The “Colonels’ Epoch” was over. Greece vigorously was coming to oneself again. The investments started to increase rapidly, and the helps from abroad allowed the people to built or rebuilt houses, buy cars etc. The tourism, one of the most important income sources of Greece was increasing year after year. Since 1981, Greece entered the European Union.
The colonels did not understand the epoch of territorial recuperations from the former Ottoman Empire was over. The modern Turkey is no the former Ottoman Empire, and the Turks are not those from the old times. But, the colonels wanted to be the followers of the Greek heroes and thought that it would be a good moment to take revenge after the disaster from Smyrna. But, what happened, in fact?
The former Ottoman Empire lost the most part of its territories. The damages reached the maximum at the end of the First World War, when it fought and lost along with Germany. Greece, instead, was in full course of recuperation the territories occupied by the Turks. Smyrna was already populated with many Greeks, so that they occupied it with the army. To want it was more than normal, not only from historical point of view. At that time, it was one of the most prosperous towns in this area. Athens, even if in full development, started with only four thousand inhabitants, as it has in 1833, before to become the capital of the new independent Greek country. Its economic and cultural role was insignificant. Thessaloniki was another town in this area, just larger. It was wanted by Bulgaria too. Eleftherios Venizelor, one of the most important Greek prime-minister succeeded to include it on the map of Greece only in 1913, following the Treat from Bucharest. For the moment, it was an aim much too far. Besides, the Greeks were in a small percent in the population of Thessaloniki: approximate 10%. The majority belongs to the Jews – over 50% - followed by Turks. In Smyrna, instead, the situation was different. There, the Greek community represented almost half from the population of the town, and people were not at all poor. On the contrary, three from nine banks, for example, were founded with Greek capital. There were also schools for Greek boys and girls. Nikos Themelis, one of the most appreciated novelists, in his book “Η αναζήτηση” (The Quest), eulogises the town for its cosmopolitism and its economic role at the end of the 19th century. “According to the most recent census, Smyrna had 155 thousand inhabitants: 75 thousand Greeks, 15 thousand Jews, 10 thousand Catholics, 6 thousand Armenians and 4 thousand people from various other parts. The rest, some 45 thousand, were Turks. All told the Turks were a minority. . . Furthermore, Smyrna’s activities abroad gave the city an international air, a livelier rhythm and many more prospects. The administration and commerce in Smyrna were in the hands of the Greeks. . . The cultural and spiritual life of Smyrna was in the hands of Christians of all kind.”
The Treat from Sèvres (10 August 1920) encouraged the Greeks to occupy the town, especially because Italian troops landed in Anatolia. The moment seems opportune. After obtaining the independence, since 1830 until the end of the First World War, Greece recuperated territories up till the nowadays configuration. The Greeks thought the evolution will goes on. It only seems. The Treat from Sèvres was never applied. The Turks, instead, under the command of Mustafa Kemal – later named Atatürk, which means „the father of Turks” – said STOP. He promised to create a modern state and did it. First, he reorganized the army and, among other things, recuperates Smyrna, driving away the Greeks.
But, why the Greeks thought they had rights on all these territories? It’s true; they played an important role in antiquity, there. As a matter of fact, the antique Greek civilisation never was a state in the modern meaning of this word, but only fortress-states, which used to co-operate sometimes and – more frequently – fight each other. The Macedonian Empire was only a spark, which died out as fast as it appeared. Alexander the Great, though Macedonian, arrogate to himself the role of the representative of Athens and wanted to conquer its traditional enemy, Persian Empire. It was not difficult at all, as this one was in an abrupt decline. It is very interesting and relevant that he did not want to extend his conquering toward the North. From the military point of view, it would be much easier. His glory, instead would be much more small. The Hellenistic epoch followed, which is another thing, anyway not a state.
The truth is the memory of the former Byzantine Empire is that that give the Greeks’ nostalgia. After the collapse of Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, named later Byzantine Empire, became a Greek one. Those from Occident used to call it just with this name: the Greek Empire. But there, in occidental Europe, after the first part of the dark Middle Eve, the economy, culture and political power started to blowing and the new states, appeared one after another as independent kingdoms. The Byzantine Empire, instead, was declining because of some internal reasons, like corruption, avarice, luxury and particularly by laziness, as yearly as before to be conquered by Turks. It was not hard at all for the Turks to vanquish them.
Later on, under the Turks, the Greeks from Constantinople (recalled Istanbul) and the surrounding area must be appreciated for the way in which they known how to protect their interests and – with meticulousness and perseverance – made themselves useful for the Turks. We must recognize that, on the other hand, the Turks accepted their presence. The Ecumenical Patriarchy has its headquarters in Istanbul from the beginning up till today. Unlike the soviets, which forbidden religion and destroyed almost all the churches, the Turks did not do the same in Greece. The district Fanar from Istanbul was a nursery of translators, diplomats and intellectuals, and the Ottoman government used them in its interest and they served the Turks’ interests.
If the Greeks under the Ottoman occupation must be appreciated, we cannot say the same about those from Greece after the obtaining the independence, when their enthusiasm darkened their minds. They lost the patience and wanted to conquer what was already Greek. There were 350,000 Greeks in Istanbul. Smyrna was more a Greek town than a Turkish one, and this during the Ottoman occupation. But the moment in which the Turks said STOP to the decline had come.
For all that, the colonels did not realize the change. They thought to have the opportunity of enter into the history with a great achievement. This time, the aim was Cyprus. First, they occupied it with the army. But the Turks were present.
What the colonels did not understand was clear for the Greek people, conscious that what had happened at Smyrna could repeat. Consequently, a revolt followed and the dictatorial regime of the colonels failed.
Fortunately, all these were in the past. Now, it is all right. A new period of prosperity for Greece came. The foreign investments come even more than in the past. New enterprises set up, new imposing buildings raise on the avenues of Athens, which grow up like the branches of a tree. What was a large city proved to be only a bud that was blossoming now year after year.
Maybe, for Anastasia’s father, it would be better from the financial point of view to keep his job several years more, though he reached the age of retiring. He thinks to be able to do it, but he did not want. He was feeling too tired. Malia, the small town in which they live was in fact a bathing resort, noisy enough due to the young tourists. While they considered by themselves to be young, it was all right. But now, the situation was changed; the excitement of young people was no longer in accord with their rhythm of life and the discordance was irritating. Besides, he had not the motivation of supplementary earnings. Anastasia did not benefit by their financial support when she would need it. Now, their situation, even if is not of some rich people, is better than in the past and their help would be insignificant. Drahma has a rate of exchange in dollars much too small. As for two of them, his pension will be enough.
Consequently, he did not wait for the second time. He did it immediately. The first move was to look for a house in Athens. It was the town of his childhood. He left it for an island, while most people used to come in Athens. In the meantime, the city developed impetuously. He noticed it every time when he was coming in the capital. In the same time he remarked that people changed too. Besides many foreigners, the Greeks themselves were different, which was not just on his pleasure, but he must accept the change, even only because it means evolution, an evolution necessary for Greece. There is no way for the other islands. A few people remained there. Only the great ones are still populated, living from tourism. At their age, the agitation of the tourist is exactly what they do not want. Athens is the city where they will live from now on.
The question is: where? In what district? He knew the centre very well since he was young. It was blatantly enough even then. Now, the traffic on the avenues is infernal. It is not fit at all for two old people. The town extended toward the sea and the development goes on. Piraeus and Athens make a single town. There is not free space between them. The foreign trading companies built high modern buildings for their offices. Among them, they feel stranger. The places where he used to wander as a child would be preferable. From the Patission Avenue, after you pass beyond of Polytechnic Institute, the district on the right hand seems to be just nice. In fact, there are more districts. The most attractive seems to be Gyzi. The same Gyzi of his childhood. The Alexandras avenue is still crowded, but after you go beyond the park, it is just pleasant: peaceful and civilised. There he will seek for an apartment to rent for the beginning and, after they will move, he will look for one to buy. He must not be in a hurry. If he will be rush to buy immediately, he would be wrong. Et leisure, he will obtain the necessary information for a good choice.
In the meantime, the Fotios’ financial situation ameliorated, Kostas grown up, so they can afford even to visit Greece. Not all of them in the same time. Fotios did in even several times, for solving some problems of his family. Now, it is the turn of Anastasia and Kostas. All of them enjoy, but Kostas is in ecstasy.
- After the rain of last night, today it is an excellent day for a walk. The air is pure, cool and very clear. You will be able to take photographs as you like.
o I understand we will visit Acropolis?
- Yes. Finally, the day has come.
o You do not know how much I enjoy, mom. I will have the opportunity to close my classmate’s mouth.
- I know you want it, though the visit of the ruins of Hellenistic Civilisation would be more than it for you.
o Maybe it is, but I did not know how to tell you. We will go up till Syntagma?
- We can do it. From there, we will cross the Central Park, then will visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus, pass by the Arch of Hadrian, cross Plaka and climb on Acropolis.
- Let’s go!
An hour later
- The Temple of Zeus drew my attention every time I pass by it from the buss, on the Vouliagmenis Avenue. I have read something about its history. What struck me was it is characteristic for the history of the whole Greece, even for the Greeks themselves, for their mentality.
o What do you mean?
- It was built on the ruins of an older temple. They say that, here, there was an altar made by Deucalion himself, after the Deluge. Deucalion was a Mythological variant of Noah from the Bible, but it is the legend. What one knows is that the son of Peisistratos begun the construction in 515 BC, after the model of those from Asia Minor. A period of democracy followed and they stopped to work, as the Greeks did not want to consume their energy with it. In 174 BC, the king Antioch IV Epiphanies of Syria continued the works with a Roman architect but, after the king’s death, the works stopped again. Only in 124 AD, so three centuries later, Roman emperor Hadrian resumed the building and inaugurated it in 131, so over six centuries from the beginning. After the inauguration, the degradation begun.
o One says the greatest destructions of the vestiges of Greece was made by the Christians from the Occident, during the crusades, though the aim of crusades was Jerusalem and not Athens, in order to take it from the Moslems power.
- Theoretically. In reality, they were military expeditions with base intentions. As for Athens, you are right; the crusades did not affect it. Constantinople was. It was the capital of Byzantine Empire, while Athens had lost its importance long ago. The Fourth Crusade was the most disastrously for Byzantine Empire. In the month of May 1203 the crusaders occupied Constantinople and, after it, divided the Empire in several small states. Only in 1261 the Empire was rebuilt, but it never regained its former vitality.
o You are speaking like from books. I like it, but we where speaking about the Greece.
- You are right. The crusaders did not destroy temples from Athens, but the crusades weakened the Empire. Athens, Greece and the whole area of Greek culture from Hellenistic period were affected.
o It means we cannot lay the blame on the occidentals for the degradations in Athens. You said that Greece was part of Byzantine Empire – which we take pride with, because it kept the flag of civilisation during one thousand years – but, in the whole this time, Greek people did nothing for rebuilt or at least preserved these vestiges. On the contrary, the marble from the old temples was used for buildings, including stable, fences, pavements or all kind of pigsties.
- You are right again. So it is. We also invoke the Ottoman occupation after 1453, but only the capital of the empire fell then. The Turks were in Europe two hundred years ago, and from the former empire only Constantinople remained, as the last redoubt. The famous Byzantine Empire had become an oriental one. It had degraded itself, slowly and without external help. If I think well, after the dismemberment of Macedonian Empire, the Greeks did not join themselves against a common enemy, as they did against the Persians, and made all kind of minor alliances and fight each other. It was easy for Roma to conquer the Greece step by step. Later on, the enemy was not of the Greece, but of the Romans. The Greeks were considering to be occupied. Their single preoccupation was to take advantages in the back of the Romans, but only as individuals and not as a nation.
o I see you had documented seriously, but you speak as if you would not be a Greek. Do not you have a drop of patriotism?
- Oh yes, I have and just from this reason I am suffering myself. I would like the history of my descent to be spotless.
o This is not possible.
- I know. What I want is to understand why it happen that way and not the other way and then probably I will accept some spots, the part less bright of our history.
In face of the Arch of Hadrian
- I had read in the guide that, on one side of the arch, is written “This is Athens, the former town of Theseus” and, on the other side, “This is the Hadrian’s town and not that of Theseus”, but I do not see any inscription.
o The arch is a more grandiose variant of the former boundary marks. I remember an image from the book of history with a stone on which it was written: “I am the landmark of the Agora” Here, the inscriptions were probably wiped during the time. It is amazing it resisted so long and it did not break down due to an ears quake. It is thin enough.
- Probably they rebuilt it. I do not think it will resist long time because of the traffic on the avenue, just in front of it. I never seen such traffic nor in the United States, not even in New York. Maybe on some highways, but there are not houses there, not way for monuments.
o You just discovered that Athens has something specific.
- Yes, though it would renounce at some of them.
o In my opinion, the access of the motorbikes would be forbidden.
- Probably, there are people who cannot afford cars.
o The municipality would develop the transport with common means. Look how much noise does some of them. There are youngsters making a proud with it. As they are not able to do something more intelligent, they think the noise is enough to draw the attention. They do not care for disturbing. This is not a necessity. It is the lack of civilisation.
- It is not the single case. Did you see a Greek to give up his seat in the bus to you? On the street, he rushes upon you. You are a woman but you have to avoid them. On the street, two-tree chatting men block the sidewalk and do not think the make room to the passer-bys.
o Well, it’s good we have crossed the street. We waited some at these traffic lights. Two ones for a single crossing, and they are not synchronized.
- Look at this statue. It seems to be of a woman. Who is it?
o I do not know. It’s a new one. What they wrote there?
- Melina Mercuri.
o After the colonels’ regime, she was the Minister of Culture.
- A woman as Minister of Culture.
o She was not the first. The first was Lina Tsaldary, after the women received the right to vote.
- And we said that women are kept in the house, far from the politics.
o This is people’s mentality. The government strives to bring Greece toward the European standards. The electoral franchise is granted since 1952.
