT: Faire clic ici pour une page en français.]

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

This webpage reproduces the essay
De invidia et odio


as published in Vol. VII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1959

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

(Vol. VII) Plutarch, Moralia

 p91  On Envy and Hate


The work appears in pp91‑107 of Vol. VII of the Loeb Classical Library's edition of the Moralia, first published in 1959. The Greek text and the English translation (by Phillip H. De Lacy and Benedict Einarson) are now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright expired in 1987 and was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been that year or the year before. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

 p92  Loeb Edition Introduction

Envy was called the worst of evils.​1 It is common in Plutarch's lists of undesirable passions,​2 and in the De Vitioso Pudore (529B) he speaks of the philosopher removing from a young man's soul. Its resemblance to hate is great enough to allow the envious to disguise their envy under that name (537E, infra). As the flatterer who disguises himself as a friend by means of the "similarities" is exposed by means of the "differences" (51D), so here, after briefly presenting the similarity of envy to hate, Plutarch spends the rest of the essay in exposing the differences.

That his theme is envy, rather than hate, can be seen from the language. The very title gives envy precedence; and the word is twice omitted as not needing explicit mention (536E, 538D).3

Nearly everywhere in the essay Plutarch agrees with Aristotle, and doubtless used him, perhaps in part indirectly. In the Rhetoric (II.4.30, 1381 B37 f.) Aristotle says, after discussing friendship, that we  p93 must study hostility and hate in the light of the opposites; and other points in Plutarch's discussion of hatred were doubtless suggested by Aristotle's discussion of friendship in Rhetoric, II.4.1‑29 (1380 B34–1381 B37) and books VIII‑IX of the Nicomachean Ethics. Thus Plutarch calls hatred both a πάθος (536EF, 537E, 538CD) and a διάθεσις (538E; it is a ἕξις in Aristotle: see the note on 538E); its shows a προαίρεσις (538E), and it is found in animals (537B).

The treatise falls into two main parts. In the first the similarities between envy and hate are presented (chapter 1); in the second (chapters 2‑8) the dissimilarities. The origins of the two are different; hatred is directed against both men and brutes, envy confined to men; hatred is found in brutes, envy in man alone; no one is justly envied, many are justly hated; hatred increases with the increasing wickedness of the person hated, envy with the increasing virtue of the person envied; increasing wickedness increases hate, but increasing prosperity extinguishes envy; great misfortune puts an end to envy but not to hate; hate is given up under conditions that either do not put an end to envy or that actually exasperate it; and the aim of hatred is to injure, that of envy to reduce one's neighbour to equality with oneself.

We have found no evidence for the date. The essay with translated into Latin by Niccolò Perotti​4 and by H. Stephanus. It is not included in the catalogue of Lamprias.

The text is based on LC y HU. Occasionally α, s, nBr, and AE are quoted for conjectures.

 p95  (536) 1 1 On the following view it​5 is thought to differ not at all from hate, but to be the same. Thus one may say in general that vice, like a line with many hooks, as it moves to and fro with the passions attached to it, gives them occasion to form many connexions and entanglements one another; Fand that it is with the passions​6 as with diseases: when one becomes inflamed the other does. Thus it is the fortunate man that is a source of pain to one who feels hate as well as to one who feels envy. Hence we consider goodwill to be contrary to both, as it is the wish for one's neighbour's prosperity;​7 and hatred and envy to be the same, since their aim is the contrary to that of friendship. But since similarities do not so surely make for sameness as dissimilarities make for difference, we shall endeavour to settle the question by examining the latter, noting first the origin of the two passions.

2 1 Now hate arises from a notion that the person hated is bad either in general or toward oneself.8  p97 537Thus it is men's nature to hate when they think they have been wronged themselves; and again men reprobate and view with disgust all who in any other way are given to wrongdoing​9 or wickedness. Whereas to attract envy all that is required is apparent prosperity.​10 Hence it would appear that no bounds are set to envy, which, like sore eyes,​11 is disturbed by everything resplendent;​12 whereas hate has bounds and is in every case directed against particular subjects.

3 1 In the second place, even irrational animals may be objects of hate: some people hate weasels, beetles, toads, or snakes. Germanicus​13 could not abide the sound or sight of a cock; and the Persian magi killed water mice,​14 Bnot only because they personally hated them, but because they felt that God regarded the animal as offensive; thus nearly all Arabs and Ethiopians loathe it. But envy occurs only between man and man.

