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Kouros - (Κούρος; plural is Κούροι) Kouros literally means "young man." The word can be used in the contemporary Greek language to mean simply "boy." In ancient Greek art, however, Kouros refers to a style of sculpture, nude statues of standing young men, depicted in a particular style which began to appear in the Archaic period around 600 BCE. The posture of these sculptures is decidedly erect with the left (the active) foot forward. The youths are portrayed in perfect physical condition, if not overtly muscular. The hair is usually long and flowing, rather than short or tied up. Many books call these statues "Apóllôn" (Ἀπόλλων) but it is not certain whether this is so, except in limited instances where it can be demonstrated. The faces are smiling, as though the young men were in a ceremonial procession. Kouros are much more than just beautiful statues. They are mystic symbols, representative of the deified soul, a particular type of deified soul. Their countenance expresses what is known as the Arkhaïkón Meidíama (the archaic smile, Αρχαϊκόν Μειδίαμα), or the Divine Smile. This smile is their response to the experience of divinity. They have achieved this divinity through valor while in their youth and have attained a special happiness called Makariótis (Μακαριότης), a blessed joy gained through heroic death.

In some cases, Kouros represent known historic personages, ǽphivi (epheboi, έφηβοι, plural of ἔφηβος) who, just before death, attained supreme virtue and were deified by the Gods. These young men achieved great Arætí (Arete = Virtue, Ἀρετή) before dying, youths such as Klǽovis and Víton (Cleobis and Biton, Κλέοβις και Βίτων), as detailed in the Istoríai (Histories, Ἱστορίαι) of Iródotos (Herodotus, Ἡρόδοτος) Book I, Chapter 31. The statues of these Kouros, sculpted by the Argive sculptor Polymídis (Polymides, Πολυμήδης), have survived and are in the Dælphí (Delphi, Δελφοί) Museum. They were a gift from the people of Argos to Apóllôn (Ἀπόλλων) at his sanctuary at Dælphí. Klǽovis and Víton were the sons of Kydíppi (Cydippe, Κυδίππη), the priestess of Íra (Hera, Ήρα) at Árgos (Ἄργος). When the oxen did not arrive in time to transport their mother to an important ceremony, her sons took the yoke of the carriage and dragged her to the temple. Their struggle was so extraordinary that Kydíppi prayed that they receive the best gift a man can receive. That night, the brothers died in their sleep. Because of their extraordinary piety, the Gods deified them. Klǽovis and Víton then beheld the Divine World....and they smiled. They are Kouri (Κούροι, plural of Κούρος). (For the complete story directly quoted from Iródotos and a picture of the statues of the young men, please visit this page: Klǽovis and Víton)

The etymology of the English word courage is typically traced thus: Middle English corage, from Anglo-French curage, from quer, coer, meaning "heart," from the Latin cor. But the word has Greek roots related to the Kouros. Kouros is derived from Kóri. Kori is combined with ágo: Κόρη ("Kore" or "Core") + ἄγω ("I bring") = Kouráyia (Κουράγια). There is a great ritual of this name; the Kouráyia is the Ritual of Courage, a mighty ritual to bring down the Kóri in times of great need. Kouros are not necessarily Kóri, those Gods who return to the world of the mortals to help mankind, but their name, Kouros, is related etymologically to the word Kóri as are their virtuous actions.

For many beautiful pictures of Kouri, visit the Wikipedia article: Kouros.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology , the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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