Live from the Lykeion: Rational ENVY: "Aristotle... notes the absence of a Greek word for people who fail to feel appropriate envy...:
...of the undeserving plutocrat. There wasn’t even a word in ancient Greek for that kind of incomprehension of economic reality. In his ‘Golden Mean’ table in the Eudemian Ethics he lists twelve virtues. Each has two correlative vices caused by excess or deficiency. Courage in excess is recklessness, but in deficiency it is cowardice. Friendliness in excess becomes brown-nosing, but if deficient just means you're rude. Aristotle says that excessive envy (phthonos) means revelling in the misery of the deservedly fortunate. The correlative virtue is Righteous Indignation (i.e. my proposed R.A.I.G.), which well-balanced people feel about the selfish rich and ill-gotten gains. But the one hole in his table of 36 terms (12 virtues and their correlative 24 vices) is the box where ‘stupid tolerance of unfairness’ should be.
So both the English language and ancient Greek have a real problem with even naming the inability of people who can’t heat their own homes to resent star footballers’ salaries.
But there is some good news: ancient Greek does have a solution to my R.A.I.G problem. In Aristotle’s table, the rational and appropriate level of envy, a commendable sensitivity to inequality and desire to erase it, my cacophonous proposed virtue of R.A.I.G., is strong, holds a hint that the world can be changed, and rolls off the tongue: it is NEMESIS.