Did you know that there are 150.000 words of Greek origin in the English vocabulary? Many more languages have also adopted some words – usually anything that starts with “psych” and “phil”. Today’s listening comprehension video exercise will help you understand the roots of some very common words.
Today, cynicism is synonymous to pessimism, lack of enthusiasm, skepticism, and selfishness. But Cynicism -literally translating to “living like a dog” (from the Greek «κύων»= dog)- is also a school of thought. An ancient Greek school of though to be precise. And the ideas of these philosophers have few in common to our current perception of cynicism.
Cynicism is a philosophical movement that appeared in Greece around the 5th Century BC. It was founded by Antisthenes, one of Socrates’ pupils, in Cynosarges – a temple of Heracles and public gymnasium on the outskirts of Athens.
Cynics wanted to live in virtue. They rejected superficial values, such as wealth, power, and fame. They wanted a simple life in accordance to nature. Although this school of thought declined on the 3rd Century BC, Cynicism reappeared in the Roman Empire in the 1st Century.
This time, Cynics would follow an ascetic life. They would often beg on the streets, dismissing all their possessions, and preach in public spaces. It comes as no surprise that their teachings inspired many early Christians.
Today, Cynicism is often perceived as a personality trait, rather than a philosophical movement. If you call someone “cynical”, you don’t necessarily mean that this person disregards power and material possessions, but rather the opposite. A cynical person today is someone who is skeptical towards the morals of his or her time. Someone who sees people as motivated mostly by money and success, rather than morality.
Who was Diogenes the Cynic? | Facts about Diogenes
Although Antisthenes was the founder of Cynicism, it was Diogenes of Sinope who is the archetypal Cynic. You might have seen him depicted sleeping in a barrel, surrounded by dogs. Indeed, Diogenes often slept in a pithos – an ancient Greek clay barrel – because he was against owing a house and wanted to live as “naturally” as possible.
The beggar philosopher of Athens grew up in Sinope, near the Black Sea. His father was a banker who minted coins for a living but, as it usually happens, he became the opposite of his father figure: someone who rejects coins. For reasons that are not clear, he was exiled from the city of Sinope and lost everything he owned. This event changed him. In order to cope with the loss of his citizenship and fortune, Diogenes chose to underestimate their importance. There must be something else, more important than money and security, right?
In a search of virtue, Diogenes ended up in Athens, the philosophical capital of the world. But the cosmopolitan Greek city did not meet his expectations. Athens attracted many philosophers and great thinkers, but the majority of people there seemed to be fixated upon money, beauty, clothes, and fame.
Diogenes then started romanticizing a mythical hero – Heracles. He wanted to be virtuous, rather than successful. He rejected the traditional lifestyle of his time and did not want to live in a fixed address. He owned nothing. The philosopher displayed poor manners in public and showed no respect to people. He challenged anything people loved or cared for. All the traditional values of his time. It is even rumored that he mocked Alexander the Great some years before his death. People started comparing him to an uncultured dog.
“If taking breakfast is nothing out of place, then it is nothing out of place in the marketplace. But taking breakfast is nothing out of place, therefore it is nothing out of place to take breakfast in the marketplace.”, he said when asked about eating his breakfast in the marketplace of Athens.
The philosopher did not mind being compared to dogs. He found dogs to be virtuous. Dogs are true to their nature and unhypocritical, while humans possess the exact opposite traits. Dogs live in the present, they don’t care where they sleep, and they eat anything. At the same, their instincts help them understand who is a true friend and who is an enemy.
The Cynic finally ended up being captured by pirates and sold as a slave to a Corinthian man named Xeniades. The latter was very impressed by Diogenes. He had a very intriguing personality and, instead of using him in the fields or to do chores, he asked him to tutor his children. Diogenes lived the rest of his life in Corinth, where he was cherished by the people in his household and his local community.
How easy is it to integrate yourself into a new country, specifically Greece? How can you make friends and as an expat in Greece? Here are some tips on how to feel at home in this southern European country.
Are you progressing in your Greek language learning journey but you are unaware whether you have grasped the basics of the Greek grammar/ Here are three exercises to practice and test your Greek grammar skills. You will find the answers at the bottom of the page.
Helinika created a table with 30 common Greek verbs (regular/irregular, active/passive). Learning Greek is much easier than you think. Start by memorizing these verbs and you will already be able to maintain short conversations in Greek!
The modern Greek language uses cases to distinguish the role and funtion of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, participles, and numerals within a sentence. Although there were five cases in ancient Greek, the modern Greek language only uses four of them.
Many languages have borrowed vocabulary from Greek. But the Greek language has also many loanwords from English, French, Italian, Turkish… Today we will be seeing a few of these borrowed words from other European languages.
