Homer and the Culture of Pre-Modesty

Num°05 SHAME

In Homer, the word that comes closer to “modesty” is aidos. In a culture like Homer’s, where the notion of psycho-physical individuality is not developed yet, and where therefore there is no place for our “sense of modesty,” the idea of aidos (shame, restraint) assumes an anthropologically determining value, which does not belong to the individual psychological sphere but is rather a collective mechanism to regulate social interactions. It constitutes the emotional background and the psychological measure of the main and pragmatic “sentiment” that the hero has of his (or her) own self. The behavioral mechanisms that aidos generates determine a whole cultural universe, namely the “culture of shame.”


Homer and the Culture of Pre-Modesty

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