Ancient World Now: Timoleon, Part II

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Setting: Ancient Syracuse in Sicily. Sacked and desolate. Deserted of Greek colonists. Streets overrun with deer and wild boar.

Enter: Timoleon, ready to restore the Greek colonies of Sicily to their former glory, sans tyrants.

And even more amazing than his many successes was that by the end of his long life he had managed to avoid “the insatiable pursuit of glory and power which has wrecked so many great men.” Plutarch, like so many thinkers before him and since, tried to identify the qualities that make a great leader. Plato, Aristotle, Homer, and the epics Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and the Persian Shahnameh, all address the question of how to deal with the incompetent, malevolent, or unworthy leader. In today’s world, it sometimes seems to be an old-fashioned expectation: ethical, just, and informed leadership with a focus on the long-term. We are living in revolutionary times, and we can only hope that our world leaders have read and learned from history. Where are those leaders of old? It’s time they step out of the shadows and give us all something to hope for.

Find out how Timoleon stacks up in today’s podcast reading from Plutarch’s Lives for Boys & Girls, retold by W.H. Weston, and illustrated by W. Rainey, published in London & Edinburgh in the early 1900′s. Enjoy!