PRESS RELEASE ON GREEK LETTERS DAY
(30 January, 2005)
The Hellenic Link, Inc., a Greek American, nonprofit , cultural and scientific Association, headquartered in New York City with branches in the US, Canada and Greece, on the occasion of the celebration of Greek Letters Day announces the completion of its two-year effort in developing a “Hellenic Education Plan for America.”
At its most recent Meeting at the “Koraes” House of the PanHiaki Society, in Bayside, NY, the Drafting Committee on the Project in collaboration with participants from the academic and educational communities from various parts of the United States, Canada and Greece completed the fifth and final draft of the Plan, which is now being edited for imminent release and publication.
The members of the authoring Committee who have worked on the Project under the auspices of the Hellenic Link, Inc. are:
Dr. Peter S. Allen (Rhode Island College)
Dr. John P. Anton (University of South Florida) (ret.)
Ms. Argyri Apostolou (Fort Hamilton High School, Brooklyn)
Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis (Hellenic College/Holy Cross)
Rev. Dr. Demetrios J. Constantelos (Stockton College)
Dr. Van Coufoudakis (Intercollege, Nicosia)
Dr. Strati Demertzis (Hofstra University)
Dr. Helen Dendrinou-Kolias (Cornell University)
Ms. Stella Economou (Westchester Community College)
Dr. Costas Efthymiou (St. John’s University) (ret.)
Dr. Constantine G. Hatzidimitriou (Board of Ed., NY City)
Ms. Nike Katsouni (Museum of Nat. History, Cephalonia)
Dr. George Kourvetaris (Northern Illinois University)
Dr. Dean C. Lomis ( University of Delaware) (ret.)
Dr. Byron G. Massialas (Lynn University)
Dr. Nikos Metallinos (Concordia University, Montreal)
Dr. Dimitrios G. Oreopoulos (Toronto U. School of Medicine) (ret.)
Dr. Tom Papademetriou (Stockton College)
Dr. Nicholas Patrikalakis (MIT)
Ms. Anna Saradidis (Holy Metamorphosis Greek Orthodox School, Toronto)
Dr. Alice Scourby (Long Island University)
Dr. Grigorios M. Sifakis ( New York University) (ret.)
Dr. John G. Siolas (Day School of St. Demetrios, Jamaica & St. John’s U.)
Dr. Michael Soupios (C. W. Post College)
Dr. Katherine Efthymiatou-Stabile (Queensborough Community College) (ret.)
Dr. Constance V. Tagopoulos (Queens College, CUNY)
Ms. Georgia Thanasoulis (Bronx High School of Science)
Ms. Stella Theoharopoulos (Sts. Peter and Paul Greek School, Glenview)
Mr. Spyros Volonakis (Board of Ed., City of Toronto & Coordinator, Gr. Orthodox Sch. in Canada)
Dr. Andreas Zachariou (Day School of St. Spyridon, Manhattan) In the spirit of the significance of Greek Letters Day, the Hellenic Link takes the opportunity to honor and thank all teachers for their conscientious endeavors in securing the perpetuity of Hellenism by educating the young generation. The “Hellenic Education Plan for America” is the Hellenic Link’s contribution, as the effort of the Hellenic Community in America for a Renaissance of Greek Letters and Culture intensifies.
THE MEANING AND THE CONTINUITY OF HELLENISM* (I)
Dean C. Lomis, Ph.D.
In the article titled: “Greece,” on page 28 of its January 4, 1963 issue, the American magazine Life provides the concept of Hellenism:
“It was sudden. It was miraculous. Nobody knows why it happened. But in a small, rock-bound Mediterranean peninsula 2,500 years ago a handful of people called Greeks roused the human race to a new ambition and sense of purpose, and launched it into history.
The modern world feels the impact of that headlong thrust to this day. For Greeks did more than wake up Western man. In the brief span of their greatness, they achieved so much that almost every phase of our lives bears their indelible stamp.
