What Is a Man?: 3,000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue

What Is a Man?: 3,000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue

by Waller R. Newell


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060987589
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/15/2001
Edition description: ABR
Pages: 560
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.03(d)

About the Author

Waller R. Newell is a professor of political science and philosophy at Carleton University. A member of Ronald Reagan's presidential transition team, he is a longtime political and cultural commentator, and the author of previous books, including The Code of Man and What Is a Man?: 3,000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue. A contributor to the Weekly Standard and other publications, he has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and a John Adams Fellow at the Institute of United States Studies at the University of London.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Chivalrous Man

We often hear that chivalry is dead.But the very fact that we can lament its passing suggests we still have some recollection of it. What does it mean for a man to be chivalrous? Refined manners, courtesy toward others, respect for women, and a character bred to the virtues of honor, courage, and self-restraint--these would all be part of what we have in mind when the concept of chivalry is invoked. Chivalry is often associated with the ideals of medieval knighthood, as portrayed in the legends of King Arthur and his knights. The perfect knight was thought to embody a distinct array of ideals: piety, valor, gentleness, compassion for the suffering; knights were expected, moreover, to lead a sublime and spiritual inner life. In matters of love, the perfect knight always acted with moderation, composure, and patience in wooing his fair damsel. The chivalrous man wanted his lady to love him for his worthy character and his courage in defending justice, faith, and duty.

Chivalry, then, means much more than simply good manners-opening doors for ladies, for instance, or spreading one's trench coat over a puddle. These are the outward signs of a deeper experience-the process by which a man's love for a woman helps to perfect his own character. A common theme throughout the readings in this section is that love gives a man the strongest motive to overcome and avoid bad behavior, so as to make himself admirable and worthy of affection in the eyes of his beloved. They demonstrate, again and again, one of the paradoxes of the chivalric ideal: that an overwhelming romantic passion can furnish thesurest inducement to moral decency. Readers will find in this section guidance from all ages on how a man can make himself worthy of a woman's love, how to avoid the temptations of lust and other excesses of erotic passion, and how to conduct himself toward his beloved in a gracious and admirable fashion.

The Manly Lover

Orpheus and Eurydice
From Thomas Bulfinch,
Bulfinch's Mythology

A man's love for a woman can conquer even death. From the influential Victorian-era collection of ancient and medieval myths.

Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the Muse Calliope. He was presented by his father with a lyre and taught to play upon it, which he did to such perfection that nothing could withstand the charm of his music. Not only his fellow-mortals, but wild beasts were softened by his strains, and gathering round him laid by their fierceness, and stood entranced with his lay. Nay, the very trees and rocks were sensible to the charm. The former crowded round him and the latter relaxed somewhat of their hardness, softened by his notes.

Hymen had been called to bless with his presence the nuptials of Orpheus with Eurydice; but though he attended, he brought no happy omens with him. His very torch smoked and brought tears into their eyes. In coincidence with such prognostics, Eurydice, shortly after her marriage, while wandering with the nymphs, her companions, was seen by the shepherd Aristaeus, who was struck by her beauty and made advances to her. She fled, and in flying trod upon a snake in the grass, was bitten in the foot, and died. Orpheus sang his grief to all who breathed the upper air, both gods and men, and finding it all unavailing resolved to seek his wife in the regions of the dead. He descended by a cave situated on the side of the promontory of Taenarus and arrived at the Stygian realm. He passed through crowds of ghosts and presented himself before the throne of Pluto and Proserpine. Accompanying the words with the lyre, he sung, "O deities of the underworld, to whom all we who live must come, hear my words, for they are true. I come not to spy out the secrets of Tartarus, nor to try my strength against the three-headed dog with snaky hair who guards the entrance. I come to seek my wife, whose opening years the poisonous viper's fang has brought to an untimely end. Love has led me here, Love, a god all powerful with us who dwell on the earth, and, if old traditions say true, not less so here. I implore you by these abodes full of terror, these realms of silence and uncreated things, unite again the thread of Eurydice's life. We all are destined to you, and sooner or later must pass to your domain. She too, when she shall have filled her term of life, will rightly be yours. But till then grant her to me, I beseech you. If you deny me, I cannot return alone; you shall triumph in the death of us both."

