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Cultured Warrior

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"A soldier and a philosopher. Your intelligence file doesn't do you justice."
Captain Janeway on Commander Chakotay, Star Trek: Voyager

Many soldiers in fiction are rough, abrasive grunts who wouldn't know a work of poetry if it hit them during an artillery barrage.

The Cultured Warrior is somewhat different. He (it's usually a he; if it's a she, she's usually also a Lady of War) knows his history and culture. He'll happily quote Byron or Keats during a battle. Often a Blue Blood, he likes fine wines and opera music and may have gone to a Boarding School. Oftentimes, they simply believe that things like culture are what they are fighting for; without the fine things in life, there is nothing but more war to look forward to.

It does not need to be evident at first. This is a common form of Hidden Depths.

Can be good or evil. Compare Officer and a Gentleman and Warrior Poet (usually positive), Wicked Cultured (negative), and Cultured Badass (either way).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bloody thirsty and ruthless mercenary captain Askeladd in Vinland Saga likes to school fools in history and religion, usually right before he ends their lives in a spectacularly bloody fashion.
  • The first thing Rider of Fate/Zero, Alexander, did after his summoning was to visit a library to get an atlas (for planning his world conquest) and a copy of The Iliad, which he likes to read. In fact, he enjoys it so much he'll even have other people read it out loud to him during battle.
  • The girls of Gunslinger Girl are exposed to various amounts of culture and actually take classes on them. We are also shown that Henrietta is actually a skilled violinist, Claes is very well-read and she and Triela are seen discussing Honoré de Balzac and Tosca. On the other hand, all of this culture has little effect on Rico (probably due to her handling) and Angelica can't remember anything anymore. The "cultured" in Henrietta's case was a side effect of a more pragmatic notion, though: if memory serves, Jose ordered her to play violin partly to improve the sensitivity of her fingers, which was lower than expected after the cybernitization surgery. He could, of course, have picked another, less cultural exercise for her, so it wasn't an entirely unexpected side effect, either. Triela, Claes, and Angelica, on the other hand, have had very educated handlers who treated them like their own daughters, hence the culture.
  • Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop is an interplanetary ex-cop turned Bounty Hunter who reads Enlightenment-era literature, tends bonsai, and is a jazz aficionado.
  • In Maiden Rose, several members of the main cast are this, given how many of them are also Blue Blooded. Katsuragi is the one who really flaunts it but he's also more of a Desk Jockey than the others.
  • Combining Mecha pilot and former prince Sirius in Genesis of Aquarion. He can fly a jet fighter, is a master swordsman, and keeps reciting that damn poem about roses.

    Comic Books 
  • Steve Rogers as Captain America has generally been shown to be an artist before and after he was recruited and enhanced by Project Rebirth. He even drew for a comic book about his hero identity himself.
  • Discussed in an issue of the Archie Comics where Moose looks to join the military and goes to Mr. Howitzer (a retired drill sergeant turned teacher) for advice. Howitzer tells him to finish high school first and even encourages him to consider post-secondary education, explaining that the modern military has little to no use for uneducated soldiers.

