By Nancy Biska
We think Greek is a foreign language written in a foreign alphabet. Yet we speak and write Greek every day without realizing it. Our Alphabet comes from Greek. Our Vocabulary is filled with Greek.
Enthusiasm = «possessed by a god», «inspired» from the Greek word «ενθουσιασμός»
The source of the word is the Greek compound noun «ενθουσιασμός», which ultimately comes from the adjective «ένθεος» meaning “having god within”, formed from the preposition «εν» meaning “in, within,” and the noun «Θεός/ Θεά» = “God/ Goddess.”
Most of the Greek names have a meaning:
The analysis of the words is based on Puristic Greek and not on Modern Greek Language
Aristotle = Αριστοτέλης – he who has “the best purpose”
Proper noun which means “he who means well”, “he who has the best purpose” deriving from the Greek word «άριστος» = the best/ excellence, and «τέλος» = aim/purpose.
Aristotle was one of the widely known Greek philosophers in the world, and still remains so even today.
Demosthenes = Δημοσθένης – “Strength of the people.”
It derives from the two nouns:
«δήμος» = of the people and «σθένος» = strength, vigor.
Alexander the Great = Μέγας Αλέξανδρος – “protector of men”
Αλέξανδρος means “defending men/ protector of men” and is produced from the prefix «άλεξ» = protector from the Greek verb «αλέξω» and the noun «ανήρ» = man (genitive «ανδρός»). The prefix «άλεξ» can be found in many Greek words today («αλεξίπτωτο» = parachute, «αλεξίσφαιρο» = bulletproof. Words starting with «άλεξ» have the meaning of protection!
Political terms: Πολιτική = Politics from «Πόλις» = City/State and from «Πολίτες» = Citizens
There are also many political terms of Greek origin, such as: Aristocracy Αριστοκρατία – Plutocracy Πλουτοκρατία – Timocracy Τιμοκρατία – Monarchy Μοναρχία Oligarchy Ολιγαρχία and so many more; all of which played a most significant role in shaping political institutions on a worldwide scale.
Democracy = Δημοκρατία is derived from two words:
«Δήμος» which means people; and «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.”
geometry: γεωμετρία; arithmetic: αριθμητική; trigonometry: τριγωνομετρία and so many others!
The term geometry is derived from the ancient Greek words “geo” γαία which means earth; and μέτρον which means measurement.
From Αρχή = chief/ leader; and tecture from the ancient Greek Τέκτων or builder. Hence, Architecture means the designing the archetypes (αρχέτυπα) or foundations of buildings!
Other scientific terms:
anthropology ανθρωπολογία, archaeology αρχαιολογία, astronomy αστρονομία, astrophysics αστροφυσική, biotechnology βιοτεχνολογία, chemistry χημεία, cosmology κοσμολογία, cybernetics κυβερνητική, economics οικονομικά, genetics γενετική, geology γεωλογία, technology τεχνολογία, history ιστορία, metaphysics μεταφυσική, mythology μυθολογία, physics φυσική, philology φιλολογία, psychology ψυχολογία, therapy θεραπεία, typology τυπολογία, pedagogical, παιδαγωγικός… There are hundreds of scientific terms directly from the Greek language.
Medicine: Pharmacology –Φαρμακολογία 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, pathology παθολογία, orthopedics ορθοπεδικά, amnesia αμνησία …
Ecology οικολογία – ecological οικολογικός- ecologist οικολόγος, ecosystem οικοσύστημα
The word ecology comes from the Greek «οίκος», meaning in Greek “home” or “a place to live” and «λόγος» = word, study.
The Greek naturalist and philosopher Theophrastus (Aristotles’ disciple) was one to further Aristotle’s monumental legacy in the Natural Sciences and taxonomic (ταξονομία = order + νόμος = law) classification by clades-cladograms (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.
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..
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. Τhe Hellenic language and thought inspired poetry ποίηση, historiography ιστοριογραφία, rhetoric ρητορική, politics πολιτική, philosophy φιλοσοφία and developed with rational thinking and dialogue διάλογος the moral and political ideas of justice…
The Delphic concepts of self-knowledge:
Know Yourself (Know Thyself)= Γνώρισε τον Εαυτό Σου
In ancient Greek : γνω̃θι σαὐτόν
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.
Hellenic ideals, ideas and values
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 paradigm 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 is a 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.
Vaggelis Papathanasiou: Greek Mythology
“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
αλήθεια from 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 μυθολογία, 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” = «Έλλην» (in Modern Greek: Έλληνας, Ελληνίδα) not by one’s genealogical γενεαλογικό tree but as a person who partakes of the Hellenic Paideia – Education and Culture.
So, in reality we are all Hellenes/ Έλληνες/ Ελληνίδες since we do partake of the Hellenic Paideia/ Ελληνική Παιδεία!