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Re: definition of virtue?

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  • dnrlsa@...
    Try Tolkien s seminal essay “The monsters & the critics” available in pdf from a couple of places on the Web. Also the opposite of virtue is sin so see if
    Message 1 of 12 , Apr 1, 2013
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      Try Tolkien's seminal essay “The monsters & the critics” available in pdf from a couple of places on the Web.

      Also the opposite of virtue is sin so see if you can get hold of Morton W Bloomfield's tome on the Seven Deadly Sins.

      Good luck. It could be an interesting and rich topic.

      David Levey
      Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
    • Steve Hayes
      ... What is the academic definition of heroism you are working from? I may be wrong, but I think that in Christian theology there is an ambivalence about both
      Message 2 of 12 , Apr 6, 2013
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        On 1 Apr 2013 at 12:06, Andrea Luxenburg wrote:

        > I am writing - will be writing - an essay on virtue and heroism in Beowulf,
        > working from an academic definition of hero/heroism. Any definitions you can
        > think of from Tolkien or Lewis? Of course, Chesterton or MacDonald would also
        > work. I might even consider Augustine or Boethius, if I don't have to read
        > the entire collection to find the definition. (Not that I don't want to, but
        > there are limits on my time.)

        What is the academic definition of heroism you are working from?

        I may be wrong, but I think that in Christian theology there is an
        ambivalence about both heroism and virtue, and, though I haven't studied
        Beowulf closely (and haven't read it for a long time) I suspect that in it
        the pagan notion of the virtue of herosim has been somewhat undermined by the
        Christian notions of mercy, compassion and love.

        This is seen in Tolkien too, for example in the well-known passage in the
        Lord of the Rings where Frodo says that it is a pity that Bilbo did not kill
        Gollum when he had the chance, and Gandalf remarks that it was pity that
        stayed his hand. And then there is George MacDonald saying (in "Lilith", I
        think), that pity has, but is not love.

        Is it only Christian writers who think that herosim should be tempered by
        mercy? It is it something inherent in the concept of heroism itself?


        --
        Steve Hayes
        E-mail: shayes@...
        Blog: http://khanya.wordpress.com
        Phone: 083-342-3563 or 012-333-6727
        Fax: 086-548-2525
      • Andrea Luxenburg
        What is the academic definition of heroism you are working from? ****That s just it - I need to find one to use. I may be wrong, but I think that in Christian
        Message 3 of 12 , Apr 9, 2013
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          What is the academic definition of heroism you are working from?
           
          ****That's just it - I need to find one to use.

          I may be wrong, but I think that in Christian theology there is an
          ambivalence about both heroism and virtue, and, though I haven't studied
          Beowulf closely (and haven't read it for a long time) I suspect that in it
          the pagan notion of the virtue of herosim has been somewhat undermined by the
          Christian notions of mercy, compassion and love.

          ****I'm not sure what you mean by an ambivalence about virtue - I thought we were all in favor of it?
           
          *I also see in Beowulf a tension between the pagan ideals and the Christian virtues, and that is part of what I want to explore. 
           
          Is it only Christian writers who think that herosim should be tempered by
          mercy? It is it something inherent in the concept of heroism itself?

          ****Good question.  What about in the Iliad, when just about everyone seemed to think Achilles should have pity on Hector's family and return his corpse to them?  I think even in pagan heroism there is an element of noblesse oblige, that because I am strong and brave I should show mercy...but I'm not altogether sure how prominent that idea is.
           
          Thanks for your input, Steven.  It is always helpful to hear other people's points of view.
           
          Andromeda
        • Steve Hayes
          ... To quote a Western hymn (from a somewhat rusty memory, haven t sung it for 25 years or more): These keep the guard amid Salem s dear bowers Thrones,
          Message 4 of 12 , Apr 9, 2013
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            On 9 Apr 2013 at 14:22, Andrea Luxenburg wrote:

            > What is the academic definition of heroism you are working from?
            >
            > ****That's just it - I need to find one to use.
            >
            > I may be wrong, but I think that in Christian theology there is an
            > ambivalence about both heroism and virtue, and, though I haven't studied
            > Beowulf closely (and haven't read it for a long time) I suspect that in it the
            > pagan notion of the virtue of herosim has been somewhat undermined by the
            > Christian notions of mercy, compassion and love.
            >
            > ****I'm not sure what you mean by an ambivalence about virtue - I thought we
            > were all in favor of it?

            To quote a Western hymn (from a somewhat rusty memory, haven't sung it for 25
            years or more):

            These keep the guard amid Salem's dear bowers
            Thrones, principalities, virtues and powers

            I just checked the "Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church", but they just
            have "See Cardinal Virtues" and "See Theological Virtues" which isn't very
            helpful, so here are a few random and half-baked thoughts that you may or may
            not want to pick up and bake.

