Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "all the virtues in the calendar"?

Doing a phrase search (with quotes) gives many example usages.

Questions: 1. Is there an actual calendar of virtues somewhere with specific virtues listed?
2. Or, is this just a vague figure of speech (and thus presumably means all conceivable virtues)?

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    That's totally unfamiliar to me. Could conceivably be a reference to either the Greek/Roman calender and associated days honoring the gods, or the Christian calendar and it's saints' days, where each god/saint represents a "virtue". (Most of the references Google finds are quite old.) – Hot Licks Dec 23 '14 at 19:15
  • Yes, it is probably derived by extension from the calendar of saints. "Saints in the calendar" is the more frequently met expression. – Brian Donovan Dec 23 '14 at 20:22
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    It's OED definition 4a: A list or register of any kind. (In the general sense, now only figurative) – FumbleFingers Dec 23 '14 at 22:08

The Christian year is full of feast days, particularly in the Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican confessions though not restricted by them.

These days once held a much more vital part in the reckoning of days than they do today. And so the calendar was as much a matter of hagiography as it was of time-keeping.

From this the figurative sense "A guide, directory: an example, model." once had currency from:

Thou..woste well that kalender ys she To any woman that wull louer be. — Chaucer, "The legend of good women", c1385


Hee is the card or kalender of gentry. — Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1604.

Which shows another way in which the calendar was associated with the virtues one can learn by devoted study of hagiography.

And so "all the virtues in the calendar" is "all the virtues ascribed to all the saints in the calendar".

A form that was more explicit in that was:

Encouraged by his dramatic success and anxious to continue the literary career begun by him in England, Eustaphieve published early in 1812, "Reflections, Notes, and Original Anecdotes, illustrating the Character of Peter the Great, to which is added a tragedy in five acts entitled "Alexis, the Czarewitz." In his panegyric on Peter the Great, in whom he apparently found the prototype for Alexander I., to whom the volume was dedicated, he refuted the charges of cruelty which had been preferred against the Tsar, and surrounded him with an aureole of glory, investing him with all the virtues in the calendar of saints. — Leo Wiener, "The First Russian Consul at Boston", in The Russian Review, 1916. [Emphasis mine].


Is there an actual calendar of virtues somewhere with specific virtues listed?

Yes. 'Calendar' is an archaic word for a list of any kind (see FumbleFingers's comment). Greek and early Christian moral philosophy was based on the notion that there were certain virtues a person should aspire too. Modern academics typically call them "catalogs".

Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero all list what they believe are fundamental human virtues. In the Christian world, Saint Augustine lists some in Confessions and current catechism keep up the tradition. The wikipedia page on "cardinal virtue" provides a wider background and several examples.

  • The question is which calendar or list of virtues the phrase is referring to. (The question is not whether lists of virtues exist, the question is which calendar/list this phrase is referring to.) – mattsh Dec 25 '14 at 23:51

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