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The Fall of Greek Civilization and the Fall of the Modern West
Nov 8th, 2015 at 8:10pm
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In America we often like to compare ourselves to the Roman Empire.

Obviously though America is part of the broader 'Western civilization.'

Looking at the current state of this civilization as a whole I think an instructive example for us is the fall of Greece.

I should be clear this is just a historical rhyme, there are never exact repeats in history.

The fall of Greece was, I suppose naturally, overshadowed by the rise of Rome. In our case, I think we could compare Western Europe to Greece and America to Rome.

When we think of the pagan Greeks, I think we do not differentiate different periods among them enough. There was a big difference between the Greeks Homer wrote about and those of 4th and 5th century BC Athens. The span of time between the Greeks of Socrates day (Plato, Aristotle, the Athenian dramatists) and those of Homers day, is similar to the span that stands between us and the High Middle Ages.

The Homeric Greeks were a healthy people they did not question themselves. They just accepted their religion and their overall way of life as "the way things are."

By the time we get to the 4th and 5th century BC the Greeks, while more powerful and wealthier than ever, were a sick people, and everything was coming into question. What we call the flowering of ancient Greek culture was in fact its final decadence...the whole reason the Greeks were writing and thinking so much on all topics was because they were confused, the old ways had come into question, and new ways were not yet available to take their place.

We cite Plato as the greatest Greek philosopher but we forget that Plato was clear in stating he lived at the end of Greek civilization. The naturalism, rationalism, democratism, etc. that he saw around him he saw as signs of decay.

I would say, for us, a good historical rhyme to start with is the Peloponnesian war and the period of WWI/WWII. They rhyme as being wars that took place at the height of power of their respective civilizations and wars which left these civilizations exhausted by their end.

In the case of Greece, the Macedonians and then the Romans stepped in as the new power. In our case, the Americans stepped in to take the place of the Western Europeans.

Western Europe now is akin to Greece after its subjection to Rome and before its conversion to Christianity: a nice place for American tourists to visit (there was also tourism in the Roman empire...they say the Spartans re-enacted old rights of the agogi for Roman tourists.), and also still influential intellectually, but well past its 'hey-day.'*

Perhaps an abrupt end, but there it is.

*Later, between civil wars, the Macedonian invasion, and the Roman invasion, as well as disease near the end of the empire and the barbarian invasions, Greece was also changed racially.

It is clear that the Homeric Greeks were similar in appearance to Northern Europeans: they are described as light-skinned, and light-haired. Obviously that is not the Greeks of today.

I am not saying none of the old blood is left in the Greeks, but that it has been mixed enough with other people that the overall ethnic nature of a Greek in our time is not what it was 3,000 years ago.

« Last Edit: Nov 8th, 2015 at 8:30pm by Frank1 »  

Homer and His Guide ~ William-Adolphe Bouguereau
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