The Celtic Literature Collective


Eudemian Ethics
Book 3, section 1229

Therefore whereas the cowardly and the daring are mistaken owing to their characters, since the coward thinks things not formidable formidable and things slightly formidable extremely formidable, and the daring man on the contrary thinks formidable things perfectly safe and extremely formidable things only slightly formidable, to the brave man on the other hand things seem exactly what they are. Hence a man is not brave if he endures formidable things through ignorance (for instance, if owing to madness he were to endure a flight of thunderbolts), nor if he does so owing to passion when knowing the greatness of the danger, as the Celts 'take arms and march against the waves' ; and in general, the courage of barbarians has an element of passion. And some men endure terrors for the sake of other pleasures also--for even passion contains pleasure of a sort, since it is combined with hope of revenge. But nevertheless neither if a man endures death for the sake of this pleasure nor for another, nor for the sake of avoiding greater pains, would any of these persons justly be termed brave. For if dying were pleasant, profligates would be dying constantly, owing to lack of self-control, just as even as it is, when, although death itself is not pleasant, things that cause it are, many men through lack of self control knowingly encounter it; none of whom would be thought brave, even though he were thought to die quite readily.

Aristotle. Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vol. 20, translated by H. Rackham.{title}. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1981.

Nicomachean Ethics
Book 3, Ch. 7

Of those who go to excess he who exceeds in fearlessness has no name (we have said previously that many states of character have no names), but he would be a sort of madman or insensible person if he feared nothing, neither earthquakes nor the waves, as they say the Celts do not; while the man who exceeds in confidence about what really is terrible is rash.

Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. translated by William David Ross. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1908.

Book 2, section 1269
...For just as man and wife are part of a household, it is clear that the state also is divided nearly in half into its male and female population, so that in all constitutions in which the position of the women is badly regulated one half of the state must be deemed to have been neglected in framing the law. And this has taken place in the state under consideration, for the lawgiver wishing the whole city to be of strong character displays his intention clearly in relation to the men, but in the case of the women has entirely neglected the matter; for they live dissolutely in respect of every sort of dissoluteness, and luxuriously. So that the inevitable result is that in a state thus constituted wealth is held in honor, especially if it is the case that the people are under the sway of their women, as most of the military and warlike races are, except the Celts and such other races as have openly held in honor passionate friendship between males. For it appears that the original teller of the legend had good reason for uniting Ares with Aphrodite, for all men of martial spirit appear to be attracted to the companionship either of male associates or of women. Hence this characteristic existed among the Spartans, and in the time of their empire many things were controlled by the women; yet what difference does it make whether the women rule or the rulers are ruled by the women? The result is the same. And although bravery is of service for none of the regular duties of life, but if at all, in war, even in this respect the Spartans' women were most harmful; and they showed this at the time of the Theban invasion, for they rendered no useful service, as the women do in other states, while they caused more confusion than the enemy.

Book 7, section 1324b
Some people then hold the former view, while others declare that the despotic and tyrannical form of constitution alone achieves happiness; and in some states it is also the distinctive aim of the constitution and the laws to enable them to exercise despotic rule over their neighbors. Hence even though with most peoples most of the legal ordinances have been laid down virtually at random, nevertheless if there are places where the laws aim at one definite object, that object is in all cases power, as in Sparta and Crete both the system of education and the mass of the laws are framed in the main with a view to war; and also among all the non-Hellenic nations that are strong enough to expand at the expense of others, military strength has been held in honor, for example, among the Scythians, Persians, Thracians and Celts. Indeed among some peoples there are even certain laws stimulating military valor; for instance at Carthage, we are told, warriors receive the decoration of armlets of the same number as the campaigns on which they have served; and at one time there was also a law in Macedonia that a man who had never killed an enemy must wear his halter instead of a belt. Among Scythian tribes at a certain festival a cup was carried round from which a man that had not killed an enemy was not allowed to drink. Among the Iberians, a warlike race, they fix small spits in the earth round a man's grave corresponding in number to the enemies he has killed. So with other races there are many other practices of a similar kind, some established by law and others by custom.

Book 7, section 1336a
When the children have been born, the particular mode of rearing adopted must be deemed an important determining influence in regard to their power of body. It appears from examining the other animals, and is also shown by the foreign races that make it their aim to keep up the military habit of body, that a diet giving an abundance of milk is most suited to the bodies of children, and one that allows rather little wine because of the diseases that it causes. Moreover it is advantageous to subject them to as many movements as are practicable with children of that age. To prevent the limbs from being distorted owing to softness, some races even now employ certain mechanical appliances that keep the bodies of infants from being twisted. And it is also advantageous to accustom them at once from early childhood to cold, for this is most useful both for health and with a view to military service. Hence among many non-Greek races it is customary in the case of some peoples to wash the children at birth by dipping them in a cold river, and with others, for instance the Celts, to give them scanty covering. For it is better to inure them at the very start to everything possible, but to inure them gradually; and the bodily habit of children is naturally well fitted by warmth to be trained to bear cold.

Aristotle. Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vol. 21, translated by H. Rackham.{title}. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1944.

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