QUESTION 123: OF FORTITUDE
After considering justice we must in due sequence consider fortitude. We
must (1) consider the virtue itself of fortitude; (2) its parts; (3) the
gift corresponding thereto; (4) the precepts that pertain to it.
Concerning fortitude three things have to be considered: (1) Fortitude itself; (2) its principal act, viz. martyrdom; (3) the vices opposed to fortitude.
Under the first head there are twelve points of inquiry:
(1) Whether fortitude is a virtue?
(2) Whether it is a special virtue?
(3) Whether fortitude is only about fear and daring?
(4) Whether it is only about fear of death?
(5) Whether it is only in warlike matters?
(6) Whether endurance is its chief act?
(7) Whether its action is directed to its own good?
(8) Whether it takes pleasure in its own action?
(9) Whether fortitude deals chiefly with sudden occurrences?
(10) Whether it makes use of anger in its action?
(11) Whether it is a cardinal virtue?
(12) Of its comparison with the other cardinal virtues.
Article 1: Whether fortitude is a virtue?
Objection 1: It seems that fortitude is not a virtue. For the Apostle says (2
Cor. 12:9): "Virtue is perfected in infirmity." But fortitude is contrary
to infirmity. Therefore fortitude is not a virtue.
Objection 2: Further, if it is a virtue, it is either theological,
intellectual, or moral. Now fortitude is not contained among the
theological virtues, nor among the intellectual virtues, as may be
gathered from what we have said above (FS, Question , Article ; FS, Question , Article ).
Neither, apparently, is it contained among the moral virtues, since
according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 7,8): "Some seem to be brave
through ignorance; or through experience, as soldiers," both of which
cases seem to pertain to act rather than to moral virtue, "and some are
called brave on account of certain passions"; for instance, on account of
fear of threats, or of dishonor, or again on account of sorrow, anger, or
hope. But moral virtue does not act from passion but from choice, as
stated above (FS, Question , Article ). Therefore fortitude is not a virtue.
Objection 3: Further, human virtue resides chiefly in the soul, since it is a
"good quality of the mind," as stated above (Ethic. iii, 7,8). But
fortitude, seemingly, resides in the body, or at least results from the
temperament of the body. Therefore it seems that fortitude is not a
On the contrary, Augustine (De Morib. Eccl. xv, xxi, xxii) numbers
fortitude among the virtues.
I answer that, According to the Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 6) "virtue is
that which makes its possessor good, and renders his work good." Hence
human virtue, of which we are speaking now, is that which makes a man
good, and tenders his work good. Now man's good is to be in accordance
with reason, according to Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv, 22). Wherefore it
belongs to human virtue to make man good, to make his work accord with
reason. This happens in three ways: first, by rectifying reason itself,
and this is done by the intellectual virtues; secondly, by establishing
the rectitude of reason in human affairs, and this belongs to justice;
thirdly, by removing the obstacles to the establishment of this rectitude
in human affairs. Now the human will is hindered in two ways from
following the rectitude of reason. First, through being drawn by some
object of pleasure to something other than what the rectitude of reason
requires; and this obstacle is removed by the virtue of temperance.
Secondly, through the will being disinclined to follow that which is in
accordance with reason, on account of some difficulty that presents
itself. In order to remove this obstacle fortitude of the mind is
requisite, whereby to resist the aforesaid difficulty even as a man, by
fortitude of body, overcomes and removes bodily obstacles.
Hence it is evident that fortitude is a virtue, in so far as it conforms
man to reason.
Reply to Objection 1: The virtue of the soul is perfected, not in the infirmity
of the soul, but in the infirmity of the body, of which the Apostle was
speaking. Now it belongs to fortitude of the mind to bear bravely with
infirmities of the flesh, and this belongs to the virtue of patience or
fortitude, as also to acknowledge one's own infirmity, and this belongs
to the perfection that is called humility.
Reply to Objection 2: Sometimes a person performs the exterior act of a virtue
without having the virtue, and from some other cause than virtue. Hence
the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 8) mentions five ways in which people are
said to be brave by way of resemblance, through performing acts of
fortitude without having the virtue. This may be done in three ways.
