According to the dictionary: a tendency of the spirit to consider something as probable; the second of the theological virtues; expectation; supposition; probability.
For the ancient Greeks: In one of the classic myths of the Creation, one of the gods, furious at the fact that Prometheus stole fire and in doing so gave men their independence, sends Pandora to marry her brother Epimetheus. Pandora brings along a box, which she is forbidden to open. However, just as happens to Eve in the Christian myth, her curiosity gets the better of her: she raises the lid to see what is inside, and at this moment all the troubles of the world spill out and spread all over the Earth. Only one thing remains inside: Hope, the only arm to combat the misfortune that has scattered throughout the world.
In a Hassidic story (Jewish tradition): At the end of the forty days of deluge, Noah emerged from the Ark. He disembarked full of hope, lit some incense, looked around him, and all he saw was destruction and death. Noah cried out:
“Lord Almighty, if you knew the future, why did you create man? Just for the pleasure of punishing him?”
A triple perfume rose to the sky: the incense, the perfume of Noah’s tears, and the aroma of his actions.
Then came the answer:
“The prayers of a just man are always heard. Let me tell you why I did this: so that might understand your work. You and your descendants will use hope and will always be rebuilding a world that came from nothing. In that way we shall share the work and the consequences: now we are both responsible.”
The individual’s three greatest hopes: 1] Meeting the beloved one; 2] to be rich; 3] immortality. (Source: Irving Wallace, The Book of Lists, 1977)
An Arab story: The great Caliph Alrum Al-Rachid decided to build a palace that would mark the grandeur of his reign. Besides the chosen terrain stood a shack. Al-Rachid asked his minister to convince the owner – an old weaver – to sell it to be demolished. The minister tried, but without any success.
Back at the palace, it was suggested that they simply expel the old man from the site.
“No,” answered Al-Rachid. “It will become part of my legacy to my people. When they see the palace, they will say: he was great. And when they see the shack, they will say: he was just, because he respected the desire of others.”