On Courage. The Sense Of θυμός

  • Tiziana Migliore University of Roma Tor Vergata
Keywords: Thymós, Courage, Philosophy, Medicine, Literature, Semiotics, Tattoos


This study provides an integrated analysis of ϑυμός (thymós). A psychosomatic concept, found in Greek epics and medicine, θυμός designates courage as a “vital force around the chest”. Later, its meaning has been specified in two fields: 1) ϑυμός, thymós (philosophy), the irascible soul (ϑυμοειδές, thymoeides), parallel to the concupiscible soul and opposite to the rational one, according to Plato’s tripartition; 2) ϑύμος, thymus (anatomy), a cardiac gland of the vascular system. Today, the idea that θυμός, courage, and ϑύμος, cardiac gland, could have a common semantic root – θύειν (thyein) “to sacrifice by blowing and burning” – seems almost impossible. Our aim is to reconstitute the concept of ϑυμός, demonstrating how it has been reduced to a polarisation rational/irrational, and marginalised. We will examine the notion of ϑυμός in Greek tradition and describe one of its widespread manifestations, tattooing, both as a painful solicitation of interiority and for how the tattooed pictures reflect the personality of their wearers.

How to Cite
Migliore, T. (2019). On Courage. The Sense Of θυμός. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 12(35), 190-221. Retrieved from https://www.humanamente.eu/index.php/HM/article/view/257