The definition of «arete» by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics

Τετάρτη, 18 Φεβρουαρίου, 2015

Eduardo Chillida, Competition - Harmony

Eduardo Chillida, Competition – Harmony

Introduction

We often talk about «arete«, or «virtue«, although the latin-based word is not coveying the full meaning. As it happens in these cases, we all use the same word, but each one has potentially a different understanding or interpretation of it.

Having just finished reading Plato’s «Meno», I was reminded of the definition of «arete» by Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics, and its interprpetation by the French-Greek philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis.

There are at least three major issues to address.

First of all, whereas Plato in Menon is so keen to arrive at a definition of virtue, it appears as if this is a strictly theoretical exercise. Aristotle, on the other hand, claims that the issue is «how to act».

Then we have the question of whether virtue is knowledge or a habit, whether it can be attained and acquired by rationality or by perception.

Finally, there is the question of the context of virtue.

I will proceed to quote from the text in the Greek original of the Nicomachean Ethics, then give the translation in modern Greek, and then provide a translation and/or interpretation in English. For the modern Greek translation I will use the translations available in the «Gate of the Greek Language» (reference 3), and on some occasions my translation. The «standard» english translation I will use is by William David Ross (reference 1).

Eduardo Chillida, Homenaje a Picasso

Eduardo Chillida, Homenaje a Picasso

Why define «arete»?

Ἐπεὶ οὖν ἡ παροῦσα πραγματεία οὐ θεωρίας ἕνεκά ἐστιν ὥσπερ αἱ ἄλλαι (οὐ γὰρ ἵνα εἰδῶμεν τί ἐστιν ἡ ἀρετὴ σκεπτόμεθα, ἀλλ᾽ ἵν᾽ ἀγαθοὶ γενώμεθα, ἐπεὶ οὐδὲν ἂν ἦν ὄφελος αὐτῆς), ἀναγκαῖον ἐπισκέψασθαι τὰ περὶ τὰς (30) πράξεις, πῶς πρακτέον αὐτάς· αὗται γάρ εἰσι κύριαι καὶ τοῦ ποιὰς γενέσθαι τὰς ἕξεις, καθάπερ εἰρήκαμεν. (1103b, 25-30)

Επειδή λοιπόν η παρούσα φιλοσοφική μας ενασχόληση δεν έχει ως στόχο της, όπως οι άλλες, τη θεωρητική γνώση (η έρευνά μας δηλαδή δεν γίνεται για να μάθουμε τι είναι η αρετή, αλλά για να γίνουμε ενάρετοι ― αλλιώς δεν θα είχε κανένα νόημα), είναι ανάγκη να εξετάσουμε το θέμα «πράξεις», με το νόημα (30) «πώς πρέπει να τις πράττουμε» ― αυτό, φυσικά, επειδή από αυτές εξαρτάται και το τι θα είναι τελικά οι έξεις μας, όπως το έχουμε ήδη πει. (3, μετάφραση Δ. Λυπουρλής).

Since, then, the present inquiry does not aim at theoretical knowledge like the others (for we are inquiring not in order to know what virtue is, but in order to become good, since otherwise our inquiry would have been of no use), we must examine the nature of actions, namely how we ought to do them; for these determine also the nature of the states of character that are produced, as we have said. (1)

My comment: Aristotle makes it quite clear from the beginning that his inquiry aims at determing how to act. His focus is not theoretical knowledge, but real life and what we do in it.

Eduardo Chillida, Barcelona i

Eduardo Chillida, Barcelona i

Definition of (moral) «arete» 

«…ἀρετὴν δὲ λέγομεν ἀνθρωπίνην οὐ τὴν τοῦ σώματος ἀλλὰ τὴν τῆς ψυχῆς· καὶ τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν δὲ ψυχῆς ἐνέργειαν λέγομεν.» (1102a, 15-20)

Όταν αναφερόμαστε στην ανθρώπινη αρετή, εννοούμε την αρετή της ψυχής, και όχι του σώματος. Και η ευτυχία εξάλλου είναι ενεργούμενο της ψυχής.

By human virtue we mean not that of the body but that of the soul; and happiness also we call an activity of soul. (1)

Διορίζεται δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀρετὴ κατὰ τὴν διαφορὰν ταύτην· λέγομεν γὰρ αὐτῶν τὰς (5) μὲν διανοητικὰς τὰς δὲ ἠθικάς, σοφίαν μὲν καὶ σύνεσιν καὶ φρόνησιν διανοητικάς, ἐλευθεριότητα δὲ καὶ σωφροσύνην ἠθικάς. (1103a, 3-7)

Και στην αρετή διακρίνουμε δύο είδη: διανοητική αρετή, όπως είναι η σοφία και η σύνεση, και ηθική όπως είναι η γενναιοδωρία και η σωφροσύνη.

Virtue too is distinguished into kinds in accordance with this difference; for we say that some of the virtues are intellectual and others moral, philosophic wisdom and understanding and practical wisdom being intellectual, liberality and temperance moral. (1)

«Διττῆς δὴ τῆς ἀρετῆς οὔσης, τῆς μὲν διανοητικῆς τῆς (15) δὲ ἠθικῆς, ἡ μὲν διανοητικὴ τὸ πλεῖον ἐκ διδασκαλίας ἔχει καὶ τὴν γένεσιν καὶ τὴν αὔξησιν, διόπερ ἐμπειρίας δεῖται καὶ χρόνου, ἡ δ᾽ ἠθικὴ ἐξ ἔθους περιγίνεται, ὅθεν καὶ τοὔνομα ἔσχηκε μικρὸν παρεκκλῖνον ἀπὸ τοῦ ἔθους. ἐξ οὗ καὶ δῆλον ὅτι οὐδεμία τῶν ἠθικῶν ἀρετῶν φύσει ἡμῖν ἐγγίνεται·» (1103a, 14-19)

Δύο είναι, όπως είδαμε, τα είδη της αρετής, η διανοητική και η ηθική. (15) Η διανοητική αρετή χρωστάει και τη γένεση και την αύξησή της κατά κύριο λόγο στη διδασκαλία (γιαυτό και εκείνο που χρειάζεται γι’ αυτήν είναι η πείρα και ο χρόνος), ενώ η ηθική αρετή είναι αποτέλεσμα του έθους (και το ίδιο της το όνομα, άλλωστε, μικρή μόνο διαφορά παρουσιάζει από τη λέξη έθος). Αυτό ακριβώς κάνει φανερό ότι καμιά ηθική αρετή δεν υπάρχει μέσα μας εκ φύσεως. (3, μετάφραση Δ. Λυπουρλής).

Virtue, then, being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, intellectual virtue in the main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching (for which reason it requires experience and time), while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit, whence also its name (ethike) is one that is formed by a slight variation from the word ethos (habit). From this it is also plain that none of the moral virtues arises in us by nature; (1)

Eduardo Chillida, Zabaldu

Eduardo Chillida, Zabaldu

Definition and interpretation by C Castoriadis

«Ἔστιν ἄρα ἡ ἀρετὴ ἕξις προαιρετική, ἐν μεσότητι οὖσα τῇ πρὸς ἡμᾶς, ὡρισμένῃ λόγῳ καὶ ᾧ ἂν ὁ φρόνιμος ὁρίσειεν». (1107a, 1-5)

An almost literal translation of this definition in English would read like this:

«Virtue, then, is a habit or trained faculty of choice, the characteristic of which lies in moderation or observance of the mean relative to the persons concerned, as determined by reason, i.e. by the reason by which the prudent man would determine it.»

Ross translates it as follows: «Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it.» (1)

The French-Greek philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis in one of his seminars (2) has provided a lucid interpretation of Aristotle’s definition, and I would like to share it as I consider it brilliant and illuminating.

Eduardo Chillida, Homenaje a Aime Maeght

Eduardo Chillida, Homenaje a Aime Maeght

«Ἔστιν ἄρα ἡ ἀρετὴ ἕξις προαιρετική»

Είναι λοιπόν η αρετή μια συνήθεια απόκτημα ελεύθερης επιλογής

Interpretation: Arete is an acquired inclination, which we do not have since birth and we follow and exercise by choice. Castoriadis discusses the possible use of the word «habitus», but opts for inclination instead, to emphasize the active element of the word, as opposed to the rather passive nature of «habitus».Not only arete is an inclination we acquire during life, but we acquire it by choice, not because we were forced to by dire circumstances. Arete is exercised by choice, and cannot be forced.

Eduardo Chillida, Aundi II

Eduardo Chillida, Aundi II

«ἐν μεσότητι οὖσα τῇ πρὸς ἡμᾶς»

που βρίσκεται στο ενδιάμεσο των άκρων που καθορίζουμε εμείς οι ίδιοι

Interpretation: Arete lies in the middle ground between extremes, in a context defined by our condition. The middle ground is not necessarily an arithmetic mean or median, and the extremes are not universal or all encompassing, but are defined in the context of «our» condition, and have no meaning without it. The community enters the definition with the «our», and shatters the strictly individual focus usually attached to arete.

«ὡρισμένῃ λόγῳ καὶ ᾧ ἂν ὁ φρόνιμος ὁρίσειεν».

και προσδιορίζεται από τη λογική που καθορίζει ο φρόνιμος άνθρωπος

Interpetation: Arete is determined by impersonal reason and defined by the man of prudence, which is the ability to reason well within the real conditions of life.

Eduardo Chillida, Zedatu IV

Eduardo Chillida, Zedatu IV

Navigating the middle position

Being in the middle ground, between two extremes, is not an easy task. And attaining the proper position is a matter of perception rather than of reason.

«Τριῶν δὴ διαθέσεων οὐσῶν, δύο μὲν κακιῶν, τῆς μὲν καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν τῆς δὲ κατ᾽ ἔλλειψιν, μιᾶς δ᾽ ἀρετῆς τῆς μεσότητος, πᾶσαι πάσαις ἀντίκεινταί πως·» (1108b, 15-20)

There are three kinds of disposition, then, two of them vices, involving excess and deficiency respectively, and one a virtue, viz. the mean, and all are in a sense opposed to all; (1)

«(20) Ὅτι μὲν οὖν ἐστὶν ἡ ἀρετὴ ἡ ἠθικὴ μεσότης, καὶ πῶς, καὶ ὅτι μεσότης δύο κακιῶν, τῆς μὲν καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν τῆς δὲ κατ᾽ ἔλλειψιν, καὶ ὅτι τοιαύτη ἐστὶ διὰ τὸ στοχαστικὴ τοῦ μέσου εἶναι τοῦ ἐν τοῖς πάθεσι καὶ ἐν ταῖς πράξεσιν, ἱκανῶς εἴρηται. διὸ καὶ ἔργον ἐστὶ σπουδαῖον εἶναι.» (1109a, 20-25)

That moral virtue is a mean, then, and in what sense it is so, and that it is a mean between two vices, the one involving excess, the other deficiency, and that it is such because its character is to aim at what is intermediate in passions and in actions, has been sufficiently stated. Hence also it is no easy task to be good. (1)

«ἀλλ᾽ ὁ μὲν μικρὸν τοῦ εὖ παρεκβαίνων οὐ ψέγεται, οὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ τὸ μᾶλλον οὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ τὸ (20) ἧττον, ὁ δὲ πλέον· οὗτος γὰρ οὐ λανθάνει. ὁ δὲ μέχρι τίνος καὶ ἐπὶ πόσον ψεκτὸς οὐ ῥᾴδιον τῷ λόγῳ ἀφορίσαι· οὐδὲ γὰρ ἄλλο οὐδὲν τῶν αἰσθητῶν· τὰ δὲ τοιαῦτα ἐν τοῖς καθ᾽ ἕκαστα, καὶ ἐν τῇ αἰσθήσει ἡ κρίσις.» (1109b, 20-25)

The man, however, who deviates little from goodness is not blamed, whether he do so in the direction of the more or of the less, but only the man who deviates more widely; for he does not fail to be noticed. But up to what point and to what extent a man must deviate before he becomes blameworthy it is not easy to determine by reasoning, any more than anything else that is perceived by the senses; such things depend on particular facts, and the decision rests with perception. (1)

References

(1) Αριστοτέλους, Ηθικά Νικομάχεια. [ed. J. Bywater, Aristotle’s Ethica Nicomachea. Oxford, 1894] translated by William David Ross. I own the «Oxford World’s Classics» 2009 printed edition.

