Hubris (HOO-briss) is a Greek word which is sometimes
translated into English as "pride" or "arrogance." (It is sometimes
spelled hybris). Its original meaning in Greek was to hit something.
It means thinking you are better than you really are, as in the expression
"Pride goes before a fall." It especially means thinking you are better
than the gods: gods hate that and you always
come to a bad end.
Some myths that warn people about the dangers of hubris are the story of Arachne, the story of Agamemnon, and the story of Niobe. Hubris also plays a big part in the Iliad.
Some real-life stories where the Greeks thought hubris was to blame are Herodotus' story of Pisistratus the tyrant of Athens, and Herodotus' story of Xerxes in the Second Persian War.
To find out more about hubris, check out these books on Amazon or at your library:
Law, Violence, and Community in Classical Athens, by David Cohen (P. A. Cartledge and Peter Garnsey are the editors) (1995). Cohen shows how agon (fighting) was the main idea behind the Greek court system.
Greek Ethics (Key Texts), by Pamela M. Huby (1998). Pretty easy to read, for an adult's book.
Philosophy and Science in Ancient Greece: The Pursuit of Knowledge, by Don Nardo (2004). For teenagers. Don Nardo has written many books for young people about the ancient Greeks.
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