VIRTUE IN HELLENISMOS
"Emulate the Gods, for they are in harmony with nature and their souls are beautifully decorated with immeasurable acts of virtue."
νόσφι πόνων οὐκ ἔστιν ἀνέμβατον αἰθέρα ναίειν:
οὐ πέλε ῥηιδίη μακάρων ὁδός: ἐξ ἀρετῆς δὲ
ἀτραπὸς Οὐλύμποιο θεόσσυτος εἰς πόλον ἕλκει.
τέτλαθι καὶ σὺ πόνους πολυειδέας
“Without arduous labor one cannot inhabit the unreachable heavens.
The road to the Blessed is difficult: Virtue only,
As declared by the Gods, provides passage to the heart of Ólymbos.
You, therefore, also submit to difficulties of all kinds.”
(Διονυσιακὰ Νόννου 20.94-97, trans. by the author.)
Πρώτῃ καὶ ὀγδοηκοστῇ Ὀλυμπιάδι φασὶ τὴν Αἴτνην ῥυῆναι, ὅτε καὶ Φιλόνομος καὶ Καλλίας οἱ Καταναῖοι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν πατέρας ἀράμενοι διὰ μέσης τῆς φλογὸς ἐκόμισαν, τῶν ἄλλων κτημάτων καταφρονήσαντες. ἀνθ᾿ ὧν καὶ ἀμοιβῆς ἔτυχον τῆς ἐκ τοῦ θείου· τὸ γάρ τοι πῦρ θεόντων αὐτῶν διέστη καθ᾿ ὃ μέρος ἐκεῖνοι παρεγίνοντο.
“In the 81st Olympiad, they say that Mount Aetna erupted, and at that time, Philónomos and Kallías the Katanaians rescued their fathers and carried them through the fire, thinking nothing of their other possessions. For these acts they gained compensation from the Gods; for as they ran, the Gods set apart the fire wherever they came to be.” (τμῆμα 2 τοῦ Κλαύδιου Αἰλιανοῦ trans. by the author)
Il y a eu des gens qui ont dit autrefois: Vous croyez des choses incompréhensibles, contradictoires, impossibles, parce que nous vous l’avons ordonné; faites donc des choses injustes parce que nous vous l’ordonnons. Ces gens-là raisonnaient à merveille. Certainement qui est en droit de vous rendre absurde est en droit de vous rendre injuste. Si vous n’opposez point aux ordres de croire l’impossible l’intelligence que Dieu a mise dans votre esprit, vous ne devez point opposer aux ordres de malfaire la justice que Dieu a mise dans votre coeur. Une faculté de votre âme étant une fois tyrannisée, toutes les autres facultés doivent l’être également. Et c’est là ce qui a produit tous les crimes religieux dont la terre a été inondée.
"Formerly there were those who said: You believe things that are incomprehensible, inconsistent, impossible because we have commanded you to believe them; go then and do what is injust because we command it. Such people show admirable reasoning. Truly, whoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. If the God‐given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God‐given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives (sic) all those crimes of religion which have overrun the world. " (François-Marie Arouet Voltaire Questions sur les miracles, 1765; trans. Norman Lewis Torrey in Les Philosophes: The Philosophers of the Enlightenment and Modern Democracy, 1961)
Please also visit:Compassion in Ancient Greek ReligionGlossary of VirtueHymn to Virtue by Aristotǽlis
ARÆTÍ AND ÆLLINISMÓS
Some of the Christian denominations hold the belief that the human animal is depraved. Without the gift of faith, we are told, such a soul is doomed, and no accumulation of good works will “save” him. According to this teaching, salvation comes through Jesus alone and one’s personal effort is of no consequence. This idea stands in stark contrast to the teachings of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, yet remnants of this Christian view survive in the minds of converts, unaware of the roots of such thinking. Some in the modern community of Ællinismόs try to minimize the value of virtue, indeed, separating it entirely from the religion. Some will even tell you that virtue and the progress of the soul are decidedly distinct from the religion. They say that virtue is a personal matter and something reserved for the philosophers, that the religion only encompasses the worship of the Gods. It can be said with confidence that these people are misled.
