Summary and Analysis Book IV: Chapter IX



Shame or modesty resembles an emotion more than a characteristic. It can be defined as fear of disrepute or disgrace, and is most appropriate to the young. Shamelessness is unquestionably a vice, but proper shame is not a virtue in the full sense. If a man committed an indecent or immoral act and was properly ashamed of himself afterwards, one could still not call him virtuous. There are certain things that no decent man ever does, regardless of circumstances. Nonetheless, proper modesty is a desirable characteristic at certain stages of life.

The virtues and vices described above provide an interesting portrait of what the ancient Greeks considered to be a good man. While not fundamentally different from modern conceptions of goodness, the portrait may seem overly intellectualized and omits certain virtues like piety, chastity, and humility, which are products of the Christian tradition.