ΑΠΟ: mmichalar - Απρ• 30•15


By Fotis Strimmenos

Idiot is a word derived from the Greek ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs («person lacking professional skill», «a private citizen», «individual»), from ἴδιος, idios («private», «one’s own»).

In the ancient Greek polis, the basis of the state was its citizens. The city was its people therefore, for the city to survive, the people had to be physically and mentally involved in all city life-from fighting wars to making decisions, passing new laws and regularly appearing as  jury at the court.

The opposite of being a citizen-someone who was concerned and worked for the common good-was being a private citizen, an idiōtēs  i.e. someone who went about his own business without offering himself up to his city. Having to deal with new challenges and tackling with your fellows  your common problems on a daily basis in the agora also meant for the Greeks that you kept your self busy, alert and updated, worthy of ‘the good life’ whereas staying away from public affairs,not being eager to join in, revealed weakness of character and lack of knowledge.

It is interesting to point out that the connotations of the word were so negative  in ancient Greek that, even though the word itself was not improper,when it entered the English language it adopted straight away a strongly negative meaning describing a person who lacks intelligence and knowledge,ignorant of what goes on around him.