Discussion in 'FanForce Community' started by Pensivia, Jun 20, 2016.
Yay, I love the enthusiasm!
I'm sooooo gonna rock this thread.
Just an addition to my answers to Skiara above: I found out this morning that the Goethe Institute and the Hellenic National Foundation for Research produced an app that allows you to explore Greek-German ties when visiting Athens. I need to download it, it looks very interesting. Here's an article in English about it.
Any Greek movies/music/comics you would like to recommend?
I only know the song Thelo Na Se Do, which apparently became popular in Iran as well. I mean, I am guessing, I don't really know, but an Iranian expat DJ duo from LA remixed it, so perhaps?
In any event, I found several remakes of the song in various Turkic languages on YouTube (Turkish, Uzbek, Turkmen), so it must have been a big hit across the strait in Turkey, I think. But that may be wrong too. onqun will be able to definitively confirm/deny.
Oops, I forgot to reply yesterday Thanks for the comments Gamiel Violent Violet Menace
Yes, it seems that some Greek pop songs become very popular in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond. I've heard some translated in Hebrew and Arabic as well, and we also translate/adapt from other languages -- sometimes western songs, but mostly from Turkey, the Balkans and the Arab world (lots of Amro Diab, if you get my meaning).
I'm afraid I'm going to come across as a traditionalist in my tastes here. My favourite type of Greek music is rebetiko, a genre that started out as the music of the underworld and that's all about sex, drugs and rock'n'roll well, rebetiko It's a style of urban music that was revived in the 1960s and 1970s and it's still very popular now. You'll find lots of songs, both classics and more modern ones, if you type "rebetiko" in YouTube, but the best place to listen to rebetiko is in an ouzeri, meaning a place where they serve mezze and lots of ouzo to drink, preferably in a very smoky basement. Actually, I think that having had a few drinks, or even more than just a few, is a necessary prerequisite to truly appreciate rebetiko.
Incidentally, there's a wonderful French comic book about rebetiko, titled (predictably) Rébétiko, about the life of Markos Vamvakaris, one of the fathers of the genre. It's been translated to Greek but I don't know about other languages.
The Greek comics scene is kind of limited, and my knowledge of it even more so, therefore I can't answer that part of your question in great detail. I like the work of Arkas, but most of the Greek comics I read are comic strips in the newspapers, not albums.
As for Greek cinema, that's a long and painful subject, first because I don't like so much the work of directors that are known internationally (like Angelopoulos or Lanthimos) and second because it's been a loooooong time since I saw a Greek fiction film that I truly enjoyed. I think the last film I really liked was Politiki Kouzina (known in English as A Touch of Spice), a very smartly done film about a family of Greeks from Istanbul who are deported to Greece in the 1960s. The Greek title has the added bonus that, depending on where you put the accent on "politiki", it means something different: Πολίτικη Κουζίνα means "the cuisine of the city" (the city here being Istanbul) whereas Πολιτική Κουζίνα means "political cooking", in reference to the political developments that led to the deportation.
I would like to volunteer too. I'm the son of Iranian immigrants living in Norway, so you can ask me about whichever one of them you would like, even both, and I will answer to the best of my ability.
Yay, I was hoping you'd say this! I'll have lots of questions for you when your turn comes
Do you know if Greece have done any Movies in the sword-and-sandal genre?
They must have.
By the way, I've heard that the reason why the country of Macedonia is forced to haul that long-ass prefix Former Yugoslav Republic of with it to any international forum is that some nationalist Greek politicians are so offended over them "abusing" the name Macedonia as the title of their country, that they have to refer to themselves as FYROM "to avoid confusion" (in reality to avoid offending Greece) with the northern Greek province of the same name. Is this true? I've seen some angry YouTube commenters (which I know is not an accurate representation of the average person of any country, but anyway...) argue that the current population are Slavs, and the historical Macedon was in all likelihood Greek-speaking, and therefore they're stealing the name Macedonia. But the country is situated where historical Macedon used to be, isn't it? I would even bet that the current population are descendants of those same people, merely having assimilated into the Slavic culture over time.
