What are the virtues and vices of revenge?
Bacon in his essay ” Of Revenge ” maintains that the tendency to take revenge is ingrained and natural. It has both virtues and vices. Being a wild justice, it is unbecoming for a civilized person to take revenge on those who have harmed him. One who takes revenge puts the law out of office because it is the function of law to punish the wrongdoers. It is ignoble. Similarly, revenge cannot be able to right the wrong that has already been done. It is logical to think of the present and not of the past. Revenge ignores the weakness and selfishness of man’s nature. It keeps one’s own wound green and so causes misery. The second set of arguments goes in favor of revenge. Revenge is most allowable when it supplies the defects of law or when there is no law.
It is nobler to take revenge openly. Public revenge is generally fortunate. Revenge taken for the assassination of certain public figures has also generally proved fruitful for those who took the revenge. Augustus who avenged the assassination of Julius Caesar, Septimius Severus, who avenged the murder of Pertinax, and Henry IV, who avenged the death of Henry III, all prospered and flourished. Although Bacon commends public revenge, he condemns private revenge which turns one vindictive and miserable like a witch.