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ITHAKA ON THE HORIZON: A Greek-American Journey



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11 July 2007



It is interesting how we (or is it really the West which does this?) give priority to – or choose to remember – 1453 over 1204 when as you say the depredations and consequences of the Latin invasion and occupation of Greek lands are as devastating as those inflicted by the Turks. A couple of points:
Pope Innocent was initially euphoric on hearing the news that the crusaders had taken the City. ‘I am enveloped by great wonder…at the novelty of such a magnificent miracle… [at God reducing the Byzantine Empire] from the proud to the humble, from the disobedient to the obedient, from schismatics to Catholics…’
Only when details of the sack began to reach Innocent did he have doubts about the methods of the Crusaders, but he accepted the outcome as God’s judgement on the ‘evil Greeks’.
It is staggering to read Greek accounts of the Latin crusaders and realise how utterly contemptuous they were of them, how loathsome, uncouth, inferior and barbaric they felt them to be. In fact, a lot of the delight the crusaders took in sacking the City seems to have derived from envy and resentment that Greeks treated westerners like dogs. The Latin invaders’ terms for withdrawal – military support for the crusaders in their expedition to the Holy Land and agreement for the submission of the Orthodox church to the Catholic church – were described by the Byzantine chronicler Niketas Choniates as ‘unacceptable to those who have tasted freedom and are accustomed to give, not take commands’.
Choniates sums up well the Greek sense of cultural and political superiority in relation to the barbarians from the west.



Thanks for filling in some things that I should have included in my post. For a synopsis of the aftermath of the West's failure to support their Christian brethren go to:


Thinking more about what Choniates says, what is so striking is that he reveals that 1204 represents the loss of Greek independence, our ability to govern ourselves without the overbearing presence and influence of foreigners – and, of course, the 800 years of Greek history after the Fourth Crusade, has been a struggle to regain this lost autonomy, to ‘taste freedom’ again and not have to ‘take commands’.


Welcome back Stavros. Good post. The so called "West" is again cornering the Russian and the Balkan peoples. But I am afriad it has probably got to do with other reasons than religion i.e. the United States and the EU cannot fathom nations that still honour a fatherland in the linguistic, political, ethnic sense (and have access to vast amounts of wealth). They consider this to be irrational, primordial, uncivilised riddled with "authoritarian personalities". Something that needs to be tamed by rights, various forms of legalism and vacuous versions of democracy and freedom (which is democracy and freedom for a few).

Its it not even geography that counts. Witness the outrage that the Pope wants to reintroduce the Latin Mass (which says some "nasty things" about Jews) and restricts Protestants. Of course the Rabbis will not change the Talmud will they?

But people are dissatisfied. The Enlightenment has reached its apogee and we are seeing a roll back.

We are Pentheus and Dionysos and his panther has come back to Thebes.


As you know I think Putin is still using methods he learned in the KGB. He is part of the ruling oligarchy and is as much to blame for the present circumstances of the Russian nation as anyone else.I do, however, believe that the United States should not expect that Russia become a mirror image of itself. I can also certainly understand Russia's rather paranoid view of the West given our total disregard for Russian interests. An alliance is a two way street.

The Russians have a long way to go before they regain their soul and overcome the tremendous societal problems that they face, although I do not believe that Westernization is the answer. Time is running out. The West needs to keep the Orthodox East intact and it needs to strengthen it.


Ever since Putin came on board Russia has been on the way up. He replaced the oligarchy that formed after the fall of the Soviet Union, an oligarchy that formed from excluded groups who were rightly excluded from the centre of late Soviet power. Why did he replace them? Because they were suspect and for many their track record in protecting Russian interests was woeful. Fortunately, the FSB, a notoriously Slavic brotherhood even in its KGB guise, now helps to run the country.

You see Stavros, you cannot help looking at Russian through an American prism even when you advocate otherwise.

The Russian have finally taken their country back.

It would be great if Hellas was protected by a core of loyal Hellenes that were never subjected to politics and elections but intervened in crisis when required and were only expected to serve Hellas until death. A modern day Sacred Band of Thebes or Michael II's special marines, the Tessarakontarioi or John I Tzimisces Athanatoi.


To get an authentic picture of the situation in Russia, one ought to talk with Russians, who follow economic and political events in their country. The Western press is heavily biased against Russia. I had the opportunity to talk with Russian intellectuals and they insisted that Russia is the freest country of the world.

This statement stands in contrast to the portrayal of Russia by the Western press, but I agree wholeheartely. If you look closely at western reports, they frame the "objective facts" In Russia by a vocabulary that provokes the reader ro align Russia with an autocratic country, antithetical to the rule of law and democracy.

Russian newspapers are full of critique towards President Putin and his government, yet the allusion is made Putin throws all dissidents in prison. Most surprising is the blatant tolerance towards Russian criminals by the Western nations. People like Kodorkovsky and Gussinski, who were heavily intertwined with criminal practises in the nineties, are protected by countries like the United Kingdom and Israel, and defended by the Western press.

Often times I cross-reference alternative news sources like chinadaily and pravda with papers like the New York Times, and it is interesting to see, how a different framework of the news portrayal has a significant effect on intention of the message.


Kossy, I do exactly the same thing. Cross referencing that is.

By the way there are currently over 20 criminals wanted by the Russian Federation residing freely in the United Kingdom. Why doesn't the UK (and Israel) hand them over?

I speak to people doing business in Russia and the situation is fine. The Russian press is lively whilst the television is a little more controlled.

Overall, I see health in Russia and degredation in the United States. The Russian birth rate was even up in the first quarter of this year.


Here we see further signs of renewed health of the Russian nation and its people.

Fools Errand

An obscure article from the bowels of the Moscow Times will not sway me. Having lived in Moscow for many years makes me relish my time in Manhattan-NYC. Comparing Russia to the US is like comparing Turkey with Greece.

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