First, because they tend to that which is difficult as though it were not
difficult: and this again happens in three ways, for sometimes this is
owing to ignorance, through not perceiving the greatness of the danger;
sometimes it is owing to the fact that one is hopeful of overcoming
dangers---when, for instance, one has often experienced escape from
danger; and sometimes this is owing to a certain science and art, as in
the case of soldiers who, through skill and practice in the use of arms,
think little of the dangers of battle, as they reckon themselves capable
of defending themselves against them; thus Vegetius says (De Re Milit.
i), "No man fears to do what he is confident of having learned to do
well." Secondly, a man performs an act of fortitude without having the
virtue, through the impulse of a passion, whether of sorrow that he
wishes to cast off, or again of anger. Thirdly, through choice, not
indeed of a due end, but of some temporal advantage to be obtained, such
as honor, pleasure, or gain, or of some disadvantage to be avoided, such
as blame, pain, or loss.
Reply to Objection 3: The fortitude of the soul which is reckoned a virtue, as
explained in the Reply to the First Objection, is so called from its
likeness to fortitude of the body. Nor is it inconsistent with the notion
of virtue, that a man should have a natural inclination to virtue by
reason of his natural temperament, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ).
Article 2: Whether fortitude is a special virtue?
Objection 1: It seems that fortitude is not a special virtue. For it is
written (Wis. 7:7): "She teacheth temperance, and prudence, and justice,
and fortitude," where the text has "virtue" for "fortitude." Since then
the term "virtue" is common to all virtues, it seems that fortitude is a
Objection 2: Further, Ambrose says (De Offic. i): "Fortitude is not lacking in
courage, for alone she defends the honor of the virtues and guards their
behests. She it is that wages an inexorable war on all vice, undeterred
by toil, brave in face of dangers, steeled against pleasures, unyielding
to lusts, avoiding covetousness as a deformity that weakens virtue"; and
he says the same further on in connection with other vices. Now this
cannot apply to any special virtue. Therefore fortitude is not a special
Objection 3: Further, fortitude would seem to derive its name from firmness.
But it belongs to every virtue to stand firm, as stated in Ethic. ii.
Therefore fortitude is a general virtue.
On the contrary, Gregory (Moral. xxii) numbers it among the other
I answer that, As stated above (FS, Question , Articles ,4), the term
"fortitude" can be taken in two ways. First, as simply denoting a certain
firmness of mind, and in this sense it is a general virtue, or rather a
condition of every virtue, since as the Philosopher states (Ethic. ii),
it is requisite for every virtue to act firmly and immovably. Secondly,
fortitude may be taken to denote firmness only in bearing and
withstanding those things wherein it is most difficult to be firm, namely
in certain grave dangers. Therefore Tully says (Rhet. ii), that
"fortitude is deliberate facing of dangers and bearing of toils." In this
sense fortitude is reckoned a special virtue, because it has a special
Reply to Objection 1: According to the Philosopher (De Coelo i, 116) the word
virtue refers to the extreme limit of a power. Now a natural power is, in
one sense, the power of resisting corruptions, and in another sense is a
principle of action, as stated in Metaph. v, 17. And since this latter
meaning is the more common, the term "virtue," as denoting the extreme
limit of such a power, is a common term, for virtue taken in a general
sense is nothing else than a habit whereby one acts well. But as denoting
the extreme limit of power in the first sense, which sense is more
specific, it is applied to a special virtue, namely fortitude, to which
it belongs to stand firm against all kinds of assaults.
Reply to Objection 2: Ambrose takes fortitude in a broad sense, as denoting
firmness of mind in face of assaults of all kinds. Nevertheless even as a
special virtue with a determinate matter, it helps to resist the
assaults of all vices. For he that can stand firm in things that are most
difficult to bear, is prepared, in consequence, to resist those which are
Reply to Objection 3: This objection takes fortitude in the first sense.
Article 3: Whether fortitude is about fear and dying?
Objection 1: It seems that fortitude is not about fear and daring. For Gregory
says (Moral. vii): "The fortitude of the just man is to overcome the
flesh, to withstand self-indulgence, to quench the lusts of the present
life." Therefore fortitude seems to be about pleasures rather than about
fear and daring.
Objection 2: Further, Tully says (De Invent. Rhet. ii), that it belongs to
fortitude to face dangers and to bear toil. But this seemingly has
nothing to do with the passions of fear and daring, but rather with a
man's toilsome deeds and external dangers. Therefore fortitude is not
about fear and daring.
Objection 3: Further, not only daring, but also hope, is opposed to fear, as
stated above (FS, Question , Article , ad 2) in the treatise on passions.
Therefore fortitude should not be about daring any more than about hope.
On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 7; iii, 9) that
fortitude is about fear and daring.
