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Contemporary Hellenismos

 This is a wonderful example of a reawakening of the Hellenic culture through modern interpretations of ancient themes and a great example of the blending of new and old through music. Performed in the old Roman Agora of Athens these musicians give us a taste of the development of Hellenic culture!
This Blog reflects my opinion only. I do not represent or speak for any organization or individual. Any similarities with others opinions is purely incidental and not deliberate.

The Threat of Hellenismos

Hellenic thinkers from Ancient times have infused the world with ideas of freedom and equality amongst those who consider themselves OMOIOI. These ideas have been perceived to be dangerous by those who wish to rule over others. Even today there is an orchestrated attempt to silence the 'dangerous Hellenismos'. The following quote by Henry Kissinger illustrates how Hellenes are threatened on all levels and explains the deliberate distortion of not only historical facts about Hellas and Hellenes but deliberate misappropriation of the culture, language and religion.

As reported in the popular Greek magazine, Oikonomikos Tachydromos on 14 Aug. l997, Henry Kissinger, while addressing a group of Washington, D.C. businessmen in Sept.1974, said: 


The Greek people are anarchic and difficult to tame. For this reason we must strike deep into their cultural roots: Perhaps then we can force them to conform. I mean, of course, to strike at their language, their religion, their cultural and historical reserves, so that we can neutralize their ability to develop, to distinguish themselves, or to prevail; thereby removing them as an obstacle to our strategically vital plans in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

One may very well argue that Kissinger is no more in a position to do any of the things he proposed in 1974 but let us not fool ourselves; he was not alone, he acted on behalf of others and those others are still at large having the same ideas and using other people to promote and execute them.
I call on every one who consider themself to be a true Hellene and who believes in the Hellenic spirit of our ancestors to resist by any means available to them!
This Blog reflects my opinion only. I do not represent or speak for any organization or individual. Any similarities with others opinions is purely incidental and not deliberate.

R.I.P. 1st AMENDMENT!!!

 

3rd December 2010 is the date which will go down in history as the date in which the people of the United States returned to the conditions that pre-existed the War of Independence. This time not to be 'enslaved' under some foreign power but by their own 'democratically elected' government. Their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association which were guaranteed under the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution have been trampled upon by the various restrictions placed on them concerning Internet access to Wikileaks!
As a Hellene who believes in the divine Light of Truth as personified by Apollon, I wish to pledge my support to the American people in their hour of darkness. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Do not stop the fight. The War of Independence is been fought again but this time in cyberspace! Take heed of the example of your founding fathers which were well versed in Hellenic lore and philosophy and continue the fight for your freedom and regain control of your country by re-instating a free and transparent government which is truly "By the People, From the people and For the People".
Do not be ruled by Fear and allow the Truth to set you Free, not only the promise of freedom which expires the minute someone reveals the corrupt underbelly.
The Laws of a State must be obeyed say one of the Delphic directives of ancient Hellas but when those Laws are unjust are we still obliged to obey? Is it not the moral duty of a conscientious citizen to oppose injustice even in his own country's laws? The question is: are politicians and State above the Law? Surely we have a problem when the State which makes the laws places itself above those laws. For a government which insists that it is spreading democracy to the rest of the world, even when they have to intervene in other states, their actions at home are certainly far from democratic. The banning of Wikileaks and the war waged on them via the Internet is par with the burning of the library of Alexandria, the burning of books and silencing people by the Inquisition in the Middle Ages in Europe, the burning of liberal books by the Nazis and the burning of books during the 'Cultural Revolution' in China.
The Obama administration has placed thus itself with the above infamous company by taking the actions it is taking against Wikileaks.

This Blog reflects my opinion only. I do not represent or speak for any organization or individual. Any similarities with others opinions is purely incidental and not deliberate.
 Let me say it in the words of Mr Axel Rose. He says it all.

 
 
This Blog reflects my opinion only. I do not represent or speak for any organization or individual. Any similarities with others opinions is purely incidental and not deliberate.

The Formation of a Private Study Group

The subject of Hellenic PAIDEIA (education) has been coming up on certain venues for a while and it has sparked an interest in the formation of a private on-line strictly adult study group later on in the year (+/- September). This study group will be neutral and have no affiliations with any organisation as a collective although individual members may obviously have whatever affiliations or associations they wish to.