According to ancient belief, the Omphalós (Ὀμφαλός), the navel or center of the world, is Dælphí (Delphi, Δελφοί). This place harbored the holy sanctuary of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων), who speaks the will of mighty Zefs (Ζεύς), the father of Gods and mortals. The sanctuary throne is shared with his brother, mighty Diónysos, who is the action of Zefs on earth. This is the location of the famous Oracle of Dælphí and is viewed not only as the navel of the world but the very center and heart of the religion itself. Residing at Dælphí for many years was the writer Ploutarkhos (Plutarch, Πλούταρχος) 46 CE – 120 CE, who is known primarily for a collection of biographies of notable Greeks and Romans, the Parallel Lives (Βίοι Παράλληλοι) or simply Plutarch's Lives. Lesser known is his huge collection of essays called The Morals or Moralia (Ethics, Ἠθικά). Both of these works promote the acquisition of virtue; the Lives often show the very real consequence of a life not lived in virtue, and especially in The Morals, which is, for all practical purposes, a huge essay on virtue, broken up into various sub-topics. What is even yet lesser known of Ploutarkhos is that for many years he was one of the two high priests of Apóllôn at Dælphí. Now if one the highest ranking priests of his era, whose post was at Dælphí, the seat of Ællinismόs, the very heart of our religion, now if this priest has spent so much time making the point of the importance of acquiring virtue, how can his opinion be so easily dismissed? And he was not alone in his view on virtue. While those who hold the position of divorcing virtue from the Ællinismόs are entitled to their opinion, the power of virtue is compelling and its value to our religion cannot be rejected lightly, such that in due time, the pursuit of virtue will be an idea to which those who do not agree, must eventually address; for a religion without virtue has no substance; a religion without virtue makes no difference.
But there is ample evidence that the reverence of virtue in our religion was fully acknowledged in ancient times. Much of Works and Days of Isíodos (Hesiod, Ἡσίοδος) is actually an admonishment to his brother to lead a virtuous life. In the book, the author clearly states that Zefs (Ζεύς) himself is outraged when men behave without virtue. And it is from his Thæogonía that modern practitioners derive much of the mythology of our religion.
In the Iliás (Iliad, Ἰλιάς) of Ómiros (Homer, Ὅμηρος), the mighty hero Akhilléfs (Achilles, Ἀχιλλεύς), is given two choices:
"My mother Thetis tells me that there are two ways in which I may meet my end. If I stay here and fight, I shall not return alive but my name (κλέος) will live for ever: whereas if I go home my name will die, but it will be long ere death shall take me.” 
In reality, such a choice is given to each one of us; we can lead a life of mundane and nominal pursuits and if we do so intelligently, we stand the chance of having a long and prosperous life, or, on the other hand, if we choose a life with a higher purpose and if we struggle and achieve this goal, the results can have momentous effect, not only in one's own life, but can extend to benefit many people. The choice to lead a virtuous life is the ultimate choice of higher purpose and is a choice of enormous challenge equal to that of the heroes. Such a pursuit is valid in any time or place, and life will provide obstacles that will prove to be as great an opponent as any of the ancient heroes were compelled to face.
As one last example for this section of the essay, may it be pointed out that the great Goddess of Athens, who gave her name to the city, is called the very embodiment of virtue in the Orphic fragments . If virtue is not a concern for those who worship the Gods, why would the great Olympian Goddess hold it in such high esteem? Why is she actually virtue itself? The answer is very simple; she and all the Gods revere virtue over every other thing, and those who wish to make great offerings to the Gods should consider leading a life of virtue to be paramount as the greatest of all offerings.
WHAT IS ARÆTÍ?
There are many ideas about virtue; here are several, more to just give an idea of the character of virtue, not as an exhausted list.
Generalities Concerning Arætí
Arætí (Arete, Ἀρετή) is defined as virtue. Sometimes arætí is associated with the Íroæs (Ἥρωες), the Heroes, and the acquisition of dóxa (δόξα) or klǽos (cleos, κλέος), glory or splendor. And again, we find the term is sometimes identified as the Roman virtus, a type of virility and strength.
