Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Donald Trump, Tragic Hero

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

His very flaws may be his strengths

The very idea that Donald Trump could, even in a perverse way, be heroic may appall half the country. Nonetheless, one way of understanding both Trump’s personal excesses and his accomplishments is that his not being traditionally presidential may have been valuable in bringing long-overdue changes in foreign and domestic policy.

Tragic heroes, as they have been portrayed from Sophocles’ plays (e.g., AjaxAntigoneOedipus RexPhiloctetes) to the modern western film, are not intrinsically noble. Much less are they likeable. Certainly, they can often be obnoxious and petty, if not dangerous, especially to those around them. These mercurial sorts never end well — and on occasion neither do those in their vicinity. Oedipus was rudely narcissistic, Hombre’s John Russell (Paul Newman) arrogant and off-putting.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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