Hubris In Ancient Greek

1363 Words 6 Pages
The Archaic and Classical periods of Greece, which lasted from 700 to 320 BCE, were a time of change and development. Though Greece, like many other civilizations, experienced times of war and expansion, they also managed to develop an extremely distinct culture. Various aspects of this culture, such as mythology, theater, and government, help demonstrate the values that the Greeks had. While Greek values may not seem to be inherently related to one another, principles such as hubris and the Greek understanding of government directly reflect the collective desire to find a balance between two extremes and to understand one’s role and limitations. This common root is what links seemingly unrelated values across Greece.
The Greek belief in the
…show more content…
Hubris was the Greek term for excessive pride or confidence. In theater, hubris was often the hamartia, or fatal flaw, of a character in the play. Nevertheless, hubris was not always portrayed in a bad light. For example, in Sophocles’ Antigone, it says that “Wonders are many on earth, and the greatest of these is man, who rides the ocean and takes his way through the deeps, through wind-swept valleys of perilous seas that surge and sway.” This was a clearly positive testament to a great pride in humanity. However, in Oedipus the King, which was also written by Sophocles, it was clearly stated that pride is horrible, and can lead to tyranny and other awful aspects of society. The reason that Sophocles was able to portray both of these extreme perspectives was because of the Greek concept of finding a balance. Without that theory, it would have been impossible for the value of hubris to be such a key part of Greek culture. The idea of understanding a human’s place in society also influences the value of hubris within mythology. In this myth, Prometheus boldly asks Zeus to give fire to humans. Zeus refuses because he fears that if given fire, humans will become as powerful as gods. While Prometheus had the pride, or hubris, to go ask Zeus for fire, he was denied it …show more content…
While Greece had many forms of government (which also reflects their need not to gravitate to one extreme in terms of government), the Greeks are commonly known for the origination of Democracy, in Athens. The Athenian government was reformed many times until the 5th century, when they reached a form of democracy that fully represented all Athenian citizens. They were pushed to do so both from their appreciation of human nature, and their value of the middle class. In a writing by Aristotle titled Politics, Aristotle explained that since nature gave man speech, it is human nature to be political, and since man is the only one that understands the difference between good and evil, it is their duty to create justice. This idea, that it is the role of all humans to contribute to government and justice, helped push Athens to create a form of government in which all citizens have a voice. The process of creating a fair democracy was also aided by the appreciation of the middle class. In an essay by Aristotle titled The Origin and Nature of the State, Aristotle states that “It is admitted that moderation and the mean are best.” He then goes on to explain that

Related Documents