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The Greeks had a word for it: Sophrosyne

Of excellent character
Of excellent character
"Field of dreams" by Majalin

The Greek language has many mysterious words, words that we can try to express in another tongue, but rarely succeed in doing so.

Words better understood by experiencing them rather than speaking them.


Sophrosyne is one such a word, an ancient Greek word, used by the Greek philosopher Plato in his dialogue Charmides, where Socrates, debates the meaning of the word.


Sophrosyne derives from the word sophron, being sound of mind, prudent.

Sophrosyne is a state, a concept, a virtue, a number of qualities, all coming together to form the ideal character.

"Virtue" James C. Christensen
"Virtue" James C. Christensen

It is having self-control, self-knowledge, forethought; it is having temperance, being slow to anger, having restraint, having reason.

Tarot card. Temperance
Tarot card. Temperance

All the above, when brought together, create a life of harmony, of peace and of happiness.


No wonder then, that the Goddess Sophrosyne, Goddess of moderation, on escaping from Pandora’s Box, flew straight back to Olympos, leaving behind mankind!

Pandora by Arthur Rackham
Pandora by Arthur Rackham

A good understanding of the word can be gained, through two of the famous sayings,
from The Oracle at Ancient Delphi:

“Nothing in excess” and “Know thyself”

Ancient Delphi
Ancient Delphi

The philosophy is, living a good and simple life, can only lead to health and happiness.

Happy & peaceful "Touch " by Valentina Yaskina
Happy & peaceful
"Touch " by Valentina Yaskina

Juvena, a Roman poet interpreted Sophrosyne as:

“Mens sana in copore sano” meaning “Healthy in mind, healthy in body”


Today we see it all over the internet, in the form of “Inspirational quotes”, in words such as “Mindfulness”  “Mindset”, and so on and so forth.

How much better it sounds in Greek!


See more splendid Greek words:

Meraki  HERE

Philotimo  HERE

  Eudaimonia HERE

Eucharisto/Efharisto HERE

Elysian HERE

Arcadia HERE

Ichor HERE

Daimon HERE

Palikari HERE



  1. This is just the information I am finding everywhere. Thanks you, I just subscribe your blog.

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  2. wonderful i love words and one cannot and never will surpass the greeks..suppose another time another place..hmm!


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