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), it belongs to the virtue of
fortitude to remove any obstacle that withdraws the will from following
the reason. Now to be withdrawn from something difficult belongs to the
notion of fear, which denotes withdrawal from an evil that entails
difficulty, as stated above (FS, Question , Articles ,5) in the treatise on
passions. Hence fortitude is chiefly about fear of difficult things,
which can withdraw the will from following the reason. And it behooves
one not only firmly to bear the assault of these difficulties by
restraining fear, but also moderately to withstand them, when, to wit, it
is necessary to dispel them altogether in order to free oneself therefrom
for the future, which seems to come under the notion of daring. Therefore
fortitude is about fear and daring, as curbing fear and moderating daring.
Reply to Objection 1: Gregory is speaking then of the fortitude of the just man,
as to its common relation to all virtues. Hence he first of all mentions
matters pertaining to temperance, as in the words quoted, and then adds
that which pertains properly to fortitude as a special virtue, by saying:
"To love the trials of this life for the sake of an eternal reward."
Reply to Objection 2: Dangers and toils do not withdraw the will from the course
of reason, except in so far as they are an object of fear. Hence
fortitude needs to be immediately about fear and daring, but mediately
about dangers and toils, these being the objects of those passions.
Reply to Objection 3: Hope is opposed to fear on the part of the object, for hope
is of good, fear of evil: whereas daring is about the same object, and is
opposed to fear by way of approach and withdrawal, as stated above (FS,
Question , Article ). And since fortitude properly regards those temporal evils
that withdraw one from virtue, as appears from Tully's definition quoted
in the Second Objection, it follows that fortitude properly is about fear
and daring and not about hope, except in so far as it is connected with
daring, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ).
Article 4: Whether fortitude is only about dangers of death?
Objection 1: It seems that fortitude is not only about dangers of death. For
Augustine says (De Morib. Eccl. xv) that "fortitude is love bearing all
things readily for the sake of the object beloved": and (Music. vi) he
says that fortitude is "the love which dreads no hardship, not even
death." Therefore fortitude is not only about danger of death, but also
about other afflictions.
Objection 2: Further, all the passions of the soul need to be reduced to a
mean by some virtue. Now there is no other virtue reducing fears to a
mean. Therefore fortitude is not only about fear of death, but also about
Objection 3: Further, no virtue is about extremes. But fear of death is about
an extreme, since it is the greatest of fears, as stated in Ethic. iii.
Therefore the virtue of fortitude is not about fear of death.
On the contrary, Andronicus says that "fortitude is a virtue of the
irascible faculty that is not easily deterred by the fear of death."
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), it belongs to the virtue of
fortitude to guard the will against being withdrawn from the good of
reason through fear of bodily evil. Now it behooves one to hold firmly
the good of reason against every evil whatsoever, since no bodily good is
equivalent to the good of the reason. Hence fortitude of soul must be
that which binds the will firmly to the good of reason in face of the
greatest evils: because he that stands firm against great things, will in
consequence stand firm against less things, but not conversely. Moreover
it belongs to the notion of virtue that it should regard something
extreme: and the most fearful of all bodily evils is death, since it does
away all bodily goods. Wherefore Augustine says (De Morib. Eccl. xxii)
that "the soul is shaken by its fellow body, with fear of toil and pain,
lest the body be stricken and harassed with fear of death lest it be done
away and destroyed." Therefore the virtue of fortitude is about the fear
of dangers of death.
Reply to Objection 1: Fortitude behaves well in bearing all manner of adversity:
yet a man is not reckoned brave simply through bearing any kind of
adversity, but only through bearing well even the greatest evils; while
through bearing others he is said to be brave in a restricted sense.
Reply to Objection 2: Since fear is born of love, any virtue that moderates the
love of certain goods must in consequence moderate the fear of contrary
evils: thus liberality, which moderates the love of money, as a
consequence, moderates the fear of losing it, and the same is the case
with temperance and other virtues. But to love one's own life is natural:
and hence the necessity of a special virtue modifying the fear of death.
Reply to Objection 3: In virtues the extreme consists in exceeding right reason:
wherefore to undergo the greatest dangers in accordance with reason is
not contrary to virtue.
Article 5: Whether fortitude is properly about dangers of death in battle?
Objection 1: It seems that fortitude is not properly about dangers of death in
battle. For martyrs above all are commended for their fortitude. But
martyrs are not commended in connection with battle. Therefore fortitude
is not properly about dangers of death in battle.
