Published in El Pais on 3/6/2012 http://elpais.com/elpais/2012/06/01/opinion/1338542464_213857.html
by Nobelist Mario Vargas Llosahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Vargas_Llosa
TOUCHSTONE: Greece can not but be an integral part of Europe without it becoming a grotesque caricature of itself, condemned to the most dismal failure. She is the symbol of Europe
At that dinner, several years ago, I sat next to an elderly woman covering her eyes with large sunglasses. He was kind, elegant, exquisite and spoke French, although it made great efforts to hide it, in everything he said and thought shone through a huge culture. Dinner only half realized by the great care with which handled cutlery, who was blind or at least, that his vision was minimal. Only after we parted, I found out that Jacqueline de Romilly was a Hellenist, Greek professor at the Ecole Normale and the Sorbonne, the first woman to be elected to the College de France and one of the few female representatives in the French Academy.
The first book of his I read, the Grèce Pourquoi?, dazzled me as much as him. Although what he says and it has happened 25 centuries ago, is currently outstanding and should be mandatory reading these days for those Europeans who, frightened by what is happening in Greece, spiraling debt, the political anarchy, its dreadful impoverishment and the rise of fascist and communist extremism in their last election, believe that the output of that country of the single currency, and even the European Union is inevitable and even necessary.
The book tells how the young Jacqueline read in their school years and how Thucydides impression he made it one of the two founders of the discipline of history (with Herodotus) directed his vocation to the study of classical Greece, which devoted her life. The essay takes stock in a clear, entertaining and deeply strange alliance to a specialist-a miracle that V century BC in which history, philosophy, tragedy, politics, rhetoric, medicine, sculpture reached its apogee in Greece and lay the groundwork for what eventually would be called Western culture. Homer and Hesiod are quite above the V century, of course, and there are artists, thinkers and playwrights after that timeframe. The trial did not hesitate to back or forward for inclusion in the Greek legacy, although the bulk of what he calls "a guided tour through the text" focuses on that small period of 100 years in the small space of the Hellenic world There is a frantic explosion, frenzied creativity in all domains of the spirit, with ideas, aesthetic standards, intellectual standards, inventions and discoveries, by which the civilization of logos take a critical distance with respect to all other cultures of the past and time and, without intending or knowing it would forever change world history.
Jacqueline de Romilly sample were born in Greece, or charged a reality and dynamism that had never before in the social life of any people, the determinants of human progress, such as democracy, freedom, law, reason and emancipated art of religion, notions of equality, individual sovereignty, citizenship, and a unique new way to relate man to the afterlife and the gods, then, of course, an idea of beauty and ugliness, of good and evil, happiness and misery, which, though with the inevitable nuances and adaptations that have been imposing history remain.
The Socratic dialogues, and Plato taught that talk is a more civilized way of living
Wonder that a people so small and so little cohesive politically, made of a few cities and colonies spread through Europe and Asia Minor, which retained a large degree of independence between them, a people as instinctively reluctant to form an empire, to practice imperialism and undergo the arrogance of a tyrant (as did all others) have been able to stop in the history of mankind a mark so deep, so this still so many centuries later, while almost all other great empires or civilizations -the Persians and the Egyptians, for example, are now mostly without forgetting any of its wonders, museum pieces.
It was no accident or mere chance, there were reasons for it and the book by Jacqueline de Romilly are paraded before our eyes with the same poise, beauty and elegance to your conversation to me, enchanted me that night. And Plato's Socratic dialogues, as well as a way of philosophizing, he explains, they taught the human beings who talk, talk in groups, is a more civilized and ethical living than giving orders or obeying a form of communication that recognizes or sets of input equal basis, reciprocal rights between the partners. That was emerging freedom, desanimalizándose man, born of true humanity of man.
This demonstration in the Grèce Pourquoi? not appear as an abstract discourse, but through commentary and literary quotations, because, as its author never tires of repeating all that constitutes a culture is essentially represented in literary works, and The real criticism is one that searches poetry, fiction, drama, essays produces a society in search of those hidden truths that fuel his imagination and permeate the adventures and characters to their artists gave life to quench the thirst of all, to live other lives, of its people.
"Without knowing it, we breathe the air of Greece at any moment," says one of its pages. Not the least of the paradoxes that the Greeks, who never conquered any people and only fought in defense of their freedom, then quietly have dominated the world, beginning with Rome, whose legions believed effortlessly seize Greece, when in Indeed, the people would end up that infiltrate the mind, spirit and even the language of the conqueror. (The test shows that during good weather, was in good taste among Roman families contemporary of Cicero and Virgil speak in Greek).
What is surprising is that there are still many Greeks who still believe in democracy
It is true that the Greece of today is very different from that which built the Parthenon, which Phidias carved Solon and harangued his statues. In the 25 intervening centuries its people have experienced misfortunes and disasters perhaps more than most others: external and internal wars, occupations that ended centuries liberty, tyranny and segregation that several times threatened to disintegrate. This morning I read in the International Herald Tribune a lurid description of the state of its economy, the grotesque privileges they have enjoyed over the years its owners, bankers and business more prosperous, exempt from paying taxes, and the fortunes that have escaped and are leaking from the country to Switzerland and tax havens in the world safer, while the Greek people are still impoverished, seeing their wages shrink or go to stop, begging and hunger.
Against this background, it is not surprising that many Greeks have voted in recent elections by the Nazis and leftist extremists, but rather that there are still many Greeks who still believe in democracy, and that the polls for the next election indicate that the parties of center-left, center and center right, defending the European option and accept the conditions imposed to rescue Greek Brussels could win a majority and form government.
My hope is that this is because, simply, Greece can not but be an integral part of Europe without it becoming a grotesque caricature of itself, condemned to the most dismal failure. Europe was born there, at the foot of the Acropolis, 25 centuries ago, and all the best in it, the most appreciated and admired for itself, including the religion of Christ, one of the most beautiful pages of the trial of Jacqueline de Romilly explains why much of the Gospels were written in Greek, as well as democratic institutions, freedom and human rights have their distant roots in this small corner of the old continen