Saturday, September 08, 2018



Ammianus Marcellinus 27.7.4 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
For the philosophers define anger as a long-continued, sometimes permanent, ulcer of the mind, usually caused by weakness of the intellect; and they give for their opinion the plausible ground that the sickly are more inclined to anger than the sound, women than men, the old than the young, and the wretched than the fortunate.

hanc enim ulcus esse animi diuturnum, interdumque perpetuum, prudentes definiunt, nasci ex mentis mollitia consuetum, id asserentes argumento probabili, quod iracundiores sunt incolumibus languidi, et feminae maribus, et iuvenibus senes, et felicibus aerumnosi.
J. den Boeft et al., Philological and Historical Commentary on Ammianus Marcellinus XXVII (Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp. 166-167:
Lindenbrog seems to have been the first scholar who tried to determine the identity of the prudentes in question. His reference to Plato, Theaetetus 144 a 6–8 is not felicitous, since in that passage entirely different categories are said to be prone to anger: οἵ τε ὀξεῖς ὥσπερ οὗτος καὶ ἀγχίνοι καὶ μνήμονες ὡς τὰ πολλὰ καὶ πρὸς τὰς ὀργὰς ὀξύρροποί εἰσι, 'keen people of his type, who are ready of wit and have a good memory are, generally speaking, quickly inclined to anger'. In contrast, his quotation from Aristotle, Rhetorica 2.2.10 (1379 a 16–18) is somewhat more relevant: διὸ κάμνοντες, πενόμενοι, ἐρῶντες, διψῶντες, ὅλως ἐπιθυμοῦντες καὶ μὴ κατορθοῦντες ὀργίλοι εἰσὶ καὶ εὐπαρόρμητοι, "wherefore the sick, the necessitous, the lovesick, the thirsty, in a word, all who desire something and cannot obtain it, are prone to anger and easily excited" (tr. Freese). Especially the first group is reminiscent of Amm.'s languidi. However, Lindenbrog's reference to some passages in Seneca's De ira clinches the matter: Amm.'s prudentes refers in fact to only one person, as the passages in question will quickly reveal. Seneca's words are: iracundissimi infantes senesque et aegri sunt, et invalidum omne natura querulum est (De ira 1.13.5), Iracundia nihil amplum decorumque molitur; contra mihi videtur veternosi et infelicis animi, inbecillitatis sibi conscii, saepe indolescere ... Ita ira muliebre maxime ac puerile vitium est (ib. 1.20.3), puerorum feminarumque irae acres magis quam graves sunt... senes difficiles et queruli sunt, ut aegri et convalescentes (ib. 2.19.4), iracundiores sunt valetudine aut aetate fessi (ib. 3.9.4). The quoted words function within various arguments, but they contain the same message: those who for reasons of physical health, sex, age or unhappiness can be regarded as weak are more prone to anger.

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