The Sickness of the Soul: Cicero on Irrational Hate

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 5.25-6

“Furthermore, for these things it is believed that their opposites are born from fear, just as in hatred of women as in the Misogunos of Atilius or that against the whole race of humankind which we have heard that Timon who is called the Misanthrope felt or even being inhospitable. All these diseases of the soul develop from a special fear of those things which people fear and then hate. They define a disease of the soul, moreover, as a vehement belief about a thing which is not desired even though it is anticipated powerfully, a belief which is constant and deeply held.”

Quae autem sunt his contraria, ea nasci putantur a metu, ut odium mulierum, quale in Μισογύνῳ Atilii1 est, ut in hominum universum genus, quod accepimus de Timone, qui μισάνθρωπος appellatur, ut inhospitalitas est: quae omnes aegrotationes animi ex quodam metu nascuntur earum rerum, quas fugiunt et oderunt. Definiunt autem animi aegrotationem opinationem vehementem de re non expetenda, tamquam valde expetenda sit, inhaerentem et penitus insitam.

Royal 15 D V   f. 107v
2nd half of the 15th century, Royal MS 15 D V, f. 107v

The Sickness of the Soul: Cicero on Irrational Hate

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 5.25-6

“Furthermore, for these things it is believed that their opposites are born from fear, just as in hatred of women as in the Misogunos of Atilius or that against the whole race of humankind which we have heard that Timon who is called the Misanthrope felt or even being inhospitable. All these diseases of the soul develop from a special fear of those things which people fear and then hate. They define a disease of the soul, moreover, as a vehement belief about a thing which is not desired even though it is anticipated powerfully, a belief which is constant and deeply held.”

Quae autem sunt his contraria, ea nasci putantur a metu, ut odium mulierum, quale in Μισογύνῳ Atilii1 est, ut in hominum universum genus, quod accepimus de Timone, qui μισάνθρωπος appellatur, ut inhospitalitas est: quae omnes aegrotationes animi ex quodam metu nascuntur earum rerum, quas fugiunt et oderunt. Definiunt autem animi aegrotationem opinationem vehementem de re non expetenda, tamquam valde expetenda sit, inhaerentem et penitus insitam.

Royal 15 D V   f. 107v
2nd half of the 15th century, Royal MS 15 D V, f. 107v

The Sayings of Bias According to Diogenes

From Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 1.85-86

“To become strong is nature’s work. To be able to speak advantages for one’s country is the province of the soul and thought. Fate may bring great wealth to many. He used to say that it is unfortunate to not be able to endure misfortune. It is a sickness of the soul to love the impossible. We must not obsess over another’s troubles. When asked what is difficult, he said “nobly enduring change for the worse.” While he was sailing with some irreverent men, it started to storm. As they were calling upon the gods, he said “be quiet—you don’t want them to know you’re sailing.” When an unholy man asked him what was sacred, he was silent. When the same man asked him the cause of his silence, he said “I am silent because you ask about things that have nothing to do with you.”

When someone asked what is sweet for men, he said “hope”. He used to say that it was sweeter to judge between enemies than friends. For one of the friends will become your enemy after but one of your enemies will become a friend.  When asked what a person delights doing, he said “making money”.

He used to advise us to measure life as if we had both a lot and a little time. And to love people as if they might some day hate them, since most people are bad. He also counselled this: approach deeds slowly, but once you begin an action, pursue it seriously. Don’t chatter quickly: for this marks insanity. Love wisdom. Speak of the gods that they exist. Don’t praise a worthless man because of wealth. Obtain what you want by persuasion not force. Whatever good you accomplish, credit the gods. Take wisdom as your guide from youth to old age: it is more certain than any other possession.”

bias

[86] καὶ τὸ μὲν ἰσχυρὸν γενέσθαι τῆς φύσεως ἔργον: τὸ δὲ λέγειν δύνασθαι τὰ συμφέροντα τῇ πατρίδι ψυχῆς ἴδιον καὶ φρονήσεως. εὐπορίαν δὲ χρημάτων πολλοῖς καὶ διὰ τύχην περιγίνεσθαι. ἔλεγε δὲ ἀτυχῆ εἶναι τὸν ἀτυχίαν μὴ φέροντα: καὶ νόσον ψυχῆς τὸ τῶν ἀδυνάτων ἐρᾶν, ἀλλοτρίων δὲ κακῶν ἀμνημόνευτον εἶναι. ἐρωτηθεὶς τί δυσχερές, τὴν “ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον,” ἔφη, “μεταβολὴν εὐγενῶς ἐνεγκεῖν.” συμπλέων ποτὲ ἀσεβέσι, χειμαζομένης τῆς νεὼς κἀκείνων τοὺς θεοὺς ἐπικαλουμένων, “σιγᾶτε,” ἔφη, “μὴ αἴσθωνται ὑμᾶς ἐνθάδε πλέοντας.” ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπὸ ἀσεβοῦς ἀνθρώπου τί ποτέ ἐστιν εὐσέβεια, ἐσίγα. τοῦ δὲ τὴν αἰτίαν τῆς σιγῆς πυθομένου, “σιωπῶ,” ἔφη, “ὅτι περὶ τῶν οὐδέν σοι προσηκόντων πυνθάνῃ.”

