The Greeks…

 

Australian Macedonian Advisory Council

The Awakening

“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” they´ve said and no truer words have ever been uttered in the history of man.

Greeks have a way of enticing you with their wears, they charm you with their words and wit, they gain your trust with their cunning and, before you know it, they have entered your most guarded inner sanctum, feast at your table as honoured guests and open you up to their world while you remain oblivious to any of it, until it´s too late.

They did this to the Trojans, they did it to the Romans and through them they did it to the western world and the world at large.

But the gift given, by the Greeks to humankind, was much more tempting than a simple lifeless idol, it was much more enticing than a wooden horse offered in hypocritical humiliation, much more powerful than a symbol of false defeat; this gift was the brilliance of critical thinking that was to revolutionize human contemplation and give rise to change and hope through all the coming ages, it was a spirit of being.

It was from this simple offering, given in feigned humility, that came forth, from the belly of the beast, the forces of deliberation that were to open the mental doors of ignorance and superstition and lay the world bear to the power of mans creativity and curiosity.

It was from this offering that, under the cover of darkness, the forces of human awareness were to make, mans most well devised defences of fear, ignorance and insecurity, ineffective and that showed once more that there is nothing more potent and insidious in the universe than intelligence, wisdom and guile.

From that moment on, when the gates to the walled city were opened, man has reached for heights never before attained by any civilization and to depths imagined by few cultures before.

This simple breaching of the minds ramparts, using intellect where brute force failed, is what the Greeks offered mankind as their lasting legacy through time and has made them immortals in the memories of all those that have come since.

In the fertile soils of critical thought watered by honest scepticism, they planted for us philosophy, science, mathematics, geometry, astronomy, gymnastics, history, theatre, aesthetics and many other seedlings of the human imagination; but much more than this they grew acceptance of mans true nature and awareness of mans promise and possibility.

From the serrated, sea beaten shores of the Greek peninsula, man stood for the first time next to the gods and did not just cower in submission beneath them; like Homers Odysseus man set off into the unknown sea looking for his way to Ithaca and no monsters or enticers would keep him from his course; no threatening horror or promising pleasure would divert his attentions.

The gods, representing the mysterious forces of nature as all deities do, were no longer unreachable icons or omnipotent despots, but exhibited the imperfections and limitations that man sees in himself and in the universe around him. Man, was to be, no longer an unwilling, helpless pawn or a witless, grovelling victim of unknown powers and domineering entities but was to stand to his full height, face the world with courage and pride and fight for his place in it as an equal and full participant or perish in the fight.

The gods may have been placated, tricked, bribed, cajoled and honoured but they were not idealized; the gods may have been feared, followed, respected, worshiped, loved and hated but they were not surrendered to.

From this straightforward stance on life these Hellenes became a subtle power that affected men from all cultures and through all times and as a consequence conquered Europe as no military or economic power ever could have.

Their power was their message and their message was mans destiny.

The Coming Darkness

Despite this glorious beginning hard times were to later come, that were to plunge the Greek spirit into the darkness for centuries and that was to weaken, a once powerful civilization, to such an extent that it became vulnerable to foreign, slavish moral systems that still, to this day, plague western civilization and chain the human spirit to mediocrity and herd psychology.

The decline of Hellenic thought, not surprisingly, coincided with the deterioration of its last greatest conquest and bastion, the Roman Empire.

Through years of power and privilege the Romans became tempered by easy living and unearned security, as often happens with all empires and elites, which made them susceptible to foreign ideals and moralities coming from the lower classes of Roman society and from the outlying conquered realms, populated by peoples seeking a reprieve from Rome´s dominion and an escape from their viciousness.

Christianity, being an amalgamation of eastern religions, Hebrew ethics and Greek metaphysics, quickly became attractive to the masses of the weak and the deprived and, like communism, preached the degradation of the strong for the appeasement of the frail; as such it was fast to spread amongst the under-classes and the subdued as a new hope for salvation, not only from the cruelty of the Romans but mainly from the brutality of life itself.

Slowly the Greek paideia that was taught to the children of the roman elites for centuries lost its hold and its meaning and in its place Judeo-Christian ethics started replacing it in the consciousness of the nation at large, starting from the ground up.

