On Benefits Book II, XIX


You see that the actual thing itself is not of much importance, because it is not regarded as a benefit at all, if you do good when you intended to do evil; in such a case the benefit is done by chance, the man did harm.

I have seen a lion in the amphitheatre, who recognized one of the men who fought with wild beasts, who once had been his keeper, and protected him against the attacks of the other animals.

Are we, then, to say that this assistance of the brute was a benefit?

By no means, because it did not intend to do it, and did not do it with kindly intentions.

You may class the lion and your tyrant together: each of them saved a man’s life, yet neither conferred a benefit.

Because it is not a benefit to be forced to receive one, neither is it a benefit to be under an obligation to a man to whom we do not wish to be indebted.

You must first give me personal freedom of decision, and then your benefit.