One of the most well-known ancient Greek myths is the one of Daedalus and Icarus. You might remember these two as the architects who designed the labyrinth, the huge maze that was the home of the Minotaur in Crete. We talked about the birth and destruction of the legendary beast in another Greek mythology video. Today, we will be following the tragic story of a talented father and son duo: Daedalus and Icarus.
Daedalus was a legendary ancient Greek hero who possessed many talents. He was an inventor, an architect, and craftsman. Rumor had it that he had god Hephaestus’ blood running through his veins, giving him the ability to create innovative constructions. There is no proof that there was a real craftsman bearing the same name in ancient Greece. Therefore, Daedalus is considered a mythical figure.
The talented man was an Athenian of aristocratic background. His name derives from the Greek verb “δαιδάλω” meaning “to work cunningly”. He was reportedly the creator of a wooden cow for queen Pasiphae of Crete. The latter was attracted to bulls after meeting god Poseidon in this form and used the wooden cow to… attract bulls. Daedalus’ less weird and most admired creation, however, was the Cretan labyrinth of the Minotaur. A huge maze with countless traps and dead ends.
Icarus, on the other hand, was the son of Daedalus. His mother was a slave. The young man possessed many of his father’s talents and followed him around his trips. Father and son once travelled to the island of Crete, where they were hired by king Minos to construct the labyrinth, the wooden cow, and many other items.
Creators and Prisoners of the Minoan Labyrinth
King Minos was very impressed by the works of Daedalus and Icarus. But everything changed when an Athenian prince, who we have seen in a previous video, visited Crete. Prince Theseus wanted to end a barbaric tradition that wanted young Athenian men and women to be sent to the labyrinth of King Minos as a sacrifice to the beast that resided there: the Minotaur.
Daedalus and Icarus were from Athens and rooted for Theseus. One night, Minos’ daughter, princess Ariadne visited the two men and asked for their advice. She was in love with Theseus and wanted to protect him. Was there a way to find his way through the labyrinth and destroy the beast? Daedalus then recommended that she utilized her yarn. Theseus would attach it at the entrance of the labyrinth and use it to explore the maze safely.
Daedalus recommendations were indeed very useful. Once Theseus destroyed the Minotaur and escaped, King Minos ordered the prosecution of the two craftsmen. Father and son were thrown into the maze with no tools or weapons to use. But cunning Daedalus was able to come up with a new plan, after watching the birds flying above their heads.
According to the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus, Daedalus utilized the only two things he could find in the maze: feathers from the birds flying above him and wax from the numerous candles that would light up their way. After days of collecting feathers and hard work, Daedalus was able to create two sets of wings by gluing the feathers together with the wax.
He then instructed his son how to wear the wings on his hands and what movements to make in order to fly. He also warned him of how dangerous it would be to fly too high. The sunlight could melt the wax and the feathers would be scattered around.
If you are interested in learning Greek but there are no classes taking place in your area, don’t be discouraged. Helinika, a platform dedicated to the Greek language, history, and culture, offers affordable Greek language lessons online. Learn Greek during Quarantine.
The two men were successful. They were able to fly high over the maze they had built and look over Crete. Daedalus instructed Icarus to hurry up; they needed to reach Sicily now that their wings were intact. They couldn’t reach Athens, because Daedalus was unwanted there after committing a crime.
But Icarus was completely blown away – literally and metaphorically. He was ecstatic seeing the whole world from above and continued flying higher and higher. But the sunlight was also getting stronger and stronger. Icarus wanted to be at the top of the world. But his wings started losing all their feathers as the wax started melting away. The young man fell from the sky and his short life ended in an area that we now call Icarian Sea, where the island of Icaria is found.
Daedalus was shocked at the sight but managed to travel to Sicily safely. His life, however, ended there, since he was murdered by the daughters of a local king. It is worth mentioning that, before the Bibliotheca, there were many other variations of the myth which are less popular nowadays. Some of them, for example, want Daedalus and Icarus to successfully escape Crete on a boat.
What Does Icarus’ Myth Represent?
Icarus’ myth and specifically the ending is a story of hybris. The latter is extreme or foolish pride and dangerous overconfidence. Ancient Greeks believed that there was nothing that Olympian gods disliked the most than arrogance.
Icarus was a young person who was able to escape a dead-end situation with his and his father’s cunningness. However, instead of being thankful for making it alive, he wanted to show-off. He flew aimlessly in the sky and even tried to reach the sun. He paid for this with his life. This is not the first time we encounter this. We have seen stories of hybris in the past, especially in the Odyssey, but also in the story of Atlantis.
One of the most fascinating ancient Greek myths is the one of Theseus. The young Athenian hero is a legendary figure, although many scholars believe that he might had been a real king during the Late Bronze Age. But let’s see his story from the beginning.
