Any of these things can be exercised too much or in the wrong way. The same is true of courage. Temperance… aims at each man himself. When reading the epic poem there is no doubting the sheer audacity of the Achaeans besieging Troy, but at the same time these men represent a semi-barbarian warrior culture whose heroes are bent chiefly on plunder and revenge. Cursed be the poet, who first honoured with that name a mere Ajax, a man-killing idiot!
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Any of these things can be exercised too much or in the wrong way. The same is true of courage. Temperance… aims at each man himself. When reading the epic poem there is no doubting the sheer audacity of the Achaeans besieging Troy, but at the same time these men represent a semi-barbarian warrior culture whose heroes are bent chiefly on plunder and revenge. Cursed be the poet, who first honoured with that name a mere Ajax, a man-killing idiot! The former represents the domestic virtues of the settled and civilized culture of Troy, whereas Achilles and the Greeks are little more than marauding pirates.
Only in the end does the ferocious Achilles relent somewhat as Priam, father of the fallen Hector, imparts to him a sense of decency and restraint in their shared grief over those slain in battle. By contrast, the Trojan Aineias in his duel with Achilles appears as a superior warrior for his laconic self-control. Warriors will boast of their prowess in an absurd and shameless manner.
We have traditionally strict rules about the comportment of soldiers. This is not only to maintain proper morale and proficiency, it also reinforces their role as defenders of a free society—which is something that the mercenary or ideologically fanatical combatant cannot do. When these rules are not adhered to we have the Abu Ghraib scandal or the adolescent antics of Owen Honors, the recently disciplined captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier. Daring is not necessarily commensurate with rectitude.
British historian Max Hastings has often noted in his works that the Third Reich fielded one of the most capable fighting forces in modern times. The German soldier, man for man, outfought all of opponents on all fronts, losing chiefly to the overwhelming numbers of his enemies.
These men could be brave, but chiefly in pursuit of glory, hatred or personal gain. In one sense such assumptions speak well of our culture. The popular definition of courage seems incomplete. But there are other, more subtle dangers. Finally it can happen when men allow themselves to be forced into evil through fear.
Polycarp who admonished Christians not to presume on their own strength. Martyrdom was something God called us to, it was not something we should actively seek in an imprudent and hasty manner, especially since our courage might fail us at the last moment, thus setting an even worse example than if we had persevered quietly in whatever trials Providence may send us. There is something wrong with such acts of reckless courage; not only in their methods but also their ends.
In a world that has increasingly lost its spiritual moorings, bored or alienated souls may react to the inanity of mainstream materialism by embracing the shallow romanticism of extreme behavior.
Danger simplifies existence and therefore—again when chosen, not imposed—comes as a relief from many anxieties. Not because and this cannot be sufficiently stressed patience and endurance are in themselves better and more perfect than attack and self-confidence, but because, in the world as it is constituted, it is only in the supreme test, which leaves no other possibility of resistance than endurance, that the inmost and deepest strength of man reveals itself.
This is not an excuse for irresolution. A person well practiced in the ways of good judgment should be all the more capable of making snap decisions when the situation demands it, because fortitude has become inclination based on virtue or good habits. Secondly, courage demands justice. In our actions, especially those which involve radical choices and the potential for great harm as well as great good, it is crucial that we assess what is due to others as well as what is permitted to ourselves.
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The Virtues and Vices of Courage: Josef Pieper:
Goltigul They took for granted jsoef only the idea of virtue, which signifies human Tightness, but also the attempt to define it in that fourfold spectrum. Temperance and Moderation pp. Is not the subject always man himself, the human person? The strict specificity of ethical action is perceptible only to the living experience of the person required to decide. Prudence right judgmentJustice giving the other what is due to them, most specifically due to them as human personsFortitude the strength to do the goodcardinap Temperance keeping the natural desires of man in firtues propriety, displaying the real beauty of keeping oneself in line with reality. To those who have this greater love of God the truth of real things is revealed more plainly and more brilliantly; above all the super- natural reality of the Trinitarian God is made known to them more movingly and overwhelmingly. The doctrine of virtue, on the other hand, has things to say about this human person; it speaks both of the kind of being which is his when he enters the world, as a consequence of his createdness, and the kind of being he ought to strive toward and attain to by being prudent, just, brave, and temperate.
Josef Pieper on the cardinal virtues