Objection 2: Further, Ambrose says (De Offic. i) that "fortitude is applicable
both to warlike and to civil matters": and Tully (De Offic. i), under the
heading, "That it pertains to fortitude to excel in battle rather than in
civil life," says: "Although not a few think that the business of war is
of greater importance than the affairs of civil life, this opinion must
be qualified: and if we wish to judge the matter truly, there are many
things in civil life that are more important and more glorious than those
connected with war." Now greater fortitude is about greater things.
Therefore fortitude is not properly concerned with death in battle.
Objection 3: Further, war is directed to the preservation of a country's
temporal peace: for Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xix) that "wars are waged
in order to insure peace." Now it does not seem that one ought to expose
oneself to the danger of death for the temporal peace of one's country,
since this same peace is the occasion of much license in morals.
Therefore it seems that the virtue of fortitude is not about the danger
of death in battle.
On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii) that fortitude is
chiefly about death in battle.
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), fortitude strengthens a man's
mind against the greatest danger, which is that of death. Now fortitude
is a virtue; and it is essential to virtue ever to tend to good;
wherefore it is in order to pursue some good that man does not fly from
the danger of death. But the dangers of death arising out of sickness,
storms at sea, attacks from robbers, and the like, do not seem to come on
a man through his pursuing some good. on the other hand, the dangers of
death which occur in battle come to man directly on account of some good,
because, to wit, he is defending the common good by a just fight. Now a
just fight is of two kinds. First, there is the general combat, for
instance, of those who fight in battle; secondly, there is the private
combat, as when a judge or even private individual does not refrain from
giving a just judgment through fear of the impending sword, or any other
danger though it threaten death. Hence it belongs to fortitude to
strengthen the mind against dangers of death, not only such as arise in a
general battle, but also such as occur in singular combat, which may be
called by the general name of battle. Accordingly it must be granted that
fortitude is properly about dangers of death occurring in battle.
Moreover, a brave man behaves well in face of danger of any other kind
of death; especially since man may be in danger of any kind of death on
account of virtue: thus may a man not fail to attend on a sick friend
through fear of deadly infection, or not refuse to undertake a journey
with some godly object in view through fear of shipwreck or robbers.
Reply to Objection 1: Martyrs face the fight that is waged against their own
person, and this for the sake of the sovereign good which is God;
wherefore their fortitude is praised above all. Nor is it outside the
genus of fortitude that regards warlike actions, for which reason they
are said to have been valiant in battle. [*Office of Martyrs, ex. Heb.
Reply to Objection 2: Personal and civil business is differentiated from the
business of war that regards general wars. However, personal and civil
affairs admit of dangers of death arising out of certain conflicts which
are private wars, and so with regard to these also there may be fortitude
properly so called.
Reply to Objection 3: The peace of the state is good in itself, nor does it
become evil because certain persons make evil use of it. For there are
many others who make good use of it; and many evils prevented by it, such
as murders and sacrileges, are much greater than those which are
occasioned by it, and which belong chiefly to the sins of the flesh.
Article 6: Whether endurance is the chief act of fortitude?
Objection 1: It seems that endurance is not the chief act of fortitude. For
virtue "is about the difficult and the good" (Ethic. ii, 3). Now it is
more difficult to attack than to endure. Therefore endurance is not the
chief act of fortitude.
Objection 2: Further, to be able to act on another seems to argue greater
power than not to be changed by another. Now to attack is to act on
another, and to endure is to persevere unchangeably. Since then
fortitude denotes perfection of power, it seems that it belongs to
fortitude to attack rather than to endure.
Objection 3: Further, one contrary is more distant from the other than its
mere negation. Now to endure is merely not to fear, whereas to attack
denotes a movement contrary to that of fear, since it implies pursuit.
Since then fortitude above all withdraws the mind from fear, it seems
that it regards attack rather than endurance.
On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 9) that "certain
persons are" said to be brave chiefly because they endure affliction.
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), and according to the Philosopher
(Ethic. iii, 9), "fortitude is more concerned to allay fear, than to
moderate daring." For it is more difficult to allay fear than to moderate
daring, since the danger which is the object of daring and fear, tends by
its very nature to check daring, but to increase fear. Now to attack
belongs to fortitude in so far as the latter moderates daring, whereas to
endure follows the repression of fear. Therefore the principal act of
fortitude is endurance, that is to stand immovable in the midst of
dangers rather than to attack them.
