Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Error: The Terminology of Stoicism
Needleman and Piazza's The Essential Marcus Aurelius on the topic of the term "error" (used to represent the Greek hamartia) - "This concept is also translated . . . as 'mistake' and 'go astray.' Both the related noun and verb originally expressed the idea of missing a target. Hamartia is used in the New Testament and has commonly been translated by the English word 'sin.' Hamartia is also the word that Aristotle used in the Poetics, which we know as 'tragic flaw'." I would only add that we should keep in mind that Greek religion and Roman religion both lacked a concept akin to "sin," so the early Christians appropriated this word, which really just means "failure," "missing the target," "going astray," and so forth.