To my knowledge such study groups are available at present but only to those who speak the Hellenic language and what is being proposed here differs slightly because although the subjects studied will be purely Hellenic concepts and subjects...it will be in English.

PAIDEIA is very different to the concept of teaching or being taught. It is about the inherent freedom and the right of everyone to reason things out for themselves.

A definition of PAIDEIA is as follows (from the Lexicon):
The ideal of PAIDEIA is seen as enabling people to be able to give to others the right to reason as well as the right to understand what others are saying. According to Plato, the purpose of PAIDEIA is the ARÊTE of anything that is in existence (both abstract and material) with the purpose of producing a complete and perfect citizen through knowledge of their craft and of ruling and being ruled according to the demands of DIKEO (a just act).PAIDEIA is the cultivation of a noble PSYCHE (Soul) and falls under the auspices of the God Apollon and is his divine gift to mankind.

For these reasons, the proposed study group will have no leaders or teachers and everyone will be on an equal footing as fellow students. Starting with the basic core foundation concepts of the Hellenic worldview, each member of the group will present their unique perspective on a chosen subject (with time for preparation) for the benefit of not only honing one's reason but also for sharing perspectives with others who also wish to learn and think for themselves. 

The point here is not academic rambling (although some of us will :lol: )...the point is for each participating person to integrate the knowledge personally and offer a perspective that reflects their own interests and views regardless of whether they choose to look at it through sport, art, music, philosophy, theology, needlecrafts, or any other personal activity/interest.

This invitation is not limited to those who identify themselves as 'reconstructionist' or 'traditionalist'; its aimed at anyone who may truly wish to participate. 
The only conditions of participation are: 
(a) you must be over the age of 18 (sorry, it's for legal reasons. Adult content will not be censored)
(b) you must be prepared to contribute, 
(c) you must agree to act with respect and goodwill towards others even in times of disagreement.

The first primary source text under discussion will be the Delphic Maxims which is the traditional starting point of Hellenic PAIDEIA. A new translation of the directives will be available to all participants.

If you would be interested in more information or to join with others to study and learn more individually and as a group in a structured, private, on-line, tolerant environment, free of charge; please contact me via email or on this thread.
This Blog reflects my opinion only. I do not represent or speak for any organization or individual. Any similarities with others opinions is purely incidental and not deliberate.

FRYKTORIES GIA TON HELIO

 

               Our 'Beacon for the Sun' in Mytilene, Lesvos



The Rising of the Victorious Sun over the mountains of Asia Minor on Summer Solstice 


___________________________________________________________________________________
 
This Blog reflects my opinion only. I do not represent or speak for any organization or individual. Any similarities with others opinions is purely incidental and not deliberate.

The anger of Hellas

There is much about the current economic situation in Hellas today which is in direct reference to the concept of ethics and ARÊTE. Many people believe that it is shameful to be in debt and not to be in control of ones finances.That however is far from the truth! When a country is forced in to the political games of the larger and more powerful 'allies' then one is not really given an option.
Let me explain. Like most countries in the world Greek defence spending makes up most of the country's yearly budget. We know that defence spending in most countries is unavoidable and politically unchallengeable. In the case of Greek defence spending however it is out of proportion and not 'normal' as a result of the unstable Greco-Turkish relations. The situation in Cyprus and the territories which are occupied by the Turkish army destabilizes the territory forcing a small country like Greece to have a higher defence budget than it should. Greek 'allies' of course are only too happy to provide the country with weapons at a very profitable rate which a small country like Greece does not have the financial capability of paying but is forced in to if the country is to defend the integrity of its borders. As it is Greece today is hard pressed to do so in the face of an aggressive neighbour who continually challenges that integrity.
Cutting defence spending alone would bring Greek GDP not only under control but would go a long way to reducing it. However for Greece to cut back its defence spending a very real guarantee has to be procured from the country's 'allies'. A guarantee of the integrity of the country's borders and its territorial sovereignty. But why should the 'allies' issue such a guarantee when they can make billions out of Greece just by doing nothing?
Of course the corrupt politicians who governed the country in the past few decades, have not helped. So when one sees the events on TV and wonders why the people are angry, ask yourself this question: what would you do if you living a life of uncertainty where your work is irregular at best and your children have a very low possibility of a secure future for themselves irrespective of their level of education and then a bank comes along and tells you that you owe them billions and you must pay now?  For a further interesting analysis of the anger of the Greek people read also this link: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37037022/ns/world_news-europe/
This Blog reflects my opinion only. I do not represent or speak for any organization or individual. Any similarities with others opinions is purely incidental and not deliberate.

