Greeks

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This page contains quotes about the people of Greece. For the TV series, see Greek (TV series).

The Greeks are an ethnic group who have populated Greece from the early 2nd millennium BC to the present day. Today they are primarily found in the Greek peninsula of southeastern Europe, Cyprus and the large diaspora.

Quotes[edit]

Quotes are arranged chronologically

Ancient history[edit]

  • So far has Athens left the rest of mankind behind in thought and expression that her pupils have become the teachers of the world, and she has made the name of Hellas distinctive no longer of race but of intellect, and the title of Hellene a badge of education rather than of common descent.
  • O Solon, Solon, Hellenes aei paides este, geron de Hellen ouk estin.
    • Translation: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you.
    • Plato, Timaeus, 22b.
  • Equo ne credite, Teucri.
    quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.
    • Translation: O Trojans, do not trust the horse.
      Be it what it may, I fear the Grecians even when they offer gifts.
    • Virgil, Aeneid, Book II, line 48.

1940s[edit]

  • There have been only two great peoples: the Greeks and the Jews. Perhaps the Greeks were even greater than the Jews, but now I can see no sign of that old greatness in the modern Greeks. Maybe, when the present process is finished we too will degenerate, but I see no sign of degeneration at present.
  • On the early morning of October 28, 1940, the Fascist aggressors handed an ultimatum to Greece. The challenge was hurled back without a moment's hesitation. This was what might have been expected from a gallant and courageous people devoted to their homeland. You commemorate tonight the second anniversary of the beginning of the total resistance of the Greek people to totalitarian warfare. More significant, even, than the initial reply to the challenge is the fact that Greece has continued to fight, with every means at its command. When the Greek mainland was overrun, the resistance was carried on from the islands. When the islands fell, resistance continued from Africa, from the seas, from anywhere the aggressor could be met. To those who prefer to compromise, to follow a course of expediency, or to appease, or to count the cost, I say that Greece has set the example which every one of us must follow until the despoilers of freedom everywhere have been brought to their just doom.

1970s[edit]

  • A society in whose culture the Ancient Greeks played such an important part was bound to have a view about the Modern Greeks. The inhabitants of that famous land, whose language was still recognizably the same as that of Demosthenes, could not be regarded as just another remote tribe of natives or savages. Western Europe could not escape being concerned with the nature of the relationship between the Ancient and the Modem Greeks. The question has teased, perplexed, and confused generations of Greeks and Europeans and it still stirs passions to an extent difficult for the rational to condone.
    • William St Clair (1972). That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence. Open Book Publishers. pp. 15-16. ISBN 1906924007. 
  • Whether the present inhabitants of Greece are descended from the Ancient Greeks is a profoundly unsatisfactory question. No method of subdividing the question makes much sense. On the one hand, one can attempt to trace the numerous incursions of immigrants to Greece and try to assess the extent to which the ‘blood’ of the Ancients has been diluted by outside races, Romans, barbarians, Franks, Turks, Venetians, Albanians, etc. On the other hand, one can point to the remarkable survival of ideas and customs and, in particular, to the astonishing strength of the linguistic tradition.
    • William St Clair (1972). That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence. Open Book Publishers. pp. 15-16. ISBN 1906924007. 

1980s[edit]

  • The cultural tradition of which the Greek language is the focal point has the longest unbroken history of any in Europe. The Greek state, however, was newly born out of the conflict of 1821-8 and was without precedent in the history of the Greeks. The newly defined nation therefore had, as a matter of urgency, to create its own past, that is, to select and endorse those elements of earlier Greek history which retrospectively could claim to have made the present existence and future aspirations of the nation inevitable. Since the state itself was in many ways the creation of European Romanticism, it was only natural that the means to hand for defining and justifying its existence should derive from the same source.
    • Roderick Beaton, Mikuláš Teich & Roy Porter (1988). Romanticism in national context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 99. ISBN 0-521-33913-8. 
  • First, Greece: for modem Greeks, as I intimated, the future could mirror ‘the past’ past’ in more than one way, since there was a clear split in that past. One school argued for the Byzantine roots and glory of Greece. They pointed to the massive influx of Slavic immigrants in the sixth and succeeding centuries throughout the Balkans and Greece, and claimed that this had weakened the links with a decayed Hellenic (or Hellenistic— Roman) culture. What was Byzantine was essentially Orthodox Christianity only the Greek language and liturgy retained any connection with a pre-Christian past. In the Orthodox millet of the Ottoman empire, Christianity had kept a Byzantine Greek ethnic alive, as in a chrysalis, ready to be transformed under the impact of Western ideas and commercialization in the late eighteenth century.8’ For the Byzantine-Orthodox clergy and their flocks, for the notables in the Mores and Phanariots in Constantinople, this grandiose dream of a restored Byzantine empire under Greek control located the re-nascent Greek people and charted their future in the Aegean and Ionia. It also pointed the way to a restored agrarian society of peasants, notables and clergy, essentially smallholders, but led by educated Orthodox elites under the Patriarch.