Teachers are rediscovering a Greek ideal: the pursuit of excellence. Physicians still take the Hippocratic Oath. Theologians read the New Testament in Greek and explain doctrine with Greek concepts. The best modern thought, according to some philosophers, amounts to little more than footnotes to Plato. Athletes dream of competing in the Olympics. Artists are still goaded to rivalry or revolt by the classic harmonies of the Parthenon. Theater goers crowd to revivals. Every science frontier blossoms the Greek names, like geophysical, astronaut and atom. The Greeks developed mathematics and astronomy, and laid foundations for a half dozen sciences. They invented democracy and created a way of life which, in its finest hour, was as civilized as the world has seen. As a people, the Greeks seem unlikely contenders for their momentous mission. They were always fighting among themselves. They were garrulous and monstrously egocentric. They were often treacherous. They were so eager and excitable that they had to mount the slogan: “Nothing in Excess” «METRON ARISTON» in big letters at Delphi to remind them to be less excessive. But they did have one idea, so novel and profound, that a whole new age dawned at its light. It was simply that man’s nature, even in its mortality, is the glory of creation, and that man has a noble purpose to live at the highest possible pitch of human performance – physically, morally, and intellectually.” This, then, is “Hellenism!”
Alexander the Great advocated that Hellenism was not only an ethnicity but also a state of mind.
At a supranational banquet in 324 B.C. at Opis, in ancient Babylon, near present-day Baghdad, attended by 9,000 notables of many nations and tribes, Alexander attempted to join East and West by taking an oath under the one “God, Father of all humanity,” following his vision that behind all the local gods was a great omnipotent God who moves the Universe. He said:
“Now that the wars are coming to an end, I wish you to prosper in peace. May all the mortals from now on live like one people, in concord and for mutual advancement. Consider the world your country, with laws common to all and where the best will govern, irrespective of tribe. I do not distinguish among men, as the narrow-minded do, both among Greeks and barbarians. I am not interested in the descent of the citizens, nor their racial origins. I classify them using only one criterion: virtue. For me every virtuous foreigner is a Greek, and every evil Greek worse than a barbarian. If differences ever develop among you, never have recourse to arms, but solve them peacefully. If necessary, I shall be your arbitrator. You must not consider God like an autocratic despot, but as a common Father of all, so that your behavior may resemble the life siblings have in a family. On my part, I shall consider you all equal, whites or blacks, and I wish you would be not only subjects of the commonwealth, but participants and partners. As much as this depends on me, I shall try to bring about what I promised. The oath we make over tonight’s libations, hold onto as a Contract of Love.”
For his monotheistic views and call for good human behavior, Alexander the Great has been termed by atleast one contemporary writer as a “Precursor of Christ.”
For three millennia, Hellenism has sought to civilize humanity for humanity’s benefit. Hellenism civilized barbarians of the East, the Roman conquerors, the awakening Europeans form the chrysalis of the Dark Ages, the Slavs and others, influenced the Founding Fathers of our Republic to establish “an empire of reason” based on “the age of reason” of the ancient Greeks, and today labors to civilize its neighbor to the East to qualify for membership in the European Union that this neighbor so much aspires.
The early 19th Century English poet Percy Shelley (no, not a Greek) remarked:
“Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts,have their roots in Greece. We are all Greeks!”
The testament of the significance of Hellenism perhaps is expressed best by Sir Henry Main (no, not a Greek), the mid-19th Century English classical scholar, who so eloquently stated:
“Except for the blind forces of nature, nothing moves in this world which is not Greek in origin!”
Hellenism retains an abundant quantity in the realm of humanity for quality of life through its glorious and wondrous sojourn.
Firstly, Hellenism is directly bound with the ancient Greek civilization, as it was developed and bequeathed by our ancestor philosophers and intellectuals through their depths in philosophy, the letters, the arts and the sciences.They discovered and studied humanity’s destiny in life. They established meritorious and imperishable standards for “worthy life.” The great men of that unmatched epoch succeeded in dignifying human life, calculated its boundaries, established qualitative objectives, provided thoughts and solutions. They built the magnificent Parthenon as a symbol of humanity’s peace, which continues to manifest Hellenism’s continuity; crafted the masterpieces that exist today not only in Hellas but also in the museums of Berlin, London, New York, Paris, Rome and elsewhere, which attest to the origin and continuity of Hellenism; created the classical theater, a specimen of advanced civilization; developed and elevated the sciences to a higher level, so that even today’s term of “technology”denotes the same meaning of research that it did in antiquity. And throughout the eons, scientists and craftsmen, thinkers and intellectuals, men of goodwill and honorable intentions have strived to emulate the deeds of the ancient Hellenes to meet the needs of their own times.
The Greek language itself is the best testament in the continuity of Hellenism and its noble objectives.
Secondly, Hellenism is directly connected with Christianity -- and, of course, even more closely with Orthodoxy -- the eminent religion of the developed world.Through Christianity, Christ carved humanity’s righteous path in life. Christ detailed the perfect system of life. The Apostles preached Christianity in Hellenic terms of logic and reason. The Holy Scriptures were written in Greek. Hellenism and Christianity have identical meanings.
