By Catherine Tsounis, contributing editor
“This atmosphere of caring, enthusiasm, and love was all-pervasive during the recent 30thAnniversary Celebration of “Hellenic News”, that I was honored to attend, “said Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos recently. As you now embark into the fourth decade of a productive and rewarding endeavor.”
Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos, Professor of Greek at Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston, was the keynote speaker at the 28th Hermes Expo International, at Estia Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA. A filled ballroom of the religious, business and education community listened to Dr. Michopoulos address.
Dr. Michopoulos spoke about the interrelationship and interdependence of trade/finance, tourism and of language and culture globally. He used many examples to show how trade, i.e. emporium, from ancient times determined the quality of life of the Greeks and other people of the Mediterranean basin. The Professor used examples going all the way back to Homer, classical period, Alexander’s Empire, Byzantine Empire till the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
“Communications (Commerce/Trade) with the East brought the Phoenician Alphabet, which produced the Greek Alphabet,” he explained. “COMMUNICATIONS AND CULTURE were also at the Foundations of the Olympic Games, where Herodotus read his history and THUC. was a listener. THIS GATHERING OF BODYBUILDERS, BRAIN BUSTERS AND TRADERS, GAVE BIRTH to fine Poetry), Oratory, the Arts (Phidias’ statue of ZEUS). A sense of unity based on a common language, history and culture, united not only in Greek proper, but from MAGNA GRAECIA, SICILY, the BLACK SEA, ASIA MINOR and other parts of the world.”
The keynote speaker said “Even the god of wine and merriment, DIONYSOS, is a product of Commerce and Culture. The word EMPORIUM is of great significance as it denotes the ability of the human being to go through the difficult paths to reach the riches of the world and bring back to his own land. EMPOROS then is the “inventor”, the “pathfinder” who overcomes adversities. The one who fails, is A-POROS, a word synonymous to someone who is POOR! SOLON traveled a lot before he set his set of laws for the Athenians and then left for 10 years to Egypt, after he enacted them. (Travel). Plato got the final and MORE AUSTERE shape of his REPUBLIC after he was abducted by pirates and taken as prisoners by the pirates.
The most glorious period of EMPORIUM came after Alexander the Great’s conquests.
That extremely vivacious period led to a flourishing of many sciences and through the Library of Alexandria. We were able to decode and understand the hieroglyphics of the Egyptian language through the Greek on the ROSETTA STONE, The fact that Greek became the main language of trade and commerce brought along the spread of the Greek culture and served as the FOUNDATION FOR THE SPREAD AND EVENTUAL ESTABLISHMENT OF CHRISTIANITY in the areas of the Greek and Roman Empire.”
Prof. Michopoulos revealed “The Greek language and culture continued to serve world commerce and culture for over a thousand years, through the creation of the Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire. Its cultural influence was such that the Russians and other Slavs adopted not only Orthodoxy, but also the Greek alphabet. The Cyrillic Alphabet became and is still the alphabet of Russia and other Slavic nations. 50 years after the FALL OF CONSTANTINOPLE, the Turks were using the Greek language in their diplomatic exchanges with the European and other nations. During the Ottoman Turkish Empire, the Greek language became the Lingua Franca (a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different) among the conquered lands.
In the times after the 1821 Revolution, the Greek ship-owners and other trades carried on the tradition. Especially during the last 100 years the Greek shipowners, spread the Greek language, culture, and products throughout the world. They brought much expertise and money back to the “old country”. It is not an accident that the two most important philanthropic foundations, Onassis and Niarchos, are products of Greek shipping, following the tradition of 2 thousand plus years.”
Dr. Michopoulos concluded his presentation saying, “Let’s then rejoice at this commercial, cultural, spiritual gathering and through the SYMPOSIUM it includes, let us philosophize and find, like Odysseus, new ways to solve our problems and the problems of the world!”