Why Meekness is the Super Power You Want

Greek War Horses Meekness

Ep. 41 Greek War Horses were “meeked” which meant they were trained to stay in battle rather than flee at the sound of loud canons. The Greek origin of the word meek is “praus” used to describe these strong and disciplined horses and means “strength controlled.” 

Strength Controlled

 In his work, The Art of Horsemanship, Greek author and soldier Xenophon describes the selection and training of war horses.

The Greek army would find the wildest horses in the mountains and bring them to be broken in.  After months of training they sorted the horses into categories: some were discarded, some broken and made useful for bearing burdens, some were useful for ordinary duty and the fewest of all graduated as war horses.  

When a horse passed the conditioning required for a war horse, its state was described as ‘praus,’ that is, meek. The war horse had ‘power under authority,’ ‘strength under control.’ A war horse never ceased to be determined, strong and passionate.   However, it learned to bring its nature under discipline. It gave up being wild, unruly, out of control and rebellious. It would now respond to the slightest touch of the rider, stand in the face of cannon fire, thunder into battle and stop at a whisper.  

Xenophon uses the adjective “praus” to describe these war horses. It was now meek.

Yes, Meek People Get Angry

Aristotle said that the praus man is the one who has the virtue of the mean between two extremes.

For example, if there were a continuum with recklessness on one end and cowardice on the other end, the virtue in the middle would be courage.

This is how Aristotle defined it in relation to anger. The praus person, the meek person, is the one who feels anger on the right grounds, against the right person, in the right manner, at the right moment, for the right amount of time. Notice that he didn’t say: A meek person never gets angry.

Meekness is developing a focussed, deliberate center. 

Every Power Principle has a polar opposite, such as mess on one end and order on the other. On one day I could teach the power of embracing mess. And I would be right. The next day I could teach the power principle of creating order. So which is right? Embracing mess or creating order? The answer is finding the right middle place. It isn’t healthy to wholly inhabit one extreme or the other. [See Ep . 36 Organized Chaos]

Meekness is the effort of pulling both extremes together to find strength in the middle. 


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Xenophon’s Anabasis