Saturday, September 01, 2018

Stoic Anger Management Quiz - how Stoic are you?

Interested in Anger Management? If so, I’d love to see you at the workshop on Seneca and Stoic Anger Management at LondonStoicon Saturday Sept 29th 

As a warm-up, here’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek diagnostic check on your degree of Stoicism.

 1. In the middle of a dinner party at your house, a hired waiter drops a valuable glass. Do you
     a) Remain calm, reminding yourself that  we all make mistakes.  A glass is just a glass.
b) Give them a  real bollocking and sack them on the spot without pay
c) Have them  thrown into a pool of kiler fish where they will be eaten alive.

2. A friend criticises you for drinking too much. Do you
a) Take it on the chin and make plans to reduce your drinking
b)  Remind your friend that they aren’t perfect either and tell them that you’d rather they keep their opinions to themselves
c) Make a point of drinking more than ever that evening. Then prove to your friend that you can take your drink by firing your crossbow with precision at the heart of his child.

3.  When you are out in town someone carelessly barges into you. They apologise. Do you
a) Accept the apology with  good grace, adding “I didn’t really notice”
b) Glare at them,  mumbling under your breath about how they should watch where they are going.
c) Get someone to follow them home and  beat them up.

4. You are really annoyed that someone you know takes too much care over their appearance. Why do they always have to look SO smart? Why is their hair ALWAYS perfect? Do you
a) Recognise that your reaction as irrational and remind yourself that it is not looks but character that is important
b) Gossip about how vain this person is.

c) Order their execution.

5. Whilst away on an extended trip your partner leaves you for someone younger, leaving you to fend for you (and your (ex-) partner's) young children by yourself. Do you
     a) Accept that there is nothing you can do about their behaviour, and channel your energies into bringing up your children as well as you can
     b) Sue for divorce and hire a top lawyer to to bleed the bastard dry

     c) Extract your  revenge by murdering your young rival and  your (and your ex-partner's) children.

6. You happen to be well known for your outspoken views.  Whilst you are out an opponent boxes your ear. 
Do you
a) Make a joke of it,  perhaps by saying “It's a pity I dont know when to wear a helmet when I  leave the house”
b) Call the police
c) Take the law into your own hands, planning a grisly end for your assailant

How did you do? 
Did you get mainly As, Bs or Cs?
Mainly As – You are indeed a Stoic sage, no need for any Stoic anger management
Mainly Bs – You aren’t a  tyrant, but you definitely could benefit from some Stoic anger management
Mainly Cs  - Is your name Caligula or Medea by any chance?

Anyone with 3 or more As, that’s great, let us know in the comments!

Part II) 
All these questions are based on examples of sagehood or extreme anger described by Seneca.
Who was the Stoic sage (answer a) or example of extreme anger (answer c) as described by Seneca in each case
1. a or c? Who was it?

2. a or c? Who was it?
3. a or c? Who was it?
4. a or c? Who was it?
5. a or c? Who was it?
6. a or c? Who was it?
(half a mark for each part of each answer)

1)     This was one Publius Vedius Pollio (answer c) , notorious for his extravagant luxury and cruelty. (Seneca, On Anger  (3:40)
According to Wiki he “owned a massive villa at Posillipo on the Gulf of Naples, later described by the poet Ovid as "like a city". Most notoriously, he kept a pool of lampreys into which slaves who incurred his displeasure would be thrown as food[8] – a particularly unpleasant means of death, since the lamprey "clamps its mouth on the victim and bores a dentated tongue into the flesh to ingest blood".
…  On one occasion,[the Emperor]  Augustus was dining at Vedius' home when a cup-bearer broke a crystal glass. Vedius ordered him thrown to the lampreys, but the slave fell to his knees before Augustus and pleaded to be executed in some more humane way. Horrified, the emperor had all of Vedius's expensive glasses smashed and the pool filled in”.

    2)  King Cambyses was the tyrant upon whom answer c) is based (Seneca on Anger (3.14))
 King Cambyses was excessively addicted to wine. Præxaspes was the only one of his closest friends who advised him to drink more sparingly, pointing out how shameful a thing drunkenness was in a king, upon whom all eyes and ears were fixed. Cambyses answered, "That you may know that I never lose command of myself, I will presently prove to you that both my eyes and my hands are fit for service after I have been drinking." Hereupon he drank more freely than usual, using larger cups, and when heavy and besotted with wine ordered his reprover's son to go beyond the threshold and stand there with his left hand raised above his head; then he bent his bow and pierced the youth's heart, at which he had said that he aimed. He then had his. breast cut open, showed the arrow sticking exactly into the heart, and, looking at the boy's father, risked whether his hand was not steady enough. He replied, that Apollo himself could not have taken better aim

3) Cato was the Stoic sage exemplifying answer a) (Seneca On Anger (2:32)

"But anger possesses a certain pleasure of its own, and it is sweet to pay back the pain you have suffered." Not at all; it is not honourable to requite injuries by injuries, in the same way as it is to repay benefits by benefits. In the latter case it is a shame to be conquered; in the former it is a shame to conquer. Revenge and retaliation are words which men use and even think to be righteous, yet they do not greatly differ from wrong-doing, except in the order in which they are done: he who renders pain for pain has more excuse for his sin; that is all. Someone who did not know Marcus Cato struck him in the public bath in his ignorance, for who would knowingly have done him an injury? Afterwards when he was apologizing, Cato replied, "I do not remember being struck." He thought it better to ignore the insult than to revenge it. You ask, "Did no harm befall that man for his insolence?" No, but rather much good; he made the acquaintance of Cato. It is the part of a great mind to despise wrongs done to it; the most contemptuous form of revenge is not to deem one's adversary worth taking vengeance upon. Many have taken small injuries much more seriously to heart than they need, by revenging them: that man is great and noble who like a large wild animal hears unmoved the tiny curs that bark at him."

4) Caligula  was the tyrant  of answer c) as described by Seneca in On Anger  (2:33)
“Gaius Caesar (Caligula), offended at the smart clothes and well-dressed hair of the son of Pastor, a distinguished Roman knight, sent him to prison. When the father begged that his son might suffer no harm, Gaius, as if reminded by this to put him to death, ordered him to be executed,”

5) Medea, about whom Seneca wrote a play to illustrate the extreme perils of anger, according to some versions of the story carried out c)

Wiki says
“According to Euripidesversion, Medea took her revenge by sending Glauce (her rival) a dress and golden coronet, covered in poison. This resulted in the deaths of both the princess and the king, Creon, when he went to save his daughter. Medea then continued her revenge, murdering two of her children herself. “

6) Socrates demonstrated Stoic sagehood, answer a) (On Anger, 3.11)
 “There are many ways in which anger may be checked; most things may be turned into jest. It is said that Socrates when he was given a box on the ear, merely said that it was a pity a man could not tell when he ought to wear his helmet out walking.”

If  you got 3 or more, that’s very good, let me know in the comments!

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