It feels to me as though it’s more difficult to define what courage is, than it is to explain why it’s necessary.
It feels as though I’ve been confronted for years with messages saying that real courage doesn’t mean not being afraid, it means being afraid and carrying on nonetheless. That seems to suggest that there isn’t agreement on how courage relates to fear, but I think it’s fair to combine both ideas under an umbrella that says “courage is doing what you believe is right, even if it is difficult.”
From there, it seems logical that courage would be a virtue. When the right thing to do is difficult, it’s probably more important that it be done than when it’s easy. Further, recognizing courage as a virtue, I think, should help us relate to others who have “the courage of their convictions” even if we don’t share their convictions.
The words “what you believe is right” indicate the intersection that courage has with wisdom. After all, actions should be focused on achieving a goal and, if they aren’t achieving a goal, maybe continuance isn’t the right thing to do. Continuing in wrong action, in the face of adversity, can sometimes be easier than the loss of face that we assume will follow admitting error. But, in this case, the right action to perform under adversity is giving up, changing tact, adjusting the plan.
Courage, I think, differs from perseverance, in that they are opposite sides of a coin. Perseverance is that quality which enables us to continue when things are difficult. Courage, on the other hand, is the quality that enables us to look at a problem and, with vision, see the challenges that the solution will bring, and to act nonetheless.
The above is basically my understanding of courage as a virtue, before I begin considering it in a pagan context. This will, of course, eventually inform what I write in my eventual Dedicant’s Path submission.