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Beowulf The hero of all heroes, Beowulf, strong and courageous, is the prince of Geats.

Once he makes a vow, he stands by his word, no matter what the cost, even if it takes his life. He is reluctant to back down from battle, just so he can be there for the people who are in great need to be saved from evil. He signifies the true heroic character because he is willing to risk his life for his ideals. Beowulf defeats three gruesome monsters, two of whom are descendants of Cain. The reader is first introduced to Beowulf as he disembarks from his ship, having just arrived in the land of the Danes (Scyldings) from his home in Geatland. He is an impressivelooking man. The Scylding coastal guard points out that he has never seen "a mightier noble, / a larger man" (247-48) even though he has held this office and served his king, Hrothgar, for many years, watching all kinds of warriors come and go. Beowulf is huge and strong. We are soon told that he has the strength of 30 men in his hand-grip. Just as important is the way that the young warrior (not much more than 20 years of age) carries himself; the Geat has the bearing of a noble leader, a champion, perhaps a prince. He has arrived to help the Scyldings; for 12 years, a mighty man-like ogre named Grendel has menaced Hrothgar's great mead-hall, Heorot, terrorizing and devouring the Danes. In a seminal lecture, often anthologized (see CliffsNotes Resource Center), English novelist and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien ("Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics," Proceedings of the British Academy, XXII [1936], 245-95) argues that the central structural motif of Beowulf is the balance between beginnings and endings, of youth and age. The most dominating example of this is the life of Beowulf himself. When he arrives in Hrothgar's kingdom, the hero of the epic is still a very young man. He is out to establish a name for himself. Reputation is a key theme of the poem and of central importance to Beowulf. As the coastal guard first approaches the Geats, he asks about Beowulf's lineage (251). Beowulf mentions his father's accomplishments and reputation as well as his king, Hygelac, and his people, the Geats. To King Hrothgar (418 ff.), he properly reveals more: Beowulf once killed a tribe of giants and has driven enemies from his homeland. He already has a favorable reputation, but he is eager for more achievements that will add to his good name. In the world of Beowulf, a man's good name is his key to immortality. It is all that remains after death. Part of the motivation for the hero's coming to the land of the Danes is to gain more fame. The poem uses the word unabashedly, but a modern audience might feel uncomfortable with the concept, thinking of empty trophies in a superficial frame. Within this world of heroic struggle, however, fame is more than that. A modern audience might best think of fame as reputation. Reputation can protect a leader's people and settle a conflict before it comes to blows, as Beowulf's reputation later does when he is the king of Geatland. Fame is a positive quality, having to do more with earned respect than vanity. A more important reason for coming to Hrothgar's aid is directly related to a family debt. Years before, Hrothgar sheltered Beowulf's father, Ecgtheow, from a dangerous feud and purchased a settlement of the conflict with the Geat's enemies, a procedure incorporating wergild (man-payment or man-worth). Beowulf has come to repay Hrothgar's generosity. At a banquet in the Geats' honor on the first day of their visit, a drunken, jealous Dane named Unferth challenges Beowulf's reputation. When Beowulf was an adolescent, he engaged in a swimming match on the open sea with another boy, a royal member of the Brondings tribe named Breca. Unferth asserts that Beowulf was vain and foolish to enter such a dangerous

contest and that Breca proved the stronger, defeating Beowulf in seven nights. Unferth's point is that, if the Geat could not win that swimming match, he is surely no match for Grendel. Beowulf's response to Unferth (529 ff.) further establishes the hero's character and maturity. He remains composed and in control, despite his youth. Although he would be justified in calling Unferth out and attacking him physically, Beowulf instead uses wit and facts to correct the Dane. He begins by observing, "What a great deal, Unferth my friend, / full of beer, you have said about Breca, / told of his deeds" (530-32). Beowulf points out that he and Breca swam for five nights, not seven. Although he was the stronger, he would not abandon Breca. After rough seas drove them apart, Beowulf spent the rest of the fifth night fighting vicious water monsters, killing nine. He comments on the workings of Fate (Wyrd), saying that it saved him but only because it was not his time and because he had fought courageously. Beowulf reminds the gathering that Unferth's reputation is sparse except for the fact that he actually killed his own brothers, for which he will be condemned to hell even though he may be "clever" with words. Beowulf also points out that Grendel might not be such a problem for King Hrothgar if Unferth's "battle-spirit, were as sharp as [his] words" (596). The rebuttal is an enormous success; before he ever faces Grendel, Beowulf proves that he is a man to be reckoned with. The confrontation with Grendel clearly demonstrates Beowulf's great strength, but it also illustrates his sense of fair play and his cool reasoning regarding tactics. Beowulf refuses to wear armor or use weapons against the ogre because Grendel is not schooled in the fine art of human warfare and will use no weapons himself. Ironically, the choice to eschew weapons ends up helping Beowulf because Grendel is protected from them by a magic charm. To defeat him, an opponent must be superior in hand-to-claw combat. To study the ogre's approach, Beowulf allows Grendel to attack and devour another of the Geats when the descendant of Cain enters Heorot that night. Although he is losing a friend, Beowulf observes but lies still. When the ogre reaches for his next victim, he receives the shock of his life. Beowulf, with the hand-grip of 30 men, grabs hold and won't let go. The ensuing battle nearly destroys Heorot but ends with a victory for Beowulf. He rips Grendel's right claw from its shoulder socket, mortally wounding the beast and sending him scurrying in retreat. The claw hangs from Heorot's roof, a macabre trophy. Beowulf's defeat of Grendel's mother demonstrates remarkable courage and perseverance. Seeking to avenge the death of her son and recover his claw, the mother attacks Heorot the next night, surprising everyone. In the morning, Beowulf tracks her to a dark, swampy mere where she and her son live in a cave at the bottom of the lake. There Beowulf defeats her with the help of a magic giant sword and returns with the sword's hilt and Grendel's head as trophies. In a sermon designed to guide Beowulf through a life of leadership, King Hrothgar warns the young warrior of the dangers of pride and the perils of old age. Beowulf's reputation spreads in the last third of the poem. He serves his king well until Hygelac is killed in battle. When Hygelac's son dies in a feud, Beowulf becomes king and rules successfully for 50 years. Like Hrothgar, however, his peace in his declining years is shattered by a menacing monster. The question at the end of Beowulf's life is whether he allows pride to blind him from prudent action. Does he love fame too much? A fiery dragon terrorizes the countryside because a lone Geat fugitive has stolen a golden flagon from the dragon's treasure-trove. Beowulf insists on fighting the dragon alone even though the king's death will leave Geatland vulnerable to attack from old enemies. Led by the fugitive and accompanied by eleven of his warriors, Beowulf seeks out the dragon's barrow. Beowulf's trusted sword, Naegling, is no match for the monster. Seeing his king in trouble, one

thane, Wiglaf, goes to his assistance while the others flee to the woods. Together, Wiglaf and Beowulf kill the dragon, but the mighty king is mortally wounded. He has won every battle but one. Some critics feel that, despite the warnings by Hrothgar, pride and age have brought down the epic hero. Others point out that Beowulf did not have long to rule anyway and deserved the right to choose a warrior's death. Beowulf remains one of the most important works of English literature though it was written centuries ago. One reason for this fact is that many of the themes that it touches on are still pertinent in today's extremely different society. One of the most prevalent themes found in Beowulf is the importance of the heroic code. Much of this epic poem is dedicated to conveying and exemplifying the heroic code which values such attributes as strength, courage and honor. Conflicting with this ideology are other factors such as Christianity, and these tensions affect the lives and decisions of the narrative's characters. Over the course of the poem, Beowulf matures from a gallant warrior into a wise leader. This transition illustrates that a sometimes conflicting code of values goes along with each of his roles. In Germanic societies, such as the one in which Beowulf takes place, there were heroic codes which defined how a noble person should act. In addition to strength, courage and honor, these codes also included loyalty, generosity, and hospitality. The heroic code was of great importance in warrior societies. In his book Beowulf and Epic Tradition, William Witherle Lawrence says that these codes were "defined with the utmost strictness, and were not lightly to be transgressed." He goes on to say that upon these codes "the whole motivation of the poem depends" and that "tribal law and custom [were] the rocks against which the lives of men and women [were] shattered" (Lawrence 28-29). Therefore, all of the characters' moral decisions originate from the code's directives. Consequently all individual actions can be seen only as either complying with or going against the code. Beowulf highlights the code's points of tension by relating circumstances that reveal its internal inconsistencies. The poem contains several stories in which characters experience divided loyalties, in these situations, the code gives no realistic guidance as to how they are supposed to act or react. One example of this is when Hildeburh, a Danish woman, marries the Frisian king. When war breaks out between the Danes and the Frisians, Hildeburh experiences losses on both sides. Do her loyalties lie with the land of her birth, or with her new home? In the end, Hildeburh is left grieving over the deaths of both her Danish brother and her Frisian son. Another, perhaps greater, tension within the poem is the one between the heroic code and Christianity. While the heroic code claims that glory is achieved in this life through noble deeds, Christian doctrine maintains that glory lies only in the hereafter. Also, warrior tradition states that it is always better to get revenge than to grieve. This directly contradicts the Christian belief to forgive those who have done us wrong. Upon the death of his friend Ashhere, Hrothgar says: Woe has returned to the Danish people with the death of Ashhere He was my closest counsellor, he was keeper of my thoughts, He stood at my shoulder when we struck for our lives At the crashing together companies of foot, When blows rained on boar-crests. Men of birth and merit All should be as Ashhere was! (1321-1328) It can be said that these lines "sound like an echo of divine service and are a mingling of heathen valor and desire for glory, on the one hand, and Christian gentleness and kindness on

the other" (Lawrence 242). In this case, the Beowulf poet seems to have found a balance between the pagan world of the heroic code and the Christian ideology. Throughout the course of the poem, we see the transformation of Beowulf. In the beginning he is a brave fighter, but by the end, he has become a wise and noble king. This transition shows that perhaps a different code is necessary to fulfill these different roles. These sets of values illustrate early on in the poem the contrary outlooks of Beowulf and Hrothgar. Early in the poem, Beowulf is young, brave and has no one to worry about but himself. Because of this he can risk everything in his quest for personal glory. Hrothgar, on the other hand, is responsible for the lives of many people, and therefore seeks their safety rather than his own honor. Hrothgar's example becomes invaluable to Beowulf in preparation for the time when he will take the throne. He learns that as a king, it is his duty to praise his warriors as well as protect his people. Hrothgar emphasizes the importance of creating a stable environment. He also says that having good relationships with one's own men, as well as with other groups, is imperative. When Hygelac dies, Beowulf does not hurry and seize the throne, but rather supports Denmark's rightful heir. With this gesture of loyalty and respect for the throne, Beowulf shows that he has been transformed. Instead of wanting all of the glory for himself, he sees that the right thing is to wait for the throne. This episode demonstrates that Beowulf is now fit to be king. At the end of the poem, Beowulf has taken the throne, and as king should therefore act for the good of his people. His encounter with the dragon at the end calls his values into judgment. By fighting the dragon, and ultimately dying, Beowulf has left his people without a king and without protection. However, William Lawrence sees Beowulf's final fight as an act of "heroism that springs not only form valor but from consciousness of virtue, and from faith in the True God." Our hero's battle with the dragon is an: Occasion not only for heroic achievement, and for the protection of suffering mankind, but also for the defense of the settled orderly happiness of the civilized state. It is the duty of the sovereign and of those who would uphold human sovereignty to meet and destroy [the dragon] (Lawrence 131). In this way of thinking, it would seem that Beowulf was able to reconcile the differing codes of heroism, Christianity and kinship. At the center of the epic poem Beowulf is the idea of the heroic code and its tenets. Because the code sometimes conflicts with other ideologies, such as Christianity and nationalism, tensions often arise. However, as we see in the lives of characters like Hildeburh, Hrothgar, and especially Beowulf, one does not always have to choose. Though Beowulf has to make some changes in his life once he becomes king, he shows that the heroic code and other influences are not mutually exclusive. In Anglo-Saxon culture and literature, to be a hero was to be a warrior. A hero had to be strong, intelligent, and courageous. Warriors had to be willing to face any odds, and fight to the death for their glory and people. The Anglo-Saxon hero was able to be all of these and still be humble and kind. In literature Beowulf is, perhaps, the perfect example of an Anglo-Saxon hero. In The 13th Warrior, Ibn Fadlan (played by Antonio Banderas) also shows many of the characteristics that distinguish an Anglo-Saxon hero. At the same time, Fadlan and those around him display many of the traits which define today's heroes. The Anglo-Saxon hero is clearly shown and defined in Beowulf, "The Wanderer," "The Dream of The Rood," and even Crichton's The 13th Warrior.

In Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon hero is well defined by the actions of Beowulf. It is obvious that Beowulf is the quintessential hero. His strength and courage are unparalleled, and he is much more humble (and honorable) than many of the corrupt warriors around him. Beowulf displays his great strength time after time. Whether he is fighting sea monsters, Grendel's mother, or a horrible fire-breathing dragon, Beowulf shows that his courage and strength should be an inspiration to all heroes. Strength and physical appearance are essential to the Anglo-Saxon warrior. Beowulf is described as having the strength of "thirty men" in just one of his arms, and when he first arrives in the land of the Danes, the coastguard sees the mighty hero and says, "I have never seen a mightier warrior on earth than is one of you, a man in battle-dress" (Beowulf, 7). Strength is clearly an important characteristic of heroes in Anglo-Saxon culture, but strength alone is not enough to define a hero. Beowulf shows that every hero must have courage. In an argument with Unferth, Beowulf says, "Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good" (Beowulf , 12). This quotation shows the importance of courage in the Anglo-Saxon culture. Fate, which was thought to be unchangeable, seems to bend for a hero who has enough courage. Beowulf tells Hrothgar and the Danes that he will kill Grendel (which would on its own be a great feat of strength), but he says he will do this without his sword, and this shows his courage and honor. Beowulf then speaks inspiringly to the thanes in the mead-hall: I resolved, when I set out on the sea, sat down in the sea-boat with my band of men, that I should altogether fulfill the will of your people or else fall in slaughter, fast in the foe's grasp. I shall achieve a deed of manly courage or else have lived to see in this mead-hall my ending day. (Beowulf, 13) When Beowulf speaks these words, he shows his great courage, and displays the proper attitude of the Anglo-Saxon warrior. Death for a warrior is honorable, and courage must be shown through deeds, even if it means death. A hero must be willing to die to achieve glory. He must display courage in the face of overwhelming or impossible odds, and he must have the strength to back his courage. Beowulf also shows that a hero must be humble. When he is exalted by the Danes after his victories against Grendel, and Grendel's mother, he refuses kingship, humbly returns to Hygelac, and gives away all of his hard earned treasures. Beowulf constantly refers to his loyalty to his lord, Hygelac. Beowulf is the perfect example of an Anglo-Saxon hero. Beowulf has all the characteristics of a warrior and is still noted as being "The mildest of men and the gentlest, kindest to his people, and most eager for fame" (Beowulf, 52). Like Beowulf, Ibn Fadlan shows many honorable characteristics in The 13th Warrior. Ibn displays many of the distinguishing traits of Anglo-Saxon heroes; however, there are also a few characteristics that define today's heroes present in the film. Ibn Fadlan shows great intelligence by learning the Anglo-Saxon language in a short time. The extremely surprised Rus ask him how he learned their language and he tells them that he listened. Even Buliwyf shows intelligence by learning to write "sounds" in a relatively short time. Intelligence is important to the AngloSaxons, especially in leaders. Hrothgar is often described as being wise, and this shows that wisdom is also an important character trait. Though Ibn Fadlan isn't trained as a warrior, he

displays admirable courage in battle. The other warriors in the troop show many courageous characteristics including the will to fight to the death. Buliwyf fights the primitive tribe and manages to kill the leader even though he is poisoned and dying. There are, however, some character traits that pertain more to today's heroes in the movie. The romantic aspect of Ibn Fadlan does not correlate with the traits of heroes in Anglo-Saxon literature. The Anglo-Saxon hero didn't need to have romantic relationships, and in fact probably didn't have time for any. Many of the Anglo-Saxon heroic traits, however, are still heroic today. Courage, strength, and intelligence are still very important characteristics of heroes; however, standing to fight even if it means death is not as important as it was in the Anglo-Saxon culture. In fact, there is a saying today which explain, "Those who fight and run away, live to fight another day." The 13th Warrior shows many heroic characteristics, but not all of these were considered heroic in Anglo-Saxon culture and literature. The earth-walker of "The Wanderer" helps to further define the Anglo-Saxon warrior and hero. The earth-walker says that "men eager for fame shut sorrowful thought up fast in their breast's coffer" (Norton). This quotation adds another level to the definition of a hero. A hero in AngloSaxon culture had to be strong, brave, intelligent, and humble, but he must at all times keep his sorrows and fears to himself. Heroes couldn't complain about their problems, or appear weak. Anglo-Saxon warriors had to be stoic, and they had to appear fearless at all times. This relates to both Beowulf and Buliwyf because both of these heroes show no fear or sorrow. These two heroes keep their word and do not complain, no matter how impossible their tasks seem. This is one of the true marks of the Anglo-Saxon hero, and one of the places that Ibn Fadlan (Of The 13th Warrior) could be said to fall short of the Anglo-Saxon hero definition. Ibn tends to voice his worries and let his fear of death be shown, especially when the warriors are waiting for the Wendel. The earth-walker speaks of wise men; again this shows how important wisdom is for Anglo-Saxon warriors. The portrayal of Christ as a warrior fighting for his people in "Dream of the Rood" is a very powerful picture of a hero and savior. The talking tree (clearly a pagan influence in the poem) tells the reader how he has had to stand strong for "the young hero/strong and stouthearted" (Norton). Christ is described here as a young hero, a warrior fighting to save his people. Christ and the tree are drenched in blood, covered with markings, and yet they stand strong and have courage. This is truly the mark of a hero in Anglo-Saxon culture and literature. In the poem Christ "climbed on the high gallows, bold in the sight of many, when he would free mankind" (Norton). These actions distinguish the young hero as proud, strong, and very brave. His strength is emphasized when the tree says that it "trembled" when the warrior embraced it. "The Dream of the Rood" offers a powerful description of a hero, and savior. The hero in Anglo-Saxon culture and literature is best defined as an honorable warrior. The Anglo-Saxon hero possessed many traits which heroes today possess. They were strong, intelligent, tactful, courageous, and willing to sacrifice all for glory and their people. The heroic traits of the literary characters in Beowulf, "The Wanderer," "Dream of the Rood," and The 13th Warrior both define and set the standard for the Anglo-Saxon hero. Tensions Between the Heroic Code and Other Value Systems

Much of Beowulf is devoted to articulating and illustrating the Germanic heroic code, which values strength, courage, and loyalty in warriors; hospitality, generosity, and political skill in kings; ceremoniousness in women; and good reputation in all people. Traditional and much respected, this code is vital to warrior societies as a means of understanding their relationships to the world and the menaces lurking beyond their boundaries. All of the characters moral judgments stem from the codes mandates. Thus individual actions can be seen only as either conforming to or violating the code. The poem highlights the codes points of tension by recounting situations that expose its internal contradictions in values. The poem contains several stories that concern divided loyalties, situations for which the code offers no practical guidance about how to act. For example, the poet relates that the Danish Hildeburh marries the Frisian king. When, in the war between the Danes and the Frisians, both her Danish brother and her Frisian son are killed, Hildeburh is left doubly grieved. The code is also often in tension with the values of medieval Christianity. While the code maintains that honor is gained during life through deeds, Christianity asserts that glory lies in the afterlife. Similarly, while the warrior culture dictates that it is always better to retaliate than to mourn, Christian doctrine advocates a peaceful, forgiving attitude toward ones enemies. Throughout the poem, the poet strains to accommodate these two sets of values. Though he is Christian, he cannot (and does not seem to want to) deny the fundamental pagan values of the story. Beowulf and Loyalty A theme in a literary work is a recurring, unifying subject or idea, a motif that allows us to understand more deeply the character and their world. In Beowulf, the major themes reflect the values and the motivations of the characters. One of the central themes of Beowulf, embodied by its title character, is loyalty. At every step of his career, loyalty is Beowulf's guiding virtue. Beowulf comes to the assistance of the Danes (Scyldings) for complicated reasons. Certainly he is interested in increasing his reputation and gaining honor and payment for his own king back in Geatland. However, we soon learn that a major motivation is a family debt that Beowulf owes to Hrothgar. The young Geat is devoted to the old king because Hrothgar came to the assistance of Beowulf's father, Ecgtheow, years before. Now deceased, Ecgtheow had killed a leader of another tribe in a blood feud. When the tribe sought vengeance, Hrothgar, then a young king, sheltered Beowulf's father and settled the feud by paying tribute (wergild) in the form of "fine old treasures" (472) to Ecgtheow's enemies. Hrothgar even remembers Beowulf as a child. The tie between the families goes back many years, and Beowulf is proud to be able to lend his loyal services to Hrothgar. When the hero returns to Geatland, he continues his loyalty to his uncle and king, Hygelac, risking his life even when the tactics of the ruler are not the best. After Hygelac is killed in an ill-advised raid on Frisia, Beowulf makes a heroic escape (2359 ff.) back to Geatland. Beowulf could become king then but is more loyal than ambitious. Queen Hygd offers Beowulf the throne after her husband dies, thinking that her young son (Heardred) is unable to protect the kingdom; Beowulf refuses and serves the young king faithfully. After Heardred is killed, Beowulf does become king and rules with honor and fidelity to his office and his people for 50 years. In his final test, the burden of loyalty will rest on other, younger shoulders.

