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Quote of the week – Aristotle

May 14, 2013

I have become a little bit addicted to the TV show Revenge. Addiction to a TV program does not happen very often to me but I believe I know why this has occurred. There are so many stories that revolve around the theme of revenge in Greek Mythology (two of my favorites being Medea and Agamemnon) and my passion for these has got me hooked on the concept of revenge. The TV show is very different to mythology, far less bloody and a little more subtle at times than say Medea’s and Clytaemnestra’s acts of revenge.

In thinking about revenge and mythology I have found an excellent quote from Aristotle that sums up the act perfectly:

Passion and anger are the causes of acts of revenge. But there is a difference between revenge and punishment; the latter is inflicted in the interest of the sufferer, the former in the interest of him who inflicts it, that he may obtain satisfaction.

(Aristotle, Rhetoric 1.10.16-17)

Having never studied Aristotle I can make no particular Academic comment in respect of this quote. However, in determining what brings about acts of revenge Aristotle has defined, in my view, human nature. There is a desire for those who do wrong to be punished but what if there were no courts to administer punishments. There would still be the personal desire to put right the injustice and the only option would be to seek revenge for our own self-satisfaction. Next time anyone has the fleeting urge to indulge in a little revenge remember Aristotle’s wise words; I certainly will.


Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vol. 22, translated by J. H. Freese Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926. Perseus Digital Library [Accessed 14 May 2013]


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