The Greek term σωφροσύνη (sophrosúnê) denotes a philosophical approach that exemplifies self-control, wisdom and moderation. Sophrosyne derives from the ancient Greek “σῶς” (sôs: healthy), “φρήν” (phrên: consciousness) and from the suffix “-σύνη” (-syne) which forms names of qualities, innate or acquired. In a way, it designates the search for discretion and the necessary forbearance to achieve a serene and happy life.
Plato also explains in The Republic, that “sophrosyne controls the propensity for concupiscence”. It is also a whole morality of fair measure, expression of a wisdom that shuns proud excess: sophrosyne, as “wisdom”, is opposed to hybris, as “violence accompanied by excess”.
Basically, it is above all a vision of the world characterised by a deep awareness of oneself, of one’s own abilities and limitations, thus enabling an authentic relationship to the other.
- “Sophrosyne and the Rhetoric of Self-Restraint: Polysemy & Persuasive Use of an Ancient Greek Value Term” by Andrej Petrovic: This book explores the concept of “sophrosyne” in the context of rhetoric and persuasive usage in ancient Greece. The author, Andrej Petrovic, examines the multiple meanings of the term “sophrosyne” and its role in the speeches and arguments of the time. The book offers an in-depth analysis of how this virtue was employed to convince and influence.
“The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness” by Epictetus (translated by Sharon Lebell): While the term “sophrosyne” is not explicitly mentioned, this book presents the teachings of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus on how to lead a virtuous, balanced, and happy life. It addresses subjects such as self-mastery, moderation, and the pursuit of wisdom, which are related to the concept of “sophrosyne”.