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ON THE CONTROL OF ANGER (DE COHIBENDA IRA)The subject of this essay is not the emotion of anger itself, but the cure best applicable to the passion. In form it is a dialogue, but, apart from the beginning and the end, it is as undramatic as the later works of Plato. The principal speaker, Fundanus, treats the subject in a manner partly general and partly specific, and concludes with a pleasant history of his own cure. Hirzel (Der Dialog, ii. p. 170) has described the work as a monument (Ehrendenkmal) to the memory of Fundanus, dedicated to Sulla. Scholars concerned in the investigation of the sources used by Plutarch for this discourse have arrived at varying results : some1 have imagined that Stoic writers were used, others2 that the Peripatetic Hieronymus of Rhodes was Plutarch's principal authority. The numerous parallels to Seneca's De Ira have been used by both parties to substantiate their theories, but it is more likely that Plutarch, while borrowing numerous loci communes and examples [p. 91] from earlier writers,3 constructed for himself the main features of the dialogue. The self-portrayal of Fundanus and his cure, the frame-work of the whole discourse, is clearly Plutarch's own device. The author's debt to preceding literature is, as always, immense, yet the creation of such a work as this is by selection and arrangement; and for that Plutarch is alone responsible. The essay was known to Aulus Gellius (i. 26), who relates a pleasant anecdote of Plutarch and a rascally slave who ventured to reprove the philosopher for his anger. Among English writers Jeremy Taylor has made admirable use of the essay by paraphrase and even translation, in his Holy Living, iv. 8. The ms. tradition is good.4 The work is apparently missing in the Lamprias catalogue, since Περὶ ὀργῆς 5 (No. 93) almost certainly refers to a different work from which Stobaeus has preserved a fragment (Bernardakis, vol. vii. p. 138).
1 Wilamowitz, Hermes, xxix. 152; Schlemm, Hermes, xxxviii. 587 ff.
2 Allers, De Senecae Librorum de Ira Fontibus, p. 9; Pohlenz, Hermes, xxxi. 321 ff.; accepted by Daebritz, RE, i. 8. 1562. In Hermes, xl. 292, note 1, Pohlenz attempts to refute Schlemm's arguments.
3 Books on ‘Anger’ were very plentiful in Cicero's day (Epp. ad Quint. Frat., i. 1. 37).
4 There is extant also a free Syriac translation (ed. Lagarde, Analecta Syriaca, Leipzig, 1858) which helps occasionally in the constitution of the text.
5 Cf. Patzig, Quaest. Plut., p. 42.