The Roots Of Masculinity In Ancient Rome


From Return of Kings

Few civilizations have been granted the honor, by Providence, to stand as equal to the best. The Ancient Roman Empire, however, is one such civilization. Sitting at the table among the titans of history, Ancient Rome is regarded as one of the largest and most influential empires the world has ever known. Certainly up until that point, only the Macedonian and Achaemenid empire had controlled large swaths of land, but both quickly sunk into the annals of history.

Stretching from Hadrian’s wall in Britannia (modern day England) to the banks of the Euphrates river, the Romans affectionately described their legacy as imperium sine fine, or “empire without end.” With roughly forty-seven modern day countries within its grasp, almost no civilization during her millennia-long existence went untouched by the tentacles of commerce or by Rome’s colossal war machine. What started out as a monarchy evolved into a republic, and because of military expansion and thus need for centralized power, ushered in imperial Rome. During this imperial period, Rome acquired the majority of what history would remember as the Roman Empire.

While Rome is most often remembered for the debauchery associated with certain emperors and its many technical advancements, what was truly remarkable about Rome was the way Romans were expected to steadfastly attend to virtue. The culture was permeated with the idea that one would achieve excellence and renown amongst fellow citizens through pursuit of certain virtues. These virtues were either were specific to their station in life or were general overarching ideas for a civil society. Nonetheless, most Romans, including women, were judged on their ability to effectively and competently fulfill their role in the Republic.

Roman society, especially Roman public service and military life, was notoriously meritorious. There was no coddling, and certainly no handouts; both of which are prevalent throughout the west today. Any public appointment or respect in the community was earned through attendance to virtue and tangible deed that reflected ones commitment to excellence.

To be respected in ancient Rome, and especially to be considered for membership in the senate or military elite, one was in constant pursuit of attaining excellence. While the Romans had many virtues they aspired to, Virtus, or “manly character” was the most important for those who served in the public sphere. From the freshest legionnaire, to the emperor himself, Virtus was the most highly prized trait a man could have. If a man was able to have Virtus associated with his name, it was likely that he would one day hold high public office.

While the exact definition of Virtus varies among philosophers, and evolves throughout the history of the Roman Empire, Virtus was introduced by Plato and refined by Cicero into four specific virtues. These virtues are as follows: prudence, bravery, justice, and self-restraint. (Note: The reader might recognize these as the “four cardinal virtues” found in theology—this is because they were co-opted by Thomas Aquinas during the 13th century A.D.)

It was apparent to the men of Rome, but especially to men of power, that it was manly virtue that distinguished them from those whom they considered barbarians. It was their Virtus that made them great. There was no doubt; the Romans believed they were victorious because they were better men than their adversaries. They were certain that it was Virtus which would make or break them as men, as would it determine the success of their civilization. The Romans were correct, it seems, considering large scale moral decadence seemed perfectly to correspond with the downfall.
Virtus is the badge of the Roman race and breed. All else is false and doubtful, ephemeral and changeful: only virtus stands firmly fixed, its roots run deep, it can never be shaken by any violence, never moved from its place. With this virtus your ancestors conquered all Italy first, then razed Carthage, overthrew Numantia, brought the most powerful kings and the most warlike peoples under the sway of this empire. -Cicero

Modern Society

One would think with a clear message like this from history, Western Civilization would be able to go forth and achieve even more, for an even longer period than our Mediterranean forefathers. In any reasonable society, the life and times of great virtuous men would be blasted throughout the culture. We don’t belong to a reasonable society, though, in fact one that is sick by most measures.

We seem to not only have what is important completely reversed, but we even venture to find the degradation of values as cause for celebration. We forsake truth for the sake of political correctness, and shun the successful ideas of great men in favor of the ruthless doctrine of a failed false utopia. Telling enough, when I recall my Advanced Placement literature class in high school, I remember being offered a choice between “Black Feminist Theory” or just “Feminist Theory” as potential topics for my essay.

A critical aspect of civilization that has been almost completely washed out of modern society is the aspiration toward a good character. There are very few institutions left that teach the traditional manly character that built all of Western Civilization. It has always been an insane idea that these empty and ambiguous catchphrases like “social justice” and “kindness” that are oft quoted by leftists are expected to cure the ills of society.

The idea of what it means to be good has gone from prudence to running around naked at the gay pride parade, from restraint to indulging in whatever emotion feels right, from bravery to demonizing people who have a different opinion than you, and from justice to engaging in anything to further the SJW cause even if it means ignoring the truth.

A Return of Kings

If we men want to renew our civilization, void of illogical dogma and abject ignorance, why not begin by adopting the very way of life that ushered our civilization into the once-great civilization it has been in the past? The doctrine of emotion that the mainstream Cultural Marxist society perpetuates today is also the doctrine of weakness.

It is rooted in myopic thought and a lack of depth of understanding. Perhaps if men can once again find Virtus, we can find the manly character to be bold in the face of mainstream criticism. In due time, real men will show themselves and act as an antidote to the venom coursing through the veins of western civilization.

About the Author

is a longtime veteran of the culture war. He's trying to learn and do as much as he can before he becomes ashes and dust.