When my wife Lesley and I first came across the dichotomy of orthodoxy versus orthopraxy within context to Hellenic religion, it sparked a great amount of animated discussion between us. On the surface, it seemed innocent enough and it seemingly proposed that religions, such as the Abrahamic derivates, with strong, regulatory dogmas stood in opposition to the ethnic religions, such as the Hellenic, the Norse and others. The more we discussed and delved deeper into the subject, the more questions we faced which the dichotomy could not answer. Questions like: "How can we possibly know how to do the right thing (orthopraxy) if we do not have the correct thoughts (orthodoxy) to guide our actions into becoming correct?" ; "Are the implications of a future solely orthopraxic society not dire as it would create a group of 'mindless button-pushers' who would be easily manipulated? As it would stand to reason that without the corresponding Hellenic thought to support actions there would be a disjunction between the internal reality (mind) of a person and their actions and the external reality. Such a disjunction would be antithetical to ALEITHIA (Truth as the correspondence between reason to reality)." and many other such questions.

It is generally accepted that Hellenismos in general carried the 'spark of light' which fuelled ancient civilisation and influences our modern civilisation even today. This spark of light was carried forth in the promotion of education and knowledge because it was understood that only through these things could humans be free. This culminated in the million dollar question of: "How could Hellenismos be purely an orthopraxy and the religion of our ancestors seen only as a set of correct actions when at the very core of Hellenic thinking is Reason and the axis of the religion is the Orthos Logos, i.e. the will of Zeus and the plan of PHYSIS (Nature)?"

The promotion of orthopraxy as correct actions with a negation of any conception of correct thinking preceding it would thus mean the nullification of Reason and the return to the Dark Ages where the gathering of knowledge and the promotion of Ideas was discouraged in favour of doing what was considered to be correct religious actions without any understanding of what such actions meant! This approach is very un-Hellenic and bears no resemblance to the culture which gave the light to our modern civilisation.

These were questions we could not leave unanswered and were mirrored in the concerns expressed by others as well on the subject. Our only recourse was good old fashioned Hellenic research and study.  For these reasons, my wife undertook the task of investigating the origins and the ideas which lie behind the dichotomy of orthopraxy versus orthodoxy.

After weeks of researching in literally hundreds of books, she wrote an essay within which she provides evidence that such a dichotomy is not considered to exist among serious scholars and those who promote and use the dichotomy do so out of either a lack of knowledge or with ulterior motives which are antagonistic to Hellenismos.

Of course, one can raise a lot of arguments about the conclusion but it will all come to two things:

1. How one defines culture.

2. Whether one believes that the corpus of ancient Hellenic texts are our sacred texts or not.

In the first point, I maintain the right for self-determination. My stand is that as a free and self-respecting human being, I refuse to allow others to define me and who I am on the basis of criteria in whose establishment I did not participate. So to allow some anthropologists to classify my religion purely as an orthopraxy on the grounds that it is presumed to be (material) idolatry would be an insult to and dismissive of the great depth that my religious symbols provide.

Secondly, the vast wealth of knowledge encompassed within the writings of the ancient Hellenes, whether it be the poets, philosophers, geographers, historians, mythographers or mathematicians, is the expression of the LOGOS. Because of this, the Hellenic civilisation is known to be the Civilisation of the LOGOS. The LOGOS is Divine Reason and its importance is reflected in the emphasis that the ancient Hellenes placed upon education, the capacity to know and the collection of knowledge. As the Divine LOGOS is sacred, it stands to reason that the texts will be sacred and this I accept without any reservation. To accept the classification of Hellenismos as orthopraxic without the directive of correct thought means to deny the truth of the knowledge accumulated in the texts and thereby deny the sanctity of the LOGOS and render it to be only an opinion equal to the opinion of any other person. This is the suppression of true knowledge and the LOGOS as well as the promotion of a Dark Age of a society which would be slaved by the definition of the individual through what they do rather than what they are.

Either way, the conclusion in short is that there can be no correct action without correct thought.  The Hellenic religion is not open to interpretation because we are told exactly what to think and how to view the world (KOSMOTHEASIS) by the writings of the ancients which in their totality constitute our sacred texts. These writings are supported and substantiated by modern Hellenic culture as the natural inheritor of the legacy of ancient Hellas and those who dispute this stand in direct opposition to Hellenismos.

