Kalos kai agathos (more commonly kalos kagathos) is the ancient Greek concept of what it means to be a fully developed human being. The term literally means “beautiful and good,” but could be translated simply as “noble,” in the grandest and most universal sense of the term. It is the “chivalrous ideal of the complete human personality” Werner Jaeger writes, “harmonious in mind and body, foursquare in battle and speech, song and action.”
In his Pennsylvania Review essay “Kalos Kai Agathos,” scholar and poet Joseph S. Salemi lists the qualities a kalos kagathos is expected to possess. For our purposes the most relevant from this list demand that to be “noble”:
- You are free
- You are affluent
- You are healthy
- You are good-looking, well groomed, and clean
- You are intelligent and sensible
- You can take part in an intellectual discussion
- You are not a coward
- You have leisure time
- You stick to the Golden Mean (you never take an extreme position, or act wildly)
- You honor the gods
- You avoid hubris
- You act honorably
- You are a good citizen of your polis
- You appreciate beautiful things
This site is dedicated to Modern Kalokagathia, that is examining and striving toward this ancient ideal in our modern context. This is not a goal we expect to attain fully, but a lifelong dedication to flourishing physically, mentally, spiritually, and morally in our day-to-day lives. Our content will be a mix of philosophic reflection and practical how-to. A virtual gymnasium, academy, and Spartan agoge rolled into one. Join us in our pursuit of the beautiful and good.
THE KALOS KAGATHIA CREED
Mysterious is the beginning of all things:
We aspiring Kalos kagathos greet this day
in awe of Chaos,
from which came forth Night and Day,
Mother Earth and Desire.
As void gave birth to form,
we will live a life of choice amidst a world of chance.
We will guard our friendships.
We will seek wisdom.
We will be useful.
We will love fiercely.
We will control our tongues.
We will praise what is beautiful and good.
We will safeguard the innocent.
We will struggle against weakness.
We will weather the waves that crash upon us.
We will learn to love the darkness of the unknown
as much as the light of dawn.
And when the end comes we will meet it