- This time you impressed me. I did not know you are a feminist.
o Do not be brazenfaced. I am not a feminist, but at least such simple thing I know.
- I noticed that many men of culture were implied in politics. I wonder if they were affirmed in culture through the politics, or the Greeks appreciate the culture and have trust in these men. Giorgos or George Seferis, a poet, Nobel Prize laureate, was a diplomat, the ambassador of Greece in the United Kingdom; Constantin Tsatsos, writer, was the president of Greece and probably many others about whom I have not idea.
o Bravo! You have learnt a lot of things about Greece.
- In the United States, the actors are preferred: Ronald Raegan, Schwarzenegger.
o That is so, because other people do the real politics.
- At least, someone does it.
o Now, we are in Plaka. Let’s visit it. Leave the politics. Here, at least there are not cars.
- I hope not to spend all the day here.
o Why? You do not like it?
- Oh, yes, it is just amusing, but you promised we only cross it in our way toward Acropolis.
o And so we will. Look at this shop window, what nice handicrafts there are! We have to buy some for the friends in the States.
- I hope not now, to carry them with us on Acropolis.
o No, not now, though I do not know if we will find them other time.
- Come on, mom, there are hundred here. What hundred, thousands.
o O.k. So are you; never want to stay in shops.
- I am not the only one. I think people working in tourism would organize city tours separately for men and women. Look to these men in front of you how bored walk through the middle of the street, while the women are glued on the shop windows.
o If a tavern had been here, you would have seen all of them there.
- Exactly what I said: city tours separate.
. . .
- This building is very ugly, but I like they preserved at the grand floor this tiny church. A very interesting combination.
o They did not afford to destroy it. It would be a pity. Look Acropolis! It is to be seen from here.
- Yes, and just here there is a vestige of history. In the back of this tower a monastery was. The Turks destroyed it. Lord Byron used to meet here with his friends. It is written on this plate.
o Byron? I know a poet Byron. Who is this one?
- Do not you know? Our War for Independence had enthused a lot of people from Occident. Lord Byron, the poet about which you said, came especially in Greece.
o I did not know.
- You have seen and liked the painting “Massacre at Hios” by Eugène Delacroix. That from the album or French art.
o You are right: a French painter who chose a subject from Greek history.
- Sure! At that time, the event was not yet history; it was a just recent one. It was Turkish revenge because they were losing in face of Greek revolutionists. Lord Byron died here, in Greece.
o He died here for our independence?
- He died here, but not fighting; he died of illness.
. . .
- This little church is very nice here, in the middle of the street.
o It’s true. It is a jewel of architecture in assemble but particularly in details. Look how meticulously they engraved all this stone, the framing of the doors and windows, the balustrades, pillars . . .
- And its position in the middle of the street is great.
o This is a proof that the Greeks knew this time to put in value the monuments.
- Yes, the Christian ones. Mom, I see many old rachitic persons, suffering by rheumatism, have the feet deformed and many others. The women are particularly affected. I thought, thanks to favourable climate, all people are sound. And still . . .
o Do not ask me.
- O.k. I do not ask. I have read somewhere that, in Hellenistic period, it was in fashion to engrave on the sole of the sandals some inscriptions, which were printed on the dust of the road. One of the most frequent was “Follow me”. If the women had used it, I could have understood; but the men, what the right with thy ask me to follow them? Maybe I do not want.
o It must be one of your jokes.
- The story with the inscriptions is true. The interpretation is mine.
o In antiquity, the women did not walk on the streets like now. Look here something that does not seems to be recent, but nor antique. I do not know what it is, but all tourists take photos.
- Because it is very decorative. It has not an explicative plate. It seems to be a door, or a gate.
. . .
- Till here, Acropolis looks very human. You climb among the tables of taverns smelling of fish, beer and others.
o It is nice. I like it. Someone from Romania told me that, on the outskirts of the former Bucharest, on the way toward the place where the executioner waits for those who were condemned of death, there were a lot of pubs. The charitable people used to offer those who were to die a glass of wine. In this way, as near as they were to the place where their life will reach its end, they were more and more merry.
. . .
- From here, the antiquity begins.
o We should begin with Acropolis, in the morning, when it is cool, not now, with the sun over the head.
- In this way you will remember that Propylaia represents a gate, something like a ritual of passing from the common world toward the . . . tell you what . . . you know it better.
- Let’s say the world of gods. Anyway, there is nothing upper, and down you have all you want.
o Or do not want.
- Even the sea is to be seen at the distance.
o And here, we have an olive tree. Its presence among the stones is odd.
- It would been so if it had grown up alone. It is planted and maintained carefully. They say the goodness Athens herself would strike with her stick this rock and from it this olive tree rose. Since, people care of it.
o It’s nice, but I know another legend. The inhabitants of the town wanted to choose a protector and organized a competition. Poseidon and Athens participated. Then as now, two of them need to obtain the vote of the citizens. Poseidon offered a horse or, from other authors a spring, symbolising the drinking water. Anyway, his present did not impress them much. Athens offered an olive tree. This one was unknown then and she won.
- I think it is the same legend, and this is the place where the contest occurred.
o So it seems.
- It is very interesting to me the method of choice: through the contest.
o With the difference the decision belonged to the citizens and not to a jury, which jury…
- A real democracy!
o And that rock probably is “Stone of Ares”. This is the place where the gods judged Ares for his bad behaviour.
- It was not here where the Areopag used to keep their meetings?
o You can believe it. The Areopag, as supreme law court, existed between seven and five centuries before Christ. If this is the place it is hard to think. It was composed by nine personalities of great competence. The all of them were too old for climbing the hill up till there.
- Maybe they were carried by a lectic or something similar.
o The judges. Maybe. But those who were looking for justice surely must climb by foot. An excellent opportunity to think about how difficult is to obtain justice.
- I liked the path. It was an oasis of silence between the agitation from down and that on the top.
o Especially because there was not a law court to judge you here.
- Today the judgers are down.
o Sometime very down.
- Good point!
There is crowd of people in this area, during the aestival season. Except it, Stone of Ares is a good place for meditation, and what comes in my mind now is that of the Nietzsche. “Great, very great, huge, but limited is the number of the elements from which the universe is composed. And then, the length of time being infinite, a moment must come, in which all possible combinations being exhausted, those which already had been will begin to repeat themselves. Over a number of years, of course immense, but limited, at the foot of this rock, other man like me will conceive the same idea, and again for infinite times in the future; and, as before this moment, an eternity of infinite centuries flowed, at the foot of the same rock where I am now, an infinite of myself conceived the same idea: “The Eternal Returning of all things from the universe”. Seized by this great idea, Nietzsche noted with his characteristic arrogance: “The beginning of August 1881, at Sils-Maria, at 6500 feet above the sea level and much upper than all human things”. I would note as well: ”December 2012, at a few steps from the sea, above some human things, under more others, so among them”. As for Nietzsche, even if his idea did not crossed the minds of an infinite others before him, it was affirmed by some Greek philosophers with some centuries ago, not speaking about the oriental philosophy, where “The Eternal Returning” is a fundamental doctrine. From Anaximandru to Anaximene and so on, through orphic and pitagoreic philosophers, we arrive to Empedocles, which – besides those four fundamental elements of the universe (water, air, earth, fire) – affirmed that two fundamental principle exist: the HATE and the LOVE, which succeed each other periodically, life being possible only when they coexist.
This idea likes me, maybe because I do not know from where hate and love come to us, though they really exist. The idea is not entirely lost.
Be merry, as the sadness will last forever!
The same stars always will turn round in azures.
From bricks, made from you body, don’t be afraid,
Other palaces they will build for stupid men of note.
Omar Khayyam wrote these verses in “The Eternal Change” and I have to ask for excuses because my poor translation.
Of course, we are the adepts of the contrary idea: “unlimited progress”. Here, I have some doubts. First, what do we understand to be a progress? Not only once we noticed that what seemed to be progress at a moment proves to be regress later. Maybe the expression “unlimited evolution” would be more adequate, if the sense of the evolution is not specified. It may be toward up or down. So, we cannot know today what tomorrow will be. And then, why take the trouble for doing anything? Of course, the evaluation of the trend, knowing the past, would help us to meet the future more prepared. This is at least a pragmatic idea.
For all that, a doctrine that last centuries and still makes the base of some religion, like the Eternal Returning, cannot be ignored. Phoenix bird symbolizes just this idea: she born again from her own body, burned on a stake prepared by herself. It follows that what we may want for our civilisation is to burn as soon as possible. The problem is it must prepare his stake, but it seems that we work hardly for it.
In oriental religions, the cosmogony has not only the sense of the primordial creation, unrepeatable. On the contrary, it is repeatable.
In Greek language, cosmos means world, universe, Terra, human globe, people, society. But cosmos has the meaning of ordering. When we say that God made the cosmos, we must understand that he made order in Chaos.
Something is true: the earth is that where people come back.
Those that introduced the history were the Judaism and especially the Christian religion. Time is no longer repeatable. Only God created the Universe. As for the people, the Doomsday will come, when everything will have its end. The time becomes lapse and received a sense of the flow. It is neither reversible and nor repeatable.
I think John Milton, when he entitle his works “Paradise Lost” and “Paradise Regained”, involuntarily, suggested me an idea: the oriental conception about the origin of the man - as a fall from the endless Universe and returning after a number of purifying transformations - could be reduced to only one life.
Mediocre people always sought for answer impossible to find at several questions, as fundamental as useless: how the life appeared on the earth, man’s origin etc. Between monkey and God’s work, the philosophical variant is the oriental one.
If we are to become pots and mugs,
then, looking at this glass,
I think it was a fairy, a nice girl,
sensible to my caress.
And the red wine, subtle suitor,
assures me that it is true.
Otherwise, it would not turn round in my hand.
Some taste maybe it would have,
but there is not grape to give me this magic.
It is from the fairy. She give birth this miracle for me.
My variant is that in every person realizes a synthesis in certain moments of his existence. According to the accumulation of knowledge, he builds a new personal conception about the life and world. Further on, accumulating new knowledge, he improves his conception, modifies his personality. He passes through deferent stages. His soul does not enter into other body; that man becomes a different one, with other personality.
What we lost and what we regain? The life! Where it comes from? What is so important? Our problem is how to live it, not what it comes from.
In the same evening, at home
- Mom, I learnt what that door near Roman Agora is.
o The one that you took photos as all the tourists?
- Yes, and my photo is very good.
o And what you learnt about it?
- It was a theological school, built by the Turks. Later, they used it as jail, during the War of Independence. There was a plane tree in the court, from which many Greek patriots were hanged. After the War, the Greeks used it in the same aim, hanging the Turks. As an effect, the place became a damned one in the Athenian people’s minds. In 1843, the poet Achilleas Paraschos forecasted that, one-day, the tree would be struck by the thunderbird and its remainders will be cut and used for fire. In 1919, the prophecy was carried out exactly: the tree was struck by a thunderbird and what remained was cut and burned in fire. The building was demolished, except that door that, in meanwhile, got aesthetic values. We do not know if it was hazard or the demolishers intuited the artistic future of the door. I think the second hypothesis is illusory. As the space must be fence, it was more commodes to preserve a part from the old wall, including the door.
o It’s true; it is a door in the middle of a wall of stone.
- And a very modest one. It is a proof that aesthetic values are rarely projected; more often they are results of the hazard. The onlooker’s sense is that who confers aesthetic values.
o I knew that I have a clever child.
Yes, the remark of Kostas’s mother was correct: “Greece was part of Byzantine Empire – which we take pride with, because it kept the flag of civilisation during one thousand years – but, in the whole this time, Greek people did nothing for rebuilt or at least preserved these vestiges.” Of course, the explanation is the ignorance. But first, for ignoring the values of something, they must replace that something with other thing. The Greeks had abandoned their faith in gods, the Mythology, and adopted the Christianity. We may suppose the Byzantine state played a role. A proof is the Olympic Games and the Oracle at Delphi were forbidden not only abandoned. But there are opposite examples as well:
- in the former USSR, the religion was drastically persecuted, but people remained faithful even without churches;
- on the American continents, Catholic church imposed its religion, but the natives, though were obliged to come at church every Sundays, kept their old faiths up till nowadays.
How is that the Greeks adopted the Christianity so rapidly? The question is more interesting as they abandoned their creation, the Mythology. Even now, other people try to make a mythology with a few legends, while the Greeks had a wonderful one.
The answer is the Christianity is a Greek creation as well. Its principles, Christian philosophy, were creating in time, even before Jesus Christ. There was not the problem of adopting a stranger religion. They already had these conceptions before. For example the Bible say that people are equal in face of the God; it means they are equal each other. Here is a democratic idea. Well, who invented democracy? Of course, the Greeks. Then, Christianity is a religion for poor people. Its purpose is to give to people a hope, if not immediately, at least in a future life. Greece was under Roman occupation and they had not an immediate alternative.
Adopting Christianity as a more advanced variant of Judaism is easy to understand. Still, for Greek people, the replacing Mythology – their own creation of a huge literary and philosophical value – with the New Testament provokes bewilderment. Maybe, some of them thought Mythology is only a collection of stories, not just a religion, but why they need a religion based on other stories? On the one hand, the New Testament, partly elaborated by themselves, was a possible answer to the frame of mind of the population under Roman occupation and in a precarious economic situation. Christian religion made its debut as psychological support of poor people and the idea of the equality in face of the Divinity and future happiness were perfect for their wishes. Plato was one who wrote about a future life that can give them the happiness, but also he implanted the doubt on their situation after death. They have to refrain from bad facts in this life, for fear of punishments in the future life. On the other hand, if Mythology was original, the Old Testament took a lot of ideas from other religions.
The renunciation of Mythology and free adopting of Christianity by the people in the first stage denote the weakening of social order, of the state. Later, the imposing Christianity by the state, denote that, this time, the state changed the philosophy of Christianity. In Occident, it was simpler: there, in France or Spain, for example, there was not a mythology worthy of mention.
