I recently came across a very interesting article titled “What is a Man? The Allegory of the Chariot” and posted to the Art of Manliness website. This article really resonated with me because I felt that it aligned well with our Masonic teachings and it provided really clear insight into the nature of man. The following is a very short summary of the main themes.
So, what is the “Allegory of the Chariot”? It is the symbolic representation of Plato’s vision of the tripartite nature of the soul: reason (the Charioteer), the appetites (the dark horse), and “thumos” (the white horse).
Reason’s job is to work in concert with “thumos” to identify the “true path” and train the “horses” to work synchronously to pursue that path. Therefore, as the charioteer, Reason must have purpose and a vision to follow. He must also spend the time to thoroughly understand the nature and desires of the two horses if he wishes to fully harness their energy and get them working together.
The appetites, as represented by the dark horse, are powerful, base urges for power, money, sex, food, and drink. According to Plato, a man whose is life wholly dedicated to the satisfaction of the appetites results in “the ruthless enslavement of the divinest part of himself to the most despicable and godless part”. However, if properly trained and managed the dark horse can provide an incredible amount of energy to “drive the chariot”.
“Thumos” is the raw, spirited energy of a man. It has a number of essential functions in a man: the seat of emotion, the drive to fight, courage, steadfastness, ambition, and the drive for recognition and honor. However, just like the dark horse, thumos can used for both good and evil. If allowed to get in sync with the dark horse destruction will follow. However, if properly trained and harnessed it can be one of man’s greatest allies.
- Bro. D. Kidd