    Fan Works 
  • Bait and Switch (STO): Lieutenant Dul'krah, Clan Korekh, security chief of the USS Bajor, competently plays the vodchakh, an instrument similar to a violin. In chapter eight he's managed to adapt for it a Bajoran harp concerto that's apparently already a challenging piece on the instrument it was written for.
  • Child of the Storm has a few, though most of them are Cultured Badasses instead.
    • Steve, as per canon, being an accomplished artist.
    • T'Challa, being a well-educated and polished young man who can nonetheless beat the hell out of most anyone he comes up against.
    • Baron Zemo, a lightning-fast, well-educated, and utterly lethal Master Swordsman, fills this role on the villains side.
  • RWBY: Second Generation: Verse. He falls to the Warrior Poet side, but he does show himself as a writer and artist in the field of battle.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This trope laid the foundation for an interesting conflict in the submarine thriller Crimson Tide. Colonel Badass -like Capt. Ramsey (Gene Hackman) points out that when he joined the Navy, they wanted basically "hard-ass grunts who only knew war" but now they seem to want people like his Executive Officer (Denzel Washington) who are more "cultured". He makes the remark "When I was at the Academy they taught us metallurgy and physics. Not 18th-century philosophy".
  • General Chang, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, is shown to be the smart and sophisticated Klingon, because he tosses out Shakespeare quotes whilst trying to destroy everybody in his path.
    • Star Trek likes to do this in general. Even proudly working-class SCPO Miles O'Brien has various intellectual interests and plays cello at a near-professional level (an informed attribute we never get to witness, but it was his father's dream for him to be a professional musician before a young O'Brien ran off to join Starfleet).
    • Khan Noonien Singh of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is this too. Even in his exile, he has a copy of Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, and King Lear on his bookshelf.
    • It's true, Trek does like its heroes cultured. Note that at the beginning of Star Trek: First Contact, Riker (himself a trombonist) walks in on Picard who's listening to an opera. Riker asks if it's Bizet, Picard tells him it's Berlioz. Also, Picard came from a wine-making family, fenced (as in the modern Olympic sport), and played a wind instrument.
    • Foes as well: A good number of Cardassian officers see themselves as defenders of Cardassian culture and will extol the virtues of their cuisine, arts, family values, etc. ad nauseam.
    • See also Spock, with his Vulcan harp, not to mention all of the human high culture he seems to be an expert in. Like recognizing Johannes Brahms' musical handwriting and Leonardo da Vinci's painting technique on sight (neither of which is necessarily impossible or difficult; it just takes a serious fan)—and that the works he's witnessing weren't on the historical record (again, serious fan).
  • Vin Diesel's character in The Pacifier is revealed to be one of these when he finds out that the rebellious son of the family he is protecting is secretly rehearsing for The Sound of Music and is impressed.
  • Beast of X-Men is like this. His intro in the third film has him hanging by his feet from the ceiling... reading Scientific American. He spends the first half of the film or so in a suit.
  • Colonel William Travis in The Alamo is a flawlessly dressed lawyer who uses impeccably proper English but impresses Davy Crockett and his men. For example, he shoots a charging cavalry soldier with a single-shot dueling pistol as the soldier charges him.
  • Wehrmacht officer Friedrich von Hecht has some shades of this in Hornets' Nest. He is extremely well-spoken and urbane compared to his brutish SS colleagues. His uniform is more immaculately kept than the other Germans', and he also wears blue cloth gloves instead of black leather ones.