For our amusement, here is a nice cosmogony from Yucatam. People from this peninsula suggested that the man was made from tortilla (maize porridge). In the first variant, their two divinities, Tepeu and Cucamatz, made the man from dust, but this one dissipated itself, because of the inconsistence of its composition. They tried again with a variant by wood, but these men multiplied themselves in bad forms and the divinities had to eliminate them through a deluge. Only in the third variant they succeeded, using Indian corn (maize), making a paste from it (tortilla). They made not one, but four men. Still, there was a small deficiency: these men were too clever. For fear of they would want to become gods, Tepeu and Cucamatz “darken their minds with a cloud, grew foggy their eyes, limited their horizon and then, lulling them asleep, created four women, settling in this way the definitive people’s destine, the human condition as we know”.
In a mythology from New Zeeland, the god Tane makes a woman for himself. After a while, he gives her as a gift to the first man, created by the god of war, Tu. From this primordial couple the other men was born.
There are many cosmogonies, as people’s imagination is rich. I would nickname them cosmo-fantasies. Still, all of them are variants of few schemes.
Conceptions like those suggested by the Christianity in its first stage of evolution were not acceptable by the autocratic systems, like that of the monarchy. This is the reason of the persecutions in the first centuries. It was accepted only after the church made team with political power, deformed the initial principles, made from the king and Pope the God’s representatives on the earth, like shamans, and used the Christian religion as support for political propaganda.
People believe in simple things. The savant complications are not convincing and implant distrust in men’s souls. Like catholic Inquisition, there were fanatics in the past too and genial people were persecuted. Anaxagoras and his disciples were followed and stricken, because they affirmed the sun is an incandescent mass. He was condemned to death, but it was commuted to expulsing, thanks to his fried Pericle. Protagoras was also expulsed from Athens, because he had doubt in god’s existence. His works were burned and he escaped easily with expulsion, thanks to Euripides’ friendship. The alternative would be the capital punishment. Pheidias himself was criticized, tendentiously interpreting one of his work. He died in the jail. Pericles would have the same destine if he didn’t died before by plague. As for Socrates, everybody knows about his “suicide”.
The Catholics deformed the history, making by Rome the centre of the Christianity. When the emperor Constantine the Great had the initiative of organizing the first ecumenical council at Nicaea, the bishopric of Rome was among the most modest ones. Those from Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Greece and Thrace were the most important. Palestine, Egypt and Thrace were reminds of the former Macedonian Empire, from the Hellenistic Epoch. The most important participants were the bishops Alexander from Alexandria, Eustatio from Antiohia, Macarius from Jerusalem, Pafnutiu from Theba, Potamon from Heraclea, Eusebiu from Nicomedia, Eusebiu from Caesarea, Nicolas from Myra, Aristakes from Armenia. From Italy participated Marcus from Calabria. Not a word about a Pope.
Consequently, Christianity developed itself step by step, from the first Christian ideas and up till its crystallisation as a religion, on the territories occupied by the Greeks or under their influence. The first Russian metropolitan bishop was of Greek origin till 1441.
As for the Byzantine art, from the tenth to the 12th century, it was the main source of inspiration for the West. The mosaics of St. Mark’s at Venice and of the cathedral at Torcello clearly show their Byzantine origin. The churches from East to West prove its influence.
Kostas won a prize in a literature contest, for a composition about his trip in Greece. He is eulogized by the teachers, admired by some classmates and envied by others. Anastasia is, of course, in ecstasy. Fotios is not bellow too. He is proud as well; Kostas is his son and looks like him. He thinks to deal more seriously with his education. Kostas is an adolescent now and he should be guided by a man. An idea has just crossed his mind: to take Kostas one day with him at hunting, as his father did when he was a boy. The hunting is not a contest of target shouting. It supposes a long walk in open air with a shotgun on the shoulder, an excellent opportunity for talking. It is not accidentally that important businessmen, politicians and other like them have this hobby. It is an adequate occasion for private meetings without witnesses and hidden microphones. Yes, he will go with Kosty at a walk on the hunting land of the club where he just enters in.
- Dad, why is that, when I had a success, some classmates avoid me, as I would be plagued.
o Cleverness is not contagious. Do not be afraid.
- Exactly. Seemingly I would have a contagious disease. I am not cleverer or more stupid then last week. Sometime, they used to banter me because I am a Greek, especially when the teacher of physics tested me. This one is a clever guy. He often finds connections between physics and Greece, like the law of Archimedes and asked me if he lived far away from us.
o Did not you tell him that you were born in Australia?
- Oh, yes. He knew it very well, but he wants to annoy me.
o He did not annoy you. He noticed you are good and wanted to stimulate. He is a good pedagogue. What about the teacher of literature. After all, he granted you the prize.
- Not at all. It was a committee of teachers from other schools. It was forbidden for them to be members of the committee in the school where they are teachers. Our teacher was in a committee for a school in Brooklyn or Bronx, I do not know exactly.
o But you are his schoolboy.
- Yes, he took pride as well, but not too much. He does not like me. Maybe I put him too many questions and disturbed him, as he did not know the answer to all my questions.
o Now, you ride the high horse.
- I do not. I only wanted to know. But I was not speaking about him. As for him, I am glad I showed him that I am better than he thought. I was speaking about my classmates. If I have one success, it means to lose my friends? For what the success is good, then?
o Do not think that you are good only because some friends praise you. You are really good if some enemies take you into consideration. It seems odd, but you will understand later what I am trying to tell you now. A praise could be false. That’s why you must not rest on laurels. The envy is unpleasant, but it is the proof that you really are worthy. The envy people recognise in themselves that you are superior.
Not so often, but regularly, Anastasia’s father wrote them. Of course, he has some words about her mother in every letter, but she never write. The last was a really slalom among good and bad news. Two of them were important.
The aches in the heart region, about which he wrote some time ago, are no longer simple aches. He visited the doctor of the family and this one recommended him a consultation at a specialized clinic, but he refused to be interned. Anastasia proposed to herself to talk with him seriously when she will go in Athens. Till then, she will try to be as convincing as possible in a long letter, in which she will tell him – though he knows it very well – that it is not good to joke with the heart.
The good piece of news was her father has put the house from Crete on her name. She was now an owner; not in the States but in Greece. It is presumed that her mother foams at the mouth, but it is not important now. She will sell the property, not only for close any possible discussions, but also for buy a house here, in New York, for their family, composed now by four persons. The girl grows up and will need her room. They suffered enough so far with a small child in their bedroom.
Looking for an adequate house was a task devolved upon Fotios. Anastasia was blocked in the house with the girl and all domestic works. Now, they had a strong reason to buy a car and just did it. Fotios was full of importance at the steering wheel, but all the family was glad when they could drive in small trips, visiting houses for selling. As they did not know the districts, had many deceptions: the houses were either too expensive or too bad. Instead, they realized what Anastasia wanted for the beginning: to know the town. For she, it was a natural curiosity. For Kostas it was much more; he must know it. Not only for the man who will be, but just for the talking with his fellows. He was able now to understand better the happenings, knowing the places. It was not the same if the happening occurred in Manhattan or in Brooklyn, Bronx or Queens.
One of the trips liked them more than. As there were not other houses in that area, they decided for a small trip in the mountains. Easy-easy, they entered deep inside the mountain. It was a wonderful day of autumn, just when the leaves are ready to fall and their colours delight everybody’s look. This wonderful moment was the one that attracted them in a trip, as they never did. For curiosity, they allowed themselves a small walk toward a ridge, like a saddle between two rocks. It was a clear sky, but with a strong cold wind. On the saddle, they were witnesses of a miracle: out of the blue, it started to snow. Probably the wind was bringing a humid air and here, they were thinking, in the contact with the cold air from the other part of the ridge, the vapours of water condensed. It was wonderful and they will remember this spectacle in the rest of their lives.
Finally, Fotios was the one who chose the house, following the advice of one of his fellow worker. It was a nice house, in a peaceful and clean area. It has a small court, where Anastasia could go outside with Nicky. There, the girl may play alone safely. Kostas was less interested; he was occupied with the school, reading and other activities according with his age. Still, the house needed some repairs, which means they will not be able to move immediately and will need to invest money. On the other hand, there was an advantage: they could rebuild the house according with their test.
After a first stage, in which Fotios was surprisingly active and interested, a period of stagnation followed, or at least Anastasia thought so. Fotios used to complain he has a lot of things to do at the office, or need more money for the house. There is not the problem to work itself; he did not something like this in his life. To plant flowers, yes. He liked this. For nailing something he need protective equipment, but he wore only costume and neck tie. For working at the house, he engaged qualified workers. If they worked fast or not, it is hard to know. Sure is that, for Anastasia, each small stage in the long process of the rebuilding the house seems to last ages.
But, as any eternity has its dead line, finally, the works came to their end and they moved. This time it was Anastasia’s turn to work. She could not engaged teams of specialists. She must do everything by herself. It’s true, it was pleasant. It was a naivety to think that you will put every thing at his place. For it, such placed would to exist previously. In reality, only after you thought you found it, you will find a better alternative. In this way, the place of each piece will be changed again and again, not just to the infinite, but only until you will be bored to do it.
Though tiresome, it was stimulating. Nicky was the one who used to create greater problems. Though still small, she had a strong personality, which were manifesting by pretensions, claims and whims for everything. Nothing was at her will; she did everything inversely as other people asked her to do. Anastasia never speak her harshly, did not give her a slap, she always behaved gingerly and tried to explain and not to impose. For all that, the girl was recalcitrant.
Kostas, instead, was a good boy: serious both in family and at school. He helped his mother as much as he could, but his main preoccupation was to know. He read a lot, informed, was happy for everything he learns and discontented for what he does not know. He used to ask and ask himself, but with every answer the number of question increase. His mother was not able to answer; sooner she learned by him. As for his father, even if he would know – thought it is less probably – he was absent almost all the time. The library and the teachers from the school were Kostas’ source of information. The mother was proud and hopes he will be her support when he will grow up.
From Greece she learned some news from her father, but he usually wrote only about the good pieces of news, avoiding the bad ones or covering them with a pink veil. He was finding palliating circumstances for everything was not as it would must to be. More news she learned from her friend, Sophia. Yes, she had a friend woman now. It was a pen friend, but she was her first friend. They meet each other at the wedding party of one of Fotios’ fellow workers. She was a Greek woman, a bridegroom’s relative, and came in New York special for this event. It was the only time they met, as Sophia returned immediately in Greece, but they liked each other, promised to be pen friends and going on to do it.
Athens really blossoms again, after the “colonels’ epoch”. Unlike her father, Sophia wrote about bad news too. More then it, she seemed to look out of them. She was dissatisfied, for example, because the Greeks are content themselves with minor jobs, like secretary, errand-boy or menial, in the great businesses, almost all of the foreigners. There is even the mentality that, if a Greek has a small house, he can yield it to a great society, which will demolish the house and will build on its ground a big edifice with many floors and he, the Greek, will become a shareholder at that society. In this way, he and his followers will allow to live (at café) quietly for ever, doing nothing. This strategy might work in some cases, but it is not a solution for a nation. The prosperity of a nation lays in the force of the middle class, how active it is, but, in Greece, just this social category is going to disappearance. They are convinced that Greece will enjoy forever by its geographic position, which it is naturally endowed with multiple advantages and, consequently, the Greeks have to do nothing, because the world’s rich men will finance their country for different reasons. If it has dower, it is good to be married. Yes, Greece could be married. But its people? Besides, this is not a strategy for the future. Along with the globalisation, with the development of the communications, the great businesses are directed from the offices situated anywhere, not necessarily in seaports.
They are angry on the Albanians – their neighbours – because they come to work in Greece, born children, the children go to school and – unlike Greek children – they learn well. After graduation, naturally, they are preferred for qualified jobs and obtain better social positions. The Greeks’ dislike face to the Albanians is old. Now, besides them, there are many others, including Africans and Asians. Soon the Greeks will be in minority in their country, not as number but as social position.
Partially, the Greeks who had came from the foster USSR save the Greece. This one comes with serious intentions. Unfortunately, not all of them are really Greeks, some not at all. Besides, there are children from mixed marriages. Their presence is visible thanks to their physical constitution: tall, supple, blond. But, as bad things are contagious, these ones assimilate rapidly the natives’ bad habits. What was interesting for Anastasia were cultural information from Sophia. It was not clear to her if she intuited her lacks in this field and was trying to fill her gaps, or it was her wish of astounding. Anyway, she did it discreetly, so you cannot annoy and the information came just where and when were necessary. Anastasia had the sensation that she had just then put to herself the question at which Sophia gave her the answer.
- Good morning.
o Good morning at noon. You feasted seriously last night.
- It is only one time when someone finishes general school. Let me say that I made perplexed all of them. I showed them how to dance on Greek music.
o But you have not idea of how to dance it.
- I saw it in the movie “Zorba, the Greek”.
o Your classmates saw the movie as well.
- Well, from the movie was the music on which we danced, also. Besides, I had seen at the parties of the Greeks from New York.
o How many parties saw you? Two wedding parties and one christening. At the first wedding, I kept you on my laps.
- At the last wedding, I danced with Sophia. She taught me.
o You should learn from a man.
- I would like it, but nobody offered. By the way, ask Sophia to send us some records with Greek music.
o Why do you need other discs? Your father has a lot. You never listen them.
- This is not music. Only lamentations and keening.
o The soul of Greeks is so. It was an oppressed nation and people cry their faith.
- Like in the church. When you ask me to go at the church I know I will have a bad day. I never understand why Orthodox priest lament every time.
o It is Byzantine music. Do you want them to dance rock-and-roll, like the Negroes?
- Maybe they better would not sing at all. Let they simple say what they have to say and would be more convincing.
o This is your opinion.
- Of course. But do you write to Sophia to send us the records? Not lamentations; merry music.
o Well, I will, but you must say me what you want.
