Greek representation of happiness or eutychia, which means good fortune and good luck as well as of eudaimonia meaning well-being have deep religious roots. In addition, the word tyche means the act of god, and daimon is the divine power that determines the destiny of a man. Greek paradigm of happiness is subjective, and the internal experiences of a person play the major role. Every ancient Greek author had a model of behavior to which they aspired. However, there are many objective factors influencing the formation of the concept of happiness. For example, strong and unquestioned belief in the existence of gods, hence the belief in what is good and what is bad. Death cannot be happiness because it leads a person to a dark and terrible kingdom of Hades repeatedly described by various authors, for example, in the 11th song of The Odyssey written by Homer. Therefore, the ideal of happiness in Greek culture is subjective and portrays life values of the authors themselves along with the combination of common religious beliefs.
In the archaic period, the idea of the unattainable ideal of happiness was inspired by the mythological images of gods living where there is no wind or winter, where the gods know neither sorrow nor trouble, and where there are no diseases, no anguish. This is a typical folk idea of the perfect natural environment, lack of hard work, which is characteristic for ancient peoples. However, the majority of Greeks did not hope to enter the world of the gods and were mainly focused on life on earth. The praise of a calm and blessed life had become essentially a literary and artistic form as well as the belief in the inevitability of Fate. Hellenic policyholders actively fought for their rights, defended their homeland from the hordes of Persians, and traded with oracles in a peculiar manner: they begged them for predictions that were more favorable. What really caused a superstitious fear of Greeks was a violation of a certain balance between happiness and misery in people's lives: the constant luck believed to lead to a tragic end. The most consistently this belief is expressed in the legend of the ring of Polycrates. An extremely lucky ruler of the island of Samos, who wanted to suffer at least some damage, threw a precious ring into the sea. However, it returned to him in the stomach of a fish that had been caught. His life ended terribly: a Persian satrap lured him with the help of a mental trick and subjected to a terrible penalty that Herodotus himself did not even dare to describe. Thus, it is evident that the idea of joy was closely associated with experiencing misery in Ancient Greece.
Furthermore, by force of circumstances, Archilochus led a life of a wanderer and got used to the fact that happiness in life must be achieved through pain. Archilochus believed in seething and boiling passions, but he did not see any particular purpose in his life, for the sake of which he would have to choose a specific type of behavior. Therefore, there is no concept of tomorrow for Archilochus. He lived only in the present day because he was not tied to a particular place and people: he lived as a free man. Undoubtedly, Archilochus was a man of broad views. He simply shared his experience and perception of the world. Similar ideas can be attributed to Alcaeus. He was convinced that he could be happy when no one could judge his feelings. Another important quality of a divine gift about which Archilochus wrote was a mighty resistance. According to the poet, this quality saved a man from all the evils of inescapable. Indeed, stability as well as the strength of mind is necessary for a person in a difficult situation; thus, they will be able to make the right choice while experiencing all the difficulties sent by the gods. He means that a person does not look objectively at many things. Therefore, the whole life of the poet is similar to the tides of the sea. After all, human life is not static because it has its own rhythm.
The remnants of the archaic belief in conjunction with the features of the social psychology of the demos and the image of the hated life of aristocracy formed the ideal of individual happiness, which is relatively more realistic. The basis of this ideal was the golden middle principle. This principle was important for the Athenian citizens: in the speech against Timarchus hoping to win the support of the judges, Aeschines said that he did not need much, and he did not want more. In fact, the aforementioned principle is a widely popular practice in the modern world.
Herodotus provides the most detailed description of a Greek ideal of happiness at the time in his story of Croesus and Solon. Lydian king Croesus was famous for his wealth due to the fact that a river of golden sand flowed through his capital, Sardis. When Solon came to visit him, Croesus showed him the treasures and asked whether Solon met the happiest person in the world. Croesus hoped that Solon would call him the luckiest one. However, Solon said that the happiest person was an Athenian peasant, Tellus: he was prosperous, had sons and grandsons, and died valiantly fighting for their city. He was buried at the public expense: people wanted to pay him homage posthumously. Furthermore, Solon called the two young men the second happiest people. Their mother was a priestess in the temple of the goddess Hera. During the citywide celebrations in accordance with a ritual, the oxen should have brought the woman in a cart to the temple. However, her sons pulled it instead of the bulls because the animals were far in the field. When the mother asked the goddess to reward them, the young men went to sleep in the temple of the goddess and never woke up. Similarly, the city also honored them posthumously. As a result, it is obvious that happiness could not be achieved through extremes.
Thus, in Ancient Greece, the ideal of a happy life included a family, a certain property but not excessive wealth, service to one’s native land, painless or quick death and, recognition of the public that would honor a person in life and death. This concept can be viewed as an absolutely male perspective: there was no place for love, and men, as it can be seen in the speeches addressed to a fairly wide audience, did not connect the concepts of love and happiness. In fact, a sophist and a teacher of eloquence, Gorgias delivered a speech in defense of Helen, who was believed to be a reason of the Trojan War. Speaking of love as one of the possible reasons for the flight of Helen and Paris, Gorgias calls love a human disease while feelings are a mental eclipse. Thus, one would not need to condemn her, and the situation can be considered as a misfortune.