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To be sure, when anger persists and its outbursts are frequent, there is created in the soul an evil state which is called irascibility,1 and this usually results in sudden outbursts of rage, moroseness, and peevishness when the temper becomes ulcerated, easily offended, and liable to find fault for even trivial offences, like a weak, thin piece of iron which is always getting scratched. But if judgement at once opposes the fits of anger and represses them, it not only cures them for the present, but for the future also it renders the soul firm and difficult for passion to attack. In my own case, at any rate, when I had opposed anger two or three times, it came about that I experienced what the Thebans did, who, when they had for the first time2 repulsed the Spartans, who had the reputation of being invincible, were never thereafter defeated by them in any battle ; for I acquired the proud consciousness that it is possible for reason to conquer. Not only did I see that anger ceases when cold water is sprinkled on it, as Aristotle3 says, but that it is also extinguished when a poultice of fear is applied to it. And, by Heaven, if joy comes on the scene, in the case of many the temper has been quickly ‘warmed,’ as Homer4 says, or dissipated. Consequently I came to the opinion that this passion is not altogether incurable, for those, at least, who wish to cure it.

For anger does not always have great and powerful beginnings ; on the contrary, even a jest, a playful [p. 103] word, a burst of laughter or a nod on the part of somebody, and many things of the kind, rouse many persons to anger ; just as Helen, by thus addressing her niece,

Electra, virgin for so long a time,
provoked her to reply,
Too late you're wise ; but once you left your home
And so was Alexander provoked by Callisthenes,6 who said, when the great bowl was going its rounds, ‘I do not care to have a drink of Alexander and then have to call in Asclepius.’ 7

1 Cf. Plato, Republic, 411 b-c.

2 At the battle of Leuctra, 371 b.c.

3 This is apparently from a lost work, though not included in Rose's collection of fragments. In Problemata, x. 60 (898 a 4), however, Aristotle observes that fear is a process of cooling; cf. also De Partibus Animalium, ii. 4 (651 a 8 ff.).

4 Il., xxiii. 598, 600, al.; for Plutarch's interpretation of ἰαίνεσθαι see Moralia, 947 d: ἀλέαν τῷ σώματι μεθ᾽ ἡδονῆς, ὅπερ Ὅμηρος ἰαίνεσθαι κέκληκεν; see also Moralia, 735 f.

5 Euripides, Orestes, 72, 99.

6 Cf. Moralia, 623 f - 624 a; Athenaeus, x. 434 d.

7 A jibe at Alexander's assumed divinity, ‘Alexander’ taking the place of Dionysus, the wine god, until the physician god, Asclepius, would have to be called in; on the authenticity of the story see Macurdy, Jour. Hell. Stud., 1. (1930), 294-297.

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