There is nothing so urgent as the desire for revenge, when real or perceived injury has been done to oneself or one’s community, there is nothing so sweet as the angry pleasure it gives once enacted. Connoisseurs of revenge might applaud Emile Gaboriau’s remark that ‘ revenge is a luscious fruit which we must leave to ripen’, but it is rare for revenge to be patient. We hurry to avenge whereas we are slow to pay gratitude to someone – and failing to achieve revenge is painful and often more mortifying and painful in ways that not discharging other debts rarely is.
Revenge is a primitive impulse to justice; it has an intention to restore balance but this usually makes it too harsh and punitive, therefore inviting further revenge. (Think of the Guelphs and the Ghiballines, the Montagues and the Capulets). Vengeance bred vengeance; that’s the nature of feuds. They quickly consume the parties in a downwards spiral of hatred and violence.
“It is sweet, to see your foe perish, and to pay justice everything he owes” – Euripides
That’s the crucial problem: society cannot function if individuals are left to seek redress on their own; justice cannot be a matter of privet enterprise. Recognition of this led to the creation of Laws and courts.
Nelson Mandela said – “No revenge is more honourable than the one not taken, there is nobility in forbearance”
Revenge is part of the festering hatreds and hurts which poison life. It takes magnanimity (meaning great soul) – to rise above revenge. It is always in short supply, but I think it’s the main ingredient in everything that makes life a better place , it’s the only antidote to the rage for revenge which, without fail, always makes things worse.
I’m studying Hamlet at the moment so maybe that’s why the topic is fresh in my mind. The only thin rotten in Denmark is Hamlet, and his piss poor attitude.