Actually, I can't think of any from the top of my head -- if what you mean by sword-and-sandal is the big epic blockbuster type of thing in the grand tradition of Italian cinema. What you will find in Greek cinema is adaptations of ancient tragedies, most notably Electra and Iphigenia by Michalis Cacoyiannis (who was technically a Cypriot, but the films were made in Greece) and many modern-day stories that borrow heavily from Greek mythology.
I was afraid someone would ask that question Yes, to a large extent, it's true that the whole "how to name that country north of us" was created by Greek politicians, namely by Antonis Samaras, who was later expected in 2012 to "save" us from economic collapse. The whole thing happened at a time of political and economic crisis in Greece (but then, when isn't a time of political and economic crisis in Greece?) when some people in government needed a diversion and some were making a grab for power, and whipping up nationalistic fervour is the preferred solution in that case. At the same time, it was a period of heightened tensions in the Balkans, what with the breakup of Yugoslavia and where do we put the borders and all that, and the new Macedonian state also needed to build up its national identity, so more generally there was a lot of nationalistic fervour all around and the negotiations over the name were all over the place -- and they still are, because once we create a problem in the Balkans, we never want to let it go
As for what we mean by Macedonia as a historical concept, it's a much wider area than the Republic of Macedonia or the northern Greek prefectures that we call Macedonia. Serbia and Bulgaria also have chunks of it (although I don't know if they actually have administrative divisions by that name) and that region has changed hands and populations and been broken up so many times that it's like, good luck making sense of it. The whole "Macedonia belongs to me! -- No, to me!" thing has very little to do with real history and the dispute is pretty pointless, if you ask me. The only reason I'll add a qualifier to the name Macedonia when referring to the country (e.g. "Yugoslav Macedonia" or "northern Macedonia") is to clarify that I'm not talking about northern Greece, but I'm in the minority here. Most people call it Skopje.
I have a funny question, which I think will be my final one. Maybe you've been asked this before: what do you call the number 3.1415926535897932384626433?
As you probably know, we find Greek letters very useful in the rest of the world to represent concepts and values in Maths, Physics and so on. So do you use Latin letters then, or the same ones?
Do you know of any greek fantasy or science-fiction that you would recommend?
I have heard that The Iliad and The Odyssey are a good start...
I think something has to be written after the enlightenment to count as science-fiction or fantasy.
Hehe. These are going to be very short answers...
That number is called π. We invented it, we're keeping it! As for the rest, no, we use Greek letters all around. No need for a cumbersome, entirely illogical foreign alphabet in our maths
Gamiel I was going to answer "I don't know", but you just gave me a way out. We didn't have the Enlightenment in Greece, therefore we don't have anything that counts as science-fiction or fantasy (Honestly though, I don't really know -- with a few rare exceptions, science-fiction and fantasy are things that I enjoy mostly in the cinema, not in books. We do have a lot of historical fiction though, if you're interested in that.)
Best use of greek culture/history in fantasy or science-fiction that you know of?
Worst use of greek culture/history in fantasy or science-fiction that you know of?
The thing is, to you π is just a p, while to us, it's a foreign symbol that we only use in that specific context to represent that particular number, so we can never confuse it with something else. That's why I asked if you use a different symbol.
It's the same with all the other Greek letters we use. Uppercase sigma is the unmistakable symbol for summation. Uppercase delta always represents a difference between two values. In physics, wavelength is always represented by lowercase lambda. Torque is often represented as a cursive tau, and so on. There are loads of other examples. If you get an engineering degree anywhere in the world, you'll automatically learn to read Greek by osmosis, I say.
Gamiel my answer was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
Violent Violet Menace A friend of mine who went to the French school here in Athens told me many, many years ago that, even though the French kids didn't want to put any effort at all into learning Greek, they all knew the alphabet like it or not because of maths and physics
The worst use of Greek culture in fantasy is HANDS DOWN the 2010 abomination called Clash of the Titans. Man, that movie looked like something that was made by someone who didn't have the remotest understanding of how myths work, who found a bad children's book about Greek mythology and who tore out a few pages at random to build a story. And that's not to mention the acting, the visuals and those appalling beards. (A close second is 300: Rise of an Empire, about which I can also go on for hours.)
