This is the first line of Francis Bacon’s essay Of Friendship. The author quotes here Aristotle’s view on solitude and adds his own comment on the same.
In one of his oft-quoted sayings, the great Greek master Aristotle makes a pointed observation on solitude. In his view, one who finds delight in solitude must be either a beast of wilderness or a god. What he emphasizes is that only fierce, violent beasts or divine beings prefer to dwell in solitude. Bacon, however, does not fully agree with his great predecessor’s opinion. He, on the other hand, contends that Aristotle’s opinion is partly true and partly false. There is not the least doubt that the person who finds pleasure in solitude has hardly any human entity. He is almost a beast in his cruel, selfish mentality. But Bacon refuses to admit him as a divine power. After all, love for solitude is no mark of divinity, although there may be an indication of aversion to human society. A lover of solitude is eager to keep himself aloof from others, because he needs concentrated meditation. His desire for spiritual elevation requires silence and solitude. So he leaves human society and goes to a sequestered place to attain his objective. He is here, however, no divine figure.
Bacon’s beginning has a dramatic force, although this appears somewhat abrupt. His opinion on solitude marks his rational approach, just as his criticism of Aristotle’s view bears out his intellectual and pragmatic outlook.