Are You a Parrhesiastes?

Has telling the truth cost you something? 

You may be a parrhesiastes. 

Parresía: a Greek word that mean freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech; openly, frankly, without concealment; free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance [Strong’s Concordance] 

Parresia [par-uh-see’-ah]: boldness to tell the truth

Parrhesiastes [par-uh-see’-ist]: one who boldly tells the truth

Description of a parrhesiastes [written in "she" because the author is a "she"; however, men can be parrhesiastes's, as well]:

A parrhesiastes doesn’t hide anything, but opens her heart and mind completely to other people through her speaking. In parresia, the parrhesiastes gives a complete and exact account of what she has in mind so that the audience is able to comprehend exactly what the she thinks. The parrhesiastes always says what she knows to be true; there is always an exact correlation between belief and truth. If there is a kind of "proof" of the sincerity of the parrhesiastes, it is her courage. The fact that she says something dangerous — different from what the majority believes— is a strong indication that she is a parrhesiastes. The parrhesíastes is someone who takes a risk. Parresia, then, is linked to courage to speak the truth in the face of danger. And in its extreme form, telling the truth can cost the parrhesiastes her life. A parrhesiastes would risk death to tell the truth instead of settling in the security of a life where the truth goes unspoken. She prefers herself as a truth-teller rather than as a living being who is false to herself. No one forces her to speak; but she feels that it is her duty to do so. 

The parrhesiastes uses her freedom to choose: 

  • frankness instead of persuasion,
  • truth instead of falsehood or silence,
  • the risk of death instead of life and security,
  • criticism instead of flattery,
  • moral duty instead of self-interest and moral apathy.
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

by Tricia Gunn