Reason and Good Temper

In Cicero’s On Duty, he writes to his son about the duties of a man in the world. One of the many actions he describes is to remain courteous at all times. Cicero writes, “there is a demand for courtesy, and for a soul superior to petty causes of vexation, lest if we suffer ourselves to be angry with those who intrude upon us inopportunely, we fall into irritable habits equally harmful and hateful.” Every human being deserves our respect and courtesy in every situation, especially if they are our enemy. If we let ourselves be quick to judgment and anger, we will follow a path very hard to depart from. Anger corrupts the soul. It makes us irritable and quick-tempered. We lose rationality when we are angry. Emotions take over, and when emotions run wild, reason seems to fall behind. Instead we must act calmly. We must be level-headed at all times and not let those whom we are at odds with anger us. This is especially important when dealing with people of different political opinions. Cicero explains this by stating, “Nor are they to be listened to who think that anger is to be cherished toward those who are unfriendly to us on political grounds, and imagine that this betokens a large-minded and brave man; for nothing is more praiseworthy, nothing more befitting a great and eminent man, than placability and clemency.” It is not admirable to be defensive or combative in political discussions. The people looked up to the most are those who maintain a calm temper in the most trying of situations. They keep their heading and therefor keep their reason in all issues. We must strive to handle ourselves in this way. Avoid anger at all costs and keep our emotions in check. If we abandon reason for temperament, we can never hope to have discussions in the appropriate manner. 

Yours Truly,

Publius

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