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Corinthian spirit

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on September 28, 2009 at 19:08

In Reply to: Corinthian spirit posted by David FG on September 25, 2009 at 17:19:

: : : : 'Corinthian spirit' - can someone explain the origins of this phrase please?

: : : 'Corinthian Spirit' is the spirit of 'gentlemanly' amateurishness (in its true sense: of playing for love, not profit) as epitomized by the English football (soccer for Westpondians) team, Corinthian FC.

: : : A reasonable description (though a bit shaky on some of its detail) is here, by the English journalist, Hunter Davies, writing in the (mainly) political journal, 'The New Statesman':

: : : '... teams could behave like the Corinthians used to do, back in the 1900s. They were the totally amateur, public-school, Oxbridge team that put fair play and moral values above such sordid, vulgar things as winning. They never argued with the ref or entered any competition where there was a prize. If by chance the other team lost a man, either sent off or through injury, they immediately and voluntarily sent off one of their own men, just to keep things even.'

: : : DFG

: : That's a good explanation of what the COrinthian spirit is. But why is it called Corinthian?
: : SS

: I have to confess, to my shame, that had never occurred to me. I can do no better than quote from the Corinthian-Casuals website (they still exist, albeit in a somewhat modified form):

: 'The name came from a suggestion by England international, H.A. Swepstowe, which was accepted unanimously. In the recently published history of the club, "Play Up Corinth," author Rob Cavallini explains "the most likely explanation for this choice . is the word's long forgotten meaning - 'man of fashion and pleasure,' which captures the whole essence of the playing membership and their sporting ideology."'


The citizens of classical Corinth were proverbial for their wealth and profligacy. "Corinthian" has been a metaphor for a rakish "lad of mettle" since Shakespeare's day (Falstaff uses it). In the Regency the "Corinthians" were a group of hard-living aristocrats dedicated to sports, particularly pugilism and horse-racing. By the late 19th century the word had lost the hard-living, high-betting associations of the Regency term and kept only the idea of gentlemanliness and amateurism. (VSD)