Courage, personal honor, and spiritual and physical self-surpassment are often cited as the most important virtues of paganism. In contrast to Christian and Marxian utopian optimism, paganism emphasizes the profound sense of the tragic, the tragic--as seen in Greek tragedies--that sustains man in his Promethean plight and that makes his life worth living. It is the pagan sense of the tragic that can explain man's destiny---destiny, which for old Indo-Europeans "triggered action, endeavor, and self-surpassment. Hans Günther summarizes this point in the following words:
Indo-European religiosity is not rooted in any kind of fear, neither in fear of deity nor in fear of death. The words of the Latter-day Roman poet, that fear first created the Gods (Statius, Thebais, 3:661: primus in orbe fecit deos timor), cannot be applied to the true forms of Indo-European religiosity, for wherever it has unfolded freely, the "fear of the Lord" (Proverbs, Solomon 9, 10; Psalm 11, 30) has proved neither the beginning of belief nor of wisdom.
Some have suggested that the greatest civilizations are those that have shown a strong sense of the tragic and that have had no fear of death. In the pagan concept of the tragic, man is encouraged to take responsibility before history because man is the only one who gives history a meaning. Commenting on Nietzsche, Giorgio Locchi writes that, in pagan cosmogony, man alone is considered a forger of his own destiny (faber suae fortunea), exempt from biblical or historical determinism, "divine grace," or economic and material constraints. Paganism stresses a heroic attitude toward life as opposed to the Christian attitude of culpability and fear toward life. Sigrid Hunke writes of the essentialization of life, since both life and death have the same essence and are always contained in both. The life, which at any moment is face-to-death and with-death, renders the future permanent in each instant, and life becomes eternal by acquiring an inscrutable profundity, and by assuming the value of eternity.
Tomislav Sunic, 'Marx, Moses, and the Pagans in the Secular City', CLIO: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History, vol. 24 No 2, Winter 1995