The usual answer to that question is that the influence of the Ancient Greeks is self-evident in democracy, arts, philosophy, science, literature, politics, architecture, mathematics, the olympic games etc
However, they were also very fond of warfare, misogyny, infanticide, slavery, homosexuality and paedophilia; not to mention a pantheon of Gods who were, at best indifferent, but would often interfere in human affairs in a vindictive and spiteful manner.
A modern revival of Classical Greek learning took place in the Neoclassicism movement in 18th and 19th century Europe and the Americas and the myth that has surrounded Ancient Greece is an invention by adoring scholars of the Enlightenment who, either consciously or unconsciously, were attempting to create a replacement for Christianity.
They mythologised the legacy of ancient Greece into some kind of beautiful wisdom to which we must all aspire.
Myth camouflages the violence and recalls it in ways that make it seem valiant and divinely ordered
Recognising this, Peter Schaffer in his 1992 play The Gift of the Gorgon offers a different viewpoint. It is a drama in which forgiveness, the Christian way, is shown to be superior to blood vengeance which is the Greek response to adversity.
At one point Schaffer has the female lead character say-
The truest, most noble passion isn’t stamping and geeing ourselves up. It’s refusing to be led by rage when we most want to be. That means every time a bomb goes off, yes, and every time a baby is killed, and every other filthy thing that makes you sick with fury. Stubbornly continuing to say ‘No’ to blood.”
All right, the Greeks wouldn’t have understood this, but they were savages, finally. The whole of their country ran with blood. They had Gods to take the big view for them. Athena could come down suddenly and stop the boys fighting, like a schoolmistress in a playground
Many historians and anthropologists are digging beneath the superficial image of a benign and peaceful State filled with wisdom and learning and are uncovering a very different truth.
As in all of antiquity the Greeks were exploitive, distrustful, ruthless and lacking in empathy, being preoccupied with fantasies of the power and brilliance of a world filled with arrogant, distant, narcissistic heroes and gods and grandiose political leaders upon whom they depended to validate their weak sense of self
The rampant paedophilia of Greece is indicative of a psycho-sexual disturbance, with men projecting their internal demons onto vulnerable boys who represeented their own sexually damaged selves. This damage being rooted in and caused by a profound fear of and revulsion towards women. The almost universal practice of homosexual pederasty may be seen as an effort to “rescue boys from the perceived dangers of women”
Women were treated barbarously in ancient Greece to such an extent that families rarely raised more than one girl, casually discarding or disposing of of the rest.
This cruel treatment of women and children was not surprising, because pity and compassion were comprehensible only if they served pride and the drive to fame Such humanitarian responses were looked upon as character defects …unworthy of the wise and excusable only in those who have not yet grown up….. Gentleness, kindness, industry, honesty and integrity were scorned as effeminate and inferior
It is worth remembering that less than ten percent of the population had full civil rights; the rest were women, slaves and children who were subject to rape, infanticide and abuse of all kinds. And that was at the height of Athenian democracy.
Plato advised that disobedient children should be straightened by threats and blows. like a piece of warped wood.
The glory that was Greece, indeed!
Does any of the above remind you of anything in modern Britain? Public schools perhaps? Putting boys into boarding schools, away from nurturing by their families and ‘making men of them’ means they have all humanity beaten out of them (as advised by Plato; see above) They then leave school/university arrogant and emotionless with a born to rule mentality…. Are we any better for it, as a nation? Look at the elite in our political system and there is the answer.
In The Republic, Plato suggests that in the ideal State any ‘defective’ children – or even just the offspring of the inferior – should be quietly disposed of so that no one will know what has become of them. Some have said that this was a satirical comment but Plato is not exactly famous for his jokes.
Sander Breiner note that in Greece the father had the right to kill the child at birth without question…………. Children’s demands were responded to as unwanted and unnecessary
Norbert Elias also notes Public opinion in antiquity regarded the killing of infants or the sale of children – if they were pretty to brothels, otherwise as slaves – as self evident
You may point again to the best of Greek knowledge which has been handed down to us but how much of it was original thought on their part?
Pythagoras and Plato (and others?) are thought to have been educated in Egypt (nobody knows for sure.) Much of their philosophy may well have come from there as did the neo Platonic writings known as the Corpus Hermeticum which, thanks to Marsilio Ficino, became a sort of textbook for the aforementioned Renaissance in European thought.
But the origin of their mathematics is very definitely Hyperborean. The megalithic monuments from Orkney to Carnac predate the Greeks by several thousand years. The detailed studies by Alexander Thom and Anne Macaulay show that whoever erected the stones had a very precise knowledge of what became known as The Quadrivium.
The various stone circles are laid out in a way that demonstrates beyond any doubt that these people were aware of and used π as well as Ø the Phi ratio, the golden section, long before the Greeks.
As William Blake wrote All things Begin & End in Albions Ancient Druid Rocky Shore.
Next time you hear anyone waxing lyrical about the golden legacy of Greece your first thought should be; is that person homosexual or a misogynist or a paedophile? Or perhaps a combination of all three?
If you think we are living now in a dysfunctional, oppressive society just be grateful you were not living in ancient Greece; or in any other place at any other time in history.
The past was considerably more brutal than the present.
All of this just reminds me that we are led and have always been led by people who are/were following their animal instincts.
……or perhaps just animals pretending to be human
One thing is very clear to me and has always been clear is that we peasants are a lot more intelligent than the ‘ruling classes’
E R Dodds
Sander J. Breiner