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How the Ancient Roman Republic represented the peak of masculinity.
Masculinity peaked in the Ancient Roman Republic. I believe any serious study of masculinity will prove this. So if you’re going to study what made the Romans the most manly, you must start with their soul. Romans had a different conception of soul than we do. They called it the animus. When I think of the word animus, I think something along the lines of “animal spirit.” This may not be far from the mark.
In layman’s terms, for the Roman to prove himself a man, he had to prove his worth through the demonstration of his will, his animus.
In modern times, we don’t know anything about Roman culture. And hell, what we do know about them is mostly wrong. Modern institutions teach that the Romans had this great, massive empire that eventually fell. It was this empire which the early colonial Americans modeled the United States. The colonists however, had a better understanding of Romans than we do today. It’s an understatement how unknowledgeable we’ve become.
Most believe because the Romans forged this great empire, they won most of their battles. No—they actually lost most of their battles. They were the Rocky Balboa of the ancient world. Their enemies were always bigger, stronger, scarier. The Romans however, demonstrated the superiority of their will and imposed it on their enemies.
How to understand the Roman Animus
The Roman Republic was small. They hadn’t yet conquered most of the known world and so they society itself was homogeneous. They didn’t have the concept of guilt. Their society was built instead on the feelings of shame. It wasn’t god or gods(s) watching them, but their peers. They didn’t worry about committing sins or being immoral so much as their worth to fellow Romans. They wanted to show the strength of their animus.
The animus was the expression of their will. It was their energy, vigor, and vitality. The word inertia actually comes from Latin. To us, it just means inaction, but to the Romans it meant something more. They saw inertia as cowardice. The Roman spirit was always supposed to be moving. Roman legions for example, would march all day and overnight they would built forts which meant not only did they carry their armor and weapons, they also carried tools and supplies.
Labor in the Herculean sense was important to them. Labor was the act of proving the strength of their will. When you learn about Roman culture, it’s no surprise they held Hercules in high regard.
While they did have leisure, it was often used to reflect on the direction they wanted to focus their energy. The Romans were accountable to each other. The choice to be lazy meant all the eyes would be on you. This sense of honor and shame was at every level of Roman society from the centurion to the slave.
When you learn how the Romans lost most of their battles, yet still conquered the ancient world, you have to wonder how. Much of this had to do with their animus. It didn’t matter how many legions were lost or defeated, the Romans would just send another. They had what marines would recognize as a death before dishonor mentality. They would rather die than supplicate to an enemy.
What you can learn from the Roman animus
In these modern times, there’s a lot of inertia. The Romans would think us all cowards. They believed in action. You had to perform labors to demonstrate your will and prove your worth. This is good mentality to have. Always push your limits. Comfort is cowardice. Better still, find men to help keep you and each other accountable. Geoffroi de Charny said “He who does more is worth more.”
Your will is your energy. Most people these days don’t cultivate energy. They eat shit diets and don’t train their bodies. To do more, you have to treat your body better. Eat and train like a man. And then, make use of that extra energy to leave your mark on the world.
Manliness isn’t just about being strong and courageous. It’s also about power and vitality. It’s only through a powerful animus that you can demonstrate your worth.