Today's topic was suggested by my friend Julie Barrett, and it's a more complex question than it might appear at first glance. Six people trapped together on a desert island would form their own society, so you have to pick carefully — not just for company, but for the essential skills island living would require. Gender balance and group dynamics would be important, too, so you'd have to pick a group whose members would get along with each other.
Who would you want on your island? Leave your guest list in the comments section.
1. Marcus Aurelius. He might be a little gloomy, but he'd get us organized, he'd hold us all to very high standards, and he'd probably know how to build things.
2. Jane Austen. If her books and letters are anything to go by, Jane Austen was cheerful, sociable, and generally a delight to be around. She also had important English country lady skills that I don't have, such as gardening and sewing.
3. Julia Child. Somebody would have to cook, and I've always thought that Julia Child would be great company. She spoke several languages, had a terrific sense of humor, and worked extremely hard.
4. Homer. His blindness would limit his ability to work, but he'd keep us entertained in the evenings, and in his spare time could immortalize us all with a new epic poem.
5. Thomas Jefferson. Not only was he charming, well-read, and a great inventor of gadgets, but he was also an ingenious farmer, and he played the violin. Somebody on this island would have to be able to make music.
People I have deliberately left off this list, whom I might include if this were a dinner party instead of a new civilization: Elizabeth I (fascinating but too moody); Oscar Wilde (amusing, useless in a crisis); Paul of Tarsus (too inflexible); Tz'u-hsi, last Empress of China (homicidal); and Leonardo da Vinci (too easily distracted).