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Kairos

Kairos: (καιρός)  Opportunity; seizing the opportune time and place for transformative change.    

"Kairos reigns where creative purposes are to be achieved.” (Aldridge, 2000: p.3)


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Kairos:  an opportune time and space; 
   a window of opportunity - 
 “the right or opportune moment".

The concept of Kairos encompasses both time and space, and relates to:
  • "the auspicious moment"   (Kelman, 1969)
  • "a series of opportunities occurring over time..."
      (Myers, 2001, p.11)
  • a window of opportunity 
       (Sullivan, 1992, cited in Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001)
  • ‘the right time’, ‘timeliness’ and "also carries a spatial metaphor, that of a critical opening"    (Onians, 1951, cited in Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001
  • an opening, a portal
  • liminal time, as experienced during a rite of passage, enabling transformative change    (Turner, 1982)

"The earliest Greek uses of the term, in both archery and weaving, referred to ‘a penetrable opening, an aperture,’ through which an arrow or a shuttle must pass." (Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001)

In Greek, two words for "time" were:
- "chronos" - linear, chronological time,
- "kairos"   - qualitative time, a moment in an indeterminate period when something special and transformative can happen.

In Greek mythology, Kairos (Καιρός) was also a god, the youngest of the divine sons of Zeus and was the personification of opportunity and opportune moments.

In front of the stadium at Olympia there were two altars, one dedicated to Hermes and the other one to Kairos (Caerus). Hermes, also a son of Zeus, was a god of transitions and liminality (Pausanias, 1918).

Kairos is sometimes depicted as having a long forelock of hair at the front (by means of which one could grasp the opportunity as it presented itself), shorter hair at the back and sides, having wings on his shoulders and heels, holding a butterfly, holding scales balanced on a razor's edge, with his foot on a globe (Cook, 2010).


Cook, A.B. (2010) Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, Vol.2, Part 2. Cambridge University Press.


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