The Info List - Cardinal Virtues

--- Advertisement ---

Four cardinal virtues were recognized in classical antiquity and in traditional Christian

(φρόνησις, phronēsis; Latin: prudentia; also Wisdom, Sophia, sapientia), the ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time Courage
(ἀνδρεία, andreia; Latin: fortitudo): also termed fortitude, forbearance, strength, endurance, and the ability to confront fear, uncertainty, and intimidation Temperance (σωφροσύνη, sōphrosynē; Latin: temperantia): also known as restraint, the practice of self-control, abstention, discretion, and moderation tempering the appetition, hence the meaning chastity. Sōphrosynē can also be translated as sound-mindedness. Justice
(δικαιοσύνη, dikaiosynē; Latin: iustitia): also considered as fairness, the most extensive and most important virtue;[1] the Greek word also having the meaning righteousness

These virtues derive initially from Plato's scheme, discussed in Republic Book IV, 426–435 (and see Protagoras 330b, which also includes piety (hosiotes)). Cicero
expanded on them, and Saint Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, and Thomas Aquinas[2] adapted them while adding a set of theological virtues. The term "cardinal" comes from the Latin cardo (hinge);[3] virtues are so called because they are regarded as the basic virtues required for a virtuous life. They also relate to the Quadrivium.


1 In classical antiquity 2 In Christian
tradition 3 Allegory 4 See also 5 Notes 6 References 7 External links

In classical antiquity[edit] The four cardinal virtues appear as a group (sometimes included in larger lists) long before they are later given this title. Plato
identified the four cardinal virtues with the classes of the city described in The Republic, and with the faculties of man. Plato narrates a discussion of the character of a good city where the following is agreed upon. “Clearly, then, it will be wise, brave, temperate [literally: healthy-minded], and just.” (427e; see also 435b) Temperance was common to all classes, but primarily associated with the producing classes, the farmers and craftsmen, and with the animal appetites, to whom no special virtue was assigned; fortitude was assigned to the warrior class and to the spirited element in man; prudence to the rulers and to reason. Justice
stands outside the class system and divisions of man, and rules the proper relationship among the three of them. Plato
sometimes (e.g., Protagoras 349b; cf. 324e, 329c, 330b, 331a-c) lists holiness (hosiotes, eusebeia, aidos) amongst the cardinal virtues. He especially associates holiness with justice, but leaves their precise relationship unexplained. In Aristotle's Rhetoric we read: “The forms of Virtue
are justice, courage, temperance, magnificence, magnanimity, liberality, gentleness, prudence, wisdom.” (Rhetoric 1366b1) The Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero
(106–43 BC), like Plato, limits the list to four virtues:

may be defined as a habit of mind (animi) in harmony with reason and the order of nature. It has four parts: wisdom (prudentiam), justice, courage, temperance.” (De Inventione, II, LIII [4])

discusses these further in De Officiis
De Officiis
(I, V and following). The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
discusses these in Book V:12 of Meditations
and views them as the "goods" that a person should identify in one's own mind, as opposed to "wealth or things which conduce to luxury or prestige."[5] The cardinal virtues are listed in the Bible. The deuterocanonical book Wisdom
of Solomon 8:7 reads, "She [Wisdom] teaches temperance, and prudence, and justice, and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in life." They are also found in the Biblical apocrypha. 4 Maccabees
4 Maccabees
1:18–19 relates: “Now the kinds of wisdom are right judgment, justice, courage, and self-control. Right judgment is supreme over all of these since by means of it reason rules over the emotions.” Catholic moral philosophy drew from all of these sources when developing its reflections on the virtues. In Christian

Part of a series on

Thomas Aquinas


Scholasticism Apophatic theology Divine simplicity Quinque viae Beatific vision Actus purus Sacraments Correspondence theory Hylomorphism Substance theory (ousia) Substantial form Quiddity (essence / accident nature) Peripatetic axiom Principle of double effect Cardinal / Theological / Intellectual virtues Natural law


Just war Just price Concupiscence Analytical Thomism


Summa Theologica

Treatise on Law

Summa contra Gentiles Contra Errores Graecorum Commentaries on Aristotle


Aristotle St. Paul Pseudo-Dionysius St. Augustine St. Boethius Avicenna Peter Lombard Averroes Maimonides St. Albertus Magnus Reginald of Piperno

Related topics

Pange Lingua Aristotelianism Dominican Order School of Salamanca Catholic theology Doctor of the Church Empiricism Neo-Thomism Æterni Patris

Catholicism portal Philosophy portal

v t e

St. Ambrose
St. Ambrose
(330s–397 AD) was the first to use the expression “cardinal virtues.” “And we know that there are four cardinal virtues temperance, justice, prudence, fortitude.” (Commentary on Luke, V, 62) St. Augustine, discussing the morals of the church, described them:

For these four virtues (would that all felt their influence in their minds as they have their names in their mouths!), I should have no hesitation in defining them: that temperance is love giving itself entirely to that which is loved; fortitude is love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object; justice is love serving only the loved object, and therefore ruling rightly; prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it. (De moribus eccl., Chap. xv)