I attach Lesley's research on the subject for all who may be interested to peruse and comment on. We will welcome any constructive criticism or the inclusion of any references within the ancient texts that we may have missed.

For those whose schedules do not permit the reading of 50 odd pages and who would prefer not to be subjected to external qualifiers or categorisations; I would merely advise people not to use the definition of orthopraxy given on Wikipedia as the conception of orthopraxy on offer represents only that of the modern Western Christian perspective and does not properly represent the ancient Hellenic conception of orthopraxia or orthognosia.

The link to read the complete document entitled "In Defense of the Logos" is:
https://acrobat.com/#d=KwdAL5Wgn-kZRFApJ3StLg

 

This Blog reflects my opinion only. I do not represent or speak for any organization or individual. Any similarities with others opinions is purely incidental and not deliberate.

So what is Hellenismos? With all the incessant fuss raging on sporadically in the Anglophone community about who is a Hellene and who is not, as well as the denial of the modern Greek heritage as being that of Ancient Greece, I decided to focus my thoughts on the subject and question my identity as both a Hellene and a member of the collective known as Hellenismos. And periphery reflection would appear to indicate that that there are those out there who are hell-bent on denying the modern Hellenes their heritage and ancestry. Statements such as: "the contemporary Greeks have nothing to do with the Ancient Hellenes" and, "Hellenismos is a religion" have led me to reflect deeply upon the definition of words with which I have identified since I was a very small child and words that I was taught and led to believe by others to believe meant certain things. And what I was taught words mean and how others used them was confirmed by any dictionary that I laid my hands on. However, now I constantly find remarks and definitions concerning these words that appear to deny both dictionaries and the common usage of words as I was taught.

Naturally, in my haste to clarify my understanding, I first re-consulted the scholars and the dictionaries that they so lovingly and painstakingly wrought. I found the following definition for the word Hellene:


Hellene: 1. the citizen of the Hellenic state 2. the person who belongs to the Hellenic nation irrespective of whether he or she is a citizen of Hellas or not.

I also looked up the word Hellenismos and found the following:

 Hellenismos: 1. the sum of Hellenes who live in the whole world, the nation of the Hellenes (the word nation here is used in the same sense as one would say "the nation of the Sioux" or "the aboriginal nation" as a group of people and not as nationals of a particular country), 2. The sum of Hellenes who live in geographical areas outside of Hellas such as Hellenes abroad, Hellenes of Asia Minor, Hellenes of the Diaspora or Cypriot Hellenes 3. The Hellenic culture and the totality of Hellenes as the bearers of that culture. Further more the word Hellenismos was used in a more specialized manner by the East Roman (Byzantium) Emperor Julian the Apostate to refer to those within his empire who retained the Ancient Hellenic culture and religion to distinguish them from the converts to the new religion of Christianity with its distinct Abrahamic cultural expression (these people referred to themselves as Ethnikoi).

I then referred to the dictionary for the ancient usage of the word and found that the word Hellenismos was used to refer to the Hellenic and correct usage, expression and practice of the LOGOS.

The English Dictionary I consulted concurred with the Greek dictionary on the meaning of the word Hellene but unfortunately I could find no reference to the word Hellenismos in any English dictionary. I therefore had to accept that the word Hellenismos could only be interpreted with its Greek meaning as it is not an accepted English word. The closest word I could find to Hellenismos in the dictionary was Hellenism and I found the following definition:

Hellenism: 1. Ancient Greek character, ideals or civilisation; 2. A Greek idiom or phrase; 3. Assimilation of Greek speech, manners and culture, as by the Romans or the Jews of the Diaspora.  

The fact is that the definition of the word Hellenism includes the assimilation of the Hellenic language, traditions and customs through the process of Hellenisation and the creation of Hellenists, and even though I had to conclude that although the English word Hellenism had some parallels with the word Hellenismos, it was certainly referring to a different total concept to that of the Greek meaning of Hellenismos and thus the two words could not be seen as interchangeable.  Hellenism and Hellenismos are obviously different words from different languages that refer to a related concept from varied perspectives.

The word 'hellenism' refers to the period in history known as the Hellenistic era and is from the death of Alexander the Great circa 323 BCE to the Roman occupation circa 31 BCE. It specifically refers to the process which the various peoples of Alexander's Empire underwent due to the policies of their Greek governors.

