Following a holiday to Greece last year to celebrate a friend’s wedding on Mykonos and having spent time in Athens, the islands of Spetses and Hydra as well as the coastal seaside town of Porto Heli, host of the Seven Network’s morning show Sunrise, Samantha Armytage has confessed her deep love for Greece in an article published in the Daily Telegraph titled My Big Fat Greek Holiday.
After indulging in the best food she has ever tasted and experiencing Greek hospitality, Greece’s summer and beaches, Armytage declared to the world that at the end of the day, “Greeks know how to live.”
“I took a holiday in Greece last year, lobbing in with some locals (long-time family friends) for a big, fat, fun-tabulous three-day wedding, along with the toga and souvlaki, those brilliant Greeks invented – and still execute beautifully,” she wrote.
“The trip was fuelled by the best food I’ve ever eaten, filled with the most outrageous, hospitable, gregarious people I’ve ever met (plus a few European royals!), and punctuated by days lazing on blue boats in even bluer seas, lots of carefree laughs, and even more delicious tucker.
“The Greeks know how to live. If I could have bottled this ability and brought it home on the Qantas flight I would. But alas, I got as far as Dubai and the memories of the octopus and those tomatoes stuffed with rice were fading as quickly as my tan,” continued Armytage who, first and foremost, praised Greeks for being proud of their culture and for possessing deep knowledge of modern philosophy.
“While my Greek friends are fun (and did I mention their food?), what I adore about them most is their pride in their culture. They are great storytellers – the way to any journo’s heart – and even the youngsters at the dinner table tell ancient tales that could rival the guides at the magnificent Acropolis Museum.
“Hearing stories about gods and goddesses by candlelight on a warm Greek summer night will beat anything TV can offer. Yes, even Sunrise, although we too create order out of the chaos of the universe every morning. (Confession: I was so inspired on my return to Australia, I named my four chooks Harmonia, Persephone, Calliope, and Eos.)
“During any conversation my Greek friends will interject with cries of “We invented that!” whether it be music, maths, the stock market, the water mill (I promise I try to limit my chat about these when on holidays), or democracy, which in my opinion they have been coasting on ever since.
“Yes, my name is Samantha Armytage and I love Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato. I like to think of those major philosophers as the first A-List celebrities. Rock stars, if you like. They were well-known, wealthy and powerful; the masses hung on their every word and they had to endure rumours about their sexual preferences. And they have a longevity that Paris Hilton can only dream of. Now this might sound flippant, but one century’s Pericles is another century’s (Brad) Pitt. No-one embraced celebrity culture more than ancient Athens. Humans through the ages have looked for role models in society, and for good or bad these mere mortals become heroes. Their thinkers were superstars.
“And in a similar way to us, their best musicians, boxers, and soldiers were the ones they most admired. Deep down we like to think our best-known people – the ones whose homes and hairstyles and relationships we admire and pore over in the tabloid magazines – also have the best morals and values and manners,” continued Armytage.
“I am pleased that a journalist who in reality is a stranger to our culture, had the lucidity to realise and also recognise that the foundation of many aspects in the Western world derive from ancient Greek civilisation,” says Professor Michalis Tsianikas, director of LOGOS Greek Centre at Flinders University.
Historically, many philosophies and theories, political systems, sports and even medical treatments and artistic influences are based on ancient Greek traditions.
It is an undeniable fact that any philosopher, scientist or artist that attempted to explain, answer large philosophical questions and seek answers concerning the tormented human existence, could simply use ancient Greece’s great intellectuals and their philosophical finds as a basis or after detailed research return to them, adopt and accept what was already recorded as evidence.
According to Professor Tsianikas, philosophies first created in ancient Greece are also still heavily discussed and debated, especially those by Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates. Their philosophies and theories have helped shape generation after generation and will likely continue to do so.
“Greece’s historical and philosophical contribution to the world has most certainly influenced the way we go about science, politics, philosophy, medicine and arts but it is somewhat incredible, yet peculiar and rather frustrating that people from other cultures are at times more willing to explore and embrace our culture, than we Greeks do.
“If only we can be more motivated to delve into the history of our own ancestors, study and really comprehend the essence of the Greek civilisation, then we could appreciate our own deep and significant connection with our culture and heritage.
“Then, and only then, would we gain the ability to recognise and celebrate the full worth of being Greek.”