- I do not what to ask, but she will. I noticed she is an open-minded woman.
o What do you mean? Your father isn’t?
- He is, but not at music. His discs, if are not keening, resemble with Arabian music.
o How is that? Not at all. Maybe Turkish. This one remembers him of Hios, where he was born. This island is not far away from Turkey.
- And what is the difference between Turks and Arabians? They are not both Moslem?
o They are, but the Turks only adopted Islamic religion from the Arabians; they came from Central Asia. And now, Turkey is a laic, modern state.
- Maybe, but their music does not like me. There is Greek merry music. This is what I want.
o I agree with it, as I like merry music too.
- You know, I think that, besides Turkish influence, there is in Greece Italian influence as well. It would be impossible not to be. Everyone love Italian music; even the Chine. I think the good Greek music is that with Italian influence.
o It is true the Italians are cheerful, have the sense of humour . . .
- The Greeks, instead, has not the sense of ridicule.
o I see you lived only in America; you do not feel at all like a Greek. Well, I will write to Sophia.
- We arrived. This is Roman Agora.
o Why all people stay in front of the door and do not enter inside?
- I do not know. Probably, it is crowded inside and people enter only in groups.
o What crowd? I do not see people inside. And this one does not seem at all to wait. Some are even leaving. And they are very nervous.
- You are right. It is strike. So it is written on this paper stuck on the gate. I thought only the workers make strikes, and these ones claim to be intellectuals.
o What is it a strike, daddy?
- It is a kind of protest. The employees of the museum ask for increasing the salaries, the direction does not want or can’t do it, and then, they try to impose their will by not working an hour, a day or more days.
o Is something possible? Namely, if I want the teacher to give me fewer exercises at mathematics, I do a strike and do not solve them at all.
- Well, it is not even so.
o And how is it?
- It is rather complicated to explain you just now.
o Maybe it is not so complicated. I understood more complicated things. Do not be bumptious. Those people who left were very angry. Do not say me they did it without reason.
- Of course, not. They where Spaniards. They came from thousands kilometres, spend money and fail vacancies because of this miserable clerks.
o Ah, you recognize it is not normal.
- Well, of course it isn’t. Sure it isn’t.
o And now, what are we doing.
- We are going at home; what to do else?
o So, we failed the day too. We have come vainly. You are in vacancy too, isn’t it?
- Yes, but we have more time. We are living in Athens several days.
o You postponed me a long so far and said that only Sunday, namely today, you will have time for me to go at the museum. Now, when you think you will have time for me again?
- I even do not know.
o You see how you are! But you still did not enlightened me how is with the strike. How people allow not to work and they are not dismissed?
- It is democracy; they have some rights.
o There is not democracy in the United States? We learnt at school that USA is a model of democracy for the entire world.
- It is true.
o And then, why the Americans do not do strikes?
- They did sometime, but understood that it does not solve their problems.
o It means they found a better solution? Why the Greeks do not apply it too?
- Well. . .
o I know. It is too complicated to explain me.
- You see, the Greeks are more revolutionary. They got independence by fight against the Turks and it remains in their blood.
o USA got the independence in 1776 and Greece in 1821. The difference is of only 45 years. I know; do you see?
o And how did you conclude that they are some special revolutionaries. In that movie with that old Greek, killed by Jack Nickolson with his lover girl, he was not revolutionary at all. On the contrary, he was a milksop.
- What movie? Jack Nickolson is an actor, as I know.
o Sure. He is an actor, but I forgot the name of the character interpreted by him in the movie. “The Postman Always Rings Twins” is the title of the movie.
- Oh, yes. I saw that movie. It is a good one! That Greek was one from the United States. You are a Greek from the United States too. We all are: I, your mother.
o So, in the United States, we are milksops, but here we may do strikes. What about to do one just now and give me an ice-cream at this confectionary? Maybe you give a Coca-Cola too.
- Maybe better across the street; they have beer as well. I am just thirsty.
o Let’s go.
Anastasia’s father knew very well she is a good cooker. She did it not only for her family, but also she followed a course of culinary art and now she had a real worship for exquisite preparations.
One day, being in Greece, he asked her to prepare a chicken after the famous receipt “Le Cordon Bleu”, well know throughout the world. He said: “I will buy all ingredients and you will prepare it for me and my friends”. Of course, he wanted to take pride with his daughter. On the other hand, her mother quarrelled her, arguing that it needn’t she enter in this trouble. As a matter of fact, it was a competition. She never accepts her daughter would be able to do something remarkable. When she started to work and she saw how thin Anastasia cuts the chest of the chicken, she could not help saying:
- Oh, God, do not do this. There is not need such trouble. There is not enough chicken. You will destroy it.
o Let me alone. I will do my job as I know and as I want. Go and smock a cigarette.
And she went, feeling insulted. After it, Anastasia succeeded to finish. Her father and his friends were impressed by her know-how and skill. Only her mother was nervous, as she was not able to recognise the success of her daughter. Her nerves were visible on her trembling hands. She cannot say a simple “Thank you”.
- Mom, I want to ask you something.
o Tell me.
- Not here; let’s sit down somewhere.
o O.k. I want to sit down too; I am very tired. I know a nice café not far away from here.
- Ah, not a café. There is noisy and smoke there.
o We can stay outside; there is not smoke there.
- In café people babble, do not discuss.
o And what is wrong in it?
- I did not say it is wrong; it is a way of socialisation, but not a place for serious discussions. Sometime before you finish a phrase, someone interrupts you, as he thinks to have something to say.
o Maybe he has.
- No, he only want to be important, to show what he knows. He is at least impolitely, as he would let you to say what you have to say – maybe other people want to listen – and, after it, to express his opinion – if he has one – face to that subject. In a discussion, you want to clarify that subject. If you deviate, the discussion becomes more difficult. Instead to clarify, you trouble.
o I think the contrary; you enrich the discussion.
- Not at all. The discussion falls in derisory, even in gossip. We can see here the difference between Germans and us. There is difference of structure in our languages. The Germans put the verb at the end of the phrase. The listener must listen the whole phrase for learning what he wanted to say. The Greek, after 2-3 words, thinks he has a reply. We like to babble. Consequently, he allows the interrupt, though he does not know what he would must to know.
o You, as usually, theorize too much. I keep my opinion: the deviations, the examples can make the discussion more succulent.
- For a chat, you are right, but for a serious discussion the examples may be disastrous. Let me give you an example, if you provoked me. At the teacher’s question “What is a chair?” a stupid pupil answer: “A char is when we . . . “. The teacher will replay annoyed: “A chair is not when”. The question had the aim to teach the children how to express logically, to define the terms. Only stupid pupils, instead of a definition, give examples. If one needs examples, it means the definition was not clear.
o You comforted me. I am the pupil and you are the teacher.
- You do not take things just so, but, if you provoked me, I gave you a replay. Here is an example: if in a discussion someone pronounces the word butterfly, your man will speak how bad is the butter for the cholesterol.
o You did not convince me. I think that even the subject can be more definite through some examples.
- Did you have in view the adage “The exceptions makes the rule stronger”? Maybe you are right when the subject is clearly definite. If not, the examples will pollute the analysis. As for the saying, usually it is wrong interpreted.
o How is that?
- Most people use it as an excuse, a motivation for something is not clear for them, a trying to ignore the laws of nature.
o Well, and how it would be?
- The saying say the exception make the rule stronger, not weaker. Any law is valuable inside of a field. The law of fluids are valuable for fluids, not for gases or solids. The exceptions limit the field in which a law is valuable. In this way, the law is more exact.
o I think that what you want is a scientific session, not a talk.
- Tell it as you want. I go myself to the café, when I want to socialise. There I listen more. The girls amuse me. They talk in parallel. No one listens what the other say, but makes a break from time to time and goes on after it, without any connection with the other’s story.
o I did not know you are misogynist. Well, let’s sit down on this bench and tell what you have to say.
- I am not a misogynist one. Look, I have visited the museums of modern art in New York. I do not pretend I understood everything I saw, as I am conscious of my lack of aesthetic culture. I liked some works and I did not like others. I start from the idea that arts developed from the primitivism of those who painted on the wall of the caves up till the modern art. The art of ancient Greece was a stage in this evolution. I told you some time ago that I want to see the Greek monuments, or their ruins, as my classmates used to mock at me because I am a Greek and did not know them. I was in the four forms then. Now, I want not only to see; I want to understand.
o And you found me as a teacher.
- Why not? You have seen more than me. If I ask a teacher, he recite a story from which there is nothing to understand. Or – how someone said – after his explanation you do not understand what you asked.
o Or you understand that they did not understand but are ashamed to recognise and try to confuse you with tangled words.
- Bravo! This time, you were more categorical than me. You told it just clearer.
o Thank you. And now, what do you want me to tell?
- To tell how is that this old statues – and not only the statues – are more beautiful than many of those made later? How is that with the evolution? My power of understanding stops at this level, or the art run over hedge and ditch? They say that everything changed after the apparition of the photograph.
o The Greeks had the good sense (or intelligentsia) to devote temples to gods and goodness, so to some imaginary personages and not to the real ones. Everything real and of present-day is perishable. But I am a Greek woman and take pride in the art of my ancestors. Modern art does not interest me.
- I see you slip away. I think the aesthetic value of the Greek statue has increase after they lost their colours. Maybe the same will happen with more of the modernist paintings. Let me tell you something more interesting. How is that people of that time did not wear spectacles?
- It means they were seeing well, were clear-sighted, far-seeing.
o You are joking.
- Still, there is a problem: if they were so far-seeing people, why the Romans conquered them? They fought with the Persians, a much bigger empire and even beat them, and were defeated by Rome, a small country at that time.
o The historians say the Greeks were considering the Romans like friends.
- This is a stupidity even greater, but the historians may allow it. They may allow anything; anyway, nobody think them. Sparta fought with Athens and did not fought with Rome. Let’s be serious.
o I think they did not wear glasses because they were not invented yet.
- Not at all! They invented a lot of things and were to stop with some trifles. At a battle, they set fire to the Persians’ ships with many mirrors. They were clever men. Eratostenes said that the Terra is a sphere and calculated its circumference, starting from the length of the shadow at different latitude. The true is they did not know they did not see well. This is why they made so many mistakes.
o I see you always have a contra-argument at what I say.
- This is why it is good to start with the contra-argument. As soon as someone find that things are not all right – and usually so it is – he comes with the argument and explain us what was wrong, though we knew it better just before.
o O.k. You have convinced me. Now, let’s go at home. Tomorrow we have a lot of work to do.
- I think I began to adapt myself to the place: during the night I speak and sleep in the day.
o You are too young for this. You have to learn yet.
- Do not tell me to work. Do not forget that I have Greek blood, not American.
o It seems you are already adapted from this point of view.
- O.k. We go, but first I want to tell you something.
o What are you more in your mind?
- As a matter of fact, I want to congratulate you.
o This is something new. And for what do you want it?
- You impressed a lot the grandfather with your chicken “Le Cordon Bleu”. He was very proud of you.
o He had reasons, isn’t it?
- At the beginning I was doubt too you would succeed, after listening the grandmother bantering you. She said you want to food nine persons with a chest of chicken.
o She saw only the chest during I was cutting it. First it was not only the chest, but also whole the chicken, and was not one, but two chickens. Besides, there are garnishing and other.
- I was thinking there was not a chicken-boy but a chicken-girl and, maybe she has some silicones . . .
o I thought you are speaking seriously.
- I was joking, but the chicken really liked me.
o O.k. Let’s go now.
If we start from the definitions in dictionaries, we come soon to the conclusion the kid was right. Their authors did not understand more than him, maybe even less, as they did not put to themselves their questions. Here are some definitions:
- Aesthetics – which belongs to aesthetics;
- Art – a kind of human activity that mirrors the reality through expressive imagines.
The first one is a simple tautology. Maybe the authors did not hear what it is. Still, the word is correct definite in the same dictionary, but probably another one wrote it, because more people work for such a great opera like an encyclopaedic dictionary. The second reflects only the preoccupation for imitating the nature (mirrors the reality), which is only a minor aim of art.
The explanation of changing produced after the apparition of the photograph is insufficient. It is not at all true that, earlier, the only aim of art was to imitate the nature. In Byzantine art, for example, on the contrary, the accuracy reproduction of some real models was prohibited. The saints are stylised. They must render the idea represented by the Biblical personage and not a portrait of a certain person. The onlooker’s mind must be directed toward the message of the parable and not how nice is the portrait. The true art never proposed the imitation. The paintings on the walls of caves were not endeavours of primitive men to design. They were symbols, important for the message. It is a proof of intellectual mediocrity to judge the quality of their design, not knowing the message.
In the nature, the trunk of a tree is thick at the base and thin toward to top. The columns of some temples, instead, are a little thinner to the base and thicker toward the top, for making the onlooker to think the column is a perfect cylinder. From Doric to Corinthian style, the art of the architects improved through the innovation, not through the imitation.
From the aesthetical point of view, the Greek artist from antiquity reached a top, because they wanted to find the beauty in absolute value. They invented the gold proportion as a mathematic equation. Their statues are perfect not because the men and women of that time were more handsome or beautiful than those of today. On the contrary, there are reasons to think the opposite. The Greek artists invented the beauty; they did not copy it. The artistic works were not appreciated if they represented something new, but if were more beautiful than the similar ones, made till then.
In literature as well, there are few models, few themes, repeated thousand times. Claude Lévi-Strauss founded his opera on this idea, being considered the father of the structuralism in literature, just because he observed that, in all nations, there are only a few models, repeated in numerous variants.
An artist was appreciated if he succeeds to surpass his predecessors doing better the same works.
In time, the arts had different objectives. The European Middle Age launched the Christian religious art. The recent epochs that of the harsh soldier and others, well-known. There is even an art of the ugly. This does not mean that art must be ugly; the subject is ugly. The art may be beautiful even in this case.