(2) Κορνήλιος Καστοριάδης, Η Ελληνική Ιδιαιτερότητα, Τόμος Γ”, Θουκυδίδης, η ισχύς και το δίκαιο. Εκδόσεις Κριτική, Αθήνα 2011. Please note that the Castoriadis book is in Greek, and the translation into English is mine. In addition, I have not used Castoriadis’ statements verbatim, but with a sense of poetic license.

(3) Πύλη. Αρχαία Ελληνική Γλώσσα και Γραμματεία. Αριστοτέλους, Ηθικά Νικομάχεια

Following my earlier post on the January 2015 parliamentary elections in Greece, I would like to add some more thoughts regarding the second elections (March/April 2015) and the political implications for some of the political parties.

Paul Klee, Red Baloon, Guggenheim Museum, New York

Paul Klee, Red Baloon, Guggenheim Museum, New York

First of all, it is quite interesting that as we approach the 25th January, political parties and analysts alike seem to be certain that there will be no second elections. I emphasize this because it seems to me to be the epitomy of shortsightedness and hypocricy.

In order to make it appear that SYRIZA will be able to form a government, all of a sudden they are no longer the bad kids on the block. They could be right in some things, they mean well, and so on. All of these are abstract generalities of no substance, and most important there is no discussion on the political positions of the parties and the interests and concerns of the electorate. Now we are told that the electorate does not want second elections. A few weeks ago we were told that the electorate did not want any elections.

Paul Klee, The Sublime Side, MOMA, New York

Paul Klee, The Sublime Side, MOMA, New York

We are told by the Minister of Finance that if SYRIZA gets elected, our creditors will consider giving Greece an extension of two months to wrap up the troika moratorium, provided that Greece asks for it. Today this reads more like a six month extension.

All of a sudden PASOK, POTAMI and ANEL – not the Communist Party, Golden Dawn and New Democracy – are open to discuss cooperation with SYRIZA.

Paul Klee;, Flower Garden, MOMA, New York

Paul Klee;, Flower Garden, MOMA, New York

One wonders why PASOK, POTAMI and ANEL are extending a week before the election a hand of cooperation to SYRIZA.

SYRIZA, on the other hand, seem to be fully aware of the fact that their only chance of governing Greece is the 25th January 2015. If they do not get absolute majority alone or with another party they will never govern the country.

It seems to me that this change of attitude and behaviour is not genuine, but a diversion.

The parties are for different reasons appearing as cooperative and supportive of a coalition government including SYRIZA for two basic reasons. The first is that they want to divert attention form some internal developments and the other is that they want to attract more voters, by appearing as cooperative.

Paul Klee, Actor's Mask, MOMA, New York

Paul Klee, Actor’s Mask, MOMA, New York

Let us consider each of these parties, starting with PASOK.

PASOK faces serious problems. IThe formation of George Papandreou’s new political party will take many votes away from PASOK who already suffered catastrophic results in the Euroelections of 2014. A bad result (below 7%) will have major impact on the party and may lead to its disappearance from mainstream politics. This leads the leadership of Mr. Venizelos to attempt to position PASOK as the guarrantor of a coalition government and even suggest to the voters that in order for a coalition to be strong they must vote for PASOK, so that it becomes the broker of a stable cooperative effort to govern the country. This reminds me of Genscher’s Free Democratic PArty in Germany. The attempt is clear, but in my view it will remain an attempt. PASOK lacks the credibility to become the broker of a coalition government in Greece. Not only that, the position of Mr. Venizelos in the party after the 25th January 2015 is questionable. It is most likely that Mr. Venizelos will step down from the presidency of PASOK.

POTAMI are equally eager to convince the voters that they are so nice and polite guys that they will do whatever it takes to form a coalition government, provided of course that it does not go against their political programme. This opportunism is working in favour of POTAMI as they appeal primarily to undecided voters from the right to the left, who do not want to vote for the two main contenders, New Democracy and SYRIZA.

Paul Klee, Around the fish, MOMA, New York

Paul Klee, Around the fish, MOMA, New York

Something similar is also said by PASOK. We will cooperate, provided that our political programme is respected.

POTAMI threw in yesterday a variance of the coalition position. They said that they may not participate in a SYRIZA-led government, but they will give it a vote of confidence, provided that their conditions will be met.

ANEL, the party led by Mr. Kammenos, is the only one of the three that maintains a steady position. They say that they have major differences with SYRIZA but, they are equally opposed to the memorandum of Greece with the «troika» creditors and threfore will discuss with SYRIZA the formation of a government. Mr. Kammenos is playing a smart game. He knows very well that the only political capital he has is his opposition ot the memorandum and he is trying to cash in on it by piggybagging on SYRIZA’s win. The catch is that in spite of all good intentions, S?YRIZA and ANEL combined will not have enough seats to give the needed vote of confidence to a new government of Greece.

Paul Klee, Glueht Nacht, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

Paul Klee, Glueht Nacht, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

The party of George Papandreou continues to be in the twilight zone between 2% and 3%. If things remain the same, he will not have any seats in the new parliament. But I believe that he will eventually get more than 3% of the national vote. Mr. PApandreou is not very vocal about a coalition with SYRIZA, he is very busy trying to re-establish his reputation as a politicla leader who cares for the people.

I have tried to give some explanations of the recently expressed strong desire by some of the parties to form a coalition government with SYRIZA, following the 25th January elections.

As a similar positive turn has occured amaong political analysts and journalists, I can only say that they relaised that scaremongering is not going to have an effect and decided to «keep their enemy closer than their friend».

Paul Klee, Tropische Daemmerung, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

Paul Klee, Tropische Daemmerung, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

Interestingly, they do not discuss the most likely outcome of the elections, which is that we will have a second round of elections following the election of the new president of the Hellenic Republic. But I will not elaborate on this, there is no need. We will soon know what will happen, without the help of the esteemed analysts.

I would like now to rurn to one of the implications of the elections of the 25th January and the failure to form a government, leading to a second round of elections. I think there will be major implications in the party of New Democracy. More specifically, a change in leadership.

All moderate politicla forces inside and outside of Greece will come to the conclusion – if they have not already done so – that the regime of Mr Samaras is over. He did what he could, but his time is over. The damage his policies inflicted on the people is so big that he cannot continue being the leader of the conservative party in Greece. A change is needed at once. Luckily for the conservatives, there are many candidates for the job. As an example, the daughter of ex-prime minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, Dora Bakoyanni.

Paul Klee, Zeichen in Gelb, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

Paul Klee, Zeichen in Gelb, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

She is well educated, experienced in politics, she is moderate in her politics and has a strong following.

I do not want to elaborate further, as the key point I am trying to make is that there will be a change in the New Democracy leadership. Whoever is the new leader, will have a tough job ahead of her/him.

Following the change in leadership, New Democracy will have to work hard to re-build bridges with political forces of the center and form a coalition government. It will not be easy, but as I wrote in my earlier post, I believe it has quite a good chance for it to happen.

Parliamentary Elections in Greece – January 2015: The Outlook

Τρίτη, 6 Ιανουαρίου, 2015

Introduction

The coalition government of New Democracy and PASOK led by Mssrs. Samaras and Venizelos did not survive the three rounds of voting for the new president of Greek Democracy. As a result, on the 25th January 2015 the people of Greece will vote to elect the members of the Greek Parliament, who in turn will vote for the new President of the country and form a new government.

As we approach this critical date of parliamentary elections, I consider it pertinent to embark on building some scenarios for the results of the elections and what will follow.

There are two major events that will follow the parliamentary elections.

The election of the new president of Greece and the nomination of a new government.

The Greek Parliament has 300 seats.

In the vote for the new president, there will be a maximum of three rounds.

In the first round a majority of 181 votes is required. If this is not attained in the first round, the second round can elect president with 151 votes. Should this not be attained, the third round elects a president with simple majority.

In order to form a government a party or coalition of parties needs to get a minimum of 151 votes in parliament.

At first I will present the political parties who I think will get more than 3% of the vote and secure seats in the parliament.

Following that, I will proceed to build various scenarios. These scenarios are grouped in two groups. The first group refers to the January elections, whereas the second group refers to the potential second elections in March/April.

The outlook is presented as a set of outcomes, ranked by their probability of occurrence.

I conclude the post with some remarks on the tactical and strategic implications of this analysis.

Part II is published as a separate post, and focuses on some aspects of the «coalition formation processes and attitudes», as well as potential developments following the January elections.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Color Planes 5

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Color Planes 5

The political parties

New Democracy

Orientations: Center-right, Right, Populist-right, Extreme-right

Leader: A. Samaras

Current status: Following two and a half years in government, New Democracy have made the fatal error of trying to cut the umbilical cord with Germany and the IMF too soon. In spite of that, having received many smacks on the face, they continue in my mind to be the favourites of Germany and the IMF. They will most likely not win in the January election, but this does not necessarily mean that they will not eventually govern again.

Outlook: I estimate they will get between 25 and 30 of the national vote and will be the second party after SYRIZA.

SYRIZA

Orientations: Center-right, Center, Center-left, Left, Extreme-left

Leader: A. Tsipras

Current status: SYRIZA was a marginal party of the left in 2008 when the financial crisis started. In the elections of 2012 they got more than 20 % of the vote and all of a sudden they became the opposition leaders. Today they claim the leadership of the country, having attracted many of the PASOK voters who feel betrayed by the current leader Mr. Venizelos. Their leader, Mr. Tsipras has polished his ways and is more moderate in his statements compared to previous years. In terms of policies, SYRIZA want to renegotiate the huge debt of the country. Whether they can do it is another story.

Outlook: They will get between 30 and 35 percent of the national vote and be the first party but they will have less than 150 members of parliament.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue

GOLDEN DAWN

Orientations: Fascists, Extreme-right, Right

Leader: N. Mikhaloliakos

Current status: The Golden Dawn is no longer comamnding percentages around 10%, but they continue to be strong, and over 5%. However, they are isolated by all other political parties and thus they will not be able to influence the outcome of the elections, unless they exceed 5% by a significant margin.

Outlook: They will get between 4 and 6 percent of the national vote.

KKE – Communist Party of Greece

Orientations: Communists

Leader: D. Koutsoumbas

Current status: Nothing is more stable and more predictable in Greek politics than KKE. They follow a solitary road for many years now (since they formed a coalition government with other parties in 1989). No surprises here. They will definitely not support SYRIZA under any circumstances.

Outlook: They will get between 4 and 6 percent of the national vote.

POTAMI

Orientations: Right, Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: S. Theodorakis

Current status: This party was formed a few weeks before the European Parliament elections of June 2014. They do not have any political agenda, and this will hurt them in the elections. Being unashamedly opportunistic and branding a nice smile does not get votes in a destroyed country. Many analysts predict that POTAMI will be the third strongest party in the elections, but I seriously doubt this.

Outlook: They will get between 3 and 5 percent of the national vote.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, and Gray

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, and Gray

PASOK

Orientations: Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: E. Venizelos

Current status: PASOK is today a party of the past without any future. the formation of a new party by Mr. G. Papandreou was in my view PASOK’s death sentence. PASOK loyalists will vote for Mr. Papandreou. In spite of that, the momentum and the inertia of more than 30 years in politics, will keep them above the 3% mark.

Outlook: They will get between 3 and 5 percent of the national vote.

KDP – Movement of Democratic Citizens

Orientations: Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: G. Papandreou

Current status: This party may very well be the joker in the pack of parties. Initially this role was attributed to POTAMI, but now things have changed. G. Papandreou continues to be popular andmay very well take more than 3% of the vote, thus entering the parliament. Initally discarded as a prank, thie move to create a new party may turn all things upside down, especially if KDP win enough votes to be able to influence the formation of a new government.

