The Greek letters (ΦΒΚ) come from the motto Φιλοσοφία Βίου Κυβερνήτης (philosophia biou kybernētēs, "Philosophy is the helmsman of life"), now officially translated as "Philosophy is the guide of life". Greek was chosen as the language for the motto due generally to classical education at the time, and specifically because Heath "was the best Greek scholar in college." One official historian of the society, William T. Hastings, and some others believe that the society was originally known by the Latin name Societas Philosophiae (Philosophical Society), and that the name Phi Beta Kappa only came to be taken as the society name over time. This use of Greek letters was briefly preceded by the use of Latin letters, notably the F.H.C. Society drawing its name from its secret motto, presumed to be "Fraternitas, Humanitas, et Cognitio" or "Fraternitas Humanitas Cognitioque" (two renderings of "brotherhood, humaneness, and knowledge").
However, Phi Beta Kappa was very different from a typical college fraternity of today in that the membership was generally restricted to upperclassmen, if not seniors; and men who had been initiated as students continued to be active in the society after becoming members of the faculty of the host university. The annual Phi... [continues]
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