«The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must» :o


«Right, as the world goes, is only a question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must


cat and mouse


Oh no. I’ve changed my mind. I don’t feel like and I am not going to write the story of sweet boy Glaucos, Cretan King Minos’ son, who drowned in honey.

Instead, I will tell you about the terrible fate of the Melians, the inhabitants of the island of Melos, who dared claim neutrality in a civil war. It was not because they were cowards; on the contrary they were the only islanders who didn’t surrender and opposed the Persians. The reason they didn’t want to fight with their allies, the Athenians, against the Spartans, was that unlike the Athenians and most other islanders who were Ionians, the Melians were Dorians like the Spartans. Greek can kill Greek and brother can kill brother; but in this case the Melians were asked to fight against themselves, against their own identity. So they pleaded to remain neutral.


Mandrakia village / Milos island by Zdenek Senkyrik | Flickr

Read the story and then read THE MELIAN DIALOGUE, the debate between the Melians and the Athenians on the matter. It’s good drama. What the Athenians actually say is :

«We are going to destroy you and we will spare noone; but before we kill you, you will have to understand perfectly well the reason why we will kill you.» And the Melians seem to say : «We know that we are as good as dead; but why not for a change instead of proving you are strong by killing everybody of us, why not for a change prove you are strong by letting us live in the way we want.»

(If you have time to read the whole original Dialogue, search for the quote in the title of this entry. Look how and where exactly it drops in the text. What effect it’d create to your ears if you were a Melian?)

I hope one day Thucydides’ Melian Dialogue will be adapted and set on the scene succesfully. But my ambitions are greater. They say that the constitution of the European Union will contain Pericles’ «Funeral Oration» on the benefits of democracy; I strongly believe that it should also contain the arguments of the Melians. My arguments? My arguments are he arguments of so many weak people I know.

filakia Elle Image


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«Might makes right!» «Wait a second.. no it doesn’t!»

If there were any justice in the world, all imperial leaders would be forced to sleep with a copy of this dialogue under their pillows.

This was one of the first pieces of classical literature I ever read. It brought home the one reason I’m still studying the ancients, and in fact plan to teach this stuff for my career: Nothing Ever Changes. That’s not to say I’m a pessimist, but rather that there are universal elements of the human experience, and sometimes they were expressed best 2500 years ago. These elements, from Achilles’ rage to Dido’s tragic love, are what have kept me stuck in school for all these years.

Saturday September 30, 2006 – 09:24am (EDT)

My old teacher Vidal-Naquet died recently. I was lucky to meet him again after many years in Ikaria. He had been invited to a conference on history and myths. I was told that he expressed the wish to visit again and spend a lot of time in Ikaria. Anyway what he always said was that the study of the classics helps a person committed to a cause become more relative and more profound in his/her ideas. I want to add that Thucydides was FOR the Melians. Unfortunaltely we weren’t taught that at school. I was told that Thucydides is taught as a course in the Mlitary Academies of the U.S. I assume it’s about strategics and that they leave this passage out.

(psst… El, what’s on your mind? a script?)

Saturday September 30, 2006 – 10:43pm (EEST)

The cat got his paws on a cockerel. «At last I’ve got you. You… you… wake up everyone far too early in the morning. Now I’m going to stop all your crowing once and for all.» Although the claws of cat were round his neck, the cock managed to answer, «But actually a recent poll has shown the majority of people are grateful for a wake up call.» «Well… don’t think you can reason your way out of this. I’m hungry, and the main thing is… I want a meal.» And with that the debate was over.

I’ve just had a look at the Melian dialogue – it is sort of surreal – it must be the greeks and debate – why, before the age of mass media and spin – why when there will be no audience apart from the vanquished – why bother to reason?? The performance should have a comic edge I think.

Saturday September 30, 2006 – 11:24pm (CEST)

Typical situation «Shoot me but spare me the lecture». Fortunately (for us) none of them was short of words and Thucydides was a top «journalist». So a typical everyday situation became an *all-times-classic*. When someone to who a company is grateful*, refuses to do some dirty job which is against his/her principles, and so he/she gets fired, the attitudes that you see and the arguments that you hear are from the Melian Dialogue.

*** I all agree with Simon G. This is Black Comedy. Though no expert, I think this genre is the most difficult to put on stage.

