Dante and the Moral Virtues

Monument to Dante Alighieri in Florence, Italy

“Our most proper fruits are the moral virtues, because in every direction they are in our power.”

Here are eleven moral virtues as summarized by Dante and as presented in Dr. Anthony Esolen’s wonderful translation of the Inferno from Dante’s Comedia (page 405, Appendix E):

1) Courage: “[W]eapon and rein to control rashness and timidity in things which bring destruction to our life.”
2) Temperance: “[R]ule and rein to our gluttony and our excessive abstinence in things which preserve our life.”
3) Liberality: “[T]he moderator of our giving and of our taking of temporal things.”
4) Munificence: “[T]he moderator of great expenditures, making the same and arresting them at a certain limit.
5) Consciousness of greatness: “[M]oderator and acquirer of great honors and fame.”
6) Proper pride: “[M]oderates and regulates us as to the honors of this world.”
7) Serenity: “[M]oderates our wrath and our excessive patience in the face of external evils.”
8) Affability: “[M]akes us pleasant in company.”
9) Frankness: “[M]oderates us in speech from vaunting ourselves beyond what we are, or depreciating ourselves beyond what we are.”
10) Eutrapelia: “[M]oderates us in sports, causing us to play them in due measure.”
11) Justice: “[D]isposes us to love and to do righteousness in all things.”

“And each of these virtues has two collateral foes, namely vices, the one in excess and the other in defect. And they themselves are the means between them; and they all spring from one principle, to wit from the habit of our right selection.”

We should all spend more time thinking this clearly. Social media and the passing thrill of notifications rob us from contemplating God, his word, his world, and ourselves carefully and helpfully. May the Lord help us be virtuous through the Spirit, for His glory, for our good, and for the good of others.

“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *