>The Greek Philosophy

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The word ‘Philosophy’ comes from the Greek ‘philo sophia’ meaning ‘love of wisdom’.
Athens is named for the goddess of wisdom, Athena, and she does indeed have all the characteristics of a wise woman.  She is certainly beautiful.  From a vista, the landscape, dotted with white buildings seems to sparkle under a vigilant sun.  I recognize that the sparkling is only the reflection of solar panels but even still, when a gray storm rolls in with a quickness from beyond the hills, it is easy to understand how the ancients came to associate the clap of thunder with an angry Zeus, and a stormy sea with a raging Poseidon below the waves.
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Athens, with her quaint manicured neighborhoods of Monastiraki and the Plaka, cradle the Acropolis which stands at the heart of the city as a monument to the beginnings of Western Philosophy. 

But her age and a side that has grown haggard show in the areas that have been neglected and graffitied.  And of these, there are many.  I did not go into Xahia square, the proclaimed Anarchist area, but found the aftermath of the recent riots easily visible in the burned out shells of buildings nearby.

If you have not done so already, you should watch some youtube videos of those protests.  Its not a lighthearted thing, but it is essential to understanding the character of the city today, essential because Athens, she continues on.  Markets still open and people still shop.  Tourist still visit all the ruins and pay too much for cheesy souveniers.  And locals still walk among suburban streets littered with oranges that have fallen from trees and they still go to work everyday.  Unless they are on strike.  I did not personally witness any protests but I did spend the first seven hours in Greece trapped in the Athens airport because the metro was on strike and my budget refused to let me pay for a cab ride that would have been 10 times more expensive.  I also had to spend two days instead of one, on the island of Santorini because of a ferry strike.  But lets be real — there are far worse places to be stuck than in the Greek Isles.

Athens, she is inviting, beautiful, warm (sweltering even) and passionate in her loves as well as in her anger.  I find this to be a fair representation of Greece in general as well.  You may ask though, how I can make the comparison to the goddess of wisdom in light of Greece’s recent economic faux pas. It would be an ignorant cop-out  to say that she simply went on a spending spree and is now paying for it, even if this may be the case.  No, her wisdom lies in something deeper than economics, something inherent in the Greek people.  Consider this story:

My host, Vangelis took me with him one day to the seaside to visit some friends of his, a married couple, Georgia and Apostolos and their two year old son, Konstantinos, who is also Vangelis’ godson.  They met us at the beach and after a couple hours of playing with Konstantinos in the sand, which was endlessly adorable, we went back to their home, a quick drive up the hill.  We arrived on the back porch, lined with pink flowers and looking out onto the town and the sea, where the grandfather was sorting through a table piled high with field greens.  (Greeks are famously healthy for existing on a diet heavy with these greens which are picked wild from the hillsides.)  The grandmother then commenced to bring out a bowl of cherries which we snacked on while watching Konstantinos play.  He kept kicking around a red balloon, excitedly screaming, “GOAL!!” with each and every kick.  I may not have understood a word of all the Greek that was spoken amongst the family, but I understood that I was warmly welcomed into a happy family for the the evening.

After the baby was put to bed, Vangelis, his friends and I went into the town for a walk along the pier and a dinner of souvlaki, a pita sandwich similar to a gyro.  (Side note:  Pittsburghers and Primanti Bros aficionados, you will be happy to know that Greeks are also big fans of putting french fries on everything.)  This was our dinner:

The entire evening just dripped of Greek authenticity and was all the evidence I need, to know that Greece is indeed wise.  She is wise in her recognition of the things that really matter: kindness to a stranger, a sunny afternoon on the beach, and evening on the porch with loved ones, a nighttime walk along the pier — you know, the really important stuff.

–Marie DeAeth, World Affairs Council, Intern Abroad

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One Comment on “>The Greek Philosophy”

  1. Tobi says:

    >Well-written article with nice, off the beaten track insights. Cool idea an intern abroad! Keep marching and interviewing!Tobs


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