Let me begin with a confession – the first stage on the way to appealing for compassion and forgiveness (and usually followed by an apology and promise of reform): I am not a political scientist, but a student of classical Greece and Rome. My research on compassion and related ideas has been historical, an analysis of how ancient concepts compare to our own. I have written a book on pity in the classical world and early Christianity, another on the emotions of the ancient Greeks, in which I discuss, among other sentiments, anger and the assuaging of anger, as well as love and hatred, and still another book on the origins of the modern conception of forgiveness (Konstan 2001; Konstan 2006; Konstan 2010).1 In this brief chapter, I should like to draw upon classical ideas that are broadly within the semantic neighborhood of compassion to suggest some distinctions among these and related concepts that may be useful in evaluating the role of compassion in politics today. I do not, of course, mean to legislate the meaning of words on the basis of some presumed historical or, still worse, etymological considerations. The notions conveyed by such terms as compassion, sympathy, pity, forgiveness, clemency, humaneness, benevolence, and reconciliation, as well as phrases such as the assuaging of anger and the renunciation of vengeance, are not neatly bounded, and there are broad areas of overlap and combination. Still, some sense of how these ideas relate to classical Greek and Roman concepts that map, sometimes only roughly, onto the modern categories may help to clarify our thinking about the role of such sentiments in the contemporary world.