Thirdly, Hellenism is directly connected with historic Byzantium, “the first combatant of Christendom” and Byzantine civilization. Through its eminent thinkers and men of letters: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, among others, Hellenism and Byzantium are inseparably bound and constitute the continuity. It must be emphasized, however, that without Hellenic Asia Minor, the Hellenization of Byzantium may not have been possible and perhaps Hellenism might have been lost. Finally, following the tragic fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, began the western European Renaissance with its roots in Byzantium and in Hellenic civilization.
Fourthly, through their vision, our own freedom-fighter forefathers created the immortal epic of 1821. The Greek War of Independence, with its sacred and noble objective being the freedom of Hellas from the Turkish tyranny, sparkled throughout the civilized world, and remains today a brilliant meteor of efforts and sacrifices for freedom.
Fifthly, in regaining their freedom, the people of Hellas labored to develop a democratic society, to maintain the heritage bequeathed to them by their ancient ancestors. Hellenes who had settled abroad offered much to the renaissance of their ancestral land, in the spirit of their Hellenic heritage. Within a century, Hellas was united in the country that it is today.
Sixthly, the people of Hellas created in 1940-41 another gallant epic, reminiscent of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, and the struggle and determination of 1821, with their heralded stand against the forces of fascism and nazism. They won the free world’s first victory, shattering the Axis invincibility. The resistance of the people of Hellas illuminated the path of the high ideal for independence, freedom of thought, and human dignity. Winston Churchill (no, not a Greek) made the connection of then-modern Greece with that of antiquity in his famous statement:
“Don’t say Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks,”
to which Professor John Erskine (no, not a Greek), the highly-respected American educator at Columbia University added:
“Today, every American is a child of the Acropolis!”
Seventhly, the Olympic games, creation of the ancient Hellenes in Olympia, exhibit to humanity noble ideals and high objectives for quality of life. The Olympic games bring together peoples of all nations, races and creeds like no other event. In their ancient years, the Olympic games even stopped ongoing warfare. In respect to the continuity of Hellenism, the Olympic games were revived in 1896 in Athens, and in 2004 they returned once more home to Hellas in glorious success. TheAmerican weekly Newsweek of August 23, 2004 advised in the closing sentence of its article titled: “Of Gods and Games” that “They[future Olympics] should take a page out of Athens’ Olympic manual…”
Eighthly, ancient and modern Hellenic poetry and prose are one link of communication between God and human nature. The archaic literary monuments of The Iliad and The Odyssey, with their Homeric hymns to the gods, followed by odes of Aeschylus, Aesop, Aristophanes, Euripides, Sophocles, among so very many, raised the literary art to high levels, constantly seeking new shapes and forms, objectives and ideals. “Modern” Hellene poets and writers: Cavafis, Elytis, Kazantzakis, Palamas, Ritsos, Sikelianos, Solomos, to name but very few, bring us closer to God with their poetry and prose, influenced by the Hellenic beacon bouncing from its uniquely sky-blue, Aegean waters. And the closer an individual comes to God, the more complete the person becomes.
Ninthly, the efforts and struggles of the Hellenes of the Diaspora -- literally across the globe, and their efforts to succeed and to improve the quality of life in their adopted homelands, began in the spirit of Hellenism. And their successes to-date are yet another testament to the continuity of Hellenism.
Tenthly, the wonder poetry of the fairly-recent Nobel Prize recipients George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis exhibit the continuity of Hellenism in the production of eminent artists (Maria Callas, Melina Mercouri, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Mikis Theodorakis -- and so many others); writers and poets (Constantinos Cavafis, Nikos Kazantzakis, Yiannis Ritsos -- among so many); entrepreneurs (Stavros Niarhos,Aristotle Onassis -- among many others); scientists (George Papanicolaou and Constantine Kotzias in medicine, and Theodore Kalogris in microbiology -- three of very many) from a land of about ten million inhabitants in its Helladic space and about ten million abroad.
This, then, is the legacy of Alexander’s advocacy that Hellenism is, indeed, also a state of mind!
It is an indisputable fact that Hellenism remains internationally an abundant entity. Hellenism remains insuperable, and creates in its journey powerful and magnificent accomplishments of global dimensions for quality of life. Hellenism is humanity’s eternal cultural and intellectual beacon. Hellenism is durable.
