Patience is a Virtue

Uncategorized / Misc

All people who work in technology, as I do, should read some of the poem “Psychomachia” by the poet Prudentius from the 4th century, from which we get the wisdom “Patience is a Virtue”:

Here, in part:

[,,,] Longanimity or Patience comes on to the field. she is standing by the side watching the uproar of that combat: her quiet expression never changes as spears inflict their mortal wounds. Wrath, from, a great distance, spies the easy-tempered virtue and all at once becomes enraged. Baring her teeth in anger and letting flecks of foam fall from her gaping black mouth, the vice darts her bloodshot eyes this way and that and challenges Patience to fight both by brandishing the weapons of combat and by making a speech: she mocks Patience for keeping a place on the side. infuriated by such reticence, Wrath throws a spear and abuses the meek, long-suffering virtue: ‘This is for fools like you who stand aside and watch the combat without expressing favour. Take this wound in your gentle breast without crying; you would be dishonoured to admit any pain! With these words a shaft of pine is hurled through the air. Thrown with a good aim, the long sharp shaft strikes against the belly of Patience but falls into the dust. The virtue has wrapped her body in a jacket of steel links: this garment is three layers in thickness and its fabric is stitched together with leather. Longanimity stands there quite unruffled while a storm of weapons falls at her brave feet; she keeps such a line of defence that nothing injures her. While she stands unmoving, Patience watches her foe rage in an uncontrolled frenzy. But Patience waits because Wrath will perish by her own violence. When that opponent has finally exhausted her strength and used all of her weapons her right hand is useless and the ground is littered with weapons. Then she reaches-for a sword: raising the steel blade high over her head, she brings it down on the head of Patience, but a helmet of forged bronze only rings under that great blow. The sword its edge blunted, rebounds; the unbending helmet shatters it and Patience still stands there, unmoved, as she was before. The fury of Wrath is multiplied: with her sword scattered about her feet, she throws the hilt aside and finds herself without weapons. Only one thing remains: she had spent all her energies and won nothing for herself; her unreasoning anger turns on herself and she prepares for suicide. She picks up one of her useless weapons; she puts the shaft in the dirt and falls on the upturned point. Patience stands over Wrath and speaks: ‘We have conquered. With no danger to life our accustomed virtue has won the day again. This is the way we live, wiping out the devils of passion and all their attendant evils by standing as they attack. Wrath is its own enemy, Fury kills herself.

The emphasis is mine. I don’t think Prudentius had access to HTML / CSS formatting.

Full text:

Footnote: Patience may be a Virtue, but technology… not so much maybe

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