Tag: Greece

Greece Population and Economy 2001

Greece Population and Economy 2001

Population

Southern European state, located on the Balkan Peninsula. According to the 2001 census, the population amounts to 10,964,000. The demographic dynamics, both natural and migratory, are very modest, and continue in the wake of previous years, still highlighting significant internal shifts from the poorest to the richest areas. In addition to Athens, the capital (3,761,000 residents including the urban agglomeration), other important cities are Thessaloniki (1,047,000) and the conurbations of Patras (334,000), Iraklion (294,000) and Larissa (278,000). The clearly prevalent ethnic group is the Greek one (93%); the rest of the population is made up of Albanians (4 %), Asians (1 %) and others (2 %). The dominant religion is the Greek Orthodox (97.5 %), followed by the Muslim (1.5 %). The official language is Greek in its two forms: Katharevoussa (formal language) and Demotiki (common language, also taught in schools). Knowledge of English and French is widespread.

Economic conditions

From 1 January 2002 the drachma, the national currency, was replaced by the euro, testifying to the full integration of the country into the European Union. Despite this, the economy still appears to be underdeveloped, although extremely open to foreign products and investments. Industry, traditionally small in size, contributes just over a fifth to the formation of GDP; the 10-12 % up to the manufacturing sector alone. However, there are some particularly dynamic sectors, such as telecommunications and information technology. The weight of the agricultural sector on GDP (6-7 %) is significant, and far above the European Union average (2.5%), a spy of a country that is still heavily agricultural and poorly modernized, which also suffers from the phenomenon of the continuous exodus from the countryside. The primary sector is characterized by small production units, with typically Mediterranean productions (olive oil, citrus fruits, tobacco and cotton), which represent a considerable share of exports. The tertiary sector is quite developed (it participates in GDP for just over two thirds), above all due to the contribution of the tourism sector. Although already starting from 1998 a privatization program has been launched, aimed at the objective of entry into the European Monetary Union, the process is at a very backward stage, and the public apparatus retains an extremely significant presence in the management of economic activities, with a strong influence on the real competitiveness of companies. The sectors where the state monopoly is more marked are those of energy and telecommunications. In the past, industrial concentration in the areas of Athens and Thessaloniki, together with the lack of infrastructure in the northern regions and islands, penalized economic decentralization towards these latter areas. Subsequently, thanks also to the funding of the European Union, important road, railway, ports and airports, with a clear improvement in the situation. In the early years of the 2000s, Greece experienced a constant growth, attested around an annual average of 4 % and driven by the expansion of domestic demand, in turn facilitated by a significant growth in per capita income, which in 2003, according to the World Bank, recorded an increase of 3.4 %, reaching $ 19,670. In reality, GDP growth is affected by two factors: public investments, mainly linked to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and the financial contribution of European Union aid (Third Community Support Framework). The latter weigh on the increase in GDP to the extent of 2%, which halves the real entity. Despite the positive dynamics of GDP, in fact, about one fifth of the population lives below the poverty line, against 15 % of the European Union average. All this in the face of inflation of around 3 %, which grew slightly in the early 2000s and subsequently decreased, mainly due to the appreciation of the euro against the dollar and the consequent decrease in the price of imported goods, especially unprocessed ones. However, various pressure factors remain on the price level, such as the costs of the pension reform and the expansionary dynamics of the oil price on international markets.

The unemployment rate, steadily albeit slowly declining in the first five years of the 21st century, stood at around 10 %; but long-term unemployment remains high, placing the country in second place in Europe after Italy. As far as the trade balance is concerned, there is a growing negative balance, which highlights the country’s dependence on the import of various goods, including, in addition to some consumer products, also intermediate products, chemicals and machinery. The main trading partners are Germany, with 12.6 % of imports and 12.9%% of Greek exports, followed by Italy. In essence, the growth of the country’s economy appears to be fueled by positive factors of a temporary nature, which stimulate domestic demand, but do not seem suitable for ensuring sustained levels of growth in the long term, as these are more closely linked to structural reforms, which are still incomplete. in Greece. As for the Olympics, they have benefited mainly the capital, a victim of the fifties 20° sec. of a highly penalizing anarchist urbanization. Very populous, squeezed between the mountains and the sea and very polluted, Athens has benefited not only from the construction of impressive sports facilities (which unfortunately, however, raise doubts about the future costs of their maintenance), also from important architectural restoration works and public green. In addition, a tram that connects it to the sea, a new international airport (E. Venizelos), a ring road and a three-line subway have also been created.

