Pénta Philia

I am no Greek Scholar, but it’s my understanding that the above term, Pénta Philia roughly translates to Five Friends. (Five really good friends)

About 30 years ago I heard a guy on the radio give a shorty commentary speaking on this topic. I was so moved by what he said I wrote to the radio station and they sent me a transcript of his commentary. I had it taped up on the office wall for a long time. I wish I still had it.

I thought long and hard about it, thinking the guy was full of it. But the farther I go in life the more I understand what he was saying.

Essentially he said if a man goes through life and has five friends that he could always depend on no matter what, he would be far richer than one can ever imagine. He went a little deeper into it, to declare that it’s rare for a man to go through life with even two of those friendships. Most people will not have even one of those friends when his days are done.

On the surface we look around and we have lots of friends. Yes we typically have several very close friends, but how long have you had this deep friendship? Does this person drop what he’s doing to come to your aid, regardless of the circumstance?

We all know that each other have our own lives to live and don’t want to intrude. Or we let petty differences get in the way. Our schedules never seem to work out. Our interests aren’t exactly the same.

We leave high school or college thinking we’ll remain friends forever, but things always change. Of course career paths change us. The accumulation of wealth or the lack of success pull us apart. Our jobs take us away. A marriage partner can change things. It’s inevitable that things change.

The reason I ponder this is a result of several conversations that we have had here in this group. Our grandparents and great grandparents had a Pènta Philia. There was a sense of community. A dedication to neighbors. They were one in mind and spirit.

If one fell ill all the neighbors would be there to gather your crops, feed your livestock and see that your family was fed. I understand it was a simpler time back in those days. It was even necessary to live life that way if you were going to exist. They didn’t have the government or insurance policies. They had friends and they had neighbors.

It may just be my imagination, but it seems that’s my Grandfather had a dozen of those close friends and had them for his whole lifetime.

If we lived a life where we were more dependent on friends and less dependent on the government, our lives would be much better. But if that was the case, the government would figure out a way to tax friendship.

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