The Greek word for gutsy, which is all I remember from translating bits of the Iliad, is thumos. (Being Greek, thumos is warmer than a ski patrol. Maybe more like an inner teeny-tiny cliff diver, bronzed and covered in olive oil.)
Right: "Finnish soldiers patrolling on skis, December 1, 1939," Photographer: Carl Mydans/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
It's stupid to glamorize war. So lets pretend that these ski patrollers aren't actually soldiers from a country with 32 tanks (that would be Finland) taking on Stalin's 2,514 tanks during the winter of 1939-40, when temperatures fell to a record -45 degrees.
Let's say they are a metaphor for calling up our inner courage and stick-to-itiveness when caught between a rock and a hard place.
I'm sure that's what appealed to Americans when they read about The Plucky Finn in the Winter War:
"The Finns have something they call sisu. It is a compound of bravado and bravery, of ferocity and tenacity, of the ability to keep fighting after most people would have quit, and to fight with the will to win. The Finns translate sisu as "the Finnish spirit," but it is a much more gutful word than that. Last week the Finns gave the world a good example of sisu by carrying the war into Russian territory on one front while on another they withstood merciless attacks by a reinforced Russian Army. In the wilderness that forms most of the Russo-Finnish frontier between Lake Laatokka and the Arctic Ocean, the Finns definitely gained the upper hand."They lost, of course, eventually, though that's a relative term. I mean, compared to Estonia, Finland won--after World War II, they still had their independence.
—Time Magazine, January 8, 1940