Paraphrase of Of Revenge
Revenge is a kind of wild justice. When people’s nature leads them to seek revenge, the law should try to stop it. The first wrong only breaks the law, but seeking revenge makes the law ineffective. Taking revenge makes a person equal to their enemy, but forgiving and moving on makes them superior. It’s like what a prince does when he pardons someone. Solomon said it’s a man’s glory to overlook an offense. Past events cannot be changed, so wise people focus on the present and the future. Those who dwell on the past waste their time.
People don’t do wrong things just for the sake of being wrong. They do it to gain something like profit, pleasure, or honor. So, why should I be angry if someone loves themselves more than me? If someone does wrong out of ill-nature, it’s like a thorn or briar that hurts because it can’t do anything else.
The best kind of revenge is for the wrongs that can’t be fixed by the law. But, be careful not to seek revenge in a way that is illegal, or your enemy will still be ahead, and it’ll be like two wrongs for one.
Some people want the person they take revenge on to know it’s coming from them. This is more noble because the joy comes not from causing harm but from making the person regret their actions. On the other hand, cowardly and sly people are like arrows that strike in the dark.
Cosmus, the Duke of Florence, had a harsh saying about deceitful or neglectful friends. He believed such wrongs were unforgivable. Some say we should forgive our enemies, but there’s no rule saying we must forgive our friends. However, Job’s spirit was in a better place. He asked if we should only accept good things from God and not be willing to accept bad things too. It’s the same with friends. Sometimes we have to endure their mistakes as well.
It’s certain that someone seeking revenge keeps their wounds fresh, preventing them from healing and moving on. Public acts of revenge often turn out well, like those for the deaths of Caesar, Pertinax, and Henry the Third of France. But in private matters, seeking revenge may not bring good outcomes. Vindictive people live like witches: doing harm and ending up unfortunate.