The legacy for me was not just interest in politics, it’s sort of an obligation of a citizen that people who have certain advantages and gifts have, that you fulfill the highest aspect of being human when you participate in the polity. For a human being to be fully human he or she has to do more than just the family and work, which you should do anyway. But you’re not reaching the highest level of what a human being is unless you participate in the social-political world and contribute significantly.

And there you search for the good. There is a sense of the Platonic good. Your obligation is to promote the good. It’s not just the marketplace of ideas and interest groups. Political science at the time was very interested in the way interest groups played off against each other and policy comes out of the clash of interest groups. Now that’s very accurate –- that is a lot of what happens in the world. However, beyond that Gaudino believed, and I believe there is some truth to it, that there is a good solution. A good solution is not just what emerges out of a clash of interest groups and who has a little more power. There is a right answer and people who are in leadership should be searching for the right answer. So I try to do that.

I went to the State Department, became Under Secretary of State and I still am an ambassador to the United Nations–besides doing my regular work–mediating between Greece and Macedonia, where I have to deal with Alexander the Great and Aristotle as living things in those regions. Well, I always liked that part of the world, the classical part of the world, and I still read – I read Thucydides now, I just read some Herodotus. But this dispute is between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece. The Republic of Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia when Yugoslavia broke up in 1991, and the people there call themselves Macedonians but they’re Slavic peoples. And the Greeks take the view that Northern Greece is Macedonia and that the Republic of Macedonia by taking that name is irredentist, it’s aggressive towards Greece. So how did Alexander get into this? Alexander the Great of course ruled all of Macedonia and then way beyond. Then all of a sudden this country comes along, calls itself the Republic of Macedonia and the Greeks take the view that only Greeks are Macedonians. It’s all about a word, you could say. But it’s more than a word. It’s about a sense of history.

Each side tries to take the Alexandrian tradition as proof of their identity. So the Greeks [note that] Aristotle was his teacher. Aristotle went up from Athens to teach Alexander and that’s used by the Greeks to show that he was really Hellenic. Meanwhile, in the Republic of Macedonia, they named their airport the Alexander the Great Airport. They named the new highway Alexander the Great Highway. They put up huge statues of Alexander in every town. Every time they do it, the Greeks protest.

Now I got into real trouble, the biggest mistake I made in my diplomatic career, in a press conference, where I’m usually very, very cautious. I let my caution down and made a stupid remark that a lot this stuff about Alexander the Great was so silly. And then I went on to say that I myself wasn’t such a fan of Alexander the Great because he killed a lot of people. He wasn’t very democratic. Well, I got attacked by everyone. The whole region was united against me. The Communists attacked me. The right wing attacked me, the Greeks…

You know what Gaudino would have done? He had this concept he used of prudence. A statesman has to be prudent. And he would say I let my own emotions go too much into this, you know, and shouldn’t have interposed my personal view of Alexander the Great when it wasn’t really necessary and disturb people. I should have been a little more prudent. I know he would have enjoyed it. Yeah.

Matt Nimetz '60, when not serving as U.N. Special Representative, is managing director of General Atlantic LLC, a Greenwich, Conn.-based international investment firm