When the subject of virtue is introduced into conversation, students often assume a suspiciously pious posture or face. There is an uncomfortable tension that almost begs for a change of subject. The implication is that virtue is identified with certain prescribed acts of "goodness" as opposed to ordinary or even natural action. And it is also assumed that we know what being virtuous is, as though it were self-evident. And when queried about it, the resulting discussion sounds curiously "Christian." But are our preconceptions correct? Is virtue being "good?" Is it really that simple or, rather, is it so lacking in imagination that you could simply follow an imposed and accepted list of good acts and attitudes, and that this would make you a virtuous person? Is virtue the same as goodness? If it is, what is this goodness?
The term arætí, as used in Orphismós, and as one of the Four Pillars of Ællinismόs, concerns the building of character; the focus being particular to this meaning while not excluding other types of excellence (see the lexicon entry for this word below). Orphismós is an erotic tradition; in other words, it is based on ǽrohs (eros, ἔρως), the attraction to deity and to the beautiful, and the interchange between Gods and mortals; but our religion is also based on arætí, for arætí is beautiful to the Gods who value it higher than any offering we can render. And the Gods love those who strive for virtue and they stand beside them and support them in their pursuit.
When we develop virtue in our soul, we do not need an orthodoxy to guide us, because it provides its own radiance and is like a great lighthouse within that not only leads our way, but shines forth to others who have the capacity to see such beauty, inspiring them to develop it for themselves. This view of virtue is in line with the Aristotelian idea commonly called virtue ethics, that ethical action flows naturally from the character of the virtuous soul, while yet acknowledging a role for reason in guiding one's actions. Indeed, the development of virtue is dependent on philosophía (philosophy, φιλοσοφία), but the danger in a philosophy of reason only, is to avoid genuine action in the world. Without involvement in the world and human activity, intellection is ultimately fruitless, guaranteed to miss the mark and be frustrated in its attempts to achieve the consummation of understanding.
"...to virtue belongs virtuous activity. But it makes, perhaps, no small difference whether we place the chief good in possession or in use, in state of mind or in activity. For the state of mind may exist without producing any good result, as in a man who is asleep or in some other way quite inactive, but the activity cannot; for one who has the activity will of necessity be acting, and acting well. And as in the Olympic Games it is not the most beautiful and the strongest that are crowned but those who compete (for it is some of these that are victorious), so those who act win, and rightly win, the noble and good things in life." 
Speaking generally, a religion or philosophy which does not make a difference in our lives and in the world, is a religion or philosophy of little significance. It is arætí which makes a significant religion, and the achievement of virtue is not only necessary for the effect of the virtuous on society as a whole, but on the very happiness of the individual, and this achievement is dependent on that individual's efforts:
"...the question is asked, whether happiness is to be acquired by learning or by habituation or some other sort of training, or comes in virtue of some divine providence or again by chance. Now if there is any gift of the Gods to men, it is reasonable that happiness should be God-given, and most surely God-given of all human things in as much as it is the best. But this question would perhaps be more appropriate to another inquiry; happiness seems, however, even if it is not God-sent but comes as a result of virtue and some process of learning or training, to be among the most godlike things; for that which is the prize and end of virtue seems to be the best thing in the world, and something godlike and blessed.
It will also on this view be very generally shared; for all who are not maimed as regards their potentiality for virtue may win it by a certain kind of study and care. But if it is better to be happy thus than by chance, it is reasonable that the facts should be so, since everything that depends on the action of nature is by nature as good as it can be, and similarly everything that depends on art or any rational cause, and especially if it depends on the best of all causes. To entrust to chance what is greatest and most noble would be a very defective arrangement." 