1990s[edit]

  • Nevertheless it is evident — if only from the Greek example just cited — that proto-nationalism, where it existed, made the task of nationalism easier, however great the differences between the two, insofar as existing symbols and sentiments of proto-nacional community could he mobilized behind a modern cause or a modern state. But this is far from saying that the two were the same, or even that one must logically or inevitably lead into the other. For it is evident that proto-nationalism alone is clearly not enough to form nationalities, nations, let alone states.
    • Eric Hobsbawm (1992). Nations and nationalism since 1780 programme, myth, reality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 76-77. ISBN 0-521-43961-2. 
  • However, mass expulsion and even genocide began to make their appearance on the southern margins of Europe during and after World War I, as the Turks set about the mass extirpation of the Armenians in 1915 and, after the Greco Turkish war of 1911, expelled between 1.3 and 1.5 millions of Greeks from Asia Minor, where they had lived since the days of Homer.1 Subsequently Adolph Hitler, who was in this respect a logical Wilsonian nationalist, arranged to transfer Germans not living on the territory of the fatherland, such as those of Italian South Tyrol, to Germany itself, as he also arranged for the permanent elimination of the Jews.
    • Eric Hobsbawm (1992). Nations and nationalism since 1780 programme, myth, reality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 133. ISBN 0-521-43961-2. 
  • There, however, the medieval or early modern state assimilated most of them, although a significant number of distinctive ancient cultures persisted through such processes of integration — Irish, Catalan. Norwegian and others (in Eastern Europe, the Greeks perhaps form an analogy).
  • A Christianity split into a diversity of ecclesiastical streams, the dualism implicit within its political agenda – nation-forming on the one side, universalism on the other was further accentuated. The classical eastern orthodox form stressing the power of the emperor was in principle universalist enough in its vision of Constantinople as the New Rome, but in practice Byzantium became a rather thoroughly Greek empire, .ihen1mung non-Greeks in Egypt, Syria or the west. This combined with its considerable degree of Caesaropapism led to the generation of a type of church-state relationship characteristic of eastern autocephalous churches of a highly nationalist type.
    • Adrian Hastings (1997). The construction of nationhood: ethnicity, religion, and nationalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 202. ISBN 0-521-62544-0. 
  • The Greek question has a longer history in Turkey. Greeks have lived in Anatolia for millennia, especially along the Aegean coast. For a while, under Alexander, they dominated the land. And for all intents and purposes, the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire at the time) was Greek. When Mehmct 11 conquered Constantinople, he appointed a Greek monk to the orthodox Patriarch and allowed him to govern both the religious and secular affairs of the Greek community. The first Ottoman census, of 1477, counted half of Constantinople’s population as Greek, and four-hundred years later, even after the Greek War of Independence, it was still 21 percent Greek.
    • David Lowenthal (1998). The heritage crusade and the spoils of history. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 245. ISBN 0-521-63562-4. 
  • Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Persians, Chinese and Japanese could be cited as examples of ethnic continuity, since, despite massive cultural changes over the centuries, certain key identifying components—name, language, customs, religious community and territorial association—were broadly maintained and reproduced for millennia.
    • Anthony D. Smith (1998). Nationalism and modernism: a critical survey of recent theories of nations and nationalism. New York: Routledge. pp. 191. ISBN 0-415-06341-8. 
  • Greeks, Jews, and Armenians after their subordination to others and emigration or expulsion from their original homelands became Diaspora ethno-religious communities cultivating the particular virtues and aptitudes of their traditions. These included a respect for scholarship and learning, derived from constant study of sacred texts (and in the Greek case some of their ancient secular texts seen through religious filters); and hence a generally high status accorded to religious scholars and clergy within each enclave. Allied to this was a marked aptitude for literary expression—poetic, philosophical, legal, liturgical, linguistic, and historical.
    Greek Phanariot merchants and traders dominated the commerce of the Ottoman empire, utilizing their kinship networks and social and religious institutions to maximize not only their business and assets, but also their cultural capital. Diaspora Greeks became especially prominent from the eighteenth century in the development of printing and the press, and experienced a major intellectual revival in cities as far afield as Vienna, Venice, Odessa, Paris, and Amsterdam
    • Anthony D. Smith (1999). Myths and memories of the nation. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 212-215. ISBN 0-19-829534-0.  : Chapter: Greeks, Armenians and Jews

