On true and false friendship

You sent a letter to me through the hand of a "friend" of yours, as you call him. And in your very next sentence you warn me not to discuss with him all the matters that concern you, saying that even you yourself are not accustomed to do this; in other words, you have in the same letter affirmed and denied that he is your friend.

If you used this word of in the popular sense, and called him "friend" in the same way in which we speak of candidates for political office as "honourable gentlemen," and as we greet all whom we meet casually, whose name we have forgotten at the moment, with the salutation, "My Dear ..." - so be it.

But if you consider any man a friend whom you do not trust as you trust yourself, you are mistaken and you do not fully understand what true friendship means. Indeed, I would have you discuss everything with a friend; but first of all discuss the man himself. Before a friendship is formed, you must judge, after the friendship is settled, you must trust. Those persons who put the cart before the horse, violate the rules of Theophrastus, judging a man after they have made him their friend, instead of making him their friend after they have judged him. Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul.

- Seneca

Image nabbed from here.


emmie johnson said…
Love the post. True, its best to judge a man before making him your friend whereas it is unfair to judge a friend.
Peep into my blog on friendship greeting cards for some beautiful e-greeting cards and friendly tips.
Basically this is true and I think we all do this without thinking...but there's the odd time when we pre-judged against making friends and they turned out to be good friends..vice-versa too, when people we thought would be good friends turne out not to be. Sometimes you just have to try it out and see if they meet your expectations of what a good friend is.
KayMac said…
Great post! Wise wise words!
RennyBA said…
A good friend of mine always says: "Good friends and wild flowers always comes back!"
b said…
Wow...I really took this to heart, Richard. It is very compelling. I think I should heed this advice with intimate relationships as well, although where my heart is concerned...I find it incredibly difficult to be prudent.
TorAa said…
Old truths are still valid. The Nature of the Human has not changed much, only the technology, to the better and worse, depending on true or false friend or brothers as others says.

Have a nice week
vina said…
hi richard, it's been a while.

how's your mom?
I will definitely welome you with all my heart and soul. A friend you are, and a friend indeed.
Richard said…
emmie johnson: thanks for dropping by. You seem to to be a very avid collector of things friendship. Good for you!

MOI: I think he is arguing that we should be careful in whom we call friend. Try them, test them, and if they are found worthy, then call them friend. I don't think he is advocating making snap decisions about who should or should not be a friend.

kaymac: Seneca wrote some very beautiful letters. If you can find a copy of Seneca's Letter's From a Stoic I would recommend picking it up.

rennyba: I definitely know weeds keep coming back ;-)

breal: I always thought it was commonsense advice. Of course, in an ideal world, we wouldn't need to take such precautions, because everyone would be honest and forthright and trustworthy.

toraa: I don't think people have changed much. One only needs to read Njal's Saga to see that.

But ... on the other hand ... Western societies are generally more genteel than societies of the past.

vina: yes, it has been a while. Hopefully, you ar emanaging to sort out your life. My mother is dead. She died four days after her 63rd birthday.

elvina: I have not doubt, you have always been enthusiastic towards me.
busybee said…
A friend is a lover, literally. The relationship between Latin amcus "friend" and am "I love" is clear, as is the relationship between Greek philos "friend" and phile "I love." In English, though, we have to go back a millennium before we see the verb related to friend. At that time, frond, the Old English word for "friend," was simply the present participle of the verb fron, "to love." The Germanic root behind this verb is *fr-, which meant "to like, love, be friendly to." Closely linked to these concepts is that of "peace," and in fact Germanic made a noun from this root, *frithu-, meaning exactly that. Ultimately descended from this noun are the personal names Frederick, "peaceful ruler," and Siegfried, "victory peace." The root also shows up in the name of the Germanic deity Frigg, the goddess of love, who lives on today in the word Friday, "day of Frigg," from an ancient translation of Latin Veneris dis, "day of Venus."

- http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/friend
Richard said…
bee: I am sure I deserve that after some of the pedantic comments I have left you. Hmmm ... I always thought Friday came from Freya (the Norse goddess). Nice to finally understand that veneris led to the various forms of Friday in the Latin languages (vendredi in French, viernes in Spanish). In Polish it is piÄ…tek (roughly meaning "the fifth").
busybee said…
your comments are usually quite thoughts-provoking.... keep commenting. :)
freckled-one said…
So true... Sometimes I tend to be a bad judge of friendship until it's too late so I've learned to wait and see before I can put all of my trust into them. I have plenty of friends but only one person I tell everything, and sometimes one is all you need.

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