Starting next week a Virtual Conference “Teaching Leaders and Leadership Through Classics” is going live. This conference includes many interesting speakers (and friends) but it also comes at a time when we are nearly constantly thinking about how we choose our leaders and our assumptions about the purpose of education.
We will be posting more Greek and Roman material that reflects on the topic over the next few days as proverbial food for thought. One can register online to be part of the conversation: https://teachingleadershipthruclassics.wordpress.com/register/
Plutarch, Precepts of Statecraft 802 E
“Public leadership comes from persuading people through argument. But manipulating a mob in this way differs little from the capture and herding of stupid animals.”
δημαγωγία γὰρ ἡ διὰ λόγου πειθομένων ἐστίν, αἱ δὲ τοιαῦται τιθασεύσεις τῶν ὄχλων οὐδὲν ἀλόγων ζῴων ἄγρας καὶ βουκολήσεως διαφέρουσιν.
Plutarch, Sayings of Kings and Commanders 181
“As he died, Demadês the politician was saying that because of its lack of a leader, the Macedonian army was like the Cyclops after he was blinded.”
Τελευτήσαντος δὲ αὐτοῦ Δημάδης ὁ ῥήτωρ ὅμοιον ἔφη διὰ τὴν ἀναρχίαν ὁρᾶσθαι τὸ στρατόπεδον τῶν Μακεδόνων ἐκτετυφλωμένῳ τῷ Κύκλωπι.
Isocrates, On the Peace 142-3
“I am now able to say the most important thing, upon which everything I have said is based and against which one must compare and judge the actions of the city. For if we truly wish to dispel these current slanders, we must stop these wars which were begun with no purpose and safeguard for our state a leadership for all time. We must hate every kind of tyrannical government because we remember and weigh the calamities they have borne. We must envy, even imitate, the Spartan kings: for it is less possible for them to commit injustice than the individual citizens, but they happen to be that much more worthy of envy than men who wield tyranny by force. Men who kill tyrants among them have a greater amount of honor equal to the difference between those who are willing to die in battle and those who flee the ranks and abandon their shield.
This kind of leadership is a worthy goal. We can earn the kind honor the Spartan Kings have among their citizens from the rest of the Greeks if they believe that our power will not cause their servitude but instead their liberation.”
Κεφάλαιον δὲ τούτων ἐκεῖν᾿ ἔχω λέγειν, εἰς ὃ πάντα τὰ προειρημένα συντείνει καὶ πρὸς ὃ χρὴ βλέποντας τὰς πράξεις τὰς τῆς πόλεως δοκιμάζειν. δεῖ γὰρ ἡμᾶς, εἴπερ βουλόμεθα διαλύσασθαι μὲν τὰς διαβολὰς ἃς ἔχομεν ἐν τῷ παρόντι, παύσασθαι δὲ τῶν πολέμων τῶν μάτην γιγνομένων, κτήσασθαι δὲ τῇ πόλει τὴν ἡγεμονίαν εἰς τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον, μισῆσαι μὲν ἁπάσας τὰς τυραννικὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς δυναστείας, ἀναλογισαμένους τὰς συμφορὰς τὰς ἐξ αὐτῶν γεγενημένας, ζηλῶσαι δὲ καὶ μιμήσασθαι τὰς ἐν Λακεδαίμονι βασιλείας. ἐκείνοις γὰρ ἀδικεῖν μὲν ἧττον ἔξεστιν ἢ τοῖς ἰδιώταις, τοσούτῳ δὲ μακαριστότεροι τυγχάνουσιν ὄντες τῶν βίᾳ τὰς τυραννίδας κατεχόντων, ὅσον οἱ μὲν τοὺς τοιούτους ἀποκτείναντες τὰς μεγίστας δωρεὰς παρὰ τῶν τολμῶντες ἐν ταῖς μάχαις ἀποθνήσκειν ἀτιμότεροι γίγνονται τῶν τὰς τάξεις λειπόντων καὶ τὰς ἀσπίδας ἀποβαλλόντων. ἄξιον οὖν ὀρέγεσθαι τῆς τοιαύτης ἡγεμονίας. ἔνεστι δὲ τοῖς πράγμασιν ἡμῶν τυχεῖν παρὰ τῶν Ἑλλήνων τῆς τιμῆς ταύτης, ἥνπερ ἐκεῖνοι παρὰ τῶν πολιτῶν ἔχουσιν, ἢν ὑπολάβωσι τὴν δύναμιν τὴν ἡμετέραν μὴ δουλείας ἀλλὰ σωτηρίας αἰτίαν αὑτοῖς ἔσεσθαι.