“Not today, you sons-of-whores! Not today!”
–the Spartan champion Polynikes to the fleeing Persians after Day Two at Thermopylae
There have been a million battles throughout history, but only one Thermopylae. Why? What makes it different?
What makes it different is the Spartans (and their allies who stayed on the final morning) knew they were going to die yet they embraced that fate willingly.
In other battles throughout history, each side entered believing it would win, or if it lost, each warrior could buck himself up with the hope that he might survive or at least that he had a chance to.
The Spartans knew they had no chance.
They knew, as they were arming themselves on the final morning, that within hours, perhaps within minutes, they would reach the end.
They would never see their families again, never behold the sun, never take another breath.
Consider this objectively.
That’s us too. That’s you and me. That’s everyone who has ever lived.
Like the Spartans and their allies at the Hot Gates, we’re going to die.
No “victory” will save us. No act of mercy from the foe.
No negotiated settlement will spare us. We can make no concessions that will get us off the hook.
We will not walk from this field alive.
Like the Spartans, we fear our extinction.
Like them, the question before us is, “What are we going to do about it?”
Not just, “With what courage or honor or dignity will we face our final moments?” (which may prove to be an easier answer than we think) but “What are we going to do meanwhile? How will we live? What kind of men or women will we be?”
One of the reasons I’m undertaking this video series and calling it The Warrior Archetype is because I believe there’s an answer … maybe not the answer, but an answer, part of an answer … in the mindset and inner perspective of the Warrior.
We are all Spartans.
We’re all facing our own Thermopylae.
I think that’s why this story … this true story, this real event, not necessarily my imagined version of it in Gates of Fire … has lasted for 2500 years. It never gets old. It can be told and retold in century after century because the FEAR that these specific historical warriors faced is the same fear we all face.
What are we going to do about it?
Wow! Can’t wait. Thanks, Steve. I’m looking forward to it all.
There’s no dishonor in losing, the dishonor is in quitting, or not even trying. So my simple goal is to do the best I can for as long as I can. Be it writing-working out-being a father – grandfather, I want to earn a a legacy of ‘he gave it his all.’ None of us will be the next Robert Leckie, Steve Pressfield, or James Brady, but how sad never to have tried!
There’s something transcendent about this one today. And a very Stoic perspective that “none of us leave this field alive.” One of the challenges (to me) is recognizing that this is not a morose perspective, but one to be embraced. The sharp, acute, exquisite perception that it’s all temporary. Part of the beauty of a desert flower is in the awareness that its life is short. Really appreciating this series.
“We are all Spartans….and none of us will get off this battlefield alive. So what are we gonna do about it?”
This series is incredible. An eon worth of hard earned love, knowledge and experience in these videos…
I’ve been reading the transcripts of this series from the start but have never read the comments or commented myself. I thought this week’s episode deserved a few heartfelt words. I am really loving this series. I like the simple way the concepts are explained and I find myself nodding as I read, completely agreeing with everything. This doesn’t happen very often, believe me! As a writer, I’m always looking for ways to level up, new ideas to explore, different perspectives to learn from. This series has provided all that and then some so thank you. I don’t know what I’ll do with all this newfound inspiration but it’s left its mark in such a positive way.
The videos gain from your presence, so really live. But the subject matter…metta & mondo beyondo. A thousand years of psychotherapy saved. Because of you, things are getting the wrestle they’ve needed for years. Thank you, I think. Please keep sharing how to carry….on, our own can, useful tools. Your experience and what you value out of it is riveting.
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