Saturday, August 31, 2013


Peter Jones summarizes the ancients' views of man's most dangerous emotion:
"Ancients took a mixed view of the emotion. ‘Anger’ is the first word of Western literature — the anger of Achilles, with which Homer’s Iliad starts. Even though it results in the death of his dearest friend Patroclus, Achilles admits that there is pleasure in it, ‘sweeter than the dripping of honey’. The Stoics, regarding control of the emotions as the key to virtue, were entirely hostile to it. Seneca (4 BC–AD 65) paints a fine picture of the angry man: devoid of self-control, forgetful of decency, unmindful of loyalties, deaf to reason and advice, excited by trivialities, incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, his whole face crimson with blood, lips quivering, teeth clenched, joints cracking. Even righteous indignation is disallowed. 
"Plutarch (AD 46–120) added useful tips. The angry man, he suggests, should have a mirror handy, to see how ridiculous he looks. He should learn the pipe and play himself a soothing tune when he boils over. Since, like the panicking occupants of a burning house or a ship in a storm at sea, he loses all judgment, he must avoid situations where he knows his anger will explode.
"Aristotle swam against the tide. An advocate of the ‘mean’ in all things, he regards anger as just another passion which it is foolish to indulge in too much or too little. The irascible man, flying off the handle at the slightest provocation, or nursing his wrath to keep it warm, is a danger to himself and others. The sensible man is angry for the right reason, with the right people, at the right time."

Go Deeper

Portrait by Daniela Grapa

“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” 
~Francis Bacon

"There is only one valuable thing in art: the thing you cannot explain."

~George Braque