Preparing for his last battle, with the fiery dragon, Beowulf puts his trust in 11 of his finest men, retainers who have vowed to fight to the death for him. Although the now elderly king insists on taking on the dragon alone, he brings along the 11 in case he needs them. When it is apparent that Beowulf is losing the battle to the dragon, however, all but one of his men run and hide in the woods. Only Wiglaf, an inexperienced thane who has great respect for his king, remains loyal. Wiglaf calls to the others in vain. Realizing that they will be no help and that his king is about to be killed, he stands beside the old man to fight to the death theirs or the dragon's. For Beowulf, sadly, it is the end. Although he and Wiglaf kill the dragon, the king dies. As he dies, Beowulf passes the kingdom on to the brave and loyal Wiglaf. The Importance of Establishing Identity As Beowulf is essentially a record of heroic deeds, the concept of identityof which the two principal components are ancestral heritage and individual reputationis clearly central to the poem. The opening passages introduce the reader to a world in which every male figure is known as his fathers son. Characters in the poem are unable to talk about their identity or even introduce themselves without referring to family lineage. This concern with family history is so prominent because of the poems emphasis on kinship bonds. Characters take pride in ancestors who have acted valiantly, and they attempt to live up to the same standards as those ancestors. While heritage may provide models for behavior and help to establish identityas with the line of Danish kings discussed early ona good reputation is the key to solidifying and augmenting ones identity. For example, Shield Sheafson, the legendary originator of the Danish royal line, was orphaned; because he was in a sense fatherless, valiant deeds were the only means by which he could construct an identity for himself. While Beowulfs pagan warrior culture seems not to have a concept of the afterlife, it sees fame as a way of ensuring that an individuals memory will continue on after deathan understandable preoccupation in a world where death seems always to be knocking at the door. Reputation Another motivating factor for Beowulf and a central theme in the epic is reputation. From the beginning, Beowulf is rightly concerned about how the rest of the world will see him. He introduces himself to the Scyldings by citing achievements that gained honor for him and his king. When a drunken Unferth verbally assaults Beowulf at the first banquet, at issue is the hero's reputation. Unferth's slur is the worst kind of insult for Beowulf because his reputation is his most valuable possession. Reputation is also the single quality that endures after death, his one key to immortality. That's why Beowulf later leaves the gold in the cave beneath the mere, after defeating the mother, preferring to return with Grendel's head and the magic sword's hilt rather than treasure. He has and continues to amass treasures; his intent now is in building his fame. Unferth's slur accuses Beowulf of foolishly engaging in a seven-day swimming contest on the open sea, as a youth, and losing. If Beowulf can't win a match like that, Unferth asserts, he surely can't defeat Grendel. Beowulf defends his reputation with such grace and persuasion that he wins the confidence of King Hrothgar and the rest of the Danes. He points out that he swam with Breca for five nights, not wanting to abandon the weaker boy. Rough seas then drove them

apart, and Beowulf had to kill nine sea monsters before going ashore in the morning. His reputation intact, Beowulf prepares to meet Grendel and further enhance his fame. As he discusses Beowulf's later years, the poet lists the virtues (2177 ff.) leading to the great man's fine reputation. Beowulf is courageous and famous for his performance in battle but equally well known for his good deeds. Although aggressive in war, Beowulf has "no savage mind" (2180) and never kills his comrades when drinking, an important quality in the heroic world of the mead-hall. Beowulf respects the gifts of strength and leadership that he possesses. As he prepares to meet the dragon, near the end of the poem, now King Beowulf again considers his reputation. He insists on facing the dragon alone despite the fact that his death will leave his people in jeopardy. Hrothgar's Sermon warned Beowulf of the dangers of pride, and some critics have accused the great warrior of excessive pride (hubris) in the defense of his reputation. A more considerate judgment might be that Beowulf is an old man with little time left and deserves the right to die as a warrior. The final words of the poem, stating that Beowulf was "most eager for fame' (3182), might be best understood by a modern audience by remembering that, in Beowulf's world, fame is synonymous with reputation. The Difference Between a Good Warrior and a Good King Over the course of the poem, Beowulf matures from a valiant combatant into a wise leader. His transition demonstrates that a differing set of values accompanies each of his two roles. The difference between these two sets of values manifests itself early on in the outlooks of Beowulf and King Hrothgar. Whereas the youthful Beowulf, having nothing to lose, desires personal glory, the aged Hrothgar, having much to lose, seeks protection for his people. Though these two outlooks are somewhat oppositional, each character acts as society dictates he should given his particular role in society. While the values of the warrior become clear through Beowulfs example throughout the poem, only in the poems more didactic moments are the responsibilities of a king to his people discussed. The heroic code requires that a king reward the loyal service of his warriors with gifts and praise. It also holds that he must provide them with protection and the sanctuary of a lavish mead-hall. Hrothgars speeches, in particular, emphasize the value of creating stability in a precarious and chaotic world. He also speaks at length about the kings role in diplomacy, both with his own warriors and with other tribes. Beowulfs own tenure as king elaborates on many of the same points. His transition from warrior to king, and, in particular, his final battle with the dragon, rehash the dichotomy between the duties of a heroic warrior and those of a heroic king. In the eyes of several of the Geats, Beowulfs bold encounter with the dragon is morally ambiguous because it dooms them to a kingless state in which they remain vulnerable to attack by their enemies. Yet Beowulf also demonstrates the sort of restraint proper to kings when, earlier in his life, he refrains from usurping Hygelacs throne, choosing instead to uphold the line of succession by supporting the appointment of Hygelacs son. But since all of these pagan kings were great warriors in their youth, the tension between these two important roles seems inevitable and ultimately irreconcilable. Family and Tribe

In Beowulf (and in the medieval Germanic culture that produced Beowulf), family and tribal allegiances determine ones identity. Characters are constantly identified as the son, wife, or daughter of a particular man, and as members of this or that tribe. Men or beings without tribessuch as Grendel and Heremodare described as lonely and joyless. Without a community or family, these men are incomplete. All of the cultural institutions described in Beowulf, from the giving of gold and gifts to the emphasis placed on loyalty above any personal desire, exist to preserve and strengthen the family and tribe. The importance placed on family and tribe in medieval Germanic culture also leads to the incredible number of inter-tribal feuds in Beowulf. Preservation of a family or tribe within a hostile environment demands not only unity within the tribe, but the willingness to defend and protect the tribe from outsiders. The necessity of tribal and family self-defense created a set of formal rules of vengeance between individuals and feuding between tribes. Good Warriors and Good Kings The narrator of Beowulf emphasizes the importance of both good warriors and good kings. But as the story of Beowulf unfolds, it becomes clear that while good kings and warriors share some similar traits, such as courage, loyalty, selflessness, and might in battle, the values of a good warrior and a good king do not overlap in other fundamental ways. The differences between good kings and good warriors arise from the different roles that kings and warriors play in society. As a protector and nurturer, the king must put the good of the people above his own desire for fame and glory. A good king is generous with gifts and gold, provides a haven in which his people can eat and drink and socialize, is powerful and fearless in defending his land and people, and yet does not seek unnecessary conflict that might lead to death for either his people or himself. A good warrior, in contrast, supports his people through the pursuit of personal fame, whether on the battlefield, in feats of strength, or by purposely seeking out conflict, just as Beowulf does in coming to Hrothgars aid and fighting Grendel. Fame, Pride, and Shame The warriors of Beowulf seek fame through feats of strength, bravery in the face of danger, an utter disdain for death, as well as by boasting about their feats of strength, bravery, and disdain for death. The quest for fame is of the utmost importance to a warrior trying to establish himself in the world. Yet the quest for fame can lead to harm in two very different ways. First, a quest for fame can easily succumb to pride. Both pride and fame involve a desire to be great, but while fame involves becoming great in order to bring strength and power to ones people, pride involves a desire to be great no matter what. Put another way, fame in Beowulf is associated with generosity and community while pride is associated with greed and selfishness. Second, a man who seeks fame can also bring shame to himself (and therefore his family) if his courage fails him. And shame, in Beowulf, is not mere embarrassment. Its a kind of curse that broadcasts to the world that you, your family, and your people lack the courage, will, or might to protect yourselves. When Wiglaf rebukes Beowulfs men for fleeing in the face of the dragon, he does

not merely say that they have shamed themselves. Rather, he implies that their shame is bound to bring ruin down the entire Geatish people. In Beowulf the Anglo-Saxons longed for fame. To them fame meant immortality. For example, the narrator says, "But Beowulf longing only for fame, leaped into battle" (Raffel 1529). To Beowulf the only reason to risk his life is a battle, is so he can have his moments of fame, hence immortality. Even if a character gains fame, they will always be fighting to receive more. After Beowulf becomes king one of his servants says, "Beloved Beowulf, remember how you boasted, once, that nothing in the world would ever destroy your fame: you fight to keep in now, be strong and brave, my noble king, protecting life and fame together" (2586). So even though Beowulf had fame, he had to keep fighting and being successful in order to protect and keep his fame. Once an Anglo-Saxon had enough fame his name was known throughout the world. The narrator explains this by saying, "Now the Lord of all life, Ruler of glory, blessed them with a prince, Beowulf, whose power and fame soon spread throughout the world" (16). Beowulf had accumulated so much fame that throughout the world people knew of him and his accomplishments. Fame was so very important to the Anglo-Saxon's that they would give up their lives and the lives of others if only to receive it for a minute. Fame was highly desired for the need of the Anglo-Saxon's want to live forever. Fame was very important to warrior tribes like the Geats and Danes. Life was short - many died in battle or from disease. What mattered was for the things you had done while you were alive to be spoken about and praised when you were dead. Then you would have created something that lasted longer than a life. You could win fame by brave deeds in battle or by being a wise adviser, for making good decisions or bringing about peace. You could win ill-fame too, of course, for leaving your friends in battle or being a bad lord or murdering your relatives. Fame was the way you were remembered and spoken of, the way your story was told. Repetition and Change Beowulf is full of repetitions: the story begins and ends with funerals of kings; Beowulf must fight Grendel and Grendels Mother; the tale of Sigemund foreshadows Beowulfs battle with the dragon; the feuds related in stories told by the bards echo the feuds of Beowulfs own time. These repetitions emphasize the continuity of the world and show that events are in many ways just variations of previous events, proceeding in endless procession like the seasons of the year. But repetition also serves a seemingly opposite purpose: it emphasizes change and difference. Precisely because various events described in Beowulf are so similar, the differences in those similar events become highlighted. For instance, Beowulf opens and closes with the funeral of two different kings, Scyld Scefing and Beowulf. But while Scylds death comes of old age and founds a dynasty through succession to a son, Beowulfs funeral comes in battle and ends a dynasty because he has no son. Should Beowulf therefore not have fought the dragon, and instead remained to protect this people? Through the contrasts of seemingly similar events, Beowulf highlights how things change and raises questions about characters decisions and actions. Christianity and Paganism

Because of its complicated origin, Beowulf has elements of both pagan Germanic culture and Christianity. The story of Beowulf probably originated as an oral tradition sometime in the 7th century. But the only surviving manuscript of Beowulf was written in the 11th century by Christian scribes, who either inserted the Christian overtones to the story, or were working from a manuscript set down by previous Christian who added the Christian elements. Suffice it to say that the resulting Beowulf is like a pagan story wrapped in Christianity. This results in some strange inconsistencies. For instance, the narrator of the poem describes Hrothgar at one point as a pagan who does not know of the true God, and yet all the characters, including Hrothgar, constantly thank God for their good fortune. In addition, the pagan concept of fate becomes rather hopelessly confused with Gods will, so that sometimes Beowulf (and the narrator) seems to believe he can affect fate through his courage, while at others either Beowulf or the narrator attributes his success solely to Gods favor. As you read Beowulf, keep on the lookout for the ways that Christianity and paganism interact in the poem. Revenge Revenge serves as a motivating factor for several characters throughout the poem, initially stirring Grendel and his mother. Grendel seeks revenge upon mankind for the heritage that he has been dealt. He delights in raiding Heorot because it is the symbol of everything that he detests about men: their success, joy, glory, and favor in the eyes of God. Grendel's mother's revenge is more specific. She attacks Heorot because someone there killed her son. Although she is smaller and less powerful than Grendel, she is motivated by a mother's fury. When Beowulf goes after her in the mere, she has the added advantage of fighting him in her own territory. As she drags him into her cave beneath the lake, her revenge peaks because this is the very man who killed her son. Only Beowulf's amazing abilities as a warrior and the intervention of God or magic can defeat her. Revenge also motivates the many feuds that the poet refers to and is a way of life and death for the Germanic tribes. Old enmities die hard and often disrupt attempts at peace, as the poet recognizes. Upon his return to Geatland, Beowulf (2020 ff.) speculates about a feud between Hrothgar's Scyldings and the Heathobards, a tribe in southern Denmark with whom Hrothgar hopes to make peace through the marriage of his daughter. Beowulf is skeptical, envisioning a renewal of hostilities. In fact, the Heathobards do later burn Heorot in events not covered by the poem but probably familiar to its audience. Another example of revenge overcoming peace occurs in the Finnsburh section (1068-1159). Beowulf's final battle is the result of vengeance. A dangerous fire-dragon seeks revenge because a fugitive slave has stolen a valuable cup from the monster's treasure-hoard. His raids across the countryside include the burning of Beowulf's home. Beowulf then seeks his own revenge by going after the dragon. Lessons in Manliness from Beowulf For every one of us, living in this world means waiting for our end. Let whoever can

