Authun and the Seven Virtues
As long as there has been recognized sin in recorded history, there has been the virtuous equivalent by which good people live their lives. Before Christianity, there were the Pagan virtues, and when Christianity came into dominance in Scandinavia, it adopted these virtues and added several spiritual virtues of its own. Each virtue can be seen as a reflection of societal thought. The virtues tell how the ideal person lives their life, and this idea of the virtuous person is often reflected in literature. In fact, ever since the philosophical writings of Aristotle and the Greeks, there have been tales of characters who embody these virtues. The protagonist of Authun and the Bear exemplifies these seven virtues, and this technique can be seen in modern literature as well, particularly in the 1986 novel, Forrest Gump, by Winston Broom. The virtuous character used must be first defined as morally pure. This chastity sets about them an aura of childhood innocence in many representations. The seven heavenly virtues were first displayed in their current form in the epic poem, Psychomachia, around year 400 (Prudentius). They were the counterparts to the well-known seven deadly sins and chastity is perhaps the broadest of them all. It stresses the importance of honesty and purity of the soul in all walks of life. This was meant to be portrayed to society through the story of Authun and the Bear, as Authun lives a completely pure life in terms of morality. He is open and honest with all those he encounters throughout the story, even those who might otherwise be his enemies. When facing the rival king of Denmark, he maintains that he means to give his bear to Denmark’s king (Jones). By expressing this virtue in a traditional tale which was most likely passed on for years before being written down, it appealed to many people on a very personal scale. Authun may not have always lived the pure life he does...
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