What is freedom? Options? Room for manoeuvre? Time? Carte blanche and blank cheques? Absence of censorship? Self-mastery? Purpose?

Recently I’ve had time and cause to think about leadership, and self-mastery has emerged as a front-runner at least as a necessary condition for it, along with something like a purpose.

And for freedom too?  It feels so. Having options, money and time without self-mastery or purpose can feel like a recipe for bewilderment more than freedom. My italics below – strength is rarely combined with sweetness.

‘Freedom always turns out to be more complicated than you think. There are signs in Horace’s later work that the wonderful shining freedom of the lyric poet, that bright target, luminous with the far-off light of ancient Greece, which he had aimed at and achieved with all his strength and sweetness, could have turned into another gilded cage.’

See also the quote-mosaic review of Harry Eyres’ splendid book on the charm and continuing relevance of Horace.


Source: Harry Eyres, Horace and Me: Life Lessons from an Ancient Poet (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 24


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