Leonine: Nine Great Leo Men in History

I’m a big birthday person. Huge. Most Leos I know are. Perhaps this is because we don’t usually have the license to spend an entire day doing how many of us would prefer to spend our entire lives: in complete celebration of our ability to experience the world with us in it, and what sort of (hopefully!) positive impact that has on the lives of people around us. I don’t think we celebrate our birthdays as much as we celebrate the people whose birthday it may be. Which is also why you might notice that Leos tend to make a big deal about your birthdays, too, if you’ve passed the cordon sanitaire of their lives.

People who can call us Leos friends are people who can call us in the middle of the night, during a DefCon 1, cats-flying-around-in-twisters, flooding-like-the-dam-burst sort of storm, and ask if we were doing anything, and if we could please come over because he didn’t like the sound of thunder. I have noticed, not necessarily in myself but in the Leos I admire, an ability to uplift spirits and provide encouragement when times are rough. We are enthusiastic. We are social. We are magnetic. From experience, we are very difficult not to liked from the get-go – but it takes a special sort of person to have the patience for us for a prolonged period of time. I don’t blame you, either. It’s exhausting being around a Leo, a big ball of fire and fury and passion, all the time. We do not hold grudges, we forgive (mostly because we like to forget), and most of all, we have a great amount of respect not for those who we feel deserve it but who we know have earned it from those who are better than the likes of us.

Our pride is easily hurt, and while this can cause us to be self-centered and thick, more often than not, the underlying warmth of our hearts and personalities can help offset that. But do you want to know a secret? It’s like that Cheap Trick song from 1978: “I want you to want me, I need you to need me, I love you to love me, I’m begging you to beg me.” Leos have an unimaginable need to be needed. They live for others, and it hurts, very keenly I might add, when their motives are mistaken for self-serving aggrandizement.

Does this sound familiar? I am sure a great many Leos live in your general orbit, but a fair amount of Leos have made their mark on history in a very big way. It is actually believed by certain people that the signs of the Zodiac portray the panorama of the Plan of God throughout human history – from the Garden of Eden well into the Millennium. The Gospel of Jesus is thought to start from Virgo, the virgin birth, and it continues on to Leo, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, who will return at the Second Advent and rule for a thousand years.

Yes, despite Monty Python cementing it in our brains that Jesus was a Capricorn (or was that just Brian?), the semiotics of his is very much that of a Leo. Of the 12 sons of Jacob, Judah was given the firstborn right of rulership. He was called a Lion, as Jesus is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Furthermore, it is said that the Lord designed a tabernacle for the Sun (Leo’s star sign). The Sun symbolizes Jesus (“I am the Light of the world”), as well as also being reminiscent of a king. David might’ve been a Leo, as he lived through the Lion’s Den, but more often equated with Leo and all the characteristics we’ve mentioned above is King Solomon.

Jesus. St Johns Ashfield, Stained Glass Good Shepherd; Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini; Alfred Tennyson
According to the Talmud, Solomon is one of the 48 prophets, and he is credited as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem. The Tanakh portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth, and power – but ultimately as a king whose sins, including idolatry and threatening to cut babies in half with a scimitar among them, led to the kingdom being torn in two. That must’ve caused all sorts of issues requiring therapy, and who better to step in as a great Leo in history but the incomparable Carl C. Jung? This Leo was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. His work has been influential in psychiatry, philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, and religion.

He coined the terms “introvert” and “extrovert,” was mentored by Sigmund Freud until sex got between them (Freud was too hung up on it; Jung believed we are more than our basal desires), and his theory of personality types greatly influenced the Myers-Brigss Type Indicator (MBTI) which is still used in HR practices today. He was also featured in The Police’s final album, Synchronicity. It was named after Jung’s theory, and on the cover, Sting is seen reading a book of the same title by Jung.

On the flipside of the moral spectrum, Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician, journalist, and leader of the Nationalist Fascist Party – ruling the country as Prime Minister (Il Duce, after 1925) from 1922 until his ouster in 1943. Some Leos, such as Ole Benny, can make such a lasting impact on the world around them that the echoes of their actions last for decades. In fact, for more than 50 years after his death, the Lazio football team suffered severe image problems no thanks to public knowledge of it being Il Duce’s favorite. At the beginning of the 21st century, roughly 30 percent of the team was owned by the National Alliance, an extreme neo-fascist party.

