17 The Warrior Archetype

Episode Seventeen: Rightful Lord of His Own Person

The Greeks gave us democracy, courts of law, philosophy, drama, much more.

But their greatest gift — something that had never existed before, anywhere in the world — was the idea of the autonomous citizen … the free individual who, in Pericles’ phrase, was “the rightful lord of his own person.”

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here


  1. Andrew+Lubin on October 12, 2020 at 7:09 am

    Sept 480 BC: While Pericles would surely win an academic debate re: the values of free will vs being compelled, it’s worth remembering that only the Spartans were able to quickly- and voluntarily – deploy the 300 who died at the Hot Gates knowing their deaths would bring the Athenians and other Greeks the time necessary to defend this nascent democracy.

    Oct 2020 AD: Our citizen-soldiers no longer drop their rakes or close their shops to grab a musket and march to Bunker Hill; instead they leave college or quit their job to volunteer (in 4 year hitches) to defend their country in every clime & place. Would it be correct, then, to say the ultimate Warrior Archetype is our Marine and soldier of today? If so, I think both Leonidas and Pericles would feel at home in today’s military.

    • Brian Nelson on October 12, 2020 at 9:14 am

      I retired from the Army National Guard after 8+ years active duty. I did 5 years part-time, then found a full-time job in the Guard (AGR)–essentially the bureaucrats who keep the system going between drills and AT.

      I’ve thought for years that the strength of the Guard is not from the AGRs, but the part-time Soldier who bring the skills, wisdom, and non-linear/military thinking from their civilian occupations into the fight.

      It has been my experience that the reserve components are where one finds true innovation in the military. Ask most active component Soldiers, and they preferred to stay on FOBs with the Guard/Reserves. The part-time Soldier made better use of the plywood, pallets, barriers to make better living conditions.

      I agree with your statement 100%.

      • Andrew+Lubin on October 13, 2020 at 6:12 am

        Brian: Thank you ,and you’re so correct on the Guard!

        I was embedded with a company Minnesota Red Bulls in 2007 Fallujah. Led by a min-40’s HS history teacher, the soldiers were a mix of postmen, shop owners, and similar. All mid-50’s, like me. More enthusiasm than skill, but when assigned to work with a Marine unit, they swallowed their nerves and very serious in their training. Superbly led by their Capt, they fought admirably. I was there at the TOA, when the Marine CO acknoweldged their professionalism and enthusiasm and said he’d fight with them anytime.

        Clearly the ultimate citizen-soldiers!

        • Brian Nelson on October 13, 2020 at 4:48 pm

          I know a couple of guys from the MN Army National Guard. In fact, one of the finest officer’s I’ve had the pleasure to know is a (last I checked) a 1-star working at NORTHCOM. He’s likely retired or promoted, I forget how quickly things change in the military.

          I’ve been thinking about Greece today, listening to a book called “The Immortality Key” by Brian Muraresku. He was on the Joe Rogan Podcast a couple of weeks ago.

          It seems to me the Athenians had the correct balance. I love the stories of the Spartans, but it was Athens which brought us science, art, the humanities, (maybe religion according to Muraresku)–and yet they were warriors when they needed to be.

          I ran to the Army as a college near-drop out, resembled Jeff Spicoli more than any noble, heroic young man chasing glory. I knew I needed a new environment, and clear boundaries–even though I couldn’t have said that out loud if I had to. It was below the surface. Since then, I have frequently thought that we could use a conscripted service. A much, much smaller active component–but a ROBUST reserve component. Essentially every able-bodied person under 60. It is not as much about defense as it is cohesiveness. A shared narrative.

          I also remember, years ago, when I was talking with a mentor about a girlfriend. I said something to the effect of, “I don’t think I love her, I don’t have the same feelings I had when we first met.”

          His wise answer, “Well, you need to LOVE her, ACTION VERB. The feelings come after the action.” I believe much of the discontent that permeates our culture is because too few of our citizens have ‘LOVED the country, ACTION VERB.” We haven’t sacrificed for ourselves, our countrymen…so we don’t feel the feelings of love.

          Always enjoy your posts.

          • Joe on October 14, 2020 at 5:51 am


            Muraresku (and Graham Hancock) conversation with Rogan was fascinating. Did you catch his reference to Alcibiades and the Eleusinian Mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια)? Good stuff.

  2. Brian Nelson on October 12, 2020 at 9:20 am

    “Rightful Lord of His Own Person”. You’ve used the word in War of Art, ‘Sovereignty’ which I love.

    As I was watching the video this morning, two things popped into my mind.

    The Greeks called those who sat on the sidelines ‘Idiots’, and the idea of sovereignty. In our current vernacular it might be responsibilities before rights. Maybe if all these Antifa guys could pick up a weapon to fight in Afghanistan or Iraq, they wouldn’t be torching their own neighborhoods.

    Since war isn’t the optimal solution for us to find meaning, there needs to be another way for us to hoist up responsibilities in a way that tames the inner anarchist. But to stay completely out of the fray isn’t an option either, at least not to the Greeks.

    You and Victor Davis Hanson should do a podcast together.

  3. Scott on October 12, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Steven’s description of the Athenians and their versatile citizenry brought to mind a quote from the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, who declared:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    — Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love [thanks for Wikipedia]
    This sounds very Athenian. The Athenians filled most of their civic government posts by random draw. / Scott

  4. Joe Jansen on October 12, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Again appreciating the broad and deep historical context from which these stories arise.

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    Those who sat on the sidelines were dubbed “idiots” by the Greeks, as was the concept of sovereignty. In our present jargon, it may be obligations before rights. Perhaps if all of these Antifa members could take up a firearm and fight in Afghanistan or Iraq, they wouldn’t be torching their own communities.

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