Outlook: They will get between 3 and 5 percent of the national vote.

ANEL – Independent Greeks

Orientations: Extreme-right, Right, Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: P. Kammenos

Current status: This is a party of protest against the «troika» memorandum, but also a party of voters displeased with New Democracy. Basically it is a party of the right. The success or failure of Mr. Kammenos hinges upon his ability to lure the voters of the right to his weakening party.

Outlook: They will get between 2 and 4 percent of the national vote.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red and Blue

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red and Blue

The scenarios

There are two sets of scenarios. One refers to the parliamentary elections of January 2015. The other to the potential repat elections sometime in late March – early April 2015.

I. Parliamentary elections of January 2015

Scenario 1: SYRIZA win and form a government 

Likelihood: 10%

SYRIZA win in this scenario, but do not have the required 151 seats in parliament. Therefore they will need to form an alliance of some sort with another party. The most likely candidate for this is the party of ANEL, assuming that they will receive more than 3% of the national vote, and that the combined seats are more than 150.

Scenario 2: SYRIZA win but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 80%

SYRIZA win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

In this case, the parliamentary elections will be repeated after the election of the president. The earliest date would be the middle of March 2015.

In this scenario SYRIZA will most likely be able to vote in a president of their liking, but failing to form a government the country will go to the polls again and a new government will not be formed until early April 2015.

Scenario 3: New Democracy win and form a government

Likelihood: 1%

In this scenario New Democracy win and they form a coalition with other parties, securing the required 151 seats.

Scenario 4: New Democracy win, but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 9%

New Democracy win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

In this case, the parliamentary elections will be repeated after the election of the president. The earliest date would be the middle of March 2015.

In this scenario New Democracy will most likely be able to vote a president of their liking, but failing to form a government the country will go to the polls again and a new government will not be formed until early April 2015.

Piet Mondrian, composition c

Piet Mondrian, composition c

II. Parliamentary elections of March 2015

The second round of elections will be the result of no party being able to form a government after the first round of elections in January 2015.

Scenario 5: SYRIZA win and form a government 

Likelihood: 1%

SYRIZA win in this scenario, but do not have the required 151 seats in parliament. Therefore they will need to form an alliance of some sort with anoth party. The most likely candidate for this is the party of ANEL, assuming that they will receive more than 3% of the national vote, and that the combined seats are more than 150.

Scenario 6: SYRIZA win but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 9%

SYRIZA win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

Scenario 7: New Democracy win and form a government

Likelihood: 80%

In this scenario New Democracy win and they form a coalition with other parties, securing the required 151 seats.

Scenario 8: New Democracy win, but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 10%

New Democracy win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

Piet Mondrian, Tableau I Lozenge with Four Lines and Gray

Piet Mondrian, Tableau I Lozenge with Four Lines and Gray

Outlook

On the basis of the above, the outlook for the political developments in Greece is as follows. Outcomes are sorted by their likelihood of occurrence, from high to low.

On the basis of the likelihood prercentages I attirbuted to each scenario, the most likely outcome is that SYRIZA will win the January elections, but will not be able to form a government. New Democracy will bounce back and form an alliance with one or more parties, becoming the government. The reasoning behind this scenario has to do with the declining momentum of SYRIZA. As I have already stated above, SYRIZA does not have a cohesive social support. It is an opportunistic aggregate that cannot sustain its momentum over a long period of time. The fact that there are so many other parties competing for the ever so important «middle» stratum of society, is a time bomb in the bowels of SYRIZA. Therefore, should SYRIZA not be able to form a government after the January elections, I predict it is going to deflate, lose its momentum and will be overtaken by New Democracy and the small «center, center-left» parties.

Second most likely outcome is that SYRIZA will win the January election and form an alliance with another party, ANEL and/or KDP, becoming the new government of Greece.  But in terms of probability this outcome has 10%, compared to 64% of Outcome 1.

Outcomes 3 and 4 lead to a third election that is a nightmare outcome, and one of the very good reasons that everyone will try to end the process with the second election.

Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie Woogie

Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie Woogie

The probability of each outcome is calculated as the product of the probabilities of each of the component scenarios, except in outcome 2, where there is only one scenario.

Outcome 1: Scenario 2 and Scenario 7 (0.80 * 0.80 = 0.64)

SYRIZA win the January elections, but cannot form a government. New Democracy win the second elections and form a government in alliance with one or more other parties. Most likely allies of New Democracy are: POTAMI, PASOK, KDP.

Outcome 2: Scenario 1 (0.10)

SYRIZA win the January elections and form a government in alliance with another party, most likely the ANEL party, although G. Papandreou’s KDP should not be ruled out.

Outcome 3: Scenario 2 and Scenario 8 (0.80 * 0.10 = 0.08)

SYRIZA win the January elections, but cannot form a government. New Democracy win the second elections but cannot form a government. A third election will need to take place.

Outcome 4: Scenario 2 and Scenario 6 (0.80 * 0.09 = 0.072)

SYRIZA win the January elections, but cannot form a government. SYRIZA win the second elections but cannot form a government. A third election will need to take place.

Piet Mondrian, Trafalgar Square

Piet Mondrian, Trafalgar Square

Tactical and strategic implications

Analyses of this sort are done because they highlight some important dynamics that must be taken into account from day one of the process leading to the elections.

I think that the analysis I presented above makes it very clear that if SYRIZA have a chance to form a government, they only have it in the January 2015 election. This means that they better try very hard to form an alliance with one or more parties in order to get the required vote of confidence from 151 members of parliament. Most likely allies of SYRIZA are the party of Mr. Kammenos, ANEL, and the party of MR. Papandreou, KDP. Both of these parties must prove their value in the electoral field.

Mr. Kammenos has been plagued by massive desertions and the polls show him below 3%. I think he will manage to get more than 3% but it will be a big struggle. Even assuming that they will enter parliament, the relationship between SYRIZA and ANEL may very well be a marriage made in hell, as Mr. Kammenos is quite temperamental and unpredictable, while SYRIZA may be unable to tolerate the extreme views of the ANEL party.

This leaves Mr. G. Papandreou as the best bet for SYRIZA to become the new government of Greece. A strong performance of KDP in the polls will legitimize Mr. Papandreou and the power broker and will force the «purists» of SYRIZA to look away while a deal between the two parties is struck. The big prerequisite here is a KDP percentage above 5%. If I am right in this, SYRIZA must be praying for the center and center-left strate of voters to vote for Mr. G. Papandreou.  Having said that, I doubt that SYRIZA have the political maturity to accept Mr. Papandreou as their ally in a new government.

For New Democracy the best tactical moves will be the ones that take votes away from ANEL and KDP, thus weakening the potential SYRIZA allies. The January elections will be a necessary evil, but not the end, because New Democracy will hope that S?YRIZA will fail to form a new government, thus opening the door to the second elections, which will be good for New Democracy. SYRIZA’s failure in January will bring the voters back to New Democracy, and make the smaller center, and center-left parties eager to form an alliance with the real winners, New Democracy. On the other hand, New Democracy will take advantage of the situation to present the new government as an alliance of political forces from a very wide spectrum of the political forces of Greece. This will be the best legitimization of the policies to be followed in the next two years.

There are other potential implications for New Democracy which are explored in Part II.

Festive Lunch – 1st January 2015 – Marathon, Attica, Greece

Σάββατο, 3 Ιανουαρίου, 2015

Today I rejoice the passage of time, culminating in the coming of the new year.

tree

It was a chilly day with wet snow, but it felt nice

 

There is no better way to do that but a festive lunch, where food and drinks will have almost equal weight and pleasure potential.

menu 1 January 2015

Festive Lunch Table

Festive Lunch Table

The menu draws from Germany, Georgia, Italy and France. Greece adds the traditional cake to finish the meal, and the salad.

Bruns Raucheraal - Smoked Eel

Bruns Raucheraal – Smoked Eel

Smoked eel is one of the delicacies I will never stop craving for.

My best man, Manolis, brought me a sealed package of two smoked eels produced by Aal-Bruns, a German specialist producer.

As if I knew, I cut the eel in small pieces.

Pairing the smoked eel with a wine was a challenge.

But not for very long.

Smoked Eel

Smoked Eel

The gentle knight from Alsace came through the door and brought the solution with him. Two bottles of wine I had purchased in the Metzger winery at the beginning of the 21st century.

Metzger, Gewurztraminer Pflinz 1997

Metzger, Gewurztraminer Pflinz 1997

A late vintage of Gewurztraminer Pflinz from Alsace, produced in 1997!

I opened the first bottle, full of curiosity: Could a white wine have lasted for almost 18 years?

As you can see in the photo, the golden color of the wine gave the first answer. But this is nothing compared to the taste. Heaven on Earth!

The almost oily wine with its sublime sweetness coats the mouth and prepares it for the infusion with the smoky taste of the eel that literally melts in it. A marriage made in heaven.

Smoked Eel

Smoked Eel

I offered to my guests two options for tasting the eel. Both had as support a rectangle of whole grain bread, the first with a touch of butter on it, and the second with a spoonful of mashed pickled cabbage, beetroot, chilli pepper, celery and garlic. I personally enjoyed both, starting with the butter and then going to the pickled mix.

Needless to say, some pieces were enjoyed on their own. In the absolute magnificence of their existence. The taste is so powerful that only a small piece can be truly appreciated and enjoyed without the human being overwhelmed.

Georgian piroshki with minced beef

Georgian piroshki with minced beef

The second appetizer was a small piroshki with minced beef, a variation of a Georgian recipe.

It is smooth and spicy and tasty, while the wrapping is an ultra light and thin crepe.

The piroshki were prepared by a good friend.

Osso Bucco

Osso Bucco

The terrain is now open for the arrival of the main course, which is veal osso bucco with risotto.

I cooked the veal in a mix of carrots, celery, onions, garlic and tomatoes.

Risotto di Ossi

Risotto di Ossi

The abundant liquid of the mix I used in the risotto, which I prepared with Arborio rice from Ca Rossa.

The wine to accompany the main dish came from Toscana.

Ciacci Piccolomini di Aragona, Brunello di Montalcino, 1998

Ciacci Piccolomini di Aragona, Brunello di Montalcino, 1998

Brunello di Montalcino, 1998, produced by Ciacci Piccolomini d’ Aragona.

I had purchased both bottles in the winery’s shop near Montalcino, in Tuscany back in 2003.

The first bottle of the 16 year old wine was moderately ok, most likely due to cork problems. Drinkable, but not as rich and full as the second bottle, which gave to all great pleasure.

The risotto was the king of the main dish. It had rich flavor with considerable depth, without any of the elements overpowering the others.

The veal was tender, tasty and the rich sauce accompanied it in the best possible way.

At the end of the meal we shared the traditional «Vassilopitta», a light cake made with mahlepi (mahlab) spice. Absolutely divine in its simplicity.

sea

Happy New Year!

 

 

The Philosopher’s Conquest – A painting by Giorgio de Chirico

Παρασκευή, 26 Δεκεμβρίου, 2014

Giorgio de Chirico in his Rome flat, in 1938

Giorgio de Chirico in his Rome flat, in 1938

Introduction

«One must picture everything in the world as an enigma, not only the great questions one has always asked oneself […]. But rather to understand the enigma of things generally considered insignificant. To perceive the mystery of certain phenomena of feeling.» Georgio de Chirico, Eluard Manuscript.

Giorgio De Chirico was born in Volos, Greece, to a Genovese mother and a Sicilian father. His father Evaristo, was an engineer working for the railways. Among other things, he designed the railway station of Volos.

Giorgio de Chirico, Philosopher's Conquest, 1914. Art Institute of Chicago.

Giorgio de Chirico, Philosopher’s Conquest, 1914. Art Institute of Chicago.

De Chirico is best known for the paintings he produced between 1909 and 1919, his metaphysical period, which are memorable for the haunted, brooding moods evoked by their images.

