Dec 25, 2010

Dec 19, 2010

Jacqueline de Romilly: 1913-2010

The woman who taught me my own heritage, Thucydides, was a Jewish French who applied for Greek citizenship in 1995. So she ultimately became Greek. Or perhaps she always had been.
To quote Isokrates:
“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.”
~Isocrates, Panergyricus, 50, circa 380 BC (J. A. Freese Translation)

Jacqueline de Romilly, who espoused the Classical spirit like few people have, is no more. And the world is assuredly poorer for it.

Nov 19, 2010

Why we entered the European Union

“As of today, Greece irrevocably accepts this historical challenge and its European destiny while preserving her national identity. We have confidence both in Europe and in Greece. We have decided to all be Europeans, as Churchill would say, and to all remain Greeks, as Shelley would say. For, to quote Isocrates, the Greeks are not those who are born in Greece but those who espouse the Classical spirit.”

~Constantine Karamanlis, Why Greece Joined the European Union
Speech on the Entry of Greece into the EU, January 1, 1981

Nov 7, 2010

Nov 4, 2010

Greek Lullaby

Because nations are defined by what they teach to their children. Valour, desire to excel, beauty, simplicity, joy for life...I see each and every one of these in this lullaby illustration with ancient-Greek-inspired cartoons.

Nanee, nanee, my good baby, sweetly get thee to sleep.
Mother is close by to take you in her arms.
To give you many tender kisses.

From METRONOME FILM Lullabies of the world - a collection of animated films based on lullabies of different nations.

Nov 1, 2010

Goodbye Salonica

There's something oddly romantic in the city of my childhood. The trees are swaying in the spring wind as people and cars cross the streets with an ant-like pace. Seen from above, everything loses some of its urgency, of its sense of drama too. Cyclists and pedestrians pause on the brink of the pier, as if they're contemplating jumping off. But they're not. The sea is flowing as ever.
Only the statues, the courts and ancient walls don't move. Silence amidst the noise. How Greek is silence? Very, contrary to appearences, I'd wager.

Addio Città clip by Emmanouil Papadopoulos on Youtube
Original Music: Calexico-Departure In F Minor

Oct 17, 2010

The Fog

photo by Stathis Stavrianos/Flickr

What does the future hold? Is everything misty and hazy? Or does a ray of light make itself known from afar?

Oct 6, 2010

Street of Dreams

Every garden has a nest for the birds
Every street has a heart for the children
But you my lady, what are you chatting with the dawn about
gazing at the stars that keep falling like rain...
Give me your hair to make them a prayer
And I will start my song from the beginning
Every house hides some love
In its silence
But there is a boy who treats love
As shame.

Street of dreams (1962): music & lyrics by Manos Hadjidakis, sung by Yiorgo Marinos.

Sep 20, 2010

Black and Brown with a hint of White

Katerina at Fashion Week Athens F/W'10'11, Technopoli at Gazi. Photo by Streetgeist

What makes this "so Greek"?
Conservativism: black and more black in somber, Spartan lines. Check!
Rebelliousness: introducing a non matching toffee-brown hue via the accessories. Check!
Unwillingness to forsake femininity: nipped waist, hose, high-heel T-bar ankle-straps, red lipstick. Check!
Tradition: The white scarf on the head turban-style isn't miles removed from the folk garment of centuries past. Check!

Sep 6, 2010

Like a hot star towards your island

All these years I have been searching for you in my maps,
even though you never leaned your lips on my forehead to leave a breath in my life.
And if my prayer smells of alcohol, of tobacco and of fever,
to the glassy wave your name I shout;
I shout your name, so that my voice is mirrored.
And if on the shore where you're combing your hair,
it's heard like a salty song that the water brings you, enamored,
to the devil I'll sell my soul, I, so that I can be wrapped tonight
at your body's depths.

Somewhere the night is hanging mid-ocean to the gallows of the skies,
and the demon is riding the darkness, clutching my wish mid-air.
Like a hot star towards your island, he throws my words,
hurting the rocks and the sand,
and he pins my soul on your hair comb.
And drop by drop, I stream, I,
like salty water on the shoulders and your dear neck.
Nevermind that I know he is biding his time on top the rope-ladder,
waiting for me, waiting to file away the ropes.

