• LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon

Jordan Peterson's 1st Rule, Ayn Rand, John Wayne and the poem Horatius by Thomas Macaulay

February 15, 2018










Buck up Buckaroo!


I love Westerns. I often wonder if the death of the western has led to some of our confidence problems today. In this episode I compare Jordan Peterson's Rule Number 1 "Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back" to the westerns of the 1939 to 1969 era as well as to the poem Horatius by Macaulay.


I'll discuss: 

  • Ayn Rand and the mind/body integration

  • How the wester American hero illuminates Peterson's number one rule

  • A full analysis of the rule with reference to movies like Rio Bravo, Red River, The Searchers, Hondo, True Grit, The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy And the Sundance Kid

  • Why Clint Eastwood is a horrible human being for creating High Plains Drifter.

The second half of the program is a reading of the poem Horatius followed by an in-depth converse with verse where I lay out the story and analyze it from a Petersonian perspective. Enjoy!




LARS PORSENA of Clusium,

  By the Nine Gods he swore

That the great house of Tarquin

  Should suffer wrong no more.

By the Nine Gods he swore it,        5

  And named a trysting-day,

And bade his messengers ride forth,

East and west and south and north,

  To summon his array.


East and west and south and north        10

  The messengers ride fast,

And tower and town and cottage

  Have heard the trumpet’s blast.

Shame on the false Etruscan

  Who lingers in his home,        15

When Porsena of Clusium

  Is on the march for Rome!


The horsemen and the footmen

  Are pouring in amain

From many a stately market-place,        20

  From many a fruitful plain,

From many a lonely hamlet,

  Which, hid by beech and pine,

Like an eagle’s nest hangs on the crest

  Of purple Apennine:        25


From lordly Volaterræ,

  Where scowls the far-famed hold

Piled by the hands of giants

  For godlike kings of old;

From sea-girt Populonia,        30

  Whose sentinels descry

Sardinia’s snowy mountain-tops

  Fringing the southern sky;


From the proud mart of Pisæ,

  Queen of the western waves,        35

Where ride Massilia’s triremes,

  Heavy with fair-haired slaves;

From where sweet Clanis wanders

  Through corn and vines and flowers,

From where Cortona lifts to heaven        40

  Her diadem of towers.


Tall are the oaks whose acorns

  Drop in dark Auser’s rill;

Fat are the stags that champ the boughs

  Of the Ciminian hill;        45

Beyond all streams, Clitumnus

  Is to the herdsman dear;

Best of all pools the fowler loves

  The great Volsinian mere.


But now no stroke of woodman        50

  Is heard by Auser’s rill;

No hunter tracks the stag’s green path

  Up the Ciminian hill;

Unwatched along Clitumnus

  Grazes the milk-white steer;        55

Unharmed the water-fowl may dip

  In the Volsinian mere.


The harvests of Arretium,

  This year, old men shall reap;

This year, young boys in Umbro        60

  Shall plunge the struggling sheep;

And in the vats of Luna,

  This year, the must shall foam

Round the white feet of laughing girls

  Whose sires have marched to Rome.        65


There be thirty chosen prophets,

  The wisest of the land,

Who always by Lars Porsena

  Both morn and evening stand.

Evening and morn the Thirty        70

  Have turned the verses o’er,

Traced from the right on linen white

  By mighty seers of yore;


And with one voice the Thirty

  Have their glad answer given:        75

“Go forth, go forth, Lars Porsena,—

  Go forth, beloved of Heaven!

Go, and return in glory

  To Clusium’s royal dome,

And hang round Nurscia’s altars        80

  The golden shields of Rome!”


And now hath every city

  Sent up her tale of men;

The foot are fourscore thousand,

  The horse are thousands ten.        85

Before the gates of Sutrium

  Is met the great array;

A proud man was Lars Porsena

  Upon the trysting-day.


For all the Etruscan armies        90

  Were ranged beneath his eye,

And many a banished Roman,

  And many a stout ally;

And with a mighty following,

  To join the muster, came        95

The Tusculan Mamilius,

  Prince of the Latian name.


But by the yellow Tiber

  Was tumult and affright;

From all the spacious champaign        100

  To Rome men took their flight.

A mile around the city

  The throng stopped up the ways;

A fearful sight it was to see

  Through two long nights and days.        105


For aged folk on crutches,

  And women great with child,

And mothers, sobbing over babes

  That clung to them and smiled,

And sick men borne in litters        110

  High on the necks of slaves,

And troops of sunburned husbandmen

  With reaping-hooks and staves,


And droves of mules and asses

  Laden with skins of wine,        115

And endless flocks of goats and sheep,

  And endless herds of kine,

And endless trains of wagons,

  That creaked beneath the weight

Of corn-sacks and of household goods,        120

  Choked every roaring gate.


Now, from the rock Tarpeian,

  Could the wan burghers spy

The line of blazing villages

  Red in the midnight sky.        125

The Fathers of the City,

  They sat all night and day,

For every hour some horseman came

  With tidings of dismay.


To eastward and to westward        130

  Have spread the Tuscan bands,

Nor house, nor fence, nor dovecote

  In Crustumerium stands.

Verbenna down to Ostia

  Hath wasted all the plain;        135

Astur hath stormed Janiculum,

  And the stout guards are slain.


I wis, in all the Senate

  There was no heart so bold

But sore it ached, and fast it beat,        140

  When that ill news was told.

Forthwith up rose the Consul,

  Up rose the Fathers all;

In haste they girded up their gowns,

  And hied them to the wall.        145


They held a council, standing

  Before the River-gate;

Short time was there, ye well may guess,

  For musing or debate.

Out spake the Consul roundly:        150

  “The bridge must straight go down;

For, since Janiculum is lost,

  Naught else can save the town.”


Just then a scout came flying,

  All wild with haste and fear:        155

“To arms! to arms! Sir Consul,—

  Lars Porsena is here.”

On the low hills to westward

  The Consul fixed his eye,

And saw the swarthy storm of dust        160

  Rise fast along the sky.


And nearer fast and nearer

  Doth the red whirlwind come;

And louder still, and still more loud,

From underneath that rolling cloud,        165

Is heard the trumpets’ war-note proud,

  The trampling and the hum.

And plainly and more plainly

  Now through the gloom appears,

Far to left and far to right,        170

In broken gleams of dark-blue light,

The long array of helmets bright,

  The long array of spears.


And plainly and more plainly,

  Above that glimmering line,        175

Now might ye see the banners

  Of twelve fair cities shine;

But the banner of proud Clusium

  Was highest of them all,—

The terror of the Umbrian,        180

  The terror of the Gaul.


And plainly and more plainly

  Now might the burghers know,

By port and vest, by horse and crest,

  Each warlike Lucumo:        185

There Cilnius of Arretium

  On his fleet roan was seen;

And Astur of the fourfold shield,

Girt with the brand none else may wield;

Tolumnius with the belt of gold,        190

And dark Verbenna from the hold

  By reedy Thrasymene.


Fast by the royal standard,

  O’erlooking all the war,

Lars Porsena of Clusium        195

  Sat in his ivory car.

By the right wheel rode Mamilius,

  Prince of the Latian name;

And by the left false Sextus,

  That wrought the deed of shame.        200


But when the face of Sextus

  Was seen among the foes,

A yell that rent the firmament

  From all the town arose.

On the house-tops was no woman        205

  But spat towards him and hissed,

No child but screamed out curses,

  And shook its little fist.


But the Consul’s brow was sad,

  And the Consul’s speech was low,        210

And darkly looked he at the wall,

  And darkly at the foe;

“Their van will be upon us

  Before the bridge goes down;

And if they once may win the bridge,        215

  What hope to save the town?”