21th Century[edit]

  • Along with Moisiodax, Rigas Velensrinbs (he too a VLich), Nikolaos Zervoulis, Dimitrios Darvaris, Nikolaos Piccolos, and Arhanacios Vogoridis had all assimilated into Hellenism at the time. During much of the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries, Hellenism served in the Balkans as an ecumenical cultural ideal, very much like the role it played in the eastern Mediterranean of the Hellenistic period and of late antiquity. Although not supported by military might as was the case in Alexander’s time, it attained enormous prestige. Indeed, Greek culture along with Orthodoxy and the Ottoman administration served as the three unifying forces in the Balkans. Hellenism expanded throughout the region because Greeks had dominated the four areas— religion, economy, administration, and intellectual life—that constituted the shared substratum of Balkan life (Tsourkas 1967: 212). Ethnic Greeks occupied positions of enormous prestige and influence in the Ottoman administration and served for decades as governors of Walachia and Moldavia. Greek had become the language of commerce and Hellenism the secular culture of the Balkans (Camariano-Cioran 1974: 15, 311). The economic and political power of the Greeks enabled them to have more contacts with Westerners than their neighbours, which explains in part their earlier attempts at modernization.
    • Gregory Jusdanis (2001). The Necessary Nation. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. pp. 122. ISBN 0-691-08902-7. 
  • It is also important that the process of nation- building he distinguished from related social phenomena. For instance if we accept as do most theorists of nationalism, that nations ate modern constructs, it becomes imperative to differentiate nation-building from expansionist ethnicism, The latter phenomenon for instance. describes the pattern to he found after 987 in Capetian France among the Zulus of the nineteenth century and among lateral-aristocratic ethnies like the Greeks (Smith 19**6. 141—2; Smith 1991: 57, Francis 1976: 28—31). The spread of ethnic consciousness within these pre-modern populations sprang from the efforts of clerics, monarchs, warrior bands or wandering performers, whose activities lacked the intensity, coordination or precision that is associated with nation-building (Armstrong 1982).
    • Athena S. Leoussi (2001). Encyclopaedia of nationalism. New Brunswick, N.J., U.S.A: Transaction Publishers. pp. 209. ISBN 0-7658-0002-0. 
  • As Elie Kedourie has remarked “Greek [nationalism] may be considered the first to appear outside Western Christendom, among a community ruled by non-Christians and itself hitherto violently hostile to all Western nations.”
    • Robert D. Peckham (2001). National Histories, Natural States: Nationalism and the Politics of Place in Greece. London: I. B. Tauris. pp. 3-5. ISBN 1-86064-641-7. 
  • By the twentieth century there has been a series of successive collapses of both the Greek and Jewish Diasporas. The expansion of the Greek kingdom until World War I brought Epirus, Thessaly, Macedonia and most of Thrace within its expanding borders. The disastrous military adventure of 1922 emptied Asia Minor of its 3,000-year old Greek and Orthodox Diaspora. Turkish pressure has reduced the Greek population in its European areas. Egyptian nationalism sent most of the Alexandrian Greeks back to the homeland during the l950s, while Communist pressures adversely affected Balkan Greeks and the decline of die Soviet Union and its successor states brought some 300.000 Russian Greeks to the Mediterranean.
    • Robert Bowman, Ian A. Skoggard, Melvin Ember & Carol R. Ember (2005). Encyclopedia of diasporas: immigrant and refugee cultures around the world. Berlin: Springer. ISBN 0-306-48321-1. 
  • Both Greeks and Jews were the only people who were able to leave their homeland or birth city (natio) and maintain the identity through subsequent generations and both did so through the strength of their respective cultures (The phenomenon of empire as reflected in the experience of Carthage and Rome is of a different order. It is noteworthy that their respective Diasporas disappeared when the mother city lost its political control. ) Both people received a boost during the Hellenistic period: The Jews when they fell in love with Greek logic and the Greeks when they adopted Christianity, a variant of the Jewish religion. The national identity that emerged in the ancient times from the mix of language and religion was a unique kind of supranationalism that became a model for new peoples who entered Western civilization in the Medieval and modern periods.
    • Robert Bowman, Ian A. Skoggard, Melvin Ember & Carol R. Ember (2005). Encyclopedia of diasporas: immigrant and refugee cultures around the world. Berlin: Springer. ISBN 0-306-48321-1. 
  • The legacy of the Greeks is under assault today thus deserves defence and celebration for the simple reason that much of what we are is the result of that brilliant examination of human life first begun by the Greeks: as Jacob Burckhardt says, "We see with the eyes of the Greeks and use their phrases when we speak." We must listen to the Greeks not because they will give us answers, but because they first identified the questions and problems, and they knew too where the answers must come from: the minds of free human beings who have control over their own lives. And this, finally, is the greatest good we have received from the Greeks: the gift of freedom.
