Religion Past and Present

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(520 words)

[German Version]

In antiquity gratiam referre as a retributive obligation after receiving a benefaction was considered a fundamental principle of justice; it was an absolute duty, for which a regular casuistry could be developed (Seneca, De beneficiis; Cicero, De officiis). In line with the maxim that “virtue makes itself known more in rendering a benefaction than in receiving it,” Aristotle focused less on thanks than on an action that generates the thanks of others as an expression of one’s own superiority. Thus the high-minded man…

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Wannenwetsch, Bernd, “Thanks”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 19 July 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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