Make Gravitas your New Year’s resolution
Make Gravitas your New Year’s resolution – As they joke in Monty Python’s Life of Brian “What have the Romans ever done for us?”
In fact, amongst other things they left the legacies of government, law, language and architecture as well as engineering and construction. And there is more. Roman philosophers praised constantia (perseverance, endurance, and courage), dignitas and gravitas as the most important virtues; this is because it made dignified men capable (and in today’s world, that’s women as well).
My passion is GRAVITAS, so what is it and do you have it?
When people often mean you have gravitas, they mean that they respect you because they seem serious and intelligent, but there is quite a lot involved.
Moving back to the origins, however, according to the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius, the cultivation of gravitas involves acting with sincerity and dignity and this is said to be achieved by being temperate in manner and speech as well as by carrying oneself with authority. One account described how old statesmen who realized that they no longer meet the standards of romanitas for failing to perform their public function with dignity and gravitas committed suicide or simply refused taking food.
It was so important and yet, today, modern analysis of this aural tradition of Roman Rhetoric tends to treat existing speeches only as written documents, focusing on the technical rhetorical components of the structure and choice of the speeches, while largely ignoring delivery. In fact, of the 700 pages in a modern text on Roman rhetoric, only 20 pages devoted to delivery. Big mistake!
Let’s rectify it and go exploring.
The good news is that Gravitas is like the power of a vehicle. It is not about the body work, but the petrol, diesel or electricity. It’s a choice, a notion reinforced by the story of Cicero, a novus homo a ‘new man’, who achieved all with the handicap of no family or famous ancestors.
Over the next months and at my masterclasses in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra I will be sharing with you the lessons learnt and the power for today’s world. Join us!