Virtue as taught by the ancient Greek philosophical sect of the Stoics, and their followers to the present day.

See also: Cicero, Cynic virtues

Diogenes Laertius, in his Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, summarizes the views of the Stoics on the virtues as follows:

Among the virtues some are primitive and some are derived. The primitive ones are prudence, manly courage, justice, and temperance. And subordinate to these, as a kind of species contained in them, are magnanimity, continence, endurance, presence of mind, wisdom in council. And the Stoics define prudence as a knowledge of what is good, and bad, and indifferent; justice as a knowledge of what ought to be chosen, what ought to be avoided, and what is indifferent; magnanimity as a knowledge of engendering a lofty habit, superior to all such accidents as happen to all men indifferently, whether they be good or bad; continence they consider a disposition which never abandons right reason, or a habit which never yields to pleasure; endurance they call a knowledge or habit by which we understand what we ought to endure, what we ought not, and what is indifferent; presence of mind they define as a habit which is prompt at finding out what is suitable on a sudden emergency; and wisdom in counsel they think a knowledge which leads us to judge what we are to do, and how we are to do it, in order to act becomingly. And analogously, of vices too there are some which are primary, and some which are subordinate; as, for instance, folly, and cowardice, and injustice, and intemperance, are among the primary vices; incontinence, slowness, and folly in counsel among the subordinate ones. And the vices are ignorance of those things of which the virtues are the knowledge.

Some virtues, he says, the Stoics categorized as “scientific and speculative” seemingly because they were things that could be reasoned and argued about, like prudence and justice; others were non-speculative, and seemed to be more results or conclusions of the other virtues: things like health and courage.


[T]hey say that virtues reciprocally follow one another, and that he who has one has all; for that the precepts of them all are common…. For they say that the man who is endued with virtue is able to consider and also to do what must be done. But what must be done must be chosen, and encountered, and distributed, and awaited; so that if the man does some things by deliberate choice, and some in a spirit of endurance, and some distributively, and some patiently; he is prudent, and courageous, and just, and temperate. And each of the virtues has a particular subject of its own, about which it is conversant; as, for instance, courage is conversant about the things which must be endured: prudence is conversant about what must be done and what must not, and what is of a neutral or indifferent character. And in like manner, the other virtues are conversant about their own peculiar subjects; and wisdom in counsel and shrewdness follow prudence; and good order and decorum follow temperance; and equality and goodness of judgment follow justice; and constancy and energy follow courage.