Sunday October 1, 2006 – 07:10pm (EEST)

OH YES IT IS ! As ‘Simon G’ insinuates, the somebody has to be vanquished and that will be the audience for such a play. If I’m not mistaken, during the war Thucydides was busy being a general; he wrote his history later in his self-exile in Thrace after his home town, Athens was defeated. Aristophanes on the contrary wrote and directed his comedies between battles and campaigns of that war. Lycistrata, The Birds, Acharneis – my favourites!…

Sunday October 1, 2006 – 12:27pm (PDT)

Tragic that we as humans have not learned a Goddamned thing in 2,500 years.

Write it Elle!

Monday October 2, 2006 – 07:35am (PDT)

Oh no greg! We have learned one thing : that we have not learned a Goddamned thing in 2,500 years. ha ha ha Somebody else said this -not me. Maybe a comedian, maybe a historian, I can’t remember.

I think I’ll try and do it. I’ll need to put on 3 hats : a lawyer’s, a comedian’s, a historian’s, plus some Aristophanic spirit «shoot us but spare us the lectures» (thank you Nana!) Let’s change the subject because I don’t want to think about it now. It will be for after… you know.

Monday October 2, 2006 – 01:04pm (PDT)

Eleni Perforata in Ikaria 1 (March 27, 2006)


Βαλσαμόχορτο της Ικαρίας

This is ‘Johanes Perforata’, St.John’s Weed, ‘Valsamo‘ or ‘Valsamo-horto’ in Greek.
It’s a weed, a wild plant; it’s growing very fast now in the gardens and in every patch of flat land.
This photo is to show the perforations, the tiny holes through the tiny leaves which btw have tiny hairs on them.
Johanes Perforata is not a coOol weed.  It’s just a good weed. 😀
How good? Well, it’s nature’s own natural PROZAC.  That good. 😀

It has many other medicinal uses, for wounds and burns in particular, and you make even make a sunproof cream from it, but this is not the point now. The point is that good old Valsamo (this the root word for Balm or «Baume«) is an efficient (however slower in action than a pill) anti-depressive.

Because depression  😥  is so natural. Especialy in spring. April in particular.

Well, this is exactly when Johanes Perforata is ready to start collecting. Before the buds open (that is when it’s strength is concentrated). We cut and let dry in the shadow for a week or two and then we boil it and we make tea. It doens’t have a funny taste; just «herbish» and slightly bitter like dandelions. The local anti-depressive cure says: 1) three mugs a day max. 2) for a severe sudden crisis take a bath in it or pour it over your head and then cover with a towel.

Except for coffee which I’ve finally grown used to having straight and sugarless (or I’d be a Greek fat ass), I don’t like bitter tastes; so I always have my Johny (-:lol) with honey. Mind you, it’s not a pill and there is no chemistry, so after I start, I have to wait for a couple of days for the cure to take effect:

ease loneliness, ease boredom, soothe stress, stop the «what’s this all about» thing -in one word (choose one), «the pain of existence«, the gdmn «blues of life«, spring blues, the «oh here we start all over again» blues.

(Valsamo doesn’t get me high, so watch your comments -lol . Oxyzen and laughter -which is oxyzen again- only do that to me, ok?)
^^’ ^^’


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Is this the stupid side of you Elle, or is the isolation playing with your head? Spring, depression? Nuh-uh! Here we get depressed by the hounds of winter, the dog days, so little light, so much rain and wind. Springtime is special, its the time for love and life, activity, knocking about happily. But I do appreciate the herbal lore, and I wonder, why do they not grow grapes in the terraces anymore?

Monday March 27, 2006 – 01:34pm (PST)

oh, there is death in Spring, death and resurection -that’s why the biggest of celebrations for us is not Christmas, but Easter. Now in churches in the evenings there are the most solemn and melancholic mess services. Soon Jesus, Adonis (add a name) will die.
After that starts for us the time for lovemaking etc and it peaks up in August.
Funny= I ask the local kids for their birthday date, then I subtract 9 months and I find out that many of them were conceived (is the term correct?) in mid May -:)) As many were conceived in mid October and the rest random =Funny 🙂

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 02:10am (PST)

A doctor writes… Hmmm this is a well documented phenomenon, «Spring depression». Nettle tea is also very good at fighting it. Myself I prefer the stimulating tang of thrashing myself on the legs with the nettles, raw.

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 11:12am (BST)

τσουκνιδες =nettles
When you were a kid did you chase and torture girls with them? I was victimized like that many times by boys.

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 02:19am (PST)

I was not that sort of boy. I was the sort who was chased by the girls. That’s why I am shown running into the sea, to escape. Thanks for τσουκνίδες.

