Courage, then, is something of this sort, but the name is also
applied to five other kinds.
- First comes the courage of the citizen-soldier; for this is most
like true courage. Citizen-soldiers seem to face dangers because of
the penalties imposed by the laws and the reproaches they would
otherwise incur, and because of the honours they win by such action;
and therefore those peoples seem to be bravest among whom cowards
are held in dishonour and brave men in honour. This is the kind of
courage that Homer depicts, e.g. in Diomede and in Hector:
First will Polydamas be to heap reproach on me then; and
For Hector one day 'mid the Trojans shall utter his vaulting
This kind of courage is most like to that which we described
earlier, because it is due to virtue; for it is due to shame and to
desire of a noble object (i.e. honour) and avoidance of disgrace,
which is ignoble. One might rank in the same class even those who
are compelled by their rulers; but they are inferior, inasmuch as they
do what they do not from shame but from fear, and to avoid not what is
disgraceful but what is painful; for their masters compel them, as
Afraid was Tydeides, and fled from my face.
But if I shall spy any dastard that cowers far from the fight,
Vainly will such an one hope to escape from the dogs.
And those who give them their posts, and beat them if they
retreat, do the same, and so do those who draw them up with trenches
or something of the sort behind them; all of these apply compulsion.
But one ought to be brave not under compulsion but because it is noble
to be so.
- Experience with regard to particular facts is also thought to be
courage; this is indeed the reason why Socrates thought courage was
knowledge. Other people exhibit this quality in other dangers, and
professional soldiers exhibit it in the dangers of war; for there seem
to be many empty alarms in war, of which these have had the most
comprehensive experience; therefore they seem brave, because the
others do not know the nature of the facts. Again, their experience
makes them most capable in attack and in defence, since they can use
their arms and have the kind that are likely to be best both for
attack and for defence; therefore they fight like armed men against
unarmed or like trained athletes against amateurs; for in such
contests too it is not the bravest men that fight best, but those
who are strongest and have their bodies in the best condition.
Professional soldiers turn cowards, however, when the danger puts
too great a strain on them and they are inferior in numbers and
equipment; for they are the first to fly, while citizen-forces die
at their posts, as in fact happened at the temple of Hermes. For to
the latter flight is disgraceful and death is preferable to safety
on those terms; while the former from the very beginning faced the
danger on the assumption that they were stronger, and when they know
the facts they fly, fearing death more than disgrace; but the brave
man is not that sort of person.
- Passion also is sometimes reckoned as courage; those who act
from passion, like wild beasts rushing at those who have wounded them,
are thought to be brave, because brave men also are passionate; for
passion above all things is eager to rush on danger, and hence Homer's
'put strength into his passion' and 'aroused their spirit and
passion and 'hard he breathed panting' and 'his blood boiled'. For all
such expressions seem to indicate the stirring and onset of passion.
Now brave men act for honour's sake, but passion aids them; while wild
beasts act under the influence of pain; for they attack because they
have been wounded or because they are afraid, since if they are in a
forest they do not come near one. Thus they are not brave because,
driven by pain and passion, they rush on danger without foreseeing any
of the perils, since at that rate even asses would be brave when
they are hungry; for blows will not drive them from their food; and
lust also makes adulterers do many daring things. (Those creatures are
not brave, then, which are driven on to danger by pain or passion.)
The 'courage' that is due to passion seems to be the most natural, and
to be courage if choice and motive be added.
Men, then, as well as beasts, suffer pain when they are angry, and
are pleased when they exact their revenge; those who fight for these
reasons, however, are pugnacious but not brave; for they do not act
for honour's sake nor as the rule directs, but from strength of
feeling; they have, however, something akin to courage.
- Nor are sanguine people brave; for they are confident in danger
only because they have conquered often and against many foes. Yet they
closely resemble brave men, because both are confident; but brave
men are confident for the reasons stated earlier, while these are so
because they think they are the strongest and can suffer nothing.
(Drunken men also behave in this way; they become sanguine). When
their adventures do not succeed, however, they run away; but it was
the mark of a brave man to face things that are, and seem, terrible
for a man, because it is noble to do so and disgraceful not to do
so. Hence also it is thought the mark of a braver man to be fearless
and undisturbed in sudden alarms than to be so in those that are
foreseen; for it must have proceeded more from a state of character,
because less from preparation; acts that are foreseen may be chosen by
calculation and rule, but sudden actions must be in accordance with
one's state of character.
- People who are ignorant of the danger also appear brave, and
they are not far removed from those of a sanguine temper, but are
inferior inasmuch as they have no self-reliance while these have.
Hence also the sanguine hold their ground for a time; but those who
have been deceived about the facts fly if they know or suspect that
these are different from what they supposed, as happened to the
Argives when they fell in with the Spartans and took them for
We have, then, described the character both of brave men
those who are thought to be brave.
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