Mankind as it is constituted, is a boil and a canker. Observe the specimens of any nation. Man is weak, greedy, craven, lustful, prey to every species of depravity and vice. He will lie, cheat, steal, murder, melt down the very statues of the gods and coin their gold as money for whores. This is man. This is his nature, as all the poets attest.
“Fortunately God in his mercy, has provided a counterpoise to our species’ innate depravity. That gift…, is war.
“War, not peace, produces virtue. War, not peace, purges vice. War, and preparation for war, call forth all that is noble and honorable in man. It unites him with his brothers and binds them in selfless love, eradicating in the crucible of necessity, all which is base and ignoble. There in the holy mill of murder, the meanest of men may seek and find that part of himself, concealed beneath the corrupt, which shines forth brilliant and virtuous, worthy of honor before the gods. Do not despise war, nor delude yourself that mercy and compassion are superior virtues, to manly valor.”
Polynikes of Sparta – 480 B.C.
I haven’t traced the origin of this quote. I attribute it as I have above because it matches what I’ve heard over the years. If the attribution is wrong please correct me. And no, I don’t think Steven Pressfield was the first to say this.