4 1 In animals it is not likely that envy of one another arises,​15 as they have no notion of another's good or ill fortune, nor are they affected by glory or disgrace, things by which envy is most exasperated.16  p99 But there is mutual hatred, hostility,​17 and what might be called truceless war between eagles and snakes,​18 crows and owls,​19 titmice and goldfinches; indeed it is said that the blood of these last will not mingle​20 when the animals are killed, Cbut even if you mix it, separates again and runs off in two distinct streams. It is likely, moreover, that in lions the strong hatred of cocks,​21 and in elephants of swine,​22 has been engendered by fear; for what they fear they naturally hate as well.​23 Here, too, therefore, envy is seen to differ from hate, as animal nature admits the one but not the other.

5 1 Again, no one is ever envied with justice,​24 as no one is unjust in being fortunate, and it is for good fortune that men are envied. On the other hand, many are hated with justice, Das those we call "deserving of hate"; and we censure others when they fail to shun such persons and to feel loathing and disgust for them. Good evidence of this is the circumstance  p101 that while some confess that they hate a good many people, there is no one that they will say they envy. Indeed hatred of wickedness is among the things we praise;​25 and when certain persons praised Charillus, Lycurgus' nephew, who was king of Sparta, but a mild and gentle man, his colleague remarked: "How can you call Charillus a good man, when he is not even severe with scoundrels?"​26 And whereas Homer was very detailed and circumstantial in his description of Thersites' bodily deformity, Ehe expressed the viciousness of his character very succinctly and in a single statement:

Most hateful he to Achilles and Odysseus.​27

For it is a kind of extreme of baseness to be hateful to the best men. But men deny​28 that they envy as well; and if you show that they do, they allege any number of excuses and say they are angry with the fellow or hate him, cloaking and concealing their envy with whatever other name occurs to them for their passion, implying that among the disorders of the soul it is alone unmentionable.29

6 1 Now these passions, like plants, must also feed and grow with what produces them.​30 They are consequently intensified by different things. Thus while  p103 our hatred increases as the hated progress in vice, Fenvy on the other hand increases with the apparent progress of the envied in virtue.​31 This explains why when Themistocles was still a youth he said that he was doing nothing remarkable, as he was not yet envied.​32 For just as beetles appear most of all in grain when it is ripe for harvest and in roses when they are in full bloom, so envy fastens most of all on characters and persons that are good and increasing in virtue and fame. In contrast unredeemed villainies intensify hate. At any rate, those who brought false charges against Socrates, 538 being held to have received the limit of baseness, were so hated and shunned by their countrymen that no one would lend them light for a fire, answer their questions, or bathe in the same water, but made the attendants pour it out as polluted, until the men hanged themselves, finding the hatred unendurable.​33 On the other hand supreme and resplendent good fortune often extinguishes envy.​34 For it is hardly likely that anyone envied Alexander or Cyrus when they had prevailed and become masters of the world. But just as the sun, when it stands directly over a man's head, pouring down its light, Beither quite obliterates his shadow​35 or makes it small,  p105 so when good fortune attains great elevation and comes to stand high over envy, then envy diminishes and withdraws, being overcome by the blaze of glory.​36 Hate, however, is not made to relent by the preeminence and power of one's enemies. Alexander certainly had none who envied, but many who hated him, and it was these who plotted against him and killed him in the end.​37 So too with misfortunes: they put a stop to envy but not to hate, for men hate even their humbled enemies,​38 whereas no one envies the unfortunate. CRather it is a true remark of a certain sophist​39 of our day that those who envy take the greatest delight in pitying. Here too, therefore, there is a great difference between the two passions, since it is the nature of hate to depart from neither the fortunate nor the unfortunate, whereas envy is no longer sustained when either fortune is at its height.40

7 1 Again — or rather this is what we have just been doing —, let us examine the same principle in its negative aspect. Men forgo hostility and hate either when convinced that no injustice is being done them, or when they adopt the view that those they hated as evil are good, or thirdly when they have received from them some benefit, "for the final service," as Thucydides​41 says, "though small, if opportunely bestowed, wipes out a greater disservice." DNow the first of these circumstances does not wipe out envy; for men feel it though persuaded from the first that no injustice is being done them.​42 The other two actually  p107 exasperate it: for enviers eye more jealously those who enjoy a reputation for goodness, feeling that they possess the greatest blessing, virtue; and even if they receive some benefit from the fortunate, are tormented,​43 envying them for both the intention and the power. For the intention proceeds from their virtue, the power from their good fortune, and both are blessings. It is therefore quite distinct from hate, if what soothes the one torments and embitters the other.

