Vengeance, Vindictiveness, and Valar Morghulis

AryaIn George R. R. Martin’s epic series A Song of Ice and Fire  (on which the Game of Thrones  TV show is based) one character, Arya Stark, goes to sleep each night muttering the names of those on whom she vows to get revenge:

Every night Arya would say their names. “Ser Gregor,” she’d whisper to her stone pillow. “Dunsen, Polliver, Chiswyck, Raff the Sweetling. The Tickler and the Hound. Ser Amory, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, King Joffrey, Queen Cersei.”

Whether out of vindictiveness or the more benign need for a coping device, it is not altogether unnatural to feel the need to utter the off-handed curse here and there. Hell, even the Biblical Psalter is filled with this kind of thing:

“Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth!” (Psalm 58:6)

The key to all this, I suppose, is to get over it, to forfeit self-vindication, to learn to forego both vengeance and the desire to see it exacted. 

When, in times of quiet,

Fists are clenched and shaken;

When, though no one’s listening,

Curses are called down:

Then and especially then

Does one know how broken and bitter

He has foolishly allowed himself to become.

Maturity defaults to love over all else. Maturity refuses to allow its subjects to wallow and stew. Maturity is rare and difficult to come by.

1 Comment

  1. MikeMarch 26, 2015


    Interesting that the same man who penned the impreccatory psalms also spared the life of his greatest enemy when he had the chance to kill him quietly.

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