Arete (Ancient Greek: ἀρετή), alternately Areté, is defined as excellence of any kind. In ancient Greece, this notion of excellence was bound up with the act of living up to one's full potential. In ancient Greek culture, Arete was what all people aspired. It was courage and strength in the face of adversity. In some cases, people who desire to achieve arete have wound up committing acts of hubris, known as atë.


Arete (goddess) statue
General Info
Title(s) Goddess of Virtue
Parents Praxidike and Soter
Sibling(s) Harmonia and Ktesios

Arete was also personified in the form of a goddess of the same name. She was the sister of Homonoia and Ktesios, and daughter of Praxidike and Soter.

Arete and her sister were known as the "Exacters of Justice", or "Praxidikai". Due to her status as a minor Greek goddess, little is known about her mythical background. The only story that involved Arete was told in 5th Century BC by Prodicus and concerns Heracles' early life.

Heracles came to a crossroads where Arete appeared in the form of a young maiden. She offered him glory and a life of struggle against evil, while her counterpart Kakia (κακία, badness) offered him pleasure and riches. Heracles chose the path of Arete.

Later, Christian writers had changed Arete's young maiden form from an attractive women to an unattractive figure dressed squalidly.

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