Then out spake brave Horatius,

  The Captain of the gate:

“To every man upon this earth

  Death cometh soon or late.        220

And how can man die better

  Than facing fearful odds

For the ashes of his fathers

  And the temples of his gods,


“And for the tender mother        225

  Who dandled him to rest,

And for the wife who nurses

  His baby at her breast,

And for the holy maidens

  Who feed the eternal flame,—        230

To save them from false Sextus

  That wrought the deed of shame?


“Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,

  With all the speed ye may;

I, with two more to help me,        235

  Will hold the foe in play.

In yon strait path a thousand

  May well be stopped by three:

Now who will stand on either hand,

  And keep the bridge with me?”        240


Then out spake Spurius Lartius,—

  A Ramnian proud was he:

“Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,

  And keep the bridge with thee.”

And out spake strong Herminius,—        245

  Of Titian blood was he:

“I will abide on thy left side,

  And keep the bridge with thee.”


“Horatius,” quoth the Consul,

  “As thou sayest so let it be,”        250

And straight against that great array

  Went forth the dauntless three.

For Romans in Rome’s quarrel

  Spared neither land nor gold,

Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,        255

  In the brave days of old.


Then none was for a party—

  Then all were for the state;

Then the great man helped the poor,

  And the poor man loved the great;        260

Then lands were fairly portioned!

  Then spoils were fairly sold:

The Romans were like brothers

  In the brave days of old.


Now Roman is to Roman        265

  More hateful than a foe,

And the tribunes beard the high,

  And the fathers grind the low.

As we wax hot in faction,

  In battle we wax cold;        270

Wherefore men fight not as they fought

  In the brave days of old.


Now while the three were tightening

  Their harness on their backs,

The Consul was the foremost man        275

  To take in hand an axe;

And fathers, mixed with commons,

  Seized hatchet, bar, and crow,

And smote upon the planks above,

  And loosed the props below.        280


Meanwhile the Tuscan army,

  Right glorious to behold,

Came flashing back the noonday light,

Rank behind rank, like surges bright

  Of a broad sea of gold.        285

Four hundred trumpets sounded

  A peal of warlike glee,

As that great host with measured tread,

And spears advanced, and ensigns spread,

Rolled slowly toward the bridge’s head,        290

  Where stood the dauntless three.


The three stood calm and silent,

  And looked upon the foes,

And a great shout of laughter

  From all the vanguard rose;        295

And forth three chiefs came spurring

  Before that deep array;

To earth they sprang, their swords they drew,

And lifted high their shields, and flew

  To win the narrow way.        300


Aunus, from green Tifernum,

  Lord of the Hill of Vines;

And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves

  Sicken in Ilva’s mines;

And Picus, long to Clusium        305

  Vassal in peace and war,

Who led to fight his Umbrian powers

From that gray crag where, girt with towers,

The fortress of Nequinum lowers

  O’er the pale waves of Nar.        310


Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus

  Into the stream beneath;

Herminius struck at Seius,

  And clove him to the teeth;

At Picus brave Horatius        315

  Darted one fiery thrust,

And the proud Umbrian’s gilded arms

  Clashed in the bloody dust.


Then Ocnus of Falerii

  Rushed on the Roman three;        320

And Lausulus of Urgo,

  The rover of the sea;

And Aruns of Volsinium,

  Who slew the great wild boar,—

The great wild boar that had his den        325

Amidst the reeds of Cosa’s fen,

And wasted fields, and slaughtered men,

  Along Albinia’s shore.


Herminius smote down Aruns;

  Lartius laid Ocnus low;        330

Right to the heart of Lausulus

  Horatius sent a blow:

“Lie there,” he cried, “fell pirate!

  No more, aghast and pale,

From Ostia’s walls the crowd shall mark        335

The track of thy destroying bark;

No more Campania’s hinds shall fly

To woods and caverns, when they spy

  Thy thrice-accursèd sail!”


But now no sound of laughter        340

  Was heard among the foes;

A wild and wrathful clamor

  From all the vanguard rose.

