Ancient Virtue

Michael Moriarty

in Disguised Vices

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199589371
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191728808 | DOI:
Ancient Virtue

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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The chapter examines the discussion of virtue in Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, and Plutarch. It shows how these writers put forward criteria whereby we may distinguish between apparent and true virtue. The key conception here is that virtue is a disposition (a state of character) to perform praiseworthy deeds for their intrinsic merit, and not for any gain or glory that might arise. Such deeds must be voluntary, and not determined by passion. Seneca’s more exacting Stoic ethic is then described, and certain similarities are noted between his moral preoccupations and those of Christianity.

Keywords: Plato; Aristotle; Cicero; Seneca; Plutarch; disposition

Chapter.  25232 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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