What have the Greeks ever done for us?
Once upon a time there was a great big giant and he ruled over all the world. He roamed around making mountain ranges, often simply by just sitting down. One time he carved a big puddle in the middle of some land masses and water flooded in – it later was titled the Mediterranean.
Then, just before he broke a land link between what later became known as Asia and Africa, he allowed our ancestors to flood out of Africa and form Microsoft and Apple. As well as start the Nazi Party, and do a hundredfold things that made up the modern world.
He got a group of people together, whom he called Jews to distinguish them from all others, and got them to be the number one religion who believed that there was only one God – the new title he gave himself, as ‘Giant’ wasn’t quite working in the new age.
But in the meantime others still believed in multiple gods of rivers, trees and mountains, and all manner of mini-potentates of the air and waters upon the Earth. And to two lots of these multi-believers he gave a special task, and that was to invent modern western civilisation.
Anyway, a long time later, having given the modern world virtually all of its philosophy, medicine, arts and systems of government, they joined the European Union and quickly ran out of money.
Then they started to get told off because they were not as careful with their money as some people north of them. People to whom those in the south had given all their learning. Which only goes to show: you just need a gap of a few thousand years before people forget what you did for them.
I am reminded of this history of our world because I have been reading a book by Peter Watson called The Great Divide. The aforementioned is not a paraphrasing of what Mr Watson is saying. But I am spurred on to think that only by grasping a bigger view of the world and its development can we ever get near to understanding what is happening.
And that, in a way, we owe so many debts to former civilisations, whether in Africa, Greece or Italy, that we forget this at our peril. We close down and only see the world as a kind of permanently rolling 24-hour news programme.
I suggested to a Greek woman the other day that we could solve the crisis of Greece and the impending Italian one by sending a fee to these economies every time we used a word that came from Ancient Greek or Latin. She was entranced at my rather silly piece of thinking. But there was a kind of method in my madness.
Without the Greek and the Latin languages and systems of thinking and order, we would still be picking the scabs off our feet, dressed in mud and straw.
Under the influence of Peter Watson’s book I was trying to understand the history of things. And certainly if you look into Greece and Italy you have two countries whose greatness made the modern world. And that should be recognised.
Ok, they should start sorting out their over-elaborate governmental systems. They should start making their finances reflect what they have in the kitty. But surely that goes for us. It is only because we have a big, more recent, imperial and industrial history, which makes us the financial capital of the world, that we can still keep our debt-ridden government and economy floating.
So next time you use the word cinema (from the Greek word kine, to move) send a few pence users-fee to the Greek Embassy. Of course the next thing to do would be to allow the Greek or Italian governments to get a licence fee for all of the precious stuff that has been sold, or looted, from their respective countries. Or even return the pieces to their rightful owners, so that they could flog them and get some money into their economies.
What about the Elgin Marbles, sold to Lord Elgin and now in the British Museum? Sold, take note, to the noble lord by the Ottoman Empire’s local satrap in an occupied Greece. It’s good to read. And fly off in a fancy every now and then.