The cardinal virtues: the key to be happier


The cardinal virtues are the foundations of a life oriented towards good.

They were already enunciated by ancient philosophers, in particular by Plato and then rediscovered in different eras by authors and philosophers. When Dante, for example, after coming out of hell, found himself on the beach of Purgatory together with Virgil, he saw four bright stars shining high in the sky, which represented precisely the cardinal virtues.

“I turned to my right, and could lie
to the other pole, and I saw four stars
never seen except for the first people.
Goder seemed the sky of their flames:
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then what private you are to look at those.

Sometimes the cardinal virtues are interpreted in a notional and historical key, while instead, they should be rediscovered and brought to light in our everyday life, not only to lead a happier life, but to contribute, in our small way, on making the world a better place. This is why we should go deeper than a sterile knowledge of them and wondering if we possess these virtues trying as much as possible to make them become part of us.

Let’s analyze them:

1. Prudence

“Prudentia” is the virtues which guides all the others. It is the wisdom that allows us to discern between a good and a bad action. It is what we need to choose with ethics, rationality and firmness between what is right and what is wrong.

2. Justice

The “justice” means being able to recognize to anyone what is due to him/her. Acting according to justice therefore means putting aside our own personal interests and, therefore, being fair towards others.

3. Fortress

“Fortitudo” is courage. The fortress is the ability to resist to difficulties, not to give up and not to be overcomed by fear and apathy. It is the determination to persevere and to carry on despite everything.

4. Temperance

The “temperantia” is expressed through moderation, in all things. Temperance is the opposite of exaggeration and ostentation; control of one’s instincts, balance in actions, words, thoughts.

I leave you with this wonderful quote from Dante, which should be placed on the entrance doors of every school:

“Consider your seed:
you were not made to live like brutes,
but to follow virtue and knowledge.”

“Virtue produces happiness as the sun produces light”

de Robespierre

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