Book of the Week: Cyropaedia by Xenophon

I was never a fan of biographies.

Wait, let me rephrase that, I never thought I was a fan of biographies. For the longest time I avoided them, I thought there was little to learn from people who actually lived and wanted to stick to fiction or business/psychology books. It took me a while to realize how stupid that thought was and I can say I’m glad that Cyropaedia was the first biography I’ve read.

Cyrus is the emperor that made Persia great. The history is fascinating in and of itself, but like with everything else, I would rather take some practical lessons from what I’ve read and learned in the book.

There’s great emphasis given to how Cyrus acts and goes by leading his army. He is of the opinion that a ruler should be better than his subordinates, and this is what his entire life boils down to. There’s no question that he is the best suited person to rule his kingdom, subjecting himself to the same standards he subjects his army and kingdom, we are presented with how he goes by making sure they are all disciplined and have a fair dose of healthy competition among themselves.

Here’s just one of the many fantastic passages:

“[…] the man who takes good-fortune well is further to seek than he who can endure adversity; for success engenders insolence in many hearts, while suffering teaches sobriety and fortitude.”

I talk a lot about enduring hardship and being stronger than what the world has got to throw at you, but this got me to see another aspect. How can we best handle success?

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