The loyalty of the Bravo
We know him today as Germanicus, one of the few truly unsullied heroes of the early Roman empire.
His wars against the Germanic tribes, and the way in which he comported himself in these wars, is worthy of study:
It gets quite interesting when you look at men like Germanicus through the lens of the Socio-Sexual Hierarchy of our beloved and dreaded Supreme Dark Lord (PBUH).
If you look at Germanicus solely through the lens of his military victories and the fact that he was a top Roman general, you would come to the conclusion that he was a hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool, balls-out Alpha male.
It takes balls the size of church bells to lead a group of soldiers into close-quarters shock combat - the kind of combat that the Roman legions excelled at, to the degree that their line infantry was the most effective and feared in the entire ancient world for something approaching 500 years. It takes even bigger balls to lead an entire army into battle, because you have to train your men hard, whip them into shape, discipline them quite harshly, and force them to follow your orders - and in the process, also win their trust, respect, and even affection... and then, when all of that is done, you have to order them into battle where they can and will be horribly mutilated and even killed outright.
However, Germanicus was in fact far more of a Bravo - or what we used to call a Beta, before that nomenclature was dropped because it confused the Supreme Dark Lord's term (PBUH) with the far more pejorative meaning used by the pickup artist community.
To understand this, all you have to do is look at what Germanicus did when offered a shot at supreme power by his men.
Germanicus was given the chance to become Caesar and overthrow his uncle, adoptive father, and rightful heir to the Roman throne, Tiberius Claudius Nero. Remember that Germanicus was a highly popular, effective, and respected - even loved - among his troops. Their regard for him was at least partly a consequence of the reforms of Gaius Marius, over 100 years earlier, which made the Roman legions loyal to their generals above the state of Rome itself, but that is somewhat beside the point, as it takes genuine skill and talent to lead men into battle in such a way that they become willing to follow you into Hell's mouth itself.
He had everything necessary to become a ruler, a king of kings. And he refused to take his shot at the laurel wreath.
Because that is not who Germanicus was. He was not a natural Alpha and he knew it, though neither he nor his contemporaries would have put it in such terms.
Germanicus was instead an absolutely loyal Bravo, a man dedicated to doing his duty and obeying the commands that he was given while ruthlessly suppressing all threats to his leader's position and authority.
These are quintessentially Bravo traits. They are indispensable to any organisation which operates under any form of dictatorship (benevolent or otherwise) - which incidentally describes virtually any serious organisation devoted to accomplishing serious goals. Democracy might be a somewhat useful system of governance, but when it comes to running projects, business ventures, and empires, it is of next to no use. Ultimately, one man makes the rules, and he needs loyal and skilled men beside him to enforce those rules.
That role always and inevitably falls to the Bravos in any organisation. And it would appear that, for a variety of reasons, the Roman Republic and then Empire was remarkably good at producing such men.
The list of legendary Roman generals who flatly refused leadership positions in order to serve the Roman leadership itself is long and impressive indeed, to the point that the name of Cincinnatus is forever associated with virtue, fidelity, and honour. Whether we are talking about Cincinnatus, Scipio Africanus, Gaius Marius, Germanicus, Flavius Aetius, or even those who would one day become emperors themselves like Marcus Aurelius, we see time and again that the Roman system bred men who were loyal to a fault.
There are a great many useful lessons to learn from such men. We can take away many positives from them, such as the fact that their skill, loyalty, honour, and valour are traits to be admired and emulated.
But we must also remember to be wary of the negative aspects of Bravo behaviour.
Germanicus was unswervingly loyal to his Emperor and to the empire. But his loyalty also may have blinded him to the growing paranoia of the hierarchical Alpha that he was serving. There is some debate as to whether Tiberius Caesar had his nephew and adopted son assassinated, because as Tiberius grew older, his paranoia about his heir's popularity grew considerably.
This is one major flaw of Bravo psychology. They rarely see the paranoia that their success can engender in their Alpha leaders. The best of them know instinctively how to manage this, by making great efforts to massage the Alpha's ego and promote his image in public as well as in private.
Another major flaw is the fact that the most loyal Bravos often do not have the wisdom and foresight to see when their Alpha is leading them into total disaster. Alphas are the kings and leaders of all that they survey, and with very good reason - but no Alpha is immune to hubris.
Just ask the ghost of Alexander the Great, who led his troops to India and then was forced to turn back because his Deltas mutinied - not his Bravos.
There is a lot to like about Bravos. They are intelligent, tough, capable, and - above all - loyal. They are good men to emulate and admire. If you are a Bravo, good for you - I mean that very sincerely. Make sure that you keep inflating your Alpha's ego - and, again, I mean that sincerely, because this is necessary in order to survive when things inevitably go wrong and your Alpha makes a really dumb decision that you need him to reverse. The best way to do this is to show your Alpha that you are looking out for his interests, not yours.
Learn from Germanicus and others like him - such as Flavius Aetius, for instance. Learn good lessons from his toughness, stolidity, loyalty, and honour - and learn to avoid his mistakes, such as his blindness to his uncle's paranoia and hatred of rivals.