From the Greek ε[symbol omitted]τραπελία meaning ready wit or liveliness, is a term used by scholastic theologians to signify moderation in the use of recreation. As a virtue eutrapelia was introduced into the study of morals by aristotle (Eth. Nic. 4.8), and in modern speech it goes commonly by the name of recreation. Constant work and application cause weariness of mind and body, and the normal cure for this is play. However, this need for relaxation should be in accord with the demands of right reason, which require that recreation involve nothing morally evil, that the participant should not lose self–control altogether, and that the norms of prudence be followed as regards time, circumstances, and social relationship. Defect in the matter of eutrapelia would consist in taking too little recreation, which leads to austere moroseness, or in being boorish in one's social relationships. Excess in recreation would occur if one were to become too fascinated by the delight that accompanies play and thus neglect the serious matters of life. St. thomas aquinas included eutrapelia in his scheme of virtues under the potential parts of temperance. Offenses against this virtue ordinarily are not grave, and at most would consist in a hindrance to good social life. Too little play can be worse than too much.
Bibliography: aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1128a. thomas aquinas, ST 2a2ae, 168.2. f. l. b. cunningham, ed., The Christian Life (Dubuque 1959) 740–741.
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