On Anger, Book III, XLIII

Instead of acting thus, why do you not rather draw together what there is of your short life, and keep it peaceful for others and for yourself? why do you not rather make yourself beloved by everyone while you live, and regretted by everyone when you die?

Why do you wish to tame that man’s pride, because he takes too lofty a tone with you? why do you try with all your might to crush that other who snaps and snarls at you, a low and contemptible wretch, but spiteful and offensive to his betters?

Master, why are you angry with your slave?

Slave, why are you angry with your master?

Client, why are you angry with your patron?

Patron, why are you angry with your client?

Wait but a little while.

See, here comes death, who will make you all equals.

We often see at a morning performance in the arena a battle between a bull and a bear, fastened together, in which the victor, after he has torn the other to pieces, is himself slain.

We do just the same thing: we worry someone who is connected with us, although the end of both victor and vanquished is at hand, and that soon.

Let us rather pass the little remnant of our lives in peace and quiet: may no one loathe us when we lie dead.

A quarrel is often brought to an end by a cry of “Fire!” in the neighbourhood, and the appearance of a wild beast parts the highwayman from the traveller: men have no leisure to battle with minor evils when menaced by some overpowering terror.

What have we to do with fighting and ambuscades? do you want anything more than death to befall him with whom you are angry? well, even though you sit quiet, he will be sure to die.

You waste your pains: you want to do what is certain to be done.

You say, “I do not wish necessarily to kill him, but to punish him by exile, or public disgrace, or loss of property.”

I can more easily pardon one who wishes to give his enemy a wound than one who wishes to give him a blister: for the latter is not only bad, but petty-minded.

Whether you are thinking of extreme or slighter punishments, how very short is the time during which either your victim is tortured or you enjoy an evil pleasure in another’s pain?

This breath that we hold so dear will soon leave us: in the meantime, while we draw it, while we live among human beings, let us practise humanity: let us not be a terror or a danger to anyone.

Let us keep our tempers in spite of losses, wrongs, abuse or sarcasm, and let us endure with magnanimity our shortlived troubles: while we are considering what is due to ourselves, as the saying is, and worrying ourselves, death will be upon us.