Pseudo-Andronicus, On Affects

Although lists and catalogues probably seem like a sterile form for ethics to modern readers, this rather ‘scholastic’ brief text ascribed to the Peripatetic philosopher Andronicus of Rhodes is also one of the most nuanced explorations of emotion to be found anywhere in ancient literature. While its taxonomy of emotions may be problematized in various ways, its pinpoint definitions can be easily utilized for self-reflection and contemplative exercise.

Translation from the original Greek by by Ɔ. Martiana (Unhistorize).

Book I: On Affects


Affect is an irrational motion of a soul, [on a prejudice of evil or good] and against nature, or a growing urge. The most general affects are four: vexation, fear, desire, pleasure.
(1) Vexation (lypê) is irrational abasement; or an acute expectation of the presence of evil, on account of which peole believe they must abase themselves.
(2) Fear (phobos) is irrational avoidance (ekklisis); or flight from something supposed to be terrible.
(3) Desire (epithymia) is irrational appetency (orexis); or pursuit of something supposed to be good.
(4) Pleasure (hêdonê) is irrational elation (eparsis); or an acute belief of the presence of good, by which it seems one must be elated.


Twenty-five kinds of vexation.

Compassion, envy, jealousy, despondency (dysthymia), misfortune, eariness, distress, shock, mourning, disgust, disturbance, painedness, sorrow, regret, uncertainty, listlessness, vexedness, righteous anger, discomfort, wailing, depression, weeping, anxiety, pity.
(1) Compassion (eleos) is vexation over other people’s evils which they suffer unduly.
(2) Envy (phthonos) is vexation over other people’s goods; or vexation over the good luck of the successful.
(3) Jealousy (zêlos) is vexation over something happening to someone which one desires for oneself; or grief over the circumstances of others, which are not ours; or (in the sense of ‘style’), zêlos is being blessed with wit.
(4) Rivalry (zêlotypia) is vexation over the circumstances of others, which are also our circumstances.
(5) Despondency (dysthymia) is grief over what cannot be solved or changed.
(6) Misfortune (symphora) is vexation over evils that befall us (sumpephragmenois).
(7) Weariness (akhthos) is heavy vexation.
(8) Distress (akhos) is grief producing speechlessness.
(9) Shock (sphakelismos) is vehement vexation.
(10) Mourning (penthos) is vexation over an untimely death.
(11) Disgust (dyskheransis) is vexation out of contrary cogitations.
(12) Disturbance (okhlêsis) is confining vexation, or vexation that does not admit of overturning.
(13) Painedness (odynê) is vexation reaching sharpness.
(14) Sorrow (ania) is vexation out of cogitation.
(15) Regret (metameleia) is vexation over transgressions done by oneself.
(16) Uncertainty (synkhysis) is vexation that hinders from discerning the future.
(17) Listlessness (athymia) is vexation of someone hopeless about things they desire to happen.
(18) Vexedness (asê) is vexation with tossing about.
(19) Righteous anger (nemesis) is vexation over those exalted beyond proper bounds.
(20) Discomfort (dysphoria) is vexation without solution regarding how to deal with the current circumstances.
(21) Wailing (goos) is lamentation of someone laboring under vexation.
(22) Depression (barythymia) is heavy vexation which grants no relief.
(23) Weeping (klausis) is the crying of someone who is vexed and bent over onto their hand.
(24) Anxiety (phrontis) is the train of thought of someone who is vexed.
(25) Pity (oiktos) is vexation over other people’s evils.


Thirteen kinds of fear.

Apprehension, shame, horror, shock, consternation, perturbation, cowardice, jitteriness, anguish, hesitation, terror, tumult, superstition.
(1) Apprehension (oknos) is fear of future action.
(2) Shame (aiskhynê) is fear of a bad reputation.
(3) Horror (deima) is fear of something one is seeing.
(4) Shock (deos) is binding fear.
(5) Consternation (ekplêxis) is fear of unaccustomed terrible imaginings.
(6) Perturbation (kataplêxis) is fear out of stronger imaginings.
(7) Cowardice (deilia) is shrinking from what appears incumbent because of terrible imaginings.
(8) Jitteriness (psogodeeia) is empty fear.
(9) Anguish (agônia) is fear of failiure; of fear of defeat; or fear that produces the opposite of the hopes for which we have vehement appetency.
(10) Hesitation (mellêsis) is apprehension of doing what one has determined.
(11) Terror (orrôdia) is fear of something imagined.
(12) Tumult (thorybos) is fear expressed with noise.
(13) Superstition (deisidaimonia) is fear about the divine (to daimonion), or excessiveness in honoring the gods.