«[T]he first artist to dwell on […] seemingly arbitrary confrontations of inanimate objects, and if the symbolic meaning of recurring images like the bananas, clocks, gloves and artichokes remain unknown, they are obviously repositories of deeply personal and experiences. It is a world that is sui generis, unrelated to any ‘isms,’ and here one can sympathise with de Chirico’s defiant rejection of the rest of modern art.» John Ashbery, “A de Chirico Retrospective”

When I visited Chicago in 203, one of the paintings that struck me at the At Institute of Chicago was the «Philosopher’s Conquest». The gigantic clock gives the viewer an urgent message about the passage of time. As we are about ready to say goodbye to 2014 and welcome 2015, I want to present this painting and provide some relevant interpretations.

Before I proceed, it is important to emphasize that my interpretations are the ones of an enthusiast. In this sense they may also be totally arbitrary.

It is known that by the time he was well in his «metaphysical» period, de Chirico had read philosophy and that Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Heraclitus had a profound influence on him.

Decomposition

In this section I will try to identify the components that make up the painting.

In the next section I will try to make sense of the way de Chirico has put them all together.

clock

The clock

The clock is positioned in the midpoint of the picture’s depth. De Chirico uses a clock quite often in his «metaphysical» paintings. The time shown does not seem to be significant. It is the time in abstract that is portrayed here.

train

The train

The train is in the background, quite visible and full of speed. As is the case with the clock, de Chirico often places a train in his «metaphysical» pictures.It is an object that brings the painter back to his childhood, when from his garden in Volos, he could see the trains passing by. Indirectly it is also a reference to his father, who was a railway engineer.

ship

The ship

The ship on the other hand has sails, it appears not to be going anywhere. The painter may be building a contrast here between the slow, imperceptible movement of the ship and the fast and furious pace of the train. This is also the contrast between the remnants of the pre-industrial period and the industrial period.

shadows

The shadows

The two shadows are merged. Some suggest they belong to the painter’s mother and brother.

It is important to note that there are only shadows of people in the painting, and no people at all.

The huge space of the piazza is empty.

It is as if the people have been there, but they have now gone somewhere else.

chimney

The brick chimney

A phallic symbol, may be the absent father. May also be a symbol of rapid industrialization that exacerbates the alienation of people.

tower

The tower

Another phallic symbol par excellence, the huge tower is half hidden by the clock. De Chirico placed huge towers in many of his metaphysical paintings.

artichoke

The artichokes

De Chirico has used artichokes also in another of his paintings, «Melancholy of an afternoon».

It is not clear at all what the artichokes symbolize. Huge erect female breasts?

But why not something simpler?

It is possible that the painter liked artichokes and he wanted to juxtrapose them, as a source of earthy pleasure, to the horrible presence of the cannon and the balls.

What makes me think that this «straight» reading is false is the size of the artichokes.

They are huge, they almost protrude in front of the cannon. With the multitude of shadows and the spiky leaves they are almost menacing. Definitely not a source of pleasure.

As a matter of fact, now that I think of it, there is no source of pleasure whatsoever in this painting.

de-chirico-melancholy-of-an-afternoon-copy-11

The cannon and balls

The symbol of the phallus is rather too obvious here. The year is 1914 and World War I is imminent, it may have laready started. I will risk it and suggest that the cannon and the two oddly placed balls are an allusion to war.

cannon

We should not forget that according to Heraclitus «War is the father of all».

The piazza

Last but not least, the empty space of the piazza.

piazza

Composition

The painting is silent.

There are no noises whatsoever. Even the train prodices no noise, as it is too far away to be heard.

Silence is partnered by emptiness. The vast spaces of the painting are empty.

There are people, only shadows.

It is as if something is going to happen, we do not know exactly what, but the cannon gives us a pretty good idea of what it is going to be. A was is coming.

It is melancholy that I feel, or is it anguish?

At moments like these, and this painting is about a moment, anguish allows us to access the truth of being.

Time is linked to death, and both are linked to melancholy, with a profound boredom (predating the matserpiece of Alberto Moravia) and with loneliness.

This is a painting of mood.

I am sad because time is passing by.

I am broody because I have an empty space in front of me, because I am alone, because I will die alone.

I am melancholic because the good moments have gone and I am facing the inevitability of death. The clock is not a clock, it is the opening of the gates to Hades.

The existential anguish of the individual is magnified by the dark presence of the cannon and the war that is coming. No way out. If you do not die of boredom, you will die in the military front.

So, what is the conquest the painter is talking about?

I claim it is the conquest of the fear of death.

Postscript: When all goes out of the window

As a postscript, I would like to refer to the «transformation» of de Chirico’s style and paintings.

Giorgio de Chirico, Bather in the Sun, 1935. Galleria d' Arte Moderna, Torino

Giorgio de Chirico, Bather in the Sun, 1935. Galleria d’ Arte Moderna, Torino

The painting we see above is not a Renoir, it is a de Chirico! Unbelievable? Yes, but true!

How could the painter of «The Philosopher’s Conquest» paint this rather ordinary picture?

I can venture one hypothesis and hope to re-address the question in another post.

De Chirico must have suffered a traumatic experience that made him turn away from the «metaphysical» style he invented and regress to late impressionism, passing through an intermediate «fusion» state which is emplified by the «Warriors and Philosophers» painting.

Vegetables from Marathon Greece, and more…

Κυριακή, 21 Δεκεμβρίου, 2014

«Gastronomy begins in the (market) stalls» old saying

In the middle of Greek winter, and as we are bracing ourselves to elect or not elect a new President of the Greek Democracy (?), surrounded by a multitude of enemies and hostile elements, I reminisce about how good the vegetables are in my hometown, Marathon, Greece. This is a natural reaction from a psychological point of view. When you drown in your own blood and bodily fluids, you need an uplifting element to cheer you up. As the Monty Python song goes, «always look on the bright side of life».

Most of the vegetables presented here are from Marathon. There are a few exceptions which will be noted. They are included because on the one hand they are important, and on the other hand it is always good to violate a rule, especially one that you have set.

Vegetables are presented first, and then a relevant dish, if available.

A reminder regarding Greek cuisine is due here. What I know as Greek cuisine belongs to the «pastoral» tradition. Simple food, prepared with few means and always with local ingredients. I am not – because I know nothing about it – talking about the cuisine of Ancient Greece, or the cuisine of Byzantium.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Cucumbers came to Greece from India, where it was known since 3000 BC.

Marathon’s cucumbers are very tasty. They are not as big as the cucumbers from the rearby area of Kalyvia Attika, but size is not everything. Their skin is so thin and soft that there is no reason the peel it off. Assuming that you know the producer and you know that they do not use substances that might make the skin harmful.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

The tomato came to Europe from Central and South America on 1544 and to Greece on 1818.

Their taste and aroma of Marathon tomatoes is unsurpassable. My friend Michalis, the producer from whom I purchase most of the vegetables, has explained to me that it is the combination of two distinct factors that make the Marathon tomatoes unique. The soil and the water. As a matter of fact, the tomatoes growing on the slopes of the hills are more tasty than the tomatoes on the flatland.

Red Radishes

Red Radishes

Red radishes are super boosters of the body’s metabolism. We eat them raw, with a touch of salt. Nothing else.

Rumours that radishes are aphrodisiac have not been substantiated by scientific research. To be on the safe side, keep eating at least three or four red radishes prior to your main meal every day, and you might be the lucky winner! The important thing is to be ready when opportunity knocks.

Beetroot from Marathon, Greece

Beetroot from Marathon, Greece

Marathon beetroots are incredible. Not just the roots but also the leaves.

beetroot2

Sliced and dressed beetroots

I boil the roots, slice them, season with chopped garlic, apple vinegar, salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious!

Boiled beetroot leaves

Blanched beetroot leaves

I blanch the leaves because they are very tender and serve with a lemon and olive oil dressing.

Zucchini

Zucchini

Zucchini have been in Greece since the ancient times.

What you see above are the «regular» zucchini, length up to 8 centimeters, diameter less than 1 centimeter.

What you see below is different. I woke up one morning and discovered in my garden a big zucchini.

Its length was 27 cm and it biggest diameter 10 cm.

zucchini1

I was curious to see how this abnormally big vegetable would taste.

The zucchini are so fresh and tasty that I prefer to eat them as fried sticks, either dressed with salt and pepper, or with a mild tzatziki dip (Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, squashed garlic, olive oil, salt). The «healthy» option is boiled, with olive oil and lemon.

Fried zucchini sticks

Fried zucchini sticks

My fried zucchini sticks are unbeatable. I accept bets and am willing to enter in any relevant competition in any country of the world.As it happened, the «giant» zucchini sticks tasted superb!

Zucchini flowers

Zucchini flowers

Zucchini flowers not only look beautiful, they taste great. The only secret is that they must be fresh, meaning that they have been collected in early morning, and you cook them for lunch. Always open them up to wash lightly, as various flying insects may have penetrated their soft shell.

Zucchini flowers stuffed with fresh white cheese and herbs

Zucchini flowers stuffed with fresh white cheese and herbs

There are two major ways of cooking the zucchini flowers. One is to stuff them with young white goat’s cheese with herbs and fry them, the other is to stuff them with rice and spices and then cook them in vegetable broth. I prefer the dish with the young white cheese, as it is an essay on softness and finesse.

Eggplant

Eggplant

And now we arive at the second of my produce – after the giant zucchini – eggplants! I love eggplants! As you see they are «black».

The eggplant came to Greece in the 12th – 13th century AD from Arabia, through Byzantium.

There is nothing that can describe the aroma of the freshly cut eggplant. This is why I wash them and cook them as quickly as possible. This preserves the flavor and the richness of the taste.

aubergine_grilled_detail

Grilled eggplant

The best way to cook a freshly cut eggplant is to grill it on charcoal, after you coat it in olive oil. If you have the technique, so that the eggplant is cooked but not burned, the result is amazing. The key thing is to slice it at least one centimeter thick.

White aubergines

White aubergines

In the market you can also find white ones, which are supposedly softer and without seeds. The only major difference that counts for me is the skin. The whites’ skin is not bitter. Other than that, I would not know the difference in a blind test where the skin has been removed.

Ομορφες Τσακωνικες Μελιτζανες

Greek Eggplants – Variety «tsakonikes»

Another variety, much more common in Greece, is «tsakonikes», originating in the area of Leonidion on the Peloponnese, some 150 km south of Marathon.

Λυωνω και μονο που σε βλεπω

Imam bayildi eggplants

These are the best for preparing one of the best dishes of the eastern Mediterranean, «imam bayildi«.

Green Pepper

Green Pepper

Here we come to the third of my produces of the summer, green bell peppers! What I wrote above about the aroma of a freshly cut eggplant holds also for the green pepper.

Peppers were imported into Europe from South America in late 15th – early 16th century. It is not known when they came to Greece.

Fried eggplants and peppers

Fried eggplants and peppers

Slicing and frying the freshly cut eggplants and peppers in virgin olive oil produces a simple meal, yet an unforgettable one.

Stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers

My favourite green pepper dish is stuffed peppers with minced meat. I add pig’s skin (when I have it for extra flavour, oine kerners, raisins, and a touch of rice or bulgur wheat to absorb the liquids.

Stuffed pappers ready to serve

Stuffed pappers ready to serve

The bitterness and acidity of the pepper blend almost perfectly with the sweetness of the stuffing. It is a perfect dish for imperfect humans.

Green peas

Green peas

I now move a bit away from Marathon, some 200 kilometers north, to the island of Evoia, where my father was born. In one of my visits there my good cousin gave me green peas and artichokes. It was late spring.

Artichokes

Artichokes

The combined dish with potatoes (and the stems of the artichokes) is just wonderful. If you exclude the potatoes, this is a dish that the ancient Greeks might have enjoyed.

Green peas

Green peas

When you do not have artichokes, you can still prepare a wonderful dish with green peas, based on the «yahni» cooking style.The dish below I cooked with green peas from the area of Livanates, some 90 km northwest of Marathon, near the ancient town of Thebes.

