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Courage is being scared to death -- and saddling up anyway.

JOHN WAYNE, Reader's Digest, 1986

Courage is not only common, but cosmopolitan. But such are the apparent contradictions of life, that this virtue, which so many seem to possess, all hold the highest. There is probably no man, however miserable, who would not writhe at being exposed a coward. Why should the common be precious? What is the explanation?

WINSTON CHURCHILL, The Story of the Malakand Field Force

Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality.

ASTER & RICHTER ABEND, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World

Complete courage and absolute cowardice are extremes that very few men fall into. The vast middle space contains all the intermediate kinds and degrees of courage; and these differ as much from one another as men's faces or their humors do.

FRANCOIS DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, Moral Maxims and Reflections

Courage ... oh yes! If only one had that ... then life might be livable, in spite of everything.

HENRIK IBSEN, Hedda Gabbler

Many people wrongly exclude fear from the definition of courage, believing that courage is the absence of fear. Every time such people feel afraid, they assume that they aren't courageous. The reality, though, is that courage is fearful. When we are acting courageously, we are, most typically, very afraid. But we don't allow the fear we're carrying to stop us. Instead, we press on. This is the signature feature of courage: to carry on despite being fearful. Fear, thus, is an essential element in the definition of courage. You can't be courageous unless you are afraid.

BILL TREASURER, Courage Goes to Work

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.

C. S. LEWIS, The Unquiet Grave

Courage is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount.

CLARE BOOTHE LUCE, Reader's Digest, May 1979

I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.


Courage is the main quality of leadership, in my opinion, no matter where it is exercised. Usually it implies some risk -- especially in new undertakings. Courage to initiate something and to keep it going, pioneering and adventurous spirit to blaze new ways, often, in our land of opportunity.

WALT DISNEY, attributed, The Disney Way Fieldbook

Courage is more exhilarating than fear, and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, You Learn by Living

Courage is a moral quality; it is not a chance gift of nature like an aptitude for games. It is a cold choice between two alternatives, the fixed resolve not to quit; an act of renunciation which must be made not once but many times by the power of the will.

CHARLES WILSON, The Anatomy of Courage

True courage…has so little to do with Anger, that there lies always the strongest Suspicion against it, where this Passion is highest. The true Courage is the cool and calm. The bravest of Men have the least of a brutal bullying Insolence; and in the very time of Danger are found the most serene, pleasant, and free. Rage, we know, can make a Coward forget himself and fight. But what is done in Fury, or Anger, can never be plac'd to the account of Courage.

ANTHONY ASHLEY-COOPER, Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times

This is the art of courage: to see things as they are and still believe that the victory lies not with those who avoid the bad, but those who taste, in living awareness, every drop of the good.

VICTORIA LINCOLN, Vogue, Oct. 1, 1952

Better to die on your feet than on your knees.


Once you have explored a fear, it becomes less terrifying. Part of courage comes from extending our knowledge.


I believe there is no other difference between those who are called courageous and those who are branded craven than that the second are fearful before the danger and the first after it. No one can be much frightened, certainly, during a period of great and immanent peril -- the mind is too much concentrated on the thing itself, and on the actions necessary to meet or avoid it. The coward is a coward, then, because he has brought his fear with him; persons we think cowardly will sometimes amaze us by their bravery, if they have had no forewarning of their danger.

GENE WOLFE, The Claw of the Conciliator

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

DEBORAH COLLINS, This Is Not the Life I Ordered

Everyone became brave from excess of terror.


Some have courage in pleasures, and some in pains; some in desires, and some in fears; and some are cowards under the same conditions.

PLATO, Laches

Bravery is knowledge of the cowardice of the enemy.

EDGAR WATSON HOWE, Country Town Sayings

The brave man is an inspiration to the weak, and compels them, as it were, to follow him.


It is easier to die bravely than to live so.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

MAYA ANGELOU, USA Today, Mar. 5, 1988

The skin of the coward changes color all the time,
he can't get a grip on himself, he can't sit still,
he squats and rocks, shifting his weight from foot to foot,
his heart racing, pounding inside the fellow's ribs,
his teeth chattering -- he dreads some grisly death.
But the skin of the brave soldier never blanches.

HOMER, The Iliad

The only kind of courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.

MIGNON MCLAUGHLIN, The Second Neurotic's Notebook

Courage ennobles manhood; cowardice degrades it.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Orthodoxy

The courage with which we have met past dangers is often our best security in the present.

MADAME SWETCHINE, "Airelles," The Writings of Madame Swetchine

Courage and timidity are the accompaniments of opposite tendencies of thought. The brave think only of the blows they will strike; the timid of those they may receive.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

The brave man is intelligent; he faces danger because he understands it and is prepared to meet it. The drunkard who runs, in the delirium of intoxication, into a burning house is not brave; he is only stupid. But the clear-eyed hero who makes his way, with every sense alert and every nerve strung, into the hell of flames to rescue some little child, proves his courage.

HENRY VAN DYKE, "Courage," Counsels by the Way

It is easy to be brave at a safe distance.

AESOP, "The Wolf and the Kid," Aesop's Fables

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