Ancient Anger

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Drolling - the Wrath of Achilles, ca. 1810

The Wrath of Achilles by Michel Martin Drolling

This class will explore the phenomenon of anger in the ancient world. The first word of the Iliad, the beginning of western literature, is μῆνιν, "wrath," and anger pervades epic from the wrath of Achilles to the rage of Aeneas in the Aeneid to the pervasive anger in Lucan's Civil War. But anger is all over the place, in drama, in history, in the law courts, in philosophy, and in daily life. We will examine anger in all its aspects, and what role it played in the ancient world, through the literature of the ancient world and through philosophical treatises on anger and emotion such as those by Aristotle, Philodemus, Seneca, and Galen. And we will consider how modern understanding of anger compares to and informs the study of ancient anger.