Summary and Analysis Book I: Chapter X



There is an old saying that we should call no man happy as long as he is alive. This is a paradox because it implies that a man can be happy after he is dead. The words also imply that happiness is subject to the changes experienced in life, but we believe that happiness and virtue are permanent, stable things. In the long run true nobility and virtue can endure all the vicissitudes of fortune. In the face of life's most bitter sorrows, the virtuous and happy man will continue to be virtuous and will endure hardship with resigned dignity. Although it is true that to a certain extent external goods are necessary for happiness, their absence or loss will not make the happy man unhappy. He will always be able to make the best of whatever happens.

It is now possible to define the happy man as one who realizes in action a goodness that is complete and that is adequately furnished with external goods, and that not for a limited period but for a complete lifetime, who lives virtuously and whose death is not inconsistent with his life.