He didn't' want to seem best, but to be so...

I'd rather lose acting nobly Than win acting basely.

Name Aeschylus
Life525 - 456 BC
Evolution can easily be seen as a process driving behavior from the noble towards the basely. Competing species, plants, and animals are engaged in an ever more ferocious war at the margin of existence. It is sometimes called an "arms race", like the one we had between America and Russia in the Cold War. In rugby, an American team was once labeled "the rough, tough, mean and hard-hitting Giants". That is how winners are forced to act by the escalation of ferociousness. An individual can depart from his ideals, even far. But he cannot live without them. Neither can society. If we do not put some moral restraints upon our struggles, the saying of Dostoyevsky will become true, that "to call man bestial is an insult to the animals". In Filoctetes, the vile Odysseus tries to corrupt Sophocles's hero, Neoptolemus, into base actions in order to steal Heracles's victory-giving bow and arrows from an already sick and unhappy outcast. No, says the young man, I don't want to fall to such low levels of morality. I want to see an honest face when I look into my mirror. Even if
the price would be defeat! Out of such ideas, and without threat of eternal hell, the European notion of chivalry and, later, the behavior of a gentleman, was born. Not to be corrupted into acting basely - either by gold or praise - but to honestly defend the weak, respect women, speak the truth, act humbly and not brag were all characteristics of a "gentleman". To fight without bragging is noble. That is what Aeschylus reminds us in Seven Against Thebe. Five of the six enemy generals have shields with ornaments of the most scaringly ferocious animals. Amphiaraus, the general at the sixth gate, had a shield that was plain, without any bragging ornaments, because "he didn't want to seem best, but to be so". Amphiaraus's noble attitude should be given to the best in any epoch. In our own age, dominated by vulgar sex-and-violence-supported money-grabbing and rubbish-selling publicity industries, Amphiaraus's ideal must not be forgotten. If we do not continue to teach our young men and women ideals like these two, the arms race between the various groups of rough, tough, mean and hard-hitting bipedal animals might, once more, drag us down into a complete moral morass. Worse yet, those who today win in that fight don't seem to ever give a thought to the third of the Greek tragedians, Euripides, warning us of hubris.