The Four Boniform Virtues
Plátôn (Plato, Πλάτων) identifies four principal manifestations of arætí, these being the Four Cardinal Virtues of classical antiquity . The Four Cardinal Virtues are:
1. Courage or Fortitude (Andreia, Ἀνδρεία)
2. Temperance or Moderation (Sohphrosýni, Σωφροσύνη)
3. Justice (Dikaiosýni, Δικαιοσύνη)
4. Wisdom (Sophía [elevated and theoretical wisdom, Σοφία] and Phrónisis [practical wisdom, Φρόνησις])
In the dialogue Prohtagóras (Protagoras, Πρωταγόρας), Plátôn adds a fifth virtue :
5. Piety (Osiótis, Όσιότης)
...but the more traditional list is of just the four. We will have more to say about the Cardinal Virtues below.
It must be remembered that although the virtues can be enumerated, they are all expressions of one, which, in Plátôn, would be an archetypical form and indivisible, of which the enumerable identifiable virtues participate. Therefore a more appropriate name for the Cardinal Virtues may be the Four Boniform Virtues. Boniform is an archaic word which has the same meaning as its etymology: "having the form of the Good" (Etym. Latin bonus "good" + form). Said yet another way is that the virtues express a unity: they are all the expression of one ultimate virtue which is knowable as wisdom.
Plátôn thought that no person knowingly did anything unvirtuous; it is always a matter of wisdom. Aristotǽlis (Aristotle, Ἀριστοτέλης), the student of Plátohn, criticized his teacher on the point of wisdom, denying that simply knowing was adequate for virtuous action. Much can be said concerning these two views, but this author takes the position that if Plátohn's view is understood in all its subtlety, it is the correct view. If your understanding is correct, you will act correctly and your actions will be virtuous. If, however, your understanding is incorrect, you will always act badly and your actions will be vicious; if by some accident, while your soul is in a state of misunderstanding, your actions are correct, it is merely a cheap imitation devoid of any significance. Therefore, virtue depends on genuine understanding, attainable through two means: 1. philosophy, and 2. the undoing of the false ego. If the false ego is destroyed, understanding has been achieved; you will by nature lead a virtuous life, and compassion, the highest virtue, will overflow from your soul.
Virtue and harmony with the natural world
The idea of the 'acquisition' of virtue is a problematic concept; virtue is not a commodity which one can purchase by means of some kind of action. Virtue is not 'merit' as the Buddhists criticize, the piling up of good actions which assure temporary happiness in a future life; the concern of virtue is not happiness, although its achievement may yield happiness as a by-product. Virtue is, rather, an achievement, and its 'acquisition' is actually a transformation, a progress of the soul from a lower state to a higher, from a state of a narrow viewpoint to a vast viewpoint more in unity with the nature of the kózmos, the world as it actually is, thus enabling one to act accordingly. This line of reasoning yields a proposed definition: virtue is the character of one's life when the soul is in harmony with nature and the concern of the individual who wishes to achieve this is próödos (πρόοδος), not so much as the Neoplatonists use the term, but, more simply as progress, one of the Natural Laws. And arætí is the primary means by which the soul defeats the narrow confines of egoistic maneuvering,  the natural defense of the self to avoid such a transformation, for arætí is more than a private achievement; it must take the soul beyond one's personal boundary if one is to make a genuine difference in the world for the better. These ideas could serve as the beginning of dialectic; they are general and, perhaps, obscure. How can we apply this on a more accessible level?
The Civic Republican Tradition
Another classical definition, that of the so-called civic republican tradition, would be to define virtue as aligning one's life with the well-being of the commonwealth, and, thus, to be virtuous, one must have the ability to sacrifice one's personal benefit for the greater good of one's family and society. This is very high-minded and noble, but how can we implement such an upright idea, how can we work with it, how can we integrate it into our life?
Aristotǽlis and Virtue
Some scholars, and, most notably, the philosopher Aristotǽlis, with whom we are greatly indebted regarding this subject, define arætí as excellence; such excellence can apply to any number of human activities, the greatest being moral or ethical virtue. This way of defining arætí has as its goal, when put into action, the achievement of one's greatest potential. In Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους, Aristotǽlis states a generality about virtues, or excellences, in which he thinks about them as that which makes a man function well:
"...every virtue or excellence both brings into good condition the thing of which it is the excellence and makes the work of that thing be done well; e.g. the excellence of the eye makes both the eye and its work good; for it is by the excellence of the eye that we see well. Similarly the excellence of the horse makes a horse both good in itself and good at running and at carrying its rider and at awaiting the attack of the enemy. Therefore, if this is true in every case, the virtue of man also will be the state of character which makes a man good and which makes him do his own work well." 
