Hubris is a Greek term that means excessive/deadly pride or arrogance before the gods. She is also a personified daemon. Soon after one succumbs to Hubris, Nemesis enacts retribution.

Since hubris is such a bad thing, did the Greeks have a term opposite of it?


The opposite of Hubris is Sophrosyne (σωφροσύνη). It is considered an important quality to have and is expressed in opposition to the concept of hubris. The meaning of the concept Sophrosyne is, "an ideal of excellence of character and soundness of mind." No language has an equal word to Sophrosyne.

When one has Sophrosyne, it leads to other qualities of humble importance. Qualities are such: temperance, moderation, prudence, purity, and self-control.

The word Sophrosyne was used in Plato's writing and my have been influenced by Heraclitus. His fragment 112 states, "Sophrosyne is the greatest virtue, and wisdom is speaking and acting the trust, paying heed to the nature of things."

Sophrosyne is also a personified daemon. She was released from Pandora's jar and left the cosmos on her way to Olympus.

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    Could you please point us to a source (or two) where Sophrosyne "is expressed in opposition to the concept of hubris". – yannis May 7 '18 at 8:23
  • @yannis , one of Dictionary.com definitions for Sophrosyne is discretion (the power to decide according to one's own judgment). One of hubris definitions is arrogance (offensive display of superiority). The merriam-webster dictionary defines Sophrosyne as 'prudence —contrasted with hubris' – Andrew Johnson May 7 '18 at 13:53
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    @yannis , home.earthlink.net/~dbscr/Sophros.htm ... 'Arrogance, insolent self-assertion, was the quality most despised by the Greeks. Sophrosyne was the exact opposite.' ... Hubris in ancient Greece meant arrogance against the gods, which, in term, can plainly mean arrogance. The quote and link above says Sophrosyne is the exact opposite of arrogance. – Andrew Johnson May 7 '18 at 15:17
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    This is a good answer, although I still think "humility" is the proper opposite. But I'll have to build a case, as you have here! I think your answer is correct in the context of how sophrosyne could be used, relating to temperance as discretion and conduct (moderation in all things!), where hubris is an excess or extreme--a lack of discretion due to unmoderated pride. – DukeZhou May 7 '18 at 21:29
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