Gamma Rho Kappa

Ancient Greek Honor Society


September 2016

An Ancient “Bless Your Heart” Insult – Kevin Southerland

(This post originally appeared on the author’s own blog site in a shorter form that had a more general audience in mind.)

“As long as you say, “Bless your heart,” you can say anything you want about them afterward.”
–Comedian whose name is not remembered (bless the author’s heart).

While it can be used to express sympathy for someone who has suffered some misfortune (e.g., “Your broke your leg? Bless your heart!”), “Bless your (or “his/her/their”) heart, . . .”  is often, especially in the southern US, an insult that is “softened,” typically followed by some statement as to the stupidity or wrongheadedness of the person whose heart is “blessed.” Typically, it is a statement that is trying to assert that, while “[your/her/his/their] heart is in the right place” (i.e., one is sincere in one’s motives or beliefs), the person is (sincerely!) wrong and/or thoughtless in his/her actions or application.

In Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, V.105.3  (which is an ancient account of the war between various Greek city-states led by rivals Athens and Sparta in 431-404 BCE), there is a speech of the Athenians to the inhabitants of the island of Melos, whom the Athenians wanted to defect from their alliance with Sparta. In the back and forth between the two groups, the Melosians declares that they are going to trust in the gods and in Sparta. The Athenians respond that they do not expect the gods to disfavor themselves. As far as the Melosians trusting in Sparta, they say the following: τῆς δὲ ἐς Λακεδαιμονίους δόξης, ἣν διὰ τὸ αἰσχρὸν δὴ βοηθήσειν ὑμῖν πιστεύετε αὐτούς, μακαρίσαντες ὑμῶν τὸ ἀπειρόκακον οὐ ζηλοῦμεν τὸ ἄφρον. “But of the expectation [of help] in the Lakedaimonians [i.e., Spartans] which, because of the shame [the Spartans might acquire], you believe it would be necessary of them to come to your aid, blessing your simplicity, we do not envy your drivel.”

“Simplicity” here means something like innocent sincerity. In our vernacular, it might be able to be corresponded to the metaphor of one’s “heart,” as in the motivation behind the choice. The word translated as “drivel” can be glossed more literally as “foam,” but like the English word “drivel,” which can literally mean something like slobber, it also figuratively refers to foolish talk. Put it in a form that some of the author’s Southern family might say and it comes out something like: “Bless your heart, your talk ain’t worth spit.” In other words, the Athenians think there is no way that the Spartans will be driven to help them by necessity of virtue or fear of shame, as they go on to say in the following line.

Thus, what might seem like an expression of the relatively recent past of English in America appears, at least in the general meaning of the insult form, to go all the way back to more than 2,400 years ago in Greece!

A Note of Welcome From ATS Chapter President – Jerry Breen


Gamma Rho Kappa (ΓΡΚ), the Greek Honor Society at Asbury Seminary, welcomes new students, returning students, and ΓΡΚ alumni to the 2016-2017 academic year! We invite you to invest time with us as we recognize outstanding achievements in Ancient Greek language, literature, and culture. Study and appreciation of biblical languages is important for every Christian leader, and ΓΡΚ wants you to engage with us in relevant conversations concerning biblical language, literature, and culture while you are at Asbury and after you have graduated. Our monthly meetings provide opportunities for discussion and critical analysis of presentations from visiting scholars, Asbury faculty, and recognized students who present research concerning Greek language, literature, and culture. Now is your time to join the conversation.

Why Join?

I know you may be asking why you should want to join a Greek Honor Society, so we have provided some compelling reasons, such as:

  • To engage in current dialogue concerning the study of Ancient Greek language, literature, and culture.
  • To discover current thoughts and trends concerning the study of Ancient Greek language, literature, and culture.
  • To network with scholars and students interested in Ancient Greek language, literature, and culture.
  • To receive greater access to Greek tutoring and resources for studying the language.
  • To receive exposure to critical feedback given to presenters and personal work.
  • To recognize the hard work you as a student have accomplished concerning the Ancient Greek language.
  • To receive recognition of your work as a student in the study of the Ancient Greek language upon graduation in the form of a ΓΡΚ
  • To advertise your involvement in ΓΡΚ in your resume or CV.

We want to assist you in your study and love of Ancient Greek and will be there to support you on your journey. Join us, and help cultivate a love for Ancient Greek in your heart and the hearts of others!

Requirements for Membership

What do you need to do to join? First you should evaluate whether you meet our requirements for membership, which, simply stated, are:

  • Graduate students must have taken Greek 1, Greek 2, and Intermediate Greek with a B average or above.
  • Post-graduate students must have taken Greek 1, Greek 2, and Intermediate Greek with a B+ average.
  • Students may petition the committee for membership for equivalents of requirements.

If you meet these requirements, you will then be asked to pay a membership due before you are officially considered a member. Membership dues are $20/year, but we are going to discuss and vote on a change in the constitution to allow for a one-time due of $40 that would provide a lifetime membership. If this measure passes, those who have paid dues in the past will be able to count those previously paid dues towards their one-time fee.

Our requirements for membership are quite stringent, and you may find that you will not meet the requirements until you have been at Asbury for a year or two. Do not let that stop you from attending our monthly meetings and engaging in engaging, practical, profound, and insightful conversation.

Meeting Dates and Times

Our monthly meetings are the last Tuesday of the month in September, October, November, February, March, and April. The meetings are officially from 12pm-1pm, but we invite you to come a little early and stay a little late. The meetings take place in the special rooms in the cafeteria known as Cordella A (for the last meeting) and Cordella B (for the first five meetings).

So consider taking part in Gamma Rho Kappa this year so your love of studying the biblical text is enriched by a greater understanding of the Greek language, literature, and culture. Once this love grows in your heart it will become infectious to all with whom you come in contact!

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