Such powerful convictions are neither chauvinistic nor nationalistic, and do not underrate the achievements of others. History objectively documents and the present directly illustrates Hellenism’s durability. Indeed, Hellenism holds an inestimable place in the evolution of humanity and, therefore, Alexander’s advocacy that Hellenism is not only an ethnicity but also a state of mind is equally important for the third millennium, and beyond, as it has been for all the ages through the second.
In its Helladic location, today Hellas plays a very significant role in the development of the newly-freed nations of the Balkans and Eastern Europe from the slavery of communism. Energetic and intelligent, the people of Hellas invest economically and politically, among other means, in these countries, contributing to their development and to positive bilateral relations.
In its global dimension, Hellenism is contributing to the renewed interest in philosophy to solve problems, as scholars rediscover that Socrates and Plato and Aristotle, and all those greats, speak also to modern life. “The questions people are asking are the same things that were being discussed in Athens 2,500 years ago, except now we’re doing it under fluorescent lights with satellites circling over our heads,” says Dr. Lou Marinoff (no, not a Greek), professor of philosophy and member of the fledging American Philosophical Association, and author of the book: Plato, Not Prozac!: Applying Philosophy to Everyday Problems. Professor Marinoff explains that in this new take-off of a very old movement, calling it “getting to know thyself,” troubled people make appointments with philosophers, not psychologists; corporations hire philosophers and linguists as consultants; and, then, there is the recent phenomenon of “philosopher cafes” at neighborhood gathering spots. (Who says the “kafeneio” is not a place to solve problems!) Professor Marinoff adds that philosophy is more engaging than traditional therapy because it is about “dialogue, not diagnosis.” It is not just mind over matter. He asserts that a thoughtful approach may reduce road rage, school violence, and other byproducts of “an unexamined life.” New York State is considering licensing philosophers.
Even corporate managers are turning to philosophy. Dr. Tom Morris (no, not a Greek), author of: "If Aristotle Ran General Motors: The New Soul of Business," requests a year from major companies to talk about the four virtues: beauty, goodness, truth and unity, and how to apply them at work. “Philosophy is about getting your bearings in life,” says Dr. Morris -- a former rock musician. He concludes that philosophy is to think, calling it “mental rock-climbing.”
Then, there is the recent book titled: "A Company of Citizens: What the World’s First Democracy Teaches," by Dr. Josiah Ober (no, not a Greek), professor of classics at Princeton University, and Brook Manvill (no, not a Greek),leading management consultant and Wall Street Journal contributor, which book provides a revolutionary new look at the Athenian democracy as a model for twenty-first-century corporate structure. Reader reviews at Amazon.com give it a glowing five stars; here are some samples:
“Athens discovered that the organizational power unleashed by its system of governance endowed it with a real competitive advantage. That alone is enough to justify a more active experimentation in corporate citizenship today.” “If people seize the moment and become companies of citizens – become contemporary equivalents of ‘Athenians’ – they must take responsibility individually and together. They must risk their futures from the distant past.” An excellent review by the Financial Times of London calls it: “Ancient Greeks bear gifts to management.” Schools are also considering the new trend. Philosopher Chris Phillips (no, not a Greek) of San Francisco hosts in- school chats for sages as young as five, believing that philosophical inquiry can change the world. “Schools don’t teach critical thinking, so children don’t know how to make fateful decisions,” he says.
How wonderful it would be if politicians got into the spirit also, especially by taking Plato’s advice:
“Humanity would never see the end of trouble until philosophers come to power or politicians become philosophers.” There is also the important matter of the Greek language. Engineering, medicine, science, technology, and on, have relied and continue to rely on that superb tongue to identify and term their discoveries correctly. “Astronaut(by the Americans) and “cosmonaut” (by the Russians) of the recent past attest to this, as does the newly-coined “phytochemicals,” the newly-developed medicines from plants in the pharmaceutical industries.
And, we must not omit “athletics,” not only the word itself along with “Olympics,” but also “commercial”athletics. In the world of professional football, for example, nearly 25% of the teams have Hellenic name identifications. They are: the New England “Patriots,” the New York “Giants,” the Miami “Dolphins,” the Detroit“Lions,” the Tennessee “Titans.”
This 25% is quite interesting, for it matches quite adequately the Greek in the English language. The Webster International Dictionary of the English Language contains 166,724 entries. Of these, 41,214 (25%) are Greek in origin. And, if we add words with Greek prefixes and suffixes, the percentage rises substantially. If we also add the Latin words derived from the Greek, the percentage rises even more significantly.
