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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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xix. αἰσχύνη, αἰδώς, ἐντροπή.

There was a time when αἰδώς occupied that whole domain of meaning afterwards divided between it and αἰσχύνη. It had then the same duplicity of meaning which is latent in the Latin ‘pudor,’ in our own ‘shame;’ and indeed retained a certain duplicity of meaning till the last (Euripides, Hippol. 387–389). Thus Homer, who does not know αἰσχύνη, sometimes, as at Il. v. 787, uses αἰδώς, where αἰσχύνη would, in later Greek, have certainly been employed; but elsewhere in that sense which, at a later period, it vindicated as exclusively its own (Il. xiii. 122; cf. Hesiod, Op. 202). And even Thucydides, in a difficult and doubtful passage where both words occur (i. 84), is by many considered to have employed them as equipollent and convertible (Donaldson, Cratylus, 3rd ed. p. 545). So too in a passage of Sophocles, where they occur close together, αἰδώς joined with φόβος, and αἰσχύνη with δέος (Ajax, 1049, 1052), it is very difficult, if not impossible, to draw any distinction between them. Generally, however, in the Attic period of the language, they were not accounted synonymous. Ammonius formally distinguishes them in a philological, as the Stoics (see Plutarch, De Vit. Pud. 2) in an ethical, interest; and almost every passage in which either occurs attests a real difference existing between them.

This distinction has not always been seized with a perfect success. Thus it has been sometimes said that αἰδώς is the shame, or sense of honour, which hinders one from doing an unworthy act; αἰσχύνη is the disgrace, outward or inward, which follows on having done it (Luke 14:9). This distinction, while it has its truth, yet is not exhaustive; and, if we were thereupon to assume that αἰσχύνη was thus only retrospective, the conscious result of things unworthily done, it would be an erroneous one:1 seeing that αἰσχύνη continually expresses that feeling which leads to shun what is unworthy out of a prospective anticipation of dishonour. Thus in the Definitions ascribed to Plato (416) it is φόβος ἐπὶ προσδοκίᾳ ἀδοξίας: Aristotle including also the future in his comprehensive definition (Rhet. ii. 6): ἔστω δὴ αἰσχύνη, λύπη τις καὶ ταραχὴ περὶ τὰ εἰς ἀδοξίαν φαινόμενα φέρειν τῶν κακῶν, ἢ παρόντων, ἢ γεγονότων, ἢ μελλόντων: cf. Ethic. Nic. iv. 9. 1. In this sense, as ‘fuga dedecoris,’ it is used Ecclus. iv. 21; by Plato (Gorg. 492 a); and by Xenophon (Anab. iii. 1. 10): φοβούμενοι δὲ τὸν ὁδὸν καὶ ἄκοντες ὄμως οἱ πολλοὶ δι᾽ αἰσχύνην καὶ ἀλλήλων καὶ Κύρου συνηκολούθησαν: Xenophon implying here that while he and others, for more reasons than one, were disinclined to go forward with Cyrus to assail his brother’s throne, they yet were now ashamed to draw back.

This much of truth the distinction drawn above possesses, that αἰδώς (== ‘verecundia,’ which is defined by Cicero, Rep. vi. 4: ‘quidam vituperationis non injustae timor’2) is the nobler word, and implies the nobler motive: in it is involved an innate moral repugnance to the doing of the dishonorable act, which moral repugnance scarcely or not at all exists in the αἰσχύνη. Let the man who is restrained by it alone be insured against the outward disgrace which he fears his act will entail, and he will refrain from it no longer. It is only, as Aristotle teaches, περὶ ἀδοξίας φαντασία: or as South, ‘The grief a man conceives from his own imperfections considered with relation to the world taking notice of them; and in one word may be defined, grief upon the sense of disesteem;’ thus at Jer. 2:26 we have αἰσχύνη κλέπτου ὅταν ἁλῷ. Neither does the definition of ‘shame’ which Locke gives (Of Human Understanding, ii. 20) rise higher than this. Its seat, therefore, as Aristotle proceeds to show, is not properly in the moral sense of him that entertains it, in his consciousness of a right which has been, or would be, violated by his act, but only in his apprehension of other persons who are, or who might be, privy to its violation. Let this apprehension be removed, and the αἰσχύνη ceases; while αἰδώς finds its motive in itself, implies reverence for the good as good (see Aristophanes, Nubes, 994), and not merely as that to which honour and reputation are attached; on which matter see some admirable remarks in Gladstone’s Studies on Homer, vol. ii. p. 431; and again in his Primer on Homer, p. 112. Thus it is often connected with εὐλάβεια (Heb. 12:28; if indeed this reading may stand); the reverence before God, before his majesty, his holiness, which will induce a carefulness not to offend, the German ‘Scheu’ (Plutarch, Coes. 14; Proec. Conj. 47; Philo, Leg. ad Cai. 44); often also with δέος (Plato, Euthyd. 126 c); with εὐκοσμία (Xenophon, Cyrop. viii. 1. 33); with εὐταξία and κοσμιότης (Plutarch, Coes. 4); with σεμνότης (Proec. Conj. 26). To sum up all, we may say that αἰδώς would always restrain a good man from an unworthy act, while αἰσχύνη would sometimes restrain a bad one.

Ἐντροπή, occurring only twice in the N. T. (1 Cor. 4:5; 15:34), is elsewhere found in connection now with αἰσχύνη, and now with αἰδώς, with the first, Ps. 34:26, cf. Ps. 119:3; Ezek. 35:32; with the second in Iamblichus (quoted by Rost and Palm). It too must be rendered ‘shame,’ but has something in it which neither αἰδώς nor αἰσχύνη has. Nearly related to ἐντρέπω, ἐντρέπομαι it conveys at least a hint of that change of conduct, that return of a man upon himself, which a wholesome shame brings with it in him who is its subject. This speaks out in such phrases as παιδεία ἐντροπῆς (Job 20:3); and assuredly it is only to such shame that St. Paul seeks to bring his Corinthian converts in the two passages referred to already; cf. Tit. 2:8; and 2 Thess. 3:14, ἵναἐντραπῇ, which Grotius paraphrases rightly, ‘ut pudore tactus ad mentem meliorem redeat.’ Pott (Etym. Forsch. vol. v. p. 138) traces well the successive meanings of the words: ‘ἐντρέπω, umwenden, umkehren, umdrehen. Uebertr. einen in sich kehren, zu sich bringen, machen, dass er in sich geht . . . ἐντροπή das Umkehren; 2. das in sich Gehen, Beschämung, Scham, Scheu, Rücksicht, Achtung, wie αἰδώς.’


1 There is the same onesidedness, though exactly on the other side, in Cicero’s definition of ‘pudor,’ which he makes merely prospective: ‘Pudor, metus rerum turpium, et ingenua qaaedam timiditas, dedecus fugiens, laudemque consectans;’ but Ovid writes,

‘Irruit, et nostrum vulgat clamore pudorem.’

2 In the Latin of the silver age, ‘verecundia’ had acquired a sense of false shame; thus Quintilian, xii. 5, 2: ‘Verecundia est timor quidam reducens animum ab eis quae facienda sunt.’ It is the δυσωπία, on the mischiefs of which Plutarch has written such a graceful little essay.

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G127,G152,G1791.]

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