Plutarch, Moralia. On the Control of Anger

LCL 337: 126-127

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Plutarch’s Moralia

(458)λέγεις ἀλλὰ τί τῆνος σιγῇ.” καὶ τὸν Νεοπτόλεμον ὁ Σοφοκλῆς καὶ τὸν Εὐρύπυλον ὁπλίσας

ἄκομπ᾿1 ἀλοιδόρητα,


ἐρρηξάτην ἐς κύκλα2 χαλκέων ὅπλων.

Τὸν μὲν γὰρ σίδηρον ἔνιοι τῶν βαρβάρων φαρμάσσουσιν, Eἡ δ᾿ ἀνδρεία χολῆς οὐ δεῖται· βέβαπται γὰρ ὑπὸ τοῦ λόγου· τὸ δὲ θυμικὸν καὶ μανικὸν εὐπερίθραυστόν ἐστι καὶ σαθρόν. ἀφαιροῦσι γοῦν αὐλοῖς τὸν θυμὸν οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι τῶν μαχομένων, καὶ Μούσαις πρὸ πολέμου θύουσιν ὅπως ὁ λόγος ἐμμένῃ· καὶ τρεψάμενοι τοὺς πολεμίους οὐ διώκουσιν, ἀλλ᾿ ἀνακαλοῦνται τὸν θυμόν, ὥσπερ τὰ σύμμετρα τῶν ἐγχειριδίων εὐανακόμιστον ὄντα καὶ ῥᾴδιον. ὀργὴ δὲ μυρίους προανεῖλε τῆς ἀμύνης, ὡς Κῦρον καὶ Πελοπίδαν τὸν Θηβαῖον. Ἀγαθοκλῆς δὲ πράως ἔφερε λοιδορούμενος ὑπὸ τῶν πολιορκουμένων· καί τινος εἰπόντος, “Κεραμεῦ, πόθεν ἀποδώσεις Fτοῖς ξένοις τὸν μισθόν;” ἐπιγελάσας, “αἴκα ταύταν ἐξέλω.” καὶ τὸν Ἀντίγονον3 ἀπὸ


On the Control of Anger

to me, but what your master doesn’t say.” And Sophocles,a when he has armed Neoptolemus and Eurypylus, says

Without a vaunt, without reviling, they Have rushed within the ring of brazen arms.

For although there are barbarians who poison their steel, true bravery has no need of bitter gall,b for it has been dipped in reason; but rage and fury are rotten and easily broken. At any rate the Spartansc use the playing of pipes to remove from their fighting men the spirit of anger, and they sacrifice to the Muses before battle in order that reason may remain constant within them; and when they have routed the enemy, they do not pursue,d but sound the recall to their high spirits, which, like small daggers,e are manageable and can be easily withdrawn. Yet wrath has slain thousands before its revenge was accomplished, as, for instance, Cyrusf and Pelopidas the Theban.g But Agathoclesh endured with mildness the revilings of those he was besieging, and when one of them cried out, “Potter, how will you get pay for your mercenaries?”, Agathocles laughed and said, “If I take this town.” And there is the case of Antigonus,i who, when some men on the

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.plutarch-moralia_control_anger.1939