            Virtue suggests manliness, a peculiarly male characteristic, perhaps related
            to machismo, and thus perhaps to Teutonic notions of heroism.

            I am reminded of a poem I once learned in primary school, though it was about
            Celtic heroism rather than Germanic, and also seen in Victorian retrospect.

            The War-song of Dinas Vawr
            By Thomas Love Peacock

            The mountain sheep are sweeter,
            But the valley sheep are fatter;
            We therefore deemed it meeter
            To carry off the latter.
            We made an expedition;
            We met a host, and quelled it;
            We forced a strong position,
            And killed the men who held it.

            On Dyfed's richest valley,
            Where herds of kine were browsing,
            We made a mighty sally,
            To furnish our carousing.
            Fierce warriors rushed to meet us;
            We met them, and o'erthrew them:
            They struggled hard to beat us;
            But we conquered them, and slew them.

            As we drove our prize at leisure,
            The king marched forth to catch us:
            His rage surpassed all measure,
            But his people could not match us.
            He fled to his hall-pillars;
            And, ere our force we led off,
            Some sacked his house and cellars,
            While others cut his head off.

            We there, in strife bewild'ring,
            Spilt blood enough to swim in:
            We orphaned many children,
            And widowed many women.
            The eagles and the ravens
            We glutted with our foemen;
            The heroes and the cravens,
            The spearmen and the bowmen.

            We brought away from battle,
            And much their land bemoaned them,
            Two thousand head of cattle,
            And the head of him who owned them:
            Ednyfed, king of Dyfed,
            His head was borne before us;
            His wine and beasts supplied our feasts,
            And his overthrow, our chorus.

            That, I suspect, reflects the pagan notion of heroic virtue, or virtuous
            heroism, untempered by any Christian notions of mercy.

            In effect, it is a glorification of armed robbery, which, in the eyes of the
            narrator of the poem at least, is virtuous.

            If one considers "the Dionysian nine" (cf Williams's "The place of the lion")
            I think virtue corresponds to exousia, the authority with which Jesus spoke,
            and not as the scribes. In Romans 13:1 St Paul says "Let every soul be
            subject to the superior virtues", yet in Ephesians 6:12 he refers to virtues
            as spiritual powers of wickedness in the heavenlies, against which Christians
            struggle.

            So I would say "virtue" is ambivalent, at least from a Christian point of
            view.


            --
            Steve Hayes
            E-mail: shayes@...
            Blog: http://khanya.wordpress.com
            Phone: 083-342-3563 or 012-333-6727
            Fax: 086-548-2525
          • Dan Drake
            ... It s useful to be reminded of that poem, which I have always found loathsome since I first heard any of it beyond the first two lines, with their clever,
            Message 5 of 12 , Apr 10, 2013
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              On Apr 9, 2013, at 8:56 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:

              > That, I suspect, reflects the pagan notion of heroic virtue, or virtuous
              > heroism, untempered by any Christian notions of mercy.
              >
              > In effect, it is a glorification of armed robbery, which, in the eyes of the
              > narrator of the poem at least, is virtuous.

              It's useful to be reminded of that poem, which I have always found loathsome since I first heard any of it beyond the first two lines, with their clever, jolly-rogue quality. ("What? The guy is SERIOUS?" Sheeesh!" IMHO.)

              But there seems to be another thread to this matter, which hasn't been touched on. It's an account that I picked up a number of years ago, from a couple of sources, though I can't recall which, and it also seems to be just in the air to some extent.

              In this account the whole Chivalric Ideal is a more or less conscious attempt to get at the ruffians, bold in battle and highly skilled, who dominated Europe in the early Middle Ages, and civilize them by imbuing them with Christian virtue. If this is accurate, the effort certainly succeeded on a literary level, and probably on a practical one as well. As to at least the part of the ideal that constituted romanic love, I recall something of the sort from C. S. Lewis; but I don't remember whether he said much of the matter of valor, which concerns us here.

              Am I missing the obvious, or stating the too obvious, or maybe both?


              --
              Dan Drake
              dd@...
              http://www.dandrake.com/index.html
            • Steve Hayes
              ... No, I think it s an interesting point. If you read Charles Williams s book on Witchcraft you can see how the pagan Germans used to burn suspected witches
              Message 6 of 12 , Apr 10, 2013
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                On 10 Apr 2013 at 10:44, Dan Drake wrote:

