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According to Galen’s Platonist interpretation, Medea’s words exemplify “the battle between reason
and the emotions of the spirited part of the tripartite soul, and Medea commits infanticide when reason
finally loses this struggle.”173 As Galen puts it, Medea “was not persuaded by any reasoning
(λογισμός) to kill her children; quite the contrary, so far as reasoning goes, she says that she
understands how evil the acts are that she is about to perform, but her anger is stronger than her
deliberations; that is, her affection (τὸ πάθος) has not been made to submit and does not obey and
follow reason (ὁ λόγος) as it would a master, but throws off the reins and departs and disobeys the
command, the implication being that it is the action or affection of some power other than the rational
(ὡς ἑτέρας τινὸς ἔργον ἢ πάθημα δυνάμεως ὑπάρχον, οὐ τῆς λογιστικῆς)” (Galen, Plac. Hipp. Plat.
4.2.27 = 5.372 Kühn = 343 Müller; trans. P. de Lacy).174
The Stoics, on the other hand, rejected the Platonist notion of the divided self and argued that
Medea acted rationally: she committed infanticide because at the moment she was convinced that
vengeance took priority over the lives of her children. Thus, when an imaginary interlocutor refers to
Medea’s words and asks how it is possible that she knew what was profitable for her, yet did the
opposite, Epictetus answers: “It is because she regards the very gratification of her anger and the
taking of vengeance on her husband as more profitable (συμφορώτερον) than the saving of her
children” (Epictetus, Diss. 1.28.7).175 As Robert F. Dobbin puts it, “her crimes were acts of passion,
but her passion grew out of a conscious decision to gratify her outraged sense of justice.”176
Between these two competing theories, Paul most certainly gravitates towards the Platonist one.
In her critique of Troels Engberg-Pedersen’s Stoic reading of Rom 7,177 Wasserman argues that this
monistic theory of mind finds no support in Paul’s text:
Though formally the Stoics deny that self-division or contradiction is even possible, they argue
that bad acts occur when the mind commits itself to false propositions. In contrast, the mind in
Rom 7 is not corrupted by false information and it does not waver between competing claims
about what is good and bad. The speaker never equivocates about right and wrong and never
approves of what sin does but rather constantly affirms its capacity for knowledge and good
On the other hand, Rom 7 “consistently uses images and terms that fit with Platonic
representations of inner conflict.”179 First of all, in Rom 7, Paul employs the Platonist terms for the
rational part of the soul, ὁ νοῦς (“mind”) and ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρωπος (“the inner person”), the latter being a
variation of “the inner person” (ὁ ἐντὸς ἄνθρωπος) from Plato’s allegory of the soul (Resp. 589b).
Paul’s use of this terminology enables Wasserman to understand the speaker of the monologue as the
Wasserman 2008, 28.
See also Galen, Plac. Hipp. Plat. 3.3.13–22 = 5.306–8 Kühn = 272–4 Müller and 4.6.19–22 = 5.408–9 Kühn = 382–3
Cf. Epictetus, Diss. 2.17.19–22.
Dobbin 1998, 222.
See Engberg-Pedersen 2000, 240–6.
Wasserman 2008, 95.
Wasserman 2007, 797.