The epic spirit

February 25, 2013

 (based on a talk by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira)

 

 

We need to define well what we mean by epopee and the epic spirit.

Epopee is the marvelous, not only the aesthetic marvelous, but the marvelous placed in battle array and exposed to risk, even imminent risk. Epopee is the marvelous of heroism.

From this one can infer what the epic spirit is. It is a spirit turned to the marvelous and enthusiastic about the marvelous. The measure of this enthusiasm is the heroic. In other words, it is to have one’s spirit turned to heroism and to be capable of heroism in the defense of the marvelous. This is truly the epic spirit.

Battle

Talleyrand used to say that people who do not like to admire and are stingy when they do admire, thereby prove they are mediocre.

For example: Let’s say one young man meets another young man with a quality worthy of admiration. The young man can have two attitudes of soul. The first is to admire, to see how beautiful and magnificent that quality is. He is joyful to see the quality of another. The other attitude minimizes virtue. He immediately puts the quality into doubt. He tells himself: “Not so fast! You know something? I’ve noticed this little defect. It’s not much, but it puts any quality he might have into question.”

Queen Elizabeth II greeted by John George Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada, October 1957. Photo by BiblioArchives.

This is not vigilance. This is stinginess. It is to try to use the other person’s bad sides in order to cover up his good side. Talleyrand says that this is a characteristic of a mediocre man. A man with a truly great and elevated soul likes to admire with enthusiasm. Therefore, that is part of the epic spirit.

To have the epic spirit is, above all, to admire something truly admirable, and to be ready to run every risk, and selflessly make every sacrifice, for the sake of what we admire, whether it be a cause, a doctrine, a principle, or in our concrete case, Christian Civilization.

This is the epic spirit.

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