Discussion in 'FanForce Community' started by Pensivia, Jun 20, 2016.
Watch it in all its glorius madness.
Really do, it is fun
Today is a public holiday in Greece for the anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic University uprising against the dictatorship of the colonels in 1973 – or, to be more specific, for the day the Junta sent the tanks into the university, the uprising itself having begun three days earlier.
There are many fantastic songs associated with that uprising, here's a selection for anyone who wants to listen to a bit of Greek music.
The Road by Manos Loizos (music) and Kostoula Mitropoulou (lyrics). It was originally sung by Soula Birbili in the mid-1960s but the most famous version (below) was recorded by Loizos himself after the fall of the Junta. The video is a montage of pictures from the uprising.
The Pilgrimage by Stavros Xarchakos (music) and Iakovos Kambanellis (lyrics), sung by N. Dimitratos, Tzeni Karezi, Kostas Kazakos and choir. It is part of a satirical political play called Our Great Circus that was first staged shortly before the uprising; the play attracted huge crowds and evolved into the first act of mass resistance against the dictatorship. This particular song, which refers explicitly to the Polytechnic, was added when the play was performed again in 1974 after the fall of the Junta. The video uses footage from the uprising and its aftermath; an alternate version here includes the names of the people who were killed during the uprising.
The Laughing Boy by Mikis Theodorakis, sung by Maria Farantouri. The lyrics are a poem by Brendan Behan about an Irish independance fighter (my understanding is that it's a thinly veiled reference to Michael Collins), translated to Greek by Vasilis Rotas for the first performance of Behan's play The Hostage in Athens in the 1960s.
Notional Sun of Justice by Theodorakis again, sung by Grigoris Bithikotsis. The lyrics are a poem by the vary famous Greek poet Odysseas Elytis; many of his poems were set to music by Theodorakis.
When Will There Be Clear Skies, a traditional Cretan song long associated with popular struggles in Greece, sung here by Nikos Xylouris. Xylouris was perhaps the most popular Cretan singer ever in Greece and he was also the lead singer in the play Our Great Circus mentioned above.
Do you think that last song is kind of like the Greek version of Blowing In The Wind, if you know what I mean by that?
Cowgirl Jedi 1701 There are some similarities: both are "protest songs", the melodies are evocative of traditional musical forms, and the lyrics for both are in the vernacular rather than formal language (you wouldn't notice this, obviously, but the lyrics of When Will There Be Clear Skies are in the Cretan dialect). However, the themes of the songs are very different. This article (in Greek) by Professor G. Sifakis explains the evolution of When Will There Be Clear Skies since the 19th century. Apparently it started out as a hunter's song (the original lyrics are about going to the mountain with a rifle to hunt ptarmigans in February) but it evolved into a war song about rebels coming down the mountain to fight against the enemies of the people, probably in the late 19th/early 20th century around the time of the Cretan uprising against Ottoman rule and union with Greece. The war version of the song is the one that's known in Greece today and its content is explicitly a call to arms, so in that sense it's very different from Blowin' in the Wind.
Mikis Theodorakis has actually been translated into Swedish
great post, Chyntuck! I'm listening to the music...that first one makes for a cheery way to start the day! (just based on the sound of it--I haven't looked at the lyrics yet)
Reading the Wik entry on the uprising now and came across this:
United States took a clandestine interest in suppressing Socialists and had a C.I.A. operative named John Maury who was in consultation supporting the Junta Leaders. American Vice President Spiro Agnew praised the junta as "the best thing to happen to Greece since Pericles ruled in ancient Athens".
Very interesting history! Amazing to think of the bravery of the students in that situation.
Edit: enjoyed all the songs...I think "The Road" is my favorite! Cool Swedish versions, too, Gamiel !
I also found this interesting:
As the authorities stood by, the students, calling themselves the "Free Besieged" (Greek: Ελεύθεροι Πολιορκημένοι, a reference to a poem by Greek national poet Dionysios Solomos inspired by the Ottoman siege of Mesolonghi),
love the poetry connection and the link to Missolonghi!
Gamiel That's awesome! I knew that some of Theodorakis's works were translated to French, but I didn't know about other languages and certainly not Swedish. I can't say it comes as a particularly big surprise though, because Theodorakis became famous around the time of the dictatorship and there was a big anti-fascist movement in Sweden. Andreas Papandreou himself was a refugee in Sweden during that time.