win glory before death. When a warrior is gone, that will be his best and only bulwark Endure your troubles today. Bear up and be the man I expect you to be. For the men of 10th century Europe, these were words to live by. Theirs was a time before the chivalric era, where knightly romance was hardly a dream and virtue and honor had yet to be made into a formal code of conduct. These were the men of the Dark Ages, members of the many Germanic tribes that once roamed across Northern Europe. Their code was a code not of chivalry, but of raw courage, in which strength of character was the greatest, and often the only reward. Beowulf is a portrait of these virtues. Written in the most primitive form of our own language, it is in many ways the forerunner of every other heroic tale in English literature. King Arthur and his knights, the Big Men of American folklore, and even our modern superheroes owe much to Beowulf, a hero whose story speaks as strongly today as it did a thousand years ago. The poem tells of Beowulfs battles against three monsters in two stages of his life. In his youth, he frees Denmark from the creature Grendel and his vengeful mother, while in his old age he is forced to save his own people, the Geats, from a savage fire-breathing dragon. Though the challenges Beowulf faces seem far beyond anything we would ever expect to encounter ourselves, his story nonetheless portrays the virtues that every good man must follow, no matter how incredible his accomplishments. A man is defined by his actions (or lack thereof). Although the poem has its characters, it often seems that the real stars of the show are the deeds the characters commit. The story itself is essentially plot-driven, or constructed by events. The characters in the poem are literally defined by what they do, creating a narrative where the quality of a man is proven solely by his deeds. The Danish king Hrothgars generosity is shown by his construction of a great feasting-hall, a place to dole out gifts and treasures to his people. Upon meeting Hrothgar to free the Danes from the raids of the Grendel, Beowulf himself proves the integrity of his intentions by recalling how he has long defended his own people from many enemies. These words and promises are subsequently backed up by actions, proving that for the hero, words and deeds are inextricably linked. In contrast, a man purely of words-without-actions is seen as a coward. The character Unferth is shown as a foil to Beowulf. A man of wit but not works, he accuses the hero of exaggerating his prowess and taunts him that he will fall prey to Grendel that very night. Beowulf responds in the best way he can, by hanging Grendels bloodied arm from the ceiling of the hall the next morning. Naturally, as is any coward in the face of such deeds, Unferth is left speechless. Honor is the greatest reward. For Beowulf, the only prize worth winning is to do something worthy of remembrance. In the poem, good deeds are shown to have everlasting merit they leave an indelible mark on the world, permanently impacting and shaping it, destined to live on in the memories of those to follow.

Against such a prize, material rewards pale by comparison. Beowulf cares little for wealth and personal gain. Though he is lavished with treasures by the Danes for his defeat of Grendel, he gives them all away as tribute to his uncle, the king of the Geats. Though he eventually succeeds his uncle, he does so without ambition, inheriting the crown only after the death of the kings two heirs. Even the fire-dragons magnificent horde, bartered in Beowulfs final battle with his own life, is treated with contempt and buried with the fallen hero: They let the ground keep that ancestral treasure, gold under gravel, gone to earth, as useless to men now as ever it was. In the poem, the virtue of recklessness did not mean acting impetuously, but rather for the honor of the deed itself. Knowing full well the risks involved, the reckless man chose to act without regard for material reward. A hero will ultimately lose his wealth and material gains, but his actions cannot be taken from him; that is the treasure that does not tarnish, for true honor can never be lost. A mans resolve means more than the outcome. Linked to this sense of recklessness is the belief that each man is bound to a particular fate which is constantly present, unknowable but certain. Life during the Dark Ages was harsh, and the men of the time were accustomed to loss and failure, realizing that despite their efforts, fate goes ever as fate must. No matter how strongly it is desired or sought for, success could never be certain. Instead, the only thing a man could be certain of are those things he had total control over: his will and his resolve to carry it out. Though the outcome was ultimately out of his hands, a man could still choose to do the right thing in a given situation. Once he had chosen, retreat would mean dishonor. I had a fixed purpose when I put to sea I meant to perform to the uttermost what your people wanted or perish in the attempt And I shall fulfill that purpose, prove myself with a proud deed or meet my death. Beowulfs oath before his fight with Grendel is not to victory, for that is not for him to decide. Rather, he swears to unyielding resolve in his protection of the Danes. For him, death was better than retreat, for a warrior will sooner die than live a life of shame. The greatest of all virtues is courage. Well before he received wide acclaim for his own epic, The Lord of the Rings, a certain Oxford scholar named J. R. R. Tolkien identified courage as the central theme of Beowulf. Although it has been given hundreds of different meanings, from physical strength to simple bravery, the virtue of courage is taken to mean something very specific in the poem the will to do the right thing even in the face of total defeat. Unlike so many of our modern heroes, whose stories often end with them riding into the sunset (in anticipation of yet another serialized installment), Beowulfs story ends in tragedy. Aged,

weaponless, and abandoned by all but one of his closest friends, he dies in battle against the dragon, leaving his people without an heir and at the utter mercy of the invading tribes. But victory does not make the hero. Beowulf is strong, a resolute man of action and honor, but it is precisely the fact that he is doomed to such a bleak end that makes him so truly heroic. Tolkien understood him as a man caught in the chains of circumstance who dies with his back to the wall. Provoked by a threat to its treasure, the dragon sets his homeland ablaze, forcing Beowulf to carry out his duty as protector of his people to its bitter end. Beowulf knows that he has no hope of surviving the battle but chooses to fight it nonetheless. True courage bespeaks of the poems central theme, the exaltation of undefeated will. It is one thing to act honorably for honors sake, but for a man to live by his virtues, even when he knows it will mean his total defeat, is seen as the pinnacle of heroism. The men living in the wild, barbaric centuries of the Dark Ages knew well that all men feel loss, all men face defeat, and sooner or later, all men will die. But to them, courage was stronger than death. Even the greatest foe, be it Grendel, the dragon, or any other surrogate for war, famine, and the infinitely more monstrous demons of real life, cannot conquer the will that chooses death before surrender. A bleak ending to be sure, but one that is not without honor. As Tolkien himself quotes, defeat is no refutation against the courage of the hero. What Is a Man? The Allegory of the Chariot

What is a man? What sort of man should I be? What does it mean to live a good life? What is the best way to live and how do I attain excellence? What should I aim for, and what training and practices must I do to achieve those aims?

Such questions have been asked for thousands of years. Few men have grappled with them more, and provided keener insight to the answers, than the philosophers of ancient Greece. In particular, Platos vision of the tripartite nature of the soul, or psyche, as explained though the allegory of the chariot, is something I have returned to throughout my life. It furnishes an unmatched symbol of what a man is, can be, and what he must do to bridge those two points and attain andreia (manliness), arte (excellence), and finally eudaimonia (full human flourishing). Today we will discuss that allegory and its meaning. While an understanding of the whole allegory and the pondering of it can bring great insight, the ultimate goal of this article is in fact to lay the foundation for two more posts to come in which we will uncover the nature of the one component of Platos vision of the soul that has almost entirely been lost to modern men: thumos. The Allegory of the Chariot In the Phaedrus, Plato (through his mouthpiece, Socrates) shares the allegory of the chariot to explain the tripartite nature of the human soul or psyche. The chariot is pulled by two winged horses, one mortal and the other immortal. The mortal horse is deformed and obstinate. Plato describes the horse as a crooked lumbering animal, put together anyhowof a dark color, with grey eyes and blood-red complexion; the mate of insolence and pride, shag-eared and deaf, hardly yielding to whip and spur. The immortal horse, on the other hand, is noble and game, upright and cleanly madehis color is white, and his eyes dark; he is a lover of honor and modesty and temperance, and the follower of true glory; he needs no touch of the whip, but is guided by word and admonition only. In the drivers seat is the charioteer, tasked with reining in these disparate steeds, guiding and harnessing them to propel the vehicle with strength and efficiency. The charioteers destination? The ridge of heaven, beyond which he may behold the Forms: essences of things like Beauty, Wisdom, Courage, Justice, Goodness everlasting Truth and absolute Knowledge. These essences nourish the horses wings, keeping the chariot in flight. The charioteer joins a procession of gods, led by Zeus, on this trip into the heavens. Unlike human souls, the gods have two immortal horses to pull their chariots and are able to easily soar above. Mortals, on the other hand, have a much more turbulent ride. The white horse wishes to rise, but the dark horse attempts to pull the chariot back towards the earth. As the horses pull in opposing directions, and the charioteer attempts to get them into sync, his chariot bobs above the ridge of heaven then down again, and he catches glimpses of the great beyond before sinking once more. If the charioteer is able to behold the Forms, he gets to go on another revolution around the heavens. But if he cannot successfully pilot the chariot, the horses wings wither from lack of nourishment, or break off when the horses collide and attack each other, or crash into the chariots of others. The chariot then plummets to earth, the horses lose their wings, and the soul becomes embodied in human flesh. The degree to which the soul falls, and the rank of the mortal being it must then be embodied in is based on the amount of Truth it beheld while in the heavens. Rather like the idea of reincarnation. The degree of the fall also determines how long it takes for the horses to regrow their wings and once again take flight. Basically, the more Truth the charioteer beheld on his journey, the shallower his fall, and the easier it is for him to get up and

get going again. The regrowth of the wings is hastened by the mortal soul encountering people and experiences that contain touches of divinity, and recall to his memory the Truth he beheld in his preexistence. Plato describes such moments as looking through the glass dimly and they hasten the souls return to the heavens. Interpreting the Allegory Platos allegory of the chariot can be interpreted on a number of levels as symbolic of the path to becoming godlike, spiritual transcendence, personal progress and attainment of Superhuman status, or psychological health. There is much one can ponder about it. Below we delve into several of the main points. The Tripartite Soul The chariot, charioteer, and white and dark horses symbolize the soul, and its three main components. The Charioteer represents mans Reason, the dark horse his appetites, and the white horse his thumos. Well explore the nature of thumos in-depth next time, but for now, you can read it simply as spiritedness. Another way to label the three elements of soul are as the lover of wisdom (charioteer), the lover of gain (dark horse), and the lover of victory (white horse). Aristotle described the three elements as the contemplative, hedonistic, and political, or, knowledge, pleasure, and honor. The Greeks saw these elements of soul as physical, almost independent entities, not so much with bodies, but as real forces, like electricity that could move a man to act and think in certain ways. Each element has its own motivations and desires: reason seeks truth and knowledge, the appetites seek food, drink, sex, and material wealth, and thumos seeks glory, honor, and recognition. Plato believed reason has the highest aims, followed by thumos, and then the appetites. But each soul force, if properly harnessed and employed, can help a man become eudaimon. Reasons job, with the aid of thumos, is to discern the best aims to pursue, and then train his horses to work together towards those aims. As the charioteer, he must have vision and purpose he must know where he is going and he must understand the nature and desires of his two horses if he wishes to properly harness their energies. A charioteer can err by either failing to hitch one of the horses to the chariot altogether, or by failing to bridle the horse, and instead letting him run wild. In the latter case, Plato argued, the best part [Reason] is naturally weak in a man so that it cannot govern and control the brood of beasts within him but can only serve them and can learn nothing but the ways of flattering them. Obtaining Harmony of Soul The masterful charioteer does not ignore his own motivations, nor the desires of thumos and appetite, but neither does he let his two horses run wild. He lets Reason rule, takes stock of all his desires, identifies his best and truest ones those that lead to virtue and truth and guides