                >
                > On Apr 9, 2013, at 8:56 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:
                >
                > > That, I suspect, reflects the pagan notion of heroic virtue, or virtuous
                > > heroism, untempered by any Christian notions of mercy.
                > >
                > > In effect, it is a glorification of armed robbery, which, in the eyes of the
                > > narrator of the poem at least, is virtuous.
                >
                > It's useful to be reminded of that poem, which I have always found loathsome
                > since I first heard any of it beyond the first two lines, with their clever,
                > jolly-rogue quality. ("What? The guy is SERIOUS?" Sheeesh!" IMHO.)
                >
                > But there seems to be another thread to this matter, which hasn't been touched
                > on. It's an account that I picked up a number of years ago, from a couple of
                > sources, though I can't recall which, and it also seems to be just in the air
                > to some extent.
                >
                > In this account the whole Chivalric Ideal is a more or less conscious attempt
                > to get at the ruffians, bold in battle and highly skilled, who dominated
                > Europe in the early Middle Ages, and civilize them by imbuing them with
                > Christian virtue. If this is accurate, the effort certainly succeeded on a
                > literary level, and probably on a practical one as well. As to at least the
                > part of the ideal that constituted romanic love, I recall something of the
                > sort from C. S. Lewis; but I don't remember whether he said much of the matter
                > of valor, which concerns us here.
                >
                > Am I missing the obvious, or stating the too obvious, or maybe both?

                No, I think it's an interesting point.

                If you read Charles Williams's book on "Witchcraft" you can see how the pagan
                Germans used to burn suspected witches because they thought they were
                incorrigible. Christianising them inculcated a more merciful attitude, and
                punished witchcraft accusations as much as the deed. That lasted about 5
                centuries, just about until the height of the age of chivalry, perhaps. Then
                it suddenly broke down in the Great European Witch Hunt which really got
                going in the 15th century -- wasn't that about the time Malory et al were
                writing about chivalry?




                --
                Steve Hayes
                E-mail: shayes@...
                Blog: http://khanya.wordpress.com
                Phone: 083-342-3563 or 012-333-6727
                Fax: 086-548-2525
              • Dan Drake
                ... Now there s a connection I never made. Along with a major rise of Inquisitions, for which there are some obvious historical reasons (purging Spain of the
                Message 7 of 12 , Apr 10, 2013
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                  On Apr 10, 2013, at 11:21 AM, Steve Hayes wrote:

                  > Then
                  > it suddenly broke down in the Great European Witch Hunt which really got
                  > going in the 15th century -- wasn't that about the time Malory et al were
                  > writing about chivalry?

                  Now there's a connection I never made. Along with a major rise of Inquisitions, for which there are some obvious historical reasons (purging Spain of the Paynim Horde; Luther; Gutenberg; etc etc). Connections among all these are well beyond me to analyze, though.

                  --
                  Dan Drake
                  dd@...
                  http://www.dandrake.com/index.html
                • Graham Darling
                  See C.S. Lewis The Necessity of Chivalry , originally /Time and Tide/, 1940-08-17, vol 21, p 841; reprinted in /Present Concerns/, 1986, p 13;
                  Message 8 of 12 , Apr 10, 2013
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                    See C.S. Lewis "The Necessity of Chivalry", originally Time and Tide, 1940-08-17, vol 21, p 841; reprinted in Present Concerns, 1986, p 13; http://www.amazon.com/dp/0156027852/ref=cm_sw_su_dp#reader_0156027852 .

                    The Four Cardinal Virtues (common to all humanity: see Plato The Republic,
                    Steph 427ff) are Justice, Prudence (Wisdom), Temperance (Self-Mastery) and Fortitude.

                    The Three Theological Virtues (special to Christians) are Faith, Hope and Love (Charity).

                    On 2013-04-10 10:44 , Dan Drake wrote:
                    On Apr 9, 2013, at 8:56 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:
                    
                    
                    That, I suspect, reflects the pagan notion of heroic virtue, or virtuous 
                    heroism, untempered by any Christian notions of mercy. 
                    
                    In effect, it is a glorification of armed robbery, which, in the eyes of the 
                    narrator of the poem at least, is virtuous.
                    
                    It's useful to be reminded of that poem, which I have always found loathsome since I first heard any of it beyond the first two lines, with their clever, jolly-rogue quality. ("What? The guy is SERIOUS?" Sheeesh!" IMHO.) 
                    
                    But there seems to be another thread to this matter, which hasn't been touched on. It's an account that I picked up a number of years ago, from a couple of sources, though I can't recall which, and it also seems to be just in the air to some extent.
                    
                    In this account the whole Chivalric Ideal is a more or less conscious attempt to get at the ruffians, bold in battle and highly skilled, who dominated Europe in the early Middle Ages, and civilize them by imbuing them with Christian virtue. If this is accurate, the effort certainly succeeded on a literary level, and probably on a practical one as well. As to at least the part of the ideal that constituted romanic love, I recall something of the sort from C. S. Lewis; but I don't remember whether he said much of the matter of valor, which concerns us here.
                    
                    Am I missing the obvious, or stating the too obvious, or maybe both?
                    -GD
                    -- 
                    
                    Mr. Graham Darling, PhD
                    1007-D Gilmore Ave.
                    Burnaby, BC   V5C 4S4
                    Canada
                    
                    Phone 778-836-7122
                    Email darlingg@...
                    
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