6 [87] Ἐρωτηθεὶς τί γλυκὺ ἀνθρώποις, “ἐλπίς,” ἔφη. ἥδιον ἔλεγε δικάζειν μεταξὺ ἐχθρῶν ἢ φίλων: τῶν μὲν γὰρ φίλων πάντως ἐχθρὸν ἔσεσθαι τὸν ἕτερον, τῶν δὲ ἐχθρῶν τὸν ἕτερον φίλον. ἐρωτηθεὶς τί ποιῶν ἄνθρωπος τέρπεται, ἔφη, “κερδαίνων.”

ἔλεγέ τε τὸν βίον οὕτω μετρεῖν ὡς καὶ πολὺν καὶ ὀλίγον χρόνον βιωσομένους, καὶ φιλεῖν ὡς μισήσοντας: τοὺς γὰρ πλείστους εἶναι κακούς. συνεβούλευέ τε ὧδε: βραδέως ἐγχείρει τοῖς πραττομένοις: ὃ δ᾽ ἂν ἕλῃ, βεβαίως τηρῶν διάμενε. μὴ ταχὺ λάλει: μανίαν γὰρ ἐμφαίνει. φρόνησιν ἀγάπα. περὶ θεῶν λέγε, ὡς εἰσίν. ἀνάξιον ἄνδρα μὴ ἐπαίνει διὰ πλοῦτον. πείσας λαβέ, μὴ βιασάμενος. ὅ τι ἂν ἀγαθὸν πράττῃς, εἰς θεοὺς ἀνάπεμπε. ἐφόδιον ἀπὸ νεότητος εἰς γῆρας ἀναλάμβανε σοφίαν: βεβαιότερον γὰρ τοῦτο τῶν ἄλλων κτημάτων.

Polybius, Histories 1.14: On The Pointlessness of Biased History

 

“I am also compelled to understand this war by something no less important than anything else I have already said—the fact that those who seem most qualified to write about it…have not sufficiently reported the truth. I do not suspect that these men lie willingly (based on their manner of life and their choices), but they do seem to me to have suffered in the way that lovers do….It is certainly right for a good man to be loyal to his friends, to be patriotic, and to commiserate in his friend’s hatreds and take pleasure in his friends; but whenever someone takes up the historian’s post, he must banish all of these biases to the point of often gracing his enemies with the finest praise when their actions deserve it and also often rebuking and blaming those closest to him, whenever they reveal to him errors worthy of it. For, just as closed eyes make the rest of an animal useless, what is left from a history blind to the truth is just a pointless tale.”

 

Οὐχ ἧττον δὲ τῶν προειρημένων παρωξύνθην ἐπιστῆσαι τούτῳ τῷ πολέμῳ καὶ διὰ τὸ τοὺς ἐμπειρότατα δοκοῦντας γράφειν ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ, Φιλῖνον καὶ Φάβιον, μὴ δεόντως ἡμῖν ἀπηγγελκέναι τὴν ἀλήθειαν. ἑκόντας μὲν οὖν ἐψεῦσθαι τοὺς ἄνδρας οὐχ ὑπολαμβάνω, στοχαζόμενος ἐκ τοῦ βίου καὶ τῆς αἱ-ρέσεως αὐτῶν· δοκοῦσι δέ μοι πεπονθέναι τι παραπλήσιον τοῖς ἐρῶσι… · καὶ γὰρ φιλόφιλον εἶναι δεῖ τὸν ἀγαθὸν ἄνδρα καὶ φιλόπατριν καὶ συμμισεῖν τοῖς φίλοις τοὺς ἐχθροὺς καὶ συναγαπᾶν τοὺς φίλους· ὅταν δὲ τὸ τῆς ἱστορίας ἦθος ἀναλαμ-βάνῃ τις, ἐπιλαθέσθαι χρὴ πάντων τῶν τοιούτων καὶ πολλάκις μὲν εὐλογεῖν καὶ κοσμεῖν τοῖς μεγίστοις ἐπαίνοις τοὺς ἐχθρούς, ὅταν αἱ πράξεις ἀπαιτῶσι τοῦτο, πολλάκις δ’ ἐλέγχειν καὶ ψέγειν ἐπονειδίστως τοὺς ἀναγκαιοτάτους, ὅταν αἱ τῶν ἐπιτηδευμάτων ἁμαρτίαι τοῦθ’ ὑποδεικνύωσιν. ὥσπερ γὰρ ζῴου τῶν ὄψεων ἀφαιρεθεισῶν ἀχρειοῦται τὸ ὅλον, οὕτως ἐξ ἱστορίας ἀναιρεθείσης τῆς ἀληθείαςτὸ καταλειπόμενον αὐτῆς ἀνωφελὲς γίνεται διήγημα.