his horses towards them. He does not ignore or indulge them he harnesses them. Each horse has its strengths and weaknesses, and the white horse can lead a man into the wrong path just as the dark horse can, but when properly trained, thumos becomes the ally of the charioteer. Together, reason and thumos work to pull the appetites into sync. Instead of having civil war amongst them, the deft charioteer understands each role the three forces of his soul play, and he guides them in carrying out that role without either entirely usurping their role, nor allowing them to interfere with each other. He achieves harmony amongst the elements. Thus, instead of dissipating his energies in contradictory and detrimental directions, he channels those energies towards his goals. Achieving this harmony of soul, Plato argues, is a precursor to tackling any other endeavor of life: having first attained to self-mastery and beautiful order within himself, and having harmonized these three principles, the notes or intervals of three terms quite literally the lowest, the highest, and the mean, and all others there may be between them, and having linked and bound all three together and made of himself a unit, one man instead of many, self-controlled and in unison, he should then and then only turn to practice if he find aught to do either in the getting of wealth or the tendance of the body or it may be in political action or private business, in all such doings believing and naming the just and honorable action to be that which preserves and helps to produce this condition of soul. The foundational nature of gaining mastery over ones soul, Plato continues, is the chief reason why it should be our main concern that each of us, neglecting all other studies, should seek after and study this thingif in any way he may be able to learn of and discover the man who will give him the ability and the knowledge to distinguish the life that is good from that which is bad, and always and everywhere to choose the best that the conditions allow. A man that makes this pursuit his aim, and allows it to guide all his thoughts and actions, will gladly take part in and enjoy those which he thinks will make him a better man, but in public and private life he will shun those that may overthrow the established habit of his soul. Taking Flight and Progressing in Our Journey As youll remember, in the allegory of the chariot, the chariot falls from the heavens when the horses do not receive adequate nourishment from the Forms, or when the horses rebel and the charioteer does a poor job of directing them. They lose their wings, and must stay on earth until they regrow a process which is hastened by remembering what one saw before the fall. Plato believed that discovering all truth was not a process of learning, but of remembering what one once knew. His philosophy may be interpreted literally as saying we had a preexistence before this life. But it also has meaning in a more figurative sense. We get off track in becoming the men we wish to be when we succumb to vice (being overpowered by the dark horse), and we tend to succumb to vice when we forget who we are, who we want to be, and the insights into those two pieces of knowledge we have already attained and experienced. Doing things that remind us of the truths we hold dear keeps us in flight and progressing with our lives.

For more on this important subject, I highly recommend reading: Hold Fast: How Forgetfulness Torpedos Your Journey to Becoming the Man You Want to Be, and Remembrance Is the Antidote Understanding the Dark Horse In order to train and harness the power latent in the forces of his soul, a man must understand the nature of his horses and how to utilize their strengths and rein in their weaknesses. A mans dark horse, or appetites, are not difficult to understand; you have probably felt its primal pull towards money, sex, food, and drink many times in your life. But despite our intimate acquaintance with our appetites, or perhaps because of it, the dark horse is not easy to properly train and make use of. Doing so requires achieving moderation, or as Aristotle would put it, finding the golden mean between extremes. A man who lets his appetites run completely wild is the unabashed hedonist. He does not seek to rein in the dark horse at all, letting him pull the chariot after whichever pleasure crosses its path. This is the man who lives for nothing higher than to eat good food, get drunk, have sex, and make money. He seeks after effeminizing luxury with abandon and will do anything to get it. With no check to his behavior, the result can be a giant gut, pickled brains, massive debt, and a prison sentence for corruption. A life wholly dedicated to the satisfaction of ones bodily and pecuniary pleasures make man no different than the animals. Aristotle called such a life bovine, and Plato argued that the result of letting oneself be dominated by his appetites is the ruthless enslavement of the divinest part of himself to the most despicable and godless part. Such a man, Plato submitted, should be deemed wretched. On the other end of the spectrum is the man who sees his physical desires as wholly wrong or sinful troublesome or evil stumbling blocks on the path to spiritual purity or enlightenment. This man seeks to nullify his flesh, and cut off its cravings for pleasure entirely. This is the man who spends so much of his life thinking of sex as sinful, that he cant turn off that association and enjoy it, even after he is married. He averts his eyes from women as living porn. Food is merely fuel. He often seems flat, sterile, and closed off to others, though often you can sense the bottled impulses bubbling beneath the surface that hes tried so hard to deny. And because of the lack of a healthy outlet, that bubbling often becomes a toxic stew that will one day burst forth in a decidedly unhealthy way. Plato believed that the appetites were the lowest of the forces of the soul, and that allowing the dark horse to dominate and enslave you would lead to a base, unvirtuous life far from arte and eudaimonia. Yet he also argued that the dark horse, if properly trained, imparted just as much energy to the pulling of the chariot as the white horse did. The chariot that soars highest makes use of both horses side by side. A would-be ace charioteer neither entirely indulges his dark horse nor wholly cuts him off. He harnesses and directs the energy in a positive way.

Between the two extremes of unchecked hedonism and the iron-fisted squashing of bodily appetites lies a middle way. This is the man who maintains a sense of sensuality and earthiness, who makes room for the pleasures of body and money but puts them in their proper place, who, as Dr. Robin Meyers puts it, is able to find the virtue in the vice. He enjoys sex thoroughly, but does so within the context of love and commitment. He enjoys good food and drink, without mindlessly engorging and imbibing. He appreciates money, and that which it can buy, but does not make acquiring it his central aim. The dark horse, when properly trained and directed, can lead one closer, not further from the good life. Pleasures satisfied with discretion make a man happy and balanced, and keep him feeling healthy and motivated enough to tackle his higher goals. And the appetites themselves can lead directly to those loftier aims. The desire for money, when kept in balance, can lead to success, recognition, and independence. Lust, when properly directed, leads a man to love, and Plato believed that beholding ones lover was a central path to recalling the Beauty of the Forms, and regrowing ones wings for another trip into the heavens. That is the nature of the dark horse a force that can be used for both good and ill, depending on the mastery of the charioteer. It is fairly easy to grasp, if not always to live. But what of the white horse, thumos? That is another matter. There is no word in our modern language equivalent to this ancient concept. We have here rendered it spiritedness, but in truth it encompasses much, much more. It is to that subject we will turn next time. Got Thumos? Last week we explored Platos allegory of the chariot, which the ancient philosopher used to explain the tripartite nature of the soul or psyche. In the allegory, a chariot (representing the soul) is pulled by a rebellious dark horse (symbolizing mans appetites) and a spirited white horse (symbolizing thumos). The charioteer, or Reason, is tasked with harnessing the energy of both horses, getting the disparate steeds into sync, and successfully piloting the chariot into the heavens where he can behold Truth and become like the gods. We presented the allegory not simply because of the insights it can offer into the nature of man and how we may progress in our lives, but even more importantly, to lay the foundation for a discussion of thumos. While the other components of Platos vision of the soul have ready modern equivalents, there is no word in our language that truly corresponds to thumos. This is most telling. When a culture lacks the word for something, it is because they lack the concept of it. The Greeks believed thumos was essential to andreia manliness. It is mentioned over seven hundred times in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Philosopher Allan Bloom called it the central natural passion in mens souls. If we have lost the ability to recognize, appreciate, cultivate, and utilize one of the three main components of our nature, we should not be surprised when negative consequences follow. When one hears of a lack of virility, fight, energy, and ambition in modern men, of a malaise of spirit that has settled over our sex, what is really being spoken of is a shortage of thumos. For millions of men, thumos lies dormant, an energy source left

untapped. It is as if each of us had a potential Kentucky Derby-caliber thoroughbred waiting in the stable, ready and eager to run, but we kept him locked away, only trotting him out for pony rides at childrens birthday parties. Recovering an understanding of thumos, and its role as the vital life and energy source of mens souls, will be our task today. What Is Thumos? As we mentioned last time, Plato envisioned the three components of ones soul as independent entities. Thumos was thought to be the most independent of the bunch. The Greeks believed it was found in animals, humans, and the gods. Thumos could act separately from you, or in cooperation with you as an accompaniment, tool, or motivation behind some action. Because it was a distinct part of yourself, you could talk to it, tell it to endure, to be strong, or to be young (thumos was associated with the passion and power of youth, but older people could have it too). In the Iliad, Achilles speaks to his great-hearted thumos when anxious about the fate of Patroculus. He also delights his thumos by playing the lyre. The Greek philosopher Empedocles called thumos the seat of life. If it left you entirely, you would faint, and permanent separation meant death. Thumos likewise constitutes the seat of energy that can fill a person, and serves as the active agent within man. It is the stimulus, the drive, the juice to action the thing that makes the blood surge in your veins. Philosopher Sam Keen got at the idea with his concept of the fire in the belly. The Romans held a similar belief, equating energy with virtus, or manliness. The whole glory of virtus, Cicero declared, resides in activity. What is the nature of this energy and where does it lead? The Greeks saw thumos as serving several distinct, yet interrelated functions. As with honor, it is a concept that was once so implicitly understood that it did not have to be explained, and attempting to describe it at a great remove makes what was once a natural, lived experienced seem much more complicated. The best we can do is illustrate it from its different angles, and hope that the pieces resonate and come together into a recognizable mosaic. Note: In this post we use phrases like, The Greeks believed This is not to imply that the ancient Greeks were monolithic in their philosophy different ideas on manliness and thumos existed. What we have done here is distilled out the core threads of thumos on which there was a good amount of agreement, and woven them together along with our own interpretation. The Functions of Thumos Seat of Emotion

Thumos is both the source of emotion and the emotion itself. The agent and the function are fused. Thumos births and embodies things like joy, pain, fear, hope, and grief. Thumos is also tied up with love. The Greeks would say you could love someone out of your thumos. Thumos is most closely associated, however, with anger. In Greek writings thumos seethes, rages, and boils. It is a special kind of anger activated when a mans honor is violated, when his reputation is on the line, when his family and property are threatened. It drives a man to stand up for himself, for his country, for his loved ones. The anger of thumos can not only be directed at others and external enemies, but also towards oneself. Thumos makes you angry at yourself when you fail to live up to your principles and code of honor. Plato uses the example of a man who sees a pile of corpses, looks away, and keeps on walking, but then returns to gaze upon it again. He is angry with himself for giving into a base inclination. Thumos can make you indignant of your own desires, if those desires compel you to do something contrary to the dictates of Reason. Drive to Fight