  • Some economically brilliant groups of this kind have behind them a long tradition of dispersal, urbanization and minority status: this is clearly the case of the Jews, Greeks Armenians or Parsees.
  • The Hellenes initially thought not so much in terms of secession from the Ottoman Empire, as of inverting the hierarchy within it and taking it over, thereby reviving Byzantium. The first Greek rising took place not in Greece, but in what is now Romania, where the Greeks were a minority and moreover one doing rather well out of the Ottoman system. The use of what is now southern Greece as a territorial basis only came later.
  • Greek and Armenian nationalism arose among populations which were generally more prosperous and better able to understand the wealth- generating economies of modern Europe than their Ottoman Muslim overlords.
  • However Fallmerayer greatly overstated his case. Much of northern and western Greece and the Peloponnesus was extensively settled by Slavs and did escape Byzantine control, but the east and parts of central Greece, the Aegean coast, the major Greek islands and coastal cities were never overrun by Slavs and many of these places received numerous Greek refugees. Starting in the late seventh century moreover the Slav-settled areas of Greece were gradually re-Hellenized by the Byzantine Empire, the Greek Orthodox Church and Greek-speaking merchants and colonists, aided by the establishment of effective new Byzantine military administrations known as themata (Browning 1975: 39-42). Thus even though the Peloponnesus itself was under Slav control for more than two hundred years, there was no question of any permanent Slavonization of Greek territory. Little by little the Byzantine authorities in Greece and the other coastal regions managed to regain lost ground. Nevertheless, the greater part of the Balkan Peninsula, the whole interior, became completely a Slav country and from now onwards is referred to in Byzantine sources as the region of “Sclavinia” (Ostrogorsky 1968: 94).
    • Ian Jeffries & Robert Bideleux (2007). A history of Eastern Europe: crisis and change. New York: Routledge. pp. 49-50. ISBN 0-415-36626-7. 
  • In antiquity, the power of Greek cities was manifested by their ability to found far—off, independent colonies, where the cities and colonies were connected more by language, culture, and history than by law or a hierarchical relationship. This is what the French geographer Georges Prévélakis calls a “galactic” organization, as opposed to a “dendritic” organization based on the relation between a centre and its periphery. The spread of Roman power—first by the republic, then the empire—over the entire Mediterranean did not cause Hellenism to disappear as a cultural unity. After the empire split in two in 395, Hellenism actually blossomed in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, where it became the principal cultural component, especially in the religious domain: The Great Schism of 1054 divided Roman Catholics from the Greek Orthodox. Even political power became Hellenized. The seizure of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453 ended the Byzantine Empire, but Hellenism survived in the Ottoman Empire. Along with the Jews and the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church was allowed to establish an autonomous religious community, called milliet, that was responsible for the allocation and collection of taxes and for such matters as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. With the development of the Mediterranean trading system in the sixteenth century, Greek communities appeared outside the empire, including western Europe (Livorno and Venice) and Russia. Contact with Enlightenment philosophy and the ideas of 1789 fed the aspiration for a Greek state. This was created in 1830, founded on the ambition of restoring Greater Greece by recovering the Ottoman territories of Asia Minor. That hope collapsed in 1922-23 with the end of the Greco-Turkish war and the territorial agreement between the two countries.
    • William Rodarmor; Stephane Dufoix (2008). Diasporas. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 39. ISBN 0-520-25359-0. 
  • A strong sense of a common ethnic identity emerged among Greek speakers of the independent city-states of the Aegean area in the Bronze Age and characterized the city-states of the classical period and their colonies in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. It endured over two millennia as these lands were ruled by the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian, and Ottoman empires, and as the area became ethnically heterogeneous.
  • Despite income differences in the population and a small upper stratum of established families in the larger cities, the class system has been marked by mobility since the establishment of the modern state. Former bases of wealth and power disappeared with the departure of the Ottomans and the dismantling of agricultural estates. A fluid class system fits the strongly egalitarian emphasis of the culture. The degree to which minority groups receive the rights and opportunities of Greeks is a topic of public discussion. Social status is not coterminous with economic class but results from a combination of wealth, education, occupation, and what is referred to as honor or love of honor (philotimo). While sometimes understood only as a source of posturing and argumentation, this concept refers to one's sense of social responsibility, esteem within the community, and attention to proper behavior and public decorum.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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