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The Metaphysical Understanding of the Will
Please read the previous part of this series: What’s Needed for a Warrior Religion?
The Ancient Romans of the Republic had a superior metaphysical understanding of their place in the world. This understanding should be adopted by the warrior religion. Many hold onto Christian morality, even the leftists who don’t realize their entire worldview is based on it. Christianity is a guilt culture. It relies on teaching its disciples how to feel guilty when they do “bad.” A warrior religion can’t operate under that kind of metaphysical framework. How would they manifest the will necessary to win if they’re worried about the salvation of their soul all the time? The Romans had a different understanding of the soul.
Romans believed the “soul” was their will. They called it the ANIMUS. It was an animal-like spirit that drove them forward. Many words we have today descend from Latin counterparts. Virtue comes from the Roman Virtus, which was how the Romans described manliness. You can see that modernity has degraded the meaning of the word, but Virtus isn’t the only word effected by modernity. Inertia is another word that’s changed meaning since the time of the old Republic.
Inertia to us means to not be moving. To not change. For the Romans, to be inert is to be a coward. They believed you had to undergo labor, to do great things you had to move. You had to impose your will on the world. The coward sat on his couch all day. You — as a disciple of the warrior religion — must avoid inertia at all costs.
To understand the Roman metaphysics, it helps to understand the Greek hero Heracles.
When you think about Norse Vikings, somewhere down the train of thought, you remember they wore mjolnir pendants. Some claim these pendants were in response to Christians wearing the cross and this may be true, but they got the idea from the Romans who often carried pendants of Heracles’ club. Perhaps, we too, should wear the club of Heracles to inspire the drive to labor and glory? Heracles was as loved by the Romans as he was the Greeks. He fit in well with their warrior religion metaphysics. Being surrounded on all sides by enemies, the Romans had to become warlike people. They had to outwork and outfight their opponents. They had to be on a different level.
We know Heracles as a demigod, the son of Zeus. He was likely a Neolithic hunter warrior who made the world safe for mankind by killing monsters(or megafauna?). He wasn’t just some cut and dry hero, however. Heracles had his flaws, he made mistakes along the way, but always made sure to fight his wrongs. At one point after wrongly killing a man, he lets himself become a slave for three years to make up for it. He undertakes the Twelve Labors we all know him for to redeem himself before gods and men for the deaths of his wife and sons. These stories would resonate with the ancient Romans.
You get the attention of an American by telling a story where the hero manages to pull off victory against impossible odds. Snatching victory from the certainty of defeat hits Americans in the feels. What moved the Romans was different. What moved the Romans was to see a hero fail, to lose his honor. When that happened, than the Romans would start paying attention. They wanted to see if the hero would redeem himself, if he would demonstrate his WILL.
Heracles does this again and again. His strength alone is never enough. Like the Roman meditating on how he wants to direct his energy(his animus), Heracles must also decide on whether to choose the path of pleasure, while fun, provides no glory or the path of virtue, a long hard road that possesses the opportunity for glory. He must repent for his mistakes many times in his life and then drive his animus forward towards glory. This long and unforgiving road of a warrior Heracles takes, is rewarded upon his death as he is made into a god by the Olympians and we’re still talking about him today.
The warrior religion would do well to adopt Roman metaphysics.
The individual understanding of inertia vs labor and demonstrations of the will is enough reason to take on Roman metaphysics. Our people lack the courage to act. There must be instilled in disciples of a warrior religion a powerful conviction to avoid inertia. This metaphysical world of the Romans lasted a long time and only collapsed after they had defeated most of their enemies. By then, the money started flowing in. There’s another aspect of their culture that the warrior religion must look into. Unlike the Norse cultures who fell into cycles of vengeance, the Romans held the state as overriding of personal grievances.
To be unable to control yourself from seeking vengeance against another Roman was seen as shameful. The Romans believed hard in decorum, discipline, temperance, and honor. The warrior religion too, must be able to demonstrate a degree of self-mastery, to understand that the personal vendetta isn’t as important as the survival of the religion. To bring this back to Dune, which I used to open up this discussion on the warrior religion, the Fremen religion acted very much in the same manner. Living in a harsh desert world, they took extreme measures to survive. The water in your body for example, didn’t belong to you, it belonged to the tribe. When you died, they would extract it from your body and give it back to the tribe.
It was also difficult to offend the Fremen to the point where they would want vengeance. There was a way, but the Fremen never let a feud reach that point. Even Heraclitus speaks on the importance of self-control with one of his fragments, “it pertains to all men to know themselves and learn self-control.” A warrior religion too, must be able to put aside in group fighting for the good of the tribe. Save vengeance for our real enemies.