The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Kalos Kagathos

Kalos Kagathos or kalokagathos is the combination of two words; “kalos” and “agathos”. “To kalon” is “The Beautiful”. It was an ideal that Homeric Greek culture strove to obtain. (1)

“Agathos” “corresponds to the noun arête though it derives from a different root, came to imply the combination of nobility and valour in war. It meant sometimes ‘noble’ and sometimes ‘brave’ or ‘capable’; but it seldom meant ‘good’ in the later sense, any more that arête meant ‘moral virtue.” (2)

Both words have a military connotation.

Kalokagathos is the English counterpart of the word “Gentleman”. Both are terms that describe the knights of those eras.

“In Homer, (as it was in Christian England of the Magna Carta to Victorian England) the real mark of the nobleman is his sense of duty. He is judged, and is proud to be judged, by a severe standard.” (3)

The Kalokagathos is ”the chivalrous ideal of the complete human personality, harmonious in mind and body, foursquare in battle and speech, song and action”. (4) They were truly the “beautiful people”. They were virtuous, manly, chivalrous, well-mannered and well-educated. These men were “always ready to sacrifice himself for his friends or his country, to abandon possessions and honors in order to “take possession of the beautiful”. (5)

Kalokagathos is a term opposite of Thersites. Thersites, as described by Homer, “was the ugliest man that marched on Troy”. Homer portrays his physical ugliness as manifestation of Thersites ugliness of soul. Thersites was a babbler, “a reviler of kings”, and a buffoon who made the troops laugh.


  1. Paideia

See also


  • Paideia, The Ideals of Greek Culture, Werner Jaeger, trans. By Gilbert Highet, Oxford University Press, NY, 1945.
Last updated: 05-15-2005 22:05:45