Green peas with pomodori, onions, chilli pepper, and parseley

Green peas with pomodori, onions, chilli pepper, and parseley

Next come runner beans from Marathon.

green_beans1

Green beans from Marathon

They are so tender, that I eat them raw with salt. When I cook them, I prefer a «deconstructed»  «yahni» dish. Instead of putting all the ingredinets in a pot, I assemble them after each undergoes processing separately.

Sliced runner beans

Sliced runner beans

The deconstructed dish is a delight.

Deconstructed yahni beans

Deconstructed yahni beans

String beans are my favourite, but they are quite tricky when you boil them.

string_beans2

String beans

Our last vegetable of the day is okra.

Baby okra from Veroia, Greece

Baby okra from Veroia, Greece

This baby okra came from Veroia, in the North of Greece near the burial area of King Philip, the father of Alexander the Great.

Okra "yahni"

Okra «yahni»

I cook it «yahni», with onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes, chilli peppers and herbs. The okra is so tender, it melts in your mouth. Unforgettable experience.

Here our short journey ends. I hope to have been able to share with you dear visitor and reader some of the unique and distinct vegetables of MArathon and some other areas of Greece.

Αυτό το άρθρο έχει θέμα του τον Επιτάφιο Λόγο του Περικλή, όπως αυτός παρατίθεται από τον Θουκυδίδη στην «Ιστορία του Πελοποννησιακού Πολέμου», Βιβλίο ΙΙ εδάφια 34-46.

Την έμπνευση για το άρθρο μου την έδωσε το τρίτομο έργο του Κορνήλιου Καστοριάδη, με την εκπληκτικής ζωντάνιας ανάγνωση του επιταφίου. Κυριολεκτικά «μου άνοιξε τα μάτια». Λίγο μετά ανακάλυψα στην βιβλιοθήκη μου τον «Περικλέους Επιτάφιο» του Ι.Θ. Κακριδή, κι έτσι «έδεσε το σιρόπι». Ο τόμος της «Εστίας» με τη μετάφραση του Αγγέλου Βλάχου περίμενε υπομονετικά στο βάθος για να πάρει τη θέση που του αξίζει.

Η Δομή του Επιταφίου (3, σ.36)

Ο Ι. Θ. Κακριδής διακρίνει τα ακόλουθα μέρη στον Επιτάφιο.

Α. Προοίμιο (εδάφιο 35)

Β. Έπαινος των προγόνων, των πατέρων, και της σύγχρονης γενιάς (εδάφιο 36). Για τις γενιές της αθηναϊκής ιστορίας, βλέπε παρακάτω.

Γ. Έπαινος της αθηναϊκής πολιτείας (εδάφια 37-41)

Δ. Έπαινος των νεκρών (εδάφια 41-42)

Ε. Παραινετικός λόγος (εδάφια 43-45)

Ζ. Επίλογος (εδάφιο 46)

Περνάω τώρα στην αναλυτική παρουσίαση του Επιταφίου, ανά εδάφιο.

Το πρωτότυπο κείμενο θα προηγείται σε πλαγιαστά γράμματα, και θα ακολουθεί η απόδοση και τα σχόλια. Σε κάποια σημεία η έμφαση θα είναι στη γλώσσα και την απόδοση του κειμένου, σε άλλα στο περιεχόμενο. Εξ άλλου γλώσσα (σημαίνον) και περιεχόμενο (σημαινόμενο) πάντοτε παίζουνε παιχνίδια.

Εδάφιο 36

Ο Ι.Θ. Κακριδής αναφέρει ότι οι τρεις αθηναϊκές γενιές ήσαν οι εξής (3, σ.6):

  • Πρόγονοι: από τη μυθική αρχή έως το τέλος των περσικών πολέμων το 479 π.Χ.
  • Πατέρες: έως τη συνθήκη των Αθηναίων με τους Λακεδαιμονίους το 445 π.Χ.
  • Σύγχρονη γενιά: «καθεστηκυία ηλικία». Ο Περικλής ήταν περίπου εξήντα ετών όταν εκφώνησε τον Επιτάφιο.

«τὴν γὰρ χώραν οἱ αὐτοὶ αἰεὶ οἰκοῦντες διαδοχῇ τῶν ἐπιγιγνομένων μέχρι τοῦδε»

«Γιατί έζησαν οι ίδιοι πάντα μια γενιά μετά την άλλη στη χώρα αυτή» (3, σ.7)

Εδώ ο Περικλής μνημονεύει την «πανάρχαια παρουσία των Αθηναίων στο ίδιο έδαφος, για την οποία ήταν εξαιρετικά υπερήφανοι, την αυτοχθονία τους.» (2, σ.176)

«ἐλευθέραν δι’ ἀρετὴν παρέδοσαν»

«…και με την παλικαριά τους μας την παράδωσαν ως τώρα λεύτερη» (3, σ.7)

Ο Άγγελος Βλάχος (1) αποδίδει την αρετή ως ανδρεία.

Ο Καστοριάδης από την άλλη μεριά, αποδίδει την αρετή με βάση την αρμονία. «Ένα άτομο έχει αρετήν αν είναι καλά προσαρμοσμένο ως προς αυτό που έχει αναλάβει να κάνει ή κατέχει την αρετήν απολύτως εάν βρίσκεται σε αρμονία με τον εαυτό του.» (2, σ. 176)

«ἀπὸ δὲ οἵας τε ἐπιτηδεύσεως ἤλθομεν ἐπ’ αὐτὰ καὶ μεθ’ οἵας πολιτείας καὶ τρόπων ἐξ οἵων μεγάλα ἐγένετο, ταῦτα δηλώσας πρῶτον εἶμι»

«Ποιος εστάθηκε ο δρόμος μας για να φτάσουμε σ’ εκείνα και με ποιάν πολιτεία κι’ από ποιους τρόπους ζωής έγιναν μεγάλα, αυτά θα δείξω πρώτα» (3, σ.9)

Ο Καστοριάδης αποδίδει τις λέξεις ως ακολούθως (2, σ. 177):

επιτήδευσις -> συνήθεια

πολιτεία -> θεσμοί και μέθοδοι διακυβέρνησης

τρόποι -> ήθη

Ο Καστοριάδης αναφέρεται στη συνέχεια στο νεωτερισμό της αντίληψης ως προς τι δημιουργεί την ισχύ μιας ανθρώπινης ομάδας. Στον Όμηρο, κάποιος θα κατακτήσει ή δεν θα κατακτήσει την αρχήν και τη νίκη επειδή είναι ή δεν είναι γενναίος, επειδή είναι ή δεν είναι αγαπητός στους θεούς. (2, σ. 179)

Εδάφιο 37

Στο εδάφιο αυτό αρχίζει ο έπαινος της Αθηναϊκής Πολιτείας, με αναφορές στο πολίτευμα και τους νόμους.

«Χρώμεθα γὰρ πολιτείᾳ οὐ ζηλούσῃ τοὺς τῶν πέλας νόμους, παράδειγμα δὲ μᾶλλοναὐτοὶ ὄντες τισὶν ἢ μιμούμενοι ἑτέρους

«Το πολίτευμα που έχομε σε τίποτε δεν αντιγράφει τα ξένα πολιτεύματα. Αντίθετα, είμαστε πολύ περισσότερο εμείς παράδειγμα για τους άλλους παρά μιμητές τους.» (1)

«Το πολίτευμα που έχουμε δε γυρεύει να πάρει τους νόμους του από τους ξένους. Πιο πολύ είμαστε εμείς το παράδειγμα σε μερικούς παρά που ξεσηκώνουμε ο,τι κάνουν οι άλλοι.» (3, σ.9)

«Έχουμε ένα πολιτικό καθεστώς που δεν φθονεί τους νόμους των άλλων και αντί να μιμείται τους άλλους, αποτελεί μάλλον υπόδειγμα γι’ αυτούς.» (2, σ. 180)

«καὶ ὄνομα μὲν διὰ τὸ μὴ ἐς ὀλίγους ἀλλἐς πλείονας οἰκεῖν δημοκρατία κέκληται·»

«Το Πολίτευμα μας λέγεται Δημοκρατία, επειδή την εξουσία δεν την ασκούν λίγοι πολίτες, αλλά όλος ο λαός.» (1)

«Το όνομα του (πολιτεύματος), επειδή δε ζούμε στηριγμένοι πάνω στους λίγους παρά στους περισσότερους, είναι κυριαρχία του δήμου, δημοκρατία.» (3. σ.9)

Ο Ι.Θ. Κακριδής σημειώνει ότι «σε μια πόλη δημοκρατία είναι οι ‘πλείονες’ μόνο, όχι όλοι οι πολίτες».

Ο Καστοριάδης επισημαίνει ότι «οικείν» σημαίνει κυριολεκτικά, τρόπος του κατοικείν, και μας θυμίζει την στροφή από το ποίημα του Friedrich  Hölderlin – In lieblicher Bläue 

«Voll Verdienst, doch dichterisch,wohnet der Mensch auf dieser Erde.» 

Εντελώς επάξια,αλλά ποιητικά κατοικεί ο άνθρωπος πάνω σ’ αυτήν τη γη

Εδώ στο βάθος προβάλλει και ο Martin Heidegger, αλλά δεν θα επεκταθώ.

«μέτεστι δὲ κατὰ μὲν τοὺς νόμους πρὸς τὰ ἴδια διάφορα πᾶσι τὸ ἴσον, κατὰ δὲ τὴν ἀξίωσιν,ὡς ἕκαστος ἔν τῳ εὐδοκιμεῖ, οὐκ ἀπὸ μέρους τὸ πλέον ἐς τὰ κοινὰ ἢ ἀπἀρετῆς προτιμᾶται, οὐδαὖ κατὰ πενίαν, ἔχων γέ τι ἀγαθὸν δρᾶσαι τὴν πόλιν, ἀξιώματος ἀφανείᾳ κεκώλυται»

«Όσον αφορά τα ίδια, τα ιδιωτικά ή τα ιδιαίτερα συμφέροντα, οι πολίτες αντιμετωπίζονται κατά ίσο τρόπο από τους νόμους. Όσον αφορά τη δημόσια αξιοσύνη ο καθένας αντιμετωπίζεται σύμφωνα με τον τρόπο με τον οποίο επιτυγχάνει σε αυτό που κάνει. Όσον αφορά τα κοινά, δηλαδή τα αξιώματα και τον πολιτικό ρόλο, δεν δείχνουμε προτίμηση σε κάποιον λόγω της καταγωγής του (από μέρους), αλλά με βάση την αρετή του.Ούτε κάποιος ο οποίος είναι φτωχός αλλά θα μπορούσε να κάνει κάτι για την πόλη , θα εμποδιστεί λόγω της κοινωνικής αφάνειας στην οποία βρίσκεται» (2, σ. 182)

Ο Ι.Θ. Κακριδής παρατηρεί ότι «η προτίμηση (των αρχόντων, των εχόντων δημόσιο αξίωμα) με βάση την αρετή» αποτελεί την αναβίωση του αριστοκρατικού αξιώματος, όπου την αρετή δεν την καθορίζει πια η καταγωγή, ή ο πλούτος, όπως στις γνήσιες αριστοκρατίες και ολιγαρχίες. (3, σ.50-51)

«ἀνεπαχθῶς δὲ τὰ ἴδια προσομιλοῦντες τὰ δημόσια διὰ δέος μάλιστα οὐ παρανομοῦμεν, τῶν τε αἰεὶ ἐν ἀρχῇ ὄντων ἀκροάσει καὶ τῶν νόμων, καὶ μάλιστα αὐτῶν ὅσοι τε ἐπὠφελίᾳ τῶν ἀδικουμένων κεῖνται καὶ ὅσοι ἄγραφοι ὄντες αἰσχύνην ὁμολογουμένην φέρουσιν

«Ενώ επιδεικνύουμε ανοχή στις ιδιωτικές μας σχέσεις, όσον αφορά τα δημόσια πράγματα δεν παραβαίνουμε το νόμο διότι μας εμποδίζει το δέος. Με αυτόν τον τρόπο δείχνουμε προσοχή τόσο σε αυτούς που κατέχουν εκ περιτροπής τα αξιώματα, όσο και στους νόμους. Κυρίως στους νόμους που είναι υπέρ εκείνων οι οποίοι υφίστανται την αδικία, καθώς και τους νόμους που, αν και άγραφοι, επιφέρουν ως ποινή το δημόσιο όνειδος.» (2, σ.182-183)

Είναι ενδιαφέρον ότι ο Καστοριάδης αποδίδει τους «αἰεὶ ἐν ἀρχῇ ὄντες» σαν «αυτούς που κατέχουν εκ περιτροπής τα αξιώματα», ενώ ο Άγγελος Βλάχος απλά ως «άρχοντες», ακριβώς όπως και ο Ι.Θ. Κακριδής, που σχολιάζει:

«Τον πολίτη τον κυβερνάει τώρα πια μια τόσο υψωμένη συνείδηση, ώστε να είναι απέναντι της πιο πολύ υπόλογος, αυτής το δέος να τον κρατάει να μην παρανομήσει, όχι κανένας εξωτερικός φραγμός, η τιμωρία του νόμου, είτε η διαταγή του άρχοντα. Σ’ αυτήν ακριβώς την πρόθυμη, αυτόβουλη  υποταγή του στο νόμο, προπαντός τον άγραφο, βρίσκει ο Αθηναίος την απόδειξη πως είναι λεύτερος.» (3, σ. 51)

Εδάφιο 38

Το εδάφιο αυτό είναι πιο «ελαφρύ» σε σχέση με το προηγούμενο, και αναφέρεται στους τρόπους και τους παράγοντες ξεκούρασης και απόλαυσης των Αθηναίων.