  • City of No End: Asa Janus is both the Captain of the Tunnheld Guard and the author of an acclaimed prose rendition of the Narosek, the national epic of the Depths.
  • In the Aubrey-Maturin series, Captain Jack Aubrey plays the Violin, Stephen Maturin the Cello. Maturin studies Nature and ponders on Evolution before Charles Darwin: Aubrey builds on the astronomy and mathematics he learned to navigate to the extent that the Royal Society sits up and starts paying attention. Both of them are prime exemplars of Officers and Gentlemen.
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn, of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. If it were not for his willingness to lie, cheat, express destructive hints of temper, and even destroy art if it would win him a battle, he might even qualify as an Officer and a Gentleman. (He certainly does in the Outbound Flight prequel.)
    • In Death Star, we've got Nova Stihl, a trooper whose stash of illicit holos are all lectures on philosophy. Also, he's Force-Sensitive.
    • A great deal of the Jedi Order and quite a few Sith Lords would fit well into this trope. Count Dooku for instance was very well known for his cultured nature as a Jedi Master, and even later as a Sith Lord this was maintained in his speech and mannerisms. He was also the hereditary Count of the planet Serenno.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Fulgrim, a concert is heavily attended by officers, and when the musician, prima donna, refuses to play for a noble in the audience, Fulgrim himself appears and asks her to play for him. Later, when other soldiers complain about the remembrancers tasked with commemorating their work, Fulgrim speaks highly of the concert.
    • More generally, this trope was the hat of Fulgrim's Emperor's Children legion before their corruption into sadistic Sense Freaks.
  • In the Honor Harrington series, several senior Manticoran officers are known not only for their performance in battle, but also their scholarship. Similarly, several of the Mesans are shown to be rather cultured themselves, with one senior operative shown to be a fan of Manticoran classical music.
  • Lord Suffolk from The English Patient: a learned aristocrat who contributes to the war effort by training and leading sappers in defusing Axis bombs.
  • Glen Cook's novella "Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted with Defeat" mentions that all the soldiers of the Dread Empire, Shinsan, are required to be literate in at least two languages. The main character, a former senior NCO, remarks that to become a soldier in his country (he's not telling the locals he's from the Dread Empire) requires an education comparable to that of a priest elsewhere. The NCO is literate in six languages, prides himself on his cooking, shows that he's a skilled engineer, and is able to stitch up wounds as well.
  • Chosen Man Harris from Sharpe series is well educated, has a deep knowledge of classical literature, is fluent in several modern and ancient languages, and was even employed as a private teacher before joining the Rifles. He also masks it quite well under his mischievous and hedonistic persona.
  • Kvothe of The Kingkiller Chronicle attends a magic uiversity, is a skilled craftsman of many magical items, is one of the best musicians in history, and has extensive knowledge of literature, theater, and courtly manners. He's also a talented hand-to-hand fighter who took on a bandit camp nearly single-handed using Blood Magic.
  • In the Discworld series, Wee Mad Arthur is growing into this. Having discovered and embraced his Nac Mac Feegle heritage he remains as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than ever while calming his ever-present rage at the world. However, being raised by gnomes means that he has also acquired an appreciation for the finer things in life like a night out at the opera.
  • This is the hat of S.L. Viehl's Jorenians, a Proud Warrior Race (albeit one unlikely to start fights without plenty of provocation) who are also artsy.
  • One McAuslan story focuses on a quiz show between two British infantry battalions in North Africa just after World War II. The eight contestants, two of them enlisted men, display incredible knowledge of trivia, whether current, historical, literary, or classical, though the contest is ultimately won by the battalion illiterate, who had overheard the answer to the final question years before in a pub.
  • Temeraire is extremely well-read for a dragon, and speaks fluent French.
  • The Saga of Arrow-Odd: The viking Hjalmar has set various rules for himself and his warriors, such as not robbing peasants and merchants and to never kidnap women. But the very first rule he lists is that they will not eat uncooked meat, come what will.
  • The Unknown Soldier has a deconstruction of this in Major Sarastie. He says intellectual, wise-sounding things, seems like he was pondering of something deep and meaningful, and admires the ethnographic value of the buildings of the occupied areas. However, it's mostly just a front. He's aware of this trope and that he as an officer should try to live up to it. In reality, his thoughts and interests are much more down-to-earth and practical.

    Live-Action TV 
  • From Airwolf, lead character Stringfellow Hawke plays the cello.
  • Brother Mouzone on The Wire reads Harper's Monthly, The Nation, and other intellectual magazines, in between performing Drug executions. Stringer Bell tries to put on this air, but never quite succeeds. The end of Stringer Bell's character arch leaves this open, (McNulty picks up The Wealth Of Nation in Stringer's apartment) "Who the fuck was I chasing?"
  • "Fruity" Rudy Reyes from Generation Kill. He's extremely into East Asian spirituality/philosophy. Possibly subverted in that Rudy is also the most Macho. Seriously, the guy jogs around with a bag filled with rocks and a gas mask *faster* than the other marines in their PE's [1]
    • Played super straight, in that Fruity Rudy Reyes plays himself.
    • Colbert also qualifies. Just before a battle, he quotes Shakespeare. Then, just to contrast, Person talks about eating pussy.
  • An example of the Hidden Depths version of this trope is Kara Thrace — the boozing, frakking, brawling Ace Pilot of the new series of Battlestar Galactica. In one episode someone has left a poetic death threat in Colonel Tigh's quarters, and Lee Adama says it couldn't possibly be Kara because "you wouldn't know poetry if it was hot-soldered across your helmet." Kara proceeds to quote the entire stanza from memory, as well as giving her critique. We later find out this is due to the influence of Kara's artistic father.
  • Band of Brothers: Unlike many of his enlisted fellows in Easy Company, who are mostly farmboys and street kids, Private Webster was actually college-educated when he enlisted, was a good writer, and knew how to speak German.
    • Robert Leckie in its spiritual sequel, The Pacific is able to quote poetry from memory, has read about the Turkish sack of Smyrna, and actually writes a poem himself in the aftermath of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
  • Faith of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel is a subversion: while definitely a warrior and often Waxing Lyrical or coming across as a (Pop) Cultured Badass, she is rather Book Dumb, so she'll mess up a famous quote.
  • Multiple examples from Babylon 5:
    • Commander Jeffrey Sinclair, who was prone to quoting Alfred, Lord Tennyson so often that one of his girlfriends is able to quote it as well just from second-hand exposure.
    • Sinclair's replacement, Captain John Sheridan, is a huge history buff and tends to borrow from various old speeches when making public addresses.
    • Chief Micheal Garibaldi is more of a Pop-Cultured Badass, being a big fan of 20th century Warner Bros. cartoons.note 
    • Ambassador G'Kar is a religious scholar (he is in fact the senior representative of his faith aboard the station, and becomes the senior representative of an entirely new faith later on), in addition to being an opera singer of much-disputed talent.
    • Londo Mollari, much like his archnemesis G'Kar, is an enthusiastic opera singer and fan, as well as a skilled swordsman and pilot.
    • Marcus Cole, a member of the secretive Anla'Shok, can reference Arthurian Legend and William Shakespeare, as well as singing Gilbert and Sullivan songs to pass the time (and annoy his friends). This in addition to his nigh-unmatched talent in melee combat.
  • Star Trek: Worf is shown to be a cultured warrior even during the early seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation who loves to recite Klingon poetry. In later seasons of The Next Generation and during his time on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Worf is shown to be a dedicated fan of Klingon opera. By the time the third season of Star Trek: Picard takes place in late 2401, Worf has broadened his horizons to include human culture - for example he listens to human opera while performing his Klingon calisthenics and enjoys the bottles of Chateau Picard the Admiral sent his way.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Plato from Beetle Bailey is the intellectual one, who is well educated about anything in the humanities and sciences.

