SOPHROSYNE is ‘temperance’. According to Ancient Greece’s thought, it is one of the four most important philosophical attributes. The other cardinal virtues are <andreia> or ‘courage‘, <dikaiosyne> or ‘justice’/’righteousness‘, and then the quality of the <sophos> which is ‘wisdom‘.

<Sophrosyne> is ‘temperance’, the main subject of the Platonic dialogue Charmides. In fact, in that work, many definitions of ‘virtue’ are gauged, without reaching a definite conclusion. However, the notions of moral purity and innocence appear as the more relevant. Nonetheless, there is no final answer. In another Platonic dialogue, Cratylus, we find a description of <sophrosyne> as ‘moral sanity’. In a third Platon’s (Plato) book (Phaedrus) <sophrosyne> is the moderation between the appetitive and spirited sides of the soul.

Sokratiko Logo

Zenon ho Kitieus (Zeno of Citium) confirms <sophrosyne> as one of the four chief characteristics of a philosophical attitude. And later Stoics like Gaius Musonius Rufus (Musonius Rufus), Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca the Younger), Epiktetos (Epictetus), and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (Marcus Aurelius) agree on <sophrosyne> as the restraint of human appetites.

Moreover, according to Demophilus, a Pythagorean philosopher, “the force of the soul is <sophrosyne>, the light of a soul free of unsettling passions”.

Marcus Tullius Cicero evaluates four Latin words to translate <sophrosyne>: <temperantia> (temperance), <moderatio> (moderateness), <modestia> (modesty) and <frugalitas> (frugality). It is clear that many words are similar, with some variations of semantics. But all their meanings seem to lead to a certain attitude made of detachment and composure.

Themes in connection with the issue of <sophrosyne> are prominently present in plays of AeschylusSophocles and Euripides. <Sophrosyne> is acknowledged as a virtue, although debased forms like prudery are criticized. <Sophrosyne> is an issue in the play Hippolytus by Euripides, where this virtue is represented by the goddess Artemis and is personified by the character Hippolytus.