Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

Another entry for the ‘Fake Thucydides Quotations’ file, passed on to me by the great Thucydides scholar W.R. Connor (who’s now posted something about it on his blog).

Προδότης δεν είναι μόνο αυτός που φανερώνει τα μυστικά της πατρίδας στους εχθρούς, αλλά είναι και εκείνος που ενώ κατέχει δημόσιο αξίωμα, εν γνώσει του δεν προβαίνει στις απαραίτητες ενέργειες για να βελτιώσει το βιοτικό επίπεδο των ανθρώπων πάνω στους οποίους άρχει.

A traitor is not only one who reveals state secrets to enemies, but it’s also that person who, while he holds public office, intentionally[?] does not take the necessary actions to improve the standard of living of the people over whom he governs. [translation by W. Gary Pence]

What’s interesting about this one is that it appears in modern Greek – and, so far as I can ascertain, virtually only in modern Greek; yes, there’s the usual problem of having to guess at possible translations, so I can’t guarantee the results, but so far the only English versions I’ve found appear embedded in Facebook pages and blogs (e.g. here) that are otherwise entirely in Greek, or on websites that are definitely based in Greece (e.g. here).

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Things have, predictably enough, gone quiet on the Greek economic crisis front; the drama of negotiations and ultimata has passed, and the ongoing questions of whether the agreed reforms can be implemented and whether the promised negotiations over debt relief will get anywhere are, so far as the anglophone media are concerned, of interest only to a few obsessive economic commentators. Mention of Thucydides has therefore largely switched to the latest version of the ‘Thucydides Trap’ meme, plus the intriguing suggestion that he records the invention of baked cheesecake.

Classicists may therefore be mourning the passing of their brief moment in the sun as sought-after commentators and experts on the inexhaustible importance of classical metaphors for the crisis. They should rather be breathing a sigh of relief that they’re no longer faced with the temptation of embarrassing themselves, as an excellent piece by Johanna Hanink suggests (thanks to Stephen Clark for the link). (more…)

Read Full Post »

One thing Greece certainly isn’t short of, besides sunshine and beaches, is mythological and historical referents. On Friday, Larry Elliott in the Grauniad offered us Sisyphus – “Alex Tsipras has also angered the gods”, and so has to keep pushing the boulder of reform proposals up the hill again and again.* This morning brings Brian M. Lucey’s hilarious parody of the whole “cultural mine that keeps on yielding” thing, presented through the myth of Tantalus:

He was condemned to stand in a lake of water with a grapevine over his head. If he stooped to drink the water receded, if he stretched to eat the grapes drew back. If Greece tries to cut its way from a depression the debt burden worsens, if it seeks aid the aid is yanked out of reach.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Not a new discussion of citations of Thucydides with reference to the Eurozone economic crisis – I’ve been up for only a couple of hours, and only one new example has appeared in that time (see previous post), and in any case I need to finish writing a paper for Goettingen this afternoon on a completely different topic (though, come to think of it, much of this material probably could be worked into a discussion of ‘responses to change and uncertainty’…). However, given the level of traffic over the last couple of days – almost beating, I think, the time when I started poking the admirers of Richard III with a pointed stick – I thought it might be helpful to provide links to all my posts on this general theme, in chronological order:

The New Alcibiades (30th January) Is Alexis Tsipras the new Alcibiades, or the new Kleon? See additional material in comments, with first discussion of Yanis Varoufakis’ interest in Thucydides.

The Empire Strikes Back (20th February) Is the Greek situation more like Melos or Carthage? See additional material re Thucydides in comments.

The Melian Dilemma (27th March) More detailed analysis of Varoufakis’ reading of Thucydides and game theory.

Hesiod the Neoliberal (27th June) Not Thucydides, for a change, but similar themes

Democracy on Melos (28th June) On elites versus the demos, and #Greferendum (see also Thoukidideia below)

Here We Go Again (1st July) On Zaretsky’s NYT piece.

Greek Nightmares (5th July) Why is it always the Melian Dialogue? Why not Corcyra?

Peak Thucydides? (7th July) At this point I am getting very cross with the whole thing…

Thoukidideia (8th July) Now the Greeks are doing it as well.

Read Full Post »

Thoukidideia

Does it make any difference if it’s the Greeks citing Thucydides with respect to the current crisis, rather than non-Greek (mostly anglophone) commentators? Of course; not because they have any special claim to his ideas, but because they’re speaking of their own problems and sense of identity using the cultural resources that seem best suited to the purpose, rather than imposing lazy classical stereotypes on another. If nothing else, it’s likely to be more interesting… As noted in a previous post, classical references seem to have been fairly few and far between in Greek popular discourse around the crisis (though I should stress that my ability to read modern Greek is so poor that I’m entirely reliant on colleagues for this impression, and maybe it bears more investigation), but then that isn’t very surprising: Thucydides has almost always been a writer for the intellectual few rather than the slogan-chanting many. I am enormously grateful, therefore, to @kirjalax for passing on a reference in the first report of the Truth Committee on Public Debt established by the Greek Parliament in April. The introduction concludes:

In response to those who impose unjust measures, the Greek people might invoke what Thucydides mentioned about the constitution of the Athenian people: “As for the name, it is called a democracy, for the administration is run with a view to the interests of the many, not of the few” (Pericles’ Funeral Oration, from the speech in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War)

Interesting as an indication of the line that was subsequently taken in calling for a referendum to bring the people directly into the process of deliberation and negotiation. Interesting also that this was the quote (in a different translation) chosen for the opening of the ill-fated draft European Constitution – maybe a coincidence, maybe an attempt at a subtle reminder to the rest of Europe of the values that supposedly underpin the whole community…

Read Full Post »

Let’s take it from the top again. Thucydides may have something useful to tell us about the current crisis in Greece, just as he may be able to contribute to discussions of Ukraine, the Middle East, Russia, UK and US politics and any other situation involving power, violence, negotiation and/or deliberation, because this was his intention: he aimed, in giving an account of the specific events of a particular war, to create something that would be “a possession for all time”, that would enable his readers to gain understanding of these specific events that could be applied to other situations. He grounded this aspiration partly in claims about the veracity of his account – we can feel confident in accepting his version of events – and partly in his belief in “the human thing” that means people tend to behave in similar ways in similar situations, and will do in future. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Sometimes you recognise immediately that you’re in the same situation as before, but can still do nothing about it; sometimes it starts differently, and you realise only gradually that events are playing out just as they have in previous nightmares, and that they will continue to play out in exactly the same way to the end, or until you can tear yourself away. Another week in the ongoing agony of Greece and Europe, another Thucydides reference. Why is it always the bloody Melian Dialogue? (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »