Wednesday, July 11

Courage is what I chiefly need.

Mainly they place in a kindly light that style of courage--cold courage, 'moral courage', two-o'clock-in-the-morning courage--which our age is most prepared to venerate. (Shippey's The Road to Middle-Earth, 79)

True, true.

The right side remains right even if it has no ultimate hope at all. In a sense this Northern mythology asks more of men, even makes more of them, than does Christianity, for it offers them to heaven, no salvation, no reward for virtue except the sombre satisfaction of having done what is right. (Shippey, 156)

Amazing how Shippey pulls out themes of Tolkien's works. Frodo is nearly the embodiment of this. Poor Sam.

Nevertheless Tolkien was himself a Christian, and he faced a problem in the 'theory of courage' he so much admired: its mainspring is despair, its spirit often heathen ferocity. (Shippey, 157)


Thomas Aquinas on Fortitude.

It takes me forever to work through anything of Aquinas, so count on this as a valuable resource but not one I have completely researched or gone through.

The Catholic Encyclopedia on the Cardinal Virtues (of which fortitude is one).

Interesting input. I'm not Catholic and so have not studied the four virtues in any kind of depth as a group of four virtues. Interesting, nathless. I shall look into it further upon my third shot of espresso.

These lines are the most well known of the poem and seem never to be translated in the same way.

"The spirit must be the firmer, the heart the bolder,
courage must be the greater as our strength diminishes." (Scragg)

"Thoughts must be the braver, heart more valiant
courage the greater as our strength grows less." (Ashdown)

"Minds must be firmer, heart the keener,
courage the greater, as our might fails." (Greenfield)

"Courage shall grow keener, clearer the will,
the heart fiercer, as our force faileth." (Alexander)

"Our minds must be the stouter, our hearts the bolder,
our spirit the mightier as our power grows less." (Wrenn)

"Thought shall be the harder, heart the keener,
courage the greater, as our might lessens." (Gordon)

"Resolution must be the tougher, hearts the keener,
courage must be the more as our strength grows less." (Bradley)

"Mind must be the firmer, heart the more fierce,
Courage the greater, as our strength diminishes." (Crossley-Holland)


From 'The Battle of Maldon'. Incredible story. Tolkien translated it, too.

One may say that the wise characters in The Lord of the Rings are often without hope and so near the edge of despair, but they do not succumb. (Shippey, 158)

I wouldn't make me go into Aquinas on the subject of despair, because it is fascinating. However . . . ok, I won't. FINE. (Nobody loves me.)

Is it possible, one might wonder, to be 'cheerful' without any hope at all? Certainly it would hardly be sensible, but the idea rings true--it is corroborated by several first-hand accounts of the First World War [...]. Sam's twist on semantics is repeated by Pippin [...]. The realisation makes him, according to Pippin, 'sad but not unhappy', and to modern English semantics the phrase makes almost no sense, like hopeless cheer. However, an early meaning of 'sad' is 'settled, determined'; 'cheer' comes from Old French chair, 'face'. The paradoxes put forward Tolkien's theses that determination should survive the worst that can happen, that a stout pretence is more valuable than sincere despair. (Shippey, 159)

Interesting stuff. Will come back to this and Tolkien's 'theory of courage' when I have the time--also remember to look up the bits in Monsters and Critics which pertain to it. And Tolkien is awesome. In case you didn't know.


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