St. Thomas Aquinas

The Summa Theologica

(Benziger Bros. edition, 1947)
Translated by
Fathers of the English Dominican Province

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Question: 138 [ << | >> ]


Deinde considerandum est de vitiis oppositis perseverantiae. Et circa hoc quaeruntur duo. We must now consider the vices opposed to perseverance; under which head there are two points of inquiry:
Primo, de mollitie. (1) Of effeminacy;
Secundo, de pertinacia. (2) Of pertinacity.

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Question: 138 [ << | >> ]
Article: 1  [ << | >> ]

Whether effeminacy* is opposed to perseverance? [*Mollities, literally 'softness']

Ad primum sic proceditur. Videtur quod mollities non opponatur perseverantiae. Quia super illud I ad Cor. VI, neque adulteri neque molles neque masculorum concubitores, Glossa exponit molles, idest pathici, hoc est muliebria patientes. Sed hoc opponitur castitati. Ergo mollities non est vitium oppositum perseverantiae. Objection 1: It seems that effeminacy is not opposed to perseverance. For a gloss on 1 Cor. 6:9,10, "Nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind," expounds the text thus: "Effeminate—i.e. obscene, given to unnatural vice." But this is opposed to chastity. Therefore effeminacy is not a vice opposed to perseverance.
Praeterea, philosophus dicit, in VII Ethic., quod delicia mollities quaedam est. Sed esse deliciosum videtur pertinere ad intemperantiam. Ergo mollities non opponitur perseverantiae, sed magis temperantiae. Objection 2: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 7) that "delicacy is a kind of effeminacy." But to be delicate seems akin to intemperance. Therefore effeminacy is not opposed to perseverance but to temperance.
Praeterea, philosophus, ibidem, dicit quod lusivus est mollis. Sed esse immoderate lusivum opponitur eutrapeliae, quae est virtus circa delectationes ludorum, ut dicitur in IV Ethic. Ergo mollities non opponitur perseverantiae. Objection 3: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 7) that "the man who is fond of amusement is effeminate." Now immoderate fondness of amusement is opposed to {eutrapelia}, which is the virtue about pleasures of play, as stated in Ethic. iv, 8. Therefore effeminacy is not opposed to perseverance.
Sed contra est quod philosophus dicit, in VII Ethic., quod molli opponitur perseverativus. On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 7) that "the persevering man is opposed to the effeminate."
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est, laus perseverantiae in hoc consistit quod aliquis non recedit a bono propter diuturnam tolerantiam difficilium et laboriosorum. Cui directe opponi videtur quod aliquis de facili recedat a bono propter aliqua difficilia, quae sustinere non potest. Et hoc pertinet ad rationem mollitiei, nam molle dicitur quod facile cedit tangenti. Non autem iudicatur aliquid molle ex hoc quod cedit fortiter impellenti, nam et parietes cedunt machinae percutienti. Et ideo non reputatur aliquis mollis si cedat aliquibus valde graviter impellentibus, unde philosophus dicit, in VII Ethic., quod si quis a fortibus et superexcellentibus delectationibus vincitur vel tristitiis, non est admirabile, sed condonabile, si contra tendat. Manifestum est autem quod gravius impellit metus periculorum quam cupiditas delectationum, unde Tullius dicit, in I de Offic., non est consentaneum qui metu non frangatur, eum frangi cupiditate; nec qui invictum se a labore praestiterit, vinci a voluptate. Ipsa etiam voluptas fortius movet attrahendo quam tristitia de carentia voluptatis retrahendo, quia carentia voluptatis est purus defectus. Et ideo secundum philosophum, proprie mollis dicitur qui recedit a bono propter tristitias causatas ex defectu delectationum, quasi cedens debili moventi. I answer that, As stated above (Question [137], Articles [1],2), perseverance is deserving of praise because thereby a man does not forsake a good on account of long endurance of difficulties and toils: and it is directly opposed to this, seemingly, for a man to be ready to forsake a good on account of difficulties which he cannot endure. This is what we understand by effeminacy, because a thing is said to be "soft" if it readily yields to the touch. Now a thing is not declared to be soft through yielding to a heavy blow, for walls yield to the battering-ram. Wherefore a man is not said to be effeminate if he yields to heavy blows. