Monday, January 23, 2012
Cyprian, On Jealousy and Envy
7-8 (tr. E. Wallis):
 But what a gnawing worm of the soul is it, what a plague-spot of our thoughts, what a rust of the heart, to be jealous of another, either in respect of his virtue or of his happiness; that is, to hate in him either his own deservings or the divine benefitsto turn the advantages of others into one's own mischiefto be tormented by the prosperity of illustrious mento make other people's glory one's own penalty, and, as it were, to apply a sort of executioner to one's own breast, to bring the tormentors to one's own thoughts and feelings, that they may tear us with intestinal pangs, and may smite the secret recesses of the heart with the hoof of malevolence. To such, no food is joyous, no drink can be cheerful. They are ever sighing, and groaning, and grieving; and since envy is never put off by the envious, the possessed heart is rent without intermission day and night. Other ills have their limit; and whatever wrong is done, is bounded by the completion of the crime. In the adulterer the offense ceases when the violation is perpetrated; in the case of the robber, the crime is at rest when the homicide is committed; and the possession of the booty puts an end to the rapacity of the thief; and the completed deception places a limit to the wrong of the cheat. Jealousy has no limit; it is an evil continually enduring, and a sin without end. In proportion as he who is envied has the advantage of a greater success, in that proportion the envious man burns with the fires of jealousy to an increased heat.
 Hence the threatening countenance, the lowering aspect, pallor in the face, trembling on the lips, gnashing of the teeth, mad words, unbridled revilings, a hand prompt for the violence of slaughter; even if for the time deprived of a sword, yet armed with the hatred of an infuriate mind.
 qualis vero est animae tinea, quae cogitationum tabes, pectoris quanta rubigo zelare in altero vel virtutem eius vel felicitatem, id est odisse in eo vel merita propria vel beneficia divina, in malum proprium bona aliena convertere, inlustrium prosperitate torqueri, aliorum gloriam facere suam poenam, velut quosdam pectori suo admovere carnifices, cogitationibus et sensibus suis adhibere tortores qui se intestinis cruciatibus lacerent, qui cordis secreta malivolentiae ungulis pulsent. non cibus talibus laetus, non potus potest esse iocundus. suspiratur semper et ingemescitur et doletur, dumque ab invidis numquam livor exponitur, diebus ac noctibus pectus obsessum sine intermissione laniatur. mala cetera habent terminum et quodcumque delinquitur delicti consummatione finitur. in adultero cessat facinus perpetrato stupro, in latrone conquiescit scelus homicidio admisso et praedonis rapacitatem statuit possessa praeda et falsario modum ponit impleta fallacia. zelus terminum non habet, permanens iugiter malum et sine fine peccatum, quanto que ille cui invidetur successu meliore profecerit tanto invidus in maius incendium livoris ignibus inardescit.
 hinc vultus minax, torvus aspectus, pallor in facie, in labiis tremor, stridor in dentibus, verba rabida, effrenata convicia, manus ad caedis violentiam prompta, etiamsi a gladio interim vacua, odio tamen furiatae mentis armata.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.