Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Jeffrie G. Murphy
Vengeance is the infliction of suffering on a person in order to satisfy vindictive emotions. Vindictive emotions are harsh passions—anger, resentment, hatred—often felt by victims toward those who have wronged them. When punishment is inflicted as vengeance, it may also accidentally serve as deterrence or retribution. These are not its goals, however. The goal of vengeance is simply to provide satisfaction to victims, and victims may require for their satisfaction something other than what is necessary to control crime or what wrongdoers deserve. Is providing such victim satisfaction a legitimate purpose of punishment? The ancient Greeks certainly thought so. In the first two plays of Aeschylus's Oresteia trilogy, a society is driven nearly to anarchy by a system of private vengeance—a system fueled by the Furies who represent the vindictive passions. In the final play, Athena brings peace, not by banishing the Furies but rather by institutionalizing them—removing them In ...