Athens and Sparta: Their 30 Year War; Bravery v. Boldness, and Infusing the Concepts into the ‘Now’


Having read Pressfield’s work previously, in “Gates of Fire,” I couldn’t help but be intrigued enough to read the introduction to the book below when reading the, “Art of Manliness” piece referenced below.  We can certainly use an infusion of Spartan virtue today, as we face the probability (not just a possibility) of life and death scenarios as the world becomes more, ‘interesting.’


“Love of individual liberty and expression degenerated into narcissistic, hyper-individualism; robust commercial enterprise morphed into unhinged avarice; hardiness and restraint were replaced with softness and debauchery; active and healthy democracy devolved into mob rule and demagoguery.”   – Brett & Kate McKay, “The Art of Manliness”

Does the above quote remind you of anything you see today?  As a Nation, we’re more like Athens than Sparta, and unless we change from within, will go the same way or worse.

From here.  Take the time to read the entire piece at, “The Art of Manliness;” it’s worth it.  (The book above can be had here, for ONE CENT and $3.99 shipping.  It’s a ‘no brainer,’ for those who may find the material a ‘shot in the arm’ as well as instructive, so, ‘pull the trigger,’ you’ll be better for it.)

As the piece indicates, we must learn to harness our boldness with courage.  Without courage, boldness will always rot its host; courage (bravery) is the oil that tempers boldness and keeps it useful.

“Boldness honors two things only: novelty and success. It feeds on them and without them dies.”

 “Boldness is impatient. Courage is long-suffering. Boldness cannot endure hardship or delay; it is ravenous, it must feed on victory or it dies. Boldness makes its seat upon the air; it is gossamer and phantom. Courage plants its feet upon the earth and draws its strength from God’s holy fundament.”

“The enemy’s weakness is time. Thrasytes is perishable. It is like that fruit, luscious when ripe, which stinks to heaven when it rots.”

 “Those qualities most pleasing to heaven, we believe, are courage to endure and contempt for death.”  – Lysander, “The Tides of War,” by Stephen Pressfield.

Some key grafs from the piece in no particular order:

The Spartans understood that victory is won not in the heat of battle, but in all the small tasks and practices that lead up to it — that what is needed is not only courage for special times of crisis, but the everyday courage of discipline.”


“Many modern men center their lives on this kind of personal ambition, and care nothing for how their exploits and foibles affect other people, and their country. They do whatever they want — whatever is best for themselves, gratifies their desires, and flatters their flaws. If cheating will get them to their goal, they cheat even if it hurts innocent bystanders. If the standards and ideals of manliness are too difficult for them to reach, they disparage them, or move the yardsticks in order to include themselves. If they feel like collapsing in self-indulgent pity when their friends and loved ones need them, they indulge this urge, bringing others down with them.

Such men have boldness, in the sense they “audaciously” do whatever they feel like doing. But they lack the courage of honor — the commitment to strengthen and uplift their fellows, celebrate a code of ideals, and respect others enough to do the right thing, even when it’s hard.

Especially when it’s hard.”


“The bold man seeks to divide; he wants his own and will shoulder his brother aside to loot it. The brave man unites. He succors his fellow, knowing that what belongs to the commonwealth belongs to him as well.”

“In troubled times the bold man flails about in effeminate anguish, seeking to draw his neighbors into his misfortune, for he has no strength of character to fall back upon other than to drag others down to his own state of wickedness.” – The Tides of War

If you look around, you’ll see a lot of people that match the ‘bold’ descriptions to a ‘T,’ and not as many that match the ‘brave’ descriptions  in the preparedness and liberty circles, the mainstream political arena, and in business.

Look to network with those who exhibit courage that unites; not those who flail about, drawing all around them into their own state of despair and evil.

2 thoughts on “Athens and Sparta: Their 30 Year War; Bravery v. Boldness, and Infusing the Concepts into the ‘Now’

  1. Arminius

    This specific warrior ethos is sadly lacking in many of the military leaders that I encounter on a daily basis.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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