Anyway, thus it was with gratitude that I then encountered Angela Hobbes's Plato and the Hero. Here, in about a paragraph, is the single best description of thymos that I have yet see:
- “I wish to claim that the essence of human thumos is the need to believe that one counts for something, and that central to this need will be a tendency to form an ideal image of oneself in accordance with one’s conception of the fine and noble.” Failure to live up to this results in anger, self-disgust, or shame. “This ideal of oneself also needs to be confirmed by social recognition: others must treat one in accordance with one’s self-image,” and obtaining this recognition not only requires self-assertion and maybe aggression, but “any offense committed to one’s self-image by others will prompt anger and a desire to retaliate” (30). Yet thumos is no mere driving force. It responds to reason and social expectations. It’s susceptible to a proper education.
Saruman will have a warped thumos (i.e., his anger) that gets out of hand; otherwise, the above is a perfect description of Boromir, the most recognizably heroic (non-Christian) character in the book. Anyway, I feel like baking Dr. Hobbes a cake or something.
**Get this title, "Harken Not to Wild Beats: A Look at Rhetoric and Rage in Saruman and Thrasymachus." Ain't that fantastic? Makes you want to start reading immediately, don't it?