The "cardinal" virtues are not the same as the three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity (Love), named in 1 Corinthians 13. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Because of this reference, the seven attributes are sometimes grouped as four cardinal virtues (prudence, temperance, fortitude, justice) and three heavenly graces (faith, hope, charity). Together, they comprise what is known as the seven virtues, also known as the theological virtues. While history suggests that the first four date back to Greek philosophers and were applicable to all people seeking to live moral lives, the theological virtues appear to be specific to Christians as written by Paul in The New Testament. Efforts to relate the cardinal and theological virtues differ. St. Augustine sees faith as coming under justice. Beginning with a wry comment about the moral mischief of pagan deities, he writes:

They [the pagans] have made Virtue
also a goddess, which, indeed, if it could be a goddess, had been preferable to many. And now, because it is not a goddess, but a gift of God, let it be obtained by prayer from Him, by whom alone it can be given, and the whole crowd of false gods vanishes. For as much as they have thought proper to distribute virtue into four divisions – prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance – and as each of these divisions has its own virtues, faith is among the parts of justice, and has the chief place with as many of us as know what that saying means, ‘The just shall live by faith.’ (City of God, IV, 20)

Jesuit scholars Daniel Harrington and James Keenan in their Paul and Virtue
Ethics (2010) argue for seven "new virtues" to replace the classical cardinal virtues in complementing the three theological virtues, listed as "be humble, be hospitable, be merciful, be faithful, reconcile, be vigilant, and be reliable".[6] Allegory[edit]

The Tomb of Sir John Hotham, supported by figures of the cardinal virtues.

Four cardinal virtues; Louvre, Paris. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection

The Cardinal Virtues are often depicted as female allegorical figures and were a popular subject for funerary sculpture. The attributes and names of these figures may vary according to local tradition. In many churches and artwork the Cardinal Virtues are depicted with symbolic items:

– sword, balance and scales, and a crown Temperance – wheel, bridle and reins, vegetables and fish, cup, water and wine in two jugs Fortitude – armor, club, with a lion, palm, tower, yoke, broken column Prudence
– book, scroll, mirror (occasionally attacked by a serpent)

Notable depictions include sculptures on the tomb of Francis II, Duke of Brittany and the tomb of John Hotham. They were also depicted in the garden at Edzell Castle. A humorous depiction of the four cardinal virtues appears in the children's book "Masterpiece" written by Elise Broach and illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

The cardinal virtues as depicted on the tomb of Pope Clement II
Pope Clement II
in Bamberg Cathedral

Iustitia (justice) Fortitudo (fortitude) Prudentia (prudence) Temperantia (temperance)

Allegories of the virtues on the facade of the Gesuati
church in Venice (1737)

by Gaetano Fusali

by Francesco Bonazza

Fortitude by Giuseppe Torretto

Temperance by Alvise Tagliapietra

Allegories of the virtues on the facade of La Rochelle
La Rochelle
city hall





See also[edit]

Seven cardinal sins Seven virtues Theological virtues Civic virtue Cardinal and Theological Virtues


^ "Cardinal Virtues of Plato, Augustine and Confucius". theplatonist.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.  ^ Summa Theologica
Summa Theologica
II(I).61 ^ Harper, Douglas. "cardinal". Online Etymology Dictionary.  ^ "Cicero: de Inventione II". thelatinlibrary.com.  ^ Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
(1976). Meditations. Penguin Classics trans. by Maxwell Staniforth. p. 83.  ^ Harrington, Daniel; Keenan, James (2010). Paul and Virtue
Ethics. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. pp. 125–26. 


St. Ambrose, "On the Duties of the Clergy" Book 1, chapter 24 (paragraph 115) and following St. Augustine, "Of the Morals of the Catholic Church"

External links[edit]

has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Cardinal Virtues.

 John Rickaby (1913). "Cardinal Virtues". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  Seven Virtues (atheism.com) Cardinal Virtues according to Aquinas (New Advent)

v t e

The Seven Virtues in Christian

Great Commandment; "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." – Matthew 22:35-40

Four Cardinal virtues

(Prudentia) Justice
(Iustitia) Fortitude (Fortitudo) Temperance (Temperantia)

Sources: Plato

Republic, Book IV

Cicero Ambrose Augustine of Hippo Thomas Aquinas

Three Theological virtues

Faith (Fides) Hope (Spes) Love (Caritas)

Sources: Paul the Apostle

1 Corinthians 13

Seven deadly sins

(Luxuria) Gluttony
(Gula) Greed
(Avaritia) Sloth (Acedia) Wrath (Ira) Envy
(Invidia) Pride

Source: Prudentius, Psychomachia

People: Evagrius Ponticus John Cassian Pope Gregory I Dante Alighieri Peter Binsfeld

Related concepts

Ten Commandments Eschatology Sin

Original sin

Old Covenant Hamartiology

ethics Christian
philosophy Christianity portal