The Definition of Beauty

There are different definitions of beauty. The classical conception of beauty sees beauty as a combination of features that please the sight and aesthetic senses. Some of the most famous and important examples of classical conceptions of beautiful things are the symmetrical features of the face and the ‘Canon’ sculpture by Polykleitos. The Polykleitos sculpture is considered to be one of the most beautiful works of art, and is a perfect example of a timeless masterpiece.


The Renaissance was a time when the idea of beauty was based on the harmonies of music and the movements of planets. During the Middle Ages, the definition of beauty was more romantic and elitist. The concept of beauty was part of the divine order. The poet John Keats attributed beauty to truth and symmetry. Today, the Romantic movement has a strong influence on the definition of the word beauty.

The ancient treatments of beauty are full of tributes to the pleasures that come with beauty. These are often described in ecstatic terms. For instance, Plotinus wrote about the joy of seeing beautiful faces and describing them as the “delicious trouble” of life. He also describes the trembling that accompanies delight. All of these qualities are embodied in the aesthetic experience of seeing and experiencing beauty.