Heroes Just For One Day: Remembering 9/11

Courage easily finds its own eloquence. Plautus

As we reflect on the tenth anniversary of September 11, we remember the courage of the heroes and heroines of this tragic event. Courage or Fortitude is one of the four cardinal virtues in Christian tradition. Adopted from Classical Greek philosophy, courage is defined as an ability to confront fear, uncertainty, or intimidation. Symbolically Fortitude is represented by a calm woman subduing a ferocious lion in the Tarot deck. The fiftieth century Visconti-Sforza tarot deck was hand painted using precious materials. The Milanese model shown on the Fortitude card may have been a member of either the Sforza or Viscounti families. Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) also depicted courage as a woman in his Allegory of Fortitude using tempera on a wood panel. But our heroes are often viewed as masculine as in the subjects of Greek mythology. The hero Perseus decapitated the underworld monster Medusa resulting in the birth of the winged stallion Pegasus. Sired by the god Poseidon, the white horse is shown with Perseus as they ride across the heavens to rescue Andromeda in the painting by English artist Sir Frederick Leighton (1830-1896).