This chapter examines the close relationship between feasting and systematic ethics, both in practice and through the iconographic conventions of histories, romances, philosophical texts and behavioural manuals. Feasting was regularly used to visualize the cardinal virtue temperance, which promoted balance in all human endeavours, as well as gluttony and magnificence. These images and their accompanying texts suggest that feasting should be considered not as a celebration of excess, as many modern scholars suggest, but rather as a key site for negotiating the balance between virtue and vice. Feasts thus promoted a culture of discernment directed at observing and regulating both the actions of others and oneself.
Keywords: virtue, vice, ethics, temperance, magnificence, Aristotle, Nicolas Oresme, mirror of princes