A tweet thread this week has me thinking about how people cope with grudges against others. Conventional wisdom tells us that holding a grudge is a burden for the one holding it, but not for the one they blame for their woes. And yet, history shows that holding grudges is very human.

One of the cool things I have seen in my travels is found at the Bath Museum in England. The city is built on an ancient Roman spring that was used as a public bath, guarded by the goddess Sulis Minerva. Among the ancient artifacts housed in the museum are ancient curses that were found in the bottom of the spring. The curses were written between 200 and 400 A.D. by patrons of the baths, asking the goddess to avenge the wrongs done to them by other citizens. The curses were inscribed, mostly in British Latin (a colloquial Latin used by the Romano-British population at the time for our linguistic readers), on small rectangular metal tabs (lead alloyed with tin and traces of copper for our metallurgist readers).  In some cases, the wrongdoers are identified. The wronged person turns the stolen goods over to the goddess and asks that she inflict the perpetrator until the goods are returned. Here are some examples of the curses:

“Solinus to the goddess Sulis Minerva. I give to your divinity and majesty [my] bathing tunic and cloak. Do not allow sleep or health to him who has done me wrong, whether man or woman or whether slave or free unless he reveals himself and brings those goods to your temple.”

This one doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion:

“Whether pagan or Christian, whether man or woman, whether boy or girl, whether slave or free whoever has stolen from me, Annianus [son of] Matutina (?), six silver coins from my purse, you, Lady Goddess, are to exact [them] from him. If through some deceit he has given me…and do not give thus to him but reckon as (?) the blood of him who has invoked his upon me.”

Apparently, some thief was consistently stealing exactly six coins. This one give three suspects:

“I have given to the goddess Sulis the six silver coins which I have lost. It is for the goddess to exact [them] from the names written below: Senicianus and Saturninus and Anniola.”

If the glove does not fit, you must acquit:

“Docimedis has lost two gloves and asks that the thief responsible should lose their minds [sic] and eyes in the goddess’ temple.”

I think the corrupt Senator from the X-Men movie did this:

“May he who carried off Vilbia from me become liquid as the water. May she who so obscenely devoured her become dumb”

Even the silent witnesses are cursed by this one:

“…so long as someone, whether slave or free, keeps silent or knows anything about it, he may be accursed in (his) blood, and eyes and every limb and even have all (his) intestines quite eaten away if he has stolen the ring or been privy (to the theft).”

One thing I always enjoy about history is that the more society progresses, the human heart remains more or less the same. In fact, since several of these relate to things being stolen by other patrons while bathers were enjoying the spa, it’s no surprise that when I went to the Spa in Bath the next day, I lost 40 pounds! Not in weight, unfortunately–in British Pounds Sterling. I also had a pair of flip flops stolen borrowed when I was at the Masjid Sultan mosque in Singapore. What was really insulting is that a man took them. He did, however, eventually return them, but in the meantime I had to stand around shoeless, waiting for him to finish his ablutions so I could catch the train home.

Returning to the original question posed by the Tweeter, “tell me your oldest, most cherished grudge.” Here are a few of mine:

  • Not still a grudge, mind you, but one of my very earliest memories was going to Cypress Gardens when I was under 2 years old. I was still in a stroller. My older sister got this plastic thing you stuck into an orange to let you suck the juice right out, and I didn’t have one. I felt downright murderous about the injustice of it. Nobody appreciated me! Then, my mom got me one, and it was the sweetest thing I had ever tasted.
  • A rather similar story actually–we were in Mazatlan at the beach as a family, and I was the only one who didn’t get a ridiculous looking bit floppy straw hat with flowers on it. I have photographic evidence for this one.

I’m actually not a big grudge holder–I usually forget my grievances–so I can’t think of any more.

  • Are any of you more successful holders of grudgers than I am?
  • What are your oldest grudges?
  • Do you hold fewer grudges the older you get or more of them?
  • In your experience, do Mormons hold grudges more or less than other people?

Discuss.