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Chapter Summary

The scheme of the four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance; their order may vary) counts among the most celebrated philosophical concepts that the Latin Middle Ages borrowed from the ancient world. Latin Christian authors adopted the scheme from the late fourth century and even coined the name of the cardinal virtues, which is absent from classical sources. Most classical authors considered the four virtues as attitudes to be developed through study and practice, either in public life or in the retired existence of the wise. The principal aim of this study is to examine the significance of the cardinal virtues in the moral thought of Western Christendom from its patristic beginnings until the Renaissance era, most notably in relation to the differentiation of secularized and religious conceptions ofmorality which developed from the twelfth century.

Keywords: cardinal virtues; latin Christian; middle ages; renaissance era



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