Some famous people on the classics

Forbes magazine is promoting a book Steve Forbes and some other guy wrote about the commonalities between leaders in the ancient world and leaders today. I know, I know… Dorky and vainglorious, I’m sure. It’s not on my Amazon wishlist, suffice it to say.

However, in the process of promoting it they’ve interviewed some luminaries from various fields asking them what effect the ancients have had on them. Now that’s good reading. (Scroll down to the list of “Leaders on the Classics” to read the interviews.)

From author Rita Mae Brown:

Tell us about a time when lessons learned from the ancients contributed to your success.

There hasn’t been a day in my life since I started Latin in ninth grade that I haven’t benefited by the lives of the ancients. Yesterday Seneca contributed to my success. I’d cut my leg and didn’t much feel like going to work. Seneca wrote, “Scorn pain, either it goes away or you do.” I went to work.

Greeks or Romans?

All those years when I stood alone, the example of Horatio at the bridge pulled me through. The nod goes to the Romans.

Rita’s a girl after my own heart.

From Teller, of Penn & Teller (yes, he does speak):

Tell us about a time when lessons learned from the ancients contributed to your success.

I make my living humbly, doing live shows. Western theater hasn’t changed very much since the Greeks invented it. It’s still very primitive: A bunch of people watch some other people tell stories. So when I first read Aristotle’s Poetics in college–especially his very nuts-and-bolts dissection of what makes a sound plot rich in ironic surprises–this changed everything I subsequently did. I often laugh that would-be writers spend a fortune on specious screenwriting seminars when they could get the real goods from Aristotle with a quick Web search.

That’s the book The Venerable Jorge poisoned in The Name of the Rose to keep people safe from he sin of laughter, so you know it has to be good.