Greece Population and Economy 2001

The Formation of the Greek Religion Part II

The Formation of the Greek Religion Part II

Especially for the major gods the problem arises of their original relevance to one or the other of the ethnic components of the Greek religion, while in later developments it can be said that each of them incorporated elements of another origin and provenance. Protogreco is Zeus, the supreme god, as it appears from the name; but the myth of Zeus as a child is of Cretan origin. Hera is the wife of Zeus, but it may be that an Helladic and Mycenaean divinity (βοῶπις ad Argos) survives in her. Gea-Demeter, the Earth-mother, Posidon, the god of the humid element circulating in the earth and embracing the earth (Ποτειδάων: “the husband of the earth”), Hermes, the god of travelers, represented by herm or from the pillar, Hestia, the goddess of the home. Athena, from the non-Greek name, it is probably of non-Greek origin: the shield and the serpent especially mention Minoan connections (cf. the “snake goddess” of Knossos); but the name could have extended to an early Greek goddess. Minoan and Mycenaean in Artemis is at least the figured type according to the heraldic scheme of the “lady of the animals” πο0τνια (ϑηρῶν). Cretans are Dictinna and Britomarti, later assimilated to Artemis. Elladic of origin is Hyacinth, ancient god of Laconia, later absorbed by Apollo; perhaps also Ilizia (Eleusia; cfr. Eleusís), Persephone, Enialio: all non-Greek names. Apparently Apollo and Artemis are also not Greeks in name, which does not imply a pre-Greek origin, if it is true that they are Asian-oriental divinities adopted by the Greeks of Asia Minor and through them propagated in their own Greece.

Of Helladic origin are likely to be many local deities that have occurred had to take, if only because they were ab antique divine protectors and gentlemen of the places that we wanted to occupy, and as such had to pacify them. However, in general, they remained absorbed or in any way attracted into the orbit of some of the major divinities (Hyacinth attached to Apollo, etc.).

Even more important and equally difficult is the problem of the survivals of the Mycenaean religion, however constituted, within the Greek religion of historical times. Significant is the superimposition of the oldest temple of Athena on the acropolis of Athens, as well as of the temples of Era in Tiryns and Argos, on the site and on the ruins of the respective Mycenaean royal palaces. But this does not imply without the fact that the ancient Mycenaean goddess of private royal house worship has transformed into the polyiad goddess of the respective city. It is true that the Greek temple originated from the mégaron of the Mycenaean palace: it was the most splendid and largest part of the royal palace that provided the type for the abode of the sovereign deity, in the way that two thousand years later it will be a profane, but splendid, building of the Roman world – the basilica – to provide the prototype of Christian temples. But this same finding seems to imply, rather, also for that ancient period, a change, rather than a continuity, of religious conceptions. It would consist in the advent of a more human conception of divinity, which would express itself precisely in the need for a royal abode to house the great divine simulacrum: two things – the temple and the simulacrum – extraneous to the Mycenaean (and Minoan) religion, the whose sanctuaries were not temples and whose divinities were conceived and represented also in anthropomorphic form, but, apparently, in the outside the cult. On the other hand, the partially still visible splendor of the royal palaces of the Mycenaean era or the antiquity of their ruins appear sufficient or even preponderant reasons to explain the locationin situ of the cults of the new occupants, especially if rendered to ideally similar divinities.

The Mycenaean origin of much of Greek mythology seems better established. It has been observed (Nilsson) that the major centers of the Mycenaean civilization are also the centers of the major Greek mythical cycles: Mycenae of the cycle of the Atrides and of that of Perseus, Tiryns of the cycle of Heracles, Thebes of the cycle of Oedipus and of the Seven in Thebes, Orchomenus of the Minia cycle, etc. This makes it likely that Greek mythology was largely formed already in the Mycenaean era. Primitive elements contributed to its formation, as archaic and ethnically undifferentiated (prenational) as the aforementioned elementary forms of belief and worship, especially those typical motifs which in a given number belong to universal folklore. Perhaps also dating back to religious origins, but prey (their characters are perhaps ancient demonic gods), they decayed and survived on the fringes of religion when it changed. In Greece, where many local (pre-Hellenic) gods and demons were absorbed by the great divinities, also the connected folkloric mythical elements were inherited by the gods and incorporated into the true divine myth of a currently sacred and religious character, not without important consequences for history of the Greek religion and for its understanding up to modern times.

Ancient gods deprived of their original divine qualities and functions survive in several heroes, who are, alongside the gods, the main figures of Greek mythology. But the cult of heroes, together with the very concept of the hero, belongs to the religion of the dead and dates back to the Mycenaean age. In fact, the Mycenaean kings and the other characters of the princely houses were in death objects of veneration and worship, as shown by the numerous magnificent tombs discovered in Mycenae: the domed ones outside the city and those of the round enclosure on the acropolis, where the dead lay adorned with gold, with gold masks on their faces, “lords” in death as they had been in life, that is to say “heroes” (ῆρως “lord”, see “Ηρα). What were the beliefs of the Mycenaean age on life after death, we don’t know: it is likely that the heroes were assigned a different condition in the hereafter than that common to other mortals (cf. the transfer of heroes to the “islands of the blessed”). According to some, this belief is already expressed in the funerary scenes painted on the sarcophagus of Hagía Triáda. Even in certain myths, it seems that the human element, that is the reflection of historical events, is not to be excluded, p. ex. in those of the Trojan cycle and others (the Cretan thalassocracy would be overshadowed in the myth of Minos). On this point, new perspectives have recently opened up following the attempted deciphering of some cuneiform texts by Boğazköy, where it was believed (E. Forrer) to be able to read the name of the Achaeans (A ḫḫ iyava), as well as that of heroes such as Atreus (Attarissiyas), Eteocles (Tavagalavaas) and others. But these readings are much discussed (E. Meyer, Gesch. Des Alt., II, 1, 2ª ed., P. 546 ff., 537 ff.).