Reply to Objection 1: Endurance is more difficult than aggression, for three
reasons. First, because endurance seemingly implies that one is being
attacked by a stronger person, whereas aggression denotes that one is
attacking as though one were the stronger party; and it is more difficult
to contend with a stronger than with a weaker. Secondly, because he that
endures already feels the presence of danger, whereas the aggressor looks
upon danger as something to come; and it is more difficult to be unmoved
by the present than by the future. Thirdly, because endurance implies
length of time, whereas aggression is consistent with sudden movements;
and it is more difficult to remain unmoved for a long time, than to be
moved suddenly to something arduous. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic.
iii, 8) that "some hurry to meet danger, yet fly when the danger is
present; this is not the behavior of a brave man."
Reply to Objection 2: Endurance denotes indeed a passion of the body, but an
action of the soul cleaving most resolutely [fortissime] to good, the
result being that it does not yield to the threatening passion of the
body. Now virtue concerns the soul rather than the body.
Reply to Objection 3: He that endures fears not, though he is confronted with the
cause of fear, whereas this cause is not present to the aggressor.
Article 7: Whether the brave man acts for the sake of the good of his habit?
Objection 1: It seems that the brave man does not act for the sake of the
good of his habit. For in matters of action the end, though first in
intention, is last in execution. Now the act of fortitude, in the order
of execution, follows the habit of fortitude. Therefore it is impossible
for the brave man to act for the sake of the good of his habit.
Objection 2: Further, Augustine says (De Trin. xiii): "We love virtues for the
sake of happiness, and yet some make bold to counsel us to be virtuous,"
namely by saying that we should desire virtue for its own sake, "without
loving happiness. If they succeed in their endeavor, we shall surely
cease to love virtue itself, since we shall no longer love that for the
sake of which alone we love virtue." But fortitude is a virtue. Therefore
the act of fortitude is directed not to fortitude but to happiness.
Objection 3: Further, Augustine says (De Morib. Eccl. xv) that "fortitude is
love ready to bear all things for God's sake." Now God is not the habit
of fortitude, but something better, since the end must needs be better
than what is directed to the end. Therefore the brave man does not act
for the sake of the good of his habit.
On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 7) that "to the brave
man fortitude itself is a good": and such is his end.
I answer that, An end is twofold: proximate and ultimate. Now the
proximate end of every agent is to introduce a likeness of that agent's
form into something else: thus the end of fire in heating is to introduce
the likeness of its heat into some passive matter, and the end of the
builder is to introduce into matter the likeness of his art. Whatever
good ensues from this, if it be intended, may be called the remote end of
the agent. Now just as in things made, external matter is fashioned by
art, so in things done, human deeds are fashioned by prudence.
Accordingly we must conclude that the brave man intends as his proximate
end to reproduce in action a likeness of his habit, for he intends to act
in accordance with his habit: but his remote end is happiness or God.
This suffices for the Replies to the Objections: for the First Objection
proceeds as though the very essence of a habit were its end, instead of
the likeness of the habit in act, as stated. The other two objections
consider the ultimate end.
Article 8: Whether the brave man delights in his act?
Objection 1: It seems that the brave man delights in his act. For "delight is
the unhindered action of a connatural habit" (Ethic. x, 4,6,8). Now the
brave deed proceeds from a habit which acts after the manner of nature.
Therefore the brave man takes pleasure in his act.
Objection 2: Further, Ambrose, commenting on Gal. 5:22, "But the fruit of the
Spirit is charity, joy, peace," says that deeds of virtue are called
"fruits because they refresh man's mind with a holy and pure delight."
Now the brave man performs acts of virtue. Therefore he takes pleasure in
Objection 3: Further, the weaker is overcome by the stronger. Now the brave
man has a stronger love for the good of virtue than for his own body,
which he exposes to the danger of death. Therefore the delight in the
good of virtue banishes the pain of the body; and consequently the brave
man does all things with pleasure.
On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 9) that "the brave
man seems to have no delight in his act."
I answer that, As stated above (FS, Question , Articles ,4,5) where we were
treating of the passions, pleasure is twofold; one is bodily, resulting
from bodily contact, the other is spiritual, resulting from an
apprehension of the soul. It is the latter which properly results from
deeds of virtue, since in them we consider the good of reason. Now the
principal act of fortitude is to endure, not only certain things that are
unpleasant as apprehended by the soul---for instance, the loss of bodily
life, which the virtuous man loves not only as a natural good, but also
as being necessary for acts of virtue, and things connected with
them---but also to endure things unpleasant in respect of bodily contact,
such as wounds and blows. Hence the brave man, on one side, has something
that affords him delight, namely as regards spiritual pleasure, in the
act itself of virtue and the end thereof: while, on the other hand, he
has cause for both spiritual sorrow, in the thought of losing his life,
and for bodily pain. Hence we read (2 Macc. 6:30) that Eleazar said: "I
suffer grievous pains in body: but in soul am well content to suffer
these things because I fear Thee."