«Καὶ μὴν καὶ τῶν πόνων πλείστας ἀναπαύλας τῇ γνώμῃ ἐπορισάμεθα, ἀγῶσι μέν γε καὶ θυσίαις διετησίοις νομίζοντες, ἰδίαις δὲ κατασκευαῖς εὐπρεπέσιν, ὧν καθ’ ἡμέραν ἡ τέρψις τὸ λυπηρὸν ἐκπλήσσει.»

«Έχουμε εφοδιαστεί με πλήθος θεραπείες ή αντισταθμίσεις για τους μόχθους και τα έργα μας, τόσο μέσω των αγώνων και των θρησκευτικών μας τελετών, όσο επίσης και με τις ευπρεπείς ιδιωτικές κατασκευές. ενώ η ευχαρίστηση την οποία προσφέρουν καθημερινά διώχνει τις έγνοιες και τις αντιξοότητες.» (2, σ. 183)

Ο Καστοριάδης επισημαίνει ότι στο σημείο αυτό ο Περικλής και ο Θουκυδίδης φαίνεται να θεωρούν ότι οι συνθήκες στέγασης των Αθηναίων υπερέβαιναν τις καθαρά λειτουργικές απαιτήσεις και συνέβαλαν και αυτές στην άμβλυνση των προβλημάτων της ζωής.

«Επεσέρχεται δὲ διὰ μέγεθος τῆς πόλεως ἐκ πάσης γῆς τὰ πάντα, καὶ ξυμβαίνει ἡμῖν μηδὲν οἰκειοτέρᾳ τῇ ἀπολαύσει τὰ αὐτοῦ ἀγαθὰ γιγνόμενα καρποῦσθαι ἢ καὶ τὰ τῶν ἄλλων ἀνθρώπων»

«Λόγω της σπουδαιότητας της πόλης μας έρχονται σε αυτήν – εισάγουμε – όλα τα προϊόντα ολάκερης της γης. Και τα αγαθά που εμείς παράγουμε δεν μας είναι περισσότερο οικεία από τα αγαθά που παράγουν οι άλλοι άνθρωποι.” (2, σ. 184)

«Κι’ ακόμα μας έρχονται, έτσι μεγάλη που είναι η πόλη μας από την πάσα γη τα πάντα και φτάνουμε τα αγαθά που γίνονται εδώ να μην τα χαιρόμαστε καθόλου σαν πιο δικά μας απ’ ο,τι και των άλλων ανθρώπων.» (3. σ. 11)

Ο Ι.Θ. Κακριδής σχολιάζει ότι το εδάφιο αυτό δίνει μια εικόνα της ζωής στην Αθήνα που διαφέρει ριζικά από εκείνη της Σπάρτης, «που δεν επιτρέπει καμιά πολυτέλεια στον πολίτη της, στο φαΐ του, στο ντύσιμο του, στο σπίτι του.» (3, σ. 51)

Ο Καστοριάδης τονίζει την εισαγωγή προϊόντων που ανατρέπει τις προσεγγίσεις της «αυτάρκειας».

Εδάφιο 39

Το εδάφιο αυτό αναφέρεται στην στρατιωτική εκπαίδευση και προετοιμασία.

» Διαφέρομεν δὲ καὶ ταῖς τῶν πολεμικῶν μελέταις τῶν ἐναντίων τοῖσδε. τήν τε γὰρ πόλιν κοινὴν παρέχομεν, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ὅτε ξενηλασίαις ἀπείργομέν τινα ἢ μαθήματος ἢ θεάματος, ὃ μὴ κρυφθὲν ἄν τις τῶν πολεμίων ἰδὼν ὠφεληθείη, πιστεύοντες οὐ ταῖς παρασκευαῖς τὸ πλέον καὶ ἀπάταις ἢ τῷ ἀφ’ ἡμῶν αὐτῶν ἐς τὰ ἔργα εὐψύχῳ»

«Και στη μελέτη των πολεμικών ξεχωρίζουμε από τους αντιπάλους μας σ’ αυτά τα σημεία.πρώτα πρώτα που την πόλη μας την κρατούμε ανοιχτή σε όλους και διώχνουμε ποτέ ξένο κανένα, για να τον εμποδίσουμε να μάθει ή να ιδεί κάτι, που άν δεν το κρύβαμε και το έβλεπε κάποιος από από τους εχτρούς μας θα μπορούσε τάχα να ωφεληθεί. Γιατί εμείς την πίστη μας τη στηρίζουμε όχι στις ετοιμασίες τόσο και στα ξεγελάσματα (χαρακτηριστικά της σπαρτιατικής μελέτης των στρατιωτικών), όσο στην ψυχική από εμάς τους ίδιους δύναμη, όταν είναι να ενεργήσουμε.» (3, σ. 11)

Ξενηλασία ήταν το δικαίωμα των εφόρων της Σπάρτης να διώχνουν όταν θέλουν τους ξένους από τη χώρα, ενώ σχετικός ήταν και ο αδιάκοπος φόβος των Σπαρτιατών μήπως προδοθούν τα μυστικά της πόλης.

Σημειώνω ότι είναι η πρώτη φορά στον Επιτάφιο που ο λόγος καθίσταται άμεσα αντιθετικός. Τα προσόντα των Αθηναίων παρουσιάζονται σε «έναντι» των αντιπάλων τους, που παρόλο ότι δεν κατονομάζονται, είναι οι Λακεδαιμόνιοι.

Επίσης η εμφατική αναφορά στην «Ανοικτή Πόλη» εν καιρώ πολέμου προαναγγέλλει την «Ανοικτή Κοινωνία» του Karl Popper.

Κλείνοντας το εδάφιο, ο Περικλής εγκωμιάζει την Αθήνα που θέλει να ζουν οι πολίτες της ελεύθεροι και ξένοιαστοι, ακόμη και ράθυμοι στον καιρό της ειρήνης, και να απολαμβάνουν τη ζωή, ώστε την ώρα του πολέμου να πολεμούν γιατί το θέλουν οι ίδιοι και όχι γιατί τους το επιβάλει κάποιος νόμος. Και ίσως αυτό τελικά να είναι η «ευψυχία».

Εδάφιο 40

«Φιλοκαλοῦμέν τε γὰρ μετεὐτελείας καὶ φιλοσοφοῦμεν ἄνευ μαλακίας· πλούτῳ τε ἔργου μᾶλλον καιρῷ ἢ λόγου κόμπῳ χρώμεθα, καὶ τὸ πένεσθαι οὐχ ὁμολογεῖν τινὶ αἰσχρόν, ἀλλὰ μὴ διαφεύγειν ἔργῳ αἴσχιον.«

«Αγαπούμε το ωραίο και μένουμε απλοί. Αγαπούμε τη θεωρία και δεν καταντούμε νωθροί. Ο πλούτος στέκει για μας πιο πολύ αφορμή για κάποιο έργο παρά για παινεψιές και λόγια. Και τη φτώχεια του να την παραδεχτεί κανείς, δεν είναι ντροπή. Ντροπή είναι να μην κοιτάξει δουλεύοντας να την ξεφύγει.» (3, σ.13-15)

«Αγαπούμε το ωραίο, αλλά μένομε απλοί και φιλοσοφούμε χωρίς να είμαστε νωθροί. Τον πλούτο μας τον έχομε για να τον χρησιμοποιούμε σε έργα και όχι για να καυχιόμαστε. Δεν θεωρούμε ντροπή την φτώχεια. Ντροπή είναι να μην την αποφεύγει κανείς δουλεύοντας.» (1)

Ο Καστοριάδης δεν παραμένει – όπως πάντα – σε μια απόδοση, αλλά διευρύνει το θέμα, ισχυριζόμενος ότι ο Περικλής λέει: «ασκούμε τη σοφία και την ομορφιά, αυτός είναι ο τρόπος ύπαρξης μας.» Και συνεχίζει: «αυτό σημαίνει να είσαι Αθηναίος: να φιλοσοφείς και να φιλοκαλείς… Εδώ ο Περικλής ενσωματώνει τη θεωρία με οργανικό τρόπο στη συνολική ζωή του ανθρώπινου όντος, ατομική και συλλογική, πολιτειακή και πολιτική – μια ζωή που είναι, εν πάση περιπτώσει, ζωή εντός και δια της πόλεως.» (4, σ. 247, 249)

Η τοποθέτηση του Καστοριάδη οδηγεί στο συμπέρασμα ότι «είναι δυνατό να ξεφύγουμε από τα ψεύτικα διλήμματα – άτομο ή συλλογικότητα, πολιτική κοινότητα ή κοινωνία των πολιτών – με τα οποία τρέφεται η πραγματικότητα που μπορούμε να ονομάσουμε νεωτερικό ατύχημα». (4, σ. 247)

Θέτει επίσης «εκτός πεδιάς» την πλατωνική και αριστοτελική αντίληψη που αναδεικνύει το «βίον θεωρητικόν» σε υπέρτατη μορφή της ζωής. (4, σ.249)

«ἔν τε τοῖς αὐτοῖς οἰκείων ἅμα καὶ πολιτικῶν ἐπιμέλεια, καὶ ἑτέροις πρὸς ἔργα τετραμμένοις τὰ πολιτικὰ μὴ ἐνδεῶς γνῶναι»

«Οι ίδιο εμείς, φροντίζομε και τις ιδιωτικές μας υποθέσεις και τα δημόσια πράγματα κ’ ενώ ο καθένας μας φροντίζει τις δουλειές του, τούτο δεν μας εμποδίζει να κατέχομε και τα πολιτικά.» (1)

«Και πάλι η φροντίδα αυτή του καθενός για τη δική του τη δουλειά και για το δικό του το σπίτι δεν τον κάνει αδιάφορο για της πολιτείας τα πράγματα.» (3, σ.53)

«Κι είμαστε οι ίδιοι που φροντίζουμε και για τα δικά μας και τα πολιτικά μαζί πράγματα, κι’ ενώ καθένας μας κοιτάζει τη δουλειά του, δεν κατέχουμε γι’ αυτό λιγότερο τα πολιτικά.» (3, σ.15)

«μόνοι γὰρ τόν τε μηδὲν τῶν δε μετέχοντα οὐκ ἀπράγμονα, ἀλλἀχρεῖον νομίζομεν»