Paul Cézanne, one of the first and remarkable representatives of the Impressionism said: “Painting after nature does not means to copy the objective world, but to give form of your sentiments”. And the art critic Jules Castagnary wrote in 1871, when this current appeared: “They are impressionists in the sense they render not the landscape, but the sensation produced by the landscape”.
The legend says about Kandinsky that, one evening, entering his studio, he saw a painting that he did not recognized but he liked it. Only after a while of contemplation he realized that it was one of his paintings laid top-down. (One does not specify if the artist was drunk but – thinking at his name – it was less probably the answer to be negative.) The legend affirms that abstract paintings appeared in this way. A painting may represent nothing; what matter is the play of forms and colours. It is correct, under the condition to be nice and to induce to the onlooker a sentiment, a thought, an artistic emotion.
The main role of abstract painting is a decorative one. I recognize that I like some abstract paintings. Not those by Kandinsky. Some like me just very much. Instead, for some horrible ones, I think only the absence of the elementary good sense of those who, by mistake, dishonestly gain money through art, could justify their existence.
My opinion about the future of the art is an optimistic one. As the faith (and not a certain religion) will not disappear (in spite of the priest’s efforts), the art will not disappear, because the people’s wish for beauty is forever, in spite of those who misappropriate its aim from petty interested.
- Daddy, I was expecting in Athens to meet many Americans, French, Italian people and especially Englishmen. I found everywhere lots of Russians. How is that?
o I am afraid it is rather complicated for you. History, economics and politics mixed here.
- Try me!
o In the past, Greece was full of foreigners, especially Englishmen. I do not speak about the period when it was under the Turks.
- Do not let it even from Adam and Eve.
o Not, after the independence. They considered Greece a revolving table in international commerce and invested there. We can see even now imposing buildings made then by foreign companies. Now, due to globalisation, the great businesses can be managed from anywhere. There is not necessary to have an office in port. From this reason, you do not see the Englishmen there any longer. They may stay in London or on a paradisiacal island.
- Why the Russians do not do the same?
o They do, but the ones you see on the street are not the great businessmen. Some complications intervene here. We need a little history.
- I am good at it. I always received good marks.
o t is about recent history and some politics. Russia appeared on the map of the world later and developed in the last centuries.
- Like the United States of America.
o Yes, like the United States of America. The tsar Peter the Great gave them the start and, in extern politics the Russians still follow his indications, not matter of the political regime. Among others, he said Russia must have openings to all seas. He succeeded to reach as far as the Baltic Sea. Mediterranean Sea remained an unfulfilled target so far.
- And now, they try on different ways.
o Exactly. You got it! You really are a clever boy! They are involved in economy, but send people of all categories. The best opportunity was during the Second World War. With all their defects, the Greeks are some qualities as well: in the face of a common enemy they join each other. During the war, they did it against the Italians first and Germans later, creating groups of partisans. Their initiative liked to the Allies, who helped them. The most active countries were the former USSR and Great Britain.
- Good for them!
o Yes, it was all right so far, but, when the war came to its end, the leaders of the partisans did not understand one another. Each of them wanted to be the great head. First, they quarrelled. The United Kingdom agreed the first government. We know today that, on 9 October 1944, Churchill was in Moscow and, together with Stalin, decided the areas of influence after the War.
(A decision so important could not take by them. In the play were also the United States of America and other countries. It was a collective decision, but people like to personalize such events. The talks became official a little later, at The Yalta Conference (4-11 February 1945) and finished after the War, at The Potsdam Conference, where Churchill and Roosevelt did not participate. At Yalta, among the other problems, they discussed then the statute of Austria. Finally it was considerate a neutral country; thus those who want to emigrate from one area to the other to find refuge here. From this reason, Austria received founds from UNO up till 1990 for the expenses of organizing camps for refugees and for their transfer. As nobody from West wanted to go in East, people considered Austria a western country.)
Kostas’ father went on with his explanations:
- For all that, the USSR, with its well-known ability, instigated the opponents of the government till the quarrel turned into real fights, and so the Civil War began. In Mythology you have some similar examples. Even you told me one.
o You refer to Eris, the goddess of feud, the one that, at the wedding party of the goddess Tethys, where she was not invited, threw an apple with the inscription “For the most beautiful”, arousing the rivalry between Hera, Athens and Aphrodite.
- The Romans said them Discordia, from which the “apple of discord”.
o The Civil War was not just a novelty. What the Grecians knew better to do – and did it successfully – was to fight each other. They kept intact the feature of their character from ancient wars between Athens and Sparta and up till nowadays.
- The legendary War of Troy – also one between the Greeks, is not by hazard in Mythology.
o And, as any legend, this one conveys a message too.
- But, let’s continue. As any war need weapons, the USSR provided his adepts too. The Russians could not do this directly, because the accord previously established, so they did it via Yugoslavia, which organized for them camps for training. During the war, Yugoslavia had serious troops of partisans against the Germany.
o As concerning the Russian people, there is a joke, appeared after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in 1968. One says that the representatives of USSR, USA and UK met for discussing the problem. In order not to be disturbed, they decided to talk on a steamer, on open sea, off the any country. But, the steamer had sunk and they shipwrecked on an island, which seems to be deserted. Fortunately, they found a she-goat and – instead of killing and eat her – they decided to care of her and use the milk that she could give then daily. In turn, every day, one of them used to drive the goat to pasture. The plane works up till the Russian, in his turn, did it. He left in the morning with the goat, but returns in the evening without goat.
§ Where is the goat? – asked everyone.
· Which goat?
§ The goat along with you left this morning to graze.
· A, that one?
§ Yes, that one. Where is it?
§ The goat, man!
· Which goat?
§ Look here! Do we have a goat here and one after the other we drive her to pasture for drinking some milk?
· Yes, we have.
§ Today was your turn. It was you who left this morning with the goat. Do you recognise?
· Yes, I recognise.
§ And now, where is the goat?
· Which goat?
This was the way in which the talks on withdrawing Soviet army from Czechoslovakia occurred. This was the style of the Soviets in international intercourses.
o Amusing! Let’s continue. Fortunately for Greece, everything finished after Stalin quarrelled with Tito. Coming to the conclusion that providing endlessly Greece is without sense and, in the meantime the United States of America took the place of England, Stalin put an end to the helps and the war stopped. Not without consequences. Many of the former fighters with communist inclinations had took refuge in the countries under the Soviet influence, like Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary, R.D. Germany, Czechoslovakia and, of course the USSR. After several years, these ones came back in Greece indoctrinated with communist ideas and made from Greece a country with communists without communism. If in Russia they are healed of it, ours are in the stage of naiveties, yet. There are here more communists than in Russia. This is the main reason of the nowadays-economic disaster. Strikes and protesting manifestations organized by K.K.E. – the Greek Communist Party – strongly supported by the Russia, disorganise the economy and go away the possible investors.
- What interesting is the politics! Maybe I will become a politician.
o Till then, you need to learn.
- Is it necessary to follow a school for politicians?
o There is not something like that.
- The politicians do not have a school? It is interesting.
o Do not be ironical. Some of them are high educated, other less. Oh, you have just caught a fish. What do you thing with that rod? You were ready to drop it.
- I was just wondering if there are fishes here. Since we are here, nobody caught one. And they are tens. Most of them have the fishing rods fitted with sophisticated devices and they stay on the bench solving crossing words.
o They are amateurs.
- Amateurs for sunbathing.
- Mama called me this morning
o What happened with her to yield giving money on telephone?
- Dad was hospitalised.
o Oh, this really is a reason. And what he has?
- His heart. Last night he fainted and emergency service carried him in the cardiology. As early as in the noon he said his heart gallops. Now, the doctors investigate him to become precise with the diagnostic. In a few days we will have the results.
The diagnostic was ischemic cardiopaty and atrial fibrillation. Consequently, the disease is serious, the fibrillation being the most dangerous. With such a disease, one can die at any time, in a few seconds. He must stay in the hospital until the doctors were sure he is stabilized and can go home safely. Of course, he will follows treatment and take care of himself more than he did so far: without efforts, without emotions, without stress. It’s true, physical efforts he did not so far, but with the emotions is more difficult, as one never knows when and from they come.
From Kostas’ diary
The stones of Athens? It depends how you look them. Sometime, just through dead rocks the past revives from the ash of years. Here is a great phrase! I should be a poet. I noticed they die young. The better way is to be an economist, like dad. You learn a little and pretend to be important. I see he knows mathematics less than me and this is my weak point. Sometime, I envy the policemen. They are the strongest. Unfortunately, people mock at them. This is what I do not want: people mocking at me. A stone I should be. Maybe someone will make me a statue, to be admired by the visitors. Till then, he must strike me with the chisel; otherwise, I could be used for pavement, to step on me all ninnies.
In Byzantine Empire, not only the centre of power was moved from Athens to Constantinople. The old Greek sense fell in desuetude, beginning with the prohibition of the paganism and ceasing of the Olympic Games – a symbol of the old Greek sense. Renouncing at paganism means to renouncing at Mythology too. They closed the Oracle at Delphi – considered by the old Greeks the centre of the world. The majority of the questions are the same, 3000 years ago as today: what career to follow, if to have or not trust in the one who wants to became your partner of life etc. I have the same questions and must find other way of finding answers. I thing this is the main pity of religions: they want to give prefab answers at some questions that, maybe, you do not have
It is interesting that many Greek people from Athens pretend to have come from Constantinople. They could say Istanbul, but they hate this word and replace the Turkish name with the old one, before its conquering by the Turks. As a matter of fact, they did not come only from Istanbul, but from a large area around it. The Romans gave it the name of Constantinople. The older one was Byzantz, from where the name Byzantine Empire. We would expect the Greeks of today to use with pride this name, Byzantz, but they prefer Constantinople, creating in this way an unfavourable confusion. Or, maybe, I do not understand the subtlety but, if I do not understand, it means other people do not understand too, which multiply the disadvantage.
If you limit to the culture, Athens may become tiresome: too many monuments, ruins, museums; Plaka is the place that could contra-balance the sensation of stress. A walk in this district is welcome. This is true if you succeed to avoid the ridiculous art. Not a way! They are too many. The only solution is to amuse yourself and neglect them. Generally, Plaka offers fanny things to the visitors. Besides, among trifles, there is real art. Anyway, none tourist misses Plaka; as it is at the foot of Acropolis.
During democratic regimes one did not build remarkable monuments. Not only in Greece.
I have just read a nice phrase: “The link of the Greeks with the pass is the sky and sea, to which they added some stones and assigned them senses. Yes, here, the stones represent gods or legendary heroes.
Besides “Zorba, the Greek”, Nikos Kazantzakis wrote “The Last Temptation”, which seems to by much more appreciated by the specialists. I have read it. It is a book of philosophy more than a novel. I heard there is a movie, named “The Last Temptation of Christ”, but I did not see it. In fact, it is an essay. It seems a misconstruction of New Testament, but it is more than it. The characters are described as people with different personalities, each of them with his preoccupations and his philosophy of life.
- Jesus is a dreamer and is good-hearted;
- Judas is preoccupied by current problems (Roman occupation etc.) and unsolving them dislikes him. He accuses Jesus, because he does not imply in the real problems, as he is fearful. (You, the fearful, you do not steal, do not kill, because you are fear; all your virtues are daughters of fear”.)
- Magdalene is a realist fighter. She say also Jesus is fearful.
o I fight alone, do not ask for help neither from people nor from demons, nor for gods; I fight to escape and I will escape.
o To escape from what? From who?
o Not from mire, as you thinks; be blessed it. In it I put all my hopes; it is for me the way toward the delivering.
o . . .
o you catch yourself by your mother’s hem, sometime by mine, sometime by the God’s. You can stay alone, because you are fear . . . And you go in desert and hide yourself, shove your nose in the sand, because you are fear.
It seems that even by the Greeks, one of the most faithful Christian nations, begun to reinterpret the New Testament. As a matter of fact, even from the parabola of Wasteful Son, we learn that the one who choose life and risk is forgiven. His brother, a model of obedience is a fearful.
All the research workers of religions consider the faiths as immanent for primitive man, that they would appeared from their desire to have an explanation of natural phenomenon and for finding a support in some difficult moments. False! If the religion had been immanent to the man - as man descends from the monkey - it would have meant the religion is immanent to the monkey as well.
The desire to find a support is a result of the fear, and the fear in inoculated. A child does not know what the fear is. Also, the explanation of natural phenomenon does not characteristic for the common man. He does not have such problems. Besides, such “explanations” do not start from real findings. On the contrary, they are results of the imagination. Their authors did not believed in the truth of their inventions. These ones, their inventions, had as purpose to find a way to make simple men to behave in according with the ethic of that time, or with the will of their leaders. In this way, some rituals were fixed and the simple man was guided to respect the ritual, for example to bury the dead persons. Without ritual, the men would be lazy enough to abandon the corpse. They need some more than a simple indication, like “it would be good to do it”. The authors of the myths are the spiritual leaders of the primitive tribes. The intentions of moulding people’s mentalities were good or bad, depending on their authors.
What is surprising is the fact the religions – even the recent ones – are less sagacious than some old mythologies. That is so probably because the theologians want the believers to be confident. For this, they must not be able to verify the truth of the doctrine. As odd are its ideas as better. In this respect, they advanced a lot in comparison with the primitive ones.
At any attempt to persuade a Greek that the merits of the past belong to those of that time, and that he must do something as a follower worthy of them, he will repeat like a poem what everybody know: from those seven wonders of the ancient world, four are Greek, from which three are in Greece and two just in Athens:
- Statue of Zeus, 12 metres high, by Pheidias, in the temple of Zeus, 5 century BC;
- Temple of the goddess Artemis at Ephesus, 356 BC;
- Colossus from Rhodes, 30 metres, a statue by bronze devoted to the god of the sun, Helios, 280 BC, at the entrance of the harbour;
- Lighthouse from Alexandria, 280 BC, 134 metres.
