45 The Warrior Archetype

Episode Forty-Five: The Sarissa’s Song

What lies beyond the Warrior Archetype?

In this episode we revisit the moment in India when Alexander the Great’s army reached the limits of its conquests and turned around for home.

Our iconic warrior, Telamon, had other plans.

“I want to learn,” he said, “what comes after being a warrior.”

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

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


  1. Brian Nelson on January 18, 2021 at 7:46 am

    It is interesting to think–if I see where this may be going–to learn that Telamon is a better model for living than Alexander. ‘War is all I know’ is so apt these days, only combat has moved from the Middle East to our culture and politics.

    The extremes of the MAGA demonstrated their lust for war 2 weeks ago, and now Biden stokes the flames with announcing COVID relief will be determined by color of one’s skin. I wasn’t alive during the Civil Rights fight in the 60s, but I do not remember MLK saying, “I have a dream that men and women of color will conduct revenge porn on whitey until bloodlust is satiated.”

    If it were not so serious and scary, it seems like we are living in a poorly made satire. I just realized the hyperbole in my own thinking and writing. Is it serious? Yes. Is it scary? Maybe. Sad and disappointing more than scary. Outside the wire is scary. Indirect and direct fire are scary.

    Does it make me stop loving my wife and walking my dogs? No. Will my cats behave better with a big fat COVID check? No, they’re pretty much gonna do what they always do. Does this stop me from reading this blog, producing my art, connecting with my friends and loved ones? Of course not, and the lights are on and my house is warm.

    What is truly scary, is my ability to forget what matters, and get sucked into the pervasive narratives. My willingness to go to war is ever present, just a thin veneer of civility keeps me from raging at someone on the highway, grumbling about with 20 items in the 15 item checkout line, or wishing hateful things at politicians (and those who support them) for whom I oppose philosophically.

    I think Andrew mentioned this in a previous episode, but it appears that the transition from Warrior to Sage–or any of the other more developed archetypes, is without instruction and is a solo journey. It is a journey inside. What can guide us? Feelings are poor guides as they are driven mostly by my nefarious, selfish, sophomoric thoughts.

    I think, in the end, it is only values. Values that are declared internally, decided upon in a cool moment. As we move through archetypes, our values must be updated. Loyalty to our tribe, team, squad must grow to include the enemy. Kindness and compassion must evolve beyond tit for tat reciprocity to simply becoming the operating source code no matter the circumstance or person.

    Oh, and willfully exposing ourselves to pain and difficulty. That also helps.

    • Brian Nelson on January 18, 2021 at 7:53 am

      I do love this site. Keeps me thinking all the time.

      So–I think the path is to inculcate habits that support, strengthen, and defend these new values. I’m not sure one simply has a singular ‘come to Jesus’ moment. The old neural pathways are ossified. New pathways must be constructed.

      • Andrew+Lubin on January 18, 2021 at 7:59 am

        Brian – agree on this site; exposure to different idea – plus the ability to express our thoughts on them, is training for our minds!!

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  2. Andrew+Lubin on January 18, 2021 at 7:57 am

    Perhaps one can be a ‘warrior of the mind’ as opposed to a ‘warrior at arms?”

    Think of the difference between ‘warrior’ and ‘brute’, perhaps Steve’s moving scene of Telamon and Alexander is part of an individual’s spiritual evolution. Being a brute is easy; lift weights, lots of time at the rifle range, and adrenaline. But a warrior is different; yes you have those same physical skills, but now you realize that kicking a soccer ball around with a kid in Ramadi or Nawa is more effective peacekeeping than shooting his older brother – that’s a warrior. Like Gen Mattis said, “Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.”

    But back to Telaman & Alexander: there comes a point when we know we can’t do what we used to do -and more important – we no longer really want to endure the sort of training that life requires. But we’ve got experience, and the smarts to use it. And equally important-we now have the smarts to observe before we charge forward, and at that point I think it’s possible to be a hard-charger of the mind, instead of the body.

    Do I miss running marathons? Yes, when I see one on the TV. Do I miss training 60-70 miles/week? Absolutely not – and more important, I’ve finally realized that I’m not a wuss for feeling that way. For me, that’s a huge step.

    How cool if this blog is training for my next campaign-at-arms, to whereever and whatever my muse puts in my path.

  3. Ingmar Albizu on January 18, 2021 at 9:50 am

    These philosophical insights into the warrior archetype and how they transform into other archetypes have been inspiring.

  4. Jim Gant on January 18, 2021 at 10:07 am

    The Sarissa’s Song…I know it well.

    pg 109 American Spartan…

    Thank you Steve. Thank You.


    • Joe on January 18, 2021 at 12:36 pm

      I like how she opens it:

      Night was falling on the valley. Beneath the Hindu Kush, the terraced fields, and the rock-strewn grazing lands, an isolated band of American soldiers and Afghans returned from patrol, navigating the rugged terrain. They wore night vision goggles to see in the darkness, and passed without a whisper through mud-brick farming villages clustered along Afghanistan’s Konar River.

      Kinda sets the hook, don’t she?

  5. Joe on January 18, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    Allow me. From pg 80 of Virtues of War. Alexander summons the cook Admetus, who has lost all spirit after witnessing a recent slaughter:

    Before I [Alexander] can speak, a groan of dispair breaks from his breast. “What is that sound?” he wails. “By heaven’s tears, what is that horrible cry?”

    I hear nothing.

    “There, lord. Surely you must hear it.”

    Now I do. Outside the tent: a musical chord, sorrowfully keening.

    The entire company rises, Pages and Bodyguards together, and crosses to the portal to look outside. There, before the Guardsmen’s square, stands a brace of stacked arms. Twenty-four sarissas arrayed in upright order for the night.

    The wind piping across their shafts produces the mournful chord.

    The cook Admetus stands transfixed. We all do. It seems this melancholy keening will be the blow that cracks his heart.

    Observing this, one of the grooms, a lad we call “Underfoot,” approaches the cook and addresses him in the tenderest tone.

    “The sarissas are singing,” he declares.

  6. Jim Gant on January 18, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    Yes. Sarissas do, in fact, sing. It is a song where one can hear the sound of the ‘inner war’. The ‘war’ before and the ‘war’ after the war itself. Thanks Joe.

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  8. Gene on January 19, 2021 at 4:35 am

    This is the highlight of this interesting and brilliant series. Looking forward to A Man at Arms.

  9. Phil on January 20, 2021 at 11:09 am

    Steve, I just read the excerpt from “A Man at Arms” and it is terrific. I’m sure you’re aware of the legendary soldier Longinus, but have you also come across the pulp fiction novels centred around “Casca: The Eternal Soldier”? There is definitely some cross over with Telamon, and it’s interesting to think of how similar concepts are developed by different authors to express different ideas.

  10. Donald78 on March 4, 2022 at 2:15 am

    Alexander is a great example of the Warrior archetype. Warriors are driven to succeed and accomplish their goals, but they tend to be less concerned about what happens after victory is achieved. They can become entangled in relationships and circumstances that are difficult to extricate themselves from, and have trouble finding meaning after the achievement of their goals. I want to achieve my goals with hrm dissertation help in my education so that I can have high rank in my college as well as in competitive exams.

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  13. james on September 7, 2023 at 9:55 pm


  14. Fulach on October 29, 2023 at 8:14 pm

    The warrior archetype is often associated with qualities such as strength, courage, and conquest. It represents the heroic character participating in battles and quests. There comes a point where Elastic Man‘s pursuit of conquest has reached its limits, prompting a change or exploration beyond the traditional archetype.

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