Nobody wants to be a coward. But to quit cowardice we have to know the opposite.
Fortitude or courage is
For instance, fortitude is often described as fearlessness or daring. But in reality, many people with great courage get scared. The difference is that they act in the face of great difficulty or apparent certitude of great suffering or death. In Aquinas’ understanding, magnificence, confidence, patience, perseverance, and magnanimity are specifically parts of fortitude when they are in reference to fear or danger of death. When they are related to other fears, they are considered secondary virtues to fortitude. In other words, virtues that tend toward fortitude and grow as fortitude grows.
The parts of fortitude:
Aggression is the first habit or act of fortitude. It is acting for good and noble purposes despite fear and danger of death. This is not aggression in the modern sense of senseless violence. But rather it is the poise or habit developed over time to take risks for what is good.
Aquinas points out that fortitude requires confidence and he cites Tully in his definition of it here, “In this respect, Tully mentions confidence, of which he says (loc. cit.) that with this the mind is much assured and firmly hopeful in great and honorable undertakings.” Aquinas’ point of view on confidence is interesting because at one point he observes that losing the fear of death through training makes a soldiers action the result of science, not the habit of fortitude. But then here he puts confidence as a requirement or quasi-integral part of fortitude. If one wishes to be able to live bravely and gain the habit of acting in the face of fear, even the fear of death, one must gain assurance and firm hope that he/she can accomplish great and honorable things. I would say that confidence comes primarily from three things: beliefs, skill, and self-mastery/state control.
Magnificence is the “the discussion and administration, i.e., the accomplishment of great and lofty undertakings, with a certain broad and noble purpose of mind,” so as to combine execution with the greatness of purpose. To be able to actually perform an act initiated is a sign of true fortitude because it is an aspect of true fortitude. The man who bluffs and yells and runs away from a fight fails at the level of magnificence. The same is true for somebody who fails to finish what he started for no rational or noble reason (protecting family, realizing the goal was evil, etc), but solely for the purpose of staying out of harm’s way.
Endurance is the second act or habit of fortitude. Endurance is the passive side of fortitude insofar as it relates to standing immovable in the midst of dangers without attacking them. Obviously, this goes along with aggression in that one must be able to endure feeling terrible fear in order to be aggressively interested in pursuing this or that noble goal in the face of the death of physical harm. But endurance has utility beyond aggression or attack as well.
Patience is “the voluntary and prolonged endurance of arduous and difficult things for the sake of virtue or profit.” In Aquinas’ taxonomy of virtues, patience keeps the mind from being broken by sorrow during times of difficulty. In other words to have patience is to habitually resolve not to give up when suffering difficulty over an extended time. Patience is related to confidence and hope in that it implies attempting to keep a positive or non-sorrowful frame of mind.
Perseverance is “the fixed and continued persistence in a well-considered purpose.” Perseverance protects us from becoming too weary to do good and noble deeds. One might say that a persevering person is one who routinely does good to neighbor regardless of how tired or exhausted he is. One who continues to show kindness to doctors and nurses when he has cancer or who refuses to give up during an extended tour in battle has perseverance.
Magnanimity is applying the mind to great and noble things. It is a part of fortitude, but in my
mindit doesn’t fit neatly under aggression or endurance. Magnanimity supports both aspects of fortitude, though. Because it is having the mind or intention of doing great deeds (great in proportion to who you are and great objectively) it supports the will with emotions of excitement and momentum. The idea is to be habitually concerned with doing what is great: being the best parent you can be, being the best version of yourself, building up those around you, supporting public projects, giving to charity, being a part of a just social movement, and so-on can lead to a habit of magnanimity that will support acts of fortitude.
 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, n.d.). Question CXXVIII