35 The Warrior Archetype

Episode Thirty-Five: “I Have Come to Hate War”

The writer of historical fiction must sometimes bend true-life characters to fit his conception of a story’s theme. In The Virtues of War, I made the historical Hephaesteion, Alexander’s dearest friend and second-in-command, take a stand for compassion and empathy for others.

He becomes the character who feels the most deeply for the defeated and the subjected.

In today’s episode, we let him speak on the topic of the Warrior Archetype.

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 December 14, 2020 at 7:17 am

    Hephaestion’s may have been a fictional quote, but his point about the moral difference in sacking Persepolis as opposed to an unnecessary invasion of India is well made – and how noteworthy that altho Alexander would not back down, he then tried to temper his invasions by integrating the conquered into his empire.

    It brings to mind a quote from the Civil War’s Gen Sherman: “It is only those who have not heard a shot, nor heard the shrills & groans of the wounded & lacerated (friend or foe) that cry aloud for more blood & more vengeance, more desolation & so help me God as a man & soldier I will not strike a foe who stands unarmed & submissive before me but will say ‘Go sin no more.”

    A discussion on the need for war between Sherman and Hephaestion would be most interesting.

  2. Brian Nelson on December 14, 2020 at 8:15 am

    I just finished “Virtues of War” last week. This passage resonated with me as well.

    Frequently on this site, there is an authentic push-back from some of the readers about the ‘virtues’ of the Warrior Archetype, and of course the relentless pursuit of war.

    To bring Hephaesteion’s quote to the present, he might would likely have encouraged the Bush/Cheney Administration to stop the War on Terror after the Taliban fell. What good came out of the war in Iraq?

    To be clear, I was one of those who believed we needed to put a footprint in Iraq. I lived in Germany from 1992-1995, and concluded that the presence of US Soldiers in Europe had kept the peace for 50 years. I suspect that 1946-2020 has been the longest stretch of peace Europe has witnessed since the fall of the Roman Empire. I felt we could do the same thing in the Middle East.

    How many German, Italian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, British, French have become US citizens by marrying GIs? Tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands over the past 70 years. This is healthy and good for all countries.

    While deployed to AF in 2006, the topic of ‘Democracy and Islam” was a frequent conversation. “Sharia Law is incongruent with Democracy…” was a common plank of argument. I thought that Islam was much closer to the West than the belief that the Emperor of Japan was God incarnate…and I doubt the Japanese would want to return to 1940s.

    Maybe Hephaesteion’s quote should be looked at from the perspective of the individual and the ‘war’ we wage domestically within our families, with our neighbors, with ‘those jackasses’ who voted for Trump or the ‘Libtards’ who voted for Biden.

    My guess is that one of the main points Steven is going to get to with with series is that the true war is within. How do we incorporate and embrace the Warrior Archetype to slay our own demons?

    Utopians believe we can fix the human condition with human engineering, laws, taxes, leveling of the conditions…

    I’m no Utopian. If we are to ever find Heaven on Earth, it will be because a plurality of 9 billion people have gone to war with themselves in order to tame the beast. In Pressfield parlance, Turn Pro.

    And I prefer the Monday/Wednesday/Friday battle rhythm…just sayin…

  3. find a word on December 15, 2020 at 1:19 am

    “Sharia Law is incongruent with Democracy…

  4. Anon on December 15, 2020 at 2:04 am

    “Sharia Law is incongruent with Democracy…” or with peace.

  5. Joe on December 15, 2020 at 7:44 am

    Appreciate your comments, Brian and Andrew.

  6. Joe on December 15, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Another thought: for writers who write well about hating war, I’d count Tim O’Brien and Vonnegut.

    Did you-all see they’re making a film of “The Things They Carried”?


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  8. Nova Alexander on June 28, 2021 at 2:41 am

    It reminds us of a quote from General Sherman in the Civil War: “Only those who have not heard the sound of a bullet, nor the cries and groans of the wounded and torn (friend or foe) who cry out loudly for more blood and more vengeance, more ruin, so God help me as a man and a soldier I will not strike an enemy who stands defenseless and submissive before me, but I will say, “Forgive no more.”

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