Sunday, May 08, 2011
- William Vallicella, "It is Good that Osama is Dead, but No Gloating," Maverick Philosopher (May 2, 2011), with further comments at "On Joy at Osama's Demise: Dennis Prager Responds to Me on the Air" (May 3, 2011) and "Still More on the Morality of Celebrating the Death of Evildoers" (May 5, 2011).
- Linton Weeks, "Is It Wrong To Celebrate Bin Laden's Death?," NPR (May 2, 2011)
This attitude, I think, would have been incomprehensible to many, if not most, ancient Greeks. A speaker in Thucydides 7.68.1 (tr. Benjamin Jowett) said:
We should remember in the first place that men are doing a most lawful act when they take vengeance upon an enemy and an aggressor, and that they have a right to satiate their heart's animosity; secondly, that this vengeance, which is proverbially the sweetest of all things, will soon be within our grasp.Sophocles, Ajax 79 (spoken by Athena):
καὶ νομίσωμεν ἅμα μὲν νομιμώτατον εἶναι πρὸς τοὺς ἐναντίους οἳ ἂν ὡς ἐπὶ τιμωρίᾳ τοῦ προσπεσόντος δικαιώσωσιν ἀποπλῆσαι τῆς γνώμης τὸ θυμούμενον, ἅμα δὲ ἐχθροὺς ἀμύνασθαι ἐκγενησόμενον ἡμῖν καὶ τὸ λεγόμενόν που ἥδιστον εἶναι.
Is not laughter at one's enemies the sweetest laughter?Aristotle, Rhetoric 1.11.13:
οὔκουν γέλως ἥδιστος εἰς ἐχθροὺς γελᾶν;
To exact vengeance is sweet.See K.J. Dover, Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974; rpt. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994), pp. 182-183, and W.V. Harris, "Lysias III and Athenian Beliefs about Revenge," Classical Quarterly 47 (1997) 363-366.
τὸ τιμωρεῖσθαι ἡδύ.