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Courage and Cowardice in Ancient Greece: From Homer to Aristotle

Courage and Cowardice in Ancient Greece: From Homer to Aristotle

by Andrei G. Zavaliy

Hardcover(1st ed. 2020)

Available for Pre-Order. This item will be available on September 14, 2020


The book offers the first comprehensive account of the debate on true courage as it was raging in ancient Greece, from the times when the immensely influential Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, were composed, to the period of the equally influential author, Aristotle. The many voices that contribute to this debate include poets, authors of ancient dramas and comedies, historians, politicians and philosophers. The book traces the origin of the earliest ideal of a courageous hero in the epic poems of Homer (8th century BCE), and faithfully records its transformations in later authors, which range from an emphatic denial of the Homeric standards of courage (as in comedies of Aristophanes and some Dialogues of Plato) to the strong revisionist tendencies of Aristotle, who attempts to restore genuine courage to its traditional place as an exclusively martial, male virtue.

Without attempting to cover the whole of the Western history, the book is able to explore the most important primary Greek sources on the subject matter in greater details, and provide the reader with a comprehensive picture of the changes in both popular and philosophical conceptualizations of the standards of courage from the Archaic period to the middle of the 4th century BCE. A deeper understanding of the history of the debate on courage should help to shape the modern discussions as well, as it becomes obvious that many of the questions on courage and cowardice that are still raised by the contemporary authors from different fields, have been thoroughly considered during the early stages of Greek culture.

The book seeks to undermine a common stereotype of a single, unified view on courage and cowardice in Ancient Greece and shows that the current debates on what constitutes genuine courageous character can be traced to the various direct and indirect discussions on this subject matter by the ancient authorities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783030476052
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Publication date: 09/14/2020
Edition description: 1st ed. 2020
Pages: 258
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Andrei G. Zavaliy is currently an Associate professor of philosophy at the American University of Kuwait. He received his B.A. from Nyack College, NY, and completed M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy from the City University of New York (The Graduate Center) in 2007.

Although focusing on moral psychology and normative ethics during his graduate studies, he has since broadened his research interests to include history of philosophy with a special emphasis on the evolutionary development of ethical concepts and the applicability of the experimental methods to philosophical controversies, especially in ethical theory. Since then, he has contributed several articles to influential philosophical periodicals in the fields of moral psychology, philosophy of religion, history of ancient thought and Aristotelian virtue ethics. Below is a representative selection of his recent publications:

• “Cowardice and Injustice: The Problem of Suicide in Aristotle’s Ethics.” The History of Philosophy Quarterly, vol. 36, No. 4, 2019: 319-336.

• “How Homeric is the Aristotelian Conception of Courage?” The Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. 55, Issue 3, 2017: 350-377.

• “On the Virtue of Judging Others.” Philosophical Investigations, vol. 40, No. 4, 2017: 123-45.

• “Courage: A Modern Look at an Ancient Virtue.” Journal of Military Ethics, vol. 13, No. 2, Fall 2014: 174-89 (with Michael Aristidou).

• “On Rational Amoralists.” The Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, vol. 42, No. 4, 2012: 365-384.

Currently, his main research focuses on the proper denotation of certain virtue concepts in Ancient Greece, from the archaic period to the age of classical Greek philosophy, and the relevance of the earlier stages of philosophical development to contemporary philosophy.

Table of Contents

Preface.- Acknowledgments.- About the Author.- List of Abbreviations.- Chapter 1. Introduction: Discovering an Ancient Virtue.- Chapter 2. Archaic Greece: Courageous Hero in the Homeric epics.- Chapter 3. Military Valor in Post-Homeric Poetry.- Chapter 4. The Bold Challengers: Cowardice, Irony and Mockery.- Chapter 5. Courage in Real-life: The Historians’ Approach.- Chapter 6. Courage and Cowardice in Plato’s Dialogues.- Chapter 7. Aristotle’s Revisionism: A Return to Homeric Roots.- Chapter 8. Conclusion: The Fate of Courage in the Modern World.- Index.

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