Paideia

PAIDEIA is ‘tuition’. This idiom stands also for ‘education’, ‘training‘, ‘teaching’, ‘coaching’, ‘schooling’, ‘instruction’. It bears a special reference to the ideal rearing of young people in Ancient Greece. It includes hands-on tutoring and a focus on socialization in the aristocratic order of the <polis>.

In fact, an ideal member of the <polis> must have intellectual, moral and physical refinement. So training in gymnastics is relevant, no less than moral education, which ancient Greeks believe comes from music, poetry, and philosophy. Their mentality is “to be always pre-eminent”. It is the notion of <arete> which is an ideal of all Greek culture.

Sokratiko Logo

<Arete> is in relation to the paragon of the hero as a crucial element to succeed. According to classicist Werner Wilhelm Jaeger Paideia II.56 it is the ability to “make his hands keep his head against enemies, monsters, and dangers of all kinds, and to come out victorious“.

This mindset explains Greeks care in reproducing and copying only literature that they consider the “best”. Also, it accounts for the agonistic values of the Olympic games. Moreover, it causes competitions in poetry, tragedy and comedy. <Arete> and the wish for primacy are evident in all the Greeks activities.

<Paideia> is ‘tuition’. Hence, the idea of an education which promotes (expecially in young people) the blossoming¬† of <arete>. This prompts several Greek philosophers to establish their schools. For instance, Isokrates (Isocrates) and Platon (Plato) create very prominent schools both rejecting the ongoing <polis> education. In his Antidosis, Isokrates defends himself against accusations that education perverts people. Therefore, he thinks that schooling is crucial in creating a fair society. But his ideas contrast Platon’s. In Isokrates introductory speech¬†Against the Sophists, he has in mind Platon’s ‘characters’ Gorgias and Protagoras and sets up his ideal of <paideia> in contrast to theirs.