Pensivia I can see why you'd think of The Road as a good song to start your day, it's the only one in the lot that's actually optimistic Pilgrimage for instance is about parents coming to the Polytechnic looking for their children who went missing during the uprising and it's, well, very sad. The lyrics for The Road mean:
The road had its own story – Ο δρόμος είχε τη δική του ιστορία
Someone wrote it on the wall with paint – κάποιος την έγραψε στον τοίχο με μπογιά
It was only one word: freedom – ήταν μια λέξη μοναχά ελευθερία
But later they said it was written by children – κι ύστερα είπαν πως την έγραψαν παιδιά
Then time went by and the story – Κι ύστερα πέρασε ο καιρός κι η ιστορία
passed easily from our minds into our hearts – πέρασε εύκολα απ’ τη μνήμη στην καρδιά
The wall now read: unique opportunity – ο τοίχος έγραφε μοναδική ευκαιρία
Come in and purchase all its materials – εντός πωλούνται πάσης φύσεως υλικά
On Sundays (children went) from early morning to the cafés – Τις Κυριακές από νωρίς στα καφενεία
then to the stadium to bet and fight – κι ύστερα γήπεδο στοιχήματα καυγάς
but the road had its own story – ο δρόμος είχε τη δική του ιστορία
yet they said it was written by children – είπανε όμως πως την έγραψαν παιδιά
As to the info you found on the Wik, indeed the Junta was supported by the US. This is why the slogans you see tagged on the pillars on either side of the university gate in the videos are ΕΞΩ ΟΙ ΗΠΑ (i.e. "USA go away") and ΕΞΩ ΤΟ ΝΑΤΟ ("NATO go away"), and until today the commemorative march on 17 November goes from the Polytechnic to the US embassy. Greece is one of the countries that were put under a far-right dictatorship to make sure they didn't become communist, or rather too independent, not unlike Chile where the coup against Allende had taken place a few months earlier. If you pay attention in the video for Pilgrimage, at 3:36 you can see the word "Nixon" with a swastika instead of the X, and a second later as the camera pans out you can see ΑΛΛΙΕΝΤΕ (i.e. Allende) at the top of the blackboard. The rest of the slogans are more general, e.g. "today fascism dies", "freedom", "bread-education-freedom", "no to the Junta", plus some of the classic 1970s fare such as "the world belongs to us" and "power to the people".
There's one aspect of the uprising that's underplayed on Wikipedia IMO and that's the fact that it wasn't strictly a student revolt, unlike the uprising of the Athens law school in February 1973 which was only students (the picture you see at 01:42 in the video for The Road is from the law school, not the Polytechnic). A lot of people joined in the Polytechnic uprising over the four days it lasted. My father was 53 years old at the time and he was a doctor, but he went to the Polytechnic and stayed there from the second day onwards. He always said that there were people from all walks of life occupying the building. The students paid the heaviest price in the repression however, as most older people who had families didn't stay during the nights and weren't around when the tanks came. (My father stayed. He was arrested and sent to Makronisos, an island/prison camp where they exiled political prisoners, together with everyone else. We next saw him in July 1974 after the fall of the Junta, but I was too small to remember any of it )
Ah, ok. That makes sense because I think I read somewhere on that page that most of the deaths resulting from the uprising were not students (?)
RE your father's participation and imprisonment--wow, what a personal connection to those events! I'm glad he was eventually released, but what a difficult time that must have been for your family!
As to the U.S.'s support of the Junta--ugh. I admit I did not really know about this specific example before you posted about it (showing my unfortunately overly American-centric education here), but of course it fits in with the U.S.'s history of meddling in such overseas affairs...*sigh*
VVM's post (which I hope he doesn't mind me quoting and commenting on here) made me wonder...what non-American holidays, if any, might be considered closest to the original intention and roots of American Thanksgiving? What I'm thinking of here are the elements that the origins of Thanksgiving are not as closely tied to religion as Christmas and Easter (though certainly, the original emphasis, and still probably a big emphasis for many Americans--just not me--is on the idea of giving thanks "to God") and something connected to early national history (in America, the 17thc English pilgrims, etc.). (or, before going back to the time before nation-states, early ethnic/cultural history).
I know I could Google this question of course, but I am really just interested to know what any non-Americans reading this might think of as being the closest parallel (if there is one) to American Thanksgiving in their own traditions/cultures (off the top of one's head--not looking for "research" at all!)
