GREEK THEMES ACROSS A VARIETY OF CEU PRESS PUBLICATIONS
“To the Arpadian kings of Hungary, the terms ‘East and West,’ ‘Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy,’ ‘Byzantium and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation’ used by modern historiography for a compartmentalization of historical reality, would have simply made no sense.”
A collection of studies on the Christ Pantokrator monastery in Istanbul, and its founder, Empress Eirene, born Piroska.
“The Greek Nunnery in Veszpremvolgy near Veszprem, the Hungarian queens’ residential and burial town, is considered to have functioned as an educational center for royal princesses. No foreigner to Greek culture, Princess Piroska carried an impressive cultural baggage upon her arrival in Constantinople—not least with regard to monastic spirituality and dynastic holiness.”
“In 2013, the biggest transaction in Europe was the privatization of Piraeus Bank at a price of €7.1 billion, completed by the sale of its further stakes of €2.4 and €1.3 billion during the following two years.”—from the book on the state’s role in capitalist economies.
“Initially, plans for privatization in Greece were to produce revenues of €1 billion per annum, but under pressure from international creditors the target was raised to €50 billion. The implementation of the plans, however, has—just as in many other countries—been postponed due to the falling prices on stock markets.”
“In the last few years, the evergreen debate about ‘nationalization or privatization’ seems to have been replaced by a push to steer a middle course: improve governance in public companies and create conditions for their market-based activities. This keeps the old debate alive about whether or not ownership is more important than regulation.”
Titles from the backlist, contemporary topics on top, older themes below:
The fact finding project on school segregation of Roma pupils explored the manifestations of this form of violation of human rights in a number of countries. Besides the numerous instances in east and central Europe, a Greek case is also cited from 2005 which in the end was filed with the European Court of Human Rights based in Strasbourg. Such practice is said to persist in certain public schools in Greece according to a UN independent expert on minority issues in 2008, and a later report confirms the same from 2010. Analysis of documents and interviews with activists help understand the conditions, successes and failures of the fight for educational desegregation, being waged on political, civic and legal arenas across Europe.
Gorbachev: If I started listing the potential territorial problems that would arise in that situation, I would not have enough fingers on my hands to count them, in fact, all the fingers in this room would not be enough. When the prime minister of Greece Mitsotakis was here, I jokingly asked him whether Greece has any claims on Central Asia, since Alexander the Great reached it in his day. July, 1991
Face to face conversations of superpower leaders at the end of the Cold War on a thousand pages.
Bush: What is next?
Gorbachev: Cyprus. I spoke with Vassilliou, the President of Cyprus. He hopes you and I will find a way to solve that Cyprus problem. This was my first meeting with him. He seems a serious man.
Bush: He’s a very good man. We hoped for progress, but then the Turks pulled back.
Gorbachev: He said that now that we are working together, we should remember that the Cyprus situation was created by force and should be solved not by force, but by negotiations. In other situations we have not put up with force. October 1991
"By the time I met him, Glezos had been behind bars several years—and tortured for seven years—by German and Italians Fascists and five by Greek Fascists. In freedom, he was a jolly host, sporting a trademark handlebar mustache. No, he said to a question, he did not think the country was ruled by Fascists in 1963, but, ‘We feel that fascism is knocking at the door in Greece.’ He was proven right eight years later when right-wing military officers seized power.” The memoirs of the reporter of the New York Times recalls meeting the young Andreas Papandreu: “They tried to kill me off and instead they created me,” and “General Markos” Vafiadis, among others. The newsman’s record over several decades ends with the grisly note: “Amid violent street protests in which dozens of buildings were burned, Parliament adopted very harsh new austerity measures.”
“In Moscow, Panait Istrati met Nikos Kazantzakis. Together they left for Odessa where, out of a strong revolutionary fervor, they embarked for Greece in order to spread the Bolshevik gospel.”—from the volume on intellectuals and the totalitarian temptation.
“By faithfully applying the 21 conditions of the Comintern, KKE followed policies promoting its Bolshevization. Particularly devastating was the imposition of a political line of social-fascism.”