For some reason, I was still dissatisfied by what my superficial enquiry had revealed and I decided to enquire further into the academically accepted history of the words to offer me a deeper understanding on how the words had been used through the ages. Here is what I found;

A Brief History of the usage of the words Hellene and Hellenismos:

The earliest references to the words in question, we have is from Homers Illiad (B683) which states that in ancient Hellas the term Hellene was used to refer to the dwellers of an area in Central Hellas known as Phthia in Thessaly. These people considered themselves to be the descendants of the mythological hero Hellen who was the son of Deukaleon.  So Homer defines Hellenes to be the people of Phthia and the descendants of Hellen. Homer (Illiad B530) also names the 'tribes/clans' which comprise the Hellenes as the Achaians, the Panachaians, the Danaans, the Argives and the Panellenes.

By the 7th century BCE (era lucis) the name Panellenes (Pan-Hellenes) was more commonly used as may be attested by Hesiod (Work and Days 528) and Archilochos (52).  Now if we consider that Panellenes is directly translated to pan = all and ellenes = hellenes (thus referring to the collective of Hellenes) it is perhaps understandable why it is said that it is from Panellenes that our common conception of the word Hellenes derives.

The generalisation of the term Hellene occurred from the 6th century BCE (era lucis) onwards and as a result of the common traditions which bound and characterized all the dwellers of Hellas and the Greater Hellas.  These shared traditions were apparent in the common places of worship such as Delphi, Dodona and Olympia and the various Pan-Hellenic contests such as the Olympic 'games'  which epitomized the expression of these collective cultural (including religious) traditions. Another important factor was the common language which was shared by all Hellenes and existed as an 'identifier' of the Hellenes, many of whom became the settlers of the numerous settlements established outside of Hellas. It is generally through the characteristically ethnic, cultural, religious, ethical and educational commonalities that the Hellenes were distinguished as a distinct ethnic collective from other nations who were frequently referred to as VARVAROI.

Up until the arrival of christianity, the word Hellene was a simple ethnic name. With the arrival of christianity the collective name of Hellenes acquired the additional meaning of 'idolaters' and 'those who worship many gods' that stood in contrast to 'monotheistic' Christians and Jews. Thus, for the first time, the word received a religious dimension and a comparative religious one at that! However, initially this change in meaning was not simply a religious distinction but more of a cultural one as the lines were drawn not only by theological differences but also by the disparity between the cultural lifestyles of Hellenes, Christians and Jews. Later, as will often happen with the common usage of words, the meaning of the word Hellene was simplified to indicate a "non-christian".

During the 1st century CE (era vulgaris) and during the Alexandrine era, the term Hellenistai was used to refer to those who spoke the Hellenic language and referred more specifically to those who spoke the common simplified Alexandrian dialect known as Koine that stood in contrast to the Attic dialect which was spoken and written by the intellectuals of the times.

Throughout christianity's early striving for dominion it was considered that everything Hellenic was non-christian and as such should be renounced and persecuted. It was soon became evident that persecution alone would not be enough to convert the Hellenes to christianity in its early form and so it came to pass that the so-called 'Three Hierarchs' (bishops) cunningly combined elements of Hellenic religion and culture to christian ideology thus establishing the basis of the helleno-christian and helleno-orthodox education through which the Hellenes could and would be converted to the new religion.

This was however not enough to quell the fears of the Byzantine clergy and for a long time they remained suspicious of Hellenic education (bearing in mind that education was not secular at the time) and assumed a hostile stance towards it.

As a result of the christianization of Hellenic education another phenomenon became apparent; the Roman rulers of Byzantium, known as the Eastern Roman Empire during its existence, adopted a more Hellenic identity. In 620 CE (era vulgaris) the Emperor Heraclius established the Hellenic language to be the official language of the court in place of Latin. By the 11th century CE (era vulgaris) and as a result of the christianization of education, Komninos, the Emperor of Byzantium totally identified as a Hellene in accordance with that which had already been established in 620 CE. Komninos' action simultaneously established Christian Orthodoxy as Hellenic. At the same time, the name of the Eastern Roman Empire fell into disuse in favour of the name Byzantine Empire.