    Oral Tradition 
  • The bogatyr Dobrynya Nikitich from the Russian Mythology and Tales exemplifies the archetype: he is both extremely educated (enough so to be treated as equal by nobility and royalty despite his commoner descent) and among the best fighters found in the lays (e.g. it is he who slays the biggest and meanest monster of Russian mythology, Zmey Gorynych). Incidentally, this makes him the best candidate for the Ambadassador role, and he is often employed as such by Prince Vladimir.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Scott Steiner likes to project this image by wearing chain mail, bragging about going to the University of Michigan, and reciting Latin phrases. He then usually shows himself to be a Dumb Jock with Delusions of Eloquence.
  • Audiences from the UK can tell William Regal is a working-class man the moment the first word he speaks reaches their ears. Still, he likes to present himself as a most cultured, well-bred Blue Blood to foreign audiences. A most clean wrestler and pride of England. He's not, but the English love him anyway.
  • Victor Benjamin, The Savage Gentlemen wants to have the societal respect that comes with being cultured and the personal respect that comes with being a brute. This mostly results in him refusing to mingle with the lower classes in his spare time until he has to, because he has higher duties to attend to while justifying his unscrupulous tactics used on and off ring by claiming to be a savage.

    Role-Playing Games 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt received a classical education with the Schola Progenium as a candidate to become a Commissar, and while he tries to lead and identify with his men above all else, his cultured background bleeds through on occasion.
    • The Craftworld Eldar are an entire race of these. Many Eldar artists have experience as Aspect Warriors, and even ones who don't have to serve as Guardians when the Craftworld goes to war (which it does often).
      • Similarly, the 10,000-strong Adeptus Custodes are well versed in politics, history, philosophy, and other fields in addition to being peerless warriors and bodyguards of the Emperor, intended as both His protectors and companions that he could discuss whatever he liked with, something no Astartes would ever be expected to do.
  • BattleTech:
    • Most of the Clans have no interest in warriors doing anything not related to fighting, but Clan Ghost Bear has a long tradition of having their warriors practice some form or artistic pursuit as well, such as painting, sculpting, or poetry. Each warrior has a Great Work, a masterpiece they spend their whole lives trying to complete.
    • The warriors of the Draconis Combine, in emulation of the Samurai of ancient Terra, often take up pursuits such as calligraphy or other art. Even their Coordinator, functionally parallel to the Japanese Emperor, is expected to show talents in both art and war—Theodore Kurita was known to be a talented pilot, a masterful strategist, a respected swordsman, and an excellent classical shodo calligrapher.

