Of Virility and Virtue

19 Jun

Virtue (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

I recently began reading N.T. Wright‘s book “After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters” (HarperOne, 2010). I’m not far enough in for a review at this point, but Wright has made the point that virtues – courage, self-discipline, etc. – are the building blocks of Christian character and need to be developed. No argument from me on that one.

Out of curiosity, I went to my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary and looked up “virtue.” One of the things I love about this dictionary is the way it gives the language roots of various words. In the case of “virtue” I learned something very interesting. It seems that both “virtue” and “virile” come from the same Latin root, vir. That is the Latin word for man or male or hero.

The first definition for “virtue” given is “conformity to a standard of right.” These days, one would have to be very heroic to pull that off! Yet it seems the ancients considered it to be very masculine to adhere to a code of moral conduct.

Something to ponder.

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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in What I'm Reading, Words


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