Thumos not only produces anger, but then channels that anger into the impulse to fight. When Nestor, King of Pylos, recalls his past exploits, he says, My hard-enduring heart [thumos] in its daring drove me to fight. Thumos motivates warriors before and during combat. The Greeks said courageous soldiers had a valiant thumos during war. In Seven Against Thebes, it is said that before battle the soldiers iron-lunged thumos, blazing with valor, breathed out as if from lions glaring with the war-gods might. Valor here is translated from andreia manliness. The warriors thumos blazes with manliness in anticipation of the fight. A man of thumos glories in a fight whether against others, the elements of nature, or his baser desires as a way to test his mettle and prove himself. Courage, Steadfastness, Indomitability Once a man is in a fight, thumos spurs him on, motivating him to stay in the arena and continue fearlessly striving for victory. This gameness is a quality of thumos man shares with the beasts. In Sam Sheridans exploration of The Fighters Heart, he observes the centrality of gameness in dogfighting. We almost dont care how good the dog fights, he notes, the fight is just an elaborate test to check his gameness. Adds a dog trainer Sheridan speaks with: Give me a game dog any day, a dog that bites as tissue paper but keeps coming back and Ill take him. Fearless indomitability is central to the success of the human warrior as well, who must not lose heart as the heat of battle intensifies, and his morale flags. To encourage their respective armies to fight harder in the midst of combat, Ajax and Hector stirred up the thumos and strength of each of their men. Plato did not see human gameness as being of the same kind demonstrated by animals, however. Rather, he argued that mans thumos, at least when properly trained, is born of a rational type of courage that man is andreios (manly) when his thumos holds fast to the orders of reason about what he ought or ought not to fear, in spite of pleasure and pain. In other words, when engaged in a worthy fight, you neither recklessly underestimate real threats that should be feared, nor overestimate threats that shouldnt be feared, and are not swayed from your course by either the satisfaction of pursuing blind revenge nor the fear of being hurt and the love of comfort and luxury. Plato argued that andreia meant conquering fear and pain of any sort being the kind of man who confronts misfortune in all cases with steadfast endurance. Evaluation, Discernment, Decision-Making So thumos keeps you in a fight that your Reason has decided is indeed a worthy one. But how do you make that determination? Plato believed, as Angela Hobbs put it, that courage involves both emotional commitment and evaluative belief, an intellectual and emotional appreciation of what things are worth taking risks for and in what circumstances. Thumos plays a role in both the emotional and evaluative parts of that equation. As we mentioned last time, the task of Reason as the charioteer is to take stock of his own desires,

and those of his two horses, and then to choose to satisfy only his best and truest ones those that lead to virtue and arte, or excellence. Reasons ally in this task is his white horse, or thumos, which can be trained to help make this kind of judgment. Shirley Sullivan offers examples of this function of thumos in Greek literature: Thumos is mentioned in connection with several intellectual activities. These include pondering, thinking, knowing, deliberation, planning and perceiving. Often too a person puts things into thumos for consideration. Odysseus ponders evils in his thumos for the suitors. Zeus thinks about events in his thumos as he watches the battle of TroyHermes deliberates in thumos how to take Priam safely from Achilles camp. Circe tells Odysseus to plan in his thumos the course he will take after passing the Sirens. Telemachus tells Penelope that now that he has grown up, he perceives and knows in his thumos good and evil. It is in thumos that Hesiod tells Perses to consider the value of the competitive spirit. Thumos is the place in which you ponder possibilities, and at the same time, it helps you know and understand which of those possibilities to choose. Its related to gut feelings and intuition what Jeffrey Barnouw calls visceral thinking and it also has a prophetic quality giving you a sense of foreboding about where a decision may lead, or something bad to come. I personally believe you can know a decision is right when both your mind and heart agree when your Reason and thumos align. When you feel that swelling of the heart, that course of excitement and inspiration running through your veins, thats thumos telling you youre on the right course. Ambition and the Drive for Recognition and Honor In contrast to the lower desires of the dark horse simply for pleasure and material wealth, thumos seeks independence over possessions and sensuality, and recognition and honor over security. Thumos desires pride and prestige for its own sake. This drive for recognition will motivate him to risk much, even his own life, for his reputation, and also for the reputation of a group to which he is devoted. Plato calls thumos the ambitious part [of the soul] and that which is covetous of honor. Thumos pushes a man to despise mediocrity and to want to excel his fellow men, to dominate, and be the best of the best. Thumos is ultimately what drives a man to seek glory, and above all, legacy. So now we can see that while thumos is often translated today as spiritedness, heart, passion, will, courage, anger, boldness, or fierceness, it is really a combination of all those descriptions and yet still something more something that no modern word is able to fully convey. Perhaps the best and simplest definition Ive come across is energetic thinking that leads to action. Harnessing the White Horse Just like the dark horse of our appetites, the white horse of thumos can be used for either good or ill. The Greeks called it both dark-faced, vain, terrible, greedy, and pitilessas well

as courageous, noble, kindly, moderate, and strong. Properly harnessed and guided it has even more potential to lead a man towards eudemonia, or full human flourishing, than the dark horse, but if allowed to run wild, it can lead a man to destructive ends. Its up to the charioteer to steer his thumos in a noble path. Unused Thumos

The charioteer may err by failing to hitch the white horse to the chariot at all, or not exercising him to build up his strength. The Greeks said that a mans thumos could be sluggish, and certainly there are a good number of men today who match that description. A man lacking in thumos is the nice guy who cant stand up for himself when others push him around. He is placid. Nothing arouses him. He has no ideals for which he fights and no real drive or ambition in life. He is content with mediocrity, or at least doesnt have the will to figure out how to make things better. Hes the kind of guy who thinks the whole idea of manliness is really rather silly and feels he is above the kind of unenlightened competitions and jockeying for position that

occur amongst men, when really, deep down, hes simply ashamed that he doesnt think he could make the cut and stand among them. Unbridled Thumos

A man may also run to the other extreme of failing to rein in his thumos at all. The Greeks called this yielding to thumos, or letting ones thumos run beyond measure. The consequences of letting ones white horse run wild vary. When the Greeks used thumos in a negative sense, it was most often in the context of the emotions, which they thought of as passions. Being ruled by ones passions could be dangerous if it usurped the role of Reason and overruled a mans rational faculties. Of the emotions, anger was the most important to check and channel, and restraining anger and restraining thumos were closely connected. One type of man with unbridled thumos is he who wants to fight everyone about everything. The guy at the bar who starts a shoving match if he simply thinks you looked at him funny. Hes filled with anger, but it has no specific target its

just boiling inside him all the time, and the littlest thing can set it off. Thumos is much like fire control it and it becomes an enormous power, handle is loosely and it can burn you and consume everything you touch. For the Greeks, Achilles was the archetype of a man who yielded too much to his thumos. Achilles thumos imparts many good qualities to this consummate warrior; he is strong, brave, aggressive when wronged, driven to success, and nearly invulnerable. But his white-hot anger and concern for honor sometimes lead him to stubbornness and dishonor. The Iliad describes him as being moved by menos [anger] and overweening thumos, and its first two lines tellingly read: Sing, Goddess, of the rage of Peleus son Achilles/the accursed rage that brought great suffering to the Achaeans. When Agamemnon robs Achilles of his war prize and lover, Briseis, Achilles bristles at this dishonor and refuses to fight or lead his troops. Before he slays Hector, his nemesis pleads for an honorable burial, but Achilles roars in reply: my rage, my fury [thumos] would drive me now to hack your flesh away and eat you raw such agonies you have caused me! He then kills Hector, ties him to a chariot, and shamefully drags his lifeless body around the gates of Troy. Because of such acts, Ajax says that Achilles has let his thumos become savage, implacable, and even straightforwardly bad, and Apollo labels his thumos as arrogant. The Greeks also warned that unbridled thumos could be foolish and flighty, carrying a man after one flash of inspiration after another. They were speaking to the second type of man who leaves his thumos unbridled he who gets a new idea, burns with excitement for it for a few days or weeks, but doesnt have the drive to keep it going. He quickly gets bored and moves onto the next thing hes super passionate about. His thumos is always chasing after one thing or another without clear aim or purpose. Thumos Under the Sway of the Dark Horse Besides failing to utilize the white horse, or letting it run wild, an additional problem the charioteer must avoid is letting his thumos get in-sync with the dark horse, rather than the other way around. As youll remember from last time, the white horse, when properly trained, becomes the ally of the charioteer. Ideally, Reason and thumos work together to pull the rebellious dark horse in line with their mission and cadence. When there is a conflict between what Reason knows is right, and what the appetites want to do, thumos springs into action to defend Reasons aims. But if Reason isnt careful, the dark horse can get the white horse to team up with it instead. When this happens, what you get is what well call spirited hedonism something the Greeks saw young people as especially susceptible to. Thumos feels the desire to do great things, to be passionate, to take on adventure and risk, and live life to the fullest, but the dark horse takes this motivation and shunts it off into a narrow and inferior channel the mere penchant for partying hard. Thumos wants to really live, and the appetites convince him that nights out getting smashed at the same bars, repeated on an infinite loop, is real living. Part of this man bemoans the fact that he never really seems to go anywhere or see anything, but the dark horse quiets that concern, saying he really is living it up, while encouraging him to get another drink.

Thumos Properly Employed

Thumos, properly trained and harnessed, can be one of mans greatest allies inspiring and guiding him, stirring him up, and driving and urging him on towards the peaks of greatness. It can perceive his possibilities and make them real. The Greeks believed that a man experienced true happiness in thumos. The way to best make use of thumos is simple: directing it towards its natural aims that which is noble and fine, honorable and excellent. Plato believed that thumos was made to fight on behalf of what seems to be just, and the Greeks saw this force of the soul as essential in making moral choices. In the poetry of Bacchylides, Apollo declares that the way to delight thumos is by doing holy actsfor this is the highest of gains. In order to get thumos to pursue noble aims, Plato argued, you had to teach it to respond to Beauty, Truth, and Goodness. This can be done, I believe, by learning to use, and finely tuning your innate radar for such things. When you encounter what is Good, you can feel it resonate in your soul and swell your heart. Interestingly, one of the functions the Greeks assigned to thumos was the producer of reverent awe. The proof that something is Good is that it helps make you a better man it bears good fruit. The more your thumos picks up on these signals, and responds to them, the better it gets at doing so, and as this virtuous cycle continues, your thumos grows ever stronger and you progress as a man. Thumos does not simply draw you to that which is good, it inspires you to fight for it. Thumos natural home is the battlefield. Its most essential nature is that of an aid to courage, strength, and indomitability for the warrior in combat. But its spur to fight operates off the battlefield as well. It drives a man to stand up for his ideals, cherished causes, and moral choices. It also fuels his desire for recognition, honor, and status the drive to become the best of the best in any arena of competition whether sports, profession, or even simply life itself. In any situation where you choose not to back down from your beliefs and goals

despite opposition, and refuse to give in when others try to crush you, thumos is by your side. Thumos is also what drives a man to fight for a life less ordinary one filled with more risk and adventure. Thumos is that source of vitality that pushes a man to live life as fully as possible, to drink deep from it, to choose the strenuous life over self-indulgence and mediocrity. Thumos and Technical Skills In whatever kind of fight a man is engaged, Plato argued that the acquirement of technical skills mastery can act as a stimulus to courage and an aid to thumos. Training gives a man confidence that can bolster him in the midst of stress and opposition. For example, the more a soldier has been trained in and has rigorously practiced the arts of war and defense, the more he is able to fall back on that training in the heat of the battle, and the less likely he is to become paralyzed or give up. As Hobbs puts it: Technical skills on their own will not make for courage; nor can they provide thumos, if thumos is altogether lacking. They can, however, help bolster thumos and make it more effectivePlato does not confuse technique with virtue, but he is clear-eyed about the need to provide the best possible environment for virtue to develop. Thumos Neutered Why is it that many men seem so lacking in thumos today? Thumos is a potent force left wild it destroys, but harnessed it creates. The thumos of man is responsible for the lions share of societys progress. Yet in our modern day, instead of helping men to harness their thumos for positive ends, society has decided it is better to neuter the force altogether. To protect some people from getting hurt, weve tried to breed it out of men, even if it means its positive effects will be sacrificed along with the negative. It is like getting rid of electricity, and all the benefits that have come with it, because some people get electrocuted. From an early age, boys are taught to sit still, to be quiet. Physical fighting of any kind results in suspension. Competition is frowned upon because it means some will be left out and feel bad. Rewards and recognition are distributed equally; everyone is given a prize to avoid hurt feelings. As a result, boys feel less motivated to fight to rise to the top. Weve unfortunately come to think of elements of thumos, like anger, as entirely bad. Instead, what we need is an understanding that anger is neither bad nor good its all in how its directed. There is such a thing as righteous indignation. The anger that drives one to stand up for that which is just and right. If you snuff out the force that makes bad men hurt the weak, you also eliminate the force that moves good men to protect the vulnerable. Plato argued that you didnt breed fierceness out of men, you trained it. Men of the warrior class, he argued, should be trained to neither be watchdogs who barked at everything even innocent

noises nor watchdogs that only whimpered and rolled over when someone invaded the house. They were gentle with those they knew, and fierce with strangers of ill-intent. Their thumos was ready, if needed, to fight. Thumos Seeking Role Models I can imagine that much of this seems very abstract and it may be hard to see how it applies to your own life. What can help make it more tangible is observing how thumos has operated in the lives of other men. Plato believed that thumos naturally seeks heroic role models. These role models can inspire thumos, and also, as Hobbs put it, give life shape and structure. Our own lives can seem like an amorphous stream its just one thing after another. We see the world through our own eyes, so its hard to get a real perspective on how were doing and where were at in our journey. Because we can view them as outside observers, it is much easier to see the shape and structure of the lives of others, especially when you can read their biography and take in the sweep of their lives from start to finish. Its easy to identify the different seasons they went through, their rises and falls, the important turning points. We can see how certain choices they made led to certain outcomes. And we can get a sense of the kind of things its possible for a man to accomplish and what sorts of aims we might seek in our own lives. By studying how other men throughout history succeeded (and failed) to harness their thumos, we can get a sense of the nature of thumos and how to guide our own white horse. With that in mind we will conclude this series with a case study of the life of Jack London, who stands as the perfect example of both the power and perils of thumos. By examining the influence of thumos on a modern man, hopefully you will be able to much more easily grasp the nature of thumos and how you might cultivate it in your own life. Lessons In Manliness: Benjamin Franklins Pursuit of the Virtuous Life When most people today hear the word virtue, they usually dont think manliness. Having virtue or being virtuous is looked at as being sissy or effeminate. In fact, we sometimes use the word in todays vernacular to describe a womans sexual conduct. However, virtue is far from being sissy or effeminate. The word virtue is actually rooted in manliness. Virtue comes from the Latin virtus, which in turn is derived from vir, Latin for manliness. Cicero, a famous Roman statesman and writer, enumerated the cardinal virtues that every man should try to live up to. They included justice, prudence, courage, and temperance. In order to have honor, a Roman man had to live each of the four virtues. When Aristotle encouraged men in the ancient world to live the virtuous life, it was really a call to man up. One man took up Aristotles challenge to live the virtuous or manly life with particular fervor: Benjamin Franklin. Franklins Quest for Moral Perfection

Benjamin Franklin is an American legend. He single handily invented the idea of the self-made man. Despite being born into a poor family and only receiving two years of formal schooling, Franklin became a successful printer, scientist, musician, and author. Oh, and in his spare time he helped found a country, and then serve as its diplomat. The key to Franklins success was his drive to constantly improve himself and accomplish his ambitions. In 1726, at the age of 20, Ben Franklin set his loftiest goal: the attainment of moral perfection. I conceivd the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wishd to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. In order to accomplish his goal, Franklin developed and committed himself to a personal improvement program that consisted of living 13 virtues. The 13 virtues were: 1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. 2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. 3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. 4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. 6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. 7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. 8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. 9. MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. 10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation. 11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. 12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or anothers peace or reputation. 13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates. In order to keep track of his adherence to these virtues, Franklin carried around a small book of 13 charts. The charts consisted of a column for each day of the week and 13 rows marked with the first letter of his 13 virtues. Franklin evaluated himself at the end of each day. He placed a dot next to each virtue each had violated. The goal was to minimize the number of marks, thus indicating a clean life free of vice.

Franklin would especially focus on one virtue each week by placing that virtue at the top that weeks chart and including a short precept to explain its meaning. Thus, after 13 weeks he had moved through all 13 virtues and would then start the process over again. When Franklin first started out on his program he found himself putting marks in the book more than he wanted to. But as time went by, he saw the marks diminish. While Franklin never accomplished his goal of moral perfection, and had some notable flaws (womanizing and his love of beer probably gave him problems with chastity and temperance), he felt he benefited from the attempt at it. Tho I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it. Applying Franklins pursuit of the virtuous life in your life Here are The Art of Manliness we want to resurrect the idea that being many means being virtuous. We think old Ben Franklin can show us a thing or two on how best to live a virtuous (or manly) life. In order to help you live the virtuous life, starting next Monday and continuing each week, were going to highlight one of Bens virtues that you can focus on throughout the week. Well find a great man from history that exemplified that virtue and extract practical lessons from them that can help us live that virtue more fully. When we get done with Franklins virtues, well add some more. Until then, why not get started on living the virtuous life by downloading this nifty replica of Franklins virtue chart from DIY Planner? See if you can go a whole day without having to give yourself a mark for not living the virtues. If you want to carry around a little book like Franklin did, get your hands on a pocket Moleskine and paste the chart from DIY planner in there. Carry it around just as Franklin did, as a constant reminder at your quest to live a virtuous life. The Virtuous Life: Wrap Up For the past 13 weeks, The Art of Manliness has been running a series entitled The Virtuous Life. Each week we took a look at each one of Benjamin Franklins 13 virtues and how men could implement them in their life. Today virtue has taken on soft and effeminate connotations. But originally, the word virtue was inextricably connected to what it meant to be a true man. The word comes from the Latin virtus, which in turn is derived from vir, Latin for manliness. These days guys excuse their lack of virtue by hiding behind the excuse of being just a guy. Men need to do better and strive to improve themselves each day. Its time to restore the tie between manliness and virtue. What follows is a summary of the entire series with links to each virtue. We hope you found the series helpful and will revisit it in the future for inspiration.

Lets get started. Lessons in Manliness: Benjamin Franklins Pursuit of the Virtuous Life This is the post that kicked off the series. In it we discussed Benjamin Franklins goal of moral perfection and how he set about attaining it through living his 13 virtues. Franklin, a printer, had a small book of charts made up that allowed him to keep track of his progress in living the virtues. You can get your own Benjamin Franklin virtue chart here. Ben admitted that he was never able to live the virtues perfectly, but felt he had become a better and happier man for having made the attempt. Temperance Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. Franklin began his list of virtues with temperance because it was the virtue that would develop the self-discipline necessary to adhere to the other 12 virtues. Temperance calls for a man to avoid overindulgence in food or drink. By conquering your primal urges for food and drink, youll have the confidence to start making improvements in other areas of your life. Silence Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; Avoid trifling Conversation. We live in an age of constant noise and chatter. Etiquette and polite manners have sadly not kept pace with developments in technology and our quickly changing culture. In the virtue of silence we took a look at how a man can practice this virtue in regards to cell phone use, customer service, and the internet. A man must learn when and when not to open his mouth. Order Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. If a man wishes to thrive in this world, he must develop order. But the laws of physics tell us that the universe and everything in it tends towards chaos and disorganization. A man must fight against these natural laws and the path of least resistance. Yet taking on complex organization systems will only cause more imbalance in your life. Instead, make small changes by rectifying each slip into disorganization the moment it happens. Do it now. Resolution Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. Resolution is the firm determination to accomplish what you set out to do. In this post, we looked at the story of Alexander the Great conquering the island of Tyre as an example of manly resolution. From Alexanders conquest at Tyre, we extracted four ways to help improve your resolve in life. Frugality Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. Americans savings rate is negative. Thats right, Americans are spending more than theyre saving. With the sluggish economy and soaring gas prices, practicing frugality is quickly coming

back into style. While there are countless blogs that go into detail about how to live frugally, it all comes down to one principle: spend less than you earn. Industry Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions. Hard work has been the hallmark of every manly man. However, industriousness has gone out of style. People today are looking for get rich quick schemes that will afford them a huge payout with minimum effort. In reality, honest work is a beneficial and refining endeavor that should be embraced, not disdained. In this post we take on the cult of The Four Hour Work Week, illuminate the value of work, and explain how you can be more industrious in your life. Sincerity Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. If you frequent blogs or internet message boards, youve probably noticed the prevalence of gossip, sarcasm, and lying. Unfortunately, were starting to see the demeanor that pervades the internet rub off on people in the real world. In this post we discuss how gossip, sarcasm, and lying can harm you and others and how you can work on avoiding these vices. Justice Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. When I look back at the men I admire most, they all had one thing in common: each of them stood up for the little guy. In a society plagued with apathy, what this world needs now more than ever are men who will stand up for justice. Find out how you can develop the virtue of justice in your life as well as areas that you can implement the virtue. Moderation Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. Are you looking for more fulfillment and satisfaction in your life? Society will tell you that more is the answer, that more money, more stuff, more women, and more pleasure are the keys to gaining satisfaction in life. In reality the secret to a fulfilling life is moderation. In this post, we offer five tips on how you can practice moderation in your life and in turn increase your happiness and pleasure. Cleanliness Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation. While many would say cleanliness is more a sign of femininity than manliness, the reality is that developing cleanliness develops a mans attention to detail, discipline, and order. Of all the virtues, the meaning of cleanliness has changed the most over time. In this post, we discuss that history and then offer suggestions on meeting todays standard of cleanliness in your home, dress, and personal grooming. Tranquility Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. The irritations of modern life have left many men hot under the collar. Controlling ones anger is the mark of a cool and composed gentleman. There are many social and health benefits to

controlling your anger. In our discussion on tranquility, we provide 5 suggestions on how men can control their anger and start living more peaceful and tranquil lives. Chastity Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or anothers peace or reputation. Of all the virtues, chastity is probably the least popular these days. We live in a society in which that glamorizes and exploits sex. Sex is everywhere, on the internet, on T.V. and in our magazines. But the ubiquity of sex has only cheapened a once sacred act and turned it into just another consumer good to be selfishly consumed. In this post, we take a look at the harmful effects of todays hook-up culture. Humility Imitate Jesus and Socrates. The typical image of a manly man is one who is supremely confident, bordering or arrogance. Humility doesnt seem to fit in that manly image. However, some of the greatest men in history have been the most humble. Humility isnt weak, submissive, or self-abasing. Humility means having the quiet confidence to allow your actions to speak for themselves. After discussing a lesson on how not to be humble from Greek legend Achilles, we discuss five things you can do to be a little more humble. Manly Honor: Part I What Is Honor? Across cultures and time, honor and manliness have been inextricably tied together. In many cases, they were synonymous. Honor lost was manhood lost. Because honor was such a central aspect of a mans masculine identity, men would go to great lengths to win honor and prevent its loss. If we take even a cursory look at history, honor pops up over and over again as a central theme in literature and life. The epic poems of Homer are primarily about honor and mans quest to achieve and maintain it. If you read Shakespeares plays with a close eye, youll find that honor and manhood take center stage as reoccurring themes. During the 17th and all the way into the early 20th century, upperclass men in Europe and the United States regularly engaged in duels on fields of honor to defend their manhood. When signing the Declaration of Independence, the American Founding Fathers mutually pledged to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. But what exactly is honor? We throw the word around quite a bit in our modern lexicon and give it a lot of lip service, but if you were to ask someone, What is honor? youll likely be answered with furrowed brows and head scratches. We think we know what it is, but often find it difficult to articulate when pressed. If youre lucky enough to get an answer out of someone, theyll likely say that honor means being true to a set of personal ideals, or being a man of integrity.

