On Benefits Book III, XII

Some benefits cost much to the givers, some are of much value to the receivers but cost the givers nothing.

Some are bestowed upon friends, others on strangers: now although that which is given be the same, yet it becomes more when it is given to one with whom you are beginning to be acquainted through the benefits which you have previously conferred upon him.

One man may give us help, another distinctions, a third consolation.

You may find one who thinks nothing pleasanter or more important than to have someone to save him from distress; you may again find one who would rather be helped to great place than to security; while some consider themselves more indebted to those who save their lives than to those who save their honour.

Each of these services will be held more or less important, according as the disposition of our judge inclines to one or the other of them.

Besides this, I choose my creditors for myself, whereas I often receive benefits from those from whom I would not, and sometimes I am laid under an obligation without my knowledge.

What will you do in such a case?

When a man has received a benefit unknown to himself, and which, had he known of it, he would have refused to receive, will you call him ungrateful if he does not repay it, however he may have received it?

Suppose that someone has bestowed a benefit upon me, and that the same man has afterwards done me some wrong; am I to be bound by his one bounty to endure with patience any wrong that he may do me, or will it be the same as if I had repaid it, because he himself has by the subsequent wrong cancelled his own benefit?

How, in that case, would you decide which was the greater; the present which the man has received, or the injury which has been done him?

Time would fail me if I attempted to discuss all the difficulties which would arise.