Six spears’ length from the entrance,

  Halted that mighty mass,        345

And for a space no man came forth

  To win the narrow pass.


But, hark! the cry is Astur:

  And lo! the ranks divide;

And the great lord of Luna        350

  Comes with his stately stride.

Upon his ample shoulders

  Clangs loud the fourfold shield,

And in his hand he shakes the brand

  Which none but he can wield.        355


He smiled on those bold Romans,

  A smile serene and high;

He eyed the flinching Tuscans,

  And scorn was in his eye.

Quoth he, “The she-wolf’s litter        360

  Stand savagely at bay;

But will ye dare to follow,

  If Astur clears the way?”


Then, whirling up his broadsword

  With both hands to the height,        365

He rushed against Horatius,

  And smote with all his might.

With shield and blade Horatius

  Right deftly turned the blow.

The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh;        370

It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh.

The Tuscans raised a joyful cry

  To see the red blood flow.


He reeled, and on Herminius

  He leaned one breathing-space,        375

Then, like a wild-cat mad with wounds,

  Sprang right at Astur’s face.

Through teeth and skull and helmet

  So fierce a thrust he sped,

The good sword stood a handbreadth out        380

  Behind the Tuscan’s head.


And the great lord of Luna

  Fell at that deadly stroke,

As falls on Mount Avernus

  A thunder-smitten oak.        385

Far o’er the crashing forest

  The giant arms lie spread;

And the pale augurs, muttering low

  Gaze on the blasted head.


On Astur’s throat Horatius        390

  Right firmly pressed his heel,

And thrice and four times tugged amain,

  Ere he wrenched out the steel.

And “See,” he cried, “the welcome,

  Fair guests, that waits you here!        395

What noble Lucumo comes next

  To taste our Roman cheer?”


But at his haughty challenge

  A sullen murmur ran,

Mingled with wrath and shame and dread,        400

  Along that glittering van.

There lacked not men of prowess,

  Nor men of lordly race,

For all Etruria’s noblest

  Were round the fatal place.        405


But all Etruria’s noblest

  Felt their hearts sink to see

On the earth the bloody corpses,

  In the path the dauntless three;

And from the ghastly entrance,        410

  Where those bold Romans stood,

All shrank,—like boys who, unaware,

Ranging the woods to start a hare,

Come to the mouth of the dark lair

Where, growling low, a fierce old bear        415

  Lies amidst bones and blood.


Was none who would be foremost

  To lead such dire attack;

But those behind cried “Forward!”

  And those before cried “Back!”        420

And backward now and forward

  Wavers the deep array;

And on the tossing sea of steel

To and fro the standards reel,

And the victorious trumpet-peal        425

  Dies fitfully away.


Yet one man for one moment

  Strode out before the crowd;

Well known was he to all the three,

  And they gave him greeting loud:        430

“Now welcome, welcome, Sextus!

  Now welcome to thy home!

Why dost thou stay, and turn away?

  Here lies the road to Rome.”


Thrice looked he at the city;        435

  Thrice looked he at the dead:

And thrice came on in fury,

  And thrice turned back in dread;

And, white with fear and hatred,

  Scowled at the narrow way        440

Where, wallowing in a pool of blood,

  The bravest Tuscans lay.


But meanwhile axe and lever

  Have manfully been plied:

And now the bridge hangs tottering        445

  Above the boiling tide.

“Come back, come back, Horatius!”

  Loud cried the Fathers all,—

“Back, Lartius! back, Herminius!

  Back, ere the ruin fall!”        450


Back darted Spurius Lartius,—

  Herminius darted back;

And, as they passed, beneath their feet

  They felt the timbers crack.

But when they turned their faces,        455

  And on the farther shore

Saw brave Horatius stand alone,

  They would have crossed once more;


But with a crash like thunder

  Fell every loosened beam,        460

And, like a dam, the mighty wreck

  Lay right athwart the stream;

And a long shout of triumph

  Rose from the walls of Rome,

As to the highest turret-tops        465

  Was splashed the yellow foam.