As he sang these tender strains, the very ghosts shed tears. Tantalus, in spite of his thirst, stopped for a moment his efforts for water, Ixion's wheel stood still, the vulture ceased to tear the giant's liver, the daughters of Danaus rested from their task of drawing water in a sieve, and Sisyphus sat on his rock to listen. Then for the first time, it is said, the cheeks of the Furies were wet with tears. Proserpine could not resist, and Pluto himself gave way. Eurydice was called. She came from among the new-arrived ghosts, limping with her wounded foot. Orpheus was permitted to take her away with him on one condition, that he should not turn around to look at her till they should have reached the upper air. Under this condition they proceeded on their way, he leading, she following, through passages dark and steep, in total silence, till they had nearly reached the outlet into the cheerful upper world, when Orpheus, in a moment of forgetfulness, to assure himself that she was still following, cast a glance behind him, when instantly she was borne away. Stretching out their arms to embrace each other, they grasped only the air! Dying now a second time, she yet cannot reproach her husband, for how can she blame his impatience to behold her? "Farewell," she said, "a last farewell:"--and was hurried away, so fast that the sound hardly reached his ears.

Orpheus endeavored to follow her, and besought permission to return and try once more for her release; but the stern ferryman repulsed him and refused passage. Seven days he lingered about the brink, without food or sleep; then bitterly accusing of cruelty the powers of Erebus, he sang his complaints to the rocks and mountains, melting the hearts of tigers and moving the oaks from their stations. He held himself aloof from womankind, dwelling constantly on the recollection of his sad mischance. The Thracian maidens tried their best to captivate him, but he repulsed their advances. They bore with him as long as they could; but finding him insensible one day, excited by the rites of Bacchus, one of them exclaimed, "See yonder our despiser!" and threw at him her javelin. The weapon, as soon as it came within the sound of his lyre, fell harmless at his feet.So did also the stones that they threw at him.But the women raised a scream and drowned the voice of the music, and then the missiles reached him and soon were stained with his blood.The maniacs tore him limb from limb, and threw his head and his lyre into the river Hebrus, down which they floated, murmuring sad music, to which the shores responded a plaintive symphony...

