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The 8 Ancient Greek Values

Updated on January 9, 2020
Anne Carr profile image

Anne is a writer and teacher with a passion for self expression and publishing.

Structured Beliefs

The Ancient Greeks had a very structured set of beliefs and values that they lived by.
The Ancient Greeks had a very structured set of beliefs and values that they lived by.

Ancient Greek Values

In Ancient Greeks, there were some ideas and beliefs that were held in higher esteem than in others. In Homer's epic The Odyssey, there are many examples of how the Ancient Greeks viewed these certain ideals. These values are rules and traditions that the Ancient Greeks lived by in their society.

1. Loyalty

One of the most important values to the Greeks was loyalty. This meant that you had an obligation to your family and your home, to remain loyal to both. Young boys trained to fight in war and stay loyal to their native land. Men were expected to remain loyal to the honor of their families. Home was seen as the most important and central part of life in Ancient Greece. The idea of "homecoming" is a term that refers to coming home from a long adventure or journey and being reunited with the ones you love. This ideal is first introduced in Homer's text The Odyssey, reflecting the Ancient Greek's emphasis of the importance of the home, family, and loyalty in Greek life.

2. Hospitality

The second-most important value in Ancient Greece, hospitality is known as the idea of being welcoming and giving to strangers and guests in your home. In Ancient Greece, it was a custom to invite friends and strangers to stay in your home, offering them food, drink, and gifts. The idea of "make yourself at home", is a tenant of hospitality derived from Ancient Greece. It was seen as rude if you did not treat your guests with the upmost hospitality in your home.

The Power of Storytelling

Many stories about the Greek Gods, as well as epic stories such as Homer's The Odyssey, depicted characters exhibiting those values that were so important to the Greeks.
Many stories about the Greek Gods, as well as epic stories such as Homer's The Odyssey, depicted characters exhibiting those values that were so important to the Greeks.

3. Athleticism

In Ancient Greece, boys, often as young as 12, would begin training to fight in war. As such, the ideal of being fit and athletic was very important to the Greeks. In addition, Greeks were very competitive by nature, so any sporting or competitions were held in high regard. Those with strength and athletic abilities were seen as more appealing, noble, and attractive in society. The character Odysseus in Homer's The Odyssey is described as very strong, being the only man who can successfully string his bow. He is respected by many of his men for his abilities and strength in war. Men were expected to fit this ideal in Ancient Greece.

4. Teamwork

Just as important as it was for young men to train to fight in war, it was also important for them to understand the value of teamwork. Often in battle and in intense competitions, these men has to come together to defeat their enemies. Therefore, teamwork was held in high regard in Ancient Greece.

5. Intuition

Intuition, or your ability to use your insight to make decisions and solve problems, was another characteristic that was highly reveled in Ancient Greek society. The Ancient Greeks often told stories of the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, using them as a foundation for building on these core values. The Olympian gods and goddesses each had their own strengths, and many of them used intuition to their advantage to solve problems.

6. Ingenuity

Ingenuity, another core value of the Greeks, is the ability to use creativity to find your way out of challenges or problems. In Homer's The Odyssey, Odysseus uses his clever and cunning skills to get out of many problems that he faces on his journey back to Ithaca. He thinks of new and inventive ways to get out of situations, such as hiding under the bellies of the sheep to escape The Cyclops cave. The Ancient Greeks saw the value of ingenuity as a mark of intelligence and nobility in a person, and those with this unique talent were highly respected.

An Eye for An Eye

Justice was one of the most important tenants of Ancient Greek society. Much like in Hammurabi's code, the Greeks believed that justice was served with an equal punishment for the crime, sometimes resulting in death.
Justice was one of the most important tenants of Ancient Greek society. Much like in Hammurabi's code, the Greeks believed that justice was served with an equal punishment for the crime, sometimes resulting in death.

7. Justice

Justice is another core value that the Ancient Greeks lived by. Just as Hammurabi's code states "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth", the Greeks has a similar viewpoint on justice. They felt that karma had a way of catching up with people, and that those who have done wrong should be punished by the gods with the appropriate sentence. Many stories in Ancient Greek mythology explain how the gods punished those who did not obey their words. Those who do not mind the gods and their advice pay the price, sometimes with their own lives.

8. Respect

The last and final value of the Ancient Greeks is respect. In many ways, this directly correlates with their religious beliefs and the Greek gods and goddesses. If you did not have respect for the gods, you were basically going against everything the Ancient Greeks stood for. They help the Olympian gods and goddesses in high regard. Family and friends were also an important part of respect. If you did not have respect for your family and your home, you were looked down upon in society and cast off from everyone else.

Core Beliefs and Values

The Ancient Greeks established a lot of core beliefs and values in their time, and surprisingly enough, we can relate to a lot of these values today. Most of these values are still very cherished and important in many different societies. Although we might have different religious beliefs, backgrounds, and upbringings, we can all agree upon the fact that these core beliefs are still being used around the world today.

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    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      2 weeks ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      This was a fascinating and well written article. Thank you for writing.

      Namaste

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