And even though the steady encroachment of "Black Friday" has certainly added a commercial element by (in some cases), starting the big Christmas sales so early that it actually cuts into the Thanksgiving day holiday itself, I think Thanksgiving itself as most people celebrate here it is still one of the least commercialized holidays (relatively speaking, of course) in that there is no gift-giving and not even a big emphasis on buying stuff other than food (unlike buying costumes and/or decorations for Halloween, for example). Perhaps that's why it hasn't been able to be imported to Norway (and let's hope it stays that way!...I so hate the idea of any type of any "homogenization" of world cultures--particularly forms of Americentric "homogenization")
I can't think of any cultural analogues, in neither of the cultures I am connected to. But I guess there is a religious analogue in the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. By forsaking something so elementary as food and drink until sundown, it's supposed to teach fortitude, self-discipline and, most importantly, to not take anything for granted and be thankful for everything you have. With all the natural disasters there have been lately, both in the US, and in some parts here of Norway, one is reminded of how easily the most basic of our necessities can be ripped away in an instant. As I read by another poster in the thread you quoted this from, half of Puerto Rico is still without electricity after the recent storm.
And really, fasting seems like a more effective way to foster such mindful/humble thankfulness than the wanton gluttony of a "typical" American Thanksgiving...
I've been digging into the deepest recesses of my brain trying to think of something since you posted that question, Pensivia, but I came up empty.
I did see a good one on Twitter about why Brits don't have the equivalent of Thanksgiving. I didn't save it, but the basic idea was that, if Britain had a public holiday for every anniversary of taking over a country and screwing its native people, they'd never have to go to work.
touché, touché... yeah, can't really argue with that ...
But all three of us have imperialism in our past. There's a reason Armenians refer to their country as Hayastan. There's a reason why 15 of Egypt's rulers were named Ptolemy. It's just that Anglo-American imperialism is more recent. Granted, I'm not well versed enough in history to know if the European imperialism that began with the discovery of the Americas was particularly worse than what preceded it by other imperial powers. The transatlantic slave trade and destruction of native cultures perhaps suggests that it was indeed worse in cruelty to what came before, or perhaps it was just more of the same. I'm reminded of that Roman Senator who supposedly ended any public speech he gave, no matter the topic with "and furthermore, it is my opinion that Carthage should be destroyed".
In any case, I feel it's to an extent unfair to keep lumping blame on contemporary European powers for their colonial history. The example of Thanksgiving is perhaps worthy of critique, though, as it still to this day presents an untrue idealised picture of the colonials' encounter with the native peoples. I think it's more productive to focus on the present and what can be done to create a more equitable world going forward, both within states and in the relationship between states, knowing full well that a great deal of the unfair division of wealth and power in the world today are direct residual effects of colonialism. I don't know, I'm rambling... I just fear that internalising self-flagellation over the colonial past for too long will contribute to a nationalist backlash of a kind that we're already seeing in much of Europe.
Edit: this discussion is perhaps a bit too serious, and a digression from what you intended this thread to be. If so, no problem, I can edit this out if you want me to.
^No, not at all...keep such thoughts coming, I say!
That's an interesting point about "internalized self-flagellation" perhaps only fueling the current nationalist rise. Ideally, there would be some "middle ground" between unproductive extremes of cultural self-flagellation on the one hand and near-complete cultural denial and ignorance on the other. Unfortunately, when it comes to Americans as a whole, I think we're still way too far toward the denial/ignorance/ideologically-fueled "innocence mindset" end of the continuum...
I don't want to give Europeans too much credit. Ender Sai, over in the JCC, thinks the British Empire is the best thing to happen to the world. But the politically correct (I hate that expression...) thing is to be regretful and sort of ashamed and apologetic about it, and I think there's a resentment among some about the perceived notion that one has to always beat one self up over the past. There's a defensiveness on the part of some, in response to this. I personally think that their perception is exaggerated.
I'm going to disagree with VVM here because I don't think we can treat all cases of imperialism the same. There's a difference between imperialism at some point in the distant past and imperialism as an essential element of your modern national identity; and the latter contributes to the foundation of (white) nationalism in many western countries. Put simply Mongolia doesn't need to start self-flagellating about Ghengis Khan's conquest of Asia at this point But there is nothing neutral about the US, UK, France and other major colonial countries saying that their imperialist days are in the past. First of all, it just isn't true when these countries still have both domestic and international policies that trace back to this past, e.g. discrimination against particular ethnic groups domestically or a network of client states internationally. Second, because the way this past is described contributes to people's perception of the present and to their prejudices, e.g. the Brits who seem convinced that they can Brexit on their own terms because they don't get that they don't have an empire anymore, or the French who still believe that they brought roads and hospitals to Algeria and look how things went down the drain when we left (unsaid: because without us those people are so uncivilised).