After the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans the term 'romioi' (derived from 'romans') was used to refer to the diverse peoples of Byzantium including the Hellenes. It is obvious from this that the new Turkish 'masters' considered the Byzantines to still be Romans. The term 'romioi' also became synonymous with Greek orthodoxy. After the successful Revolution against the Ottoman Empire in 1821, the newly independent state once again adopted the name of Hellas for its land and Hellenes for its citizens.

But my research was incomplete because, as any good anthropologist will tell you, detached scholarly accounts only offer one perspective of any culture and for a truly human experience of native/social identity and its processes it is necessary to turn to the people themselves. So I approached my neighbour Barba Vasilis and asked him what made him identify himself as Hellene.

He replied: "You mean besides the fact that my identity document says so? Well, let's see… I was born in a family which has lived in Hellas as far back as we can trace for at least 6 generations. I have been born and been baptised Greek Orthodox and I observe the traditions and customs of my ancestors who themselves called themselves Hellenes. What else could I be but a Hellene?"

I then went across the street and asked the question to Thiea Eirene. She looked at me strangely as though I was joking but answered me nonetheless: "I speak Hellenica don't I? What else could I be?" And she shook her head and chased me off home.

"Fair enough", I thought, "but let's see what my own grandfather has to say on the subject." And so I went to my grandfather Aristomenes and asked him: "Papou, do you consider yourself a Hellene because of your religion?"

He looked at me in disgust and replied: "Don't talk to me about religion! You know very well that these priests are all bloodsuckers who wish to keep the working man a slave to the fat capitalist bosses who exploit……"

"Yes, yes, I know that you are a good party member but surely communism is not Hellenic and you insist that you are a Hellene" I interrupted him.

"Of course I'm a Hellene", he countered, "and just because I support a fair system of government, that cares for the working man, does not mean that I renounce my heritage and my culture or the history of my people".

My final visit was with Aspasia, a friend who was born in Sydney Australia to a family of Greek immigrants. She was visiting family in Hellas as she does on an annual basis.

"Aspa," I began, "you were born in Australia, why do you come to Hellas every year?"

"Because, I'm a Hellene and come to visit my family and the land of my ancestry", she replied.

"But you are an Australian" I prompted.

"Yes, I am a Graeco-Australian but I'm proud to say that I keep a Hellenic home in my country of birth".

"So what makes your home Hellenic?" I prompted further.

"I keep all the traditions as were taught to me by my mother and I feed my Australian husband and children wholesome Greek food with all love in my heart," Aspa continued.

"So you enjoy coming to Hellas?" I inquired.

"I love the country and I feel so much closer to our ancestors and our heritage here. It is a pity though that every one here is so laid back and, to be frank, their attitude towards life is not what I'm used to. In Australia we do things differently".

I laughed knowingly and said my goodbyes having gathered enough information to reflect upon.

After long reflection on the diverse reasons for which people consider themselves to be Hellenes and consequently a part of Hellenismos (in the modern sense of the word), I came to the conclusion that sadly the ancient meaning of Hellenismos has changed to include the cultural colonisation which the Hellenes have been experienced since their subjugation to the Roman Empire. All types of foreign, barbaric ideologies such as 'monism', 'monotheism', 'nationalism', 'communism' and a host of other -isms have changed the Hellenic ethnic identity, sometimes for the good and other times for the bad, to what it is today. The key to identifying a Hellene however remains the same; Hellenic culture in its various expressions, inclusive of the Hellenic language and all the 'foreign' ideology Hellenic culture now encompasses.

Be that as it may, Hellenic ethnicity may only be based (as it was in ancient Hellas) on the common traditions and to a certain extent, the common language (irrespective of dialect). These traditions and language were inseparable from the religious beliefs of the Hellenes and even though each area of Hellas had its own distinct form of worship for the local gods, there were enough commonalities which were expressed in the various places of common worship such as Dodona, Olympia, Eleusis, Delphi and other lesser known centres to say that a cohesion in common beliefs did exist. Interestingly enough not one of these centres was Athens or any other major ancient Hellenic power. This possibly means that neither Athens nor Sparta or any major city-state could be considered to be the exemplary form of the ancient Hellenic ethnos.

Thus an ethnic Hellene could be anyone who participates in any of the traditional expressions of the ancient Hellenic culture. This is what the Roman Emperor Julian, the Apostate, was referring to in his usage of the word Hellenismos and furthermore what those who called themselves Ethnikoi made reference to. The concepts of any tradition and culture are inclusive of not only language and religion but also of the collective people as the bearers of that particular culture and it is this complete concept that the word Hellenismos expresses.

