To the Editor:
The spirited article ‘A Year-Round ‘Easter Chanter’ to Safeguard Hellenism’s Cultural Heritage’ by Christopher Tripoulas – with references to Papadiamantis’ writings about Holy Week in the context of the meaningful celebration of Pascha – portrays the most important manifestation of our Hellenic Identity, and it evoked my interest on the topic of Hellenic identity.
What is Hellenic identity? The book History and Religion as Sources of Hellenic Identity in Late Byzantium and the Post-Byzantine Era by Georgios Steiris, Department of Philosophy, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Greece, should be reviewed. Prof. Steiris, cites some of the important scholars on the subject matter of the historical characteristics that correspond to Hellenic Identity, the writings of 15th century Hellenes like Georgios Gemistos Plethon, Michael Apostolis, Georgios Trapezuntius, and others. Most writers, however, appeal to their rooted ‘genos’, the heroic epoch, the classical period, whose remains are found in the Greek Landscape, testifying to their distant association to Ancient Greek History and Philosophy.
Who Are the Byzantines? The early Emperors were Romans – not Hellenes – the people or the masses were mainly of Hellenic Stock by Genos-birth, and the continuity of the Greek language helped the new religion advance.
The Christian religion had as its source the Jewish Culture after all – Jesus Christ was a born Jew circumcised by Jewish Law, and his followers were all Jewish people who spoke Aramaic!
Therefore, had it not been for the Greek language, Christianity could not have developed or been cultivated into its current form as a dynamic religious institution.
In fact, had Alexander the Great NOT crossed the Hellespont to advance Hellenic Culture into the Levant, The Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, would not have been translated from Hebrew to Greek in Alexandria. It would not have had a chance to come into existence. The highly treasured Library of Alexandria would not have been built, and without the Septuagint it helped to exist, it would have been unlikely that Paul would have had the opportunity to preach Christology in Corinth, Athens, or Rome in fluent Greek. Regrettably, today, we would not be breaking our red eggs, dancing, and celebrating Christos Anesti!
The point being made by many historians is that Modern Greek Christian Orthodox identity is a continuous process, a major branch of civilization that evolved from the Ancient Greek world.
Papadiamantis has his perspective from his Greek Orthodox viewpoint writing from the island of Skiathos; and likewise, Adamantios Korais has his Classical Paideia, as a linguistic scholar; a Hellene living in Paris, his origins were from the Island of Chios.
Both of them deserve that their voices be heard, and their positions be analyzed on the merits of their works.
The dynamic power and influence of the Greek language through the ages has survived despite myriad occupations, the Greek nation’s challenging and painful past.
Vassilis G. Tourikis