Life So! What is Pathos?

My interpretation of pathos

As I was growing up in Australia my parents who were Greek, would often tell me, “whatever you do, do it with pathos”. In my head and out loud I would translate the word pathos as passion, but my parents would continually try and explain how the word “pathos” is so much deeper and stronger, an almost forceful feeling, and a strong driving force.

The word pathos comes from the ancient Greek word (παθών – páthos) which means “suffering”, “experience” “perseverance” and “emotion”. Also, known as one of the three modes of persuasion from the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Ethos, logos, pathos. Ethos which is ethical appeal, logos which is logical appeal and pathos which appeals to the audiences’ emotion, often used by writers and politicians today.

However, while living in Greece for 20 years I came to understand, how for the native Greek speaker the word “pathos” has more to it than it shows. It is often used to describe a driving force from within our heart and our soul, that pushes us above and beyond our limits. The closest translation that comes to mind would be the word “passionately”. Pathos is often linked with phrases like, “live life with pathos”, “whatever you do, do it with pathos”.

Still for myself, being of such a curious nature, I wanted to hear how others related to the word pathos, so, I decided to do my own mini research. I asked 100 Greek native speaking people from around the globe between the ages of 25 to 65 to describe what pathos means to them.

The answers were overwhelming, I wish I could share them all, however after asking permission from their rightful owners, below I share with you only a few.

“Well for me personally pathos is my ticket to eternity, it is the imprint that my soul leaves on this Earths’ canvas. My mind is responsible for my conscious actions. My heart for the love that I enclose in every move, and my psyche is my pathos and my absolute seal!!” – Alekos

“Pathos is zest for life, where I grab it by the horns and take on whatever challenges come.” – Mary

“Pathos is the oxygen that ignites the flame and pushes me forward” – Joanna

“No matter what difficulties or setbacks come your way, you continue!!!! With the same pathos… the same intensity!” – Fanis

“Pathos is deeper that passion. You can have all the passion in the world, but if you don’t take action that passion is useless. Pathos doesn’t allow you to be actionless!” – George

As the answers started coming in, I saw a repetition of the words “driver” “energy” “inner force” and a five-word sentence soon became the common denominator.

“Pathos is what drives you!

From a young child to an adult I understood that Pathos is a powerful energy and like all strong energies it can be used for good or for destruction.
For me it’s an energy that drives and motivates you, that when it’s aligned with your values, your authenticity and all that you love it has the force to lift you back up when you fall and push you through when you’re stuck. It opens the door to resilience. It keeps you moving forward.

Feel free to comment below what your understanding of pathos is.

And until next time keep sharing your beautiful smile!

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