Nomos and Physis

The terms nomos and physis ties in with another Greek term called agon.

Agon means a struggle or fight, which is something Ancient Greeks believed had a part in everything because everything had two sides.

Nomos and physis are the two sides, according to Ancient Greek philosophy.

Nomos is the side which means law, rationalism, and order. Physis is the side which means nature.

The Ancient Greeks strongly believed in gods and goddesses and they used them with pretty much everything.

Apollo was a Greek god which was an example of the nomos side.

Apollo was known to be an organized god who could fight against sea monsters, snakes, and dragons.

Medusa was believed to be similar to a snake.

The Ancient Greeks believed she was on the side of physis as she could not control her behavior and would often make a mess.

The terms nomos and physis also explained the behaviors of Ancient Greek women and men.

In Ancient Greece, it was believed that men could control their behavior better than women, so men were often thought to be nomos.

It was also the men of Ancient Greece who were the ones who made and controlled the laws.

Because Ancient Greeks believed that women had a hard time controlling their behavior, they were thought to be on the side of physis.

Ancient Greeks believed that women did what they felt like and what came naturally to them.

This meant that women were on the side of physis because physis means nature or natural.

Mathematics, music, and architecture were all big parts of Ancient Greek lives, at least for the men.

This was because mathematics, music, and architecture were on the side of nomos.

All three of these subjects had to follow strict rules and would bring order in their subject.

For example, music controlled noise, architecture controlled space, and mathematics created infinity, which means endless.

This means Ancient Greeks believed that nomos brought limits to where things were never-ending.

Facts about nomos and physis:

  • Our word physics comes from the Ancient Greek word physis.
  • The words nomos and physis were popular during the 4th and 5th Centuries in Ancient Greece.
  • Nomos can also mean reasoning. When someone reasons about something, the person is thinking about it. According to Ancient Greek belief, this would mean they are controlling the situation by thinking about what to do or how to act.
  • Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle believed there was more than one meaning to the word physis and tried to add these meanings to Ancient Greek beliefs.
  • Men in Ancient Greece did not like physis. They liked to make sure everything had an order.
  • Sometimes Ancient Greek women could act on the side of nomos, such as when they were weaving. Weaving would bring control of the fabric to make blankets.
  • Ancient Greeks believed that before there were gods, the world was a mess and followed the side of physis.
  • Ancient Greeks believed that their gods were the ones who brought order or nomos into the world.

Questions and Answers:

1.)What does nomos mean in Ancient Greece?

a.) Order

b.) Nature

c.) Fire

Answer: A

2.) What does physis mean in Ancient Greece?

a.) Order

b.) Nature

c.) Fire

Answer: B

3.) Which Ancient Greek philosopher tried to add meanings to the word physis?

a.) Homer

b.) Aristotle

c.) Pato

Answer: B

4.) Ancient Greeks believe women followed the side of what?

a.) Nomos

b.) homemakers

c.) physis

Answer: C

5.) Ancient Greeks believed men followed the side of what?

a.) homemakers

b.) nomos

c.) physis

Answer: B