Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Olympic Peninsula, Wa.
That is, alpha, rho, epsilon, tau, epsilon.
That would be Attic Greek, but I think it may come close to striking the target you are seeking.
The concept of arete, or excellence, was one of the Homeric Age's most important contributions to Western culture; in fact, in many ways the Iliad and the Odyssey are actually paeans to arete. In Homer, even nonhuman things such as noble horses and powerful gods may possess arete; an ordinary person does not possess arete; and an aristos, or noble, who becomes a slave loses half his arete. Werner Jaeger observes that the nobility is the prime mover in forming a nation's culture, and that the aristoi, or "the best," are responsible for the creation of a definite idea of human perfection, an ideal toward which they are constantly educated. Arete became the "quintessence of early aristocratic education," and thereafter the dominant concept in all Greek education and culture; it has remained with us as an educational ideal ever since.
It was not possible to separate leadership from arete, the Greeks believed, because unusual or exceptional prowess was a natural manifestation of leadership. Since each man was ranked in accordance with his ability, arete became an ideal of self-fulfillment or self-realization in terms of human excellence. A noble's arete, in Homer, is specifically indicated by his skill and prowess as a soldier in war, and as an athlete in peace. War provides the occasion for the display of arete and the winning of kleos, or glory. This is one of the most important understandings of why many Greeks went to Troy (most specifically Achilles). The aristoi compete among themselves "always to be the best and to be superior to others." In his personal conduct, the Homeric hero possess aidos, or a sense of duty. An affront to this sense of duty is known as nemesis, and is aroused in the hearts of others when aidos is slighted.
Finally, the meaning of arete was enlarged to signify the union of nobility of action and nobility of mind, and an accompanying imperative of honor. Thus, Phoenix, the counsuler and tutor of great Achilles, in Book IV of the Iliad, reminds the great warrior of the aristocratic ideal of arete, which he was charged to impart to him, to make him a speaker of words and a doer of deeds. Ultimately, arete means intellectual as well as physical excellence, the realization of a man's total potential. There are, however, more foundations to society, as the Boeotian peasant Hesiod was to point out in his poem Work and Days. One is ergon, or good hard work. Without it, no society can exist. In both Theogony, a poem describing the origin and genealogy of the gods, and in Work and Days, Hesiod introduces the question that will become central for Solon, the Greek tragedians, and theAthenian philosophers - the problem of dike, or justice. In his attempt to organize the Greek pantheon into understandable catergories - henotheistically, with one supreme deity among the number of deities - Hesiod sees Zeus as the protector of justice, both on the human and divine levels, through his divine daughter Dike, or Justice, who watches over the deeds of men and reports them directly when justice is violated. A city that practices justice is assured prosperity, whereas the city that practices injustice reaps the fruits thereof and the vengeance of Zeus. So important was the Greek idea of dike, that eventually it would become an economic and political, as well as moral, issue."