Friday, 27 April 2012

₪ Greeks or Hellenes? Part II





Pottery from Sparta - Laconia
600 BC
   These are the tribes of the Greeks, as they are certified by most of the historians. Now, the most commonly accepted etymology of the name Hellas, is:

'Ελ   ⎜ eng. El   ⎜  meaning Light +
Λάς ⎜ eng. Las  ⎜ meaning earth, soil, stone etc.
Hence, Ελλάς ⎜Hellas ⎜the land of light.

☞ Tip: From the stones that Deucalion was throwing in the cataclysmic myth, the people that raised were named Λαός ⎜ pron. Laós ⎜ meaning folk, people, public,
named after the term Λάς ⎜ eng. Las  ⎜for stones.

  Now, having established the connection of the Pelasgians as true   ancestors of the ¨Greeks¨, we can proceed -finally- answering the  question: 
How should we call the people with all those names; ¨Greeks¨ or ¨Hellenes¨?
The most accurate answer would be “Pelasgians” and their land “Pelasgia”. 
If we would necessarily have to choose among Greek and Hellen, then the term Hellen would have historical priority. What these people had in common as a nation besides kinship, language and customs; as Herodotus says? 
   A national emblem. The oldest common symbol that we can detect
among the Greek people as a national symbol, is was is known today as ¨The Vergina Star¨ and is mistakenly attributed only to the Macedonian tribe. The sixteen rayed star (or sun) has being found all over Greece, in Crete, Rhodes, Cyclades, Mykonos, Lemnos, Thrace, Argos, Sparta, Corinth, Athens, Epirus, Thessaly and of coarse Macedonia, in artifacts, potteries, shields, etc. that date back in 3,200 BC ; and it is believed to represent the twelve Olympian Gods and Hades, Heracles, Nike and Hestia,  ie the sixteen major Gods in the Greek world.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

₪ Greeks or Hellenes? Part I


Europe and Asia
   Twenty three years have passed since my very first lesson in the english language; and still, I clearly remember the first phrase that our professor wrote on the blackboard: 
Hello, my name is .................. ; and I come from Greece.” 
Hellas” I said with a lot of nerve, and full of spirit, only to cost me my first expulsion from the class, to the many that were about to follow in my educational career.

   Since then, the name of my country would trouble me for the next years, until 1995; when I would finally enter the first class of gymnasium and my first introduction to the ancient greek, and history lessons. This issue has troubled a lot of people outside Greece as well, and many wonder the obvious: If the Greeks call their country Hellas, then why we call it Greece; and its people Greeks? Well, the answer to this, is a very complicated skein of yarn with messed national, geographical, political, lingual and even mythological threads; and that is what am I about to unwind.
   The reason behind this fusion, is the discrimination between state and nation. Remarkably enough, despite the fact that the Greeks have thousands of years of history as a nation, they have a solid and commonly acknowledged state for a poor 182 years, of which only in the last 32 of them it is where we can see this country as a state, with boarders and democracy. Ironically enough perhaps, the land that gave birth to democracy thousands of years ago, counts only 32 years as a Republic. This, simply means that the Greeks, never before we had a country to its whole, so through the aeons the Greeks always used to see themselves (and still do most of them) as locals to their region.
   In the present day, the concepts of state, country and nation are indeed inextricably tied together, and it is extremely difficult for someone to understand the difference between them. This is a sociological and political result that the French Revolution brought to Europe and consequently, the rest of the world. Going quickly back in time, we will see many forms of government in the European continent, but where should pay attention, is Greece. The Greeks were the first in Europe to form most of the reigning systems that we know today. Monarchy, diarchy, oligarchy, feudalism, dictatorship,