Courage is first among virtues in heroic epic and in cultures of honor. Men cared to be known for their courage. It not only took courage to fight well, but the issue often being fought over was who had more of it. Courage was competitive. Men were ranked according to the degree of courage they possessed. Arguments arose as to what counted as truly courageous, what the perfect form of the virtue was, and what were lesser though still worthy semblances of it. Not only philosophers theorized about courage: warriors, politicians and spectators did so as well. The stakes were high, and so there emerged a politics of courage, a jockeying to define your performances as worthier than your competitor’s.
Miller, William I. "The Question of Courage." SGI Quarterly 69 (2012): 14-7.