Greek Word Arete

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When considering how a person should act in order to gain the most honor or respect, there are varying opinions. Some may say that you simply must be a good person, but how does one constitute what a good person looks like? The Greek word arete represents what the ideal person in Greek society was. Sometimes arete is loosely translated to mean virtue, however this can be misconstrued in the English language. “Virtue, at least in modern english, is almost entirely a moral word; arete on the other hand is used indifferently in all the categories and means simply ‘excellence’” (H.D.F Kitto, The Greeks, 1952). Because arete is explained by different languages as different things, it makes sense that arete would then be viewed at variance by contrasting…show more content…
Godshalk’s Presentation on Greece) and perfection of the soul. Jesus agreed with Socrates that this was the most important aspect of arete, as well as focusing on oneself before the opinions of others (The Sermon on the Mount). However, when it came to this opinion of others, Jesus and Socrates did not agree. Jesus mentions, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you” (The Sermon on the Mount). Here, Jesus is emphasizing the exact opposite of most of the original views of arete that stem from excellence and being accepted by others (H.D.F Kitto, The Greeks, 1952). He is saying that it is positive to be put down by others and that because of this, one knows that he is gaining true arete and focusing on himself and his own soul. Not only does Jesus say that is is good that people look down on one who is gaining true arete, but he encourages said person to rejoice in the persecution put upon them, “because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (The Sermon on the Mount). Socrates, in his idea of arete, decided that it was not good for others to look down on a person for their way of thinking, which contrasts Jesus’ teachings. Although, Socrates did agree with Jesus that one should not let the opinions of others affect them. This is backed up by…show more content…
Socrates begged that the citizens of Athens “not...care for [their] persons or [their] property more than for the perfection of [their] souls” and also reminded them that “virtues does not come from money, but from virtue comes money and all other good things to man” (“Apologia”). Jesus similarly taught that wealth came from the truth and that virtue came above all else, but he had a different meaning of wealth. While Socrates was teaching about physical wealth such as money, fame, and other worldly possessions, Jesus was considering wealth to be more metaphysical, such as entrance into the Kingdom of God. Also, Jesus was a keen believer that when it came to having virtue, a person should hide their action and be virtuous in secret, which also deviates from the original views of arete (Dr. Godshalk’s Presentation on Jesus). Socrates idea of virtue did not agree with Jesus on this point, and tended to stay truer to the original view of arete that you should be noticed for your actions, regardless of what people thought about them (Dr. Godshalk’s Presentation on
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