Lastly, I disagree that challenging the foundations of western national identities is contributing to the rise of nationalism. The nationalism was there all along *precisely because* it was going unchallenged for all these years. The fact that it is now challenged only prompts it to express itself more loudly and aggressively. This is a moment when the bogus history that was written by the "victors" is being re-written with a healthy dose of realism. Some people who don't want that realism because it challenges their self-perception will dismiss it and reassert their supremacy in different (often crude) ways. Chalking that up to a reaction to internalised self-flagellation is doing them a favour they don't deserve; in the end they're merely trying to preserve their privilege at least inside their heads since the real world is contradicting them.
I may have a skewed perspective as to how much the colonial past still forms part of the identity of contemporary Europeans, living in Norway, a country that was itself ruled by more powerful neighbours and didn't have any colonial possessions of its own. On the other hand, I do find that a great deal of Norwegians exaggerate their innocence, particularly in modern times, even as Norway is obligated to tag along with whatever NATO does, and was in fact the country that flew the greatest number of bombing runs over Libya in 2011. I guess the fact that Alfred Nobel placed the responsibility for the Peace Prize in their hands in his will has gone to their heads. We are known internationally as mediators and a peace-loving nation for our involvement in the Oslo accords and mediation in Sri Lanka and East-Timor, and we like to wear that identity on our sleeves, but it's not an accurate holistic portrayal.
Fair enough, but these things are not mutually exclusive. Countries whose modern history of imperialism took the form of colonialism needs to take stock of that, but that doesn't mean that countries that engaged or still engage in different types of imperialism should get a free pass (and yes, I agree that Norway needs to take a long, hard look at itself on some issues, even if you guys are probably doing better than most countries on the human rights/foreign policy front).
Yes, that's very important, and, IMO, something that is sorely lacking in the American education system, particularly at the pre-college level but even to some extent at the university level.
I really think we need some form of massive "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" here in the U.S.--one that would address the hard truths about the U.S. past and present, both internationally in terms of foreign policy and domestically (racial injustice, etc.).
I have a question for this thread. Although it's not completely my question, because it was previously posed in song by They Might Be Giants.
Istanbul, not Constantinople...... Why did they change it?
Both are Greek, actually. In Turkish, a word can't begin with a consonant cluster like ST or SP. English has the same rule with KN and GN. No English word can begin with this cluster. In all examples where they do in writing, the K or G is rendered silent in speech. The name Istanbul is a contraction of the Greek phrase "stim poli" or "stem'boli", loosely meaning "the city". The exact grammatical nuances I leave to Chyntuck, and are perhaps not so important anyway. The main thing is that the phrase is commonly understood to mean The City. Because when speaking Turkish, you can't begin a word with ST, an I was instinctively added at the beginning. Constantinople was for a long time the largest city in the world, and later only rivalled by Baghdad. Therefore, it was colloquially known to many as simply The City. The Ottomans still formally referred to the city as Kostantiniyye in official documents and coinage, I believe up to their ouster. The new secular Turkish Republic that succeded it decided to formalise the colloquial name.
That is interesting. And thanks to They Might Be Giants, everybody knows that Istanbul and Constantinople are the same damn city.
I concur And actually, I'll take it even further: as strange as it may seem, Istabul and Constantinople are (partly) the same word.
Constantinople = Constantine (the emperor who named the city after himself) + polis ('city' in Greek)
Istanbul = eis (to, at) + tin (the) + polis (city), or a bastardised version thereof.
Both names were in use in one form or another since the late Byzantine period, because "The City" was Constantinople – the same way as, in the Roman Empire, the City with a capital C was Rome (you can still see this when the pope makes a statement "urbi and orbi", i.e. "to the city and to the world"). In modern Greek, we still call Istanbul "the City" (η Πόλη).
I think ( onqun can confirm) that Istanbul became the official name when Turkey switched from Arabic to Latin script in the 1920s, but it was already the name most commonly used by then. The name Constantinople kind of dropped out sometime in the 19th century.
VVM and Chyntuck continue to blow my mind with their historical and linguistic expertise! Love it!