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April 01, 2003

Our Greek ancestors, hey?

I just read The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity by James C. Russell. The same Dr. Russell submitted this article to The Occidental Quarterly titled The Western Contribution to World History. I found this very curious:


This inspirational sacrifice of our ancient ancestors at Thermopylae led to a Greek victory over the Persians and permitted Hellenic culture to flourish.

Uh, Dr. Russell's ancient ancestors? After reading his book I get the impression he considers northern European cultural values rather distinct and its sociohistorical experience very separate from that of southern Europe and the Meditarreanean Littoral. But read on, and you will see how Dr. Russell squares this circle:

Unfortunately for the ancient Greeks, Alexander the Great, who died in 323 B.C., despite being an astute tactician, unwittingly became the first apostle of multiculturalism and demonstrated the ethnocultural dangers of empire-building.
...
Instead, many immigrants from the conquered Eastern territories made their way to Greece with the result being cultural and genetic dissonance, as well as religious syncretism and a condition of social confusion sometimes referred to as anomie.

Ah, makes more sense in the context of what I read in his book. I suspect a certain Hellene might have some comments on this....

Posted by razib at 12:10 AM




This inspirational sacrifice of our ancient ancestors

A pleasant self-delusion.

After reading his book I get the impression he considers northern European cultural values rather distinct and its sociohistorical experience very separate from that of southern Europe and the Meditarreanean Littoral.

I agree, although I have no idea what "northern European cultural values" are.

Instead, many immigrants from the conquered Eastern territories made their way to Greece with the result being cultural and genetic dissonance

Well, the supposed "cultural dissonance" led to the longest-lived state of the planet, the Eastern (or "Byzantine") Roman Empire, with its amazing homogeneity of Hellenic paideia, Roman administration and Christian religion. If that is destructive "cultural dissonance", then I wonder what the fate of the Western Empire at the hands of its Germanic captors constitutes.

Posted by: Dienekes at April 1, 2003 02:35 AM


well, byzantium's genius was the fact that the non-greeks of the empire, be they isaurians, macedonians or armenians accepted the dominance of hellenic culture. there was an ethnic core that the empire was always anchored to-no matter the ancestral background of the emperor....

Posted by: razib at April 1, 2003 03:10 AM


well, byzantium's genius was the fact that the non-greeks of the empire, be they isaurians, macedonians or armenians accepted the dominance of hellenic culture.

Byzantium is an excellent example of the benefits of having a close integration between religion, administration, and education. It was an entirely self-contained culture that developed organically over the span of centuries.

PS: After Hellenistic times, the linguistic and political differences between the southern Greeks and the Macedonian ones had largely disappeared. Hence, the Macedonians were not non-Greek.

Posted by: Dienekes at April 1, 2003 04:15 AM


The analytic philosopher Hilary Putnam was also involved in PL. PL was dogmatically proletarian, but all the PL types I knew were intellectuals. Several of them were hilariously funny when they talked about politics (including PL) to people they knew well and trusted. PL dogma seems to have been something of a public front meant to differentiate oneself from the anti-war movement's undefined sloppiness and tendency toward anti-intellectualism and bizarre drug-induced beliefs.

I am in the "hope we win quickly and painlessly" camp. This is the first time in my life I've been moderate, I think. However, my followup soundbite is: "Our military can win the war, but Bush can lose it." Whatever credit there is goes to the pros, any problems go to Bush. Not fair, but spin isn't about being fair.

Posted by: zizka at April 1, 2003 08:30 AM


Sorry guys, I cut-and-pasted into the completely wrong thread when my connection died on me. I was going to say soemthing about here about the Byzantine Empire outlasting Rome by 1000 years, etc. Razib, if you want to save me some embarassment you might delete? :)

Posted by: zizka at April 1, 2003 09:28 AM


i enjoy embarassing you. also, by macedonian, i meant the geographical region of macedonia, not the people. but i guess that's fuzzy....

Posted by: razib at April 1, 2003 11:29 AM


Macedonia is a big issue in the Balkans. The Greeks are irate that the Slavs have stolen a name which should belong to them. They really, really care. As far as I know, they don't claim the territory, just the name, but it's a big deal.

I'm not easily embarassed, obviously.

Posted by: zizka at April 1, 2003 12:51 PM


"The Greeks are irate that the Slavs have stolen a name which should belong to them. They really, really care. As far as I know, they don't claim the territory, just the name, but it's a big deal." Zizka

I'm irate about that too, being generally in favor of meaning in life, and opposed to entropy. That name is fraught with historical (and other sorts of) meaning. It doesn't belong to the Slavs. (If anyone's interested, I'm ethnically half-Slav -- Russian -- and zero Greek.) The Greeks should take the name back for themselves.


Posted by: Unadorned at April 1, 2003 02:29 PM


Unadorned great post.The proganda from the Former Yugo Rep of Macedonia the population of that region is not Slavic despite the fact they speak a slavic language.Some of their babble is anti Slavic as well as anti Greek.The Greek race in including the Dorians originated in the areas of Mt Olympus thus the Macedonians were not only Greek but the original stock from which the Dorians originated .

http://www.geocities.com/illyria_diokles/Illyria.html

Dorians called themselves "Makednos" what in ancient Hellenic meant 'tall,warlike highlander ' and Macedonia was named after them . Other Hellenic nations were Micenians , Ionians , Aeolians , Acheans , etc.


