Ethos of Thermopylae

When lost and looking for direction, the simplicity of Cavafy provides the necessary clarity.

Thermopylae

Honor to those who in the life they lead
define and guard a Thermopylae.
Never betraying what is right,
consistent and just in all they do
but showing pity also, and compassion;
generous when they are rich, and when they are poor,
still generous in small ways,
still helping as much as they can;
always speaking the truth,
yet without hating those who lie.

And even more honor is due to them
when they foresee (as many do foresee)
that in the end Ephialtis will make his appearance,
that the Medes will break through after all.

(Kavafis, 1903)

If this poem makes you think of at least one person close to you, make a pause and be grateful.


PS: Herodotus recounts some epitaphs that were inscribed at Thermopylae over the graves of the Spartans and other Hellenes who fell in the battle. One of the inscriptions reads:

Tell this, passerby, to the Lacedaemonians:
It is here that we lie, their commands we obey.