The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Montaigne 1.41

For, as Cicero says, the very men who combat it [scil. the desire for honour] still desire that the books they write about it shall bear their names on their titles, and endeavour to derive glory from the contempt of glory. All other things become interchangeable: we lend our goods and our lives to our friends’ needs; but to communicate one’s honour and bestow one’s glory on another, that is rarely seen.

—Montaigne (‘On not Communicating One’s Honour’, Trechmann, trans.)

It is interesting how the essays are loosely linked, each a wash of faint color adding depth to the self-portrait as a whole, still covering the same ground. The habit of desiring glory for oneself and one’s deeds – what one would now perhaps call ‘credit’ – has not, it seems, changed over time, although the annals of history are giving way to account books and quarterly reports. Only two types of people appear ready to disclaim credit: toadies (who hope, by doing so, that their star will rise with their superior’s) and the truly noble in character.


(last revised: 26 January 2023)

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