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PHIL104PB_ARTICLE_ONANGER-02%5b1%5d - On Anger Book I...

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Unformatted text preview: On Anger Book I semething to greatness of mind.50 It is not a matter of greatness, bu of morbid enlargement Disease in bodies which bulge with a mass of tainted fluid' 13 not ‘growth’ but pestilential excess. (2) All slow in tearing'theirs?47 (4) What need is there to kick the table over? to smash the goblets? to bang yourself against columns? to tear your hair? to strike your thigh? beat your breast? Surely you see the sheer madness of anger? Since it cannot erupt against others as quickly as it would like, it turns on itself. They have to be held down by their next of kin and begged to make peace with themselves! (5) None of this would be done by a person who is free of anger when imposing a deserved punishment. He often releases a miscreant of proven guilt, if the man’s repentance gives good grounds for hope. If he sees that the wickedness is not deep-seated but on the ‘surface’, as they say, of the soul, he will grant him a remission that can be accepted and granted without harm. (6) Sometimes. {he curbs a major crime lesr» severely than a miner one, if the one is merely a lapse and not an expressibn of ingrained. cruelty,48 while the other conceals a secret, hidden and. hardened craftiness. Two men guilty of the same crime will not be visited with the same penalty, if the one committed it through carelessness, whereas the other took positive care to do harm.- (7) In all punishment at any time, his rule will be that it serves either to reform or to eliminate the Wicked. In either case, he will look not to the past but to the future. (As Plato says,” a man of sense punishes not because 'a crime has been —- but to prevent its being ~— committed; the past, that is, cannot be revoked, but the future is being forestalled.) And those whom he wishes to become an example of wickedness meeting a bad end he will- kill openly, not just so that they may themselves die, but so that. their death may deter others. (8) You. see how anyone with responsibility for weighing and considering these things must be: free from all disturbing emotions as he comes to grips with a matter requiring the utmost care -- the power of life and death. Anger is the wrong trustee for the sword. there 15 nothing solid beneath Ruin awaits what has risen without feundatiOn. Anger has no footing, no firm, lasting base on which 1sei; Windy and void, it is as remote from greatness of mind ash confidence is from courage, as cheek is from assurance or :elty from sternness.5l (3) There is a great difference, I tell you, between a lofty and an arrogant mind. Bad temper achieves nothing imposing or handsome. On the contrary, I think it the mark of a morbid unhappy mind, aware of its own weakness, to be constantly hing, like sore sick bodies which groan at the slightest touch. , ger- is thus a particularly feminine and childish failing. ‘But men, '11,? get .it.’ Yes. For men, too, can have feminine and childish haracters. (4) ‘Tell me, then. Might not some utterances poured out in anger seem to be outpourings of a great mind?’ You mean outpourings of gndrance about true greamess, like that dire, detestable saying: It them hate, provided that they fear.’52 A sentence, as you can flee, from the time of Sullals3 I am not sure which wish was worse — '5'.) 'For most of antiquity there 'were two rival concepts of magnitude Mimi, usyultowuxflu, ‘greatne'ss of mind’. Aristotle, in his Posterior Analytics (97b15—26) had cited it as a prize example of an equivocal term, since it could mean either ‘refusal to put up with insult, the attitude of a hero like Achilles whose greatness demands recognition from his peers, or ‘imperviousness to fortune’, the mark of a person like Socrates who is too great to be affected by anything external. ‘Greatness of mind’ was ordinarily understood' in the former sense. But the Stoics identified it with superiority to circumstances (SVF 111 264, 265, 269, 270), ' exemplified by Socrates and Cato. As ordinarily understood, ‘greatness of mind’ would allow and sometimes even demand anger. For Seneca it is thus crucial to establish his Stbic idea of the virtue. As we shall see, the thought that greatness ' of mind lies precisely' 111 not reacting angrily will be offered more than once as a remedy for anger (11 32. 3', m 25. 3, 28. 6, 32. 3). (At 0n Favours 111 13. 4 a different. aspect of the Stoic concept emerges. greatness of mind is not the prerogative of aristocratic heroes like Achilles; it can be shown even by a slave.) 53 See 01: Marc}! 1] 4. 5‘ This sentence, also quoted at On Margy 1 12. 4 and 11 2. 2, comes from the Arrears, a tragedy by Lucius Accius (Fragment 168, Remains of Old Latin Loeb edn.(Londor1 1936 11, p. 382). 53' Accius (170—90 BC) in fact died about a decade before Sulla’s worst atrocities. Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (138—78 BC), reactionary statesman, was best remem- Anger and greatness of mind an. (I) Nor should you think even this, that anger contributes ‘7 It was conventional for a person to rend his garments as an expression of grief, 3 particularly on being sentenced, but altogether outrageous for a magistrate to do so out of rage at failing to impose a death-sentence. ‘3 Cf. 11 5. 3 M Laws g34a—b. 38 39 On A tiger to he hated or to be feared. ‘Let them hate.’ It occurred to him that he would be the object of curses, intrigues and crushing attack. So what did he add? He hit on a worthy remedy for hatred, confound him! ‘Let them hate.’ Then what? ‘ . . obey?’ No. .provided that they approve?’ No. What, then? ‘.. . . provided that they fearl’ On that condition, I would not wish even to be loved. (5) Is that the utterance of a great spirit, do you think. if you do, you are wrong. That is not greatness but frighdulness. You have no need to trust the words of the angry: their noise is great and threatening, the mind within terror—struck. (6) Nor need you think it true when Livy, a masterly writer, Says: ‘a man of great rather than good character’. 54 The two cannot be separated. Either it-_ will be good as well, or it will not be great to start with. For‘ greatness of mind’, as I understand it, is something unshaken, solid within, firm and even from top to bottom — an impossibility in bad characters (7) They can be terrifying, tumultuous, destruc- . tive; but they cannot be great. For the stay and strength of greatness is goodness. (8)" Their speech, of course, their exertion and outward appointments may all make for belief in their greatneSs; they may I say something which you might think was the utterance of a great mind, as did Gaius Caesar: 55 angry with heaven for drowning the noise of his clowns, whom he. was keener to imitate than to watch, and for frightening his revels with thunderbolts (not, unfortunately, on target), he summoned Jove to combat — and mortal combat at that -— with the line from Homer: ‘Or let me lift thee, chief, or lift thou me.”6 What madness! He thought that he could receive no harm from Jove himself or that he might even inflict harm on Jove. That utterance of his, I think, added quite some force to the motivation bered for the cruelty with which, after his final victory over the followers of Gains Marius, he treated his vanquished opponents See Biographical Notes and our Introduction to On” Mam. 5“ Livy Fragment 66 Weissenborn—Miiller 55 Better known as the emperor Caligula (371.1); safely dead and unlamented by the time Seneca wrote 011 Anger. 5" Iliad XXIII 724 (Pope’ s translation). 40 provided that they Book I of the conspirators.57 Having to put up with a man who would not p11 ‘up with jove was the last straw. I (I) So there is nothing about anger, not even in the apparent avag'ance of its disdain for gods and men, that is great or noble. nyone does think that anger makes a great mind manifest, he Hight think the same about‘ self—indulgence — with its wish to be borne on ivory, dressed in purple, roofed with gold, to transfer whole plots of land, enclose whole stretches of sea, turn rivers into Cascades and woodland into hanging gardens. (2) Avarice, too, might betoken a great mind— watching, as it does, over stacks of gold and silver, cultivating estates en a par with provinces, delegat-. ng' to single bailiffs lands with boundaries wider than those that used to be allotted to consuls (3) So, too, might lust — it swims toss the straits, castrates whole flocks of boys and braves the lusband’s sword in contempt of death. So, too, ambition — not ontent with. yearly honours, it would, if possible, fill the consul 'st‘with one man’s name alone,53 distributing his memorials all :verfthe world. (4) But all these, no matter what lengths they go (1 or how wide they spread, are narrow, wretched, mean. Virtue alone is exalted and lofty. Nor is anything great which is not at e same time calm. 4 l After a four-year reign beset by conspiracies, Caligula was murdered in his palace at Rome. 5‘ Consuls were elected for one year only, though it was possible for emperors to have themselves re-elected for several years in Succession. Augustus was consul every year between 31 and 23 BC. 41 Boole HI ,, onsideration. Some yield to entreaty, some will mock and aclcif shown submission, some will have to be terrified into quillity. Some-may be deflected from their course by reproaches, me by admissions, some by shame, some by delay — a slow cure I an impetuous evil, only to be used as a last resort. (3),O_ther affections, you see, allow for postponement and can ‘ cured more slowly; but the violence of anger, excited and tying, has no gradual development — it begins at full strength. ike other failings, it. does not disturb the mind so much as take 'y‘force; harrying it on out of control and eager even for universal aster, it rages not just at its objects but at anything that it meets ts- way. (4) Other failings set the mind in motion; anger drives headlong. Even if you cannot resist your affections, they them- elves at least can come to a standstill. Anger, like gales or lightning . nything else that cannot be called back because its motion is purely one of falling, grows exponentially (5 ) Other failings are a eparture from reason; their approach is gentle, they grow without ou'tinoticing them. Anger IS a departure from sanity; the mind 1s thrown into it. And,_so nothing 1s a more powerful motive. Lunatic and ever resorting to_ its own force, arrogant in success, crazy when rustrated — not even failure can weary it. If the adversary has the luck to escape, it 1turns its teeth on itself. The gravity of the ccasion is irrelevant. From the slightest beginnings it ends as omething enormous. 