Honor=integrity is the point to which the definition of honor has evolved and what it generally means in our society today. In fact, its how we defined honor in our book, The Art of Manliness Manvotionals. That definition of honor, while correct in our modern use of the word, doesnt really capture the concept of honor that Homer wrote about, that countless duelists died for, and that our Founding Fathers swore upon. Except for a few pockets of society like the military, fire departments, and criminal gangs, honor, as millions of men from the past understood it, barely exists in the modern West. When folks in the mainstream do bring up this type of honor, its usually done in jest. (See Man Code or Bro Code). And while there are certainly some very troubling aspects of honor as it was understood in the past (which well explore), I believe that part of the decline of manhood in America and other Western countries can be traced in part to a lack of a positive notion and healthy appreciation of the kind of classic honor that compelled (and checked) our manly ancestors. Over the next few weeks, were going to explore honor what it is, its history and decline in the West, and its moral quandaries. Well also investigate how we can revive manly honor in a culture that fears, mocks, and suppresses it. Today, well begin by exploring what honor is. This post will lay the foundation of our discussion over the next few weeks. Ill be honest with you: once you move beyond surface definitions, honor is not an easy topic to understand and requires you to really get your cognitive gears in motion. Surprisingly little has been written on such an important subject, and the anthropologists, sociologists, and historians who have tackled it have tended to describe various parts and expressions of it, without ever seeming to find its core. For example one of the few books on the subject, Honor: A History by James Bowman, is filled with a ton of fascinating insights into the history of honor, but at the end, one is left with the impression that Bowman himself wasnt entirely sure what it meant. It is simply extremely difficult to recapture and describe something that was once so intrinsic to peoples lives that they did not feel the need to explain it. I cannot hope to do better than the academics who have come before, but I have tried to synthesize and distill out the most salient and important points to understand about the classic idea of honor and what it means for manliness. Horizontal vs. Vertical Honor Anthropologist Frank Henderson Stewart makes the case that honor comes in two types: horizontal and vertical. Horizontal Honor

Horizontal honor is defined as the right to respect among an exclusive society of equals. Horizontal honor = mutual respect. But dont let the term mutual respect fool you. Were not talking about the sort of watered-down respect-me-simply-because-Im-a-human-being kind of respect that pervades our modern culture. For horizontal honor to mean anything, it must be contingent upon certain unyielding standards in order to maintain honor within the group. The existence of horizontal honor is premised on three elements:

A code of honor. A code of honor lays out the standards that must be reached in order for a person to receive respect within a group. These rules outline what it takes to obtain honor (or respect), and how it may be lost. That last stipulation is paramount: honor that cannot be lost is not honor. Codes of honor often lay out very high standards for the group, but despite their difficulty, codes of honor are always viewed as minimum standards for inclusion. If you cant meet them, then youre seen as deficient, even despicable, and are thus shamed. An honor group. An honor group consists of individuals who understand and have committed to live the code of honor. That everyone in the group has done this is understood by all other members of the group. Because honor depends on respect, an honor group must be a society of equals. Honor is based on the judgments of other members in the group, therefore the opinion of those members must matter to you, and they wont if you dont see them as your equals. Respect is a two-way street. While you might respect someone above you in the social pecking order, its hard to respect someone you think is beneath you. Honor groups must also be exclusive. If everyone and anyone can be part of the group, regardless of whether they live by the code or not, then honor becomes meaningless. Egalitarianism and honor cannot coexist. Finally, the honor group needs to be tight-knit and intimate. A society governed by mutual respect requires everyone in the society to know each other and interact face-to-face. Honor cannot exist in a society where anonymity dominates. Shame. A person who fails to live up to the groups code loses his honor his right to the respect of the other honor group members as equals. A healthy feeling of shame, or the recognition that a person has failed to live up to the honor groups code is necessary for honor to exist. When individuals stop caring whether theyve lost their right to respect in the group (i.e. living without shame), honor loses its power to compel and check individuals behavior. Horizontal honor is an all-or-nothing game. You either have the respect of your peers or you dont. Bringing dishonor upon yourself by failing to meet the minimum standards of the group (or showing disdain or indifference for those standards) means exclusion from the group, as well as shame. Thus, in a tribe/team/group/gang, horizontal honor serves as a dividing line between us and them, between the honorable and the despicable. I like to think of horizontal honor as your membership card into a club. To get the card, you need to meet a baseline of criteria. When you present the card at the clubhouse door, you have access to all the rights and privileges that come with being a member of that club. To maintain your status and inclusion in the club, you must conform to the club rules. Failure to conform results in your membership card being taken away and exclusion from the club. This card analogy still resonates today in the few corrupted threads of honor that remain in our culture. Men will talk about taking away each others man cards but the violations that invoke this mocking punishment are for frivolous things like drinking a fruity cocktail at a bar, and bear only the faintest echoes of the original code of men.

Vertical Honor

Vertical honor, on the other hand, isnt about mutual respect, but is rather about giving praise and esteem to those who are superior, whether by virtue of their abilities, their rank, their services to the community, their sex, their kinship, their office, or anything else. (Stewart p. 59). Vertical honor, by its nature, is hierarchical and competitive. Vertical honor goes to the man who not only lives the code of honor, but excels at doing so. So, vertical honor = praise, esteem, admiration. In What Is Honor? Alexander Welsh makes the case that for vertical honor to exist, horizontal honor must first be present. Without a baseline of mutual respect among equal peers (horizontal honor), winning praise and esteem (vertical honor) means very little. To illustrate this point, imagine you write a novel. Your mom and dad say its the best thing theyve ever read. Two published novelists also read it and say its the best thing theyve ever read. Whose praise means more to you?

The praise from the other novelists, of course. Sure, kudos from your parents is nice, but their opinion doesnt mean too much to you because you dont respect them as fellow writers. Getting praise from your fellow writers? That means a lot. To add on to my club analogy, vertical honor is like the awards and trophies that clubs bestow on members. To even be considered for the award, you need to be a member of the club; you need the membership card (horizontal honor). But being a card carrying member isnt enough. To win a trophy, you must distinguish yourself from your peers by outperforming them and achieving excellence according to the clubs code. Honor = Reputation

So honor as our forebears understood it consisted of two parts: respect from the honor group (horizontal honor) and praise from the honor group (vertical honor). Implicit in this bipartite notion of honor is that it depends on the opinion of others. You can have a sense of your own honor, but that isnt enough others must recognize your honor for it to exist. Or as anthropologist Julian Pitt-Rivers put it: Honour is the value of a person in his own eyes, but also in the eyes of his society. It is his estimation of his own worth, his claim to pride, but it is also the acknowledgment of that claim, his excellence recognized by society, his right to pride. Thus, honor is a reputation worthy of respect and admiration. Manhood and Honor

So weve uncovered that honor is a reputation worthy of respect and admiration, and you earn that reputation by allegiance to an honor code. The next questions that naturally arise are: What code of honor must a man abide by to have respect from men, to be thought of as a man, and be included in the group of men (horizontal honor)? And what must he do to win praise and esteem from his fellow men (vertical honor)? While honor is universal to both men and women, its standards have historically been gendered. While codes of honor have varied across time and cultures, in its most primitive form, honor has meant chastity for women and courage for men. To courage and honor itself, Jack Donovan, author of The Way of Men, convincingly adds strength and mastery to the traits that constitute the most basic code of men. How did this connection between manhood, bravery, and honor evolve? During times when the rule of law was weak, and professional military and law enforcement bodies did not exist, honor acted as the moral force that governed the tribe and maintained its survival. Men were expected to act as the tribes protectors, a role in which strength and courage were vitally necessary. If they were not strong physically, they were expected to contribute in another way through mastery of a skill (shaman, medicine man, scout, weapons and craft-maker, etc.) that benefited the tribe. Honor is what motivated men to fulfill these expectations. If they showed courage and mastery, they were honored as men (horizontal honor), and with that honor came the privileges of being a full member of the tribe. If they excelled at the honor code, they were granted even more status, and thus more privileges (vertical honor). But, if they showed cowardice and laziness, then they were shamed as unmanly, and lost their access to those privileges. Defending Ones Honor This is why defending ones honor, or reputation, was (in many cases) a matter of success and ruin, life and death, for our manly ancestors. Even as late as 19th century America, maintaining your honor was essential to getting a good job as a lawyer or politician, and moving into good society. Thus in order to continue to enjoy the privileges due the honorable, men were highly motivated and incredibly vigilant about staying on the honor side of the shame/honor line. It was for this reason that in many honor cultures (although not all) any injury or insult to ones reputation required immediate remedy. If you got hit, you hit back. Saving face was paramount, and retaliation was done to prove you were game you still had the courage that made you worthy of honor and would not be trifled with (think of dueling). This retaliatory honor, called reflexive honor by anthropologists, was both inspiring and troubling for Western society going all the way back to the ancient Greeks. If taken to extremes, reflexive honor becomes an irrational pissing contest that can destroy the community. For this reason, as societies become more civilized, they try to temper mans base instinct to retaliate when their honor has been impugned by giving reflexive honor a moral and ethical framework, and adding virtues like mercy and magnanimity to the code of honor which had to be kept. This tempering of reflexive honor is what gave us knightly chivalry and Victorian gentlemanliness with its notions of fair play.

A Mans Honor, The Groups Honor Concern for ones honor was both a selfish and selfless pursuit. On the one hand, men wanted to be thought of as men and respected members of the tribe, and desired the privileges that went with that (horizontal honor). Membership in the group also entitled them to the opportunity to gain vertical honor and further status and privilege through their worthy deeds. Their reputation for strength and courage also kept other men within the tribe from messing with them. At the same time, a mans honorable reputation benefited the tribe as a whole. Each individual mans reputation for courage in the group added to the groups reputation for courage and strength. The more formidable a groups reputation, the less likely it would have been for other groups to try to mess with it. This is why men who do not care about their honor are shamed by the group their disloyalty puts the whole group at greater risk. Or as Bowman puts it, The worst of the sins against honorculminating in actual cowardice and flightalways elevated the individual above the group. Donovan explains this intra/inter group dynamic of honor well: Men who want to avoid being rejected by the gang will work hard and compete with each other to gain the respect of the male gang. Men who are stronger, more courageous and more competent by nature will compete with each other for higher status within that group. As long as there is something to be gained by achieving a higher position within the gangwhether it is greater control, greater access to resources or just peer esteem and the comfort of being higher in the hierarchy than the guys at the bottommen will compete against each other for a higher position. However, because humans are cooperative hunters, the party-gang principle scales down to the individual level. Just as groups of men will compete against each other but unite if they believe more can be gained through cooperation, individual men will compete within a gang when there is no major external threat but then put aside their differences for the good of the group. Men arent wired to fight or cooperate; they are wired to fight and cooperate. Understanding this ability to perceive and prioritize different levels of conflict is essential to understanding The Way of Men and the four tactical virtues. Men will constantly shift gears from in-group competition to competition between groups, or competition against an external threat. It is good to be stronger than other men within your gang, but it is also important for your gang to be stronger than another gang. Men will challenge their comrades and test each others courage, but in many ways this intragroup challenging prepares men to face intergroup competition. Just as it is important for men to show their peers they wont be pushed around, the survival of a group can depend on whether or not they are willing push back against other groups to protect their own interests. Men love to show off new skills and find ways to best their pals, but mastery of many of the same skills will be crucial in battles with nature and other men. The sports and games men play most demand the kind of strategic thinking and/or physical virtuosity that would be required in a survival struggle. A mans reputation may keep men in his group from messing with him, and a groups reputation may make its enemies think twice about creating animosity.

Conclusion Hopefully, unless your brain tuckered out halfway through, youve now gained a working framework for understanding what honor is, and how it used to operate in the West (and still does in places like the Middle East). Two weeks from now, well explore the reasons for the decline of honor in the West. Then in my final post about honor, Ill propose a solution to the modern male honor gap by providing a framework for a positive notion of manly honor that avoids the senseless violence of primitive codes of honor and the farce and inanity of modern Man and Bro Codes, and lays out a framework for a code of honor that motivates men to become the best they can be.

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