As for the best use, I really enjoyed how Neil Gaiman incorporated elements and themes of Greek myths in his comics series The Sandman. I thought that his take on the personification of mythical characters and concepts was smart and subtle and I particularly loved the fact that he portrayed the Endless as imperfect figures who are still bound by the laws of their reality.
What part/s of greek culture/history would you like to see used in fantasy or science-fiction?
Honestly, I'd like to see pretty much anything that doesn't involve ancient Greece, because looking at the perception of my country abroad you'd think nothing happened here since the time of Alexander the Great I think that both the Byzantine and Ottoman period have great potential for inclusion in fantasy stories: just think of what could be done with their art, architecture, costumes, and complex ethnic composition! Okay, you'd probably need to tone down a bit the labyrinthine administrative structure, but as long as there is a proper equivalent to the Greek Orthodox Church ("the biggest offshore company since the dawn of time" according to a reputable historian ) I'll be happy about it.
That sounds like a perfect idea for a fanon post
Do you know of the steampunk game Dystopian Wars? One of the fractions is the Ottoman Empire
Finally getting to my own questions and comments for Chyntuck!....
^Thanks again for taking the time to share some details of the continuing difficulties there. I am very sorry to hear that the situation has not improved more in the time since the crisis was getting more attention internationally. I just hope the global effects of Trump's current and future policies and actions don't make things even worse for your country (though I don't have much optimism about that, because it seems that everything everywhere is/will be worse now...)
^Those pics of Thessaloniki are awesome! I find that sense of the many "layers" of history all in one place really fascinating (the first place I ever went outside the U.S. was Rome, and that sense of the visual intersection/overlapping of ancient, Renaissance, Baroque, and modern history and culture really blew me away...it sounds like Thessaloniki would have the same effect!) That tomb of the Macedonian kings you posted...just..."wow!" And that pic of the Halkidiki peninsula...amazing!
^I got a chuckle out of that last comment. As an American kid who grew up loving the Olympics (for its idealistic "message" of global peace and a "community of nations," etc.), I was always mesmerized by TV coverage of the torch-lighting ceremony. But of course I can totally see what you mean about the kitsch factor and the way in which the historical reality was far more complex than what it gets reduced to!
Enjoyed all your responses. Here are my additional questions for you:
--When did you start studying English and how many years of formal/school instruction did you have? Did you find learning English difficult due to the different alphabet? (Like many kids taking college-prep classes here in the U.S., I studied a little bit of the Greek alphabet in school and as VVM mentioned, many non-Greeks are exposed to Greek letters through studies in math, etc.. But even though the languages I have studied (French and German) did come relatively easily to me when I was in school, I always wondered how much more difficult it would be to study a language that didn't share a common alphabet with English...)
--I know of course that there's a lot more to Greece than its ancient culture, but just because I love Homer so much , I have to ask: do you have any favorite parts/lines/moments of the Iliad or the Odyssey? I love them both, especially some of the poignant descriptions of battlefield deaths in the Iliad as well as the final scene when Priam comes to beg Achilles for Hector's body (I find the little details in that scene so moving...). In the Odyssey, I love the little moments like when Odysseus comes home after so many years away and his old dog Argos is just barely able to wag his tail in recognition of his master before he dies. To me it's amazing when something from so long ago can still speak so movingly to us as human beings (sometimes especially in those "little" details)...it's like thousands of years just "melt away" and you get this powerful sense of human connection and continuity!
--Lastly...not a question, just an (admiring) comment: I remember the first day of class in one of my classes in which we were studying ancient Greek and Roman literature. My professor walked into class, opened a copy of the Iliad in the original Greek, and started reading the opening lines. I was blown away by the beauty of the language, even though I couldn't understand a word. Was an amazing moment in my education that has stayed with me over the years. I wish I could take a time machine back to hear those ancient "rhapsodes" doing their thing! ...Actually, that does make me think of a question too: Do Greek kids have to memorize passages from ancient Greek literature at any point in their schooling? When I was in secondary school here in the U.S. (thirty years ago! (!), we sometimes had to memorize and recite passages from Shakespeare...