2' (I) It passes over no time of life, makes exception for no ace-of men. Some nations, thanks to poverty, have no experience .of- self—indulgence. Others, ever in action and on the move, have voided idleness. Others, uncouth in character and rural in their 'y of life, are unfamiliar with fraud, cheating or any of the evils at come to birth 1n. the forum But there is not a nation which not goaded by anger As powerful among Greeks as among arbarians, it is no less a danger to people with respect for law an to those who think that law begins where their own strength nds. ‘ (2) Again, other failings seize hold of individuals; anger is the ne‘ emotion diat is sometimes 'caught by a whole community. ._ ever has an entire people burned with love fer a woman, nor has a whole state set its hope on money or gain; ambition grabs Book 111' 11' -‘ Preface My anger simply has to be cared I (I) What you most wanted, Novatus, I shall now try to do . to cut out anger from ourminds altogether or at any rate to bri'dl it and restrain its onrush.1 This should sometimes be done openl and without contealment, when the force of the evil is relative] slight and allows this; sometimes on the sly, when it burns to strongly, and anything put in its way just exacerbates and' increase it. Its strength and freshness are what determine whether it shoul be beaten back and forced into retreat or whether we should gi'v ‘ Novatus had asked how anger ‘can be alleviated’ (I 1.1) So far, Seneca has simpl prescribed some ways to avoid it. He now anounc'es what n 18 has led us 1 expect, a cure for anger — which must mean, in the first instanee, our 011m anger He goes on, however, in the next two sentences to treat anger as almost personified opponent,- and in (2), a recommendation that the therapy be tailore to the particular character of each sufferer, he gives the impression of ale prescribing ways to deal With anger in other people. He does, in fact,” in a net division of the subject (5. 2 below), include the cure of other people’ 5 anger at the third and last of his proposed topics; but he only gets round to discussing at e. 39. Most of Book 1'11 (like II 22—36) is _on the treatment, prophylactic an . flierapeutlc, of 0116‘: 011:1: anger, beginning (I. 3-5. 1) with a general denunciauo' of the emotion, which Seneca justifies with the claim (3.1) that such denunciatio: is necessary, since Aristotle defends the passion. Philode'mus’ On Anger had likewis backed up a sermon on the evils of anger (yin—X1011) by citing and attacking th Peripatetic doctrines (XXXI 24—XXX1V 6). 76 77 Book .III On Anger . a individuals one by one. Uncontrollable rage alone is an evil of the public.2 Often the move to anger is that of a single throng. (3)- Men and women, old men and children, leading citizens and the common people join in. Roused by a very few words, the entir crowd races ahead of the rabble-rouser himself. Straight away the run off for weapons and fire, declaring war on their neighbours 'vagery, to place before your eyes the sheer monstrousness of ail-raging at man, the sheer brute force that rushes him on, ruinous not least to himself in his effort to sink what cannot be rowned unless he himself drowns with it. (3) I ask you, would anyone call such a person sane? As if caught in a storm, he does go forward — he is carried along, enslaved by a raging malady. stead of just ordering retribution, he exacts it himself, savage fire in mind and action, butcher of those dearest to him — whose use he will shortly lament. (4) No one, surely, will assign this ffection to virtue as its assistant and companion — it stirs-up Vonfusion in the deliberation withOut which virtue can do nothing. ail and baneful, a force for its own undoing, is the strength roused in the invalid by an onset of fever. ' (5) .You need not, therefore, think that I am spending time on omething superfluous in decrying anger, ‘as though there. were my doubt in people’s minds about it’. You see, there is someone -— nd one of the famous philosophers at that — who does give it at auction, who, summons it, as though it had its uses and supplied ,us with enthusiasm, to battle, to public action, to anything that ' eeds doing with a certain fervour. (6) In case anyone. should get the wrong idea that there are times or plaCes where it might .be of use, we must display its unbridled, lunatic frenzy? we must glve