Unfortunately, none of them exist today. The wonderful antic civilisation became an imaginary construction for those who want to know and understand its significations. It really left something to the posterity, but the common Greek has nothing with it.
- Mom called again.
o It means something is grave. It is the second call since we are in New York.
- They will come here.
o With his illness?
- Exactly. With it and because of it.
o From your mother part it was expected not to have the intention to care of him. She dispatched you, your own daughter; what an ill husband would be more important?
- This time is not her decision.
o She always has put the others to “decide” what she had wanted.
- Now it was really. She said they consulted more doctors and all of them, even some friends, advised him to go in Europe or America. The Greek medicine cannot do much for him.
o Here they are right. I think my father would have been alive yet if he had been better treated. The true is Greece is still far for a European country. It is still oriental and the evolution in the last years worries me. Those few men educated in Occident are preoccupied to make fortune, while the other are . . .
- I am speaking you about my father and you think to politics. Use your economic knowledge at the office. Now, tell me how we will manage.
o And what I have to do?
- You? Nothing, as usual. They have discussed with a clinic of cardiology from New York – I did not memorise its name, but I will ask – and from the airport will go directly there, but mother will stay with us.
o This is a problem.
- A great one.
Anastasia’s father was hospitalised. Under treatment, his health is improving from one day to another. All people are optimistic, but the most optimistic is Anastasia. Her almost daily visits in the hospital, her concern and the interest for everything happens there have drawn attention of the staff of the hospital. They began to consider her one of them, especially because she often offered herself to fulfil any work she can do.
In the room next door with that of her father, there is a family of two old people. The both suffer of the same disease. A coincidence! She thinks their presence in the hospital, besides the illness, is a deed of charity of the staff of the hospital. They are too old for care of by themselves, there in nobody to help them and in an asylum they would be died long ago. For Anastasia, this is even a psychological case. They are alone and no one has time to speak with them but what is strictly necessary. She feels the need of caressing them. This is all she can do for them, but see that her small gestures produce a great pleasure in these people’s souls.
Curiously, in the hospital, besides the patients the healing of which is wanted by everyone, there are some who are not wanted at home and the family use the hospital like a hotel. Some patients are incurable; the other could be healed. Their treatment depends on the humanism or scientific interest of their doctors. For others, they are only a business.
Impressing situations are also of the opposite alternative. The husband of a patient, for example, for covering all expenses necessary for a good treatment of his wife, made all sacrifices depending on him; abandoned all his interests, sold his things etc. Finally, she was saved, but he died before seeing her at home. There are situation that shock everyone, Anastasia particularly.
She observed the evolution of illnesses depends on the psychic of the patients. She realizes she cannot judge the effect of the medication face to the gravity of an illness, but her statistics remove any doubt. He noticed that optimist people who leave the hospital recovered are much more numerous than the pessimist ones. The most convinced case was the most amusing. A lady, immediately she was hospitalised, sat down on the bed, with the pillow at her back and started to crochet. With the speed of which she was handling the knitting needles – and it was clear that she had a great practice in this occupation – she was turning the words as well. She took breaks only between four and six o’clock in the afternoons, after her son, who used to visit her everyday, was bringing her several pages of a magazine with crossed words, her passion. Resolving them needed a little concentration. In the rest of time, with all the discontent of her partners of suffering, she was speaking. Most women covered her head with the pillow, for not to hear her, but they could not stay all the day in this position. At any question about her disease, she answers: “This is the doctor’s work. I do not know.” In short time, she – the last entered – left the hospital healed. Unfortunately, her optimism did not contaminate the other women.
More difficult was at home. Kostas and Fotios are resourceful. Fotios feels well eating outdoors. Anastasia thought that Kostas would have been happy if she would have given him money to eat at McDonald’s. Before, he sometime envied his classmates eating there, but now, after a few days, he began to prepare himself some simple foods. Maybe is too much to say foods; fried eggs, roast pork and others like these, but especially fried potatoes with eggs. This is his preferred food, if he does it by himself. With Fotios is simplest; he come at home as little as possible, but he must forgive, because he go to the hospital instead and inquires of his father-in-low’s health.
The problem is the mother. The same mother, the same problem. Anastasia, though cares of two children, was going to the hospital to see her father as frequently as she could, anyway more frequently as his wife, without any occupation in New York. Seeing the shop-windows or just visiting them were activities that could not be neglected for her. She could take care of her granddaughter, Nicky. At least to oversee her, as the girl is capricious, sometime does inverse than one asks her to do and do not want to be implied in family’s problems. Now, she avails herself of the opportunity and plays truant from the school. Nobody knows where she wanders and what she does, as she is not at home, at school or at some of her known friends. She does not want to eat but fresh food prepared at home by an adult person, in no case by Kostas. She could go with Kostas to eat at McDonald’s, but she does not want. She waits Anastasia, as she wants to create a supplementary problem. Her grandmother does not want to hear anything about preparing foods. She says, “I am not a cook-maid”. These to women, granddaughter and grandmother, do not realize how much they look like one another. It’s interesting that they, instead to love each other, they hate each other. As a matter of fact, only the granddaughter hates her grandmother; the grandmother simple ignores granddaughter.
In the hospital, the chief of the department where her father is interned, a dour man at the first sight, but very kind in fond, proposed to Anastasia to follow a course of speciality, at the end of which she would be able to work in a hospital, maybe just here. If she wants, he will speak with the manager of the hospital, but he is sure this one will agree. Of course, she answer on the spot she will be happy to do it. This was her dream as early as a child.
It seems that – finally – a favourable moment arrived for Anastasia. Their main problems are now solved in a great measure: Fotios has a job well remunerated now, even if not great, Kostas goes to school with good results, so Anastasia could think to herself. Does it a lucky occurrence, or the fait? The hospital is not just near; the transport takes one hour with the bus. Another hour for returning, how long she stays there, all the day is full. No matter of the effort, it deserves. It is her first chance, after that from the childhood, when she trained to become a swimmer. A Greek girl Olympic champion. All people would speak about her, at least till the next Olympiad. It did not was to be! A stupid accident eliminated her. Now it is something much more serious: she wants to help people in suffering. This is her dream from the time when she was a pupil in England. Her suffering there marked her less than that of the others. And the great satisfaction she feels now, when – even only with a caress or a good word – she can soothe a patient, and receive as recompense a smile or a look of gratitude.
She had not time to say her joy to her father; he was sleeping when she left and did not want to wake him up. She will tell him tomorrow morning. She still conveys her joy toward those at home, immediately as she arrived. She did not remember to finish all she wanted to tell them, when noticed that her joy was unilateral. For the others it seems to be a calamity. “You are crazy?” was the first replay coming from her mother. The dialog that followed does not deserve to be put down on the paper. The arguments were the same she had heard in the childhood, as the women from their family do not work out of doors. Now, there was a new one: the fear of the mother that she will be put in the situation to care of her granddaughter. The quarrel that followed put an end to the relations between mother and daughter. If her visit at the hospital had been tolerate – not always without reproach, though her father was there – the idea to have graduated and a permanent job was not agreed.
During the night, she thought how to tell her father, if to tell him, knowing that, in the past he had the same mentality. Maybe, meanwhile, he changed his mind. She cannot asleep, as the same thoughts were racking her brain, when the telephone rung up. It was the hospital. “What is going up?” “Your father does not feel fine.” With all her requests toward the driver, who was running as fast as he could in the night, when she arrived at the hospital, her father had died. She did not tell him her joy, unfulfilled this time again. And the dream stops!
She had sobbed. All her life she obeyed to her father’s decisions. From respect but also from trust in his wise, though she has some doubts, especially because not all his decisions were of good augury. Still, he was the single who she loved.
Fotios was very happy for his new job in Florida. His life improved, with more money, responsibilities and opportunities. He renounced long ago at that usual dream of Greeks of having his own business. He was educated in England and is an American now. How is that every Greek wants to be an employer we could suppose: the centuries of foreigner’s domination induced in them this wish. And if they leant their ancestors deal with commerce, opened a booth at the ground floor of the block of flats, where he has an apartment. To work in a factory? To wake up in the morning and spend the best hours working there? No way! He thinks he is free doing nothing. His freedom is a theoretical one. In reality, he is slave, but he does not know. For a Greek, money is the single thing that counts. Probably the similarity between the words „leftá” (money) and „lefteriá” (freedom) is not accidentally. So, you are free if you have money. But, the disciples of Zeno, stoic philosophers say us the contrary.
Anywhere in the world, most people prefer to be obedient instead of assuming the risk of initiative. When the Egyptians were ready to catch up the Jews, they frightened and said: “it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14, 12) There needs a man like Moses, a leader, for getting them out from the impasse. The mob prefers the slavery. As everywhere, there are among the Greeks people with the gift of the leaders, but most of them do not know the way they should go, or use their gift for themselves.
But Fotios had learnt that, together with other men, he has more possibilities than alone. Besides, his character was not of a man with much initiative. Now, he found what he needed. He was not the boss. Another one had the initiative and was the president of the company. He, Fotios, was vice-president. Still, he was in the staff and makes the company to work efficiently. He feels to be important and really he was. Many others from the same field appreciated his knowledge and respected him.
He used to read many books about business and economy, skim through two-three newspapers daily, to be posted. He was known and was in connection with many businessmen like him.
Miami is a locality well known throughout in the world. It sound well when you say that you visited it. To live there, it means you are an important man. It is not just their case, so they bought a modest house, not even in the centre, but with the possibility of arranging it according with their taste, if possible with many flowers. They, the flowers will remind Anastasia of Greece. There, the climate is dry and ground stony, but just from this reason the love of the Greeks for the flowers is a special one. Here, in Florida, it is wet and vegetation grow up everywhere, even there where nobody want it. People cover the ground with concrete, but they will have a garden.
Kostas follows a private college and was ready to go to the university. Nicky, though very young, was difficult and refractory. She made a lot of bad things and created many problems. She did not want going to school and, one day, she pretended her father abused her. It seems that she was similar enough with her grandmother.
Although he should be preoccupied by the education of his children, Fotios came at home rarer and rarer, pretending that he works all the week, from morning till night and has not time even for hunting and fishing. The family? It is not among his passions. The mistresses, instead, were. Of course, he was not speaking about them, until he open announced he wanted to divorce, as he loves another woman, one of his former secretaries.
From Kostas’ diary
The Elgin’s marble
“In 1801, Thomas Bruce, the duke of Elgin, was the British ambassador in Istanbul. Turkish government allowed him to take some stones and sculptures from Acropolis, which he sent to British Museum in 1816. The most famous of them, the friezes of Parthenon, are known as Elgin’s marble.” This was written in the guide about Greece, which I have in hand. Throughout in Athens, in museums, they affirmed this, proving how much they want to recuperate the national patrimony. Good for them, real patriots.
Still, the true is that, in Greece, there are enough vestiges of the past and a few more would not modify the situation. Instead, if all vestiges had reminded at their place, very few of them would be preserved, knowing the people’s predilection for destroying. The marble of temple was used as material for all kind of banal buildings, not only by the Turks, but also by the Greeks themselves. Instead, in the museums of important cities, people from throughout the world learn about the art of Greece. The tourists visiting Greece first saw some exhibits in the museums and albums. Their interest for Greece was generated just for these exhibits. Otherwise, the Greek peasant would ignore them and, eventual, would try to use what remained in his farm. For him, a temple is just good for a stable, if it is entire, yet. If not, some plate would be fit for the pavement. Friezes, metopes, what are these? Trifles! The columns even hinder him. Maybe this is the reason they resisted in time better.
We can say that the scattering of Greek patrimony was something like a microbe, something like Trojan Horse. From London or Paris, they contaminate the world with ancient Greek art.
Zantipa, Socrates’ wife, was a nagging woman. Is it a condition for philosophy?
In antiquity, the artist sculpted or painted necked men and dressed women. Today they do inverse.
People easily pass from one extreme to the other. The excess of chastity, imposed by the church during the Middle Age, preceded the nowadays excess of sexuality.
I have read that, in an old copy of the Bible, it was written that “God took one of parts of Adam and then tighten the flesh as it was. And the part that he took from the men he changed into the woman and bring her close to man”. So, it was not a rib. Why just a rib? It means that, before, the man had 13 ribs. It would be very painful.
This version is logic and has connection with the myth of the androgynous. God made the man bisexual and them separated the sexes. Here, again, the excess of chastity made the theologians to change the text. If only for this they changed the original, it is expected there are many others much more important that they modified.
A girl studying medicine told me that a supplementary rib can exist in cervical area and wears the name “rib of the devil”. This means that men like Adam are born yet, but the surgeons do not know what to do with the ribs. I like its name: rib of the devil.
Even the cosmogony is transparent in the Bible. In Genesis 2.7, it is said that "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground...". Not from mud, clay, or simple earth? It is not mentioned that he would use water. I think it had to be difficult to mould in dust. Is this a mistake, or an accidental expression? Not at all! From the next paragraph we learn that "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed." Therefore, Eden has points of the compass. Interesting! From the paragraphs 10 to 14, we learn that "a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads". Their names are Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates. We cannot help thinking that Eden is the old Sumer and what the Sumerian civilisation means for old times. Yes, Summer used to be a pleasing and charming place in comparison with the surrounding areas, namely exact what this word means in their language. God probably was a Sumerian king, who accepted a Jewish tribe on his territory for different works. This one seems to have been the best period from the Jews history. It was that king was God for them, their father, because he made them men. They were like dust and became like the Sumerians. This is the correct meaning when one says that God made man like him, and not that a divinity could look like us. As the Jews did not keep the arrangement and aimed higher than it had been allowed to them (testing from the tree of knowledge), the king expulsed them. More than that, God, observing the sin committed by Adam and Eve, declared, "… the man is become as one of us . . ." (Genesis 322). Consequently, God was not alone. He did not speak that man would be “like me”, but “like us”. He spoke in the name of the leadership of Sumer and accuses the Jews that exceeded their rights as employees, infiltrating themselves among the employers. We see now why in the whole history recorded in Bible, with all its details, Sumer does not appear at all. That's so because it was the beginning. It was the heaven. In the whole of their history, the Jews do nothing else but beg God's pardon, hoping to be accepted again in Eden's garden.
