Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Dynamics of The Hellenic Language”

Education Committee
Επιτροπή Παιδείας
June 2008

By Nancy Biska


The source of the word is the Greek compound noun “enthousiasmos” (ενθουσιασμός), which ultimately comes from the adjective “entheos” (ένθεος), “having the god within,” formed from the preposition en, (εν) “in, within,” and the noun theos, (θεός) “god.”

Ιt is with great enthusiasm that I welcome you to our event “The Dynamics of The Hellenic Language” - Η ΔΥΝΑΜΙΚΗ ΤΗΣ


Greek names have a meaning:

Aristotle (Αριστοτέλης):

Proper noun which means he who means well, he who has the "the best purpose" deriving from the Greek word "aristos" (=the best/ excellence), (άριστος) and "telos" (=aim/ purpose), (τέλος). Aristotle was one of the widely known Greek philosophers in the world, and still remains so even today.

Demosthenes (Δημοσθένης):

again compound noun meaning the "Strength of the people." It derives from the two nouns: demos (=of the people), (δήμος) and sthenos (=strength, vigor), (σθένος)

As a Macedonian (and true Hellene Macedonian) I cannot resist analysing the name Alexander: Αλέξανδρος

The word "Alexandros" means "defending men" and is produced from the prefix alex(=protector from the Greek αλέξω) and the word andros(=man) ανήρ (aner) "man" (genitive ανδρός). Meaning "the protector of men".

The prefix "alex" can be found in many Greek words today (alexiptoto=parachute, alexisfairo=bulletproof - all these words have the

meaning of protection). Philip's name (Philippos) is also Greek. It is produced from the prefix Philo(=friendly to something) and the word ippos(=horse) meaning the man who is friendly to horses. The prefix "philo" and the word "ippos" are also found in many words of Greek origin today (philosophy, philology, hippodrome, hippocampus).

The name Macednos is homeric word and means tall Alexander the Great was the first to envision the promise of

ecumenism (οικουμενικός) (=globalization). The Macedonian military leader was foremost in promoting the unification of world cultures.

He accomplished this by ensuring political supremacy and equality, with the objective of political independence and sovereignty of every socio-political and cultural system. He achieved everything he visualized with respect to all cultures and the belief of equality of each nation. His foresight was a realistic plan for global unification with a humanistic approach and respect of political and cultural diversity.

In this time of globalization with a huge number of challenges, we realize these values are necessary to secure world peace for all

humanity. According to the writings of the unsurpassed Macedonian philosopher Aristotle, it is the first time within the framework of ancient philosophy that law establishes the concept of public education and because through this uniform process a human being achieves citizenship. In other words, he/she achieves the ability to “participate in critical judgment” resulting in “the involvement of all citizens within a society/city” ("μετέχουν της πολιτείας πάντες οι πολίτες").

This strategy remains current and contemporary and is imperative for the future of all world citizens. Education, as per Aristotle, contributes to a citizen “remaining benevolent, important and wise”. Most of the concepts and the corresponding words which

constitute what we call civilization today derive from Ancient Greece. Most of the political, philosophical, cultural and scientific terms as well as concepts, ideas and values were coined in Greek. “To be a conscious participant in today’s society one must deeply understand the concepts and values that shaped our modern world”, states Professor G. Xanthakis- Karamanos. It is a special privilege, not only for the Greeks, but also for all those sharing in the Greek education and cultural tradition – «τούς της ημετέρας παιδείας μετέχοντας» - to know that Greek antiquity brought forth the amazing development of culture that enhanced the creation of western civilization. The ancient Greeks enriched modern thought with meaning, ideas, and inspiration.

Political (πολιτική-πόλις) terms

There are also many political terms of Greek origin, such as: Aristocracy ("aristokratia"- αριστοκρατία) Plutocracy ("plutokratia"’-

πλουτοκρατία) Timocracy ("timokratia"- τιμοκρατία) Monarchy ("monarchia"- μοναρχία), Oligarchy ("oligarchia"- ολιγαρχία) and more; all of which played a most significant role in shaping political institutions on a worldwide scale.

Let’s take the word “Democracy” (“dimokratia”- Δημοκρατία). Demo-cracy (Δημοκρατία) is a compound word in Greek that is derived from two words: “demos," (δήμος) which means people; and "cratos," (κράτος) which means power. To be more exact, "demos" in ancient Greece referred to one of the civil subdivisions where people resided. Now putting the two together, demos and cratos, we have "democracy," which means people’s power, or "power of the people."