It's been years that strange lights shine across on some land,
on some forsaken island,
which is said to be the peaks of heaven.
But I know it's the sea's spell,
there's no such land, since no one ever went there.
So I grab myself tightly from your body,
and in front of the damned I pass,
like a shadow which promenades your scent through Hades.
And I think, it's heaven, my little love,
to share this hell together.

translation author's own

Aug 6, 2010

Fred Boissonnas & The Greek Outlook part2

photo scanned by buruburu,gr

The bridge of Arta over the Arahthos river in 1913.
"Forty-five cobblers and sixty apprentices were building a bridge over Arta's river. All day long they were building, each night it was falling down. [...] A bird came and sat, across the river. It didn't sing like a bird, neither as a sparrow, but it sung and said in human speech: "If you don't wall a man, the bridge won't stand; don't wall an orphan, or a stranger or even a passerby, but the arch-cobbler's pretty wife who comes late in the afternoon, early in the evening."
(traditional folk song)
Toil without sacrifice is unthinkable. It almost challenges the gods.

Aug 2, 2010

Monastery of Arcadi, Crete

by melissa

The upper floor of the monastery houses the monks' cells, across the church.
The ground floor comprises the historic dining room where monks' heads were cut on the tables by the Turks yielding yatagans during the Arcadi monastery holocaust.
Greco-venetian architecture framing the sun, reflecting it on rosy surfaces like a maiden's cheek.

Aug 1, 2010

Hellenism and Pessimism

"The joyous necessity of the dream experience has been embodied by the Greeks in their Apollo: Apollo, the god of all plastic energies, is at the same time the soothsaying god, He, who (as the etymology of the name indicates) is the "shining one," the deity of light, is also ruler over the beautiful illusion of the inner world of fantasy. [...] But we must also include in our image of Apollo that delicate boundary which the dream image must not overstep lest it have a pathological effect [...] We must keep in mind the measured restraint, the freedom from the wilder emotions, that calm of the sculptor god. His eye must be "sunlike," as befits his origin; even when it is angry and distempered it is still hallowed by beautiful illusion [...]

Even under the influence of the narcotic draught, of which songs of all primitive men and peoples speak, or with the potent coming of spring that penetrates all nature with joy, these Dionysian emotions awake, and as they grow in intensity everything subjective vanishes into complete self-forgetfulness. In the German Middle Ages, too, singing and dancing crowds, ever increasing in number, whirled themselves from place to place under this same Dionysian impulse. [...] There are some who, from obtuseness or lack of experience, turn away from such phenomena as from "folk-diseases," with contempt or pity born of consciousness of their own "healthy-mindedness." But of course such poor wretches have no idea how corpselike and ghostly their so-called 'healthy-mindedness' looks when the glowing life of the Dionysian revelers roars past them".

[from The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik), 1872, by Friedrich Nietzsche; translated by Walter Kaufmann]

Jul 19, 2010

The Olive Branch

photo by michelgermain/flickr

Sadly I walk'd within the field,
To see what comfort it would yield;
And as I went my private way,
An olive-branch before me lay;
And seeing it, I made a stay,
And took it up, and view'd it;
then Kissing the omen, said Amen;
Be, be it so, and let this be
A divination unto me;
That in short time my woes shall cease,
And love shall crown my end with peace.

Robert Herrick (via poemhunter)

photo shot on the island of Symi, Greece

Jul 10, 2010

What Makes a Hero Tragic?

A couple of things, according to Aristotle's Poetics:

"1. The tragic hero is a character of noble stature and has greatness. [...]The character must occupy a "high" status position but must ALSO embody nobility and virtue as part of his/her innate character.

2. Though the tragic hero is pre-eminently great, he/she is not perfect. Otherwise, the rest of us--mere mortals--would be unable to identify with the tragic hero. We should see in him or her someone who is essentially like us, although perhaps elevated to a higher position in society.

3. The hero's downfall, therefore, is partially her/his own fault, the result of free choice, not of accident or villainy or some overriding, malignant fate. In fact, the tragedy is usually triggered by some error of judgment or some character flaw that contributes to the hero's lack of perfection noted above. This error of judgment or character flaw is known as hamartia (αμαρτία) and is usually translated as "tragic flaw" (although some scholars argue that this is a mistranslation*). Often the character's hamartia involves hubris (which is defined as a sort of arrogant pride or over-confidence).

*ed.note: indeed, in ancient Greek it simply means "fault", not sin.

4. The hero's misfortunate is not wholly deserved. The punishment exceeds the crime.

5. The fall is not pure loss. There is some increase in awareness, some gain in self-knowledge, some discovery on the part of the tragic hero..."


Jul 1, 2010

The Intensity of Blue

photo mnadi/flickr

Door in Matsouki, on the island of Kefalonia, Greece.

Blue which almost vibrates, blue which stops the heat.

Jun 30, 2010

The Jasmine at Your Door

"The jasmine at your door, my jasmine,
oh and I came to prune it, my little bird.
And your mother thought, my Yasemin,
that I came to take you away.

The black eyes, which are sweet, my Yasemin.
Oh, the brows, which are long, my little bird.
Made me forsake ~my Yasemin~ oh, my mother's milk, my little bird."