The metaphor of making the man by dust suggest the idea the tribe of Jews was like the dust carried by wind. Even the name Adam is suggestive: in old Greek language, the meaning of the letters ADAM: Ανατολή (East) Δύσις (West) Άρκτος (North) Μεσεέμβρη (South). That’s so, because God would be used the dust from all points of the compass.
These ideas are not mine. I have read them in a comely book. I forgot the name of the author, but know the title. It is “A boulder’s philosophy”
Theoretically, the historians must present the deeds, recorded in documents. The interpretation of the deeds belongs to the readers, depending on their intelligence and cultural level. Those who show not only the deeds, but also their explanations, are not scientists, but teachers or people working in fields in which the history is implicated. They introduce their point of view, which is not only subjective, but can have – and in the most cases have – a tendentious interpretation, with propagandistic implications.
For the schoolchildren, the explanations are useful, even necessary, because they teach them how to interpret the deeds. Why it happened in this way and not in a different one? Which were the reasons of the people who took a decision, people’s mentality, their aspirations, their religion, patriotic sentiments etc. They will notice that the deeds are consequences of people’s mentality and not inversely. At its turn, the mentality change itself in time, as a consequence of the conclusions that people have drawn from the passed deeds. The two of them are reciprocally influenced.
The literature is the one that can promote different points of view, different hypotheses – all of them subjective –influencing the reader’s opinion.
Hypocrites was not a hypocrite. It was the opposite. He was born in 460 BC in Cos and died in 370 BC in Larissa. This locality still exists. I visited it. His oath is theoretical valuable today as well. I am not sure the all doctors observe it. I read somewhere that, in the 16th centuries, the Pope Clement VII took a medicine composed by precious stones well pounded in value of 40,000 ducats, namely over three millions Euros.
Before visiting Greece, I read more books about it, even a novel, the story of which was in Greece, and I imagined the places. Later, I was there and I find the reality was different. I am not sorry for that. In the meantime, I read again that novel. Only now I really understood it. Three visions about the same places: two real – mine and the author’s – and an imaginary one, that from the first lecture. This one was the best.
It would odd to say about Fotios he was lucky. For all that, after the seriousness of the accident, it is surprising he is alive. Of course, it was possible thanks to the doctors who treated him. After 45 days in the hospital, where he was enter first, he was transferred in New York, where some specialized surgeons operated him. Other days of waiting, other emotions, other expenses. Fotios must be saved and they succeeded it. Now, the retrievable is the problem. He was alive, but like a baby: he was not able to walk, the movement of hands and feet were uncontrolled, cannot speak, not even to eat. An eye is lost forever. All hopes were in retrievable, of course, with much work and patience. Complete normal he will never be. Anastasia and Kostas are ready to do all they can for him. Nicky left to Greece at a relative. She does not implied in family’s problems.
Excepting her husband and children, who created her more problems, Anastasia was alone almost all her life. Kostas is a good boy, but – so far – he was only a child. The accident of his father was the first serious trial in his life. He proved with this occasion having a man of character. Face to the hardness of the happening, he behaved excellent. We cannot say the same about Nicky. But Kostas is at the age when must build his career. He is still far for assuming the role of the head of the family with an invalid father. Anastasia remains on alone, with increased responsibilities. Besides, she is in a foreign country, without relatives, relations and friends. According with the Greek mentality, the relations belong to the husband. Now, all them abandoned, excepting Nikos, an old friend, but he lives in Canada. (Otherwise, he will die soon.) The woman of whom Fotios was fell in love – his last amorous conquest, with whom he spoke he is about to marry – was the first who went back on her word and did not want to hear about his existence.
Of course, financial problems claimed urgent solutions. Fotios needed permanent social assistance and, for the following months, maybe years, professional recuperation in a specialized institution. In the United States of America, such expenses would be much over her possibilities. Besides, Fotios lost his memory and only with difficulty he remembers some Greek words. English language seemed not to know ever and those who help him in the process of the recuperation need to communicate with him.
The only possibility is to go in Greece. Unfortunately, there is nobody there to help. On the mother help one does not lay account. Still, she will be at home, will not be a foreigner, an alien, and Greek language is their mother tong.
She knows that, in Greece, she will have many problems. For about forty years she lived abroad, is accustomed with the occidental style of life, different enough face to the Greek one. In her short visits in Greece, she found lots of such differences. Some of them are explainable. The problem is how she will adapt to them?
o Sophia, you are? Anastasia is speaking.
Sophia was her old friend woman, the one who met in New York and went on to correspondence.
- Before long, Fotios will leave the hospital. We cannot stay here, so we will come in Greece.
o Do you think it will be better here?
- I do not know, but we cannot stay longer in States.
o You will stay with your mother?
- Oh, not! It is impossible. We do not speak more than ten years now. For the beginning we will stay at a hotel and then will rent an apartment.
o But she has enough space. I even wonder what she does in all her rooms. In one of them she sleeps, in other eats, in other smokes . . .
- She smocks everywhere and all the time.
o That’s true.
- I do not control her life, but we cannot stay with her. I have a favour to ask for you: help me to find someone to stay with Fotios. He cannot stay alone.
o A social assistant would cost enough. But there is a lot of foreigners here working for a few money. Albanians, Bulgarians, Romanians and lots of Russians invaded Athens.
- Excellent! Anyway, he is not able to speak but very difficult. He is like a baby learning to walk and speak. Maybe he will learn a foreign language.
o You can laugh after all. Good for you. Until he will learn, it is you who must understand with them. The Albanians and Bulgarians know Greek better, as they are our neighbours.
- O.k., find someone.
o It is better for you to avoid the Albanians; the Bulgarians ask for more money. The Russians and Romanians are cheapest.
- The Romanians are not gipsies?
o Oh, no! There are gipsies among them, especially beggars, but the majority of the Romanians are normal people, even hardworking. Many of them live next to us, upper to Omonia and in Kipseli. The Russians are farer, in Kalithea.
- O.k., take a Romanian.
o I even know someone who engaged a Romanian woman for cleaning. Surely she knows other ones. We will manage with this.
- O.k., thank you. See you soon! Bye-bye!
The Anastasia’s American stage will come to its end. A new one will begin, this time on the native realm.
Under the influence of extreme-oriental religions, especially of those from India, the orphic and Pythagorean philosophers took the ideas of metempsychoses. As they cannot thank with this, they invented the “Elysium Planes”, where those without sin will go. The opposite of this fairy realm is the Tartar, destined to the evil ones. We are not said if these ones have a second chance, through a new reincarnation, which means that – in this moment – Tartar must be very crowded.
Homer places the Elysium Planes beyond the Okeanos stream. Hesiod identifies them with the “Islands of the Happy Ones” and thinks they must be in the same place. Some supposed exegetes said about Canary Islands, but much others contradicted them. French people, with their characteristic arrogance, put them just in Paris, as Champs-Élisées Avenue. We should place them on the American continents, as it means “beyond the Okeanos”.
Unlike the Heaven, where the souls of the immaculate people go for an endless boredom, the Elyseum Planes offer only a transient staying, until a body adequate them will be found for a new reincarnation.
The Anastasia’s American stage was something like this? If yes, we must modify the concept according with Elyseum Planes offer an idyllic life, as that of her was not at all like this. Or, maybe, it was a stage of purification, one in which the Divinity tried her character. If yes, we have to see the results of the test.
The hotel, where Anastasia reserved two double rooms, was not far from Omonia Square. The area around was far from what she knew, yet, a crowd of taverns and cafés, in the middle of a net of streets large and narrow, in which she always had problems of orientation.
Why its name is Omonia, namely “harmony”, she never knew, but supposed that, in the past, the men used to come here for a coffee or a glass with ouzo, to reconcile after violent discussions in Agora, where the important problems of the city were debated. They were those who had invented the democracy. Before deciding, before voting, the problems and the solutions must be discussed, which could create animosities. In Omonia, the harmony was restored. If this was just so, we do not know. The Greeks’ mind is a little odd. Harmonia is the name of the goodness of “harmony and concord”, the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite. The first oddity is just the join of the two ones, considered to be illegitimate. As revenge, when she married with Kadmus – the one who found Thebes – received as present from Hephaestus a necklace and from Athens attire impregnated with poison. Her life was without problems, but one of her daughter loses her mind, another one gets drowned and the third one was thundered by Zeus. Besides, the gifts received at the wedding party attracted others’ interest, being the pretext for “Those seven against Thebes”, from which only the leader escape. In other words, harmony in Greek variant.
Now, Omonia is a huge building site. In its centre an important metro-station will be, but, for the moment, there are dust, a continue noise and the traffic blocked on a street or another. Anastasia should look for an apartment to move in as urgent as possible. Foreigners, more than by Greeks, populate the aria now, and they are not those working on the site, but Africans, Asians and Europeans, who came from the former Soviet republics and the countries occupied by the Russians, after the Second World War.
The mixing of the languages that can be hear here make you thinking that Babel Tower was an experiment at reduced scale. The world is changing. Today, they build towers much taller than Babel Tower. Not long ago, they finished one over one kilometre high. It is very interesting that such works are realizable only thanks to co-operation of people with different mother tongs, but speaking the same international languages, for understanding each other. According with Old Testament, God wanted people no longer understand each other and gave them different languages. In fact, he set them again each other. It is not for wondering: Judaism is a nationalist religion asserting the existence of the “choice nation”. Instead, in the New Testament, God gave to the apostles the gift of languages, in order to preach in the world the new ideas. It was natural, as Christianity is an international religion; everyone may be a Christian, not matter of his ethnic origin.
Starting from Omonia toward Syntagma Square, the environment is more and more different. The street becomes even elegant, even if workers still work at the façades of some buildings. Those of the University are pride of every Greek, especially because they were made in antic style. There are not apartments to rent here. The other street, that going toward Acropolis, looks like an oriental bazaar. She would not want to live here, even if free apartments had been, but it is not the case; there is non a single notice.
Instead, north from Omonia, it is full of advertisements. Almost every building has at its entrance at least one; it is written black on yellow paper: ENIKIAZETAI. But the area is not at all a pleasant one, because of the Africans who lay sheets on the pavement, on which they offer to sell all kind of things. Some of them are from their countries, but others are Greek at smaller prices than in shops. How they obtained them is a mister. Near the Museum of Archaeology, on a small lateral street, tens – sometimes more than one hundred – of doubtful persons sell and buy drugs and cigarettes from contraband. On the secondary streets you never know what could happen, so, in the evenings, she would be afraid to pass through them.
A little far, the aspect is better. Pedion Areas Gardens is a beautiful park. It was nice before too, but now, well neatly, it looks splendid.
Someone frightened her, saying that she had just learnt that two Arabian youngsters had stolen the pocket of one of her neighbour lady. Unlike the Africans and Asians, who come in Europe with good intentions, hoping in a better life and, for what, they look for a job, the Arabians come for illicit gains, especially petty thefts. They work professionally, in well-organized groups. Unfortunately, the Greeks have become xenophobe and think globally about them. They forget that, in the past, some of their ancestors emigrated, because their country was poor. Were they the single hardworking and enterprising Greeks? She does not like to think so – she is Greek too – but there are rather many things that annoyed her in the recent behaviour of her conational people.
But now she must find an apartment. The hotel is uncomfortable and cost a lot, though it is one of the cheapest. Besides, the things from America will come soon and she will not rooms to put them.
A little more toward the North, on the right size of the Patission Avenue, Kipseli district seems to be decent enough, especially after Kipsely Square climbing toward Ano Kipsely. Here, many Greeks, who have came from islands and mountains, built houses and rent apartments now. There are many people from Romania. Fokionos Negri, the riverbed of a small brook in the past, is not an elegant street, for far the nicest from the district, maybe from the entire Athens. It is more an alley than a street, as, instead of road for vehicle, there are trees and benches. At the grand-floor of the riverside buildings, the cafés, bars and taverns forms two rows almost continue. Many of them extended themselves on the pavements, some very large ones. Here, the word “riverside” is just fitted, as – under the street – the old brook, covered, still flows. Unfortunately, this street, near enough to the Patission Avenue, is unsafe, due to many dark-skin men seeking a job.
More far away, but in the opposite direction, toward the sea, the atmosphere becomes more and more different. It is visible that, during the favourable periods, the Greeks assimilated some good things from the Occident. A good part of Singrou Avenue, especially the third part near to the littoral, a newer one, is impressing, thanks to the modernism of its architecture. On the other hand, in the centre of Athens, some buildings are in ruin, though – in other country – they would be considerate monuments of architecture.
What for the beginning seemed to be only an impression become now more and more clear. The centre of Athens is no longer what she thought. Elegant district moved to the periphery. The city is very extended now. Kifisia is one of the richest districts, but it is far away and the houses are very expensive. Also expensive, but with the advantage of the sea are the new districts on the littoral. In top is Glifada. It deserves to try.
A great regret tries her at the thought of renouncing at the centre of Athens, but it is clear that it is no longer attractive. Of course, some areas still keep their elegance, especially near the Parliament, but just here the crown and pollution are disagreeable. After a few hours, you want to withdraw yourself at fresh air and silence. The centre of Athens remains attractive only for the tourists.
For understanding its evolution, we must go a little down in history. When the Byzantine Empire appeared, the centre of interest moved from Athens to Constantinople, the new capital. After the Turks conquered the Empire, all Greek towns declined much more. If, during Byzantine period, Athens fell in provincialism – both proper and figurative sense – under the Turks it fell completely. Sparta is even today a village. On Acropolis – a Greek symbol -, the Turks built a mosque and turned Parthenon into a deposit for armament, that produced a huge explosion, which destroyed its roof.