The August 4, 2002 Sunday Edition of The Boston Globe, a very credible and influential American newspaper, carries an article by journalist Sandy Coleman (no, not a Greek) titled: “It’s all Greek to me,” – the well-known phrase meant to dismiss all things that cannot be understood – about a Barnstable, Massachusetts high school teacher, Carl Lenhart (no, not a Greek), who is promoting the Greek language as part of a wholesome and rewarding high school education. “Intellectually, the foundations of all learning hinges on Greek thought. So much of the foundation of our legal system, philosophy, our sciences come from these people,” says Mr. Lenhart. Dr. Russ Dever (no, not a Greek), Superintendent of the Barnstable School District and himself a former student of Greek at Boston College High School and Boston College, as well as a former classics teacher, in supporting Mr. Lenhart’s teaching of high school Greek says, “It’s more the value of the culture and impact on our language that’s appealing. As a practical thing, it is part of a liberal education. I never understood grammar as well as when I took Latin and Greek in school. When you have to do translation and see how things work in sentences, and know what parts of speech are to do a translation of anything, you understand your own language better.”
It is also very interesting that in 2001 The Boston Globe had printed yet another related story about a group of inmates (yes, inmates) who were studying ancient Greek in prison, so they could be able to read and understand The Holy Bible in its original language. For them, the English translation was not good enough and grossly inept to capture the true meaning of the message of salvation, as given in the original Greek language.
Then, there is the matter of the “alphabet,” a Greek word in itself. Sixteen of the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet (capitals) are direct Greek characters, and another two-or-three come via the Latin. (TO BE CONTINUED) --------------
* First installment of a Lecture -in the Hellenic Community Series sponsored and organized by the Hellenic Link, Inc,- given at the Archangel Michael Church Hall, in Roslyn Heights, Long Island,on December 28 2004. THE MEANING AND THE CONTINUITY OF HELLENISM
Dean C.Lomis, PhD
(Continued from Instalment I )
And what about Latin? How “Latin” is the Latin alphabet?
Dr. Reginald Barrow (no, not a Greek), in his 1964 book:" The Romans", writes:
“Perhaps the earliest Greek settlement was Cumae, on the bay of Naples, in the eighth century [B.C.], and of great moment for Europe; for from the Greeks of Cumae the Latins learned the alphabet; the Etruscans too adapted the same letters to their purpose, and passed them to the inland tribes.”
Dr. Tom Jones (no, not a Greek), then-professor of history at the University of Minnesota, wrote in the late 1950s:
“The Greek alphabet may have come to the Romans from the Etruscans. And it was through the Etruscans in the same period that the Romans first became acquainted with Greek…” who, like the Etruscans, had no alphabet of their own and, in adopting the Greek alphabet, correctly called it “Greek alphabet.”
Dr. A. W. Van Buren (no, not a Greek), then-professor of archaeology at the American Academy in Rome and foreign member of the Naples Academy, wrote in the late 1950s:
“Cumae, an ancient city in Campania (Italy), situated 14 miles west of Naples…was…the earliest Greek settlement in the western Mediterranean. Cumae was established, according to reliable tradition, by colonists from Kyme [Kimi] in Euboea [Evia, 45 miles northwest of Athens] together with colonists from Chalcis [near Kimi], at about 740 B. C., in an already occupied [by the Etruscans] region. It became a center for diffusion of Greek culture, and it transmitted to Rome [via the Etruscans] the Greek alphabet…”
Dr. Giuliano Bonfante (no, not a Greek), then-professor of linguistics at the University of Rome and former professor of romance languages at Princeton University, wrote in 1960:
“Obviously the Etruscan and Latin alphabets, as well as all the other alphabets of Italy, descent essentially from a [Greek] type,” and “there is little doubt that the Latin alphabet, in common with all the alphabets of ancient Italy…came from the Etruscans.” Professor Bonfante adds that: “From the Greek alphabet are derived many important alphabets in addition to the Latin. Among these are the Gothic, the Slavic (Cyrillic), the Armenian, the Albanian, the Georgian, the Coptic, and the ancient alphabets of Anatolia (Lycian, Lydian, Phrygian, and others).”
The Europeans adopted the alphabet from the Romans when they were conquered by them. Since they were ignorant of its Greek origin, they called it “Latin alphabet,” thus erroneously acknowledging the “Latins” as the alphabet’s inventors.
