Seneca on Saturday: Anger vs. Reason

Please forgive the shocking delay! Seneca on Saturday has returned. Something in the air has got me thinking about anger. I can’t imagine what it could be! 

3rd Century Mosaic from the Villa Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily.

3rd-4th century mosaic from the Villa Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Consequently, not all who have sinned alike are punished alike, and often he who has committed the smaller sin receives the greater punishment, because he was subjected to anger when it was fresh. And anger is altogether unbalanced; it now rushes farther than it should, now halts sooner than it ought. For it indulges its own impulses, is capricious in judgement, refuses to listen to evidence, grants no opportunity for defense, maintains whatever position it has seized, and is never willing to surrender its judgement even if it is wrong.

Reason grants a hearing to both sides, then seeks to postpone action, even its own, in order that it may gain time to sift out the truth; but anger is precipitate. Reason wishes the decision that it gives to be just; anger wishes to have the decision which it has given seem the just decision. Reason considers nothing except the question at issue; anger is moved by trifling things that he outside the case. An overconfident demeanor, a voice too loud, boldness of speech, foppishness in dress, a pretentious show of patronage, popularity with the public – these inflame anger. Many times it will condemn the accused because it hates his lawyer; even if the truth is piled up before its very eyes, it loves error and clings to it; it refuses to be convinced, and having entered upon wrong it counts persistence to be more honorable than penitence.

Lucilus Annaeus Seneca the Younger, To Novatus on Anger

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