Monday, October 29, 2007

virtues


I'm reading The Great Gatsby and I found this line very interesting:

Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.

First of all, I thought it was interesting that everyone knows the deadly sins but the cardinal virtues are raely mentioned. Then I tried to find out what those cardinal virtues were: it seems they were four at first, but then turned into seven, so they could balance the deadly sins, I suppose. But none of them is honesty!! Justice isn't honesty, temperance isn't honesty, prudence isn't honesty and fortitude isn't honesty. And the other seven: chastity, abstinence, liberality, diligence, patience, kindness and humility. None of them is honesty.

So where did F. Scott Fitzgerald picked that from?

If I were to "suspect myself" of any of those, I'd pick honesty too, but it isn't on the list. What would you choose?

8 comments:

Scholiast said...

If I get the translation right (I know I ought to...) I think I'd go with "fortitude". I'm rarely down and never out..

I hated the Great Gatsby when we read it at university, didn't find anything in it that I liked. Then we saw the film and it was ever so much worse! No, really!

But of course the author picked that one on purpose, just because it proves he isn't hones at all, right?! :) So you know what you're in for...

- I know, it's supposed to be a classic, and I'm supposed to say "ahh, what a wonderful piece of literature!", but no, I'm not with that one... Perhaps I ought to reread it? I was ever so young back then, about your age ;)

holy chaos said...

i read that book back (waaaay back ; ) ) in high school. I cannotremember much about it, so I should re-read it. hmm, what virtue would i say that I possess?

hard to say... perhaps honesty.. if it were one

Niall said...

I think Mr Fitzgerald is being ironic, since to be truely virtuous , one wouldn't claim to be virtuous.

Kristen Hovet said...

i would have to say liberality, in the sense of a willingness to give....though i don't have much faith in the virtues or the sins, or at least in their polarity!

chrispito said...

I would choose kindness for myself. I appear quite somber at times so people who don't know me wouldn't expect it, but it is a quality I value above all others and so try to be it.

Devil Mood said...

Scholiast: I can't think of a bad book that made a good film, now that I think about it. Books are always slightly better, at least.
Haven't finished it yet, but I have liked some things about it. I'm not enchanted by it though...

Holychaos: I can't remember anything about books I read in the past either. It's not a big book so maybe you'll give it another go someday.

Niall: I don't know. You can be virtuous and simply don't possess the virtue of humbleness. Obviously, you wouldn't be a very nice person because that's the most important virtue according to the hierarchy (yes, there is one!).

Kristin: I know. Hate polarities myself. This post is a bit of a tease ;)

Chrispito: That is nice, isn't it? When you think of a good person, you think of a kind one, I suppose :)

d.h.roark said...

you've given me a great line of thought.Great gatsbymade such little impressiononme thati skimmed over this line. cardinal virtues.. hmm.. no loyalty on that list is there? well.. justice then. though i don't see how something as vengeful as justice can be a virtue.

Devil Mood said...

DH: Hmm, what you said made me think too. Usually I don't connect justice with vengeance, it's more about fairness to me, but it's possible to that the word to that sense too...You've got a point!