“By virtue of the authority vested in me,” says the minister in every old Hollywood film with a wedding in it, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” And we understand what he means, even though it’s far from any particular virtue we may have in mind, such as wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice. Those four were considered the cardinal virtues, because anything like a decent human life hinged upon them, which is what cardinal means. In case you’re wondering, the color was named after the preeminent bishops who wore the purple hats, and then the cheerful American bird was named after the color, and my favorite baseball team, too.
Back to our Word of the Week, virtue: it was considered a power, and that might be found anywhere. In the old days, some people believed that certain precious and semi-precious stones had special virtues, powers, influences. I suppose that a big bright green emerald might make me quite a delighted owner, but not because there is anything in the rock. Plan…
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial