April 12, 2007 by aaron

Areté literal translates to English as virtue or excellence, but to the ancient Greeks it is the concept of being the best at anything. Originally only applied to soldiers and their combat prowess, the concept eventually spread throughout Greek society to apply to anyone who was good at a skill– a potters areté was pottery. However, the term was not just a word the the Greeks, it was the driving force of the culture, and promoted the isolationism and the patriotism of the individual Greek polies. By promoting competition in everything it drove the development of technology, poetry and drama and touched every aspect of Greek life. Interestingly enough it also made the Greeks value cunning because it did not matter how one became the best as long as they were.

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