    Video Games 
  • The Hashashins from Conqueror's Blade are "highly educated and cultured, sometimes composing epic poems based on their experiences in war." Their voice lines back this up:
    "Our enemies shall fall as surely as the sun sets."
    "Our principles are beyond your understanding."
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Ryo, AKA Gecko Wolf. A cool and suave Henshin Hero who regularly quotes philosophy appropriate to the situation at hand.
  • Hakha from Killzone despite being a Helghan enjoys a bit of poetry and philosophy outside of combat despite growing up being in a Space Nazi country.
  • Gunnery Sergeant Ashley Williams of Mass Effect happens to have a liking for classical poetry and makes a point to correct Shepard on his/her errors in military history. As of the third game, she's quoted Henley, Tennyson, and Whitman at Shepard. She actually uses Whitman in an attempt to seduce him. Shepard is at least her equal in this, at least the ones she quotes.
  • Genesis in Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. He spends half of his screentime quoting poetry, and the other half being a badass.
  • Zidane Tribal of Final Fantasy IX: Warrior, thief and actor. Also Kuja, though in his case, it's the "warrior" part that comes as a surprise.
  • Final Fantasy VI: Cyan Garamonde is not only a mighty swordsman, he's also remarkably gifted at creating hand-made silk flowers and writing poetry. He's rather embarrassed when the party discovers this, though it comes with the territory (he's a walking reference to the Tokugawa era).
  • Alka Zolka, the Marauder that researches the Scholars in Final Fantasy XIV and helps you become one. He lampshades it himself.
  • In The Regiment by John Dalmas, the Private Military Contractors from planet Tyss are all, even at the very lowest ranks, educated to a level that makes them sound to an offworlder like the best kind of college professors.
  • According to Poker Night at the Inventory, Heavy Weapons Guy has a PhD in Russian literature. Apparently it's more useful than you'd think in his line of work.
  • Sten of Dragon Age: Origins is a huge warrior who specialises in beating people up with a two-handed sword. He is also keenly interested in art, with paintings as the gifts that earn the most approval from him, and some of the highest approval boosts you get in conversations with him involve raising intelligent challenges to his Qunari philosophy.
  • The Kingdom of Gug in Lost Technology has an army that doubles as the royal orchestra and every single military commander is either a singer or a musician of some kind.
  • Billy Coen from Resident Evil 0, a Marine who's tough as nails, a biting Deadpan Snarker, and is built like the space shuttle, also happens to be damned good at the piano and able to read sheet music.
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has O.D, an extremely powerful vampire lord who runs a library in the castle. Being Above Good and Evil, his only interest is gathering knowledge and protecting his library, and so he is polite, helpful, well-spoken, and willing to loan books to anyone who comes asking be they human, demon, friend, or foe. Just don't make the mistake of trying to run off with one of his books. To him that's Beyond Forgiveness and punishable by death, so if you try it he'll introduce you to the "warrior" part of this trope by hurling more at you than the final boss can manage.
  • Bombergirl has Sister Sepia Belmont, a descendant of the legendary Belmont clan and an ass-kicking nun who wields the ancestral Vampire Killer and a massive Cross Chainsaw, and her hobby is gardening.

  • In the webcomic Operator, Hpt. Jaeger randomly quotes Macbeth at one point.
  • Nathan Hale and Alexander Hamilton in The Dreamer.
  • In Girl Genius, the Jaegers have a reputation for being not too smart, which is generally true. And then there's Jorgi, whose father wanted to be a philosopher and who taught his children all about "duality and the politics of non-being as related to platonic reality".
    Jorgi: Hey - hyu leesen to a guy like dot for fifteen years, hyu vill vant to burn down de vorld, too.
  • While he is illiterate, Hadinn from Invincea and the Warriors from Hell favors the finer things and is an enthusiastic player of chess, even taking up wood carving to make his own set.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Jagganoth enjoys philosophy, tinkering and collects and composes Aam'ya'ke death poetry, which he can even be persuaded to perform on the right occasion. That is, just before he kills you and burns your world to the ground in his quest to annihilate existence as we know it.
    "O tiger, o lord of beasts, rage! Strain every sinew 'till the marrow shakes
    Bend thy brow towards the horizon and cry victory!
    O piteous lord, e'en against thy molten command
    Still!- The last light's sliver shall fall, 'till darkness quencheth thy feeble cries
    - And all is smothered."

