Livy, Cicero, and other writers say that constantia, pietas and gravitas were the original three Roman virtues. Constantia looks like the English “constancy”. It is indeed the direct ancestor of our constance “the quality of having a resolute mind, purpose, or affection; steadfastness“, but constantia is closer in meaning to perseverance, that is to say constancy in the face of obstacles and difficulties. Combined with gravitas, one’s sense of personal worth and dignity, constantia helped a Roman present a calm attitude in the face of adversity. It was considered, like many Roman virtues, to be an essential virtue for a military person. The ability to keep a cool head in adversity in danger and to be able to keep doing what needs to be done as well is survival skills in war or disaster.
Too often we hear of people behaving very badly in crowds, led on by the emotions of the masses and the moment. Constantia and gravitas help you do the right thing because you’re the sort of person who does the right thing. It’s duty to self as well as to family and society. Part of living a self-examined life is not only in being honest with oneself about one’s motivations, but having goals and ambitions of what sort of persons we wish to be. Character building is a life-long activity, and that takes constantia to succeed.