“The German invasion constituted a first-rate political opportunity for the KKE. At that time, a small circle of leading Comintern figures in Moscow implemented the national front strategy.”
“The new conditions of the Civil War alienated all those new intellectuals who had been attracted by the nationalist discourse of the party during the occupation.”
“We should not overestimate the role of intellectuals in the configuration of the party’s identity. They mainly specialized in propaganda rather than in decision-making or in drawing up policy.”
The last volume of the grand CEU Press undertaking entitled Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe 1770–1945 presents forty-six texts under the heading of “anti-modernism”. The series is a challenging collection of essential primary sources, accompanied by introductory essays and contextual analyses in the best senses of the term: their high level of scholarship demands the intelligent engagement of the reader throughout. This concluding volume presents and analyzes Hellenic Civilization by Ion Dragoumis from 1914, and a speech by Ioannis Metaxas on the occasion of the inauguration of public works in 1937.
“Malaria remained the country’s primary sanitary concern from the early days of statehood until after the Second World War.”
Did nationhood and its freedoms and pressures increase or reduce the suffering of the Greeks from malaria? This is the central question of the monograph on malaria in modern Greece.
“Nation-building reforms throughout southeastern Europe created conditions that enhanced the chances of mosquitoes.”
“Following the humanitarian crisis of the refugees of 1922, Greece had come to consume approximately one-fifth of the global quinine production.”
“Once an experience shared by between one in three and one in four Greeks annually, malaria is now considered a concern of the past.”
“The Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War in 1897, revealed the issue of children’s health and paved the way for the first laws on school hygiene. The participation in World War I, the Asia Minor Disaster and most importantly the influx of refugees were the turning point in the history of children’s medical care.”—from a book on child health and welfare in Greece.
“For Venizelos’s liberal government, the children’s care was the basis of its health policy. The establishment of modern institutions specially designated for children, as well as the collaboration of Greek agencies with international organizations were the main directions liberal policy took in the 1920s and 1930s.”
“Stressing his interest for the health of the people, Metaxas tried to gain a strong foothold among the working-class, which he needed. In addition, the creation of a robust youth was linked to the cultural superiority of Greece and its long standing history.”
“I still remember the terrible scandal at our university which the exposition of the Darwinian theory generated. The professor of medicine, who was at risk by introducing the law of evolution to the Greek students, was not only in danger of being excommunicated by the Holy Synod, but to his surprise he found the doors of most of his customers closed to him”.
A thorough and in-depth analysis of how mainstream Western scientific ideas found their way into the planning of the modern Greek society through the intermediation of literature. This book strongly contributes to various academic fields, expanding from literary studies and history of science to social history and cultural studies.
In the late 19th to early 20th centuries Darwinism strongly influenced celebrated Greek literary writers and other influential intellectuals, which fueled debate in various areas such as ‘man’s place in nature’, eugenics, the nature-nurture controversy, religion, as well as class, race and gender. The monograph devotes considerable space to Xenopoulos (1867-1951), notable novelist, journalist and playwright.
Along with other metropolis in Europe, the birth of modern Athens is explored. The first modern Olympic Games was a milestone on the path of “becoming European”. “For a brief two weeks, it appeared that the most important aspirations of the modern Greek nation—to join the ranks of the civilized nations of Europe, to be accepted as the legitimate heir to ancient Greece, and to forge its own distinct cultural identity—were finally realized.”
All that changed after 1922. As a result of the military defeat in Asia Minor and the dramatic population influx, the earlier preoccupation with planning was replaced by the acute demand for housing. “Ruthless planning violations and extensive illegal construction were tolerated by the government, which remained weak and divided.” Foreign experts’ fascination with Greek vernacular architecture —Le Corbusier’s notably — encouraged Greek architects to seek inspiration closer to home, which helped the consolidation.
“One of the primary concerns of the newly born Modern Greek state after its liberation from the Ottomans was the improvement of the health of the nation, which had been decimated and exhausted by the struggle for independence.”
A chapter in the volume on the development of national public health systems focuses on the case of Greece.
