For he was a sincere lover of his country, and had a great desire to return home; but in his adverse fortune he showed undaunted courage, and behaved himself towards his enemies in a manner free from all dejection and mean-spiritedness; and when he was in his prosperity, and in the height of his victories, he sent word to Metellus and Pompey that he was ready to lay down his arms and live a private life if he were allowed to return home, declaring that he had rather live as the meanest citizen in Rome than, exiled from it, be supreme commander of all other cities together. And it is thought that his great desire for his country was in no small measure promoted by the tenderness he had for his mother, under whom he was brought up after the death of his father, and upon whom he had placed his entire affection. After that his friends had sent for him into Spain to be their general, as soon as he heard of his mother’s death he had almost cast away himself and died for grief; for he lay seven days together continually in his tent, without giving the word, or being seen by the nearest of his friends; and when the chief commanders of the army and persons of the greatest note came about his tent, with great difficulty they prevailed with him at last to come abroad, and speak to his soldiers, and to take upon him the management of affairs, which were in a prosperous condition. And thus, to many men’s judgment, he seemed to have been in himself of a mild and compassionate temper, and naturally given to ease and quietness, and to have accepted of the command of military forces contrary to his own inclination, and not being able to live in safety otherwise, to have been driven by his enemies to have recourse to arms, and to espouse the wars as a necessary guard for the defence of his person.

Quintus Sertorius (c. 123–72 BC,  a Roman statesman and general) on preferring fulfilling one’s duty without grandeur over seeking glory and recognition. Plutarch, Quitnus Sertorius, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans (c. 75-100 AD) John Dryden translation.

Quintus Sertorius is one of many examples in Roman history of the reluctant leader. Sertorius desired a simple life at home with his family, but out of deep devotion to his country he took up arms and served the Empire. Then, upon serving Rome, he did not revel in glory or power but instead kept still in his heart the contentedness of a humble man.

When lawyers achieve great success it can be tempting to revel in the victory had at trial or closing a deal. However, remember that you are providing counsel to your client out of duty. Yes, there is a monetary exchange for your service but there is also the oath you swore to uphold the law when you became a lawyer. This duty is not something to be shirked or set aside in a desire to amass fortune or fame. Being a lawyer is an opportunity to help and serve people, and that alone is worth celebrating.

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