Arete (ἀρετή) is a Hellenic virtue meaning “excellence”. Arete is about being all you can be, the best at what you are, giving it your all, meeting your potential. The word arete is often translated as “virtue”.
Arete is about using all the tools available to you to get things done, by any means necessary. Therefore, arete for is different for each individual. (Arete exists also for animals, plants, and objects.) There is no “good” and “evil” in arete. There are effective and ineffective. Action and lack of action. Each must strive to be the perfect specimen of whatever he or she is, whatever that may be. As evidenced by the stories of ancient Greek heroes, dishonesty, theft, violence, all can be part of your path to arete, if it accomplishes what you need to accomplish.
Arete applies to body, mind and spirit. The Hellenic physical ideal is a body in perfect condition, ready to compete. In order to achieve arete, the physical body must be exercised, especially through athletic competition. The mind must also be exercised as well. A well-trained mind is well-read, flexible, logical but creative and cunning. Arete of spirit involves strength, courage, loyalty and perseverance as well as training in philosophy, music and the arts.
The reward for Arete is immortality in the sense that you will be remembered. Naturally, those who achieve excellence, that is, they excel at whatever it is they do, will be remembered and as long as you are remembered, you never really die.
The idea of Arete is strongly tied to the idea of paideia, or the education and training of an ideal member of society.
Arete is rarely personified as a Goddess, sister to Homonia and Kakia, daughter of Praxidike.