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 7) that "it is no wonder, if a person is overcome by strong and overwhelming pleasures or sorrows; but he is to be pardoned if he struggles against them." Now it is evident that fear of danger is more impelling than the desire of pleasure: wherefore Tully says (De Offic. i) under the heading "True magnanimity consists of two things: It is inconsistent for one who is not cast down by fear, to be defeated by lust, or who has proved himself unbeaten by toil, to yield to pleasure." Moreover, pleasure itself is a stronger motive of attraction than sorrow, for the lack of pleasure is a motive of withdrawal, since lack of pleasure is a pure privation. Wherefore, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 7), properly speaking an effeminate man is one who withdraws from good on account of sorrow caused by lack of pleasure, yielding as it were to a weak motion.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod praedicta mollities causatur dupliciter. Uno modo, ex consuetudine, cum enim aliquis consuetus est voluptatibus frui, difficilius potest earum absentiam sustinere. Alio modo, ex naturali dispositione, quia videlicet habent animum minus constantem, propter fragilitatem complexionis. Et hoc modo comparantur feminae ad masculos, ut philosophus dicit, in VII Ethic. Et ideo illi qui muliebria patiuntur molles dicuntur, quasi muliebres effecti. Reply to Objection 1: This effeminacy is caused in two ways. In one way, by custom: for where a man is accustomed to enjoy pleasures, it is more difficult for him to endure the lack of them. In another way, by natural disposition, because, to wit, his mind is less persevering through the frailty of his temperament. This is how women are compared to men, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 7): wherefore those who are passively sodomitical are said to be effeminate, being womanish themselves, as it were.
Ad secundum dicendum quod voluptati corporali opponitur labor, et ideo res laboriosae tantum impediunt voluptates. Deliciosi autem dicuntur qui non possunt sustinere aliquos labores, nec aliquid quod voluptatem diminuat, unde dicitur Deut. XXVIII, tenera mulier et delicata, quae super terram ingredi non valebat, nec pedis vestigium figere, propter mollitiem. Et ideo delicia quaedam mollities est. Sed mollities proprie respicit defectum delectationum, deliciae autem causam impeditivam delectationis, puta laborem vel aliquid huiusmodi. Reply to Objection 2: Toil is opposed to bodily pleasure: wherefore it is only toilsome things that are a hindrance to pleasures. Now the delicate are those who cannot endure toils, nor anything that diminishes pleasure. Hence it is written (Dt. 28:56): "The tender and delicate woman, that could not go upon the ground, nor set down her foot for... softness [Douay: 'niceness']." Thus delicacy is a kind of effeminacy. But properly speaking effeminacy regards lack of pleasures, while delicacy regards the cause that hinders pleasure, for instance toil or the like.
Ad tertium dicendum quod in ludo duo est considerare. Uno quidem modo, delectationem, et sic inordinate lusivus opponitur eutrapeliae. Alio modo in ludo consideratur quaedam remissio sive quies, quae opponitur labori. Et ideo sicut non posse sustinere laboriosa pertinet ad mollitiem, ita etiam nimis appetere remissionem ludi, vel quamcumque aliam quietem. Reply to Objection 3: In play two things may be considered. In the first place there is the pleasure, and thus inordinate fondness of play is opposed to {eutrapelia}. Secondly, we may consider the relaxation or rest which is opposed to toil. Accordingly just as it belongs to effeminacy to be unable to endure toilsome things, so too it belongs thereto to desire play or any other relaxation inordinately.