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 06:56pm (BST)

Your observations about birthdates and conception dates (and yes «conceived» is quite correct, even though it also means «thought of» – Shakespeare uses this double meaning to comic effect – I paraphrase a little – «Sir, I cannot conceive….» «No but your daughter could, therefore look to it» [From «Hamlet» I think] ) People like myself, born in Feb are thus the most numerous, followed by Jan and March, then April and there is another peak in May, i.e. nine months after Aug. The same all over Europe I think.

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 07:04pm (BST)

I suspect there is a difference in the perception of Spring between people who have children and those who haven’t.

El, your birth date polls and date of conception statistics contain truth. So open the lids, oil the wheels and turn on the good old primeval ‘machine’ as Nana would have called it.

Tuesday March 28, 2006 – 10:42pm (EEST)

ze nnews im mbrief

βουλωμενη μυτη

ze nnews im mbrief

-> I have a cold, I have a sore throat, I have a headache, I have dry lips, I have a red nose, I have red eyes and they are running. I have a dribbling mouth. I have a lot of toilet paper and the waste paper basket is by my side. I empty it every 4 hours. The content will be good fertilizer for the garden.

-> I don’t have fever. I don’t have cramps. I don’t have stomachache. I don’t have diarrhoea. I don’t have bird flu.

-> I don’t have malaria. I don’t have two red hot iron bars in my nostrils (I’ve checked it in the mirror).

window 22 Ikaria

ozer mnews im mbrief

-> I can write & I can think too -very hard, slowly and exclusively about my nose, but I can think.

-> I can’t smoke. I can’t have coffee. I can’t eat. I can’t remember what french fries (Ikarian style -my favorite) taste like.

here iz zome mbore mnews

-> I delivered the final draft of something and it was well received.

-> I went out to see a piece of land (a cliff actually). I liked that piece of land.

-> I met the man with the earth mover (bulldozer) who is going to make a road to the land I liked.

He is going to destroy at least half of the beauty of that land (not to mention that the road will be very risky and probably slide down and disappear altogether), however the price of the land will rise because it will be ‘accesible’ then.


-> In spite everything I liked that man!?! ^^’ 

These 4 factors combined together undermined and weakened my (overloaded) system, so I caught a virus (as it usually happens with me) and now I’m running on «safety mode» tzzz krk krk bzizk apstchou !…

+ zome goodz mnews

-> today waz ze firzt day of zpring. «Earini Isimeria» = equal day-equal night. Εαρινή Ισημερία.

-> many ozers too, not only me, are ill, the zame az me.

-> I got rid of the idea that I am harming the tourism of Ikaria with my pictures in Flickr.

-> Someone is coming tonight to rub my back with warm alcohol. I will be allowed (and I’ll allow myself) to groan, sigh & moan during the process. I’ll be allowed (and allow myself) to be ill.

more zome other day

iz enybody interezted in reading ze story ov my life?

I feel like writing ze story ov my life rightz now. Or maybe it’z becauze I’m ill.

I’ll thimk amboud it ndomorrow.


😘 😚


😜 😝


P.S. did you know? I was going to post that photo of the sea here anyway but then as I opened my Ikaria 139blog I saw the last of Jimmy P’s comments. I dedicate this photo to him. No one should deprive anyone of such a view of the sea. It must remain public.




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Grazie 1000 per la dedica, sono onorato.

Wednesday March 22, 2006 – 01:41am (CET)

Get well soon, El! It’s difficult to read the blog when you type with a stuffy nose  😉

Telling your life story, eh? That sounds like it has a bit more soul-stealing potential than a photograph to me.

Tuesday March 21, 2006 – 10:22pm (EST)

The sea is endless, life is not, that’s what it means.

Tuesday March 21, 2006 – 07:39pm (PST)

μπερασντικά !
Είμαι γκι εγκώ γκρυωμένος γκαι η μπύντη μου είναι μπουλωμμένη.
We look forward for spring and here’s what we get… hahaha

Wednesday March 22, 2006 – 01:04pm (EET)

There is terrific tempest of the equinox blowing right now right here. I won’t go out to take pictures. I’m staying in drinking tsipouro (like ‘grapa’ hey Jimmy?) in warm water with honey. Good medicine… Felicia, my cat, sings me her songs. She is pregnant.

Thursday March 23, 2006 – 03:49am (PST)

iv it heppns agen, edd sam sinnamon barrk & a fiu cloves 2 ze hottt tsipouromelo… «u uil rimembrr mi» 😛

Wednesday May 13, 2009 – 10:03pm (EEST)

copied that 😌 tanx

Wednesday May 13, 2009 – 12:38pm (PDT)