Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 74
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participation in said competition. While libertines do engage in games and competitions with
one another, the only players in Horner's game who know and make the rules is Horner. The
others do not realize they are competing with Horner and therefore, cannot reciprocate with him.
Like Don John of Thomas Shadwell's The Libertine, Wycherley's Horner cannot completely fit
the construction of friendship proposed by Aristotle and that influenced many of his
successors-e.g., Michel de Montaigne in his "On Friendship" where he articulates his esteem
for male, homosocial friendships and his belief that women are incapable of "so tight and durable
a knot" (60)-especially the type he labels "perfect friendship" -the optimal type of friendship
(Aristotle 196). Aristotle writes:
Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue; for those
wish well alike to each other qua good, and they are good in themselves. Now those who
wish well to their friends for their sake are most truly friends; for they do this by reason
of their own nature and not incidentally; therefore their friendship lasts as long as they
are good-and goodness is an enduring thing. (Aristotle 196)
This idea of "perfect friendship" can only develop between good men who are "alike in virtue"
and Horner, while not as void of morality and as evil as men like Don John, is hardly a paragon
of virtue (196). According to the Aristotelian strain, a "perfect friendship" is impossible for
Horner since both parties must embody virtue. Aristotle continues his definition of perfect
friendship and identifies it as rare and "infrequent" because it requires constant attention, work,
and commitment (197).
While Wycherley's Horner is committed to maintaining friendships with men and
endorses both Cavalier and Aristotelian ideals of friendship, his willingness to devote time and
energy primarily to fulfilling his base needs and desires with women contradicts his claim to
uphold the friendship theories he endorses. As a supposed eunuch, Horner persuades his fellow
Cavaliers that he embodies the "perfect friend," implicitly a Cavalier friend, who has unwavering
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/80/?q=rochester: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .