It sometimes happens to us, living beings of this age that we are, that we experience some kind of inner conflict; a conflict between what seems to our intellect or reason(*) and the feeling or "heart" as many would call it. An example would be a job that looks quite good on paper, but the individual decides to reject it finally, not necessarily because any specific reason he could pinpoint, but because it didn't "feel" right.

I am mostly interested in an account of the classical period that describes such an inner conflict (and it may quite board in range - something like acting against "conscience" even), and would be especially happy to find what are the entities in the conflict as "head/brain" and "heart". Originally I though that ego and animus could be good candidates for "head" and "heart" based on several quotes, but I have my seconds thought now.

(*) as much as we have one (or should I speak for myself). For genuine rational entity seems to be quite rare. It can be called many times "justificator" as it merely post-factum used to justify a decisions taken based on irrational causes (not that I'm saying this a bad thing).

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    Plato contrasted the "reasoning part" (λογιστικόν), spirit (θύμος), and desire (ἐπιθυμία), giving examples of how they come apart in the Republic (among other places). Aristotle also talks extensively about the relationship between reason and the passions, especially in Nicomachean Ethics VII. But perhaps you are looking for something in Latin?
    – brianpck
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 19:21
  • @brianpck, thanks for that. well, I was more oriented in Latin (as I don't know any Greek), I wonder how those terms were translated in Latin of the classical period, but more interested in causal way of speaking rather than deep philosophical . At any case this can constitute an answer.
    – d_e
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


In Cicero's De Re Publica, Book I, there's a conversation between Scipio and Laelius which deals with this sort of conflict:

S. Ergo non probares, si consilio pulso libidines, quae sunt innumerabiles, iracundiaeve tenerent omnia?

(Scipio. Then you would not approve that the evil passions, which are innumerable, should expel conscience, and that lusts and animal propensities should assume an ascendency over us?)

L. Ego vero nihil isto animo, nihil ita animato homine miserius ducerem.

(Laelius. For my part, I can conceive nothing more wretched than a mind thus degraded, or a man animated by a soul so licentious.)

S. Sub regno igitur tibi esse placet omnis animi partes, et eas regi consilio?

(Scipio. You desire, then, that all the faculties of the mind should submit to a ruling power, and that conscience should reign over them all?)

L. Mihi vero sic placet.

(Laelius. Certainly, that is my wish.)

On the one hand, the word that is here translated as "conscience" is consilium, which, according to Lewis and Short, can also be translated as:

As a mental quality, understanding, judgment, wisdom, sense, penetration, prudence

On the other hand, the words used in opposition to this higher faculty is pars animi, the parts of the mind (here translated as "faculties"), or libido (translated as "evil passions") which, according to Lewis and Short, can be translated as:

pleasure, desire, eagerness, longing, fancy, inclination

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