The ancient Greeks created one of the most advanced and culturally sophisticated societies that has influenced and continues to influence modern culture — politics, philosophy, law, mythology, literature, drama, and poetry. But the lessons of the Greeks should not be relegated to upper division college courses or left behind in forgotten books on dusty bookshelves. The wisdom of the Greeks provides an antidote to a troubled modern world that moves too quickly, promotes materialism; encourages superficial, fleeting digital relationships; and releases an overwhelming deluge of information that leaves no time for contemplation and self-reflection.
At the top of the Acropolis sits the Parthenon, the marble temple that serves as an enduring testimony to Greek culture and greatness. For Stephen Bergman, a classics professor at Columbia University, the eight pillars that support the Parthenon’s entrance are metaphors for the eight principles that support Greek civilization that has survived for more than 25 centuries. Bergman believes that these eight pillars of Greek wisdom can transform the lives of people living in modern society:
Humanism: be proud of your human abilities and believe in your capacity to achieve great things.
The Pursuit of Excellence: Try to be more today than you were yesterday, more tomorrow than you were today.
The Practice of Moderation: Beware of going to extremes, because in them lies danger.
Self-Knowledge: Identify and understand your weaknesses and strengths.
Rationalism: Search for truth by using the power of your mind.
Restless Curiosity: Seek to know what things really are, not merely what they seem to be.
The Love of Freedom: Only if we are free can we find fulfillment.
Individualism: Take pride in who you are as a unique individual.
For further reading; The Eight Pillars of Greek Wisdom: What You Can Learn from Classical Myth and History by Stephen Bergman (2003)