And later, he proposes a more specific definition, one which echoes the famous Delphic Maxim, Μηδεν αγαν, "nothing too much."
"Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean (ed. mid-point between extremes), i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect; and again it is a mean because the vices respectively fall short of or exceed what is right in both passions and actions, while virtue both finds and chooses that which is intermediate. 
If we examine the view of Aristotǽlis, that virtue is the mean between extremes, it could be argued that lack of virtue is not so much an ethical problem as a state of illness, for the man lacking in virtue is actually unbalanced.
And if virtue is the median between extremes, and the extremes being kakía (κακία), vice, then the man with the propensity towards the mean is virtuous and he who has a propensity to the extremes is called vicious, from the Latin vitium, vitiosus, and finally the Medieval Latin vicious. It is rather disturbing to read The Ethics and realize that one's self is not so close at all to the mean in relationship to the numerous examples Aristotǽlis discusses, and that should we fall short, we are, by definition, vicious. This is something which should be carefully considered in hopes that we could become inspired to do a good job with our character, but is it even possible to alter and, hopefully, improve one's character?
Aristotǽlis acknowledges that this is a difficult task to accomplish:
"That moral virtue is a mean, then, and in what sense it is so, and that it is a mean between two vices, the one involving excess, the other deficiency, and that it is such because its character is to aim at what is intermediate in passions and in actions, has been sufficiently stated. Hence also it is no easy task to be good. For in everything it is no easy task to find the middle, e.g. to find the middle of a circle is not for every one but for him who knows; so, too, any one can get angry - that is easy - or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble." 
The interpretation of the "mean" is greatly elaborated on in the book and in (usually) very easy to understand demonstrations, along, also, with logical exceptions. Aristotǽlis goes on to say some very important things in relationship to virtue and the individual. As above, he states that virtue is a state of character concerned with choice:
"The object of choice being one of the things in our own power which is desired after deliberation, choice will be deliberate desire of things in our own power; for when we have decided as a result of deliberation, we desire in accordance with our deliberation." 
"The end, then, being what we wish for, the means what we deliberate about and choose, actions concerning means must be according to choice and voluntary. Now the exercise of the virtues is concerned with means. Therefore virtue also is in our own power, and so too vice. For where it is in our power to act it is also in our power not to act, and vice-versa; so that, if to act, where this is noble, is in our power, not to act, which will be base (ed. base here meaning “low” or “lacking is higher values”), will also be in our power, and if not to act, where this is noble, is in our power, to act, which will be base, will also be in our power. Now if it is in our power to do noble or base acts, and likewise in our power not to do them, and this was what being good or bad meant, then it is in our power to be virtuous or vicious." 
And if this is so, we have within our grasp the ability to become virtuous people by our own choices. It should also be considered that beyond the views of Aristotǽlis we are of an Orphic tradition and in our religion we consider the possibility of many, many reincarnations, and that progress is possible, but without the help of the Gods and the Mystíria, this progress is very slow. Even with this benefit, from our perspective, progress may still seem very slow. We can see this very clearly when we discover how very difficult it can be to perfect our own character.
Continuing with Aristotǽlis, the great philosopher discusses virtue and vice in great detail, giving many examples, but the below quotations may prove useful to generalize his opinions on the Four Boniform Virtues:
"...courage is a mean with respect to things that inspire confidence or fear...and it chooses or endures things because it is noble to do so, or because it is base (ed. ignoble or low) not to do so." 
"...temperance is a mean with regard to pleasures..." 
"...both the unjust man and the unjust act are unfair or unequal; now it is clear that there is also an intermediate between the two unequals involved in either case. And this is the equal; for in any kind of action in which there's a more and a less there is also what is equal. If, then, the unjust is unequal, just is equal, as all men suppose it to be, even apart from argument. And since the equal is intermediate, the just will be an intermediate." 