The origins of some mystery cults probably also date back to the Mycenaean age, apparently including the Eleusinian mysteries (see Eleusis).

The Formation of the Greek Religion 2

The Formation of the Greek Religion Part I

The Formation of the Greek Religion Part I

The religion of the “proto-Greek” people contributed to the primitivism of the Greek religion, which in the course of the second millennium BC. C. descended from the north into the Hellenic peninsula and that of the pre-Hellenic or “Helladic” or “Pelasgic” or “Carie” or whatever you want to call peoples, who had settled in the country before those invasions. Culturally, and most likely also politically, these Helladic people depended on Crete: perhaps they were also ethnically related to the Cretans, as well as to the residents of the other Aegean islands. Even their religion will have been in some respects akin to or dependent on the Cretan one of the Minoan era; but it cannot be excluded that in other respects it was original and independent. The penetration of the Protogrecì occurred in successive waves over the course of several centuries: the religion that the first comers brought with them was not identical to that of the last invaders. Those, having imposed their lordship, and with it their language, to the Helladic peoples, partly adopted their civilization for various respects superior to their own. Thus was formed the Mycenaean civilization. Like this, the Mycenaean religion is therefore a composite, syncretistic product, which explains its differences – alongside the many similarities – with respect to the Cretan Minoan religion. (This, like all Minoan civilization, is pre-Greek, and is of interest to Greek religious history only for the influences it exercised on the Mycenaean religion, and for those that the Greek religion then exercised on it at the time of Hellenization). With the’ last invasion of Protogenic peoples towards the end of the second millennium the Mycenaean civilization was dissolved. Even religion, uprooted from the continent, was transplanted by the vanquished fugitives on the islands and coasts of Asia Minor, where over time it became impoverished, while on the other hand it appropriated new elements of eastern Asian origin. But even in the continent it was not completely annulled, because some of its elements survived in latent form and then passed into the historical Greek religion.

It is very difficult to distinguish within the Mycenaean religion what was the contribution of the Protogenic peoples of distant northern origin from what was the patrimony of the primitive Helladic peoples, in which patrimony one should further distinguish what was originally Helladic from what was import or derivation Cretan. The problem does not even arise for those elementary religious forms which are common to all peoples in a phase of not very advanced civilization, and in Greece they can therefore be attributed to an earlier time not only to Homer (where they almost do not appear), but also to formation of the Mycenaean religion: prenational elements and virtually present aboriginein each of the ethnic components of historical Greek religion, both in the religion of the Protogenic immigrants and in that of the Elladics. In Arcadia, shaking an oak frond within a spring, a vapor appeared, which then condensed in the form of a small cloud, which attracted the soaking clouds (Paus., VIII 38, 4). A Crannon, in Thessaly, under drought epoch dragged a noisy metallic wagon with above a vessel to obtain a semblance of the sound of thunder, and then the same thunder, and with it the rain (Antig., Hist. Mir., 15). These are magical rites, intended to produce like with like (sympathetic magic), acting through a mysterious force inherent in the things employed and in the operations and gestures performed and – in other cases – in the words spoken, and therefore essentially independent of the intervention of a divinity (prey), even if eventually aggregated and incorporated into the cult of some god (for example the aforementioned arcade rite in the cult of Zeus Liceo). There are no sure traces of totemism in Greece, despite the attempts made to prove its existence (especially S. Reinach, in several essays: Cultes, Mythes et Religions, vols. 5, Paris 1908-1923). The conception of the soul as ψυχή is frankly animistic, that is, as a breath, breath, spirit: the spirit that comes out of the body when man dies, that goes out, but then re-enters him, if he had simply fainted like Andromache (Il., XXII, 467), or stunned as Sarpedon (Il., V, 696): this congenital lightness of the soul as spirit, breath, breath is reflected in the conception of the soul as a bird (Weicker, Der Seelenvogel in der antiken Literatur und Kunst, Leipzig 1902) or as a butterfly or bee or moth (O. Waser, Ûber die äussere Erscheinung der Seele in den Vorstellungen der Völker, zumal der alten Griechen, in Archiv f. Reliġ ionswiss., XVI, 1913, 336 ff.), As well as in the εἴδωλα reproducing the figure of the deceased, but with wings. The 30 stones that still at the time of Pausanias (VII, 22, 3) were venerated at Fare in Achaia, each with the name of a god, can be traced back to fetishism. Representatives of demonism are the numerous groups of Charites, Sirens, Harpies, Erinyes, Satyrs, Sileni, Centaurs, Loaves, etc., some of which, especially those more or less theriomorphic, recall the numerous hybrid figures that abound on the seals and others Mycenaean and Minoan art objects. These elementary religious forms, although ethnically indeterminable, nevertheless have great importance for the history of Greek religion, also in relation to the conspicuous flowering of analogous forms (especially magic) which took place in the last periods of Greek religious history.

The Formation of the Greek Religion 1