it back its equipment — the ‘pony’,5 the cords, the prison, the cross, the rings of fire round half—buried, living bodies,6 the hook nigging - even the dead bodies,7 the varieties of fetters and punishment, the lacerated limbs and branded foreheads, the cages of savage ammals. Let these implements be the setting for anger with its dire and 'hideous shrieking —- anger, ghastlier than all the instruments of its fury. ago for the appeal of his eloquence, the speaker has the anger 0 his own assembly turned on him. The legion hurls its spears a its very own general.3 People and senators are at loggerheads. Th council of’istate, the Senate, without waiting for levies or naming a general,'_selects on the spot the agents of its wrath, hunting dow' aristocrats from house. to house and taking their punishment into. its own hands. (5) Embassies are violated, the law of nations broken An unspeakable madness seizes the state. No time is giVen for the: public inflammation to sink down. Fleets immediately put to sea .loaded With riotous soldiery. With no regard fer auspices or- goo order, the- people march out under the leadership of their anger grabbing as a weapon whatever happens to be at hand, only to pa with some great disaster for the rashness of their- overconfiden anger. (6) This has been the fate of barbarians as they rush haphazardly to War. Their excitable minds are struck by an impression of wrong done to them; they promptly move into action- carried along by their resentment, and fall upon our legions like a collapsing ruin. Without any formation, without any fear, withou any precaution, with a positive appetite for danger, they rejoice. to be struck down, to' press upon the sword, to attack the iavelin with their own bodies and die from wounds of their own infliction. ' 3 (I) ‘There is no doubt’, you may say, ‘that this is a powerful, , pestilential force. Just show us how to cure -itl_’ But, as I said in. the earlier books,4 Aristotle stands up for anger, telling us not to- cut it out. He describes it as the spur to virtue; its removal would leave the mind unarmed, sluggish and useless 'for any serious endeavour. (2) So there really is a need to prove its foulness and _ l r i 5 ' V ent of torture :1 arently a sort of rack. See On Mercy 1 1-3.I2. — 6 $1111: Sfrlilardon on burning a? 1the stake is attested in {)licero’s Letters to His Friends . - ulus Gellius’ Attic Nights (1H r4. r9 . . 7 fifheii’érfit: ignominy, the corpses of executed convicts were dragged [by a hook (mm), fastened under the chin, from the- prison where they hadkfleen strangled to the "Gemonian steps’ and down to the Tiber. :‘l‘he best-nagwn recipient of the treatment was probably Tiberius’ favourite, Sejanus (Juve d ,hx 66), along with his family (Tacitus, Annals' v1 4). Noyatus himself cappe 1:1 brother’s satire on He Pumpgicatian of Claudius by [along that the decease emperor had been hauled ignominiously up to heaven on a hook (Din Cassms, Lx 35‘ 3} j 2 Reading one with Vahlen. 3 As happened to Quintus Pompeius and Gains Carbo. See Valerius Maximus, 1x 7 Mil. 2 f. 419.2,17 I. 78 79 4 (1) Whatever doubt you may have in other respects, there i certainly no affection with an uglier countenance. I. have described it in the earlier books — rough and blood drains off and disperses, sometimes reddish and gory as hea and vitality return to the face, with veins swelling and eyes now trembling and popping out, now fastened _ fixed gaze. (2) Add to this theenoise of teeth chattering against one anoglier, as though set on devouring someone — like the noise of a boar grinding and sharpening its tusks. Add the crackling of joints as the hands are wrung, the repeated beating of the breast; the continpal panting and deep—drawn sighs, the tottering body, the sudden..outbursts of incomprehensible language, the lips a—quiver, compres‘sedinow and then to hiss out sumething sinister. (3) Wild beasts, I swear, goaded on by hunger or a weapon in their entrails, look less horrible -— even when, half-dead, they attack in a final effort to bite the hunter — than a human being aflame with anger. And if you could catch the cries and threats — good heavens, what words of a soul in torment! (4) Surely anyone would wish to be restored to calm, once he realizes that anger begins with harm to himself first of all? you would wish me to remind those who give rein to anger when in supreme power, who see it as evidence of strength and count ease of retribution among the great blessings of high estate, of how little power, indeed how little freedom belongs to any one caught by his own anger. (5) Surely you would wish me to make everyone more careful and circumspect by reminding them that, unlike. other evils of the mind which affect the worst sort .of people, bad temper creeps in even upon men of education and sanity in other respects — so much so that some. describe it a mark of straightforwardness, while it is commonly believed that the mo'st affable will also be the most prone to i...
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