Courage is the mirror image of fear. Fear of the enemy, of diversity, of what is difficult ,complex, unknown: courage is needed to defeat the enemy, to accept diversity, to tame what is difficult, unravel what is complex, decipher what is unknown.
Like fear, courage is a feeling which is bound up with the time and place in which it manifests itself. The courage needed to go beyond the Columns of Hercules was undoubtedly different to the courage it took to pursue the Holy Grail, to stand up to the Inquisition, to treat lepers, to climb mountains, to set foot on the moon. "Witches -Voltaire remarked - ceased to exist when we stopped putting them to death".
Many of the tasks which once required courage have now, thanks to technology, descended from the realm of heroism to that of everyday routine: the sacrifice of the "little revenge of the Lombards" has been superseded by radar, that of Icarus by supersonic airliners; it would only take a cell phone to calm all Penelope's anxiety, or indeed alert the whole of the rearguard drawn up at Waterloo.
The bold, exuberant courage demonstrated by the high wire artiste is very different from the dogged courage needed by a widow; the years of courage essential to the spy is different again from the momentary courage of the bag snatcher.
To get the better of wiliness you need a subtle sort of courage; to contrast arrogance takes an inflexible sort; to educate ignorance you need the courage of a missionary; to follow the leader requires the courage of devotion; to neutralise the trivial you have to have a high-minded courage; to overcome bureaucracy the courage has to be ironic; to maintain democracy requires an organized courage; to take no notice of offence you need a magnanimous courage; while to sacrifice yourself for a cause takes a neurotic sort of courage. Courage is the stuff of men's achievements and lives: necessary for Giordano Bruno to face death at the stake; necessary for the gladiator to dispatch his opponent; necessary for the saint to bear witness to his faith; necessary for the scientist to confute established doctrine; necessary for the astronaut to defy the law of gravity; necessary for the manager to take a decision; necessary for the gambler to reveal his hand. It takes courage to tackle courage.
For more information about the definitive program of the Ravello Festival 2009, please see the attached file