Monday, April 3, 2017

Good word, for good people: "Philotomo"

I learned a new word today: ‘Philotomo.’ It is Greek, and apparently has the power to make those who understand its meaning misty-eyed. It’s a powerfully evocative yet subtle word, symbolizing courage, generosity, duty, honor, empathy, humility. It derives from filos, friend, and timi, honor. It’s about giving to others without wanting anything back for yourself, except perhaps love and appreciation. Triandis (1972) states that the concept of philotomo is unique to the Greek culture and may need to be translated as a phrase such as “the love of honor” to capture the full meaning. I was introduced to the word when reviewing a video about a Scripps College alumna, Dr. Katherine Schwab (above), who is professor of Art History and Visual Culture at Fairfield University and was recently honored with the college's Distinguished Faculty Award at its Annual Awards Dinner in New York City. A colleague noted that the word applied to Dr. Schwab's unwavering support for her students, love of teaching, passion for her subject and dedication to sharing ancient Greek art. I first learned of Dr. Schwab's talents when preparing a news brief about her fascinating research for Scripps College's website (a responsibility of mine in my day job). I love my job, learning new words, and sharing news about truly interesting and "good people."