• Richard M. Rothman

The Magic of Gravity

Gravity is a powerful force you can use to increase your perceived value. This will allow you

to take advantage of bigger and bigger opportunities. I think the following story of the

famous Roman politician Julius Caesar well illustrates how gravity can increase your value -

and massively increase the resources available to you - at no cost.

At 23, Julius Caesar was a junior politician on the way up. But he had an advantage:

confidence and brains.

Sailing across the Aegean Sea, he was captured by Sicilian pirates. They demanded a

ransom: 20 talents of silver. (That’s about 620kg, worth about $600,000.)

Caesar told them they were being ridiculous. He couldn’t possibly allow himself to be

ransomed so cheaply. The pirates hesitated; they were confused. Caesar insisted the

ransom must be raised to 50 talents of silver. (Around 1,550kg, worth about $1.5 million.)

Now the pirates didn’t know what to make of this. Normally, their captives tried to escape

as cheaply as possible. They didn’t understand what was going on. But if he said he would

double the ransom, why argue?

They let Caesar’s men go back to Rome to raise the money. And in Rome, in his absence,

Caesar suddenly became very famous. No-one had ever been ransomed for such a vast sum

before. He must be very special; he must be incredibly important. That ransom demand put

Caesar on the political map.

Caesar had placed a value on himself greater than anyone in Rome. But, as far as anyone in

Rome knew, it wasn’t him who had done it. It was an independent valuation. So it must be

true. And because Caesar was now so highly valued, his men had little trouble raising the

ransom money. They returned to the island and freed him.

But Caesar wasn’t going to allow the pirates to keep that sort of money. As a now important

and famous man, it was easy to raise a force. He hunted down the pirates and took back all

the money, plus everything else they had pillaged, then executed them all. So Caesar was

now both very rich and very famous.

And in time, with that same combination of confidence and brains, he was able to harness

bigger and bigger opportunities. He eventually became the undisputed ruler of all Rome.

That’s the magic of gravity.