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noble is defined in the Brainy Dictionary as:
- Possessing eminence, elevation, dignity, etc.; above whatever is low, mean, degrading, or dishonorable; magnanimous; as, a noble nature or action; a noble heart.
- Grand; stately; magnificent; splendid; as, a noble edifice.
- Of exalted rank; of or pertaining to the nobility; distinguished from the masses by birth, station, or title; highborn; as, noble blood; a noble personage.
- A person of rank above a commoner; a nobleman; a peer.
A history of "noble cause"
In Jerome H. Neyrey's "The 'Noble' Shepherd in John 10: Cultural and Rhetorical Background" (September 30, 1999) we find background on the concept of a noble cause:
- "On occasion funeral orations declare a death 'noble' because of some uniqueness. Orators assert that 'no one' else has ever been able to perform this deed and achieve this honor. In his funeral oration Hyperides articulates the uniqueness of those he praises in this manner: 'Never before did men strive for a nobler cause, either against stronger adversaries or with fewer friends, convinced that valour gave strength and courage superiority as no mere numbers could' (Funeral Speech 19). 42 Uniqueness is argued in two ways. First, no one before them had a more noble cause for which to fight. Second, a series of comparisons dramatizes their excellence: they faced a foe stronger than has ever been faced and they advanced with fewer allies than anyone else. Their honor calculus tells them that valour produces strength and courage superiority."
- "A truly noble death was generally identified as such by the posthumous honors paid to the deceased. This esteem might be expressed by public celebration of the dead, such as games or monuments. 43 The very funeral orations which we are examining themselves serve to give glory to the dead first by giving a public evaluation of their worth and later by annual burnishing of their reputation. 44 Whether games, monuments, or annual funeral orations, the aim was to give a type of eternal glory to the dead. Hence, we frequently find the claim that those being celebrated are in one sense like the gods, because their glory too is now deathless and everlasting. Demosthenes sums it up tidily: 'It is a proud privilege to behold them possessors of deathless honours and a memorial of their valour erected by the State, and deemed deserving of sacrifices and games for all future time' (Funeral Oration 36)." 45