With Greece being the birthplace of drama and theater, it comes as no surprise that Greek cinema has a long history. Its roots take us back to the early 20th century. But what comes first to mind when thinking of Greek cinema and Greek films, is the “golden age” of the 1950s and 1960s. In Greek, this era is called «ασπρόμαυρος κινηματογράφος» (black-and-white cinema) or «παλιός καλός κινηματογράφος» (good old cinema).
History of Greek Cinema | Cinematography in Greece
Cinematography in Greece started in 1914 with the film “Golfo” (Γκόλφω). It was written and directed by Konstantinos Bachatoris, who later became the founder of “Athini Films” (Αθήνη Φιλμς), the first Greek film company. “Golfo” was a silent film that could be described as a Cinderella-type story that takes place in the 19th century Greek countryside.
The film was produced again in 1955 by the legendary film company “Finos Film” (Φίνος Φιλμ). This time, it was directed by Orestis Laskos and it gained a lot of popularity. Due to its success, many bucolic-themed movies were filmed at that time.
Between 1914 and Greece’s “golden age cinema”, many more films were produced. Some notable mentions are “Daphnis and Chloe” (Δάφνις και Χλόη) from 1931, which was the first film to ever depict a nude scene in Europe, and “The Shepherdess’s Lover” (Ο Αγαπητικός της Βοσκοπούλας) from 1932.
The best years for Greek cinematography started in 1942, with the formation of the production company “Finos Films”. It was founded by Filopimin Finos and became the biggest film production company in southeast Europe. But which are some of the best Greek films from that era?
A notable film from that era is definitely “The Counterfeit Coin” (Η Κάλπικη Λίρα) from 1955. Directed by George Tzavellas, this Greek comedy-drama was included in the top-10 Greek films by the Pan-Hellenic Union of Cinema Critics in 2006. The movie follows the journey of a counterfeit coin – from the day it got engraved to the last person who found it on his way. It shows the way it influenced each person’s life, revealing the power dynamics of the Greek society at that time. Important Greek actors and actresses such as Dimitris Horn and Ellie Lambeti played in the film. These two had an international career.
The 1962 film Electra, based on the ancient Greek play with the same name, is another important film of that time. It was written, produced, and directed by Michael Cacoyannis and it was nominated for best foreign language film in the 1963 Academy Awards. It has won various awards in numerous film festivals in Mexico, Berlin, France and in other parts of the world.
The Greek movie “Amaxaki” (Το Αμαξάκι) from 1957 was not only a big commercial success but it also represented Greece in the Czech Film Festival.An important Greek actor, Orestis Makris, played a coachman in the picturesque Plaka neighborhood of Athens who sees his life turn upside down once people start using cars.
Some of the biggest commercial successes resulted from the collaboration of the Greek director Alekos Sakellarios with Finos Films. “The Auntie from Chicago” (Η Θεία απ’ το Σικάγο), the “Maiden’s Cheek” (Το ξύλο βγήκε απ’ τον παράδεισο), and the “Hurdy-Gurdy” (Λατέρνα, Φτώχεια, και Φιλότιμο) were very successful in the 1950s’ and Greek tv-channels still add them to their regular program.
Other commercially successful films were “Alice in the Navy” (η Αλίκη στο Ναυτικό), “The Teacher with the Golden Hair” (Η Δασκάλα με τα Ξανθά Μαλλιά), and “The Downfall” (Ο Κατήφορος). These movies featured some of the most well-known Greek actors and actresses of that time, including Zoe Laskari, Jenny Karezi, Mimis Photopoulos, Aliki Vougiouklaki, Dimitris Papamichael, and Georgia Vasileiadou.
Finally, there are many 1950s and 1960s Greeks films that won the hearts of the critics and the viewers were not necessarily produced by a Greek company, such as Finos Films, but were either filmed in Greece and/or featured Greek actors, directors, and script writers. Such examples are the critically acclaimed films “Never on Sunday” (Ποτέ την Κυριακή) by Jules Dassin, featuring Melina Merkouri, and “Zorbas the Greek” (Αλέξης Ζορμπάς) that was produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox.
Today’s Greek listening comprehension exercise (number 11) will be mentioning some confusing Greek verbs and phrasal verbs. An example the use of the Greek verb “to do” (κάνω) along with nouns such as “bike” (κάνω ποδήλατο).
Thessaloniki is the second biggest city in Greece and one of the most beautiful ones as well. Situated in the Greek region of Macedonia in northern Greece, the port city of Thessaloniki has been a cosmopolitan city for many centuries. Known for its unique architecture, relaxed lifestyle, and rich history, Thessaloniki attracts many visitors every year. The city is also one of the places that see some snow from time to time during the winter, with many Greeks visiting it for this exact reason!