"...it is not possible to be good in the strict sense without practical wisdom, nor practically wise without moral virtue. But in this way we may also refute the dialectical argument whereby it might be contended that the virtues exist in separation from each other; the same man, it might be said, is not best equipped by nature for all the virtues, so that he will have already acquired one when he has not yet acquired another. This is possible in respect of the natural virtues, but not in respect of those in respect of which a man is called without qualification good; for with the presence of the one quality, practical wisdom, will be given all the virtues. And it is plain that, even if it were of no practical value, we should have needed it because it is the virtue of the part of us in question; plain too that the choice will not be right without practical wisdom any more than without virtue; for the one determines the end and the other makes us do the things that lead to the end.
But again it is not supreme over philosophic wisdom, i.e. over the superior part of us, any more than the art of medicine is over health; for it does not use it but provides for its coming into being; it issues orders, then, for its sake, but not to it. Further, to maintain its supremacy would be like saying that the art of politics rules the Gods because it issues orders about all the affairs of the state." 
Concerning Virtue, Plátôn, Aristotǽlis, and Christianity
If you went to Catholic schools, the ideas of Plátôn and Aristotǽlis concerning virtue may sound hauntingly familiar. Later Platonic ideas became impressed into Christian theology, both in the east (Orthodox) and west (Catholic). The ideas of Aristotǽlis became absolutely essential in Catholic doctrine as the result of the writings and influence of Thomas Aquinas, the so-called "doctor" of the church, who is regarded as its greatest theologian and philosopher. Aquinas was strongly influenced by Aristotelian logic and ethics and these ideas persist in church teaching and are evident even if you never studied Aristotle. Some common ideas concerning ethics are attributed to or perhaps even "blamed on" Christianity that have strong roots in these two philosophers. As an example, perhaps the best example, are Christian ideas concerning the sinfulness of sex, but some of these conceptions seem to have early roots in the Platonic separation between the material and the ideal world which criticize or even condemn the physical. It is important to not simply accept the teachings of any philosopher, but the issues must be worked out by each individual himself to arrive at conclusions which are true to one's own soul and mind.
PLÁTÔN (Plato, Πλάτων)
"But surely life according to your view is an awful thing; and indeed I think that Euripides may have been right in saying,
'Who knows if life be not death and death life;'
and that we are very likely dead; I have heard a philosopher say that at this moment we are actually dead, and that the body (σῶμα) is our tomb (σῆμα), and that the part of the soul which is the seat of the desires is liable to be tossed about by words and blown up and down; and some ingenious person, probably a Sicilian or an Italian, playing with the word, invented a tale in which he called the soul---because of its believing and make-believe nature---a vessel (ed. Jowett describes this section as an untranslatable pun: διὰ τὸ πιθανόν τε καὶ πιστικὸν ὠνόμασε πίθον), and the ignorant (ανόητοι) he called the uninitiated (αμύητοι) or leaky, and the place in the souls of the uninitiated in which the desires are seated, being the intemperate and incontinent part, he compared to a vessel full of holes, because it can never be satisfied. He is not of your way of thinking, Callicles, for he declares that of all the souls in Hades, meaning the invisible world (ἀειδὲς), these uninitiated or leaky persons are the most miserable, and that they pour water into a vessel which is full of holes out of a colander which is similarly perforated. The colander, as my informer assures me, is the soul, and the soul which he compares to a colander is the soul of the ignorant, which is likewise full of holes, and therefore incontinent, owing to a bad memory and want of faith. These notions are strange enough, but they show the principle which, if I can, I would fain prove to you; that you should change your mind, and, instead of the intemperate and insatiate life, choose that which is orderly and sufficient and has a due provision for daily needs." (Γοργίας Πλάτωνος 492c-493c, trans. Benjamin Jowett, 1892.)