And like a horse unbroken,

  When first he feels the rein,

The furious river struggled hard,

  And tossed his tawny mane,        470

And burst the curb, and bounded,

  Rejoicing to be free;

And whirling down, in fierce career,

Battlement and plank and pier,

  Rushed headlong to the sea.        475


Alone stood brave Horatius,

  But constant still in mind,—

Thrice thirty thousand foes before,

  And the broad flood behind.

“Down with him!” cried false Sextus,        480

  With a smile on his pale face;

“Now yield thee,” cried Lars Porsena,

  “Now yield thee to our grace!”


Round turned he, as not deigning

  Those craven ranks to see;        485

Naught spake he to Lars Porsena,

  To Sextus naught spake he;

But he saw on Palatinus

  The white porch of his home;

And he spake to the noble river        490

  That rolls by the towers of Rome:


“O Tiber! Father Tiber!

  To whom the Romans pray,

A Roman’s life, a Roman’s arms,

  Take thou in charge this day!”        495

So he spake, and, speaking, sheathed

  The good sword by his side,

And, with his harness on his back,

  Plunged headlong in the tide.


No sound of joy or sorrow        500

  Was heard from either bank,

But friends and foes in dumb surprise,

With parted lips and straining eyes,

  Stood gazing where he sank;

And when above the surges        505

  They saw his crest appear,

All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,

And even the ranks of Tuscany

  Could scarce forbear to cheer.


But fiercely ran the current,        510

  Swollen high by months of rain;

And fast his blood was flowing,

  And he was sore in pain,

And heavy with his armor,

  And spent with changing blows;        515

And oft they thought him sinking,

  But still again he rose.


Never, I ween, did swimmer.

  In such an evil case,

Struggle through such a raging flood        520

  Safe to the landing-place;

But his limbs were borne up bravely

  By the brave heart within,

And our good Father Tiber

  Bare bravely up his chin.        525


“Curse on him!” quoth false Sextus,—

  “Will not the villain drown?

But for this stay, ere close of day

  We should have sacked the town!”

“Heaven help him!” quoth Lars Porsena,        530

  “And bring him safe to shore;

For such a gallant feat of arms

  Was never seen before.”


And now he feels the bottom;

  Now on dry earth he stands;        535

Now round him throng the Fathers

  To press his gory hands;

And now, with shouts and clapping,

  And noise of weeping loud,

He enters through the River-gate,        540

  Borne by the joyous crowd.


They gave him of the corn-land,

  That was of public right,

As much as two strong oxen

  Could plough from morn till night;        545

And they made a molten image,

  And set it up on high,—

And there it stands unto this day

  To witness if I lie.


It stands in the Comitium,        550

  Plain for all folk to see,—

Horatius in his harness,

  Halting upon one knee;

And underneath is written,

  In letters all of gold,        555

How valiantly he kept the bridge

  In the brave days of old.


And still his name sounds stirring

  Unto the men of Rome,

As the trumpet-blast that cries to them        560

  To charge the Volscian home;

And wives still pray to Juno

  For boys with hearts as bold

As his who kept the bridge so well

  In the brave days of old.        565


And in the nights of winter,

  When the cold north-winds blow,

And the long howling of the wolves

  Is heard amidst the snow;

When round the lonely cottage        570

  Roars loud the tempest’s din,

And the good logs of Algidus

  Roar louder yet within;


When the oldest cask is opened,

  And the largest lamp is lit;        575

When the chestnuts glow in the embers,

  And the kid turns on the spit;

When young and old in circle

  Around the firebrands close;

When the girls are weaving baskets,        580

  And the lads are shaping bows;


When the goodman mends his armor,

  And trims his helmet’s plume;

When the goodwife’s shuttle merrily

  Goes flashing through the loom;        585

With weeping and with laughter

  Still is the story told,

How well Horatius kept the bridge

  In the brave days of old.






Please reload

Recent Posts

Please reload


Please reload


Please reload