Virtue (Latin virtus; Greek
άρετή) is moral excellence of a person. A virtue is a trait
valued as being good. The conceptual opposite of virtue is vice.
According to its etymology the word virtue (Latin virtus)
signifies manliness or courage. Taken in its widest sense virtue
refers to excellence, just as vice, its contrary, denotes the
absence of such. In its strictest meaning, however, as used by
moral philosophers and theologians, virtue is an operative habit
essentially good, as distinguished from vice, an operative habit
essentially evil. The four cardinal (hinge) virtues are Justice,
Courage, Wisdom, and Moderation. These were enumerated by the
Greek philosophers. The three supernatural virtues of Faith,
Hope and (unselfish) Love are part of the tradition of Pauline
Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Virtue can also be meant in another way. Virtue can either have
normative or moral value; i.e. the virtue of a judge is to
justly convict criminals, the virtue of an excellent judge is to
specialize in justly convicting criminals (this is its normative
value) vs. the virtues of reason, prudence, chastity, etc.
(which have moral value).
In the Greek it is more properly called
(ēthikē aretē). It is "habitual
excellence". It is something practiced at all times. The virtue
of perseverance is needed for all and any virtue since it is a
habit of character and must be used continuously in order for
any person to maintain oneself in virtue.