    Western Animation 
  • Wolf Bronsky, of all people, starts tending towards this after falling in love with the college-educated Resistance fighter Eve Hanley in the Exo Squad episode "Art of War".
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sokka's swordsmanship instructor Piandao is quite like this.
    • Really, all of the Order of the White Lotus people are this to some degree, being very old and experienced and belonging to an organization dedicated to preserving balance in the world, and they try to introduce their protégés to this philosophy and lifestyle as well. Piandao is just the most obvious about it.
    • The Legend of Korra gives us borderline example Amon in the first season. He knows his history well enough to draw parallels to Zuko and point out all the wars caused by bending, he maintains an air of dignity and intelligence even under high-stress situations, makes eloquent speeches, and is only violent towards benders. The Legend of Korra also has this for the second season's Big Bad, but it's hard to get into without massive spoilers.
    • The clearest example in Korra, though, is the third season's Big Bad, Zaheer. He's a formidable combatant - fighting him one-on-one generally results in a Curb-Stomp Battle (unless you're the Avatar, or one of Aang's children - ruthless and fiercely dedicated to his goals, and well-versed in Air Nomad history, culture, philosophy, and poetry.
  • Beast Wars is loaded with these, Dinobot being the most evident example as he's a bloodthirsty raptor with a passion for Shakespeare and history. But Megatron's a good example of Wicked Cultured. There's also the chain-gun wield, flower and science-loving Rhinox.
  • Transformers: Animated Prowl is a skilled ninja-bot who takes his time to appreciate nature. There is also Bulkhead, the massive bruiser with a fascination for the works of Picasso.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: Sgt. Slaughter, a Sergeant Rock if ever there was one, is revealed in the episode "G.I. Joe and the Golden Fleece", when a team is transported back in time, to be fluent in Ancient Greek (or at least one of the four dialects used at the time, each of which is very different from modern Greek):
    Sgt. Slaughter: I learned it in college. (grabs Lifeline) What's the matter? Surprised I went to college?!
  • Played for Laughs in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy where Billy's father (who is The Ditz even at the best of times) is revealed to be both a world-class ballet dancer and a former Navy Seal at separate points in the series.

