Friday, 28 June 2013
The Agoge Of Lions
You might be forgiven for thinking that male lions have it easy. They don't need to do much. Don't need to hunt, for instance, the lionesses take care of that. Don't need to do much of anything, except lie around, and make sure that all of the female lionesses have been 'serviced', if you catch my meaning.
Good work if you can get it, it would seem. The lionesses are the ones who do all the hunting, they're the ones who bring in the food. All you need to do as a male lion is, well, other female lions.
Except, that's not the whole tale. Because there's a reason why the female lions treat the male lions like this. As Loreal might say, it's because they're worth it.
Why are they worth it? Because when a male lion reaches anything approaching maturity, he is kicked out of the pride. He has to go alone, into the wilderness, much like the Spartans used to do with their young men.
Except his Agoge (which is what the Spartans called it when they did this) doesn't last for just a year, and then it's done.
The wilderness is hard, and unforgiving, and there is no-one to rely on but yourself. There are no allies here, just the brutal truth of whether or not you have killed enough and eaten enough to get through the day.
Most male lions die.
But there are a few, always a few, who don't die. Who refuse to surrender to the loneliness and the dark, who face the wilderness, and take it on, and succeed. Who are well fed, and strong, because they can hunt. Hunt better than any lioness - because they have to, because they hunt alone.
The ones who do not need a pride to survive.
And then one day, they walk back in to the hunting grounds of a pride, and challenge the male lion there. And if they win, it means that all the things that lion had - all the food, all the comfort- they didn't have that, and they were still stronger.
True philosophy today is like a lion in the wilderness. Cast out of the pride, thrown down by bean-counters and posers. Nothing to sustain it, no funding, no love, just the desert and the dark and the hope of the dawn.
And it may be that this generation will turn it's back on wisdom. But wisdom will not forever turn its back on humanity.