Through its long literary and historical record, ancient Greece established the standard for diplomacy based on Philotimo – “love of honor” – and utilizing highly prized oratorical skills, together with public negotiation and the exchanging of oaths to build truces, treaties, and alliances.
Earliest literary evidence can be seen, for example, in Book 9 of the ILIAD in Nestor’s skilled dealings with Agamemnon. Diplomacy was also evidenced in the agreement of the secession of hostilities and universal safe passage every four years during the ancient Olympic Games.
Now as then a diplomat ( from the Greek word diploma) brings a unique skill set as representative of the interests of the State in recognizing and negotiating areas of mutual interest and benefit with representatives of other nations or entities.
The earliest diplomats, called Heralds, were considered inviolable through protection by Hermes, the messenger of the gods. Envoys of prominent citizens possessing special language and oratorical skills, were sent forth to negotiate with foreign assemblies, while Proxeni negotiated in areas of trade.
Through the centuries the ancient Greeks crafted alliances including the Peloponnesian League, the Delian League, and a number of Greco-Persian congresses.
Emerging from these diplomatic efforts was the very framework of diplomatic vocabulary and methods still in use.
Today, we honor the many Greek diplomats serving around the world.