This review was originally published on Return Of Kings.
ROK’s very own Quintus Curtius has written a book that unearths old wisdom and presents it logically and clearly in essay form so that men of today can learn from men of the past. It’s like The 48 Laws Of Power for masculine men.
The prologue, usually an afterthought for most books, includes a strong tale of fiction that reveals themes Quintus explores later. When he asked me to check out his book, I did so with low expectations, but such a strong beginning pushed me head first into his collection of essays that each focus on a specific topic. Example titles:
- On How A Wise Man Should Reveal His Opinions
- Revolt Against The Excess Of Revolt
- The Reality Of Progress
- The Value Of Sincerity
- How Our Enemies Confer Benefits On Us
- Clash Of Steel And Wills: The Story Of The Battle Of Lepanto
- The Gap Between Theory And Practice
Within these essays, Quintus makes accessible the works that many men simply don’t have the time or will to complete on their own. He reads the difficult books, often in the original Latin translation, so we didn’t have to.
Here are my favorite quotes from the book:
New ideas that contradict the established ways of thinking cannot expect to be welcomed with open arms. Those who parrot the party line of the day, who genuflect before the altars of the established orthodoxy, can expect accolades from the mob and praise from those who control the levers of power. it has always been so. Toadies get their crumbs from the master’s table. But those who contradict the sacred premises du jour can expect very different treatment.
A man should not waste his time in useless trifles. Those who place the focus of their efforts on foolish pursuits not only exhaust and debase themselves, but they also waste precious time.
Only the wise man is free, and every foolish man is a slave. How can any man claim to be the master of his soul, the captain of his ship, if he cannot command it? Can he curb his lusts, resist temptations, control his temper, his appetites, and maintain his serenity? He who cannot command himself can hardly hope to command others. He who is always the servant of his desires and passions is not deserving of being called free.
Trying to deal equitably with a tyrant is a mistake that has been made by many. Power not only corrupts, but it also poisons the soul, and renders it incapable of feeling. The habit of arbitrary exercise of power becomes an addictive tonic to the tyrant, rendering him unfit for human interaction.
Leaders exercising [strong] powers are riding a tiger, and know that if they dare get off, the raging animal may consume them.
A wise man ought not to get upset every time he is brought into a contest with fortune, just as it would not be fitting for a brave man to be indignant when faced with the crashing sound of war. Since for each of these the difficulty is of the same substance: for propagating glory, and for fashioning wisdom.
Cherish your true friends, for you will know who they are when disaster hits you. Do not denigrate those less fortunate than you, for you may find yourself among them. Do not tempt Fate by allowing yourself to be enslaved with pursuits for women, money, and glory. All of these things will be taken away from you in time.
Men and his tools—even if he has only a rusty knife—are enough for him to master his environment. We don’t negate each other, we complement each other. I am a man, and I am master of my environment.
Boys have been looked upon as defective girls, needing constant suppression of their healthy instincts to make them more feminine. The consequences of this policy have been disastrous for the transmission of masculine virtues to the next generation.
We have access to more and more, but seem to perceive less and less. We are drowning in information, but are more ignorant and unfulfilled than ever. The breakdown in discipline is a direct result of the abandonment of our ancient moral code, which sprang from imaginative religion. Every untried youth now belies himself fit to pass judgment on the intellectual heritage of several millenia.
Constructive criticism should be delivered with delicacy, just as a bit of seasoning will enhance a dish, but not ruin it. Too harsh of a delivery of criticism will sew a lasting resentment into a friend’s heart. A man can forgive nearly anything except an excess of honesty.
Our society is a sexually repressive one, compared with most others; and for a repressed person, there is a perverse cruelty in denying sexual satisfaction to someone else. Most of the strident advocates of the “rape culture” are abnormal men and women. Miserable and repressed themselves, they wish to make everyone else just as miserable. There is also delight in being an accuser: it confers power and status, and is a form of attention-whoring.
The actions of our enemies make us appreciate the good things in life, and cause us to value more dearly the positive things of this world. Who can know love, without having experienced the sting of rejection? Who, never having gone hungry, can appreciate the satiety that comes from a full stomach? And who can appreciate the intoxication of victory, who has not felt the bitter sting of failure?
As character determines fate, there is no escape from the pitiless confrontation between man and his individual destiny.
I have seen some men laid low by defeat, never to recover. Others have learned from their experiences and gone on to greater achievement, fortified by the gauntlet of hardship. Defeat is a stimulus for reform for some, and a death-knell for others.
It’s important to note that Quintus doesn’t hold your hand. He passes on the wisdom to you but you’ll have to figure out a way to implement it into your life, if you can at all.
This book was almost tailor-made for me and my interests in history and wisdom. While there was some inconsistency in the quality of the essays, and a bit too many pages devoted to learning foreign languages, there is no other book I know of that does what Quintus has achieved here.
It’s the best book for men I’ve read since getting my hands on The Way Of Men by Jack Donovon a couple years ago. Even more exciting is that I think we may very well be seeing the birth of a new book genre: red pill wisdom.
Since reading his book, I’ve privately encouraged Quintus to keep writing, not just for his or your sake but for the selfish reason that I want even more of what Thirty Seven has offered.