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Phren (Ancient Greek: φρήν, translit. phrēn, lit. 'mind'; plural phrenes, φρένες) is an Ancient Greek word for the location of thought or contemplation.[1] Phren is used, for example, to describe where Achilles considered his sadness about losing Briseis and his duty to join the Greeks against Troy.[2].

The kind of mental activity conducted in the Phren involves what 20th and 21 Century Western thinkers consider both feeling and thinking; scholars have remarked that Ancient Greeks located this activity in the torso as opposed to the head. [2] [3]

Its Latinized form is "fren" and is found in English language words such as schizophrenia, phrenitis, phrenic nerve, phrenology, frenzy, frenetic.[3]


  1. ^ Sullivan, Shirley D. (1999). Sophocles, Use of Psychological Terminology: Old and New. Carleton University Press (in 2018 called McGill-Queen's University Press). ISBN 0-88629-343-X.
  2. ^ a b Scott, Sarah. "Core Vocab: phrēn, phrenes". Kosmos Society: An Online Community for Classical Studies. Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b Catlin, Brian; John, Lyons. "Etymology of Thoracic Terms". Dartmouth Medical School. Archived from the original on 20 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018. Phrenic – The stem of this word, phren, had two separate meanings in ancient Greece. One was the heart or, perhaps because it was so close by, the thoracic diaphragm. Our modern adjective phrenic referring to the diaphragm, as in phrenic nerve, comes from that meaning. The other meaning of phren was the brain or mind. From this second meaning we get such words as phrenology and schizophrenic. Frenzy, at one time spelled phrenzy, also comes from this meaning.