The age of Sophocles saw the beginnings of an intellectual movement which was to have immeasurable effects on the history of mankind. This was the movement mentioned in our introductory chapter: it was paideia, education, or rather culture, in the narrower sense. The word 'paideia', which at its first appearance meant "childrearing", and which in the fourth century, the Hellenistic, and the Imperial Roman ages constantly extended its connotation, was now for the first time connected with the highest areté possible to man: it was used to denote the sum-total of all ideal perfection of mind and body -complete kalokagathia, a concept which was now consciously taken to include a genuine intellectual and spiritual culture. This new comprehensive conception of the cultural ideal was firmly established by the time of Isocrates and Plato.
Areté had from the very first been closely bound up with education. But, as society had changed, so also had the ideal of areté, and with it the way to achieve areté. Everywhere in Greece, therefore, attention was now focused on the principal question: What type of education leads to areté? Without that question, the unique Hellenic ideal of culture could never have arisen; but for all its fundamental clarity, it presupposes the varied development which we have traced from the oldest aristocratic conception of areté to the new political ideal of citizenship in the democratic, justice-loving state. The nobles inevitably felt that areté should be maintained and transmitted by means different from those used by the Hesiodic peasants or the citizens of the polis -so far as the latter had any special means to perform that function. For, outside Sparta (where since Tyrtaeus' time there had grown up a unique system of a civic education, the agogé, unparalleled anywhere else in Greece), there was and could be no official form of education comparable to the old aristocratic training evidenced by the Odyssey, Theognis, and Pindar; and private attempts at creating an educational system went forward very slowly and gradually.
Werner Jaeger, Paideia, Oxford University Press, New York-Oxford, pp. 286-287.