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[16] And men are milder if they think that those punished will never know that the punishment comes from them in requital for their own wrongs; for anger has to do with the individual, as is clear from our definition.1 Wherefore it is justly said by the poet: “ Tell him that it is Odysseus, sacker of cities,2

” as if Polyphemus would not have been punished,3 had he remained ignorant who had blinded him and for what. So that men are not angry either with any others who cannot know who punishes them,4 or with the dead, since they have paid the last penalty and can feel neither pain nor anything else, which is the aim of those who are angry.5 So then, in regard to Hector, Homer, when desirous of restraining the anger of Achilles against a dead man, well says: “ For it is senseless clay that he outrages in his wrath.6

1 Therefore, if you think that a man will never learn who took vengeance on him, you will be less cruel; for anger is personal, and so Odysseus, because he was angry, inflicted a savage punishment, and wished Polyphemus to know it.

2 Hom. Od. 9.504.

3 Or, “as if Odysseus would not have considered himself avenged, had P. remained ignorant . . .”

4 Or, “with any who can no longer feel their anger.” Cope translates: “with all the rest (besides those actually within reach) who are out of sight.”

5 To make the offender feel pain as part of the punishment.

6 Hom. Il. 24.54.

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load focus Notes (E. M. Cope, 1877)
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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 9.504
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