This was one more cause, amongst many more, that in due course lead to the infiltration of northern tribes into the heart of roman rule and eventually caused the split of the Roman Empire into the Holy Roman Empire in the west and, what was later referred to, the Byzantium Empire in the east.

But the onslaught of Christianity against Hellenism was not to end here.

In later years through the Crusades and the Iconoclastic Wars, Greek culture- now labelled paganism- was either completely illegalized and forced under ground or assimilated into Christian doctrine and rituals; the heart of the eastern roman empire now- after the acceptance of Christianity as its official religion- called Constantinople, was repeatedly ransacked by western Christian hordes on their way to the “Holy Lands” and so weakened that it became easy prey for the coming of the Turks that were to completely destroy Byzantium and later threaten all of Europe.

Europe plunged into the Dark Ages losing its past in the process and strengthening the control of Christianity over its soul.

How revealing it is that during these dark times Christianity flourished and prospered as all religions do in times of desperation and need.

Like the vulture that can only feed on the weak and dying, this mutated religion feasted upon the carrion of Greco-Roman civilization and grew strong upon the fat of the meek and fearful.

It would be unjust of me to blame the fall of Rome and the decline of Hellenism entirely on Christianity. It is obvious that empires and civilizations come and go as a natural course of history and of life as a whole and keeping this in mind we can see Christianity more as a natural consequence rather than a decisive cause of Roman decline; but I also believe that there are environments that breed destruction as there are environments that breed construction as an innate aspect of their nature, as there are mentalities that cause enlightenment and ones that cause degradation and ignorance through their mere existence. Because of this I believe Christianity hastened, even if it didn´t completely cause, the fall of Rome.

It is interesting to note here that in present day Greece the idea of Christianity {Orthodoxy} has so immersed itself in the psychology and identity of the population that Christianity is now considered a necessary particle of Hellenism and is often considered a tautology even if, in essence, these two ideals are irreconcilable with each other.

It is, therefore, ironic that in modern day Greece there are very few real Greeks as described by their own ancestors.

To be Greek is neither a national identity nor a racial one, but it is a way of thinking, a way of education, a position towards life and a spirit of being.

How can there be Greeks in a country so submersed in Judeo-Christian theism and how can Hellenism coexist with Jewish morality?

Hellenism teaches man to stand strong and courageous in front of the mysteries of the universe; Christianity teaches shame and humility.

Hellenism teaches man to stand in defiance of fate and in opposition to the unknown; Christianity teaches surrender and ignorance.

Hellenism proposes a man as a full and equal participant, beautiful in his nature, proud in his being and creator of his destiny; Christianity proposes a man as a blind puppet to a strange puppeteer, hideous in his denial of his spirit, his body, his nature and a slave to chance and superstition.

Hellenism proposes a man of wisdom through effort, knowledge and ability; a dominator of what is beneath him and builder of his world.

Christianity proposes a man of faith through acceptance of another´s hope and subjugation to his inner insecurities, egotism and fears; a follower and unaware nothing in a herd of nobody´s.

Hellenism interprets existence as an opportunity; something to be explored, understood and conquered.

Christianity interprets existence as a period of atonement for life itself; as an opportunity for offering payment for even being what one is and in longing for escape into a promised “otherness”.

Hellenism breeds men of the world: brave, proud, aware, challenging, changing, becoming and knowing; while Christianity breeds sheep for slaughter: meek, huddled in pools of “averageness” and hoping for a better death than a life.

Through the propagation of Judeo-Christian ideals and false democratic equalitarianism throughout the western world, western man has been degraded and diluted. Weakness and inferiority is promoted and sheltered while the distinct and superior are asked to lower themselves or to hide their special nature so that the many will not feel insecure or irrelevant in comparison.

Political correctness is a modern catch phrase that harnesses language and personal expression to the cart of conventionality.

This levelling of man for the sake of peace and conformity has declined western civilization but has also altered it from what it was or supposed to be, into a horrific mutation with nothing in common with the original and has made man into a terrible replica of his original Platonic Idea.