«Μόνο εμείς θεωρούμε πως είναι όχι μόνον αδιάφορος, αλλά και άχρηστος εκείνος που δεν ενδιαφέρεται στα πολιτικά.» (1)

«Γιατί όποιον δεν θέλει να πάρει μέρος στα πολιτικά, στην Αθήνα τον βλέπουν σαν έναν άνθρωπο άχρηστο, όχι ήσυχο.» (3, σ.53)

Εδάφιο 41

«Ξυνελών τε λέγω τήν τε πᾶσαν πόλιν τῆς῾Ελλάδος παίδευσιν εἶναι καὶ καθἕκαστον δοκεῖν ἄν μοι τὸν αὐτὸν ἄνδρα παρἡμῶν ἐπὶπλεῖστἂν εἴδη καὶ μετὰ χαρίτων μάλιστἂν εὐτραπέλως τὸ σῶμα αὔταρκες παρέχεσθαι

«Με μια λέξη, τολμώ να πω ότι η Αθήνα είναι ο δάσκαλος των Ελλήνων και νομίζω πως ο κάθε μας πολίτης θα μπορούσε, με τη μεγαλύτερη ευκολία και χάρη, πολλά και άξια έργα να κάνη σε πολλές εκδηλώσεις της ζωής.» (1)

Ο Καστοριάδης αποδίδει και επεκτείνει:

«Η πόλη είναι παίδευσις, παιδεία και εκπαίδευση της Ελλάδας, και κάθε πολίτης ατομικά είναι ικανός να εκτελέσει μέσα σε αυτήν ένα μέγιστο αριθμό πραγμάτων, με τη μεγίστη διττή χάρη…. Ωστόσο αυτό που μοιάζει με παράλογη υπεροψία αποδείχτηκε σε τελική ανάλυση μια μάλλον μετριοπαθής εκτίμηση, διότι αυτή η συγκεκριμένη Αθήνα δεν υπήρξε μόνο η εκπαίδευση της Ελλάδας, αλλά και όλων όσοι δημιούργησαν αυτό που ονομάζουμε ελληνοδυτικό πολιτισμό.» (4, σ.250)

Ο ελληνοδυτικός πολιτισμός στηρίζεται στην διαδικασία του «κρίνειν και επιλέγειν». Ο πολίτης μπορεί με επιχειρήματα να απορρίψει τους θεσμούς της πολιτικής κοινότητας και να προτείνει καινούργιους, διαφορετικούς θεσμούς. Αναφέρομαι στον πολίτη επειδή η πολιτική λειτουργία και η θεσμοθέτηση της πολιτικής κοινότητας είναι κορυφαία διαδικασία και φαινόμενο, και καθορίζει όλα τα άλλα.

Ο Καστοριάδης προχωρά και σε μια άλλη πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα παρατήρηση, συγκρίνοντας αυτήν την αντίληψη του πολίτη με τον ορισμό του δίκαιου άνδρα και καλού πολίτη τον οποίο δίνει ο Πλάτων  στην Πολιτεία «τα εαυτού πράττειν και μη μη πολυπραγμονείν, να ασχολείται δηλαδή κανείς με τις δικές του υποθέσεις και να μην κάνει πολλά πράγματα… Πρόκειται προφανώς για τον ιδανικό πολίτη ενός αυταρχικού καθεστώτος.» (2, σ.191)

Ένα επίθετο που παρεξηγήθηκε από πολλούς είναι το «αύταρκες σώμα». Ο Ι.Θ. Κακριδής μάλιστα αντιπαραθέτει το σημείο αυτό με κάποιες ρήσεις του Σόλωνα όπως αυτές παρατίθενται από τον Ηρόδοτο: «Έτσι και ο ένας άνθρωπος δεν έχει καθόλου αυτάρκεια. Έχει το ένα, θα του λείπει το άλλο…». (3, σ.58)

Ο Καστοριάδης από την άλλη μεριά, αποδίδει το σημείο αυτό ως το επαρκές αποτέλεσμα στο οποίο μπορεί να φτάσει ένας άνθρωπος ως σώμα, ως μονάδα δηλαδή. Η ατομική ανάπτυξη και εξέλιξη είναι δυνατή στην πόλη της Αθήνας, και δεν θα ήταν δυνατή χωρίς την πόλη ή έξω από αυτήν. (2, σ.198)

Εδάφιο 42

«καὶ εἴρηται αὐτῆς τὰ μέγιστα· ἃ γὰρ τὴνπόλιν ὕμνησα, αἱ τῶν δε καὶ τῶν τοιῶν δε ἀρεταὶ ἐκόσμησαν, καὶ οὐκ ἂν πολλοῖς τῶν῾Ελλήνων ἰσόρροπος ὥσπερ τῶν δε ὁ λόγος τῶν ἔργων φανείη»

Καὶ εἶπα τὰ περισσότερα ποὺ εἴχα νὰ πῶ, γιατὶ αὐτῶν ποὺ κοίτονται ὲδῶ καὶ τῶν ὁμοίων τους ἡ ἀνδρεία ἐστόλισε τὴν πολιτεία μὲ ὅσα ἐγώ, ὑμνώντας την, εἶπα πὼς ἔχει. Λίγοι εἶναι οἱ Ἕλληνες ποὺ δὲν εἶναι, σὰν καὶ τοὺς γενναίους αὐτούς, κατώτεροι ἀπὸ τὸν ἔπαινο ποὺ τοὺς γίνεται. (1)

«τὴν δὲ τῶν ἐναντίων τιμωρίαν ποθεινοτέραν αὐτῶν λαβόντες καὶ κινδύνων ἅμα τόνδε κάλλιστον νομίσαντες ἐβουλήθησαν μεταὐτοῦ τοὺς μὲν τιμωρεῖσθαι, τῶν δὲ ἐφίεσθαι, ἐλπίδι μὲν τὸ ἀφανὲς τοῦ κατορθώσειν ἐπιτρέψαντες,ἔργῳ δὲ περὶ τοῦ ἤδη ὁρωμένου σφίσιν αὐτοῖς ἀξιοῦντες πεποιθέναι, καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ ἀμύνεσθαι καὶ παθεῖν μᾶλλον ἡγησάμενοι ἢ [τὸ] ἐνδόντες σῴζεσθαι, τὸ μὲν αἰσχρὸν τοῦ λόγου ἔφυγον, τὸ δἔργον τῷ σώματι ὑπέμειναν καὶ διἐλαχίστου καιροῦ τύχης ἅμα ἀκμῇ τῆς δόξης μᾶλλον ἢ τοῦ δέους ἀπηλλάγησαν

Λογαριάζοντας πὼς ἀνώτερο ἀπ’ ὅλα εἶναι νὰ τιμωρήσουν τὸν ἐχθρὸ καὶ πὼς ἀπ’ ὅλους τοὺς κινδύνους αὐτός τὸν ὁποῖο ἀντίκρυζαν ἦταν ὁ ἐνδοξότερος, τὸν ἀντιμετώπισαν γιὰ νὰ ἐκδικηθοῦν τοὺς πολεμίους. Μὴ ξέροντας ἄν θά ἐπιτύχουν, βασίστηκαν στὴν ἐλπίδα, στὴν μάχη, ὅμως, ἀπάνω δεν στηρίχθηκαν παρὰ στον ἐαυτό τους γιὰ νὰ πολεμήσουν. Προτίμησαν ν’ ἀντισταθοῦν καὶ νὰ πεθάνουν παρὰ νὰ δειλιάσουν καὶ νὰ ζήσουν κι ἀπόφυγαν ἔτσι τὴν ντροπὴ τῆς καταλαλιάς, θυσιάζοντας τὴν ζωή τους γιὰ τὸ ἔργο ποὺ εἴχαν ἀναλάβει. Ἡ στιγμὴ ποὺ τοὺς βρῆκε τὸ χτύπημα τῆς μοίρας δὲν ἦταν γι’ αὐτοὺς στιγμὴ φόβου, ἀλλὰ δόξας. (1)

Εδάφιο 43

«Καὶ οἵδε μὲν προσηκόντως τῇ πόλει τοι οίδε ἐγένοντο·»

Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί ενήργησαν προσηκόντως, κατά τρόπον αντάξιο της πόλεως. (2, σ.199)

Στάθηκαν ἀντάξιοι τῆς πολιτείας ποὺ τοὺς ἀνάθρεψε. (1)

«ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον τὴν τῆς πόλεως δύναμιν καθ’ ἡμέραν ἔργῳ θεωμένους καὶ ἐραστὰς γιγνομένους αὐτῆς, καὶ ὅταν ὑμῖν μεγάλη δόξῃ εἶναι, ἐνθυμουμένους ὅτι τολμῶντες καὶ γιγνώσκοντες τὰ δέοντα καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις αἰσχυνόμενοι ἄνδρες αὐτὰ ἐκτήσαντο, καὶ ὁπότε καὶ πείρᾳ του σφαλεῖεν, οὐκ οὖν καὶ τὴν πόλιν γε τῆς σφετέρας ἀρετῆς ἀξιοῦντες στερίσκειν, κάλλιστον δὲ ἔρανον αὐτῇ προϊέμενοι.»

Πρέπει νὰ βλέπετε τὸ μεγαλεῖο τῆς πολιτείας στὶς καθημερινὲς της ἐκδηλώσεις καὶ να συλλογίζεστε πὼς τῆς τὸ ἔδωσαν ἄνδρες γενναῖοι ποὺ εἶχαν τὸ αἴσθημα τοῦ καθήκοντος καὶ μεγάλη φιλοτιμία σὲ κάθε ἔργο ποὺ ἀναλάμβαναν. Ἄν, καμιά φορά, ἀτυχοῦσαν σὲ κάποιο ἐγχείρημα, δὲν στεροῦσαν ὅμως τὴν πατρίδα ἀπ’ τὴν ἀνδρεία τους, γιατὶ θεωροῦσαν πὼς ἡ ὡραιότερη κοινὴ προσφορὰ ἦταν νὰ θυσιαστοῦν γι’ αὐτήν. (1)

Οι άντρες που έδωσαν στην πόλη τη δύναμη της το έκαναν όντας θαρραλέοι, γνωρίζοντας αυτό που έπρεπε να κάνουν και δρώντας με αιδώ. (2, σ.199)

Ο Καστοριάδης ισχυρίζεται ότι οι τρεις παραπάνω όροι είναι η θεωρία των τριών ιδιοτήτων της ψυχής και των τριών βασικών αρετών που θα αναπτύξει στη συνέχεια ο Πλάτων στην Πολιτεία (ΙV, 436).