Gamiel I didn't know that game (you've probably guessed by now that I'm not much of a gamer ) but that looks like a good source of inspiration. Although, TBH, I would rather be interested in the medieval period of the Ottoman empire than the more modern period. One thing I really like about older Ottoman architecture is the little kiosks that I can't help to see as a throwback to the Ottomans' nomadic roots.
Pensivia Thanks for the extensive comments! I'm repeating myself, but I most highly recommend Thessaloniki and Halkidiki for a holiday. An added bonus is that we have our holiday home in Halkidiki, so you could come and visit me
To answer your questions:
I started learning English in grade 5 (I think), but I don't remember if it was in school or in private lessons. Learning foreign languages is a big thing in Greece and there is an entire parallel education system for it -- because our public school system is deficient, but also because parents want their kids to learn languages as early as possible. So by the time we complete secondary school, many of us have been learning at least one foreign language, usually English, for at least eight years. My nephews have been learning English since kindergarten! Another thing, particularly with English, is that we're exposed to it all the time, especially since we don't dub films here, we use subtitles, and at least half of the TV series and movies we watch are in English.
About the alphabet issue, I don't think most people under the age of 50 would see it as a problem. Again, it's something we're exposed to all the time, on TV, in the street, on consumer product labels, etc, so it's not really foreign to us, you know what I mean? And it's very similar to our alphabet too. In my case it wasn't a problem at all, because I learned French when I was very little (my grandparents were these super-snob Egyptiot Greeks from Alexandria who thought that a girl from a good family should speak French), so when I got to English the problem wasn't to learn the alphabet, it was to figure out that the letters aren't pronounced the same way as in French!
I'm probably not very original here, but my absolute favourite is the opening lines of the Odyssey (ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν etc) which I can actually still recite from memory in ancient Greek (!) A few years ago, Robert Wilson directed a production of the Odyssey in the National Theatre in Athens and I went to the dress rehearsal. When the play started and the narrator declaimed the introduction, the entire audience recited it with him. It was a beautiful moment.
I'd like to add however that there is also an entire modern Greek literature derived from Homer, both epic works like Nikos Kazantzakis's Odyssey and smaller poems/stories like Cavafy's Ithaka. The latter may be my favourite poem of all time (although Waiting for the Barbarians often competes for that title).
Oh when I was a kid we were really fed ancient Greek at the breast! The first text I studied in ancient Greek was Xenophon's Anabasis and I can still recite bits of that too. But most of what we memorised was in translation even at the time. Now the education system is less heavy on the language and focuses more on the literature, so I'm guessing kids memorise stuff only in translation -- although some bits are so oft-repeated that you'd have to be very deliberate about not remembering them in ancient Greek.
^That would be great! I've not been to Greece yet, but it's definitely on my list of places I hope to be able to visit at least once "someday"!
Oh I agree, it's hard to beat the opening lines of both the Iliad and the Odyssey!
^That does sound like an amazing moment...I'm really into the arts (visual, literary, musical, etc.) for a number of reasons, including for the power they have to serve as a force of connection among people. That would have been "right up my alley" for sure!
Thanks for those references! That was actually another question I had for you (what examples of more recent Greek literature you would recommend). I just now read and enjoyed "Ithaka" and "Waiting for the Barbarians," so thank you for introducing me to these poems! I always think it's cool when more recent writers/artists etc. refer back to old works and revive/reinterpret them for their own time. And of course, I believe that the best art continues to speak to us, no matter how far removed in time. Reading "Barbarians," I was immediately struck by the timeliness of the poem. Then I googled the poem further and found this interesting 2013 article from an American magazine (The New Yorker) which made a connection between the poem and some political events at the time: "Waiting for the Barbarians" and The Government Shutdown" (from October 2013)
I found the concluding paragraph of the above article particularly interesting in light of the current historical moment:
*John Boehner was the Republican Speaker of the House
**Harry Reid was the Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate
I will definitely put Kazantzakis's Odyssey on my "to-read" list. He's already there for The Last Temptation (I love the Scorsese film adaptation of that and need to get around to reading the original novel)...