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Roman ReflectionsStudies in Latin Philosophy$
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Gareth D. Williams and Katharina Volk

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199999767

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199999767.001.0001

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Tyrants, Fire, and Dangerous Things

Tyrants, Fire, and Dangerous Things

(p.111) 6 Tyrants, Fire, and Dangerous Things
Roman Reflections

Andrew M. Riggsby

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins from the premise that metaphor is a fundamental building block of the cognitive process, with the effect that metaphorical language pervades all manner of styles and topics of discourse. In his portrayal of anger in De ira, Seneca characterizes ira as constituted by the action of heat on a fluid (blood) in a container (the body). He thereby naturalizes the phenomenon of anger by giving literal force to the “everyday” heat-of-fluid-in-a-container metaphor—a technique enabled by the embedded metaphorical properties of the Latin language. The metaphor also allows for an apparently novel Senecan “treatment” for anger: forcing one’s features into the bodily semblance of calm will put pressure on the internal anger, suppressing it by appeal to the (metaphorically drawn) physical mechanism of anger. For if anger is generated by the heat and pressure of a contained fluid, it becomes controllable by intervention at that physical level.

Keywords:   Seneca, De ira, Anger, cognitive linguistics, metaphor, Stoicism

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