MOTHER COURAGE: He must be a very bad commander.

THE COOK: Just a greedy one. Why bad?

MOTHER COURAGE: Because he needs brave soldiers, that’s why. If his plan of campaign was any good, why would he need brave soldiers, wouldn’t plain, ordinary soldiers do? Whenever there are great virtues, it’s a sure sign something’s wrong.

THE COOK: You mean it’s a sure sign something’s right.

MOTHER COURAGE: I mean what I say. Listen. When a general or a king is stupid and leads his soldiers into a trap, they need the virtue of courage. When he’s tight-fisted and hasn’t enough soldiers, the few he does have need the heroism of Hercules – another virtue. And if he’s a sloven and doesn’t five a damn about anything, they have to be as wise as serpents or they’re finished. Loyalty’s another virtue and you need plenty of it if the king’s always asking too much of you. All virtues which a well-regulated country with a good king or a good general wouldn’t need. In a good country virtues wouldn’t be necessary. Everybody could be quite ordinary, middling, and, for all I care, cowards.

— Bertolt Brecht, ‘Mother Courage and Her Children’

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