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Pagans and PhilosophersThe Problem of Paganism from Augustine to Leibniz$
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John Marenbon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691142555

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691142555.001.0001

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Pagan Virtue, 1400–1700

Pagan Virtue, 1400–1700

(p.263) Chapter 13 Pagan Virtue, 1400–1700
Pagans and Philosophers

John Marenbon

Princeton University Press

This chapter turns to the second aspect of the Problem of Paganism: virtue. The dominant view among scholastic theologians in the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was that pagans could be genuinely virtuous, although their virtues were not of the sort which could merit salvation. In the period after 1400, mainstream Catholic theologians in the scholastic tradition tended to take the same broad view as their predecessors, but reformulating it to take account of new opponents. By contrast, and surprisingly, writers more influenced by humanism were often more sceptical about pagan virtue, although they presented their doubts in sophisticated literary forms. From 1500, the newly discovered pagans of America presented another side to the problem of pagan virtue, overlooked by most mainstream writers on them, but noticed by Jean de Léry and probed by Montaigne. This chapter looks at each of these approaches in turn.

Keywords:   virtue, pagan virtue, Problem of Paganism, virtuous pagans, salvation, humanism

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