There are many ways to describe this on a number of atheistic, ethic, and moral levels. If a knife cuts perfectly, as the perfect knife should do, it is being “excellent”. See an overview of the concepts of Plato’s Republic. Wikipedia. , Excellence by any name, be it arete, telos, ethos, purpose, mastery, morality, or any other greater or lesser virtue, is roughly the same. "Arete Explained" is tagged with: Essentialism and Existentialism, Ethics, Happiness, Metaphysics, Morality, Plato. Below we look at how the term evolved in meaning from Homer to Aristotle. Homer applies the term of both the Greek and Trojan heroes as well as major female figures, such as Penelope, the wife of the Greek hero Odysseus. , 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. Francesco Hayez , Ulysses at the court of Alcinous , 1814-1815. If Arete is knowledge and study, the highest human knowledge is knowledge about knowledge itself; in this light, the theoretical study of human knowledge, which Aristotle called "contemplation", is the highest human ability and happiness. , In short, all good qualities and virtues (inward and outward) have an underlying property of excellence, or arete. by Robert Fagles. Arete is associated with the goodness and prowess of a warrior (187). (See a list of Aristotle’s vices and virtues, we also explain this in detail below). Web. The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. The video below describes goodness and the virtue as understood by Aristotle (in regards to the self and state). Learn more about virtue and vice. The usage is pretty easy, you can basically type the name of the letter and put a backslash in front of it. Through her efforts, the two were wed and the Colchians were forced to return to their homeland without Medea.. This can be understood by looking at the concept of the polis. Aristotle, in a way, combines the concepts of inner excellence, outward acts of greatness, and the communication of excellence as the concept of purpose (telos). Plato wrote about arete in his Allegory of the Cave and other texts (circa 400 BC) where the term took on deeper meanings regarding truth and wisdom within one’s self. For the thin ridge of rock formed by glaciers, see, Homer. Any mention of a brand or other trademarked entity is for the purposes of education, entertainment, or parody. 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.. This led to the thought that athletics had to be present in order to obtain arete. The meaning of arete changes depending on what it describes, as everything has its own particular arete, “essence,” “excellence,” or “Highest Good.”, The arete of a man is different from the arete of a horse, and they are both different than the arete of an apple, or the arete of a nation-state.. So, not only is Achilles a brave and brilliant warrior but also, from the outset, he is destined to die in battle at Troy with the utmost glory—a guarantor of Arete.. In this respect, arete is a placeholder for “The Greatest Good of a thing” (the Chief Good), it is the true essence of things, it is the true form, it is moderation, justice, happiness, and moral duty in their perfect states. When a thing is in its perfect “balanced” state, its “best state,” perfectly mirroring its ideal form/essence, that thing is “quality,” it is a work of art, it has art, it is the arete of that thing. 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. Some sources claim that it means "righteous", while others connect it with Ares, the Greek god of war. Penelope's arete, for example, relates to co-operation, for which she is praised by Agamemnon. Since there is no English equivalent to arete, we have to rely on examples and semantics. By the 5th and 4th centuries BC, arete as applied to men had developed to include quieter virtues, such as dikaiosyne (justice) and sophrosyne (self-restraint). Evil intentions and the pursuit of material possessions at the expense of others were the lowest kinds of these tiers, and the pursuit of excellence was the highest. The story has become known as Hercules at the crossroads. The aristocracy of virtues, for a given thing.  The term may also mean "moral virtue". "HOMONOIA : Goddess of Concord & Unanimity | Greek Mythology."  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. At a crossroads, Arete appeared to Heracles as a young maiden, and offered him glory and a life of struggle against evil; her counterpart Kakia (κακία, "badness"), offered him wealth and pleasure. Such is the idea of teachings like the Tao, the Art of War, religion, statesmanship, and the classics in general. All people, places, and things have the potential to achieve excellence, but one’s “lot in life” is a very real factor in regards to success. 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.
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