On Stoicism


“Let us also produce some bold act of our own—and join the ranks of the most emulated.”


Since ancient times, politicians have utilized flattery and pandering to captivate their audiences. Just as it was prevalent in Greek and Roman civilizations, this practice persists in contemporary politics. We have all heard politicians proclaiming their country to be the greatest or praising historic military victories. However, as the orator Demosthenes astutely pointed out, the purpose of such flattery often remains unfulfilled. In this blog post, we will explore the timeless wisdom imparted by Demosthenes, echoed by Seneca, urging us to move beyond mere admiration of accolades and instead strive to emulate the virtues of our ancestors.

As Demosthenes observed, there is a natural inclination for individuals to gather and listen to speakers who stand in front of revered landmarks, praising the feats of their ancestors. These speakers may enumerate glorious achievements and inspire awe through their words. However, such admiration alone achieves little of substance. The excessive focus on accolades detracts us from the true purpose behind the achievements and the virtues they represent.

Demosthenes sought to remind the Athenian people that their ancestors erected monuments and trophies not to be admired but to serve as exemplars for future generations. Their intent was for their descendants to follow in their footsteps and embody the virtues and values that led to those remarkable accomplishments. Merely basking in the glory of the past falls short of the true potential these achievements hold for us.

The wisdom imparted by Demosthenes and echoed by Seneca carries relevance even in today’s world. We encounter countless quotes and inspiring words that stir our emotions and resonate with our aspirations. However, their impact remains limited if we merely admire them without actively incorporating them into our lives.

It is essential to move beyond the superficial level of admiration and engage with these inspiring words on a deeper level. We must translate the wisdom we encounter into action, using it as a guide for personal growth and societal progress. By heeding the lessons of our ancestors and imitating their virtues, we can collectively shape a better future.

Nowhere is the call to emulate virtues more pressing than in the realm of politics. Rather than settling for empty rhetoric, we should demand that our political leaders embody the ideals they espouse. It is the responsibility of both politicians and citizens to ensure that political discourse transcends flattery and focuses on genuine virtue, integrity, and ethical decision-making.

When evaluating political candidates or leaders, we must look beyond their ability to captivate us with grandiose speeches and examine their track record, character, and commitment to principles. By electing individuals who genuinely embody the virtues we aspire to, we can foster a more accountable and virtuous political landscape.

The allure of flattery and empty accolades has persisted through the ages, captivating audiences and diverting attention from the true purpose behind our ancestors’ remarkable achievements. However, the wisdom imparted by Demosthenes and echoed by Seneca urges us to move beyond admiration and actively emulate the virtues of those who came before us.

In our modern world, filled with inspiring words and lofty ideals, it is imperative that we do not merely admire them, but instead apply them to our lives. By embodying these virtues and demanding their presence in our leaders, we can strive towards a brighter future and honor the legacy of our ancestors.

Let us reflect on the words of Demosthenes: “Reflect, then, that your ancestors set up those trophies, not that you may gaze at them in wonder, but that you may also imitate the virtues of the men who set them up.”

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