In 4 Maccabees, the protagonists, Eleazar and the seven Maccabee brothers, are portrayed as the paragons of rational control of emotion. The question posed at the beginning of the reading was: does reason really have control over emotion? It was explained that perhaps reason does not extinguish any feelings a person might have - however it allows a person to escape being controlled by their emotions. It controls their bodily expression, or actions one might make subject to their emotions.
Each of the martyrs in 4 Maccabees is said, finally, to be the proof that reason controls emotion. Any one of the men killed for their refusal to eat unclean meat (pork) could have submitted to their emotions, which most likely primarily consisted of fear. They must have had those emotions, however the point is that they did not allow them to dictate their actions. They could have simply eaten (or even pretended to eat) the pork that they were ordered to eat, but they instead chose to be faithful to God and die instead. This illustrates the Platonic ideals of courage and reason being combined to overcome primal desires. There is a combination of rationality and physical control (this is where I think courage comes in, in the actual acting out of the ideals). Both parts of this are necessary to execute (no pun intended) the Noble Death displayed in 4 Maccabees.
They also dramatically display their reason in all of their death speeches. Eleazar explains that he will not even pretend to eat the meat, as he would be a poor example to the youth. The Maccabees encourage each other to stay faithful to the Law, and to not allow their emotions to make their brothers' deaths in vain. They not only explain that they are dying to follow God's Law, they explain that their legacy is for others. Eleazar is depending on the story of his life/death to inspire the children of Israel. The Maccabees speak about their deaths being the sacrifice that will turn God's punishment to mercy. They are paying for the sins of their fellow Jews, so that God may bring glory to their nation in the future. Their deaths are not only to follow God's Law, but they are for the salvation of the people. This reflect's Middleton's emphasis of the martyr narrative, as well.