Many say that Europe is currently facing one of the most difficult situations in its history. After the great danger of the European unity and concord, the only solution is to take care of its real roots.
My name is Thanos and I moved from Kalamata, Greece to Sweden six months ago. The reason why I decided to leave my sunny country was the fact that I was unable to see any good future for making my life’s dreams come true there. Actually, I chose this northern country because of my huge love to Mamma Mia! movie and to ABBA. I know it sounds funny, but it is true.
Because of the fact that my home country, Greece, has been accused of being responsible for the crisis in the Eurozone and Europe in general, I would like to remind the Swedish people how many and how much important Swedish words derive from the place where the western culture was born: Europa, historia, politik, demokrati, ekonomi.
First of all, according to the ancient Greek mythology, Europe (Greek Ευρώπη) was a beautiful girl that was kidnapped by god Zeus who was for that reason transformed into a white bull. After he had carried the young lady on his back all over the European continent, he finally chose her husband and their marriage took place in the island of Crete. After the said tour had taken place, the continent was named after the girl. Europe probably means “the woman that has a wide view”. Regarding historia (Greek ιστορία - English history), the word which was first used thousands of years ago, means “having awareness”. The word πολιτική that was transformed into politik (English politics) is related to a city and its citizens. Demokrati (Greek δημοκρατία - English democracy) -a word that was born in the 5th century B.C.- means the rule or the power of the many (the citizens). Finally, ekonomi (Greek οικονομία – English economy) was the ability to administer and manage the incomes and expenditures of a house.
Furthermore, the word used to name the currency of the Eurozone, the euro, is a part of the word Ευρώπη. Also, the Greek alphabet, used continuously from the 8th century B.C. until today, is the mother of the Latin alphabet.
In reality, the beginning of the western culture, as we know it today, took place in the 5th century B.C. in the capital of Greece, Athens. This was the time when the international symbols of the Acropolis and the Parthenon were built. Under the shadow of this place, Pericles gave lectures about and became the protector of democracy, philosophy, science, theatre and fine arts. All these combined together made a perfect aggregation of human expression leading to the modern European culture.
Some other words whose root is Greek are: skola, akademi, bibliotek, musik, melodi, teater, gymnastik, program, system, teknologi, strategi, monarki. We all use them every day! So, imagine what would happen if the Europeans decided that Greece should be thrown out of the European Union and then isolated on the edge of the continent, left just for playing the role of a bridge to Asia and Africa… Then Europe would simply lose its invaluable connection to its one and only mother land.
In conclusion, Greece (or “Hellas”) is not only a warm place with friendly people for having a nice vacation in the summer, well known for things such as tzatziki, souvlaki and Zorba dance. It is basically the cradle of culture and civilization.
*The first picture was taken in a Swedish school in Linköping.