The real development of modern Athens began after Greece obtained its independence and Athens became the capital of the new stat. The interest of Occidental countries for this region made from Athens a modern city. But, in the same time, the town was populated with people from islands and mountains, looking for a better life in the capital. Nobody had the interest to come from Istanbul, from two reasons:
- there was a modus vivendi between Turks and them long time established;
- those who fought for independence, the patriots, accused them for making a covenant with the enemy, considering them as traitors. It was preferable for them to go to any other country except Greece, which many of the just did.
In these conditions, Athens did not have the capacity to assimilate all people from rural medium, so they imposed their mentalities in face of those few ones with urban conceptions.
Time, instead to improve the situation, worsened it. As a result of the conflicts with Turkey and especially after the massacre from Smyrna, in Greece came about 1.5 million Greeks. All them were very poor. They could not live in villages, without means of life. They invaded the towns, particularly Athens, where they received helps from the state.
Today, Athens sized more than one third from the population of entire Greece and their insistence of keeping the customs different from those of the European ones are to see even today. This is one of the reasons because of the new centres of business and residential districts moved in other directions, like Kifisia or toward the Aegean Sea. Glifada is one of them; maybe the most elegant at that time, thanks to the shops, like the best from Occident. Of course, such shops need clients, which gives an idea about its inhabitants: many rich foreigners, remarkable for the diversity of the languages that are to be heard here.
After she moved in Miami, Anastasia was used to driving. She likes to do it, with all her weak eyesight. Still, through the centre of Athens, she would dare to drive. The traffic in New York looks like an entertainment in comparison with this from Athens. On the main avenues, the stream of cars and motorbikes – enormous many motorbikes – is endless. Some motorbikes make a deafening noise, due their owners – youngsters with little mind – do not know the meaning of the word civilization. If you draw their attention, they answer “it is democracy, so I may do what I want”. This is only what they know about the democracy. Unfortunately, they are not a few.
The Romanian recommended by her friend is a nice lady, who knows rather little Greek, but you can understand her. Her name is Ileana. She takes care of Fotios, is clean and decent, so Anastasia got rid of this trouble. She is able not to look for a house. Ileana insist on the Kipseli district, where she live and where she hope to find an apartment for rent, but Anastasia inclines to Glifada, much more elegant and full of foreigner, who speak English language. Many of them are rich Russians. The shops from here are at least as elegant as those from the Occidental. Of course, the prices are the same, if not even higher, which gives an idea about the financial potential of the clients. Though she will never be at their standard, as a woman, the shops play a role among other criterions.
The Romanian lady has a merry nature. One day, she related an amusing happening from her country. Long ago, in an evening, the prime-minister took a taxi to go to the headquarter of the radio where he was to keep a conference. At that time television was not invented yet, and most people did not know how the politicians look like. At the destination, the prime-minister asked the driver to wait him, but the driver said that he cannot wait, because he want to go home to listen the prime-minister, who will keep a speech. Flattered, he gave him a good tip. Seeing so much money, the driver said: “I . . . on prime-minister. I am waiting for you.” The story was told just by the prime-minister himself.
One of the difficulties remarked for the beginning – it is true a minor one – was Anastasia’s mother tongue. In those forty years as she was abroad, the Greek language suffered important changes, and now she is considered by the others a foreigner who understand very will Greek language, but speak it with some anachronisms. Any language evolves in time. A language is an advanced one if it is able express complex ideas in simple words. Besides this general evolution, Greek language was modified due to other two particular causes.
- The first was demographic changes. Some time ago, the elevate dialect was katharévusa (καθαρεβούσα), which is almost forgotten now.
- Secondly, in those four centuries of Ottoman occupation, the language evolved very slowly, and not it must recuperate the lagging. More than odd is that, when the government tried a reform of the language, the teachers – just they, the teachers – protested and made a strike.
On the other hand, Greek diaspora in the United States, where Anastasia could talk in Greek, used to speak an original dialect, a mixture of words from English and Greek. Now, she must learn again her mother tongue. It was not just a problem, but in first months it was unpleasant enough.
If only the language had been a problem… Used with occidental mentalities, the some customs of the Greeks annoy her even today. She could not accept, for example, the discrepancies between men and women. She is not a feminist, but some conception from antiquity or borrowed from the Turks are really revolting. Interesting is that women adapt herself faster. Generally, they are more polite than the men. In public spaces, a man does not offer his place, while the women do it even to men, if they are old or ill.
Another example is their wish to show in public their “love” for animals, in most cases a false one, a fanfaronade. Annoying is they walk along the dogs in order to evacuate their dejection in the street, without any intention for collecting it. As a result, the pavements are sprinkled with such little hillocks and the pedestrians must pay attention and avoid them. Anastasia really love animals. In the United States she had a true collection of dogs, cats, parrots and others, but she never got them out for keeping clean the apartment. In Greece she brought only Lucky, not only because he has the same name with her first dog, but because he is the most loving. Of course, she wants to have again her “zoo-garden”, when the conditions will allow it.
But the most annoying is political agitation. The Greeks have a peculiar appetite for anarchy. The Civil War, the colonels’ dictatorship and others, all this frightens her. Maybe they will not repeat, though the recent events from Cyprus bold the distrust in the capacity of the Greeks to rule by themselves. Erare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum.
Greece is her country and she should adapt.
The Greeks of today consider themselves they are, not only followers, but also continuers of those from antiquity, which invented democracy. We could have passed over the absurdity of this pretension if it had not been ridicule. There are at least two things that they do not have in view.
First, in antiquity, not any imbecile was listened in the agora. The first conditions for having the right of speaking there were to be graduated as efeb – a kind of students in our language – and have more then thirty years old. Besides, only the most convincing scholars had been taken into consideration. The other ones could be happy to listen them. The society was strongly structured. The chatterers from the modern cafés surely are not able to do what they ancestors did. They boast with them, are even proud, but they do not realize they are only epigones.
Secondly, the Greeks from antiquity themselves established the lack of efficiency of the democracy and renounced at it. That’s why the coming of Alexander Macedon was welcomed in Athens. Of course, it was in his interest to set himself up for a representative of the Athens and not one of Macedonia, about which nobody heard till then. Besides, from Macedonia he could not recruit so many soldiers as he needed.
It was not for the first time when the Greeks renounced at democracy. They did it many times in the past, and just these frequent changes allowed to Aristotle to synthesis the evolution of political systems. He shows there are three main forms of government, according with the number of the leaders: one for the monarchy, a few ones for aristocracy, and all people for politea (from póli (πόλη = town). As no one of these forms is perfect, in time, the society degenerates into some degraded forms: tyranny, oligarchy and democracy), after which the next form is adopted. In this way, all three forms are repeated cyclically. As we can see, Aristotle himself considered that democracy is a degraded form. Important is not the form of the government, but the stability and peace, the only ones able to bring the progress. Nokos Kazatzakis, maybe the most famous Greek writer, wrote in “The last temptation”: “The harmony of the earth and heart, this is the kingdom of heavens”.
In my opinion, Aristotle’s opinion has a gap. A king cannot rule alone. Also, the country cannot be ruled by all the citizens. The king has a camarilla around him and, in democracy, people elect a team of leaders. Finally, a group of leaders rule in all forms of government. It is no need to say the group will defend their interest. The rest is political propaganda. The real difference between different systems is the way of access. There are two ways:
- hereditary, in which the future leaders are educate as early as children for the role they will play in society;
- aleatory, in which those who want to become leaders need to fight with other claimants, using political means.
In the second case, only after the winner will have obtained the job, people will see if he is a good manager. As those two qualities – political fighter and manager - are not to be found in the same person, in most cases, the winners from the first stage have not the qualities for the second stage and, more grave, they have not the education and culture for that job. This does not mean I am an adept of the monarchy. We may conceive other forms of government as well. Let’s call them “elito-craty”, but not with the meaning of selection the leaders from a social category supposing to be superior. The future leaders have to be educated as it and then they will be promoted according with their real abilities.
Why the Greeks from antiquity renounced at democracy? Because they observed its negative effects. In agora, those having the gift of the gab are more convincing and not the most clever and good intentioned. Also, they noticed that people with less culture are sensible to arguments according with their power of understanding and deeper reasons are ignored. The mob always votes for Barabas and not for Jesus. The one who strongly criticized the democracy was Aristotle.
Zeus is not a simple invention. He is an abstract synthesis of the ruler. He has qualities, but great defects too, like any man. Still, he is a great ruler. Like God, from chaos he made order. His spirit cannot disappear, because the humanity, human society, needs order. Without order it could not exist. Cosmos means order in old Greek language. Zeus, God and any other divinity made the cosmos from chaos, made order in society. Mythology is a book of wise. Democracy as anarchy is the opposite of mythological wise.
The modern philosophy is no longer a filo-sofia (love for wise), but only a collection of simplistic ideas, dressed in affected words, designated to those with little mind and great pretensions. The questions like “Who made the hole in the macaroni?” are characteristic for such philosophers, but I am afraid that this one is much too difficult for them. Is this one of the reason of the nowadays chaos? Maybe!
As concerning the Greeks of our days, they think to be democrat by vocation, though most of them are communist by “education”. In their chats, there is not a dialog, because each speaker recites his ideas and does not pay any attention to others’ arguments.
In a café-bar, the talks between two-three persons can become collective, when the subject from a table is one of general interest.
- It had been ascertained that, in Europe, the women’s hope of life is greater than the men’s one. It means they grow decrepit later. So, it is wrong they retired earlier. They should, on the contrary, to retired later than the men.
o This anomaly has an explanation in the past, when men used to keep the family and were older then their wives.
- Yes, but today, when women are equal with men, this situation is anachronistic.
§ Men’s pride is guilty; when some women began to word, they considered unnatural that men might retire or to become househusband.
- A correction would be possible if people would change the mentality and the bridegroom would by younger than the bride.
o This already occurs in many cases. I think that, if the women want to be equal with men, then they would retire at the same time.
§ Correct! Equal towards the law, equal towards the God.
· Up till the God, the saints eat you.
o In front of a saint, the woman hangs at her neck a small cross. The saints’ sight slides close by and the woman’s wish will come true.
· With a better pension.
o Between Eros and Thanatos, it is good to be a woman.
§ Your mind is always in Mythology. When you make love, speak about it too?
o When I make love I do not speak. And Mythology is boring only for fools.
- I hope this is not a hint. As for love, it was occurring you last century. Do you remind what was you making then?
o Well, if it is better to be a woman during the life, what do you want to be beyond it?
- Do you think about those souls wandering through the universe for another body? It seems souls are not sex.
o Man will disappear on Terra, as the dinosaurs did, even if there are lizards, which look like them. They destroy everything around and will not resist longer.
§ In comparison with the dinosaurs, the lizards are just nice. I am wondering if the future men-lizards will be nicer than us.
- And, if the humanity will disappear, how the souls of the dead will reincarnate?
o You have a fixed idea. Maybe in a plant.
§ The elephants will trample under foot my soul.
o You should be afraid more because other people trample down you just in this life.
- The idea of reincarnation belongs to those failed the life and hope in a second chance.
o This is life! We are not in Arcadia.
- Boy, a coffee to this man, not to fall asleep with the Pan’s pipe.
With the ears attentively at an adjoining table, somebody turns the conversation on the subject discussed there. The talk becomes collective.
- Globalisation is not a political doctrine. Not even an economical one. It is an effect. An effect of technological development. Today we have cars, trains, aeroplanes, telephones, Internet, television etc. The communications made possible the globalisation. The one who is against the globalisation must renounce to all these. He would life with the products of nature, like Adam and Eve.
o Without apples. They are dangerous for people’s intellectual health. The consciousness is the gravest mistake in our evolution.
§ I knew you are adept of the evolutionism. I have been expecting you would take as example the orang-utan.
o The human DNA looks like with that of the orang-utan in proportion of 95 percents. So, there is a little progress.
§ As a doctor, I say that the NDA of pigs is better. Most organs for transplant are drawn from pigs.
· I think the cucumber is the best.
o Wrong! The ideal is the nut. It’s true that its skin is hard, but the kernel has circumvolutions.
§ Exactly that proved to be dangerous for men.
- In conclusion, we choose the nut without kernel.
o Magister dixit. Quod erat demonstrandum.
This was a droll talk. Most of them are on political topics, uninteresting to be put down.
The woman from Romania remembered Anastasia about Dracula. He will try to learn if he really existed or not, how much is legend and truth, as something must be; there is not smog without fire, isn’t it? This idea with vampires, though haunts people’s minds, troubles her. There are a lot of horror movies and just these do not like her. She does not need horror at all. On the contrary! Still, the mister must be elucidated and it seems the moment has come. Ileana will enlighten her. She would be an expert on this topic.
She was not lucky. Ileana is ignorant about Dracula. She only knows there is a castle of Dracula near Brasov, where many foreign tourist come and that a ruler received Dracula as nickname, but this one was not at all a vampire, but only very hard with those who did not respect the law.
The surprise came from Kosty. He knew more. An English writer, Bram Stoker, launched the idea. His book was successful, especially because it appeared in a psychological moment. People had just abandoned the religion and, as they need to put something instead, they invented all kinds of substitutes. Instead of the devil, they put the evil among men. In English language, there is the expression “To suck the very marrow out of somebody”. There is not a great difference between marrow and blood. The association Dracula – Transylvania is not accidentally, as “drac” is the Romanian word for the devil. Besides, there was a ruler with this nickname. He was not just Vlad Tepes, but this is not Stoker’s guilt. The Romanians brought their contribution and developed the legend. Not because it would like them, but from commercial reasons. The truth is that at the origin of the Romanian word “drac”, there was an Athenian lawgiver. His name was Draco. In 621 BC, he created a set of hard laws, which limited the power of rich men. People called them “draconic laws”, and this is a usual express in Romanian language of today. (Only the expression, not the laws.)