Monday 18 December 2017

Greeks must be brave and get history to repeat itself

The country needs to draw on its ancient reserves of courage, writes John Dillon, and say No to the EU

CONTEMPLATING the present crisis facing Greece, I am provoked to conjure up two notable occasions in its history -- one from ancient history, the other from modern -- on which the Greeks said No to a larger foreign power bringing pressure to bear on them, and got away with it, though in the second case not with such a fortunate outcome as in the first. I am not sure if any lessons are to be drawn from the examples or not, but it would not surprise me if they are passing through the minds of many of my Greek friends during this dismal time.

The first occasion takes us back to 480 BC, when the Persian king Xerxes, in the face of a series of provocations from this tiny, feisty and divided nation on his western flank, decided to bring the Greeks to heel once and for all, and add them to his empire. In preparation for an invasion, he sent a formal demand to all the Greek states for the forwarding of 'earth and water' in token of submission to his rule. A number of the weaker and more vulnerable island states duly sent in the earth and water, but the two main states, Athens and Sparta, proudly refused.

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