“Despite placing solid foundations for the transformation of Greece in a Western-oriented state during Otto’s reign, from 1863, after Otto was forced to leave the country, health services deteriorated.”
“Spending on health was gradually reduced until 1908. This setback put Greece’s modernizing project on hold at a time when its neighbors, such as Bulgaria, were spending much more on public health.”
"As a long-term friend of the Greeks and as their paid agent, Ismail Kemal also promised to facilitate their occupation of Janina if he could remain head of Albania.” Biased contemporary remarks in the memoirs of the eccentric Transylvanian Baron prove that besides collecting material for his scholarly work in Paleontology, Geology and Albanian Ethnography, he intensely followed the power games during the demise of the Ottoman Empire. “Essad Pasha eventually won the sultan’s favor by blending in with the Albanian patriots who were endeavoring to bring about a rapprochement with Greece and then betraying them to the sultan.”
“The 1821 Greek revolution should be viewed differently from seemingly similar rebellions against Ottoman authority in the Balkans, because of its potential to inspire and galvanize later movements among the Greek-speaking merchant bourgeoisie and clergy of the Balkans, the Black Sea littoral, and Asia Minor.”
By exploring the development of ethnic diversity and national tensions, the contributors to this volume challenge the readers to engage in a new way of thinking about the region and Balkan studies.
“Ironically, the revolt also ended the ascendancy of the Phanariot elite that had until then acted not only as an agent of hellenization for their Orthodox retinues of humble Bulgarian, Albanian, Vlach, and Romanian origins, but also mediated their integration into Ottoman governance, creating a significant class of Orthodox Christians who had a stake in the legitimacy of Ottoman imperial rule.”
“In Greece, we have the irony of authorities encouraging a minority Slavic language in one part of their territory, namely Thrace, while attempting to stamp out the Macedonian dialects among the Christians of Greek Macedonia.”
“Greek and Ottoman often coexisted as identity markers and many Greek Orthodox merged enthusiasm for the Greek national state with active participation in Ottoman institutions and public life”.
The nation-building processes within the Ottoman Empire are examined in parallel with related trajectories in other empires in Europe.
“Over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaria all made use of the weakness of the Ottoman Empire and followed the Greek example”.
Next to the demise of historical superpowers the imperial past of the city of Venice is also addressed.
“Venetians were disdainful of their sujets levantins (all the Greeks were deemed false and corrupt, all the Illyrians barbarian)”.
Specimens from texts, relics in majority, that paved the road to national identities in eastern and south-eastern Europe, are presented in English in five seminal volumes. The Greek component of this impressive project is particularly rich, featuring texts from the following personalities: Moisiodax 1780, Katartzis 1783, Philippidis 1791, Velestinlis 1797, Patriarch Anthimos 1798, Korais 1803, Ypsilantis 1822, Solomos 1825, Vyzantios 1836, Renieris 1842, Kolettis 1844, Politis 1871, Paparrigopoulos 1886, Psicharis 1888, Papadiamantis 1893, Parren 1897, Skliros 1907, Boussios 1912, Venizelos 1915, Papanastasiou 1922, Theotokas 1929, Benaroya 1931, Seferis 1943.
An ambitious endeavor resulted in three volumes on travel writing from and to eastern Europe. It is filled with extracts from Greek travelers: Noukios 1546, Cazzaiti 1742, Pringos 1760, Petrou 1770, Korais 1788, Vratsanos 1861, Vikelas 1885, Kazantzakis 1937, Ouranis 1939, Kranaki 1950, Psathas 1951, and Nollas 1998. Also a Romanian boyar’s record of Greek islands (Hurmuzaki 1764), a study on a Polish epic poem about a journey to Greece (Słowacki 1837), and a Romanian writer on Greek women (d’Istria 1863). See some citations below.
The migraine comes out of the sea, “rioting and roaring”, and meets Christ, who addresses the demon: “Where are you going, o headache and migraine and pain in the skull and in the eyes”. Christ prevents the evil spirit from settling in the man’s head; he chases the migraine into the head of a bull. Scholars trace back this Greek folk charm, which has its Slavic and Romanian counterparts, to an antique prototype involving Artemis of Ephesos. Essays analyze and compare popular healing texts and other forms of verbal magic in all corners of Europe from the Atlantic to the Ural.
