Greek Virtues

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To one who is just beginning to explore Greek and Roman societies, these two ancient civilizations seem to be very similar. After all, the people of these two cultures generally worshipped the same gods and goddesses under different names. They also tend to be portrayed very similarly through movies and television; as media represents them, both groups are made up of sandal-clad, toga-wearing people (a style that can still be recreated today with the use of a bed sheet). However, at the center of each group is a set of virtues, virtues which, when juxtaposed, reveal major differences between the two cultures and their citizens’ everyday lives. The virtues of each culture are very similar, suggesting that the virtuous Greek man would appear…show more content…
The perfect balance of the two extremities is known as the Golden Mean. An example of Aristotle’s balanced virtue is courage. He cites it as the halfway point between the traits of recklessness and cowardice. His other virtues are defined in a similar fashion and some others include “moderation, justice, generosity, expansive hospitality, greatness of soul, mildness of temper, truthfulness, easy grace, friendliness, proper judgment, perceptiveness and knowledge, and practical wisdom. Although, many Greeks may not have followed these virtues to the letter, occasionally choosing to possess excess or deficiency instead, the Greeks were considered virtuous if they remained near the Golden Mean, on the spectrum somewhere between the two extremities. Plato expressed a corresponding theory on virtues, asserting that they should all be interconnected and are all important in achieving the ideal Greek lifestyle: “The best way of life is to practice justice and every virtue in life and death.” By practicing virtues as if they were interconnected, Greek men strove to embody all the virtues of their culture because falling short on even one would prevent them from obtaining the best life possible for themselves. Thus, the Greeks practiced these values with a personal objective…show more content…
Words like responsibility and courage resurface in Roman culture as a standard for virtuous living. Two other major Roman virtues are piety and dignity. Other Roman virtues include power, humor, gentleness, perseverance, thriftiness, integrity, humanity, work ethic, wisdom, cleanliness, sternness, honesty, and loyalty. These virtues, expressed through many figures of Roman history such as the poet, Ennius, and Cicero, a philosopher, are different from the Greek virtues mainly by their purpose. Roman virtues were established to promote and honor the state, and men who sacrificed in the name of Rome were always rewarded. In the words of Ennius, “The Romans are as brave as the sky is lofty, and to them, as men of fortitude, fortune was granted.” Men in Rome were expected to live by their virtues and were constantly driven by the desire to honor their country. The virtue of manliness, in this regard, encompassed many different responsibilities and virtues, which explicitly guided men to “glory” in the name of Rome. For example, Lactantius stated in detail, the definition of the virtue and how the citizens of Rome are expected to live up to it: “Manliness…is the ability to pay the price from one’s own store of wealth; manliness is giving to honor that which is in fact due to it, to be an enemy and a hater of bad men and bad habits and, on the other hand, a defender of men of good habits or morals, to make much

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