What is the one thing that ticks you about the Greeks? Is it Aristotle’s philosophy or Greek mythology. Hercules or Cupid? Or is it Pythagoras, yes… that so common mathematical formula that anyone who’s been a class six pupil can recite to you if woken up at the middle of the night is named after a Greek mathematician? And to anyone who has tackled some statistics (Dubois Maina, Norbert Simiyu, Nancy Masila, Anthony Mbugua, I know y’all guys aren’t so good at Hypothesis Testing!) apparently almost all mathematical symbols are borrowed from Greek letter. Alpha to omega.
Lately Greece has been in the news for, probably all the wrong reasons. From that No-vote referendum that irked many a Eurozone leaders to the academic arrogance that former Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis always put on show whenever camera lenses were trained on him. And then there is that exemplary president, Alexis Tsipras, who was elected on the promise of unshackling a nation from the tethers of financial austerity.
But Greece didn’t start making the headlines because of its financial debt taking it under. This is a nation that has always been there from way back before modern civilisation. It has been there in all major historical unfoldings and apparently the Greeks have perfected the art of being under the spotlight. Whether viewed on good light or bad faith, the people from Corinth, Antioch, Athens and Thessalonica have had a way of making the world notice them.
Alexander the Great, often called the greatest military commander in history, was Greek. He was greater than even Napoleon Bonaparte or even Julius Caesar, and he never lost any battle. Alexander the great was taught by Aristotle, a philosopher and scientist who was interested in the physical world. Aristotle himself, was a student of Plato. Plato wrote many dialogues using Socrates as a major character. He also founded the Academy in Athens. Plato was a student of Socrates, a man considered by many to be the founder of Western philosophy.
Greece is the cradle of famous historians Herodotus, who chronicled the Persian Wars, and is often called the Father of History, and Thucydides who was known for the exact science of his research. He wrote about the war between Athens and Sparta. Famous scientists Archimedes, Pythagoras, Euclid, Hippocrates (ever heard of the Hippocratic oath? If not, then, well… you should book an appointment with a doctor asap!) and Aristarchus (Not that heavily built goon who is seen in UON during elections) were all Greek.
Other Greek greats included famous poets like Aesop, a man whose fables were known for both talking animals as well as teaching morals. There was Hesiod whose writings helped historians to understand what the daily life for the average Greek person was like. And then there was Homer, the most famous of the Greek epic poets, who wrote the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. Other poets were Pindar and Sappho.
To the Christians, from my high school religious studies I came to find out that the term Christians was coined in Antioch for the very first time.
And who can forget that Euro 2004 where Greece, chagrin to pundits’ expectations, battered their way into the Finals and lifted the trophy under the inspiration of the ageless Giorgios Samaras, the fortuitous Angelos Charisteas who scored that all-important goal and the hard tackling captain Theo Zagorakis. They won that trophy in Portugal, against the home team despite all the overriding and intimidating support that Portugal were enjoying. AEK Athens, Olympiacos and Panathinaikos have regularly been making it to compete in Europe’s elite football competition, the UEFA Champions League, and Brazilian legend Rivaldo wound down his illustrious football career with Olympiacos.
Greece is a land of many firsts and outstanding discoveries. Listing all the great Greeks of old and present could take up all my writings. But as we all stare helplessly as our Greek brothers get swallowed up in a whirlwind of financial storms, we should remember Horace’s wise saying: ‘Caelum non animum, mutant, qui trans mare currunt’ which roughly translates to ‘those who run off to ses change their climate but not their mind’.
Basically, your troubles will follow you.