αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν

The_Parthenon_in_Athens

Photo Credit: Steve Swayne

αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν (pronounced ‘aYEN arheesTEueen’ in ancient Greek/ ‘aYEN areesTEVeen’ in modern Greek) is translated into English as “Ever to Excel“.

The phrase is derived from the sixth book of Homer‘s Iliad, in which it is used in a speech Glaucus delivers to Diomedes. During a battle between the Greeks and Trojans, Diomedes is impressed by the bravery of a mysterious young man and demands to know his identity.  Glaucus replies: “Hippolocus begat me.  I claim to be his son, and he sent me to Troy with strict instructions: Ever to excel, to do better than others, and to bring glory to your forebears, who indeed were very great … “

How does it feel when we do our best?

And what is the result when we do strive for perfection?

Leo von Klenze Acropolis Athens 1846

Photo Credit: Web Gallery of Art:  Inkscape.svg Image

The Parthenon in Athens, wrote John Julius Cooper, “enjoys the reputation of being the most perfect Doric temple ever built.”

Since “two parallel lines appear to bow, or curve outward, when intersected by converging lines,” incorporating subtle curves into the structure would counteract this effect to make the Parthenon appear perfect.

The stylobate, which is the platform where the columns stand upon, “has an upward curvature towards its centre of 60 millimetres (2.36 in) on the east and west ends, and of 110 millimetres (4.33 in) on the sides.”

The columns also slightly diminish in diameter as they rise, which is called entasis.

Because of these refinements, the Parthenon appears visually perfect.

And since it is situated on a rocky hill, we can look up to it, like excellence as an aspiration.

Jean Baptiste de Champaigne Hercules Herakles Olympus Jupiter Zeus Olympians

Photo Credit: Siren-Com

In constantly pursuing excellence, the Ancient Greeks must have felt that they could be like gods and goddesses, for they were the first to make them in their own image.

So if we always do our best, how would we feel?

And what happens when we follow the saying: αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν ?

Ever to Excel

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%91%E1%BC%B0%E1%BD%B2%CE%BD_%E1%BC%80%CF%81%CE%B9%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B5%CF%8D%CE%B5%CE%B9%CE%BD

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenon

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This entry was posted in Classical/Enlightenment Thoughts, Education, Goals & Visions, Social Studies and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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