Mathematics: μαθηματικά (mathematika); geometry: γεωμετρία (geometria); arithmetic: αριθμητική (arithmitiki); trigonometry: τριγωνομετρία (trigonometria) and many others. The term geometry is derived from the Greek words "geo” (γαία) which

means earth; and "metron” (μέτρον) which means measurement. Architecture: αρχιτεκτονική (architektoniki), from "archi": (αρχή) or chief; and tecture from the Greek "tecton": (τέκτων) or builder. Hence, Architecture means the designing the archetypes or foundations of buildings

Other scientific terms:

Anatomy (ανατομία), anthropology (ανθρωπολογία), archaeology (αρχαιολογία), astronomy (αστρονομία), astrophysics (αστροφυσική), biotechnology (βιοτεχνολογία), chemistry (χημεία), cosmology (κοσμολογία), cybernetics (κυβερνητική), economics (οικονομικά), genetics (γενετική)..

There are hundreds of scientific terms directly from the Greek language. Geology (γεωλογία), technology (τεχνολογία), history (ιστορία), metaphysics (μεταφυσική), mythology (μυθολογία), physics (φυσική), philology (φιλολογία), psychology (ψυχολογία), pathology (παθολογία), therapy (θεραπεία), typology (τυπολογία), pedagogical, (παιδαγωγικός)…


Asclepius (Ασκληπιός) -Hippocrates (Ιπποκράτης) Anatomy (ανατομία), botany (βότανα), therapy (θεραπεία), diagnosis

(διάγνωση), prognosis (πρόγνωση), melancholy (μελαγχολία), atrophy (ατροφία), ophalmology (οφθαλμολογία), dyspepsia (δυσπεψία), leukemia (λευχαιμία), astigmatism (αστιγματισμός), embryology (εμβρυολογία), orthopedics (ορθοπεδικά), amnesia (αμνησία) …

Ecology (οικολογία)- ecological (οικολογικός)- ecologist (οικολόγος),

ecosystem (οικοσύστημα)

The word ecology comes from the Greek word oikos (οίκος), meaning "home" or "a place to live“ and Logos The Greek naturalist and philosopher Theophrastus (Aristotles’ disciple) was one to further Aristotles monumental legacy in the Natural Sciences and taxonomic (ταξονομία=τάξον-σειρά-σειρά+νόμος-law) classification by cladescladograms

(κλαδιά) and phylogeny (γενετικά φύλα) focusing particularly on plant species and on the relationship between living

things and their ecosystems at large.

Also: climate (κλίμα), meteorology (Μετεωρολογία), planet (πλανήτης), organism (οργανισμός), biology (βιολόγος) etc.

Think of the words: Idea (ιδέα), logic (λογική), harmony (αρμονία), dialogue (διάλογος), hypothesis (υπόθεση), theory (θεωρία), methodology (μεθοδολογία), theology (θεολογία), pseudo (ψευτο-), cosmogony (κοσμογονία), teleology (τελεολογία), sarcasm (σαρκασμός), eschatology (εσχατολογία), and so on…

We express our thoughts and deep meanings and ideas through the Greek words and concepts.

Science, philosophy, computers and art are based on the Greek Language and they use it for their development. It’s a live language that is taught in American Universities, Colleges and in Charter Schools of Greek interest.


Theater (θέατρο), music (μουσική), acoustics (ακουστική), drama (δράμα), tragedy (τραγωδία), melody (μελωδία), satyric (σατυρικό), acrobat (ακροβάτης), epic (επικό), comedy (κωμωδία), mystery (μυστήριο), eurhythmy (ευρυθμία), symphony (συμφωνία), rhythm (ρυθμός) Τhe Hellenic language and thought inspired poetry, (ποίηση) historiography, (ιστοριογραφία) rhetoric, (ρητορική) politics (πολτική), philosophy (φιλοσοφία) and developed with rational thinking (ỏρθόν λόγον ) and dialogue (διάλογος) the moral and political ideas of justice, the Delphic concepts of self-knowledge (In ancient Greek : γνω̃θι σαὐτόν -Gnothi Safton) and temperance ( In ancient Greek μηδέν ἄγαν), dignity, freedom of speech, human and civic rights, federation and

democracy together with the prime aesthetic (αισθητική) and intellectual concepts of beauty, harmony (αρμονία) and discipline.

