This is the first study in English to examine across the range of Greek literature one of the most crucial terms in Greek ethical and social discourse, aidos. Commonly rendered 'shame', 'modesty', or 'respect', aidos is also notoriously one of the most elusive and difficult Greek words to translate. In this book Dr Cairns discusses the nature and application of aidos and other relevant terms in a number of authors, with particular emphasis on their manifestations in epic, tragedy, and philosophy. He shows that the essence of the concept is to be found in its relationship with Greek values of honour, in which context it can recognize and respond to the honour of both the self and others. It thus involves both self- and other- regarding behaviour, competitive and co-operative values. Despite this crucial relationship with systems of honour, however, the possession of aidos at no stage rules out the sort of commitment to internalized standards or ideals which we might associate with conscience.
'He has written an important book which worthily extends the work of such writers as Arthur Adkins (Merit and Responsibility, 1960) and Eric Dodds (The Greeks and the Irrational, 1951) ... is scrupulous and acute, and discussion of primary evidence is buttressed by a massive array of well-organised secondary material. The texture of Cairn's scholarship is dense, but his style is clear and direct ... this book is a very distinguished
Times Higher Education Supplement
'long and interesting a book'
M.J. Edwards, New College, Oxford, The Classical Review, XLIII, No. 2, 1993
'Cairns's study of the concept of "aidos" is an impressive achievement...conveys a complex impression of an important concept and its operations over a range of authors and contexts, and offers readings of passages and whole works which will need to be taken into account in future discussions.'
V J Gray, Prudentia, Vol XXV, No 2 November 1993
`one's final response to this excellent book must be extremely positive, and one may conclude with the hope that Cairns may now turn his attention to such further areas and issues; he has given so much that one longs for more'
N.R.E. Fisher, University of Wales, Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences, Volume 33 (2) Spring 1997
Introduction; Aidos in Homer; From Hesiod to the Fifth Century; Aeschylus; Sophocles; Euripides; The Sophists, Plato, and aristotle; References; Glossary; Index of Principal Passages; General Index.