Another reason to visit Thessaloniki is the fact that is considered the food capital of Greece. Do you like sweet treats? Try the traditional sweet-savory bougatsa pie with lots of cinnamon and you will instantly fall in love with the city. Do you prefer fine dining? You will find plenty of restaurants to choose from. Since the Greek summer can be quite hot, hence reducing people’s appetite, make sure to visit Thessaloniki in the winter.
# 9 Athens
The capital of Greece might be visited all year round, however, it is recommended to visit it during the winter. Just ask a tourist who did outdoor sightseeing in Athens in July. Athenian summers are always very hot, with the temperature reaching often 40 degrees Celsius during the day. Therefore, coming during the winter is more enjoyable.
The city of Athens is always sunny, and the temperature can reach 20 degrees Celsius even in December. Pack your lightest coat and a few thin sweaters (or your shorts if you are from Scandinavia) and climb up the Acropolis of Athens and the Filopappou hill. Walk around the ancient Agora and National Gardens and explore the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos. Visit the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, the Benaki Museum, and Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center. Go thrift shopping in the second-hand markets of Monastiraki and Omonoia and order a nice cocktail in the bars around Square Klafthmonos.In the winter, there are also several theatrical plays. If you understand Greek at a basic level, watching a play in the birthplace of drama is a lifetime experience.
#8 Mounts of Attica
Athens is situated in Attica, a region with rich history. Attica is visited throughout the year by nature and hiking lovers because of its mountainous landscape. Try exploring Mount Hymettus, Penteli, and Parnitha. These mountains were considered “magical” since ancient times and there are often visited by paranormal investigators. A great example would be the “haunted” cave of Mount Penteli. If you love skiing, you can also visit Mount Parnassos ski center!
Due to its geographic location, Xanthi is one of the most culturally diverse cities in Greece. Situated in the northern region of Thrace, Xanthi welcomes many visitors during the winter. The city is known for its unique architecture. Byzantine churches, next to Ottoman-era mosques, and neoclassical buildings from the 19th century. Every winter, the city celebrates one of Greece’s most popular events: the carnival of Xanthi. It is recommended to visit the folklore museum, the old town, and the nearby waterfalls.
#6 Trikala of Corinthia
In the North Peloponnese, Greece holds one of its greatest secrets: Trikala. The picturesque town is known for its beautiful landscape, traditional homes made out of stone, and numerous winter traditions. Many families visit Trikala during Christmas to see the “Mill of the Elves” – the most beautiful Christmas themed park in Greece (which is completely free of charge). Not only that, but Trikala is one of the few smart cities in the world! It has automated citizens service center, mobile check apps, wifi for everyone, smart lighting system, smart parking system, smart waste management, and many more advanced municipal services. Trikala was also the first city to use driverless buses!
Zagori is a region in the Pindus mountains in the Epirus region of Greece. The area is known for its magnificent landscapes that are very rare in southern Europe. Rare animal species such as the brown bear and the wolf reside there. Greeks visit the area during the winter months to hike or explore the 46 traditional picturesque villages, known as the “Zagorochoria” (the villages of Zagori). Zagori has two national parks, traditional arched stone bridges, crystal-clear waters, and numerous Byzantine churches. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Greece.
If you love climbing, you might already know Meteora. It is a rock formation in central Greece, near the town of Kalabaka. The area is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is visited by people from around the world who are intrigued by its unique landscape. On top of some of the hills, there are Christian Orthodox monasteries that were built there during Byzantine times. Many climbers attempt to climb on top of the hills and countless film companies have asked for permission to film there. Meteora is one of the magnificent places to visit in Greece during the winter.
#3 Northern Pelion
Although South Pelion is a secret summer paradise, Northern Pelion – a mountain range in central Greece, is Greece’s winter hidden gem. Do you love skiing and winter sports? You can visit the ski resort of Chania. Do you love hiking? You can explore the cobblestone trails connecting Pelion’s traditional villages. Pelion is one of the few places where you can experience heavy snowfall in Greece.
The most well-known ski resort in Greece is the one of Arachova. It is situated next to one of the most picturesque villages of the entire country, Arachova. Located in the region of Boeotia, not very far from Attica, it gathers many visitors from Athens. The village is known for its woodcut creations, dark red wine, traditional carpets, and chylopites – a type of pasta that dates back to Byzantine times.
It was believed to be the home of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. The kingdom of Zeus and Hera. A magnificent mountain that reaches the heavens. How could it come second or third on this list? Mount Olympus is one of the most popular hiking and climbing destinations in Greece. It is also a ski mountaineering destination for avid skiers! On Mount Olympus you can find several beautiful villages, including some ghost villages such as Morna. The village was abandoned for unknown reasons and many urban legends have spurred over the years. The village was built on the “dark” side of Olympus, where sunlight is limited. Since ancient times, Greeks avoided this part of the mountain, since it was visited by chthonic deities, and not by the gods and goddesses who resided at the top.