Napoléon Bonaparte; Louis Armstrong; Carl Jung
A far more light-hearted Leo was the legendary Louis Armstrong a.k.a. Satchmo, or Pops. An American jazz trumpeter, singer, and one of the pivotal and most influential figures in jazz music. He wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine and red roses, too – Pops was popped by the cops at the tender age of 11. In 1912, he took a New Year’s party, in true Leo fashion, to completely unacceptable levels when he fired his stepfather’s pistol into the air. He was immediately apprehended and then sent to the Colored Waifs’ Home for Boys. It was there that he developed a passion for playing the cornet – perhaps because playing the harmonica in the clink was too cliché a move, by anyone’s standards.

Leos make a big impact on a big number of people in a big way. Case in point is Napoléon Bonaparte, who rose to prominence in the French Revolution and its associated wars. As Napoleon I, he was the Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1814, and again in 1815 after a quick touch-move by the rest of Europe. One of the greatest commanders in history, his campaigns are still studied at military schools today, and he remains one of the most celebrated and controversial political figures in history. He’s a wonderful example of weird: because he was a remarkable man, he gets to be remembered as “eccentric” rather than “crazier than a sh*t-house rat.”

For example, he suffered from “ailurophobia”, meaning he was afraid of cats. He was also apparently terrified of open doors. Anybody entering the room he was in had to squeeze through a barely adequate opening and then close the door immediately. While obsessed about his public image, he didn’t seem to make a really big effort at making the people around him like him all that much. Take his wife Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie; Napoleon didn’t like her name so he renamed her Josephine.

King Solomon; Andy Warhol
Leos have made strides in art and literature, and one such example of which is Alfred Tennyson, the First Baron Tennyson, the Poet Laureat of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign and remains one of the most popular British poets to date. Fame is several parts notoriety and scandal however, and Tennyson was plagued by rumors and negative propaganda throughout his life. He had a brother, Edward, who died in a private mental asylum. His sexual orientation is a matter of dispute, and while it is said that he was attracted to women, some of his work suggests homosexuality. In fact, he had a lifelong fear of mental illness. Several men in his family had a mild form of epilepsy, which was then thought to be a shameful disease.

Another great Leo artist, Andy Warhol, was an American who led the pop art movement. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. In music, he managed and produced The Velvet Underground, a rock band that had a strong influence on the evolution of punk rock music. He is also notable as a gay man who lived openly before the liberation movement even took place. His studio, The Factory, was a famous gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities, and wealthy patrons. He was the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, feature and documentary films. He coined the widely used expression “fifteen minutes of fame.” He almost died when he was shot three times in the chest by Valerie Solanis, an ardent feminist and one of many who thought Warhol was abusive and controlling. She thought that he deserved to die, and he very nearly did, but he was revived and slowly recovered. Solanis founded SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) and she was its only member.

Closer to home, we had Fernando Poe Jr., colloquially known as FPJ and “Da King,” as a Leo of note. Although defeated by incumbent president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the 2004 elections, it has been established that he ought to have been the rightful president-elect, and many people are channeling their loyalty to him to his daughter, Grace Poe, who despite having no real experience in legislation, was voted as a senator who is developing a remarkable track record and stellar reputation for competence and transparency. Fun fact! The real Fernando Poe Jr. was actually FPJ’s younger brother, the late actor Andy Poe. He adopted the name when he entered acting after he was forced to quit school and work after his father died.

Leonine influence courses its way throughout history in the same way that it courses through our lives. Never unnoticed, and usually pivotal to the things their lives touch, Leos are a huge part of the Zodiac and the lives we live today. As a bonus, the women are hot: Asia Carrera, Misty Rain, Iman, Jackie O, Martha Stewart, and Mata Hari are all Leo women. To all the Leos in my life, I salute you! Especially you, Michael Spliedt – Happy Geburtstag, Mamser!

Are you a Leo, or do you know one who could use a pick-me-up? Pass them a copy of this column or send them my way! Email me at [email protected], follow me on Twitter via @ArmchrPilosopa, view life through my eyes via IG and Tumblr: thearmchairpilosopa, or add me up on Facebook and drop a little note to say hey if you like what you’ve read so far!

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