As Hellenismos is such an all inclusive concept of various Hellenic traditions it becomes necessary to qualify the word by adding an adjective to specify or refer to a particular idea or 'ism' within the collective concept. As such Ethnikos Hellenismos would then refer to the people who are the bearers of the Hellenic traditions, culture, language and religion as it was known in ancient times and expressed in any form of ancient Hellenic culture. In the same manner Socialistikos Hellenismos would refer to the people who are the bearers of Hellenic tradition, culture and language, etc (irrespective of religion) as is expressed by the ideology of Socialism. Another example is Orthodoxos Hellenismos which refers to the people who are the bearers of Hellenic tradition, culture and language as expressed by the Christian Orthodox Church.

As we can see from the above examples the expressions may vary widely but there are two constants; i.e. tradition and culture. There is a continuity of culture since ancient times. Still today, within the folk customs of all regions of Hellas, remain traces of the ancient traditions. Language is no longer a commonality as there are many Hellenes born outside Hellas who have a limited, if any, command of the Hellenic language. Regardless, the language remains the perfect expression of the culture.

I can safely say that I identify myself as a Hellene and therefore as a member of the collective known as Hellenismos because I follow the traditions and culture of other Hellenes but I express those traditions and culture in my own way, which is more aptly described by the adjective Ethnikos. This, of course, means that anyone who adopts any expression of the traditions and culture of Hellenismos has the right to claim to be a Hellene, irrespective of nationality or place of birth or ancestry as long as the correct qualifying adjective is used. What makes one a Hellene is living as one and not just buying into certain Hellenic ideas. Religious ideology alone does not make one a Hellene or a part of Hellenismos as the worship of the Hellenic Theoi can only be perfectly expressed through the Hellenic tradition and culture. Any other form of worship renders the worship of the Theoi into the area of eclectism and therefore a part of some new Religious Movement. This 'eclectic' form of worship may by definition be referred to as Hellenistic as it is not Hellenic but only contains Hellenic elements and influences.

The same reasoning would then dictate that anyone who is an admirer or a lover of things Hellenic or of Hellas is not necessarily a Hellene or a Hellenist. Such a person in Greek is known as a "philhellene" - a friend of Hellenes.

These terms which I have discussed in this essay are the accepted and commonly used terms in the Greek language with their actual meaning and definition. Some would like to introduce these words into the English language with different meanings and definitions or sometimes with no definition whatsoever. One can imagine the confusion that may arise from such action in any communication on the subject. Such action is a direct attack to the modern Hellenic identity as what it indirectly says is: "You Greeks do not know what you are talking about. We foreigners know better and we will dictate to you how your own language should be used". I marvel at such attitude that could not only be construed as unfriendly towards the Hellenes but in truth downright hostile.

So I say that any one who proposes to take aspects of the Hellenic language, culture and religion and twist them to suit their own purposes and agenda while not taking heed or accepting the Hellenic people and their opinion on the matter can only be considered to be cultural thieves and guilty of cultural misappropriation.   Such people could only be called "misohellenes" (haters of Hellenes).

At the same time some one who takes Hellenic ideas and concepts in context and uses them to shape what ever other religion or culture they are part of, would by definition be called a Hellenist as a person who purely has an interest and a love of Hellenic culture and its people would be referred to as a "philellene" (friend of Hellenes).

Finally to conclude, when one is looking to find the METRON so as to measure up oneself as either a Hellene, Hellenist or Philhellene the place to look is not in any list of virtues or rules or laws or even ancestry but simply within one's personal level of participation within the culture and tradition. That is something which is learnt and not inherited even by those of us who were born to it.

ΑΦ’  ΕΣΤΙΑΣ  ΑΡΧΕΣΘΑι

Sources

Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας - Γ Μπαμπινιώτη
YSEE's Standard Terminology for Hellenismos
Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of the English Language

This Blog reflects my opinion only. I do not represent or speak for any organization or individual. Any similarities with others opinions is purely incidental and not deliberate.

Who may call themselves a Hellenist?