Now the sensible pain of the body makes one insensible to the spiritual
delight of virtue, without the copious assistance of God's grace, which
has more strength to raise the soul to the Divine things in which it
delights, than bodily pains have to afflict it. Thus the Blessed
Tiburtius, while walking barefoot on the burning coal, said that he felt
as though he were walking on roses.
Yet the virtue of fortitude prevents the reason from being entirely
overcome by bodily pain. And the delight of virtue overcomes spiritual
sorrow, inasmuch as a man prefers the good of virtue to the life of the
body and to whatever appertains thereto. Hence the Philosopher says
(Ethic. ii, 3; iii, 9) that "it is not necessary for a brave man to
delight so as to perceive his delight, but it suffices for him not to be
Reply to Objection 1: The vehemence of the action or passion of one power hinders
the action of another power: wherefore the pain in his senses hinders the
mind of the brave man from feeling delight in its proper operation.
Reply to Objection 2: Deeds of virtue are delightful chiefly on account of their
end; yet they can be painful by their nature, and this is principally the
case with fortitude. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 9) that "to
perform deeds with pleasure does not happen in all virtues, except in so
far as one attains the end."
Reply to Objection 3: In the brave man spiritual sorrow is overcome by the
delight of virtue. Yet since bodily pain is more sensible, and the
sensitive apprehension is more in evidence to man, it follows that
spiritual pleasure in the end of virtue fades away, so to speak, in the
presence of great bodily pain.
Article 9: Whether fortitude deals chiefly with sudden occurrences?
Objection 1: It seems that fortitude does not deal chiefly with sudden
occurrences. For it would seem that things occur suddenly when they are
unforeseen. But Tully says (De Invent. Rhet. ii) that "fortitude is the
deliberate facing of danger, and bearing of toil." Therefore fortitude
does not deal chiefly with sudden happenings.
Objection 2: Further, Ambrose says (De Offic. i): "The brave man is not
unmindful of what may be likely to happen; he takes measures beforehand,
and looks out as from the conning-tower of his mind, so as to encounter
the future by his forethought, lest he should say afterwards: This befell
me because I did not think it could possibly happen." But it is not
possible to be prepared for the future in the case of sudden occurrences.
Therefore the operation of fortitude is not concerned with sudden
Objection 3: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 8) that the "brave man
is of good hope." But hope looks forward to the future, which is
inconsistent with sudden occurrences. Therefore the operation of
fortitude is not concerned with sudden happenings.
On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 8) that "fortitude is
chiefly about sudden dangers of death."
I answer that, Two things must be considered in the operation of
fortitude. One is in regard to its choice: and thus fortitude is not
about sudden occurrences: because the brave man chooses to think
beforehand of the dangers that may arise, in order to be able to
withstand them, or to bear them more easily: since according to Gregory
(Hom. xxv in Evang.), "the blow that is foreseen strikes with less force,
and we are able more easily to bear earthly wrongs, if we are forearmed
with the shield of foreknowledge." The other thing to be considered in
the operation of fortitude regards the display of the virtuous habit: and
in this way fortitude is chiefly about sudden occurrences, because
according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 8) the habit of fortitude is
displayed chiefly in sudden dangers: since a habit works by way of
nature. Wherefore if a person without forethought does that which
pertains to virtue, when necessity urges on account of some sudden
danger, this is a very strong proof that habitual fortitude is firmly
seated in his mind.
Yet is it possible for a person even without the habit of fortitude, to
prepare his mind against danger by long forethought: in the same way as a
brave man prepares himself when necessary. This suffices for the Replies
to the Objections.
Article 10: Whether the brave man makes use of anger in his action?
Objection 1: It seems that the brave man does not use anger in his action. For
no one should employ as an instrument of his action that which he cannot
use at will. Now man cannot use anger at will, so as to take it up and
lay it aside when he will. For, as the Philosopher says (De Memoria ii),
when a bodily passion is in movement, it does not rest at once just as
one wishes. Therefore a brave man should not employ anger for his action.