Table of Contents

1.The Chivalrous Man1
The Manly Lover4
Orpheus and Eurydice4
The Art of Courtly Love6
Love and Self-Perfection8
The Rules of Love10
Love and Valor11
Older Men Make Better Lovers12
Love or Wisdom?14
Love or Duty?15
Lancelot and Guenever19
Dido and Aeneas21
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do22
Diana and Actaeon25
On Adultery27
Apollo and Daphne28
The Narcissist30
Manliness Toward Women33
Never Use Force Against a Woman33
Every Man Thinketh His Own Lady Fairest34
Stalkers Beware!35
The Death of Robin Hood37
Revenge Against Women Is Shameful38
What Women Really Want in a Man39
Stick Your Neck Out and Close Your Eyes42
Can a Businessman Make a Good Lover?44
Sigh No More, Ladies45
Pyramus and Thisbe46
Emile and Sophy48
The Sorrows of Youth53
The Age of Innocence57
2.The Gentleman67
A Well-Bred Man71
Austen on Gentlemanliness71
A Gentleman Avoids Vulgarity80
The Sun King82
The Importance of Good Grooming and Good Company83
The Boor84
The Art of Good Manners85
A Club Man87
Gentlemanly Reserve88
The Ugly Club90
Manly Character and Conduct91
The Rules of Harvard College (1643)91
Pride and Prejudice92
Do Not Be a Rake102
John Grey, the Worthy Man103
The Knight114
Honor and Reputation115
The Man Without Moral Feeling118
Practice Makes Perfect119
On Friendship120
The Lover of Bad Company122
3.The Wise Man125
The Wise Man of Affairs128
Where Do You Shop for Wisdom?128
My Son, Be Admonished!129
How Should a Young Man Live?130
Daedalus and Icarus134
The Man of Discipline135
The Value of Study139
Why a Man Must Be Liberally Educated If He Is to Gain Eternal Fame140
Men's Happiness or Misery Is Mostly of Their Own Making141
The Contemplative Man and the Active Man142
The Dream of Scipio145
A Man of Principles150
How a Grown Man Should Live151
A Wise Man Within154
The Child Is Father of the Man154
The Painful Path to Manhood154
The Four Ages of Man161
Reflections on a Man's Success162
A Man Must Stand Erect164
Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Childhood166
Death Is Not to Be Feared173
The True Spirit of Man174
The Two Paths177
The Myth of the Cave180
Levin Wonders About the Meaning of Life182
4.The Family Man195
Boys into Men198
Telemachus's Search for a Father198
Educating Boys202
The Value of a Fair Fight203
Telemachus Finds His Father205
The New Kid in Town207
The Education of Cyrus210
An Early Critic of Rock Music?211
Bringing Up a Prince212
The Lion and the Mouse214
It Is Held That Schools Corrupt the Morals215
Shame Is Good in a Boy217
The Hare and the Tortoise218
The Duties and Education of Children219
The Shepherd's Boy and Wolf220
The Right Kind of Boy: Brave and Tender220
The Value of a Boy's Friendships222
The Manly Father225
I Have a Boy of Five Years Old225
Apply Yourself, My Boy227
A Father Pays Attention All the Time229
A Father's Parting Advice230
This Fair Child of Mine232
A Father Sets the Example232
Son, What Have I Done to Deserve This?234
On the Affection of Fathers for Their Children238
A Roman Father239
Fathers Must Earn Their Authority241
A Man's Journey243
The Seven Ages of Man243
Odysseus Comes Home244
Married or Single?246
A Son's Mixed Feelings247
Hektor and Andromache on the Walls of Troy251
The Joys of Parents Are Secret252
Advice to a Young Man on Marrying Early253
My Wife Is My Best Friend255
At His Brother's Grave258
Mother o' Mine260
Youth Versus Age260
Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad?261
5.The Statesman263
The Kingly Man268
Two Kings Clashing: Achilles and Agamemnon268
David and Goliath270
The Kingdom of the Lion274
The Good Prince and the Evil Prince274
Theseus, the Minotaur and Other Adventures275
Henry the Fifth Rallies His Troops Before the Walls of Harfleur278
Napoleon, Man of the World279
Alfred the Great, a Model King and Man280
Tyrants Will Always Be with Us283
The Outstandingly Virtuous Prince283
The Patriot King286
To Be a King289
Who Should Pilot the Ship of State?291
The Midas Touch293
The Career of Charlemagne294
We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers295
Manly Leaders and Citizens297
The Man of Character297
The Model Citizen301
The Mice in Council304
Everything That Entitles a Man to Praise304
The Need for Good Laws305
Liberty Is Order, Liberty Is Strength306
Comparing the Statesman and the Soldier307
Always Be Prepared for War309
The Wolves to the Sheep: Give Peace a Chance310
What Is the Duty of a Statesman to the Voters?311
At Last I Had the Authority. I Slept Soundly313
Pericles's Funeral Oration and Thucydides's Assessment of His Statemanship318
The Wolves to the Sheep Dogs: Give Peace a Chance326
6.The Noble Man327
The Man of Valor331
The Virtues of the Soldier331
Not One Step Back Unless Ordered! The Battle of Stalingrad335
The Meaning of Courage336
A Young Man's First Battle339
He Had Dreamed of Battles All His Life341
On Courage350
The Coward351
"Oh, to Die, to Die for Him!"352
The Good War355
In Flanders Fields359
The Man of Integrity and Honor360
The Great-Souled Man361
A Counterfeit Man362
Moral Courage363
Conquer Fortune with Patience364
The Generous Majesty of His Nature: Lawrence of Arabia365
Toussaint L'Ouverture: Soldier, Statesman, Martyr369
The Happy Warrior371
The Value of Adversity to a Great Man374
Triumphing over Adversity375
What Is a Man?379
There Was a Time When Our Forefathers Owned This Great Island380
My Forefathers Were Warriors382
The Hero Deepened383
The Ascent386
7.The American Man395
The American Hero399
Freedom in All Just Pursuits399
The Call to Arms401
It Is Natural to Believe in Great Men403
The Glory of Our Fathers404
Democracy and the Great Man405
The Sword of Washington! The Staff of Franklin!407
Illustrious Man!408
Such Men Cannot Die409
Manly Honor in Democracy and Aristocracy410
"Towering Genius Disdains a Beaten Path."412
Why There Are So Many Men of Ambition in the United States but So Few Lofty Ambitions417
His Life Now Is Grafted Upon the Infinite421
I Have a Dream423
A Man Among Men427
Were We Truly Men?429
Manhood in America430
The Democratic Dad430
An American Father: Robert E. Lee433
"A Natural Made Gentleman"438
Men and Women in America442
Men Who Greatly Dared443
Young Husbands445
Moral Force Gives a Man Both Fearlessness and Tranquillity447
Family Life and the Average Man's Duty449
The Whistle451
The College Man452
A Man Must Be a Nonconformist455
No Man Is Happy If He Does Not Work458
8.The Invisible Man461
Rebellion and Despair464
The End of Something464
Oh Damn Them All, Thought the Adolescent468
"Most Young Men Do Not Stand Like Ramrods or Talk Like Demosthenes."469
What Then Shall We Choose? Weight or Lightness?470
Video Games Get Very Very Ugly: Masochism, Mutilation, Prostitution471
Television's Virus of Violence and the Jonesboro Schoolyard Shootings474
Why the U.S. Won't Go to War478
Gender Traits Tie T.V. Execs in Knots481
Marginal Men484
The Confusions of Love488
The Dangerous Game of Dating488
Collecting Broken Glass491
The Sinking of Mature Romance495
Enchanting and Repulsive: What Is Gothic?498
Dad? I Wish I'd Known You When You Were Little502
Born to Lose in 1962505
Sex and That Postmodernist Girl506
Each Other513
"I Don't Want to Sacrifice Myself or My Family." Interview with Kurt Cobain516
Conclusion: A Return to Manliness?519

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