After considering the ongoing polemic on who has the right to call themselves a Hellenist and who does not, I would like to direct your attention to Line 139 of the Ethical Directives of the Seven Wise Men (commonly known as the Delphic Maxims) which states:

 ’Επαγγέλου μηδενί

This has been translated by some scholars as 'make promises to no one'. Unfortunately, no logical investigation of the ancient Hellenic language can support this translation and its true meaning is something that is of vital importance to the public repudiation of current and aspiring Hellenists.

The verb Επαγγέλου etymologically derives from two words επι (with regards to/about) and αγγέλλω (message). Hence the word Επαγγέλου is used to refer to 'an announcement', 'a declaration' and 'a renouncement'.

Common examples of how the word is used are given by the 'Αναλυτικό Λεξικό της Αρχαίας Ελληνικής' - Μακάριος Π. Πελέκης (The Analytical Dictionary of Ancient Hellenic by Makarios P Pelekes):

Επαγγέλλω τινά τη βουλή meaning 'I renounce someone in the government'

Επαγγέλλω τινί την δοκιμασίαν meaning 'I renounce an illegal orator'

Now the rationale that has supported the translation of Επαγγέλου as 'promise' may well have derived from Xenophon's usage of the word in the sentence below as Xenophon's works are standard material given to foreign students of the ancient Hellenic language at university and the translators would thus have been familiar with his usage of words.

Εθαύμαζε δεί τις αρετήν επαγγελλόμενος αργύριον πράττοιτω (Xenophon: Memorabilia 1.2,7)

In this sentence Xenophon refers to:

He was amazed because someone was receiving money while declaring himself to be virtuous

Now this has been incorrectly translated by some to mean:

He was amazed because someone was receiving money while promising to be virtuous thus giving the word Επαγγέλου a further meaning of 'promise'.

However, it is unlikely that Xenophon was using the word Επαγγέλου to describe a promise in the English sense of the word as there is a far more appropriate ancient Hellenic word Υπισχνέομαι which means to 'promise' 'ensure', 'guarantee', 'certify' and 'vow'. The word Υπισχνέομαι was used to mean 'promise' by Herodotos, Thucydides and Xenophon himself in Kyrou Paedia (6.2,3). Ancient Hellenic is a very specific language and the words Επαγγέλου and Υπισχνέομαι are not interchangeable.

From this perspective it is both logical and safe to presume that Xenophon in Memorabilia was using the word Επαγγέλου to mean a 'declaration' and not a 'promise'.

Following this logic, the Ethical Directive of line 139 ’Επαγγέλου μηδενί would be erroneously translated as 'make promises to no one'  and a more accurate translation would be Renounce No One.

This maxim of Renounce No One is especially applicable to current debates on the validity of certain groups and people whose membership to the Hellenic Religion is disputed because of their 'alleged' lack of authenticity.

The word 'Renounce' is very specific and well suited as an English translation of Επαγγέλου if one considers the parallel in the etymology of the two words.

According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary: the word Renounce has the following etymology and meaning:

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Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French renuncer, from Latin renuntiare, from re- + nuntiare to report, from nuntius messenger

Date: 14th century

Meaning: 1 : to give up, refuse, or resign usually by formal declaration <renounce his errors>
2 : to refuse to follow, obey, or recognize any further : repudiate >intransitive verb 1 : to make a renunciation
2 : to fail to follow suit in a card game

synonyms see abdicate, abjure

 

The word Renounce therefore refers to the formal (and public) repudiation of anything or anyone. Repudiation refers to the act of refusing to accept the validity, truth or authority of something or someone in an act of condemnation and rejection.

If we are to live in accordance with the Delphic Maxims and in line with the spirit and logic of the maxim 'Renounce No One' we do not, ethically, have the right to exclude anyone from the Hellenic religion or any other grouping and especially in the form of a public declaration or statement. We are, rather, bound to allow people to exclude themselves, if they should so wish. This is a Maxim that has far reaching implications, as do they all.

The Delphic Maxims are not commandments but are rather wise directives that served Hellenic education for more than twenty full centuries and are aimed at guiding us towards a virtuous life and true happiness. We are not bound to follow the directives of the Seven Wise Men but it would be wiser to do so.

So in answer to the question of 'who may call themselves a Hellenist?', the answer is simple…anyone who identifies as a Hellenist may call themselves one because if we heed the Delphic Maxims, Line 139 direct us to 'Renounce No One'.

This Blog reflects my opinion only. I do not represent or speak for any organization or individual. Any similarities with others opinions is purely incidental and not deliberate.