This is an especially appropriate Maxim for the weekend I am writing this. In the United States, it is Memorial Day weekend. And it is this Maxim that many of the military live by. However, this is a translation that many people misunderstand as doxan is more than simply ‘honor’ in Greek, it is also ‘glory’ – certainly when it is used in reference to our Gods and Heroes.
The message here is that we are to pursue the things that bring us closer to the ideals of those we consider heroes. If we consider, for example, Leonidas of Sparta to be a personal hero then we should emulate his willingness to sacrifice himself for his beliefs. If we consider Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr. to be among our heroes we must discipline ourselves to non-violence even in the face of the contrary force. It is difficult to do – and to pursue the difficult IS the path to honor (and glory) as we often do not remember those who opt for the easy path but rather those who take the road that leads to truehonor.
When we pursue this virtue, we follow the path the Gods would wish us to follow, the path that is the right one for us. We must not consider someone who is following their path with devotion to be taking a less honorable course than another person on a different path (unless the path itself is dishonorable, such as a criminal one) – for example the path of a teacher is no less honorable than that of a soldier. When we are willing to sacrifice much for our path, it is the path of honor. It is as simple and as difficult as that.