    Real Life 
  • The samurai. There was a saying 'bunbu-ryōdō' meaning roughly 'the pen and the sword in accord' Samurai were expected to be able to do things like the tea ceremony and to be able to compose haiku. They often engaged in poetry duels with each other, sometimes on the battlefield. This is to say nothing of their ability to kick arse and take names though.
    • For instance, the title character of Usagi Yojimbo is very good at calligraphy and will always justify that this talent is fully in keeping with his calling.
    • This was mainly because of the efforts of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Before the Tokugawa Shogunate, many Samurai were very uncultured. Most anime and other fictional depictions of the Samurai focus more on the sword than the pen side of things.
      • This is not entirely true. The Taira (or Heike) clan during the Genpei War, roughly 400 years before the Tokugawa system, emphasized that one should be a nobleman before being a warrior. They took up practises like painting their teeth black, just like the nobility of that time did. This is probably also what led to their downfall, as while they were making themselves pretty in old Kyoto, the Minamoto (or Genji) clan where roughing themselves up in Kamakura.
      • It was, however, the ideal (much like the knights of medieval Europe), and was even occasionally achieved, before the rise to dominance of Tokugawa. Case in point: Takeda Harunobu, known to take part in multiple poetry duels, in Chinese. As impressive as this sounds, however, Classical Chinese was to upper-class Japanese as French was to the Russian nobility before Napoleon's invasion. They all spoke, read, and wrote it, though unlike the Russians they did actually use Japanese (most Russian nobles couldn't even speak Russian). The original Japanese alphabet is also based on Classical Chinese.
      • It was not a universal ideal. The Bunbu Ichi debate had strong adherents on either side. Some daimyo required their retainers to study poetry and calligraphy, while others imposed harsh punishment on any who practiced any but martial disciplines.
      • Flower arranging and poetry, along with zen rock gardening, were considered Martial Arts by samurai.
  • The knights of Europe were also expected to be cultured, in addition to their status as warriors.
    • There is good reason to believe that knights took up lute-playing and poetry writing because it was a great way to get girls. Why let the troubadours have all the fun?
    • Many of the founding aspects of what would become what is now the currently dying lifestyle of chivalry, and all that it entailed for all social strata of Europe, instituted by the dark-aged Church to get Medieval Knights to be less dickish in their dealings with the peasantry. Accomplishing it by scaring the shit out of the knightly class with promises of damnation if they didn't stop being dicks.
    • The original troubadour, Guillaume IX de Poitiers, is a prime example, as he was also one of the greatest lords in the West and part of the First Crusade. Incidentally, his great-great-son Richard the Lionheart was also a great warrior and an alleged poet, writing in French and langue d'Oc (mostly to ask for his ransom).
    • The Holy Roman emperor Friedrich II is sometimes called the first "Renaissance prince" due to his keen, cultured mind. He spoke French, Italian, German, Greek, and Arabic (even more remarkably, he could read Arabic. Literacy was, at that time, considered a skill apart from fluency in a language). He was a patron of arts, architecture, and science, founded the world's oldest state university (University of Naples), and wrote an influential treatise on falconry. He was also a poet, writing in Italian (his father, the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich VI, had also written poetry, in German).
  • Many US and Canadian military personnel, due to the emphasis placed on education within the armed forces, which is far more than many civilians would think or expect. The dumb grunt becomes more of a Discredited Trope the higher in the officer and NCO ranks you go, as college courses and additional certifications are key to standing out in a group of candidates for promotion.
    • In particular, since Canada has two official languages (English and French), every member of the Canadian Forces is expected to be fully bilingual by the time they finish training, or at least have a good enough grasp of both languages to understand or give orders in either.
    • Real Life Civil War Union Army Colonel Robert Gould Shaw from the movie Glory was extremely well-read, intelligent, and was most certainly Officer and a Gentleman.
      • Colonel Chamberlain (Gettysburg) goes it one better. He was a College Professor (of rhetoric and languages) before he got a sabbatical and enlisted.
      • College and certifications and all that aside, the armies of the developed nations are moving towards this as a whole. If nothing else, anyone in uniform today most likely knows how to read and write. That wasn't the case even during World War II.
    • US and Canadian militaries also offer educational incentives to try and recruit people who are smart enough for college and university but can't afford it, offering paid education in exchange for X years of service. Civilian certifications also honor military service: for example, an ED Tech (Electrician) for the Canadian Forces can challenge the Red Seal exam after completing his DP2 trade training. In other words, someone can walk away from the Canadian Forces as a fully licenced electrician, without spending a dime on schooling, in five years or less of military service.
  • Common with guerilla leaders, especially the more ideologically driven ones. A radical mullah may be well versed and a memorized of Quran, Hadith, Sunnan, Shariah, Fatwa, Arabic and local poetry, Islamic history, world geography, several languages, classical Arabic, theology, political theory, realpolitik, rhetoric, financial skills, business skills, management skills, and asymmetrical warfare. The crummy and incompetent ones do not live long. Doesn't make them any less destructive, though, but the more you know about your enemy...
  • Frederick the Great has a number of musical compositions credited to him. Not to mention several works of poetry and books on philosophy, history, and military theory, mostly in French, (including a long treatise on the art of war written entirely in verse), libretti for operas (including "Montezuma"), and works of satire (an "exegesis" of the tale of Bluebeard in the style of a Jesuit oration).
  • Count Wilhelm of Schaumburg-Lippe, perhaps the leading artilleryman of the Seven Years War, was friends with philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and employed Johann Gottfried Herder as his court preacher. Wilhelm set up an artillery and engineering school strongly founded on the principles of the Enlightenment, where for instance French was taught using the Encyclopédie as one of its main textbooks for French classes. Wilhelm's prize student was Gerhard Scharnhorst, who came out of this education knowing quite a bit about the literature of his day. Besides books on military theory, science, and mathematics he also devoured literature from other fields; for instance, the works of Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith, and for instance expressed a great, even emotional attachment to the literary work of Edward Young, Goethe, Schubart, and Claudius. Scharnhorst's prize student in turn was Carl von Clausewitz, the "Philosopher of War" and writer of On War.
  • There was another officer of artillery, well endowed in the field of mathematics where he wished to have a career. He rose to fame as Napoleon I.
  • While not a few officers of e. g. the 18th century conform to the "uncultured grunt" stereotype, it should be noted that a measure of culturedness was expected of them, as more than a few colonels and generals would be employed as ambassadors and on special diplomatic missions - e. g. Russian Field Marshal Kutuzov and Austrian Field Marshal Prince Schwarzenberg during the Napoleonic Wars - or as ministers. And there were quite a number of officers who did participate to a smaller or greater extent in the intellectual life of their era. Even Field Marshal Blücher, whose education can most charitably be described as sketchy, was in contact with quite a lot of academics, etc. due to his activities as a freemason, which he saw as an essential part of his life. And in his day there were many masonic officers.
  • German writers and poets Ewald and Heinrich von Kleist, Friedrich de la Motte-Fouqué, and Adelbert von Chamisso were active or formerly active Prussian officers. Among Field Marshal Gneisenau's earliest surviving writings is a poem in honour of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (one of whose most notable benefactors had been General Count Tauentzien the elder). General Count Bülow von Dennewitz, whose IV Corps led the Prussian attack at Waterloo, wrote music.
  • Winston Churchill. Soldier, journalist, historian, statesman, badass. Complete with a Nobel Prize in Literature (although that was probably more of a lifetime achievement award).
  • Theodore Roosevelt, America's best-read President (perhaps second after Jefferson) and Medal of Honor recipient.
    • His Rough Riders typically came in two broad categories: ranchers and cattle-punchers from out west and Ivy Leaguers from back East.
  • Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin, who, despite their flaws, were extremely well-read and educated men.
  • Both Mao Zedong and his archnemesis Chiang Kai-shek were also well-educated men. Mao's quotes and poems are still widely used in China today.
  • Several senior Nazis were like this.
    • Though, not so much in the highest ranks. Early in his rule, Hitler attempted to make it mandatory for his top advisors (Goebbels, Goering, et al.) to go with him to the opera every week. However, being largely comprised of uncultured thugs, they did not take to this at all, and he ended this requirement shortly after instating it.
    • True in the case of Joseph Goebbels, who had a PhD in literature. Fortunately, and to his bitter regret, he failed at the "warrior" part of this trope.
    • Also averted with Hitler, whose work Mein Kampf was mocked by fellow dictator Benito Mussolini as "a boring tome that I have never been able to read" and that his beliefs were "little more than commonplace clichés". Even Hitler himself attempted to distance himself from the book after he became chancellor, calling it "fantasies behind bars".
    • Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, who attempted to blow up Hitler on 20 July 1944, belonged to the inner circle of "disciples" of the poet Stefan George.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the Spartans were just as rigorous about education and courtesy as they were with physical fitness, to the point where they were universally lauded for their scrupulous manners. One anecdote describes an old man looking for a seat at the Olympic Games. As he stumbled about from one section to the other, the spectators laughed at him. But when he came to the Spartan section, all the Spartans stood to offer him their places – and there was universal applause.
    • The Spartans were all well-educated, to the point that it was a shock to ever find an illiterate Spartan. From the same website above:
    "The fact that learning to read and write it is not mentioned in the descriptions of the Spartan agoge is a function of the fact that all Greeks learned these skills while in school, and so this was not deemed worthy of comment."
    • There's a reason that a short, powerful, witty statement is known to this day as a Laconic phrase. In one of Plato's dialogues, Socrates states "This is how you may know... that the Spartansnote  are the best educated in philosophy and speaking: if you talk to any ordinary Spartan, he seems to be stupid, but eventually, like an expert marksman, he shoots in some brief remark that proves you to be only a child."
  • Since British officers up until about WWI were expected to have been graduates of public schools (in the British sense of "public school"), knowledge of the classics and foreign languages was expected. Tactics manuals quoted famous generals in the original Latin or French, assuming the reader would know the context.
  • King Matthias I of Hungary. Remembered for organizing the Black Army, one of the strongest armies of fifteenth-century Europe, and alternately expanding the country's territory and beating back the Ottoman empire. Also remembered for single-handedly dragging the country into the renaissance era and assembling the Bibliotheca Corviniana, one of the most renowned libraries of the era.
  • Officers in the Israel Defense Forces are expected to be this way, and many of Israel's celebrated war heroes are good examples: Lieutenant General Yigael Yadin, professor of archaeology; Colonel Ilan Ramon, fighter pilot and astronaut; Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu, the hero of Entebbe, who was educated at Harvard; and not least the one-armed pioneer fighter Joseph Trumpledor, who trained as a dentist before becoming a soldier.