Η τόλμη και το θάρρος αντιστοιχεί στο θυμό, το μέρος της ψυχής που μπορεί να θυμώσει, η αισχύνη έχει σχέση με την επιθυμία, ενώ η γνώση παραπέμπει στο λογιστικό, και τη σοφία.(2, σ.200)

«ἀνδρῶν γὰρ ἐπιφανῶν πᾶσα γῆ τάφος, καὶ οὐ στηλῶν μόνον ἐν τῇ οἰκείᾳ σημαίνει ἐπιγραφή, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῇ μὴ προσηκούσῃ ἄγραφος μνήμη παρ’ ἑκάστῳ τῆς γνώμης μᾶλλον ἢ τοῦ ἔργου ἐνδιαιτᾶται»

Γιατί των ανθρώπων των ξεχωριστών τάφος είναι η γη ολόκληρη. Και δεν φανερώνει το όνομα τους μιας στήλης η επιγραφή στην πατρική τους χώρα μόνο. Και στα ξένα μέρη σε καθενός την ψυχή μέσα φωλιάζει άγραφη η θύμηση, όχι τόσο για το έργο που έκαμαν, πιο πολύ για το φρόνημα τους. (3,σ.23)

«γιατὶ τάφος τῶν μεγάλων εἶναι ἡ πᾶσα γῆ καὶ δὲν φανερώνεται ἀπὸ τὴν ὲπιγραφὴ μιὰς στήλης στὴν πατρική τους χώρα. Καὶ στὰ πιὸ μακρινὰ μέρη, ἡ μνήμη τους, ἄγραφη, μένει ζωηρότερη μέσα στὶς ψυχές, περισσότερο γιὰ τὴν ἀνδρεία τους παρὰ γιὰ τὸ ἔργο ποὺ ἔκαναν.» (1)

Ο Καστοριάδης σημειώνει ότι αυτή η μνήμη, αυτή η ανάμνηση που φωλιάζει στον καθένα, είναι ανάμνηση όχι του έργου τους, αλλά της «γνώμης» τους, που και αυτός αποδίδει ως φρόνημα, όπως και ο Ι.Θ. Κακριδής. (2, σ.201)

«οὓς νῦν ὑμεῖς ζηλώσαντες καὶ τὸ εὔδαιμον τὸ ἐλεύθερον, τὸ δ’ ἐλεύθερον τὸ εὔψυχον κρίναντες μὴ περιορᾶσθε τοὺς πολεμικοὺς κινδύνους»

Ἔχοντας αὐτοὺς γιὰ παράδειγμα καὶ ξέροντας πὼς εὐτυχία θὰ πῆ ἐλευθερία καὶ ὲλευθερία σημαίνει ἀνδρεία, δὲν πρέπει νὰ δειλιάζετε μπροστὰ στοὺς κινδύνους τοῦ πολέμου.(1)

Ο Καστοριάδης παραπέμπει στην ρήση του Rousseau «πρέπει να επιλέξουμε την ελευθερία ή την ανάπαυση». (2, σ.202)

«ἀλγεινοτέρα γὰρ ἀνδρί γε φρόνημα ἔχοντι ἡ μετὰ τοῦ [ἐν τῷ] μαλακισθῆναι κάκωσις ἢ ὁ μετὰ ῥώμης καὶ κοινῆς ἐλπίδος ἅμα γιγνόμενος ἀναίσθητος θάνατος.«

Γιὰ τοὺς ἀνδρείους ὁ ἐξευτελισμὸς τῆς δειλίας εἶναι χειρότερος ἀπ’ τὸν γενναῖο κι ἀναπάντεχο θάνατο.(1)

Εδάφιο 44

«Δι’ ὅπερ καὶ τοὺς τῶνδε νῦν τοκέας, ὅσοι πάρεστε, οὐκ ὀλοφύρομαι μᾶλλον ἢπαραμυθήσομαι. ἐν πολυτρόποις γὰρ ξυμφοραῖς ἐπίστανται τραφέντες· τὸ δ’ εὐτυχές, ο῏ ἂν τῆς εὐπρεπεστάτης λάχωσιν,ὥσπερ οἵδε μὲν νῦν, τελευτῆς, ὑμεῖς δὲ λύπης, καὶ οἷς ἐνευδαιμονῆσαί τε ὁ βίος ὁμοίως καὶ ἐντελευτῆσαι ξυνεμετρήθη»

Γι’ αὐτὸ καὶ τοὺς γονεῖς ποὺ ἦρθαν στὴν τελετὴ δὲν τοὺς κλαίω τόσο ὅσο θέλω νὰ τοὺς παρηγορήσω. Ξέρουν πώς ἀνδρώθηκαν γιά ν’ ἀντικρύσουν τὶς πολλὲς τροπὲς τῆς ζωῆς. Ἀλλά εἶναι τύχη τὸ νὰ βρῆ κανεὶς ἕνα δοξασμένο τέλος. (1)

«…δεν θέλω να κλάψω μαζί σας, αλλά μάλλον να σας παρηγορήσω. Γνωρίζω ότι η ζωή είναι φτιαγμένη από ποικίλες μεταπτώσεις (μεταφράζει η Jaqueline de Romilly). Πρόκειται κυριολεκτικά για «δύσκολες συγκυρίες».Μας έρχεται στο νου η φράση του Σόλωνα στον Κροίσο, την οποία μας μεταφέρει ο Ηρόδοτος¨όλα τα ανθρώπινα πράγματα είναι ξυμφοραί – απρόβλεπτες και ανορθολογικές, όσον αφορά τις επιθυμίες του ατόμου, αλληλουχίες γεγονότων.» (2, σ. 2013)

Ο Καστοριάδης καταλήγει με την επισήμανση ότι ο Περικλής λέει τότε κάτι το εκπληκτικό που καταδεικνύει την ελληνική αντίληψη για τη ζωή του ανθρώπου: η ευτυχία, η καλή τύχη, είναι να τύχει να βρει κανείς τον πιο ευγενή θάνατο ή το πένθος του να έχει ευγενή αιτία, να βρει σε τελευταία ανάλυση ότι ευτυχία και ζωή είχαν ως κοινό μέτρο τον θάνατο.

«ὅσοι δ’ αὖπαρηβήκατε, τόν τε πλέονα κέρδος ὃν ηὐτυχεῖτε βίον ἡγεῖσθε καὶ τόνδε βραχὺν ἔσεσθαι, καὶ τῇ τῶν δε εὐκλείᾳ κουφίζεσθε. τὸ γὰρ φιλότιμον ἀγήρων μόνον, καὶ οὐκ ἐν τῷ ἀχρείῳ τῆς ἡλικίας τὸ κερδαίνειν, ὥσπερ τινές φασι, μᾶλλον τέρπει, ἀλλὰ τὸ τιμᾶσθαι.»

Ὅσοι ἀπὸ σᾶς εἴστε μεγάλης ἡλικίας, ἄς θεωρῆτε κέρδος τὴν ὥς τώρα εὐτυχισμένη σας ζωή καὶ ἄς εὔχεστε πὼς λίγα εἶναι τὰ χρόνια ποὺ σᾶς μένουν ἀκόμα νὰ ζήσετε μὲ παρηγοριὰ τὴ δόξα τῶν παιδιῶν σας. Μόνο ἡ ἀγάπη γιὰ τὶς τιμὲς δὲν φθείρεται. Στὸ γήρας, ἡ μεγαλύτερη εὐτυχία δὲν εἶναι, ὅπως λένε, τὰ χρήματα, ἀλλὰ οἱ τιμές.(1)

Ο Καστοριάδης υποσημειώνει ότι ο αστρονόμος Laplace παραπονιόταν, πεθαίνοντας, ότι ο άνθρωπος κυνηγά μόνον χίμαιρες.   Και πράγματι, μπροστά στον θάνατο η τιμή και η δόξα μπορεί να φαίνεται ότι δεν έχουν αρκετό βάρος. Ωστόσο, ο άνθρωπος είναι άνθρωπος ακριβώς επειδή κυνηγά χίμαιρες, ενώ τα πάντα, και η ίδια η δόξα, εξαρτώνται μυστηριωδώς από την ποιότητα και το περιεχόμενο αυτής της χίμαιρας. (2, σ. 212)

.

Αντί επιλόγου

Κλείνοντας αυτή την «ανάγνωση» του Επιταφίου, θα ήθελα σύντομα να αναφερθώ σε δύο αλληλένδετα ζητήματα που έχουν τεθεί.

Το πρώτο ζήτημα είναι εκείνο της «αυθεντικότητας», κατά πόσον δηλαδή ο αναγραφόμενος λόγος είναι πιστός στα όσα είπε ο Περικλής. Ο Ι.Θ. Κακριδής (3) ισχυρίζεται ότι ο λόγος είναι φτιαχτός, και είναι λόγος που θα ήθελε να ακούσει ο Θουκυδίδης για την αγαπημένη του Αθήνα. Ο Καστοριάδης πάλι (2) θεωρεί ότι ο Θουκυδίδης είναι κατά το δυνατόν πιστός στα όσα άκουσε από τον Περικλή.Όμως ο Καστοριάδης ξεπερνάει το θέμα της «περίκλειας» αυθεντικότητας. Αναφέρει χαρακτηριστικά: «Όπως ας πούμε δεν έχει σημασία άν την «Κριτική του Καθαρού Λόγου» την υπαγόρευσε στον Immanuel Kant ένας άγνωστος. ο οποίος τον επισκεπτόταν στις 5 το πρωί, ή άν είναι πράγματι έργο του Kant. Αυτό που έχει σίγουρα σημασία είναι ότι μεταξύ του 1770 και 1781, κάποιος άνθρωπος στη Γερμανία μπόρεσε να σκεφτεί αυτά που βρίσκουμε στην Κριτική, και ότι ένας Αθηναίος σκέφτηκε κι έγραψε αυτά τα πράγματα περί τα τέλη του 5ου αιώνα.» (2, σ. 200)

Το δεύτερο ζήτημα, αφορά τον χρόνο συγγραφής του Επιταφίου. Πότε συνέγραψε ο Θουκυδίδης τον Επιτάφιο; Στον πρώτο χρόνο του πολέμου,, ή στο τέλος του; Ή μήπως και στις δύο χρονικές στιγμές; Έγραψε δηλαδή τον Επιτάφιο τον πρώτο χρόνο του πολέμου, και μετά τον ξανάγραψε στο τέλος του. Ο Ι.Θ. Κακριδής θεωρεί ότι ο Επιτάφιος γράφτηκε δύο φορές. Ο Mark Toher στο άρθρο του «On «Thucydides’ Blunder»: 2.34.5″ θεωρεί πιθανά και τα δύο σενάρια. Να γράφτηκε μια εκδοχή του επιταφίου το 429 και μετά να ξαναγράφτηκε το 404, μετά το τέλος του πολέμου.

Ο γερασμένος και κουρασμένος από την εικοσαετία εξορία Θουκυδίδης, γυρνάει στην αγαπημένη του πόλη, και την βρίσκει ερειπωμένη και κατειλημμένη από τους Σπαρτιάτες.  Ο άνθρωπος που έγραψε «αντικειμενικά» την ιστορία του πολέμου, βρίσκεται μπροστά στην φρίκη της ηττημένης πόλης. Μιας πόλης που λάτρεψε και εξακολουθεί να λατρεύει. Δεν είναι παράλογο λοιπόν να υποθέσουμε ότι ξαναγράφει τον επιτάφιο του Περικλέους, αφού ο Περικλής ήταν ο άνθρωπος που πεθαίνοντας στον τρίτο χρόνο του πολέμου άφησε πίσω ένα κενό που δεν αποκαταστάθηκε ποτέ και – ίσως -οδήγησε στην τελική ήττα.  Ο ξαναγραμμένος Επιτάφιος αποτελεί ύμνο προς την Δημοκρατία, ύμνο προς τον Περικλή, ύμνο προς την Αθήνα που καταστράφηκε, αλλά παρόλα αυτά θα παραμείνει ζωντανή εις τους αιώνες.

Πηγές

1. Θουκυδίδου, Ιστορία του Πελοποννησιακού Πολέμου. Μετάφραση Αγγέλου Βλάχου. Βιβλιοπωλείο της Εστίας, Αθήνα 1998.

2. Κορνήλιος Καστοριάδης, Η Ελληνική Ιδιαιτερότητα, Τόμος Γ’, Θουκυδίδης, η ισχύς και το δίκαιο. Εκδόσεις Κριτική, Αθήνα 2011. Στον τόμο αυτό γίνεται εκτεταμένη αναφορά στον Επιτάφιο.

3. Ι.Θ. Κακριδή, Περικλέους Επιτάφιος. Κείμενο, Μετάφραση, Επιλεγόμενα. Αθήνα 1943. Εκτός από τη μετάφραση, ενδιαφέρον παρουσιάζουν και τα επιλεγόμενα του Ι.Θ. Κακριδή.

4. Κορνήλιος Καστοριάδης, Η Ελληνική Ιδιαιτερότητα, Τόμος Β’, Η Πόλις και οι Νόμοι. Εκδόσεις Κριτική, Αθήνα 2011. Στον τόμο αυτό γίνεται ανάλυση του εδαφίου 40 του Επιταφίου.

(Η αναφορά στις πηγές στο κείμενο γίνεται σε παρένθεση, με πρώτο τον αριθμό της πηγής, και στη συνέχεια την σελίδα.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 84 other followers