Greek European Culture

Europe - West, Greek history

Aesop




Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House

Here is a response to the post about the so-called African roots of Greek culture.

“I don’t have much to say except that the unsigned author of this article gives the impression that some people lay claim to a cultural heritage that isn’t theirs due to low self-esteem. This may be true in part. But it is also true that down through the centuries, many European cultures have through imperialism claimed cultural heritage that was not theirs as their own. Case in point: Aesop. I was shocked some months back when I came across the oldest existing portrait of Aesop in a book, and he looked quite Negroid to me. I had to do a lot of research before I stumbled upon accounts of Aesop’s origins being in Africa (Ethiopia specifically, hence his slave name of Esop). Most sources of information put him down as being a “Greek slave”, and almost every picture portrayed him as Caucasian. But maybe it’s no big deal.”

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Aesop’s origin is disputed. Most probable seem Thrace and Frygia, however this is not important to our discussion, as I hope this post will explain.

First of all, let me thank you for your comment and criticism. Immediately after the circulation of the March issue of Ellopos Newsletter, 10 subscribers canceled their subscription, preferring to leave instead of replying. I have always been politically incorrect, trying to speak things with their names, as I understand them, but never before had the occasion to refer to Africa. I have lost some Muslim subscribers, since references to Islam are more frequent, and now I lose black subscribers. In absolute numbers, 10 or 50 subscribers less is not something important, yet I wanted this place as a place of discussion, and it is sad that even just one person decides to leave instead of participating in the discussion.

We’d avoid misunderstandings if we defined our concepts and were careful to discern the basic point in a discussion. You suggest that perhaps Aesop was of black origin. So what? Let’s assume that he was indeed. No one says, at least not me, that black people are not intelligent. The crucial questions are, why had he to live in Greece in order to develop his thinking as we know it? Where are the other African thinkers? Did Africa produce only Aesop, out of nothing? Where is the knowledge and admiration of Aesop in the African culture?

Even if he was born in Ethiopia, he is an alien body in Ethiopia. I hope you can understand this. Let me repeat a phrase from the previous post.

“If we are to claim that Christianity is African, we must prove that the Christian culture is rooted in a culture that is properly and particularly African. We can not assign the roots of Christianity to a geographical reality as such, because by themselves stones, trees, waters and dust are not able to have or create a culture. If this was not true, if Christianity is African due to the geographical area called Africa, then Africa would be Christian today, but is not.”

4 Comments

  1. Night Traveler

    Living in central Africa, former Belgian Congo, for a couple of years, taught me to appreciate truly expressive human faces! It seemed easy, even for a child, to recognize in a person’s face joy or pain. Back in Europe, in the Netherlands, I got confused. I couldn’t express a secure judgment on people’s feelings anymore. In High school, on a relevant essay subject, I argued that Africans are richer compared with Europeans, because of their incoming ability to be joyful, even in difficult situations! Was there any truth in my argument? If yes, it had the characteristics of truth, being myself cruel and non delightful, I was simply rejected, as delight was superior to truth for them. Unfortunately, this is how I was. But as I said, Africans had already taught me that it could be done, I could find true joy in unpleasant situations, as they did.

  2. If you are right, how do you explain this tendency in people of African origin to deny their ways, and this not to adopt creatively the western ways, neither to imitate, but to pretend?!

  3. Night Traveler

    It seems to me that African people where pushed towards that direction, as the one-way, which would secure them acceptance and recognition from the so called “civilized world”. Neither the civilized world, nor the African people seemed to remember that you deserve the praises of your ancestors, only if you are like them and you have achieved their accomplishments.

  4. I don’t understand your point. Africans who seek the acceptance of the West obviously don’t care about their ancestors, their praises and their accomplishments of whatever kind.

    Maybe you try to say that to deserve the approval of the West, Africans must have achievements and not only ancestors. However, the problem is that they don’t have the ancestors they claim to have (let alone the achievements). But their want of the approval of the West by itself means something good must exist in the West.

    On the other hand, perhaps you are not right when you say that the West does not remember the need of having achievements and not only ancestors. The West has achievements (according to its measures), if we agree that Rilke, Hoelderlin, Heidegger, Valery, Dickens, and so many others, can stand together with older western poets and philosophers.

    Good or bad as it might seem to you, the West has a a creativity with roots in a tradition. On the African side or on the side of the “Macedonians” of Fyrom, I see only the creativity of a thief and opportunist, without values and without dignity. And if they had indeed the open-heart that you say they have, then their hypocrisy, their falsifications of history, the betrayal of their self and the hideous ways by which they try to become accepted in the West, brings them even more shame.