(Elements: an Avenger and a Criminal)

Vengeance is a joy divine, says the Arab; and such indeed it seems to have frequently been, to the God of Israel. The two Homeric poems both end with an intoxicating vengeance, as does the characteristic Oriental legend of the Pandavas ; while to the Latin and Spanish races the most satisfying of spectacles is still that of an individual capable of executing a legitimate, although illegal, justice. So much goes to prove that even twenty centuries of Christianity, following five centuries of Socratic philosophy, have not sufficed to re'; move Vengeance from its pedestal of honor, and to substitute thereon Pardon. And Pardon itself, even though sincere,—what is it but the subtile quintessence of vengeance upon earth, and at the same time the claiming of a sort of wergild from Heaven?


The Avenging of a Slain Parent or AncestorEdit

"The Singer," an anonymous Chinese drama; "The Tunic Confronted" (of the courtesan Tchangkoue-pin) ; "The Argives" and "The Epigones" of Aeschylus; Sophocles’ "Aletes and Erigone ;" "The Two Foscari," by Byron; Werner’s "Attila ;" "Le Crime de Maison-Alfort" (Coedes, 1881) ; "Le Maquignon" (Josz and Dumur, 1903). In the last three cases, as well as in the following one, the vengeance is accomplished not by a son, but by a daughter. Example

from fiction: Wrimee’s "Colomba." Familiar instances: the majority of vendettas. "Le Prétre" (Buet, 1881) presents especially the psychologic struggle between pardon and vengeance. Example of the avenging of a father driven to suicide : "L’Or" (Peter and Danceny, 1908).

The Avenging of a Slain Child or DescendantEdit

—Sophocles’ "Nauplius ;" a part of "Sainte-Helene" (Mme. Severine, 1902) ; the end of Euripides’ "Hecuba." Epic example: Neptune’s pursuit of Ulysses because of the blinding of Polyphemus.

Vengeance for a Child DishonoredEdit

"El Mejor Alcalde el Rey," by Lope de Vega; "The Alcalde of Zilamea," by Calderon. Historic example: the death of Lucrece.

The Avenging of a Slain Wife or HusbandEdit

Carneille’s "Pomp& ;" "L’Idiot" (de Lorde, 1903). Contemporary instance: the trials of Mme. Veuve Barreme.

Vengeance for the Dishonor, or Attempted Dishonoring, of a WifeEdit

The "Ixions" of Aeschylus, of Sophocles and of. Euripides ; "The Perrhoebides" of Aeschylus ; "Les Revoltes" (Cain and Adenis, 1908). Historic example: the priest of Ephraim. Similar cases, in which the wife has only been insulted: "Venisamhira," by Bhatta Narayana; "The Sons of Pa.ndou," by. Rajasekhara. Familiar instances: a large number of. duels.

Vengeance for a Mistress SlainEdit

"Love after Death," by Caleron ; "Amhra" (Grangeneuve, 1882) ; "Simon the Foundling" (Jonathan, 1882.

Vengeance for a Slain or Injured FriendEdit

"The Nereids" of Aeschylus. A contemporary instance: Ravachol. Case in which the vengeance is perpetrated upon the mistress of the avenger: "La Casserole" (Mêtenier, 1889).

Vengeance for a Sister SeducedEdit

Goethe's "Clavijo ;" "Les Bouchers" (Icres, 1888) ; "La Casquette au Pere Bugeaud" (Marot, 1886). Examples from fiction : "La Ker...sseatiouge," in Eekhoud’s collection, and the end of Bourget’s "Disciple."


Vengeance for Intentional Injury or SpoliationEdit

Shakespeare’s "Tempest." Contemporary instance : Bismarck in his retirement at Varzin.

Vengeance for Having Been Despoiled During AbsenceEdit

"Les Joueurs d’Osselets" and "Penelope," by Aeschylus ; "The Feast of the Achaeans," by Sophocles.

Revenge for an Attempted SlayingEdit

"The Anger of Te-oun-go," by Kouan-han-king. A similar case involving at the same• time the saving of a loved one by a judicial error: "La Cellule No. 7," (Zaccone, 1881).

Revenge for a False AccusationEdit

The "Phrixus" of Sophocles and of Euripides ; Dumas’ "Monte-Cristo ;" "La Declassee" (Delahaye, 1883) ; "Roger-la-Honte" (Mary, 1881).

Vengeance for Violation Edit

Sophocles’ "Tereus ;" "The Courtesan of Corinth" (Carre and Bilhaud, 1908) ; "The Cenci," by Shelley (parricide as the punishment of incest).

Vengeance for Having Been Robbed of Ones OwnEdit

"The Merchant of Venice," and partly "William Tell."

Revenge Upon a Whole Sex for a Deception by OneEdit

"Jack the Ripper" (Bertrand and Clairian, 1889) ; the fatal heroines of the typical plays of the Second Empire, "L’Etrangere," etc. A case appertaining also to class A : the motive (an improbable one) of the corruptress in "Possede," by Lemonnier.

We here encounter for the first time that grimacing personage who forms the keystone of all drama dark and mysterious,—the "villain." About the beginning

of our Third Situation we might evoke him at every step, this villain and his profound schemes which not infrequently make us smile. Don Salluste in "RuyBlas," Iago in "Othello," Guanhumara in "Burgraves," Homodei in "Angelo," Mahomet in the tragedy of that name, Leontine in "Heraclius," Maxime in "La Tragedie de Valentinien," Emire in "Siroês," Ulysses in "Palamedes."


Professional Pursuit of Criminals (the counterpart of which will be found in the Fifth Situation, Class A) :—"Sleglork Holmes" (Conan Doyle) ; "Vidocq" (Bergerat, 1910) ; "Nick Carter" (Busson and Livet, 1910).

Example: All detective stories. Columbo.

Frequently used though this situation has been in our day, many an ancient case awaits its rejuvenescence, many a gap is yet to be filled. Indeed, among the bonds which may unite avenger and victim, more than one degree of relationship has been omitted, as well as the majority of social and business ties. The list of wrongs which might provoke reprisal is far from being exhausted, as we may assure ourselves by enumerating the kinds of offenses possible against persons or property, the varying shades of opinion- of opposing parties, the different ways in which an insult may take effect, and how many and what sort of relationships may exist between Avenger and Criminal. And these questions concern merely the premises of the action.

To this we may add all the turns and bearings, slow or instantaneous, direct or tortuous, frantic or sure, which punishment can take, the thousand resources which it offers, the points at which it may aim in its deadly course, the obstacles which chance or the defendant may present. Next introduce various secondary figures, each pursuing his own aims, as in life, intercrossing each other and crossing the drama— and I have sufficient esteem for the reader’s capabilities to develop the subject no further.


Revenge is a common topic within our everyday lives, although the effect in terms of preventing recurrence of the crime is often negligible. 'Vengeance', even more than the very similar 'revenge' is done for the satisfaction of those who have been harmed in some way, and can be an act of great anger, sometimes arguably worse than the original crime.

Seeing vengeance in a story provides us with a vicarious release, allowing us to harmlessly channel our vengeful anger that might otherwise get us into trouble. Seeing the villain punished gives a sense of righteous satisfaction and confirmation that right will always be done.

Example: Hidden Faces Series

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