previous next
Hence anger follows reason in a manner, but desire does not. Therefore yielding to desire is more disgraceful than yielding to anger, for he that fails to restrain his anger is in a way controlled by reason, but the other1 is controlled not by reason but by desire. [2]

Again, when impulses are natural, it is more excusable to follow them, since even with the desires it is more excusable to follow those that are common to all men, and in so far as they are common. But anger and bad temper are more natural than desire for excessive and unnecessary pleasures; witness the man who was had up for beating his father and who said in his defence, “Well, my father used to beat his father, and he used to beat his, and (pointing to his little boy) so will my son here beat me when he grows up; it runs in our family”; and the man who, when his son was throwing him out of the house, used to beg him to stop when he got to the door, ‘because he only used to drag his father as far as that.’2

Again, the craftier men are, the more Unjust they are. [3] Now the hot-tempered man is not crafty, nor is anger, but open; whereas desire is crafty, as they say of Aphrodite: “ Weaver of wiles in Cyprus born3

” and Homer writes of her ‘broidered girdle’ “ Cajolery4 that cheats the wisest wits.

As therefore unrestraint in desire is more unjust as well as more disgraceful than unrestraint as regards anger, unrestraint in desire is Unrestraint in the strict sense, and is even in a certain sense Vice.

[4] Again, a wanton outrage5 gives pleasure to the doer, never pain, whereas an act done in anger always causes him a feeling of pain. If then things are unjust in proportion to the justice of the anger they arouse in the victim, unrestraint arising from desire is more unjust than that arising from anger; for anger contains no element of wanton insolence. [5]

It is clear therefore that unrestraint in one's desires is more disgraceful than unrestraint in anger, and that it is in relation to bodily desires and pleasures that Self-restraint and Unrestraint are really manifested. [6]

But we must distinguish among the bodily desires and pleasures themselves. As was said at the beginning,6 some of these are human and natural both in kind and degree, some bestial, and some due to arrested development or disease. Now it is only with the first class that Temperance and Profligacy are concerned; hence we do not use the terms temperate or profligate of the lower animals, except metaphorically, of certain entire species distinguished from the rest by their exceptionally lascivious, mischievous, or omnivorous habits; for animals have neither the faculty of choice nor of calculation: they are aberrations from nature,7 like men who are insane.

1 Viz., the man who is ‘unrestrained’ in the strict sense, i.e., cannot restrain his desires.

2 This story is developed in Robert Browning's poem ‘Halbert and Hob’ ; it is said also to occur in a German Volkslied.

3 The line seems to have ended Κυπρογένεος πρόπολον (Bergk, cf. Hesych., K. π. προαγ<ω>γόν) , ‘for the servant of the wile-weaving Cyprus-born,’ viz., Peitho, Persuasion. It is ascribed by Wilamowitz to Sappho, and the same epithet is applied to Aphrodite in Sappho, 1.2.

4 One of the emblematic figures embroidered on the girdle of Aphrodite, Hom. Il. 14.217.

5 ὕβρις means any injury that is insulting to the victim, but here the writer is thinking specially of outrage prompted by lust. The argument is based on the feelings of both agent and victim. Anger, being a painful feeling, does not show wantonness or insolence, for wanton acts are pleasant to the doer. An injury done in anger therefore arouses less anger in return, less resentment in the victim, than does wanton outrage due to unrestrained desire. Therefore it is less ‘unjust,’ less of an injury. Cf. Aristot. Rh. 1380a 34(anger is not so much resented, because it does not show contempt for its victim).

6 See 5.1, and also 1.3.

7 The writer here seems to regard all animals as unnatural, in the sense of imperfectly developed, because irrational. The order precludes our taking this clause of the exceptional species (asses, wild boars, and pigs according to Greek zoology) just alluded to; moreover, as the excessive appetites of these are analogous to Profligacy in men, they are not aberrations from animal nature any more than profligates are from human nature.

load focus Greek (J. Bywater)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Cyprus (Cyprus) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: