Now although the same things are not fearful to everybody, there are some terrors which
we pronounce beyond human endurance, and these of course are fearful to everyone in his
senses. And the terrors that man can endure differ in magnitude and degree;
as also do the situations inspiring confidence.1
But the courageous man is proof against fear so far as
man may be. Hence although he will sometimes fear even terrors not beyond man's endurance,
he will do so in the right way, and he will endure them as principle dictates, for the
sake of what is noble2
; for that is the
end at which virtue aims.
On the other hand it is
possible to fear such terrors too much, and too little; and also to fear things that are
not fearful as if they were fearful.
Error arises either
from fearing what one ought not to fear, or from fearing in the wrong manner, or at the
wrong time, or the like; and similarly with regard to occasions for confidence.
The courageous man then is he that endures or fears the right things and for the right
purpose and in the right manner and at the right time, and who shows confidence in a
similar way. （For the courageous man feels and acts as the circumstances merit,
and as principle may dictate.
And every activity aims at the end that corresponds to the disposition
of which it is the manifestation. So it is therefore with the activity of the courageous
man: his courage is noble; therefore its end is nobility, for a thing is defined by its
end; therefore the courageous man endures the terrors and dares the deeds that manifest
courage, for the sake of that which is noble.）
Of the characters that run to excess, on the other hand, he who exceeds in fearlessness
has no name （this, as we remarked before,3
is the case with many qualities）, but we should call a man mad,
or else insensitive to pain, if he feared nothing, ‘earthquake nor
as they say of the Kelts; he who exceeds in confidence
[in the face of fearful things5
The rash man is generally thought to be an
impostor, who pretends to courage which he does not possess; at least, he wishes to appear
to feel towards fearful things as the courageous man actually does feel, and therefore he
imitates him in the things in which he can.6
Hence most rash men really are cowards at heart, for they
make a bold show in situations that inspire confidence, but do not endure
He that exceeds in fear7
is a coward, for
he fears the wrong things, and in the wrong manner, and soon with the rest of the list.
He is also
deficient in confidence; but his excessive fear in face of pain is more apparent.
The coward is therefore a despondent person, being
afraid of everything; but the courageous man is just the opposite, for confidence belongs
to a sanguine temperament.
The coward, the rash man, and the courageous man are therefore concerned with the same
objects, but are differently disposed towards them: the two former exceed and fall short,
the last keeps the mean and the right disposition. The rash, moreover, are impetuous, and
though eager before the danger comes they hang back at the critical moment; whereas the
courageous are keen at the time of action but calm beforehand.
As has been said then, Courage is the observance of the mean in relation to things that
inspire confidence or fear, in the circumstances stated8
; and it is confident and endures9
because it is noble
to do so or base not to do so. But to seek death in order to escape from poverty, or the
pangs of love, or from pain or sorrow, is not the act of a courageous man, but rather of a
coward; for it is weakness to fly from troubles, and the suicide does not endure death
because it is noble to do so, but to escape evil.