Glories of the West: Greece’s monasteries in the sky

Source: METEORA : Greece’s monasteries in the sky | Places and People (Facebook)

Once again, I would have hoped for better music: Greek Orthodox chant, ideally, or at least something recognizably Greek. But the (presumably drone) video footage of the monasteries themselves is splendid!



Greek to Me, by Mary Norris | The New Yorker

Mary Norris, also known as the Comma Queen, on the pleasures of a different alphabet.

Source: Greek to Me, by Mary Norris | The New Yorker

While I must confess that I really do not have an urge to study Greek, either ancient or modern (if I were going to take up the study of ancient languages again, they would be Latin and Old English) I thought this was an interesting piece.

Combining a first-person memoir with a defense of the study of classical languages in our current era, it is fair apologia which deserves to be considered by, as author Mary Norris puts it, “anyone who doubts the value of studying a dead language.”

It’s also worth a share in light of my earlier post on Greece’s Nea Dexia party, as it points out one of the ways in which the Greek “hill” (the Acropolis, in Failos Kranidiotis’ engaging metaphor) has influenced, and continues to influence, Western culture.

(Nota Bene: It should be noted that The New Yorker can still publish worthwhile articles – so long as one stays away from its left-leaning political ones.)

The Greeks really do have near-mythical origins, ancient DNA reveals | Science | AAAS

Ever since the days of Homer, Greeks have long idealized their Mycenaean “ancestors” in epic poems and classic tragedies that glorify the exploits of Odysseus, King Agamemnon, and other heroes who went in and out of favor with the Greek gods.

Although these Mycenaeans were fictitious, scholars have debated whether today’s Greeks descend from the actual Mycenaeans, who created a famous civilization that dominated mainland Greece and the Aegean Sea from about 1600 B.C.E. to 1200 B.C.E., or whether the ancient Mycenaeans simply vanished from the region.

Now, ancient DNA suggests that living Greeks are indeed the descendants of Mycenaeans, with only a small proportion of DNA from later migrations to Greece…

Source: The Greeks really do have near-mythical origins, ancient DNA reveals | Science | AAAS

The title of this piece is a touch misleading, in that it may seem to imply that the ancient Greeks really were descended from the gods, or at least their heroes were. But although the truth is somewhat more prosaic, it is no less interesting!

In addition to the usefulness to historians, archaeologists, mythologists, and students of literature of confirming that there was and is a Mycenaean – and indeed, Minoan – connection with modern Greeks, and a very significant one, this also is further evidence that ancient myths and legends, originally carried down through the oral traditions of a people and only later put to writing, may nonetheless have striking validity.

This is not news to many of us, of course; but it may be to others, who have bought into the popular misrepresentation of “myth” as a synonym for “fallacy.” Leaving aside the 19th centuries discoveries of such men as the highly controversial Heinrich Schliemann (Troy) and the brilliant but political Arthur Evans (Minoan Crete), it is remarkable how many biblical accounts have been either confirmed or at least rendered markedly more probable by archaeological discoveries.

Nowadays, it seems that genetics is following in those hallowed footsteps!