Latin Proverb # 13 – Ira furor brevis est

Latin Proverb: Ira furor brevis est  Horatius, Ep. 1.2.62

Translation / English equivalent: Anger is a brief madness.

Meaning:  Anger is not a long-lived state of mind, but rather temporary insanity. This proverb, or saying, is a reminder of that so that we do not throw ourselves into stupid things just because we happen to be angry. The anger will pass and we might come to regret what decisions we made during that short period of craziness. 

Horace himself urges us to rule our anger, wrath and passion with this reminder that anger is only a short-lived insanity. He writes:

qui non moderabitur irae,

infectum volet esse, dolor quod suaserit et mens, 

dum poenas odio per vim festinat inulto. 

ira furor brevis est; 

i.e. "He who curbs not his anger will wish that undone which vexation and wrath prompted, as he made haste with violence to gratify his unsated hatred. Anger is short-lived madness."*

He tells us that unless we take command of our anger, it commands us instead:

animum rege; qui nisi paret

imperat; hunc frenis, hunc tu compesce catena.

i.e. ”Rule your passion, for unless it obeys, it gives commands. Check it with bridle— check it, I pray you, with chains”.*


* English translation from H. Rushton Fairclough, Loeb Classical Library.


Ira furor brevis est in other languages? 

What would you say in your language(s)? Or do you have some fun new versions of this proverb? Let us know in the comments below!

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