Temperance and Wisdom:
"Then all but the philosophers are courageous only from fear, and because they are afraid; and yet that a man should be courageous from fear, and because he is a coward, is surely a strange thing....And are not the temperate exactly in the same case? They are temperate because they are intemperate---which might seem to be a contradiction, but is nevertheless the sort of thing which happens with this foolish temperance, for there are pleasures which they are afraid of losing; and in their desire to keep them, they abstain from some pleasures, because they are overcome by others; and although to be conquered by pleasure is called by men intemperance, to them the conquest of pleasure consists in being conquered by pleasure. And that is what I mean by saying that, in a sense, they are made temperate through intemperance... yet the exchange of one fear or pleasure or pain for another fear or pleasure or pain, and of the greater for the less, as if they were coins, is not the exchange of virtue. O my blessed Simmias, is there not one true coin for which all things ought to be exchanged? ---and that is wisdom; and only in exchange for this, and in company with this, is anything truly bought or sold, whether courage or temperance or justice. And is not all true virtue the companion of wisdom, no matter what fears or pleasures or other similar goods or evils may or may not attend her? But the virtue which is made up of these goods, when they are severed from wisdom and exchanged with one another, is a shadow of virtue only, nor is there any freedom or health or truth in her; but in the true exchange there is a purging away of all these things, and temperance, and justice, and courage, and wisdom herself are the purgation of them. The founders of the Mysteries would appear to have had a real meaning, and were not talking nonsense when they intimate in a figure long ago that he who passes unsanctified and uninitiated into the world below will lie in a slough (ed. in the mud), but that he who arrives there after initiation and purification will dwell with the Gods. For 'many,' as they say in the Mysteries, 'are the thyrsus-bearers, but few are the mystics,' ---meaning, as I interpret the words, 'the true philosophers.' (Φαίδων Πλάτωνος 68d-69d, trans. Benjamin Jowett, 1892.)
ISÍODOS (Hesiod, Ἡσίοδος)
Good and Evil:
"Badness can be got easily and in shoals: the road to her is smooth, and she lives very near us. But between us and Goodness the Gods have placed the sweat of our brows: long and steep is the path that leads to her, and it is rough at the first; but when a man has reached the top, then is she easy to reach, though before that she was hard." (Ἔργα καὶ Ἡμέραι Ἡσιόδου 287-292, trans. H. G. Evelyn-White, 1914.)
 Ἰλιὰς Ὁμήρου 9.410-416, trans. Samuel Butler, 1898.
 Otto Kern Orphic Fragment 175.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 1, Section 8, 1098b30-1099a5, trans. W. D. Ross, 1908.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 1, Section 9, 1099b9-24, Ross, 1908.
 See Νόμοι Πλάτωνος 964b, Πολιτεία Πλάτωνος 427e, Πρωταγόρας Πλάτωνος 330.
 Πρωταγόρας Πλάτωνος 330b.
 When we talk about ego, we are not talking about the Freudian ego, but, rather, the ordinary meaning of the word, being a distorted and over-inflated concept of the self.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 2, Section 6, 1106a15-23, trans. W. D. Ross, 1908.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 2, Section 6, 1106b36-1107a7, Ross, 1908. Of course this definition poses another problem, that the mean, and, necessarily, virtue itself, cannot be defined but by a relativity.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 2, Section 9, 1109a20-29, Ross, 1908.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 3, Section 3, 1113a10-13, Ross, 1908.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 3, Section 5, 1113b2-14, Ross, 1908.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 3, Section 7, 1116a10-12, Ross, 1908.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 3, Section 10, 1117b25-26, Ross, 1908.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 5, Section 3, 1131a10-28, Ross, 1908.
 Ηθικών Νικομαχείων Ἀριστοτέλους Book 6, Section 13, 1144b30-1145a11, Ross, 1908.
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.
This logo 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.
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.
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
PHOTO COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: The many pages of this website incorporate images, some created by the author, but many obtained from outside sources. To find out more information about these images and why this website can use them, visit this link: Photo Copyright Information
DISCLAIMER: The inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) with the views of HellenicGods.org by the external sources from which they were obtained.
Further, the inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) by HellenicGods.org of the contents or views of any external sources from which they were obtained.
For more information: Inquire.email@example.com
For answers to many questions: FAQ of Hellenismos.
© 2010 by HellenicGods.org. All Rights Reserved.