Twenty-seven kinds of desire.

Anger, temper, gall, irritation, resentment, grudge, eros, longing , yearning, malevolence, ill-will, quick satisfaction, leering, craving, roughness(?), quarrelsomeness, clinging, love of plesure, love of wealth, love of honor, love of life, love of body, gluttony, insobriety, lust.
δυσμένεια· δύσνοια· ἁψικορία· ῥιψοφθαλμία· σπάνις· τραχυτής· ἔρις· προσπάθεια· φιληδονία· φιλοχρηματία· γαστριμαργία· οἰνοφλυγία· λαγνεία.
(1) Anger (orgê) is a desire for punishment of someone who seems to have done injustice.
(2) Temper (thymos) is beginning anger.
(3) Gall (kholos) is swelling anger.
(4) Irritation (pikria) is anger bursting out suddenly.
(5) Resentment (mênis) is anger held onto over a long time.
(6) A grudge (pikria) is anger awating an opportunity for punishment.
(7) Eros is a desire for bodily intercourse.
(8) A different eros is desire for love (or ‘friendship’, philia).
(9) A different eros is service to the gods for the sake of educating the young and beautiful – which is how they (e.g., Platonists) characterize an attempt to make friends on account of apparent beauty.
(10) Longing (himeros) is desire for communication with an absent friend.
(11) Yearning (pothos) is desire for someone absent on account of eros (‘sexual desire’).
(12) Malevolence (dysmeneia) is ill-will that is malevolent and awaiting opportunity.
(13) Ill-will (dysnoia) is desire for misfortune for another on their account.
(14) Quick satisfaction (or ‘fickleness’, apsikoria) is a desire that is quickly fulfilled.
(15) Leering (rhipsophthalmia) is eagerness to see the person one yearns for (pothoumenon).
(16) Craving (spanis) is unfulfilled desire.
(17) Roughness(?) (trakhytês) is irregular desire.
(18) Quarrelsomeness (eris) is an urge towards malicious opposition.
(19) Clinging (prospatheia) is ‘slavish’ desire.
(20) Love of pleasure (philêdonia) is desire for pleasures.
(21) Love of wealth (philokhrêmatia) is immoderate desire for wealth.
(22) Love of honor (philotimia) is immoderate desire for honor (or ‘prestige, status’).
(23) Love of life (philozôia) is irrational desire for life.
(24) Love of body (philosômatia) is desire for plenty of the body contrary to need.
(25) Gluttony (gastrimargia) is immoderate desire for food.
(26) Insobriety (oinoglyphia) is insatiate desire for wine.
(27) Lust (lagneia) is immoderate desire for (sexual) intercourse.


Five kinds of pleasure.

Gratification, delight, charm, spite, enchantment.
(1) Gratification (asmenismos) is pleasure over things supposed to be good.
(2) Delight (terpsis) is pleasure by sight or hearing.
(3) Charm (kêlêsis) is pleasure, being charmed through hearing; or pleasure arising from speech and music or by deceit.
(4) Spite (epikhairekakia) is pleasure over the misfortune of those nearby.
(5) Enchantment (goêteia) is pleasure through deceit or by magic.


(i) Three kinds of good affect (eupathias).

Purposiveness, joy, scruple.
(1) Purposiveness (boulêsis) is rational appetency (‘desire’ in a positive sense).
(2) Joy (khara) is rational elation.
(3) Scruple (eulabeia) is rational avoidance.

(ii) Four kinds of purposiveness (boulêsis).

Goodwill, benevolence, affection, love.
(1) Goodwill (eunoia) is willing (boulêsis) good things for another for their own sake.
(2) Benevolence (eumeneia) is lasting (epimonos) goodwill.
(3) Affection (aspasmos) is continuous [rest of the definition lost].
(4) Love (agapêsis) is [definition lost].

(iii) Three kinds of joy (khara).

Delight, mirth, contentment.
(1) Enjoyment (terpsis) is appropriate joy at one’s own benefit.
(2) Well-mindedness (or ‘glad thoughts, cheer’, euphrosynê) is joy over the works of a moderate person.
(3) Contentment (euthymia) is joy over leisure or not investigating anything.

(iv) Two kinds of scruple (eulabeia).

Sense of shame, holiness.
(1) Sense of shame (aidôs) is scruple over rightful criticism.
(2) Holiness (hagneia) is scruple over transgressions against the gods.