In the words of Joyce Carol Oates as quoted by Ronald Sharp:” Everyone knows about love. Romantic love, married love, adulterous love: happy love affairs, unhappy ones. Everyone knows about love, no one knows about friendship”. (1) It is interesting to note that loneliness being one of the hallmarks of modern living, many modern great writers and photospheres have not given serious thought to friendship in their writings. Why is friendship such unimportant subject in modern fiction, poetry and essay? Recent writing has largely ignored friendship. In contrast classical writers engaged in open discussion on the subject of friendship and made subtle distinctions on the varieties available and treated also the opposite of friendship, namely enmity, in their writings.
Montaigne makes a clear distinction between friendships. In his thinking there are levels of friendships. He uses the technique of contrast to present sharply his idea of true friendship. There are imperfect friendships, which he calls “fellowships”. Borrowing an image from painting Montaigne labors at length to project the true beauty of friendship, which stands clearly demarked among images of the “grotesque”. Montaignes famous essay "On Friendship" (1580) is a true source book on the idea of friendship. The essay cites Aristotle, Cicero, Horace, Catullus, and Plutarch.
Though the essay concerns about his friendship with a young Huguenot, Estienne de la Boetie, the essay is surprising in its modernity, especially its relevance to contemporary moral issues. Is the argument of Montaigne on friendship in essential accord with Aristotle, or is there something new? According to Aristotle the highest act of friendship is not just the friends themselves, but in their direct relation to truth. We are quick to notice the similarity between the thinking of Aristotle and that of Montaigne.But this similarity we feel is somewhat deceptive. While Montaigne gives the name of