Objection 2: Further, if a man is competent to do a thing by himself, he
should not seek the assistance of something weaker and more imperfect.
Now the reason is competent to achieve by itself deeds of fortitude,
wherein anger is impotent: wherefore Seneca says (De Ira i): "Reason by
itself suffices not only to make us prepared for action but also to
accomplish it. In fact is there greater folly than for reason to seek
help from anger? the steadfast from the unstaid, the trusty from the
untrustworthy, the healthy from the sick?" Therefore a brave man should
not make use of anger.
Objection 3: Further, just as people are more earnest in doing deeds of
fortitude on account of anger, so are they on account of sorrow or
desire; wherefore the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 8) that wild beasts
are incited to face danger through sorrow or pain, and adulterous persons
dare many things for the sake of desire. Now fortitude employs neither
sorrow nor desire for its action. Therefore in like manner it should not
On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 8) that "anger helps
I answer that, As stated above (FS, Question , Article ), concerning anger and
the other passions there was a difference of opinion between the
Peripatetics and the Stoics. For the Stoics excluded anger and all other
passions of the soul from the mind of a wise or good man: whereas the
Peripatetics, of whom Aristotle was the chief, ascribed to virtuous men
both anger and the other passions of the soul albeit modified by reason.
And possibly they differed not in reality but in their way of speaking.
For the Peripatetics, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ), gave the name of
passions to all the movements of the sensitive appetite, however they may
comport themselves. And since the sensitive appetite is moved by the
command of reason, so that it may cooperate by rendering action more
prompt, they held that virtuous persons should employ both anger and the
other passions of the soul, modified according to the dictate of reason.
On the other hand, the Stoics gave the name of passions to certain
immoderate emotions of the sensitive appetite, wherefore they called them
sicknesses or diseases, and for this reason severed them altogether from
Accordingly the brave man employs moderate anger for his action, but not
Reply to Objection 1: Anger that is moderated in accordance with reason is
subject to the command of reason: so that man uses it at his will, which
would not be the case were it immoderate.
Reply to Objection 2: Reason employs anger for its action, not as seeking its
assistance, but because it uses the sensitive appetite as an instrument,
just as it uses the members of the body. Nor is it unbecoming for the
instrument to be more imperfect than the principal agent, even as the
hammer is more imperfect than the smith. Moreover, Seneca was a follower
of the Stoics, and the above words were aimed by him directly at
Reply to Objection 3: Whereas fortitude, as stated above (Article ), has two acts,
namely endurance and aggression, it employs anger, not for the act of
endurance, because the reason by itself performs this act, but for the
act of aggression, for which it employs anger rather than the other
passions, since it belongs to anger to strike at the cause of sorrow, so
that it directly cooperates with fortitude in attacking. On the other
hand, sorrow by its very nature gives way to the thing that hurts; though
accidentally it helps in aggression, either as being the cause of anger,
as stated above (FS, Question , Article ), or as making a person expose himself
to danger in order to escape from sorrow. In like manner desire, by its
very nature, tends to a pleasurable good, to which it is directly
contrary to withstand danger: yet accidentally sometimes it helps one to
attack, in so far as one prefers to risk dangers rather than lack
pleasure. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 5): "Of all the cases
in which fortitude arises from a passion, the most natural is when a man
is brave through anger, making his choice and acting for a purpose," i.e.
for a due end; "this is true fortitude."
Article 11: Whether fortitude is a cardinal virtue?
Objection 1: It seems that fortitude is not a cardinal virtue. For, as stated
above (Article ), anger is closely allied with fortitude. Now anger is not
accounted a principal passion; nor is daring which belongs to fortitude.
Therefore neither should fortitude be reckoned a cardinal virtue.
Objection 2: Further, the object of virtue is good. But the direct object of
fortitude is not good, but evil, for it is endurance of evil and toil, as
Tully says (De Invent. Rhet. ii). Therefore fortitude is not a cardinal
Objection 3: Further, the cardinal virtues are about those things upon which
human life is chiefly occupied, just as a door turns upon a hinge
[cardine]. But fortitude is about dangers of death which are of rare
occurrence in human life. Therefore fortitude should not be reckoned a
cardinal or principal virtue.
On the contrary, Gregory (Moral. xxii), Ambrose in his commentary on Lk.
6:20, and Augustine (De Moribus Eccl. xv), number fortitude among the
four cardinal or principal virtues.
