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Now the end of every separate act of working is that which accords with the habit, and so to the Brave man Courage; which is honourable; therefore such is also the End, since the character of each is determined by the End.
So honour is the motive from which the Brave man withstands things fearful and performs the acts which accord with Courage.
Of the characters on the side of Excess, he who exceeds in utter absence of fear has no appropriate name (I observed before that many states have none), but he would be a madman or inaccessible to pain if he feared nothing, neither earthquake, nor the billows, as they tell of the Celts.
He again who exceeds in confidence in respect of things fearful is rash. He is thought moreover to be a braggart, and to advance unfounded claims to the character of Brave: the relation which the Brave man really bears to objects of fear this man wishes to appear to bear, and so imitates him in whatever points he can; for this reason most of them exhibit a curious mixture of rashness and cowardice; because, affecting rashness in these circumstances, they do not withstand what is truly fearful.
III6a] The man moreover who exceeds in feeling fear is a coward, since there attach to him the circumstances of fearing wrong objects, in wrong ways, and so forth. He is deficient also in feeling confidence, but he is most clearly seen as exceeding in the case of pains; he is a fainthearted kind of man, for he fears all things: the Brave man is just the contrary, for boldness is the property of the light-hearted and hopeful.
So the coward, the rash, and the Brave man have exactly the same object-matter, but stand differently related to it: the two first-mentioned respectively exceed and are deficient, the last is in a mean state and as he ought to be. The rash again are precipitate, and, being eager before danger, when actually in it fall away, while the Brave are quick and sharp in action, but before are quiet and composed.
Well then, as has been said, Courage is a mean state in respect of objects inspiring boldness or fear, in the circumstances which have been stated, and the Brave man chooses his line and withstands danger either because to do so is honourable, or because not to do so is base. But dying to escape from poverty, or the pangs of love, or anything that is simply painful, is the act not of a Brave man but of a coward; because it is mere softness to fly from what is toilsome, and the suicide braves the terrors of death not because it is honourable but to get out of the reach of evil.
Courage proper is somewhat of the kind I have described, but there are dispositions, differing in five ways, which also bear in common parlance the name of Courage.
We will take first that which bears most resemblance to the true, the Courage of Citizenship, so named because the motives which are thought to actuate the members of a community in braving danger are the penalties and disgrace held out by the laws to cowardice, and the dignities conferred on the Brave; which is thought to be the reason why those are the bravest people among whom cowards are visited with disgrace and the Brave held in honour.
Such is the kind of Courage Homer exhibits in his characters; Diomed and Hector for example. The latter says,
“Polydamas will be the first to fix Disgrace upon me.”
“For Hector surely will hereafter say, Speaking in Troy, Tydides by my hand”—
This I say most nearly resembles the Courage before spoken of, because it arises from virtue, from a feeling of shame, and a desire of what is noble (that is, of honour), and avoidance of disgrace which is base. In the same rank one would be inclined to place those also who act under compulsion from their commanders; yet are they really lower, because not a sense of honour but fear is the motive from which they act, and what they seek to avoid is not that which is base but that which is simply painful: commanders do in fact compel their men sometimes, as Hector says (to quote Homer again),
“But whomsoever I shall find cowering afar from the fight, The teeth of dogs he shall by no means escape.”
III6h] Those commanders who station staunch troops by doubtful ones, or who beat their men if they flinch, or who draw their troops up in line with the trenches, or other similar obstacles, in their rear, do in effect the same as Hector, for they all use compulsion.
But a man is to be Brave, not on compulsion, but from a sense of honour.
In the next place, Experience and Skill in the various particulars is thought to be a species of Courage: whence Socrates also thought that Courage was knowledge.
This quality is exhibited of course by different men under different circumstances, but in warlike matters, with which we are now concerned, it is exhibited by the soldiers (“the regulars”): for there are, it would seem, many things in war of no real importance which these have been constantly used to see; so they have a show of Courage because other people are not aware of the real nature of these things. Then again by reason of their skill they are better able than any others to inflict without suffering themselves, because they are able to use their arms and have such as are most serviceable both with a view to offence and defence: so that their case is parallel to that of armed men fighting with unarmed or trained athletes with amateurs, since in contests of this kind those are the best fighters, not who are the bravest men, but who are the strongest and are in the best condition.
In fact, the regular troops come to be cowards whenever the danger is greater than their means of meeting it; supposing, for example, that they are inferior in numbers and resources: then they are the first to fly, but the mere militia stand and fall on the ground (which as you know really happened at the Hermum), for in the eyes of these flight was disgraceful and death preferable to safety bought at such a price: while “the regulars” originally went into the danger under a notion of their own superiority, but on discovering their error they took to flight, having greater fear of death than of disgrace; but this is not the feeling of the Brave man.
Thirdly, mere Animal Spirit is sometimes brought under the term Courage: they are thought to be Brave who are carried on by mere Animal Spirit, as are wild beasts against those who have wounded them, because in fact the really Brave have much Spirit, there being nothing like it for going at danger of any kind; whence those frequent expressions in Homer, “infused strength into his spirit,” “roused his strength and spirit,” or again, “and keen strength in his nostrils,” “his blood boiled:” for all these seem to denote the arousing and impetuosity of the Animal Spirit.
III7a] Now they that are truly Brave act from a sense of honour, and this Animal Spirit co-operates with them; but wild beasts from pain, that is because they have been wounded, or are frightened; since if they are quietly in their own haunts, forest or marsh, they do not attack men. Surely they are not Brave because they rush into danger when goaded on by pain and mere Spirit, without any view of the danger: else would asses be Brave when they are hungry, for though beaten they will not then leave their pasture: profligate men besides do many bold actions by reason of their lust. We may conclude then that they are not Brave who are goaded on to meet danger by pain and mere Spirit; but still this temper which arises from Animal Spirit appears to be most natural, and would be Courage of the true kind if it could have added to it moral choice and the proper motive. So men also are pained by a feeling of anger, and take pleasure in revenge; but they who fight from these causes may be good fighters, but they are not truly Brave (in that they do not act from a sense of honour, nor as reason directs, but merely from the present feeling), still they bear some resemblance to that character.