Some To a Much Lesser Extent
I had two years of Koine Greek in college and another year in graduate school. The Greek language has contributed many words to our English vocabulary. In addition to our language, the English poet Percy Shelley said, “We are all Greeks.” He wrote the lyrical drama Hellas in 1821. Shelley added to his observation to explain the general contribution that the Greeks provided us. “Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their root in Greece.”
The former president of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, said less poetically than Shelley, “Europe without Greece is like a child without a birth certificate.” The naissance of the West occurred in Greece 2½ millennia ago. We, in the West, have our societal foundation based upon the Greek mindset. The Greeks gave us the basis of all the arts like sculpture, painting, and plays. Additionally, Greece provided us with critical thinking.
The Golden Age of Greece lasted only two centuries, from 500 to 300 BCE. And yet, they built the foundation of all Western thought, our understanding, and our Weltanschauung. That being said, our birth and lineage did not occur without two major traumatic events.
The first was the battle between the Greeks and the Persians at Thermopylae. This battle took place around August or September of 480 BC. The Persians had failed in their first invasion of Greece at Marathon in 490 BC. This time, the Greek’s plan was to block the Persian advance by both land and sea. They would stop the Persian land advance at Thermopylae and the Persian sea advance at Artemisium.
The Battle of Thermopylae consisted of King Leonidas of Sparta and his 300 Spartans and another thousand Greeks. The Persian force was commanded by Xerxes I. He amassed an army ranging from as few as 100,000 to nearly 500,000. Xerxes told Leonidas to surrender or die. Both knew that Leonidas could not stop the overwhelming number of Persians. Leonidas replied, “Moλωυ λαβε,” which meant, “Come and get them.”
Leonidas stopped Xerxes from advancing for two days. It wasn’t until the third day that the Greeks were finally overwhelmed. However, the delay of nearly three days allowed the Greek navy time to get ready for the Persian navy and defeat them. The battles at Thermopylae and Artemisium saved Greece and their culture, which we inherited.
The second trauma was the fall of the Roman Empire. The West went into the Dark Ages and the Early Middle Ages, from the 5th-10th century. As a result, the intellectual lights of Europe essentially went out. Europe returned to the barbaric days before the advent of the Roman Republic. Very little took place in Europe related to learning and education for half a millennia. The Greek culture became nonexistent in Europe and was almost totally lost.
The only positive thing that occurred due to the first several Crusades was that the knights discovered the Greek culture. It had been preserved in the Middle East since the fall of Rome. The battles at Thermopylae and Artemisium, in addition to the early Crusades, saved the Greek culture for us and the entire Western world.
This has been a brief history lesson regarding the Greeks for the past two and a half millennia. Shelley was correct, “We are all Greeks.” We need to study, read, and research our precious roots if we wish to maintain our intellectual inheritance given to us by the Greeks.
While in college, I took two years of Greek and another year in graduate school. My Greek class went to a Greek Orthodox Easter service when I was in college. That meant we were at the church around 3 am, early Easter morning. I am steeped in the history of the Greeks and how we benefited from them for six decades.
However, we are not all Greeks. This is Patriarch Kirill, who was the Russian Orthodox bishop. Since 2009, he is now the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Patriarch Kirill is the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox faith, which is a part of the larger Eastern Orthodox religion. Along with other branches of Eastern Orthodoxy, including Greek Orthodoxy, they all celebrated Easter yesterday.
Even though Patriarch Kirill shares the Greek religious calendar and theology, he is not like Shelley claimed, “We are all Greeks.” Kirill backed Putin’s war in Ukraine. I have never read of any religious clergy that has praised Putin’s genocide of the Ukrainian people, but Kirill has. Here are some of his reasons. He said, “Pride parades are designed to demonstrate that sin is one variation of human behaviour. That’s why in order to join the club of those countries, you have to have a gay pride parade.” If that weren’t reason enough for the senseless killing, Kirill added, “If humanity accepts that sin is not a violation of God’s law, if humanity accepts that sin is a variation of human behavior, the human civilisation will end there.”
Those reasons for backing Putin’s war in Ukraine are as absurd as Putin’s desire to de-nazify Ukraine.
It was then that a light went on in my brain. As the saying goes, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” I googled Putin Kirill KGB. In a nanosecond, I was looking at 121,000 sites.
I read through several websites, including one from a Forbes article published in 2009. This is the second paragraph of that article.
Kirill, who was the Metropolitan of Smolensk, succeeds Alexei II who died in December after 18 years as head of the Russian Church. According to material from the Soviet archives, Kirill was a KGB agent (as was Alexei). This means he was more than just an informer, of whom there were millions in the Soviet Union. He was an active officer of the organization. Neither Kirill nor Alexei ever acknowledged or apologized for their ties with the security agencies.