I answer that, As stated above (FS, Question , Articles ,4), those virtues are
said to be cardinal or principal which have a foremost claim to that
which belongs to the virtues in common. And among other conditions of
virtue in general one is that it is stated to "act steadfastly,"
according to Ethic. ii, 4. Now fortitude above all lays claim to praise
for steadfastness. Because he that stands firm is so much the more
praised, as he is more strongly impelled to fall or recede. Now man is
impelled to recede from that which is in accordance with reason, both by
the pleasing good and the displeasing evil. But bodily pain impels him
more strongly than pleasure. For Augustine says (Questions , qu. 36): "There
is none that does not shun pain more than he desires pleasure. For we
perceive that even the most untamed beasts are deterred from the greatest
pleasures by the fear of pain." And among the pains of the mind and
dangers those are mostly feared which lead to death, and it is against
them that the brave man stands firm. Therefore fortitude is a cardinal
Reply to Objection 1: Daring and anger do not cooperate with fortitude in its act
of endurance, wherein its steadfastness is chiefly commended: for it is
by that act that the brave man curbs fear, which is a principal passion,
as stated above (FS, Question , Article ).
Reply to Objection 2: Virtue is directed to the good of reason which it behooves
to safeguard against the onslaught of evils. And fortitude is directed to
evils of the body, as contraries which it withstands, and to the good of
reason, as the end, which it intends to safeguard.
Reply to Objection 3: Though dangers of death are of rare occurrence, yet the
occasions of those dangers occur frequently, since on account of justice
which he pursues, and also on account of other good deeds, man encounters
Article 12: Whether fortitude excels among all other virtues?
Objection 1: It seems that fortitude excels among all other virtues. For
Ambrose says (De Offic. i): "Fortitude is higher, so to speak, than the
Objection 2: Further, virtue is about that which is difficult and good. But fortitude is about most difficult things. Therefore it is the greatest of the virtues.
Objection 3: Further, the person of a man is more excellent than his
possessions. But fortitude is about a man's person, for it is this that a
man exposes to the danger of death for the good of virtue: whereas
justice and the other moral virtues are about other and external things.
Therefore fortitude is the chief of the moral virtues.
Objection 4: On the contrary, Tully says (De Offic. i): "Justice is the most
resplendent of the virtues and gives its name to a good man."
Objection 5: Further, the Philosopher says (Rhet. i, 19): "Those virtues must
needs be greatest which are most profitable to others." Now liberality
seems to be more useful than fortitude. Therefore it is a greater virtue.
I answer that, As Augustine says (De Trin. vi), "In things that are
great, but not in bulk, to be great is to be good": wherefore the better
a virtue the greater it is. Now reason's good is man's good, according to
Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv) prudence, since it is a perfection of reason,
has the good essentially: while justice effects this good, since it
belongs to justice to establish the order of reason in all human affairs:
whereas the other virtues safeguard this good, inasmuch as they moderate
the passions, lest they lead man away from reason's good. As to the order
of the latter, fortitude holds the first place, because fear of dangers
of death has the greatest power to make man recede from the good of
reason: and after fortitude comes temperance, since also pleasures of
touch excel all others in hindering the good of reason. Now to be a thing
essentially ranks before effecting it, and the latter ranks before
safeguarding it by removing obstacles thereto. Wherefore among the
cardinal virtues, prudence ranks first, justice second, fortitude third,
temperance fourth, and after these the other virtues.
Reply to Objection 1: Ambrose places fortitude before the other virtues, in
respect of a certain general utility, inasmuch as it is useful both in
warfare, and in matters relating to civil or home life. Hence he begins
by saying (De Offic. i): "Now we come to treat of fortitude, which being
higher so to speak than the others, is applicable both to warlike and to
Reply to Objection 2: Virtue essentially regards the good rather than the
difficult. Hence the greatness of a virtue is measured according to its
goodness rather than its difficulty.
Reply to Objection 3: A man does not expose his person to dangers of death except
in order to safeguard justice: wherefore the praise awarded to fortitude
depends somewhat on justice. Hence Ambrose says (De Offic. i) that
"fortitude without justice is an occasion of injustice; since the
stronger a man is the more ready is he to oppress the weaker."
The Fourth argument is granted.
Reply to Objection 5: Liberality is useful in conferring certain particular
favors: whereas a certain general utility attaches to fortitude, since it
safeguards the whole order of justice. Hence the Philosopher says (Rhet.
i, 9) that "just and brave men are most beloved, because they are most
useful in war and peace."