Influence of Grecian Culture

Is it All Greek to You? “The impress of Greek culture upon Alpha Chi Omega is palpable.

Grecian influence, as one easily may see, goes far deeper than the Greek-letter name and the initiation of members by secret mysteries.

It is manifest in the very basis of the fraternity: its purpose, its ideals and its requirements.” Ever wondered why?

That statement begins Chapter XXIII of the 1916 History of Alpha Chi Omega entitled “Influence of Grecian Culture upon Alpha Chi Omega,”

followed by twelve pages devoted to a description of that influence and a mini-course in ancient Greek culture and mythology.

A 21st century reader might well skip that chapter, finding nothing current, familiar or relevant in the topic.

Yet, each member of Alpha Chi Omega, through her association with the Fraternity,

has been exposed in some degree to the teachings and principles of ancient Greece whether she realizes it or not.

A member in the late 1800s would have no issue with such a focus.

The study of Greek was part of the classical education of the time.

In all likelihood, students who were privileged enough to attend a college or university had received instruction in Greek, Latin and the classics prior to embarking upon their higher education journey.

By the time Alpha Chi Omega was founded in 1885, Greek-letter social organizations had become plentiful on college campuses across the country, with most exclusively for men.

It is generally believed that Phi Beta Kappa was the first Greek-letter society, created at William and Mary in December,

1776—just five months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The original Phi Beta Kappa had all the characteristics of present-day social fraternities: a secret ritual,

oath of loyalty, grip, badge, motto, a desire to share its values through expansion, high ideals of morality, academic achievement and friendship.

Within eleven years of its formation, Phi Beta Kappa had expanded to Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth.

Increased military activity in Virginia during the Revolutionary War may have caused the chapter at William and Mary to become dormant in 1781.

The organization did not expand further for many years.

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