What Do We Mean by 'Forgiveness?': Some Answers from the Ancient Greeks

Forgiveness:Philosophy, Psychology, and the Arts (2013)
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Abstract

There seems to be confusion and disagreement among scholars about the meaning of interpersonal forgiveness. In this essay we shall venture to clarify the meaning of forgiveness by examining various literary works. In particular, we shall discuss instances of forgiveness from Homer’s The Iliad, Euripides’ Hippolytus, and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and we shall focus on the changes that the concept of forgiveness has gone through throughout the centuries, in the hope of being able to understand, and therefore, of being able to use more accurately, contemporary notions of forgiveness. We shall also explore the relationship between forgiveness and concepts that are closely associated with it, such as anger/resentment, hurt, clemency, desert/merit, excuse, etc.

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Maria Adamos
Georgia Southern University

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