On Anger, Book II, XXXIV

We must, therefore, refrain from anger, whether he who provokes us be on a level with ourselves, or above us, or below us.

A contest with one’s equal is of uncertain issue, with one’s superior is folly, and with one’s inferior is contemptible.

It is the part of a mean and wretched man to turn and bite one’s biter: even mice and ants show their teeth if you put your hand to them, and all feeble creatures think that they are hurt if they are touched.

It will make us milder tempered to call to mind any services which he with whom we are angry may have done us, and to let his deserts balance his offence.

Let us also reflect, how much credit the tale of our forgiveness will confer upon us, how many men may be made into valuable friends by forgiveness.

One of the lessons which Sulla’s cruelty teaches us is not to be angry with the children of our enemies, whether they be public or private; for he drove the sons of the proscribed into exile.

Nothing is more unjust than that anyone should inherit the quarrels of his father.

Whenever we are loath to pardon anyone, let us think whether it would be to our advantage that all men should be inexorable.

He who refuses to pardon, how often has he begged it for himself? how often has he grovelled at the feet of those whom he spurns from his own?

How can we gain more glory than by turning anger into friendship? what more faithful allies has the Roman people than those who have been its most unyielding enemies? where would the empire be today, had not a wise foresight united the conquered and the conquerors?

If anyone is angry with you, meet his anger by returning benefits for it: a quarrel which is only taken up on one side falls to the ground: it takes two men to fight.

But [36] suppose that there is an angry struggle on both sides, even then, he is the better man who first gives way; the winner is the real loser.

He struck you; well then, do you fall back: if you strike him in turn you will give him both an opportunity and an excuse for striking you again: you will not be able to withdraw yourself from the struggle when you please.