The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in ancient Greek ethics, a term denoting the need for moderation in the passions. Metriopathy was contrasted to “apathy,” the absence of passions. The concept was developed particularly in the ethics of Democritus and Epicurus, who recommended moderation in sensual pleasures as the necessary prerequisite to attaining spiritual peace. In the writings of Democritus moderation was presented as the basic norm of behavior, including social behavior.

Metriopathy was one of the fundamental principles of Aristotle’s Ethics. The philosopher defined virtue as the golden mean between two extremes: too much and too little, superfluity and insufficiency. For example, bravery was the mean between cowardice and foolhardy boldness, and generosity was the mean between avarice and extravagance. The doctrine of metriopathy was also the foundation for ancient Greek medicine. According to Alcmaeon, the human organism is healthy when the opposites of which it is composed are in equilibrium. Sickness results from the disturbance of this equilibrium.


Losev, A. F. “Esteticheskaia terminologiia rannei grecheskoi literatury (epos i lirika).” Uch. zap. Moskovskogo gos. pedagogicheskogo in-ta, 1954, vol. 83, no. 4.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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