What the Stoics actually said about kingship, applied to leadership
How better or how otherwise could a man be a good ruler or live a good life than by studying philosophy? For my part, I believe that the good king is straightway and of necessity a philosopher, and the philosopher a kingly person. — Musonius Rufus
The ancient Stoics believed that it was essential for anyone who wants to be a leader to study philosophy. Indeed, the most famous Stoic of all was Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor, who saw Stoicism as essential training for his role. The Stoic teachers who came before him wrote entire books on leadership, under titles such as On Kingship or The Statesman. Most of these are lost, unfortunately, but in the 1st century AD, the famous Stoic teacher Musonius Rufus, gave a lecture titled That kings also should study philosophy, which survives today. Kingship is one type of leadership, but as we’ll see, if we adapt the words of Musonius’ lecture, most of what he says is still relevant, and it provides us, in summary form, with a Stoic manual for modern-day leadership.
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