Thus runs this Cypriot folk song which plays with the double entendre of the word jasmine: the wonderful trellis that grows upon doors and windows of course, but also the traditional Eastern Mediterranean women's name, Yasmin/Yasemin (which means of course Jasmine). So the poet is in turn speaking of the flower and of the woman, the two becoming one and the same...

Savina Yannatou and Primavera en Salonico perform the traditional Cypriot folk song The Jasmin from the album "Mediterranea: Songs Of The Mediterranean" (1998)
Translation from the Greek author's own.

Jun 27, 2010

The Wedding Musicians

photo by Robert Brun/flickr

Wedding band on the island of Alonissos: Sparse, simple, focused. Feast and make merry because by tomorrow we might be dead.

Jun 25, 2010

For the Shop

He wrapped them up carefully, neatly,
in expensive green silk.
Roses of rubies, lilies of pearl,
violets of amethyst: according to his taste,
his will, his vision of their beauty -- not as he saw them in nature or studied them.

He'll leave them in the safe,
examples of his bold, his skilful work.
Whenever a customer comes into the shop,
he brings out other things to sell -- first class ornaments:
bracelets, chains, necklaces, rings.

Constantine P. Cavafy 1913

Jun 22, 2010


photo by caribb/flickr

One of the fallen columns at the site of the Temple of Olympian Zeus (Olympeio) in the heart of Athens.
Seems like it's got to be fallen in order for us to appreciate its original grandeur. Can this be said for the nation as well?

Jun 18, 2010

Rough Terrain

by dungodung/flickr

Greek pebbles on the ground of the Serbian military cemetery, Zejtinlik, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Rough terrain breeds men who're tough, said Greek historian Herodotus. A land between rock and sea. The contrast of roughness and calm: so Greek.

Jun 17, 2010

Open one of the Shutters

photo by NataliaRomay/flickr

I love you because you're beautiful,
I love you because you're you.
I love the whole wide world,
because you're part of it too.
The window is closed, the window is shut.
Open one of the shutters,
so I can briefly take your glimpse in.

(Traditional Greek song from Asia Minor)

Jun 4, 2010 means jewel in Greek

Beautiful, understated yet precious jewellery designed by Lina Fanourakis. Rose-cut diamonds which reflect with the subtle glow of old church vitraux.

Gold thread takes on a new life in Lina's hands, as supple as a thread of silk or wool.

"Lina’s diamond designs are luxurious and subtle at the same time,” says Patricia Faber, co-owner of New York’s Aaron Faber Gallery, which has been carrying Fanourakis’ collection since 2000.

Lina Fanourakis, available at Aaron Faber Gallery

photos via,,

Jun 2, 2010

Hellas-France: Alliance

photo by farfahinne/flickr

Solidarity demonstration with the Greek Social Movement, in Paris, France.
What's in a smashed window? What's in a word: Fraternité?

May 30, 2010

Fred Boissonnas & The Greek Outlook part1

The monument frames the man, the man defines the monument. The strangely dynamic line of a leaning, static pose encompasses the contradictions of the Greek soul. And its aesthetics; poised between tradition and progress.

Photo scanned by

May 29, 2010

Guarding Thermopylae...

Honor to those who in their lives
have defined and guard their Thermopylae.
Never stirring from duty;
just and upright in all their deeds,
yet with pity and compassion too;
generous when they are rich,
and when they are poor, again a little generous,
again helping as much as they can;
always speaking the truth,
yet without hatred for those who lie.

And more honor is due to themwhen they foresee
(and many do foresee)
that Ephialtes will finally appear,
and that the Medes in the end will go through.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1903)

May 28, 2010

The Greek Outlook: What's That?

A site dedicated to the Greek aesthetics, experiences, ideals and general mentality on life. Even in times of trouble, a beautiful & heroic one...
"The essence of the heroic outlook is the pursuit of honour through action. The great man is he who, being endowed with superior qualities of body and mind, uses them to the utmost and wins the applause of his fellows because he spares no effort and shirks no risk in his desire to make the most of his gifts. His honour is the centre of his being, and any affront to it calls for immediate amends. By prowess and renown he gains an enlarged sense of personality and well-being; through them he has a second existence on the lips of men, which assures him that he has not failed in what matters most. This outlook runs through Greek history from Homer’s Achilles to the historical Alexander. It is countered and modified and altered, but it persists and even extends its field from an individual to a national outlook. It is a creed suited to men of action, and through it the Greeks justified their passionate desire to vary the pattern of their lives by resourceful and unflagging enterprise."
C. M. Bowra, The Greek Experience, (New York: Praeger, 1957), pp.20-21, 40-41.