To achieve true excellence, therefore, a person had to possess all the qualities that the Greeks valued, at least to some degree. In ancient Greece, this notion of excellence was bound up with the act of living up to one's full potential. Arete could not arise out of nothing – it was always accompanied by specific actions or virtues. At first, Arete was an Ancient Greek goddess and was Queen of Scheria, where she ruled with her husband, Alcinous, King of the Phaeacians.
Still have questions? In the ancient world, Greece was at the forefront of education, philosophy, and the sciences. Introduction and notes by Bernard Knox. Arete did not necessarily mean virtue simply as doing good works or showing devotion to the gods in the right way. She was not just an individual goddess; she was the sum of what all the other gods and goddesses of virtue brought to a person. In Greek mythology, Queen Arete(Greek: Ἀρήτη, Arêtê) of Scheriawas the wife of Alcinousand mother of Nausicaaand Laodamas. In Greek mythology, Queen Arete (Greek: polytonic|Ἀρήτη Arêtê ) of Scheria was the wife of Alcinous and mother of Nausicaa and Laodamas.  In its earliest appearance in Greek, this notion of excellence was ultimately bound up with the notion of the fulfillment of purpose or function: the act of living up to one's full potential. She was plump and wearing many jewels, with heavy makeup and revealing clothing. Sometimes they were so closely related that they became virtually indistinguishable from one another. To do so, a person had to develop their mind, body, and soul through education and hard work. Of course, in the Greek world it was not possible for just anyone to meet Arete. It was still, however, a place in which physical strength was necessary for survival and the ancient gods held an important place in everyday life. The aristocratic class was, but its nature, far more likely to attain the highest level of virtue and greatness in Greek culture. The person of Arete is of the highest effectiveness; they use all their faculties—strength, bravery, and wit—to achieve real results. As with many of the daimones, or minor gods of personifications, it is often difficult to tell in context whether a writer is referring to the idea of arete or the goddess Arete. Some sources claim that it means "righteous", while others connect it with Ares, the Greek … Arete (Greek: ἀρετή), in its basic sense, means "excellence" of any kind. For the thin ridge of rock formed by glaciers, see, Homer. by Robert Fagles. Thank you for helping build the largest language community on the internet. The gymnasia were built to encourage the development of a healthy body. In Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, "arete" is used mainly to describe heroes and nobles and their mobile dexterity, with special reference to strength and courage, but it is not limited to this. The only story involving Arete was originally told in the 5th century BC by the sophist Prodicus, and concerns the early life of the hero Heracles. For the thin ridge of rock formed by glaciers, see, Homer. Arete was a minor Greek goddess and therefore very little mythological background is known about her. Arete was the goddess or daimona of virtue, excellence, goodness and valour. You will be quizzed on Arete's background, history, and modern-day legacy. Arete (Greek: ἀρετή), in its basic sense, means "excellence" of any kind. Borrowing from Greek Mythology, the concept of Arete was used to describe moral virtue and excellence of any kind. Arete is a significant part of the paideia of ancient Greeks: the training of the boy to manhood. Greek Lyric V), Another writer, Simonides, claimed that Arete lived in a holy place high on unclimbable rocks. Despite their immortality and similarities to modern day superheroes, they are still plagued with personal flaws and negative emotions which caused destruction in their lives and the lives of other gods and mortals. He would face a life of great toil and difficulty, but in the end would be lauded as a man of virtue and nobility. Arete represented a lofty ideal, but the Greeks recognized that this ideal depended on other concepts. She is not to be confused with the mythological Queen Arete mentioned in the Argonautica and the Odyssey, whose name in Greek is spelled Ἀρήτη (with a different vowel in the second syllable). Arete was occasionally personified as a goddess, the sister of Homonoia (not to be confused with Harmonia), and the daughter of the goddess of justice, Praxidike. Francesco Hayez , Ulysses at the court of Alcinous , 1814-1815. The arete of something is the highest quality state it can reach. Arete (Greek: ἀρετή), in its basic sense, means "excellence" of any kind. In the Greek tragedy 'Medea', when the … In the Homeric poems, Arete is frequently associated with bravery, but more often with effectiveness. While any item or creature could have arete by its own standards, only the best people would ever reach the standard of excellence set for humans. Arete was the Greek notion of excellence. Experience the Greek epic. This way of thinking comes first from Plato, where it can be seen in the Allegory of the Cave. The word was not only used for men, however; he also said Penelope, the loyal wife of Odysseus, was a person of arete. Therefore he is glorified in song for his exploits, and the Mousai (Muses), daughters of Mnamosyna (Mnemosyne), will exalt him to immortality, exalting the majesty of Zeus, god of hospitality, and the privilege of secure friendship. Debra Hawhee points out that the norms and practices of Athenian virtuosity “operate within the politics of reputation, whose normative poles are honor and shame” (187). Campbell, Vol. In Greek mythology, Queen Arete (/əˈriːtiː/; Greek: Ἀρήτη, Arētē "virtue") of Scheria, was the wife of Alcinous and mother of Nausicaa and Laodamas. The excellence of the gods generally included their power, but, in the Odyssey (13.42), the gods can grant excellence to a life, which is contextually understood to mean prosperity. If the point of life is happiness, as the Greek philosophers generally thought, then arete is a catch-all word that describes being in-tune with one’s higher self, finding happiness through virtue, ethics, and morality. Medea appealed to Arete, and Arete in turn appealed to her husband to grant mercy to Medea. It’s related to araomai, to pray, and to aristos, meaning “the best.”. Heracles, of course, chose the path of Arete. See more. Therefore, the concept formed a cornerstone in Greek education. They did not need to consume one's life, merely exercise the body into the right condition for arete, just like the mind and soul would be exercised by other means.. Her opposite number was the daimon Kakia, lady of vice. Stay safe and healthy. Debra Hawhee points out that the norms and practices of Athenian virtuosity “operate within the politics of reputation, whose normative poles are honor and shame” (187). Her sister was Homonia, the spirit of concord. The best known story of Arete is when Arete and Kakia approached Herakles and offered him a life of valour or a life of luxury. www.theoi.com. She represented true excellence. In fact, the word aristos, from which we get “aristocrat,” shares its root with arete. She is known as the Winged Goddess of Victory. Greek Mythology Gods World Mythology Greek Gods And Goddesses Roman Mythology Greek Mythology Tattoos Name Inspiration Character Inspiration Goddess Names Fantasy Names. Praxidike (The Execution of Justice) was her mother, and was responsible for both legal justice and personal vengeance. In ancient Greek, the word arete meant virtue or excellence. She was depicted as a fair woman of high bearing, dressed in white. As the personifications of abstract ideas, they often served closely-linked functions. She was a descendant of Poseidon, who, making love to Periboea, begot Nausithous, who in turn had two sons, Rhexenor, her father and Alcinous, her uncle and later on, her husband. Arete was, by her account, the most honored among all gods and men because none of their greatness would be possible without her. DIFFERENT TYPES OF ARETÉ— Heroic Arete. Among the gods mentioned in connection to Arete were: On the whole, nearly any virtue could be associated with Arete. , In regards to the Iliad the way Homer describes Achilles is an example of Arete (187). Modern liberal arts studies owe their concept of a broad education to the Greek pursuit of arete. This training in arete included physical training, for which the Greeks developed the gymnasion; mental training, which included oratory, rhetoric, and basic sciences; and spiritual training, which included music and what is called virtue. , The Ancient Greeks applied the term to anything: for example, the excellence of a chimney, the excellence of a bull for breeding, and the excellence of a man. Cacia was scorned for making men waste their lives and potential. Arete was occasionally personified as a goddess, the sister of Homonoia (not to be confused with Harmonia), and the daughter of the goddess of justice, Praxidike. The first was Arete. Read more to learn all about Arete, the goddess of virtue and excellence, and the ideal she embodied. Arete was closely linked to the personifications of other virtues, particularly those that allowed humans to achieve great honor and respect. The heroes were arete for their courage, strength, and devotion to the gods, while a dog could be arete for guarding its owner’s home diligently and herding his sheep with care.