Neither ought any, even in their playing and jesting,
to give way to their anger, for it turns good-will into hatred;
nor when they are disputing, for it turns a desire of knowing truth into a love of contention; nor when they sit in
judgment, for it adds violence to authority; nor when they
are teaching, for it dulls the learner, and breeds in him a
hatred of all learning; nor if they be in prosperity, for it
increases envy; nor if in adversity, for it makes them to be
unpitied, if they are morose and apt to quarrel with those
who commiserate them, as Priam did:—
Be gone, ye upbraiding scoundrels, haven't ye at home
Enough, that to help bear my grief ye come?
On the other hand, good temper doth remedy some
things, put an ornament upon others, and sweeten others;
and it wholly overcomes all anger and moroseness by gentleness. As may be seen in that excellent example of
Euclid, who, when his brother had said in a quarrel,
Let me perish if I be not avenged of you, replied, And
let me perish if I do not persuade you into a better mind;
and by so saying he straightway diverted him from his
purpose, and changed his mind. And Polemon, being
reviled by one that loved precious stones well and was even
sick with the love of costly signets, answered nothing, but
noticed one of the signets which the man wore, and looked
wistfully upon it. Whereat the man being pleased said:
Not so, Polemon, but look upon it in the sunshine, and
it will appear much better to you. And Aristippus,
when there happened to be a falling out between him and
Aeschines, and one said to him, O Aristippus, what is
now become of the friendship that was between you two?
answered, It is asleep, but I will go and awaken it.
Then coming to Aeschines, he said to him, What? dost
thou take me to be so utterly wretched and incurable
as not to be worth thy admonition? No wonder, said
Aeschines, if thou, by nature so excelling me in every
thing, didst here also discern before me what was right
and fitting to be done.
A woman's, nay a little child's soft hand,
With gentle stroking easier doth command,
And make the bristling boar to couch and fall,
Than any boisterous wrestler of them all.
But we that can tame wild beasts and make them gentle,
carrying young wolves and the whelps of lions in our
arms, do in a fit of anger cast our own children, friends,
and companions out of our embraces; and we let loose our
wrath like a wild beast upon our servants and fellow-citizens. And we but poorly disguise our rage when we give
it the specious name of zeal against wickedness; and it is
with this, I suppose, as with other passions and diseases of
the soul,—although we call one forethought, another liberality, another piety, we cannot so acquit and clear ourselves
of any of them.