THE VIRTUE OF COURAGE

                    “HE WHO IS BRAVE IS FREE”


FORTITUDE, according to Macrobius, can be of three

kinds. First to be naturally strong of body. But this is not

a virtue. Second is courage, or audacity of character, fear-

lessness in all grave and adverse things. Third is patience,

enabling us patiently to endure all adversity and all distress.

The last two are truly fortitude and are real virtues.


We may compare the virtue of fortitude to the lion. He

always sleeps with his eyes open and when hunters come

after him, he immediately begins sweeping his footsteps with

his tail so as not to betray himself by leaving traces. But

when he sees that he cannot escape, he comes against the

hunters without any fear, valiantly engaging them in battle.


Cicero says of the virtue called fortitude: “Man must be

brave in battle and patient in adversity.” Seneca says: “He

who is brave is free.” Lucius says: “Man is loved mainly

because of two virtues: courage first, loyalty second.” Soc-

rates says: “It takes more courage to flee when necessary

than to die.” Brother Egidius says that courage may be of

many kinds. One is to be brave before the danger of death

when nothing else can be done. This is forced courage. An-

other is to be brave and bold out of habit of combat. A third

is to be brave because of the company one keeps. Still an-

other is to be valiant when one’s opponent is weak and

cowardly. Fifth is to be so bold that one does not fear any-

thing. This is not fortitude but animal fury. These five kinds

of fortitude are not perfect. The sixth kind is perfect and

constitutes a virtue: that is when a man desires to be brave

and persevering in order to avoid dishonor and any short-

coming within his soul or his body or his property. Or to be

brave for one’s faith, or for one’s country.


If all the world were just. there would be no need of valour.

                                                   —Plutarch


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