ΑΠΟ: mmichalar - Απρ• 30•15
By Christiana Balla

What does really the word «gentleman» mean? Where does it come from? And, what is its etymology? It comes from the Greek «genos«.  «Gentleman» is a compound noun and it derives from gentle «genos» (γενιά) and man.Its ancient Greek analogue is ‘άριστος’, ‘ευγενής’ άνδρας από γενιά, i.e. the son of a noble family.

First of all, the idea of valuing  people’s character and behaviour based on their family background  goes back to Homer. Homeric heroes had well known ancestors. So, not only the etymology, but also the ideology of «gentleman» takes us back to ancient Greek ideas.

In ancient Greece, people thought that the term «paideia» referred to the rearing and education of the ideal member of the polis. Furthermore, the Greeks considered paideia to be carried out by the aristocratic class who tended to intellectualize their culture and their ideas. The culture and the youth were «moulded» to the ideal of kalos kagathos, «beautiful and good.»  This idea is similar to that of the medieval knights in England, their culture, and the English concept of the gentleman. Although in medieval romances knights had to prove their ‘gentleness’ by their deeds,in most cases they were all members of aristocratic families.

In modern day English and Greek, a ’gentleman’, ’ευγενικός’ is someone who is polite, modest, educated, trustworthy  and discreet. The idea of an aristocratic background is no longer implied by the use of the word.