Russians are a great people who have defended Orthodox Christiantity over the centuries.

long live Russia ,Greece and Serbia

Posted by: Doric Greek at April 1, 2003 07:50 PM


As far as I know, the area now called Macedonia has been called Macedonia, a Greek name, for a long time, and is now inhabited by Slavs (I've been told that Macedonian is much like Bulgarian). So when the country became independent, they should have renamed it? I doubt that the Greeks would like that either. The Franks are extinct -- should France be renamed? The Delaware are pretty much gone too. (The Dakota, however, still live mostly in South Dakota).

The amount of bloodshed that can be generated from this type of irredentist dispute is limited only by the sizes of the populations.

I read a Brazilian thing long ago. Two guys were murdered in Rio one day, one for refusing to change the station on his radio and the other for denying that a certain day was a national hoiliday (Brazil has well over a hundred national holidays). The story concluded by observing that in Brazil, murderers were suffering gravely from a shortage of motives.

Posted by: zizka at April 2, 2003 09:41 AM


As far as I know, the area now called Macedonia has been called Macedonia, a Greek name

YES SO YOU AGREE WITH THE FACT THAT THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME IS GREEK .

The Franks are extinct -- should France be renamed?

THE FRANKS A GERMANIC TRIBE WERE INSTRUMENTAL IN THE FOUNDING OF WHAT BECAME THE FRENCH NATION THUS THE NAME FRANCE IS APPROPRIATE.THE BULGARIAN SLAVS WERE NOT EXISTENT DURING THE FOUNDING OF MACEDONIA WHO WERE THE ORIGINAL STOCK THAT THE DORIANS CAME FROM AND THE NAME HELLAS IS ASSOCIATED WITH THE DORIANS.THUS ONE CAN SAY THE MACEDONIAN GREEKS WERE THE ORIGINAL HELLENES.

The Delaware are pretty much gone too. (The Dakota, however, still live mostly in South Dakota).

TRUE BUT THE NON INDIAN PEOPLE OF SOUTH DAKOTA DO NOT CLAIM TO BE THE ORIGINAL DAKOTA TRIBE UNLIKE THE BULGARIANS OF SO CALLED MACEDONIA .THE FOUNDERS OF ATHENS GEORGIA NEVER PROCLAIMED TO BE THE ORIGINAL ATHENIANS.

Macedonia, a Greek name, for a long time, and is now inhabited by Slavs

THIS IS ONLY PARTIALLY TRUE.THE ANCIENT MACEDONIAN CAPITALS AGAE AND PELLAS ARE IN GREECE.THE PROVENCE OF MACEDONIA.THE BULK OF THE ANCIENT MACEDONIAN TERRITORY IS IN GREECE.THE PART OF THE OLD MACEDONIA THE SLAVS INHABIT WAS KNOWN AS UPPER MACEDONIA WHICH WAS THE LEAST INHABITED AND LEAST INFLENTIAL PART .THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE OLD HELLENIC MACEDONIAN STATE IS STILL IN GREECE .THE FORMER YUGO REP OF MACEDONIA CONTAINS LESS THEN 20 % OF THE OLD MACEDONIAN KINGDOM WHICH WAS THE NORTHERN HINDERLAND.

Posted by: Doric Greek at April 3, 2003 10:58 AM


Doric Greek: most of what you say, possibly all, is probably correct. My point, which I will stand on, is that this kind of historical grudge can cause enormous harm and is seldom worth bothering with. If the Macedonians claimed the mantle of Alexander and started making plans to conquer Greece, Turkey, and Persia all the way to Uzbekistan, then would be a good time to worry. In fact, Macedonia is one of the most vulnerable and weakest countries in the world.

Claims of the Macedonian Slavs to be heirs of Alexander seem somewhat ridiculous to me, and ridicule would be OK, but I don't understand the anger. And as it happens, the only Macedonian Slav I ever met corrected me immediately and firmly when I mentioned Alexander. "Alexander was a Greek," he said.

I've proposed two standards for this kind of thing (not that anyone cares). First, "living memory". A grudge is valid as long as someone alive personally experienced the harm. Second, some kind of exponential decay like gravity which would cause grudges to dwindle to nothing at some distance in time.

By either standard, for example, the grievances of American slavery would be erased, but not the grievances of segregation (started to end in 1964, and still not really over with).

Nobody likes my standard but me, of course.

Posted by: zizka at April 3, 2003 03:40 PM


The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia may be a weak state, but there is revisionist trend among its historians, which helps fuel its nationalism.

Example

Posted by: Dienekes at April 3, 2003 04:21 PM


If I had seen the Macedonian propaganda before the Greek, I would have said about the same things about their use of Alexander that I did about the Greek stuff I saw.

The later pages of the piece get down to more concrete, real-time issues. Unfortunately, national questions in the Balkans, for whatever reason, seem almost impossible to settle peacefully or equably.

Posted by: zizka at April 4, 2003 07:45 AM