Thucydides spoke against the injustice and violence of war (polemic-πόλεμος) and stressed the values of democracy. Plato and

Aristotle formed the concept of justice, ethos (ήθος), clemency, rational thinking, human dignity and respect. These everlasting ideas, which originated from the critical thinking of Greeks and their ability to deduce and provide logical answers to the most important issues of human life, constitute the mental and cultural foundations of Western Civilization.

According to the Astrophysicist Manos Danezis, we are entering an era that “Homo sapiens”, the “wise human of technology

and secular prosperity- the human of individuality, egoism and exploitation” will be replaced by “Homo universalis” who will have a universal consciousness and his needs will not only be material but basically spiritual. He/ she will be free of the fears of his/her human existence. In this dawning era, a new cultural trend is emerging “based on the consent of the people and not on the enforcement from above”. We have to go back to the ancient Greeks and revive the authentic Hellenic ideals, ideas and values, free of the “lethargy of the Western comfort”.

Hellenism addresses the human quest for knowledge. American classicists John Heath and Victor Hanson have declared that

«Hellenism will never die. It is the first and last hope for Mankind». And indeed the Hellenic ideas gave to humanity the only hope for

Freedom and Dignity.

Bruce Thornton said «Bring back the Greeks! Study their dazzling literature, because they were the ones who developed the

critical thinking with which they defined the principle problems of humanity; the very same problems we are confronting today”.

Hellenism is the only diachronic (διαχρονική), universal ideology that serves pananthropic (πανανθρώπινες) and always current ideals and concepts. It belongs to humankind and is absolutely necessary for the modern global society.

A “globalization” based only on economic laws and regulations which ignore and exploit humanity are destined to fail. If globalization is defined as the bloom of civilization on a global level where the citizens of earth will participate in a society based on values that humanize and unite people, then Hellenism is the preferred means to this end.

Hellenism is not a Greek “privilege” or “possession” Hellenism belongs to Humanity


Hellenism is Anthropocentric (ανθρωποκεντρικός) It has “Human being” in its center

Ανθρωπος + κεντρικός Man (homo) + centric


Hellenism is Diachronic (Διαχρονικός)

: dia- (across) + chronos (time)

“Science and mythology were the topics which fascinated me since my early childhood” says Vangelis, the Oscar winning Greek composer. “I listened to such stories from my family and the people around me. And that is how I started to remember. With the passage of time I realized how important it is to remember - remember as deeply as you can. It is certain that inside us - all of human history, and at the same time all the codes of creation and the evolution of the universe – are ingrained.

Uranus and Gaea, the battle of the Titans and the battle of the Giants, the snatching of Europe, the Argonauts and the golden fleece,

Theseus and Minotaur, Hercules, the Sirens and the Nymphs, the red planet Mars with its two children (satellites), Deimos and Phobos,

Athena's olive tree, the nine Muses who harmonize all these, and then some more, were and are some examples of the areas where I wander, as is the music I write. And each time I remember, I discover and I reveal something else”.

And this brings us to the epilogue (επίλογος):

One of the most important words is the Greek word “Truth” in Greek alitheia (αλήθεια)

α+ λήθη (lethe) = non + forgetfulness

a- privative affix + (lethe) forgetfulness

So truth means to remember- It means something that you cannot forget –something that comes back to memory- disillusionment

Mneme (μνήμη) means "memory" in Greek. In Greek mythology, mneme was one of the original three muses, the muse of memory.

Mnemosyne (μνημοσύνη) is the goddess of memory and mother of the Muses.

Maieutics (Μαιευτική) is a didactic (διδακτική) process of teaching introduced by Socrates. It is one of the four parts of the Socratic

Method. It is based on the idea that the truth is latent in the mind of every human being due to her/his innate reason but has to be "given birth" by questions asked by the teacher and answers given by the student (a dialectic process).

Isocrates (Ισοκράτης) some 2,300 years ago, defined a “Hellene” (‘Ελλην) not by one's genealogical (γενεαλογικό) tree but as a person who partakes of the Hellenic (Ελληνική) Paideia (Παιδεία) – Education and Culture.

So in reality we are all Hellenes since we do partake of the Hellenic Paideia.

Our presentation proved that for the most part, we all speak the same language, the HELLENIC language!

I want to express my gratitude to Anna Tziropoulou Efstathiou for teaching me the value of the Hellenic Language.

Our eucharisties (thanks) to all of you

1 comment:

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