Culture and Celebration
     Excellence in All Endeavors
  • Translated as "virtue," the word actually means something closer to excellence, "being the best you can be," or "reaching your highest human potential." The man or woman of areté is a person of the highest effectiveness. They use all their faculties: strength, bravery, wit, and intellegence, to achieve real results.

  • Embedded in the culture of Ancient Greece is the idea and goal of an individual being good at many things, by virtue of just being human and striving for excellence. This Greeks called an all rounder, the Europeans called the Renaissance man and we call a well rounded individual.
  • Arete finds it succinct intellectual expression in Aristotle’s definition of happiness, which is roughly:

Using all your vital powers and energies
along lines of

  Wisdom, Balance, Moderation
  • Greeks upheld the idea of Sophrosyne meaning wisdom and moderation. It is perhaps best expressed by the two most famous sayings of the Delphic Oracle: "Nothing in excess" and Know thyself."


  • In classical Greece it referred to excellence of character and soundness of mind in a well balanced individual. Perhaps wholeness is the modern concept that comes closest to capturing this essence.  
       Sophrosyne can be understood as
  • Self awareness-- "Know thyself
  • Modesty (self confident humility, the opposite of arrogance)

  • Respect for excellence
  • Respect for human nature, its limits and balance

  • Wisdom(clear discernment based on broad knowledge, including self knowledge)
  • Soundness of mind opposed to mania; sanity, soberness; self-control 

  • Self-restrained freedom
  • Love of truth-beauty-goodness 
  • The opposite of sophrosyne is hubris, denoting overconfident pride and arrogance.
  • Hubris is often associated with a lack of knowledge, combined with a lack of humility.