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Sophrosyne, which to the Greeks was an ideal second to none in importance, is not among our ideals. We have lost the conception of it. Enough is said about it in Greek literature for us to be able to describe it in some fashion, but we cannot give it a name. It was the spirit behind the two great Delphic sayings, ‘Know thyself’ and ‘Nothing in excess.’ Arrogance, insolent self-assertion, was the quality most detested by the Greeks. Sophosyne was the exact opposite. It meant accepting the bounds which excellence lays down for human nature, restraining impulses to unrestricted freedom, to all excess, obeying the inner laws of harmony and proportion.” – Benjamin Jowett, “Introduction to Plato’s Charmides

Published inPlatoThe Ancients

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