Courage is the ability to confront fear
Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...

, pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

, danger
Risk is the potential that a chosen action or activity will lead to a loss . The notion implies that a choice having an influence on the outcome exists . Potential losses themselves may also be called "risks"...

, uncertainty
Uncertainty is a term used in subtly different ways in a number of fields, including physics, philosophy, statistics, economics, finance, insurance, psychology, sociology, engineering, and information science...

, or intimidation
Intimidation is intentional behavior "which would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities" fear of injury or harm. It's not necessary to prove that the behavior was so violent as to cause terror or that the victim was actually frightened.Criminal threatening is the crime of intentionally or...

. "Physical courage" is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, death, or threat of death, while "moral courage" is the ability to act rightly
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 in the face of popular opposition, shame
Shame is, variously, an affect, emotion, cognition, state, or condition. The roots of the word shame are thought to derive from an older word meaning to cover; as such, covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame....

, scandal
A scandal is a widely publicized allegation or set of allegations that damages the reputation of an institution, individual or creed...

, or discouragement.
As a [desirable] quality, courage is discussed broadly in Aristotle's
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 Nicomachean Ethics
Nicomachean Ethics
The Nicomachean Ethics is the name normally given to Aristotle's best known work on ethics. The English version of the title derives from Greek Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια, transliterated Ethika Nikomacheia, which is sometimes also given in the genitive form as Ἠθικῶν Νικομαχείων, Ethikōn Nikomacheiōn...

, where its vice of shortage is cowardice
Cowardice is the perceived failure to demonstrate sufficient mental robustness and courage in the face of a challenge. Under many military codes of justice, cowardice in the face of combat is a crime punishable by death...

 and its vice of excess is recklessness
Recklessness (psychology)
Recklessness is disregard for or indifference to the dangers of a situation or for the consequences of one's actions....


Courage is a mean with regard to fear and confidence.

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics|Nicomachean Ethics 3.6 (1094 A.D.)

Cowards die many times before their deaths;The valiant never taste of death but once.

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act II, sc. ii (1599)

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

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act I, sc. vii (c. 1605)

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.

François de La Rochefoucauld, Moral Maxims and Reflections, no. 215 (1665-1678)

Perfect courage is to do without witnesses what one would be capable of doing with the world looking on.

François de La Rochefoucauld, Moral Maxims and Reflections, no. 216

Courage, of all national qualities, is the most precarious; because it is exerted only at intervals, and by a few in every nation; whereas industry, knowledge, civility, may be of constant and universal use, and for several ages, may become habitual to the whole people.

David Hume, Of National Characters, part I, essay XXI (1758)

It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies; but a great deal more to stand up to your friends...

Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling

Courage is a quality so necessary for maintaining virtue, that it is always respected, even when it is associated with vice.

Samuel Johnson, Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, June 11, 1784 (1791)

It requires courage not to surrender oneself to the ingenious or compassionate counsels of despair that would induce a man to eliminate himself from the ranks of the living; but it does not follow from this that every huckster who is fattened and nourished in self-confidence has more courage than the man who yielded to despair.

Soren Kierkegaard, “Irony as a Mastered Moment: The Truth of Irony,” pt. 2, The Concept of Irony (1841)

The French courage proceeds from vanity—the German from phlegm—the Turkish from fanaticism & opium—the Spanish from pride—the English from coolness—the Dutch from obstinacy—the Russian from insensibility—but the Italian from anger.

George Gordon Noel Byron(1788–1824), British poet. in a letter to his publisher John Murray. (1820)