“Would Christianity fade away if Illus were victorious?” Were hopes harbored in pagan circles in Constantinople for the success of the revolt of the provincial general in the years 483-484 unfounded?
The study in the collection of essays on pagan-Christian relations in the Roman Empire from the fourth to the eighth century hopes to unfold the religious background of this episode of Byzantine history.
The author found that the participation of Empress Verina in some episodes of that rebellion is key to the argument that a Christian agenda, rather than a pagan one, was behind the insurrection of Illus.
One proof of Verina’s link to the Christian faith is that she and her husband Leo had contributed to the construction of the Hagia Soros for the relics of the Holy Virgin.
Further titles with relevance to Greek history and culture from the backlist:
- A biographical reference book contains entries on the following Greek personalities: Callirhoe Parren (1859–1940), Maria Svolou (1892?–1976), and Avra Theodoropoulou (1880–1963).
- A book of comparative intellectual history discusses how socialist ideology emerged as an option of political modernity in three countires: Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia.
- The analysis of Serbian identity by a Greek scholar abounds in references to Greece, and to Greek Orthodoxy in particular.
- Most tragically, Greeks also belonged to peoples forcefully resettled at Stalin’s order. Tens of thousands were expelled from the Crimea, the Black Sea coastline and the Caucasus before the war and also as late as 1949 – documented at detail in a related monograph.
- The highly successful CEU Press collection (and analysis) of documents on the demise of the Soviet Bloc tangentially refers to Greece, too (see excerpt below).
- Finally Thessaloniki: It is one of the scenes of the life story of an extraordinary woman in the 16th century; and also where a Polish doctor made groundbreaking discoveries in the science of blood groups while trapped in the city during World War I.
* * *
Excerpts from Orientations, An Anthology of East European Travel Writing, ca. 1550–2000, East Looks West, Vol. 1
Andronikos Noukios (Nicander Nucius) in 1546 on the English language: “And they possess a peculiar language, differing in some measure from all others, having received contributions from almost all the rest, both in words and in syllables. For although they speak somewhat barbarously, yet their language has a certain charm and allurement”.
Adamantios Korais in 1788 on Paris, a year before the French revolution: “Imagine a city much larger than Constantinople, with 800,000 inhabitants, all sorts of different academies and public libraries, where science and art have been developed to perfection, a multitude of learned men all over the city, in the boulevards, market places and cafes, where you can find all the political and literary news, and journals in German, English, and French and, in short, in all other languages. Imagine most of the streets and squares of the city as crowded as the Tristraton in Smyrna on a Sunday morning. Such, my friend, is Paris”.
Dimitrios Vikelas in 1885 on the future: “Within ten or fifteen years, travelling in Greece will no longer be regarded as an achievement. Anyone will be able to do it. Do not wait until then. Come before our classical land is vulgarized by convoys of cockneys brought here by Cook’s, before grand hotels manned with English-speaking servants in white ties are built in Delphi and on Taygetos. Come to experience the present hardships of our imperfect roads and the uncertainty of finding a comfortable place to sleep for the night. Come to visit the little towns in our provinces before they become an Athens in miniature, before your ugly trousers replace the elegant fustanella”.
Excerpt from Masterpieces of History:
Document No. 14: Report on Eduard Shevardnadze's Visits to Bulgaria, Hungary, and Yugoslavia in July, 1987.
"Bulgaria. Outwardly everything looks good. But there is an element of indecision and uncertainty. Zhivkov spoke about the 'Bulgarian phenomenon.' He had a mentor's tone, he was teaching us. He began almost every phrase with the words 'take into consideration …' He visited the FRG and he 'teaches:' all socialist countries must work out a general conception in relation to the FRG. Bulgarian nationalism is clearly evident, not only in relation to Turks, but also in relation to Russians.
He raises the question of the Balkans as a nuclear-free zone. The Yugoslavs are for it. It is aimed at Greece's position, which has American bases. We need to speed up the resolution of this issue."