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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Seneca on Saturday — life is like a bathing establishment

Mosaic from Villa Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily, 3rd century. Image from Greek and Roman Mosaics,

Women playing ball. Mosaic from the Villa Romana del Casale, in Piazza Armerina, Sicily, 4th century CE. Image from Greek and Roman Mosaics, by Umberto Pappalardo and Rosario Ciardello.

 

 

CVII. On obedience to the universal will

Where is that common sense of yours? …Have you come to be tormented by a trifle?… None of these things is unusual or unexpected. It is as nonsensical to be put out by such events as it is to complain of being spattered in the street or at getting befouled in the mud. The program of life is the same as that of a bathing establishment, a crowd, or a journey: sometimes things will be thrown at you, and sometimes they will strike you by accident. Life is not a dainty business. You have started on a long journey; you are bound to slip, collide, fall, become weary, and cry out: “O for Death!” –or in other words, tell lies. At one stage you will leave a comrade behind you, at another you will bury someone, at another you will be apprehensive. It is amid stumbling of this sort that you must travel out this rugged journey.

Seneca Epistles 93-124, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Seneca on Saturday — busy? not really

Mosaic from the Villa dei Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily. 3-4th century CE.

Mosaic from the Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily. 4th century CE.

CVI. — On the Corporeality of Virtue

My tardiness is answering your letter was not due to press of business. Do not listen to that sort of excuse; I am at liberty, and so is anyone else who wishes to be at liberty. No man is at the mercy of affairs. He gets entangled in them of his own accord, and then flatters himself that being busy is a proof of happiness.

Seneca Epistles 93-124, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Seneca on Monday — the key to peace of mind

Statue of Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger,

Statue of Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger in Cordoba, Spain, by Amadeo Ruiz Olmos

CV. On Facing the World with Confidence

The most important contribution to peace of mind is never to do wrong. Those who lack self-control lead disturbed and tumultuous lives; their crimes are balanced by their fears, and they are never at ease. For they tremble after the deed, and they are embarrassed; their consciences do not allow them to busy themselves with other matters, and continually compel them to give an answer. Whoever expects punishment, receives it, but whoever deserves it, expects it. Where there is an evil conscience something may bring safety, but nothing can bring ease; for a man imagines that, even if he is not under arrest, he may soon be arrested. His sleep is troubled; when he speaks of another man’s crime, he reflects upon his own, which seems to him not sufficiently blotted out, not sufficiently hidden from view. A wrongdoer sometimes has the luck to escape notice but never the assurance thereof.

Seneca Epistles 93-124, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Photo credit: Gunnar Bach Pedersen, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Seneca on Saturday — the dangers of chat

Mosaic from the Villa dei Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily. 3-4th century CE.

Mosaic from the Villa dei Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily. 3-4th century CE.

CV. On Facing the World with Confidence

Nothing, however, will help you so much as keeping still –talking very little with others, and as much as may be with yourself. For there is a sort of charm about conversation, something very subtle and coaxing, which, like intoxication or love, draws secrets from us. No man will keep to himself what he hears. No one will tell another only as much as he has heard. And he who tells tales will tell names, too. Everyone has someone to whom he entrusts exactly what has been entrusted to him. Though he checks his own garrulity, and is content with one hearer, he will bring about him a nation, if that which was a secret shortly before becomes common talk.

Seneca Epistles 93-124, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

 

 

Seneca on Saturday — how to avoid envy II

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Mosaic in front of a fish monger’s shop in the Piazza of Corporations, Ostia Antica, 3rd century CE. The image is of a dolphin with a fish and an octopus in its jaws. “IMBIDE CALCO TE” means “Envious one, I tread on you.” Photo credit: Eric Taylor, from http://www.ostia-antica.org.

CV. On Facing the World with Confidence

Contempt remains to be discussed. He who has made this quality an adjunct of his own personality, who is despised because he wishes to be despised and not because he must be despised, has the measure of contempt under control. Any inconveniences in this respect can be dispelled by honourable occupations and by friendships with men who have influence with an influential person; with these men it will profit you to engage but not to entangle yourself, lest the cure may cost you more than the risk.

Seneca Epistles 93-124, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.