As a closing tribute to the extraordinary value of knowing the Greek language (the very word “language” itself derived from the Greek «legein» via the Latin “lingua”) and harnessing its didactic power, consider the following definition, as reported by the “publishers” of the August 14, 2002 Hellenic Voice, written in English but using pure Greek words:
“The Greek language is a kaleidoscope of symphonic, lexicographic and syllabic synergy, with a plethora of epic, poetic and philosophic harmony, characterized not by its labyrinthine etymology and grammatical cannons, but by its pedagogical, scholarly and polymorphic syllogism. With academic knowledge of Greek, synthesizing an esthetic homily in English, based wholly on Greek phraseology and its lexical hegemony should not be the agonizing dilemma of a polyglot, but the eclectic characteristic of polymaths and glossologists.”
Thus, Dr. John Kalaras (a Greek!), the prominent Chicago professor, correctly titled his March 2003 article on the significance and influence of the Greek language: “English: A Greek Dialect!” “Who needs Greek, then?” ask the publishers, and they answer their own question with, “We all do!” And all this means that for us Greek Americans mastering at least a considerable level of Greek should not be considered difficult or irrelevant as we may tend to think it is, especially since we already have what American first grade pupils are instructed to gain -a “headstart!”
Let us also look at the spirit in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 “a day that will live in infamy,” along with December 7, 1941 in the annals of American History. Where did that rather unique spirit originate? Why and how did all Americans suddenly become “New Yorkers?” echoing Professor Erskine who, in the 1940-41 Greek epic, declared, “Today, every American is a child of the Acropolis!”
Dr. Joan Benton Connelly (no, not a Greek), associate professor of fine arts at New York University and author on “myth, cult and the Parthenon frieze,” put it in the proper perspective. In her February 19, 2002 Wall Street Journal article titled: “From Classical Athens to Ground Zero - The Athenian Response to Terror,” Professor Connelly analyzed the relationship between two “unthinkable[s]” – “the total destruction of the Acropolis” by the Persians in 480 B.C., with the total destruction of the “twin towers” in 2001. Dr. Connelly explains that:
“Pericles is credited as the first to have advanced the concept that citizens must be in love with their city. Thus, the ‘I Love New York’ campaign finds its roots in Classical Athens. In his famous Funeral Oration, his eulogy for the first soldiers who fell in the Peloponnesian War, Pericles urged the Athenians to reflect on the love required to make a great city and a great citizenry. ‘You must realize the power of Athens, you must feed your eyes on her from day-to-day until love fills your hearts; and then when all her greatness shall break upon you, you must reflect that it was by courage, sense of duty and a keen feeling of honor in action that men were able to win all this’.”
Professor Connelly reflects that:
“No words could describe better what we have witnessed on during the heavy days following September 11. As we contemplate the dual challenges of bio-terrorism and military conflict, we again look to the model of the Athenians, who simultaneously battled the Plague of 430 B.C. and the Peloponnesian War against Sparta. Praising those who valiantly nursed the sick, the historian Thucydides hailed the Athenian instinct to act properly and to feel shame at thinking of one’s own safety in the face of communal crisis. The firefighters, police officers, transit workers and rescue teams in New York manifest before our eyes the very heart and soul of Athenian democratic altruism.”
Dr. Connelly concludes that: “We must embrace the hope that history offers... we certainly will wrestle with the same concerns that confronted the fifth-century Athenians: the desire to remember and the desire to create, the need to memorialize and the need to move forward. The clarity of purpose to which we have been summoned brings with it new energy. We stand at the threshold of what may be a powerful and profound period of creativity, thought and regeneration in which each one can play a vital role. The time is upon us to build our own Parthenon.”
We, Greek Americans, should pay very serious attention to Professor Connelly’s call to “memorialize”with “creativity, thought and regeneration,” in the spirit of the continuity of Hellenism. We can help in building the “American” Parthenon to which Dr. Connelly refers.
Rather than rebuilding the destroyed Church of St. Nicholas at “ground zero,” whose time as a “church,” in the ordinary sense, has passed, we should build the “St. Nicholas Memorial Chapel” for all the victims of September 11, 2001 to also house the semi-torn but symbolic of our nation’s endurance “flag of ground zero.” Also, with the American and Greek flags adorning the gate of the entrance to the grounds of the Chapel -- since 21 Greek Americans and 20 Helladic Greeks perished also on that fateful day -- a flag of each of the nations which lost victims on that day should be displayed following the American and the Greek flags around the perimeter of the Chapel.
