In my ancient Roman history reading, I’ve just begun reading “Dynasty” by Tom Holland. In the beginning of the book — on page 6 of my copy — he defines virtus almost in passing.

Even the humblest peasant, if he were not to see himself reflected in the miror of his fellows’ scorn, was obliged to shoulder his duties as a citizen, and prove himself a man — a vir.

Virtus, the quality of a vir, was the ultimate Roman ideal, that lustrous fusion of energy and courage which the Romans themselves identified as their chiefest strength.

So, yeah, there’s blatant sexism in that, and I don’t agree with that. But the idea that virtue defines the qualities required of a citizen… that is an idea I can get behind.


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