Summum bonum

Summum Bonum is an expression from Cicero, Rome’s greatest orator. In Latin, it means “the highest good.”

And what is the highest good? What is it that we are supposed to be aiming for in this life?

To the Stoics, the answer is virtue. If we act virtuously, they believed, everything else important could follow: Happiness, success, meaning, reputation, honor, love. The Stoics didn’t claim this path was easy, or that it would always be recognized or appreciated by those closest to us, only that it was essential. And that the alternative–taking the easy route or the shortcut even if unethical or immoral–was considered only by cowards and fools.

As Marcus Aurelius writes in Meditations,

“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored. Dying…or busy with other assignments.”

To the ancients, if we let virtue lead the way, every step we take will be safe. In Greek mythology, Arete was the goddess of virtue. The model for us to follow–the embodiment of this idea of doing and living right.

Following in our wildly popular series of Stoic-inspired medallions, this new coin is a bright, shining reminder of virtue. The front of the coin features an iconic rendition of Arete in Ephesus:

The back shows Marcus’s simple reminder:

“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter.”

The phrase is ringed, as if by sentries protecting this essential truth, by Marcus’s reminders that virtue is the answer in all circumstances.

Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored. Dying or Busy.

Our goal in creating this medallion is that you will feel its weight in your pocket and remember that no matter the circumstance, no matter how dire or desperate, how straightforward or scary, virtue is the answer.

It is a simple token that prompts us to do what we know in our hearts is right, even if every incentive or interest pulls us away from that.

We live in a world awash with corruption, with selfishness, with cruelty and pain. We need virtue more than ever. We need heroes. We need those who stand up for the common good–no matter the circumstances.

We need you to be one of those people.

This coin is formed around that call to action. It’s for you to carry with you everywhere you go so that you may never forget to answer when that call comes.