Prudence in Aristotle
The seminal texts for understanding Aristotle's virtue of prudence are the Nicomachean Ethics, the Eudemian Ethics, and the Politics. However, an earlier work, the Rhetoric, contains helpful hints about the centrality of prudence for virtue.
Rhetoric, according to Aristotle, is not a pejorative or morally suspect term. Rhetoric is skill in constructing and delivering speeches that will guide an audience to accept what is true and good. These speeches fall into three major genres: political speeches, where people deliberate and debate about what to do; praise-giving speeches, where people extol the praiseworthy deeds of others; and legal speeches, where people prosecute and defend cases before juries acting as judges.
In all three settings, the speech needs to present sound arguments supporting the speaker's position. A successful speech, however, needs more than sound arguments. It must also arouse appropriate emotions in the audience and it must reveal that the speaker is a person of good character—a virtuous person.
Rhetoric is thus not far from ethics for several reasons. First, if one of the things that makes a speech credible is the virtuous character of the speaker then rhetoric will say something about virtue and about the role of prudence in developing virtuous character.
Second, speeches given during political debates require the speaker to know something about what makes lives good because