Perhaps 15 years ago I was listening to the radio and found Dr. James Gilligan being interviewed. He was spend some 35 years interviewing the most violent of prisoners, trying to understand why they did what they did. He mentioned that one day he realized all murder, all horrible violence, was explained by the Biblical story of Cain and Abel.
That it, murder is caused by overwhelming, crushing feelings of shame and humiliation, followed by revenge - brutal violence to replace that shame and humiliation with pride.
Even before that interview I had been interested in mythology. I pay more attention to myths than anything else. I rarely pay attention to 99% of the Ph.D.s from Harvard and Yale and Princeton, all of which will someday disappear.
I had found that one of the most perceptive of old myths is the Greek one of Hubris followed by Nemesis. It's Greek version of the Biblical "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." For the Greeks the full sequence is Koros to Hubris to Ate to Nemesis.
Koros means the surfeit which attends a base man who has too much, say money and power (this means base people are far more prone to hubris than normal people). It's actually unstable stability, which you find in weak people. It's considered to be a kind of greed.
I think of most politicians, almost all of whom (no matter how charming) are morally corrupt and have money, sex, drug and alcohol problems. Add political power to all those other problems and it's us who pays for it, not them. It's amazing that people — Mass Man, meaning Mass Morons — keep falling for the lies and mendacity of politicians.
After Koros comes Hubris — the God of Arrogance and Insolence. These days the word used is "grandiosity," a disorder in which the afflicted think they're far, far smarter and far, far better than everyone else - yet at the same time are weak and excruciatingly sensitive to criticism and humiliation.
Sometimes these people think they've been chosen by God, or, if they go crazy enough, believe they are a god. History is full of leaders like this, all of whom are convinced they are justified in their behavior, and none of whom have any guilt.
After Hubris comes Ate, which is a kind of madness or folly. It happens when the hubristic get challenged, when they're told they are emperors with no clothes. It's when they go crazy and in their moral blindness start slaughtering people.
Next stop? Nemesis. Nemesis is generally translated as "destruction," but it really means "vengeance." Indeed, Nemesis is the Goddess of Vengeance. Again, to replace feelings of shame and humiliation with pride.
Vengeance, or revenge, comes from other people, directed towards the hubristic. It happens when they are oppressed and humiliated and mocked to the point they rise up, overthrow and kill their oppressors, then hang them by their heels from lamp-posts.
The Biblical version is shorter than the Greek version. Again: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
The Bible also noticed the importance of shame, which is just another word for humiliation or ridicule or mockery. The shorthand these days is "being dissed."
In the story of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve are naked and without shame, since they have no self-consciousness. Notice the first thing they feel is shame, not guilt. This means shame comes before guilt, which is not mentioned at all in the story.
For a long time I've thought Adam and Eve were about three years old... lacking self-consciousness, running around naked, blaming their problems on other people. For little children, does shame come before guilt? That's been my experience.
Guilt is when you feel as if you are oppressing others; shame is when you feel they are oppressing you. Shame is what leads to murder, not guilt. The murder is supposed to erase the shame; revenge is supposed to make the murderer 'whole' again.
Both the Greeks and Hebrews noticed how shame leads to murder. That's what Hubris followed by Nemesis means.
Gilligan said what he heard, every time, was, "He dissed me" or their children, wife, parents, friends. Cain and Abel.
Humiliation leads to revenge and murder. Cain and Abel. Hubris followed by Nemesis. Pride goes before destruction. The stories are the same.
The Greeks considered humiliation to be an obscenity, and they banned representations of it from the theater. They were a lot wiser than we are. For that matter, the Bible contains much practical wisdom, although we think we know more than its time-tested wisdom.