The Reawakening

Fortunately Greek thought was not to perish. It lay dormant in Arabic libraries and in the minds of learned men waiting for the long night to pass and the tides of time to bring back fertile ground to seed the minds of men once more, and to tempt the west with the same original gift.

The Renaissance was a period of reacceptance, rediscovery and a rebirth of ancient ideals, but this time with the added obstacle of struggling against, a now, firmly entrenched alien ideology that would resist it all the way.

Christianity with its Buddhist selflessness and denial of life coupled with Jewish shame and original sin and the addition of Greek mythology and spirituality within its dogma imposed limits to the extent as to which Hellenism took root.

Up until our time the struggle continues.

The most remarkable aspect of the reincarnation of Hellenism is that it has mostly been advanced by Anglo-Saxons and other Europeans not originally infected by its message in the early years.

It is, in fact, a German, Nietzsche who stands as the last great “Greek” philosopher of our times; it was he who first appreciated the true spirit of Hellenism and freely displayed his appreciation of it throughout his work.

The modern Greeks themselves, never having participated in the Renaissance due to their enslavement to the Ottoman Empire and still weighed down by Christian Orthodoxy and its stifling effects, rediscovered their own ancestors through third parties and foreign philosophers and still, to this day, resist them and their teachings.

The Forked Road

Man is torn being; two forces push and pull him in different direction even though they are effects of the same cause and are motivated by similar goals.

Nietzsche described these two opposing natural human impulses as Dionysian {change, creation, destruction, movement, rhythm, ecstasy, oneness} and Apollonian {order, lawfulness, perfect form, clarity, precision, self-control, individuation} where as Schopenhauer stated that it was the will struggling against intellect or rather the excess of intellect becoming pure will-less knowledge trying to break free from its servitude to the blind will.

Through the lifetime of a man he will be asked to decide between these two facets of his being and due to this decision he will form his character and values that will guide his actions and designate his virtues.

But more than this man is torn between complete acceptance of his being or total denial of it.

Christianity, in its true spirit, as with Buddhism, teaches a full withdrawal from the temptations of existence and an extreme ascetic subsistence devoid of all pleasures and pains as a penitence for mans nature and a payment for mans consciousness.

Despite the infringing theologies and ideologies that have mutated modern Christianity, the real spirit of Christian dogma contains a selflessness and denial of life equal to Buddhist teachings and Schopenhauer´s philosophy of pessimism.

Atheistic materialism, on the other hand- as well as hedonism as its encompassing dogma- holds that the other extreme position towards life is the wise one. Here pleasure is valuable for its own sake and since no other higher entity exists there are no rules, no purposes, no goals worth sacrificing personal contentment for; life is its own reward and any denial of mans nature or his will is a waste of time and an exercise in futility.

Hellenism contains both paths but not to either extreme. The Greeks recognized the meaninglessness of human existence and the melancholy and horrors it contains.

Socrates and Plato made no effort to hide their disdain for life and they labelled it a disease that only death could cure; Diogenes turned inward seeking fulfilment and truth and the stoics accepted pleasures, if offered, but made no effort to indulge themselves.

Asceticism, and the mental discipline it breeds, was a necessary part of Hellenic thought and an acknowledgment that the mind made up mans particular distinctness in nature, but the Greeks never went so far as to deny life in its entirety and to preach an extreme asceticism as was taught in the eastern faiths and later by Christianity.

Within Hellenic thought both the horror and ecstasy of life are represented and embraced. It is this opposition, this dual nature of Greek thought that gave birth to tragedy and comedy that so fully expresses the duality of human thought and the inner struggle that often reveals itself in contradictions bordering the ridiculous or sad.

This battle between Apollonian and Dionysian impulses was how Nietzsche explained the birth of Tragedy and Comedy in ancient Greece and it so perfectly represents Greek thought overall.

The Hellenes have built their symbolic icon and they place it before us as a tempting gift to our vanity; it contains insidious forces, anti-establishment notions and challenging ideas that will open our mental doors to the world where we will either be lost or inflamed but we will not remain the same.

Will we allow it through the walls of our mind, will we succumb to their calling and allow the idol within our walls, will we surrender to the Greeks and become one of them ourselves?

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http://www.macedonian.com.au

Source: http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/78936

 

 

 

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