8 1 Let us therefore now take the intention of each of the two passions and examine it by itself. The intention of the hater is to injure,​44 Eand the meaning of hate is thus defined: it is a certain disposition and intention​45 awaiting the opportunity to injure.​46 In envy this, at any rate, is absent. For there are many of their intimates and connexions​47 that the envious would not be willing to see destroyed​48 or suffer misfortune, although tormented by their good fortune; and while they abridge their fame and glory if they can, they would not, on the other hand, afflict them with irreparable calamities, but as with a house towering above their own, are content to pull down the part that casts them in the shade.49

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Cf. Euripides, Ino (Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Eur. 403); Menander, frag. 538.6 (vol. II, p178 Körte); and Galen, De Affectuum Dignotione, chap. vii.2.

2 Cf. for example Mor. 61E, 455C, 459B, 462C,º 468B, 475E, 481D, 501B.º

3 Note the language used in comparing the two: envy is said to differ (cf. 537C, 538D) from hate (or to be the same with it, as at 536F); we do not hear of hate differing from envy. Envy is similarly emphasized at the expense of hate by the omission of μέν at 537A.

4 Cf. G. Mercati, Per la cronologia della vita e degli scritti di Niccolò Perotti, arcivescovo di Siponto (Studi e testi, 44, Rome, 1925), pp34‑35.

5 Envy.

6 Aristotle calls envy and hate passions: Eth. Nic. II.5.2 (1105 B21‑23).

7 Cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nic. VIII.2.3 (1155 B31‑32), VIII.6.1 (1158 A7‑8), IX.5.3 (1167 A8‑9); Andronicus, περὶ παθῶν, VI.2A (von Arnim, Stoicorum Vet. Frag. III.432, p105).

8 Cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, II.4.31 (1382 A4‑7).

9 Cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, II.1.4 (1378 A1‑3).

10 Cf. Mor. 39E; Aristotle, Eth. Nic. II.7.15 (1108 B3‑5); Cicero, De Oratore, II.52 (210), Tusc. Disput. IV.7 (16), that is, von Arnim, Stoicorum Vet. Frag. III.415, p101; "invidentiam esse dicunt aegritudinem susceptam propter alterius res secundas, quae nihil noceant invidenti" (cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, II.9.3, 1386 B20‑25); Magna Moralia, I.27.2 (1192 B24‑26).

11 Cf. Philodemus, περὶ κακιῶν Liber Decimus, col. xii.15 (ed. Jensen).

12 Cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Adespota, 547.12 (p947).

13 Cf. Olympiodorus, In Plat. Phaedon. Comm. p156.26 f. (ed. Norvin).

14 Cf. Mor. 369F, 670D, and J. Bidez and F. Cumont, Les Mages hellénisés, II (Paris, 1938), p75, note 11. For attempts to identify the animal cf. Sir D'Arcy W. Thompson, A Glossary of Greek Fishes, pp166‑168. E. H. Warmington suggests that it is the water-shrew or water-vole or both.

15 But cf. Mor. 961D.

16 Cf. Cicero, De Oratore, II.51 (208).

17 For friendship among animals cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nic. VIII.1.3 (1155 A18 f.), and the Eudemian Ethics, VII.2.17 (1236 B6‑10) and VII.2.53 (1238 A32 f.).

18 Cf. Aristotle, Hist. Animal. IX.1.10 (609 A4).

19 Cf. ibid. (609 A8); Aelian, Nat. Animal. V.48.

20 Cf. Aristotle, Hist. Animal. IX.1.22 (610 A6‑8); Aelian, Nat. Animal. X.32; Pliny, N. H. X.74 (205); Antigonus, Mir. chap. 114.

21 Cf. Mor. 981E; Lucretius, IV.710‑713; Pliny, N. H. VIII.19 (52); X.21 (47); Sextus Empiricus, Pyrrh. Hyp. I.58; Aelian, Nat. Animal. III.31, VI.22 VIII.28 XIV.9; pseudo-Alexander Aphrodisiensis, Probl. I (p4.22 f., ed. Ideler); Ambrose, Hexaem. VI.4 (26); Geoponica, II.42.3, XV.1.9; Aristophanes, Hist. Animal. Epit. II.155 (p75.5, ed. Lambros).

Thayer's Note: Similar things are asserted of many pairs of animal species; some of them must be true. See these timorous cock-hating lions and other curiosities in Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, III.xxvii.6‑7 and the notes there.

22 Cf. Mor. 981E; Seneca, De IraII.11; Pliny, N. H. VIII.9 (27); Aelian, Nat. Animal. I.38VIII.28 XVI.36; Horapollo, II.86; Polyaenus, IV.6.3; Georgius Pisides, Hexaem. 963 f.; Aristophanes, Hist. Animal. Epit. II.106‑107 (p60.20‑22, ed. Lambros); and Suidas, s.v. κεκραγμόν.

23 Cf. Stobaeus, Anth. IV.7.20 (p254.3 Hense).

24 Cf. Plato, Philebus, 49 D1; Eudemian Ethics, III.7.12 (1234 A30); Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag., Adespota, 532, and Hippothoön, Frag. 2 (ibid. p827).

25 Cf. Mor. 451D‑E and [Aristotle], De Virt. et Vit. 1250 B23 f.

26 Cf. Mor. 55E, 218B, 452D, and Life of Lycurgus, chap. v.9 (42D).

27 Il. II.220, quoted also in Mor. 30A.

28 Cf. Arrian, Epict. II.21.3.

29 Cf. Basil, De Invidia, 92A.

30 Cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nic. II.2.8 (1104 A27 f.).

31 In 537A it was prosperity that excited envy. But virtue is the greatest blessing (cf. 538D, infra), and there is no greater prosperity than the possession of it.

32 Cf. Hippasos, Frag. 6 (Diels and Kranz, Frag. d. Vorsokratiker6, I, p109.1‑3); Kock, Com. Att. Frag., Adespota, 385.

33 Conflicting stories of the fate of Anytus and Meletus are found in Diogenes Laert. II.43, VI.9‑10; Diodorus, XIV.37.7; and Themistius, Or. 20 (239C). Plutarch's story illustrates Aristotle, Eth. Nic. IX.4.8 (1166 B11‑13).

34 Cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, II.10.5 (1388 A11 f.).

35 For envy as the shadow of glory cf. Stobaeus, Anth. III.38.35 (p715.15‑18 Hense).

36 Cf. Plutarch, Frag. xxiii.2 Bernardakis.

37 Cf. Life of Alexander, chap. lxxvii (707A).º

38 Cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, II.4.31 (1382 A14).

39 Unidentified.

40 Cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, II.10.5 (1388 A11 f.).

41 I.42.3.

42 Cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, II.9.3 (1386 B20‑25), and Cicero, Tusc. Disput. IV.8 (17).

43 Cf. Basil, De Invidia, 93C.

44 Cf. Mor. 87B; Aristotle, Rhetoric, II.4.31 (1382 A8); Diogenes Laert. VII.113 (von Arnim, Stoicorum Vet. Frag. III.396, p96): μῖσος δέ ἐστιν ἐπιθυμία τις τοῦ κακῶς εἶναί τινι μετὰ προκοπῆς τινος καὶ παρατάσεως.

45 Thus Aristotle speaks of an "intention" in friendship and says that the intention proceeds from a "habit": Eth. Nic. VIII.5.4 (1157 B29‑31); cf. Eudemian Ethics, VII.2.35 (1237 A33 f.).

46 For "awaiting the opportunity to injure" cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, II.5.8 (1382 B10 f.), and the Stoic definition of κότος (von Arnim, Stoicorum Vet. Frag. III.395, 397, 398, pp96.17 and 42 and 97.25 f.), which was suggested, like that of χόλος, by Homer, Il. I.81‑83.

47 For friends as the object of envy cf. Plato, Philebus, 48 B11, 49 D6, 50 A2‑3, the Definitions, 416.13, and Xenophon, Mem. III.ix.8.

48 Cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, II.4.31 (1382 A15).

49 Cf. Xenophon, Mem. III.ix.8 and Chrysippus definition of envy (Mor. 1046B‑C).

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 11 Mar 18