Tuesday, June 6, 2017


There's a word for it, but the word cannot be translated.
The exact meaning of philotimo is hotly debated, given that the word belongs to the pantheon of Greek lexical items that defy easy explanation. ‘Love of honour’, its official translation, is a utilitarian yet insufficient attempt to convey the constellation of virtues squeezed into the word’s four syllables. When I asked various Greeks about their own perception of philotimo, I received very different responses.
“Doing the right thing,” Pinelopi Kalafati, a doctor, told me. “Loving and honouring God and your society,” said priest Nikolas Papanikolaou. "Striving for perfection,” answered actor Kostis Thomopoulos. “Stepping out from your comfort zone to help someone in need,” suggested Tatiana Papadopoulou, a volunteer in Malakasa detention camp for refugees.
A word that often conveys generosity and kindness and honor can also convey negative characteristics as well. But... well....
“What is your definition of philotimo?” I asked him.
“Two to three positive thoughts, one litre zest for life, 500 grams of hospitality, 10 drops of sympathy, an ounce of pride, dignity and your inner guide,” he replied.
Isn't a language that contains words that cannot be translated a language fit for gods?

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