By ‘anger’ he meant the desire for vengeance against an enemy that has inflicted injury on one’s people: ‘No entire people has ever burned with love for a woman, no whole state has set its hope on money or gain; ambition seizes individuals one by one; only fury plagues whole communities at once.’ We do not need to endorse this claim (grief is an obvious rival) to appreciate that anger and revenge are back in the news today, precisely in connection with whole communities at war with each other.
Not only in the potential war against Iraq, but also on both sides of the conflict in Israel, territory of the Roman province of Palestine.‘Anger’ is the first word of Western literature.
‘Sing, goddess, the wrath of Achilles’ is the opening prayer of Homer’s , but in the original Greek, the word μήνιν, ‘wrath’ or ‘anger’, comes first, in the place of emphasis.
The anger of Achilles is the central theme of our civilisation’s first and most powerful epic.
Athene intervenes to check his urge to kill Agamemnon on the spot, and he withdraws in a sulk from the fighting.
Deprived of their best warrior, the Greeks begin to lose ground. It is only when they are pushed right back to their ships, one of which the Trojans set ablaze, that he relents and allows his beloved friend Patroclus to rejoin the Greek army to help drive the enemy off the beaches.Achilles is angry because Agamemnon has grabbed his girl, his booty in the war against Troy.A great insult to his honour and prestige, which Homeric values count as injury to the person.It was also not by chance that Lu Xun chose to offer such a scathing critique through the character of the madman.Similar to the allegorical uses of madness in Western literature, the insane in modern Chinese fiction – by dint of their marginality – laid bare the social order even as they renounced it., the story follows an unnamed protagonist’s descent into lunacy as he convinces himself that the people around him are harboring a secret desire to “eat men” – that is, that they are complicit in a feudal cannibalistic tradition.In both form and content, ‘Diary of a Madman’ called attention to the conflict between tradition and modernity in an era of rapid cultural and political change.Convinced that his parents are engaging in cannibalism – and are grooming him to be cannibalized in the near future – the madman progressively loses his grip on reality. Indeed, the brilliance of the story is that the protagonist, though ostensibly insane, is actually the only character to see the inhumanity of his “man-eat-man” society with an unimpeded view.Cannibalism does, in fact, appear with disturbing frequency in the literature of Chinese antiquity: aside from the expected cases of survival cannibalism during times of famine, filial children were praised for (often perpetrated by rebels against state magistrates) occurred during periods of instability.More pressing for Lu Xun, however, was a metaphorical type of cannibalism, one meant to indicate the repressive feudal order of his time.For Lu Xun, Chinese society as a whole was cannibalistic, oppressing and devouring those who were least able to fend for themselves.