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On Courage, Chapters 1–4

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Chapter Summary

In Plato's ideal state, courage is manifested not in the citizen body as a whole, but only among those who serve in the military, an elite class known as the Guardians, which is distinguished from the larger, moneymaking class from which they derive, the Producers. Those admitted to the former must demonstrate certain physical abilities, as well as courage combined with high-spiritedness, by which Plato denotes a complex cluster of attributes encompassing fearlessness, assertiveness, indignation, and ambition for glory and revenge. The contents of De fortitudine fall into two major sections: courage can be manifested either in peacetime or in wartime. On courage in facing illness, Cicero names Appius and C. Drusus as examples of men who were able to make important public contributions despite their having disabilities.

Keywords:courage; peacetime; Plato



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