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Question: 138 [ << | >> ]
Article: 2  [ << | >> ]

Whether pertinacity is opposed to perseverance?

Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod pertinacia non opponatur perseverantiae. Dicit enim Gregorius, XXXI Moral., quod pertinacia oritur ex inani gloria. Sed inanis gloria non opponitur perseverantiae, sed magis magnanimitati, ut supra dictum est. Ergo pertinacia non opponitur perseverantiae. Objection 1: It seems that pertinacity is not opposed to perseverance. For Gregory says (Moral. xxxi) that pertinacity arises from vainglory. But vainglory is not opposed to perseverance but to magnanimity, as stated above (Question [132], Article [2]). Therefore pertinacity is not opposed to perseverance.
Praeterea, si opponitur perseverantiae, aut opponitur ei per excessum, aut per defectum. Sed non opponitur ei per excessum, quia etiam pertinax cedit alicui delectationi et tristitiae; quia, ut dicit philosophus, in VII Ethic., gaudent vincentes, et tristantur si sententiae eorum infirmae appareant. Si autem per defectum, erit idem quod mollities, quod patet esse falsum. Nullo ergo modo pertinacia opponitur perseverantiae. Objection 2: Further, if it is opposed to perseverance, this is so either by excess or by deficiency. Now it is not opposed by excess: because the pertinacious also yield to certain pleasure and sorrow, since according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 9) "they rejoice when they prevail, and grieve when their opinions are rejected." And if it be opposed by deficiency, it will be the same as effeminacy, which is clearly false. Therefore pertinacity is nowise opposed to perseverance.
Praeterea, sicut perseverans persistit in bono contra tristitias, ita continens et temperatus contra delectationes, et fortis contra timores, et mansuetus contra iras. Sed pertinax dicitur aliquis ex eo quod nimis in aliquo persistit. Ergo pertinacia non magis opponitur perseverantiae quam aliis virtutibus. Objection 3: Further, just as the persevering man persists in good against sorrow, so too do the continent and the temperate against pleasures, the brave against fear, and the meek against anger. But pertinacity is over-persistence in something. Therefore pertinacity is not opposed to perseverance more than to other virtues.
Sed contra est quod Tullius dicit, in sua rhetorica, quod ita se habet pertinacia ad perseverantiam sicut superstitio ad religionem. Sed superstitio opponitur religioni, ut supra dictum est. Ergo et pertinacia perseverantiae. On the contrary, Tully says (De Invent. Rhet. ii) that pertinacity is to perseverance as superstition is to religion. But superstition is opposed to religion, as stated above (Question [92], Article [1]). Therefore pertinacity is opposed to perseverance.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut Isidorus dicit, in libro Etymol., pertinax dicitur aliquis qui est impudenter tenens, quasi omnia tenax. Et hic idem dicitur pervicax, eo quod in proposito suo ad victoriam perseverat, antiqui enim dicebant viciam quam nos victoriam. Et hos philosophus vocat, in VII Ethic., ischyrognomones, idest fortis sententiae, vel idiognomones, idest propriae sententiae, quia scilicet perseverant in propria sententia plus quam oportet; mollis autem minus quam oportet; perseverans autem secundum quod oportet. Unde patet quod perseverantia laudatur sicut in medio existens; pertinax autem vituperatur sicut secundum excessum medii mollis autem secundum defectum. I answer that, As Isidore says (Etym. x) "a person is said to be pertinacious who holds on impudently, as being utterly tenacious." "Pervicacious" has the same meaning, for it signifies that a man "perseveres in his purpose until he is victorious: for the ancients called 'vicia' what we call victory." These the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 9) calls {ischyrognomones}, that is "head-strong," or {idiognomones}, that is "self-opinionated," because they abide by their opinions more than they should; whereas the effeminate man does so less than he ought, and the persevering man, as he ought. Hence it is clear that perseverance is commended for observing the mean, while pertinacity is reproved for exceeding the mean, and effeminacy for falling short of it.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod ideo aliquis nimis persistit in propria sententia, quia per hoc vult suam excellentiam manifestare. Et ideo oritur ex inani gloria sicut ex causa. Dictum est autem supra quod oppositio vitiorum ad virtutes non attenditur secundum causam, sed secundum propriam speciem. Reply to Objection 1: The reason why a man is too persistent in his own opinion, is that he wishes by this means to make a show of his own excellence: wherefore this is the result of vainglory as its cause. Now it has been stated above (Question [127], Article [2], ad 1; Question [133], Article [2]), that opposition of vices to virtues depends, not on their cause, but on their species.
Ad secundum dicendum quod pertinax excedit quidem in hoc quod inordinate persistit in aliquo contra multas difficultates, habet tamen aliquam delectationem in fine, sicut et fortis et etiam perseverans. Quia tamen illa delectatio est vitiosa, ex hoc quod nimis eam appetit et contrariam tristitiam fugit, assimilatur incontinenti vel molli. Reply to Objection 2: The pertinacious man exceeds by persisting inordinately in something against many difficulties: yet he takes a certain pleasure in the end, just as the brave and the persevering man. Since, however, this pleasure is sinful, seeing that he desires it too much, and shuns the contrary pain, he is like the incontinent or effeminate man.
Ad tertium dicendum quod aliae virtutes, etsi persistant contra impetus passionum, non tamen proprie laus earum est ex persistendo, sicut laus perseverantiae. Laus vero continentiae magis videtur ex vincendo delectationes. Et ideo pertinacia directe opponitur perseverantiae. Reply to Objection 3: Although the other virtues persist against the onslaught of the passions, they are not commended for persisting in the same way as perseverance is. As to continence, its claim to praise seems to lie rather in overcoming pleasures. Hence pertinacity is directly opposed to perseverance.

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