Terms of classical virtue theory

As the focus of your essay, please

1. Choose a historical figure (a dead person famous enough to be written about) or a literary character (a fictional person who has been written about); and

2. Show how he or she is an exemplar of  one  of the classical cardinal virtues, in either their ancient Greek or Latin/Christian versions, namely:

a. Wisdom (or prudence)

b. Courage (or fortitude)

c. Moderation (or temperance)

d. Justice



Your analysis should proceed through the following basic stages.

1. Begin by introducing the virtue.  Define it and give a brief exposition in terms of classical virtue theory.

2. Then briefly introduce the person.  Give his or her historical or literary context.  (Alternatively, you can introduce the person first and then the virtue.)

3. Provide a few specific examples from the person’s life that demonstrate that virtue in action and show why your person is a good exemplar.  This part should make up the bulk of your paper.

4. Close with a summary of why your selected person is a good exemplar of your chosen virtue, with any necessary qualifications added (e.g., your person may have had notable failures or shortcomings relevant to the given virtue that will need to be addressed, or your person may have displayed the chosen virtue in a way appropriate to his or her own culture but not to ours).




If your exemplar is a historical figure, you will need to consult appropriate reference works on the figure (biographies, etc.).  If your exemplar is a literary character, you will need to consult the works in which he or she appears (stories, etc.).  You will need to cite these works when giving evidence of your chosen virtue in the figure’s life.


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