Last, but certainly not least, we must pay particular attention to history – that significant and eternal Greek invention, for without it we cannot comprehend the present nor plan for the future. Nicholas Kristoff (no, not a Greek), in his October 22, 2003 New York Times article titled: “Swift- footed W.,” makes the connection magnificently. He writes:
“On the eve of our invasion of Iraq, I went to ancient Troy in Turkey. It’s a haunting spot, quiet and deserted, though if you scrunch up your eyes you may still catch a glimpse of Helen on the walls. At the time, I wrote about the lessons of the Trojan War for Iraq, but now I find my mind wandering back to Troy again. Homer seems even more relevant today: In The Iliad, he describes how the Greeks are sapped by a prolonged, dreary, unnecessary conflict that does not go nearly as well as it was supposed to, partly because their leader antagonizes his allies. And in The Odyssey, we have a king who inherited his throne, and whose arrogance and impulsiveness cost the lives of his soldiers.” Mr. Kristof continues that: “The Iliad is the greatest war story ever told, but it’s not fundamentally about war. It’s about how great men confront tragedy, learn moderation and become wise.”
Mr. Kristof concludes that:
“Homer’s most powerful lessons include the need to restrain hubris, to cooperate with allies, to engage the real world rather than black-and-white caricatures. If Achilles and Odysseus can learn those lessons, maybe there’s hope for Rumsfeld or even the mighty Bush.”
It seems that authors Victor Hanson and John Heath (no,not Greeks), in their book:" Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek," may be contributing significantly to the mental renaissance from the past couple-or-so dark decades. They explain the continuity of Hellenism remarkably:
“Our hope, then, is that when the Classics falls, taking us with it, the Dark Ages of Greek, albeit after decades of advance and retreat, will give way in our children’s age a new Homer. Out of that Chaos will emerge a new Greek, a Homer not part of the Mycenaean palace, but one accessible to, and the property of, everyone, more in the spirit of the true Greek polis. New leaves in a different spring will sprout, for the roots of Greek are deep and cannot be infected so easily.”
And they conclude with what Homer himself says in his Iliad:
“As is the generation of leaves on the ground, so is that of humanity. The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning. So one generation of men will grow while another dies.”
All these paradigms conclude that Hellenism builds solid foundations, and that it cannot be subdued nor be extinguished. Hellenism is the eternal light. Hellenism is precious for the betterment of humanity. Its lively and worthy elements continually develop and dominate.
Hellenism is a virtuous power, and much more than an idea. Hellenism is not a concept that can be or should be selfishly hoarded or hidden from outsiders. Hellenism is something universal and should be embraced by peoples across the globe. And we, “Americans by birth but Greek by the grace of God,” are the people who have been entrusted with the huge but noble task of promoting its ideals.
With all this legacy in our favor, “Life’s too short not to be Greek!”
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T?? A???ep?s??p?? A?BANIAS ?. A?astas???*
1. Kat' a???? de? ??µ??? ?t? ?p???e? µ?a ?p???. S?µe?a e?a????????? ?a ep?ß?????? 19 ???s?e?e?, ?? ?p??e? ?p?d?a?????ta? se 240 ???d???1. S????????, st??? ???p??? t??? ?p?????? a?t???se?? µeta?? t?? p??s?????µ???? ?at? ???µµa st?? pa??d?s? ?a? t?? a?a??t???t?? ??a a????µata st?? s??????? ??sµ?.
O? d??f??e? ???s?e?e?, ?p?? ep????t?sa?, ????? e? p?????? ep??e?se? s??????? t?? a????p??? ß??. Ka? e??a? ep?µe?? ?a s?et????ta?, ?µesa ? ?µµesa, µe ??e? t?? p?e???? t?? d?af???? a????, t?? ???????, t?? a?s??t????, t?? ??????, ?a? ßeßa??? t?? µetaf?s????2. ???t? ta ???s?e?µata de? ??????ta? ?? a?e???t?te? ??t?t?te?. B??s???ta? se a????ep?d?as? ?a? a????e???t?s? µe p?????? ?????? pa?????te?: e???????, p???t?????, p???t?st?????, ???????????, ??????µ?????. Ep??e????? ?a? ep??e????ta?.
K??e a?ept??µ??? ???s?e?µa ??e? a) ??a? ?pe?ßat??? p??sa?at???sµ?, p?? ?ate????e? p??? µ?a ap???t? a???e?a, p??? ??a? ?p??tat? s??p?, ?a? ß) ??a s?st?µa d??µat????, a???µat???? ??se?? e?µ??e?a? t?? ??sµ??. A?t? p??sd???????? t?? ??????? ?a? µetaf?s???? a??e?, t?? ?p??e? t? ???s?e?µa ?p?st????e?.
Op?? e??a? p??fa???, ? s?????s? ap??e??, st?? pe?????? t?? ap???t?? a???e?a? ?a? t?? ?pe?ßat???? p??sa?at???sµ?? p?? ?a????????, e??a? p??? d?s????. O? ???s?e?e? µ???sta p?? ep??e????? s??????? p??? ap? t? ?µ?s? t?? p????sµ?? t?? ??? (X??st?a??sµ?? ?a? Is??µ), ?a??? ?a? ? p???e??ste??? t??? I??da?sµ??, e??a? ???s?e?e? p?? st??????ta? se ?e?a ap???????. O? ?eµe???de?? a??e? pe?? t?? a??????, t?? a?a???, t?? a???? p?? t?? d??p???, ?e?????ta? ded?µ??e? «????e?». O? f???s?f???? a?a??se?? ?a? ?? ??µ??et???? ???µ?se?? a?????????.
T? ???? ???s?e?t??? ?e?µa, p?? p????e? ap? t?? ??d??? ?a? t?? ???e???? a?a??t?s? t?? ?pe?ßat????, e? p??t?? ??e?? de? e??a? e?a?t?µ??? ap? µ?a ?pa? d?? pa?t?? ????e? ap???????. A?apt?????a? e? t??t??? d??f??e? s?????, µe s???e???µ??e? ?e???e? ??a t?? ap???t? a???e?a. [...]
St? s??????? a?a??t?s? ??a t?? ep?te??? ??p??a? s?????se?? t?? ???s?e??? st? ??µa t?? pa?a????p???? a????, ? ?µfas? d??eta? ?????? st?? «?????? a??e?». ?e? p??pe? ?µ?? ?a pa?a?e??e?ta? ?t? ?? ???????, ?? a?s??t????, ?? ??????, ?? µetaf?s???? a??e? s?µp?????ta? ?a? a?????ep??e????ta?, ?p?? ta d??f??a s?st?µata t?? ???a??sµ??: ?e?????, µ????, ?????f?????.
2. Ap? ta t??? t?? 19?? a????? ????a? p??sp??e?e? ??a µ?a ?a??te?? a??????????µ?a ?a? p??s????s? a????p?? d?af???? ???s?e?µ?t??, µe d?e??? d?a???s?e?a?? s???d??a ?a? ???a??sµ???. ???sp??e?e? ?µ?? ??a µ???µ?te?e? d?µ?? de? te?esf???sa?. H p??s????s? ???????e se p?? ßat? ?daf??, ?ta? ?a????s???a? s???e???µ??a ??t?µata ?a? st????, µe a?af??? se s??????a ??µata p?? a?t?µet?p??e? ??? ? a????p?t?ta. ?.?. ? «?a???sµ?a S????e?s? ??a t? T??s?e?a ?a? t?? E?????» (World Conference oReligioand Peace) ß???e µe?a??te?? a?tap????s? se p????? ???e? ?a? s??e???e? t? d??s? ?a? t?? pa?eµß?se?? t??. Met? t?? 11? Septeµß???? 2001 s?µe?????e ep?t????s? d?a???s?e?a??? s??ed????, µe t?? e?p?da ?t? a?t? ?a ß?????se st?? ?atap???µ?s? t?? t??µ???at?a? ?a? t? st????? t?? e??????. H a?a??t?s? ??a ?????? ap?de?t?? pa?a????p??e? a??e? p???t??pa ep?ta???eta?.
St?? ep??? µa?, ??? ?a? pe??ss?te?? s??e?d?t?p??e?ta? ? ?st????? p?????s? ?a? e????? t?? ???s?e?t???? ?????t?t?? ??a?t? t?? e??a?a? a????p?t?t??. ??a????µe??? p?? a?????? se d??f??a ???s?e?µata, ?st? ?a? a? ??µ??ta? ap? d?af??et???? p???p???se??, ?ataß?????? p??sp??e?e? ?ste ?a s?µf???s??? se ???sµ??e? ßas???? ??se??.
[...] E? t??t???, p??pe? ?a ap?fe?????? ?? ap???ste?se??. ??? ?a????, ??a? ???st?? µ?? ?a????t?? pa?ep?st?µ??? µ?? t??ef???se ??a ?a µe pa?a????se? ?a p????µe µ?a p??t?ß????a ??a t?? e?????. H p??tas? t?? ?ta? ?a s???e?t?????? ???te? ?a? d?a????µ