On Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 10:25 PM, Peter Yiannos <caliopey@comcast.net> wrote:

I hope that every Greek will read this article and reflect on this issue !

Εύγε στον κο. Χριστόφορο Τριπούλα που το έγραψε.

Scanned from the National Herald of 3/20-26/10

(Any typographical or format errors may be due to scanning process)

Philotimo: Obama Spots the Most Valuable Commodity
By Christopher Tripoulas

TNH Staff Writer

NEW YORK – Kudos to whoever wrote President Barack Obama’s speech at the White House’s Greek Independence Day cele­bration last week. (For video and text of his full remarks, see TNH’s website). It was right on the money, so to speak, with the central theme revolving around the Greek virtue of “philotimo.”

A time honored tradition, philotimo represents a unique characteristic of the Greek mindset. Many of the ills plagu­ing Greece and the Hellenic Di­aspora today could arguably be attributed to a present day deficit of that all-important philotimo.

How else could can one ex­plain the fact that there are so many rich Greeks living in such a fiscally impoverished country? How else does one explain the fact that Greece reportedly ranks second in Europe in im­ports of Porsches, or the fact that it recently okayed a deal with a German company to ac­cept the submarine “Papaniko-lis,” which it been blocking since 2006 on the grounds that it was defective; and that this decision came just days after German politicians and media began calling for Greece to start selling its islands to pay off debts to creditors!

And what of the fact that there are so many wealthy Greeks in America – including at least six in Forbes magazine’s latest list of America’s richest 400 – but no official fund to sup­port Greek schools and Greek language education?

Is this altogether unrelated to the absence of philotimo among the community’s leader­ship, or the rest of us who sim­ply follow their lead? Or per­haps the fact that Leadership 100 routinely gives millions to the Archdiocese’s Theological School in Brookline, but won’t set any curriculum standards demanding of graduates even an elementary understanding of the Greek language.

Even this newfound sensitiv­ity to flus, germs, and other in­fectious diseases when receiving the sacrament of holy commu­nion has put a dent in our Or­thodox philotimo. It used to be that even the most unchurched Orthodox Christian could at least boast about the faith’s ad­herence to the longstanding tra­dition of sharing the common cup – a practice that has with­stood outbreaks and epidemics of tuberculosis, leprosy, plague, etc. for approximately two thou­sand years.

Sadly, our people’s virtues (the richest language in the world, philotimo, group solidar­ity,…) seern much more suscep­tible to the corrosive effects of time than our shortcomings (civil strife, gossip, stubbor-ness,…).

It is almost as if there is an incompatibility between pros­perity and philotimo. Most of the honorable accomplishments made by Greeks seem to be achieved during periods of dire
economic hardship.

Consider an interesting story from the homeland, fitting for the coming celebration of Greek Independence. The particulars of the story vary from speaker to speaker, but the message is clear.

Sometime during the Greek War of Independence – most likely 1826 – when the revolution was in great need of finances, Georgios Gennadios, a teacher of Greece, gave an extremely powerful and moving
speech in the city of Nafplio.The speech affected the locals so much that even the poorest woman known as “Psorokostaina,” gave up her lone possessions – a silver ring and a coin – for the cause of the revolution. The villagers, moved by her enormous philotimo, all started contributing as well.

The word “Psorokostaina” (literally meaning the “mangy wife of Kostas”) went on to be­come a synonym for the poor, small, fledgling nation that was Greece. Although the term came to have a derogatory meaning, its origins were altruistic.

The real “Psorokostaina” -Panoria Aivalioti – despite her poverty, used to take in orphans, and later volunteer her services caring for them when an or­phanage was built in her area. Another version of her story goes that when Greece’s first Governor loannis Kapodistrias saw her begging in the streets, he went to offer he some money. As soon as she realized who he was, she instead offered all the
money that she had collected to him to aid Greece’s troubled fi­nances. (Yes, modern Greece has been in debt since its found­ing, sigh.)

While destitute in material goods, Psorokostaina was rich in philotimo. And like her, mother Greece, as well, was able to overcome all the hard­ships that history had in store for her, through philotimo. In fact, it seems that during the country’s most challenging times, the people rise to the oc-‘casion and their philotimo leads them to do great and heroic things.

Only a few short years after the Asia Minor catastrophe in 1922, when destitute Greece had to take in over 1 million refugees, the famous ‘generation of the 1930s’ was about to pro­vide Greece and its tattered peo­ple with a spiritual reawakening whose effects are still being felt today.

Similarly, following the Nazi occupation that left the country in ruins, nobelists like Elytis and Seferis began to spring up.

Greece has known poverty all its life. If anything, the current financial crisis may purge some of the hubris and nouveaux riche decadence, and help the people remember that economic hardship is spmetimes a spring­board for spiritual profit.

It’s not more loans or bailouts that we Greeks need, it’s rediscovering our philotimo.


tripoulas @ ekirikas .com

Philotimo (not filotimo) is a tool for many uses. Greeks are real suckers with this “philotimo” thing.

1) Perhaps the American President is giving a hand to the Greek PM? For instance, his comments are an indirect call for the Greeks at home to accept the unprecedented austerity measures the PM has proposed. In addition, many Greeks of the Diaspora in America could be motivated to contribute funds or resources for saving Greece.

2) Appeal to humanitarian sentiments (basically, “philotimo”) has also been the focus of the ever intensifying propaganda, so to speak, by the official State and the Media in Greece. The purpose is to make Greeks accept easier the millions of illegal aliens entering the country. In fact, all the politicians who voted for the new immigration law based their vote on “human rights”, “justice for the poor immigrants”, “philanthropy”, and all that.

Of course, the issue of human rights for the Greeks themselves (and the rest of the Europeans) did not cross anyone’s mind. The increasing supply of philotimo is meant to compensate for the loss of human rights, sovereign rights and other rights.

A. Episcopos
Oikonomiko Panepistimio Athinon

—– Original Message —– From: D Kostas To: HELLENIC-PROFESSORS-PHDS@HEC.GREECE.ORG Sent: Saturday, March 20, 2010 8:18 PM Subject: Re: Arthro on Greek Philotimo
Agapitoi Synadelphoi

Do you see now why Mr Obama got to be a president?
He puts the monkey on the Greeks’ back by accusing their economic problems on them for not honoring their philotimo.  He would not say the same to the American Christians for their lack of responsiveness to their Christian ethics to help those that are losing their homes due to Katrina or due to their not being able to pay their mortgage since they lost their job.

Why does Pres Obama (and Mr Tripoulas’ commentary)  focus on the  lack of relation between the Greeks’ philotimo and humanitarian, philanthropic, honesty, and other similar virtues?  Why don’t they also ask the same for the lack of relation between Americans’ Christianity and their humanitarian, philanthropic, honesty, and other similar virtues?


Dr Demosthenes Kostas
Greenwich CT USA

I would NEVER write Greek words that have Φ with an F. pny keep your good work with Greek.

On Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM, Constantin Polychronakos, Dr. <constantin.polychronakos@mcgill.ca> wrote:

With an “f” or with a “ph”, it is the one saving grace of the modern Greek in the middle of all this complacency and corruption.

Without wishing to belabour the point: in written English, the convention is to use “ph” for words that come from ancient Greek.

Although the ancients did not use the word, both of its components date back to them. Words like “philately”, “oenophile” and “paedophilia” were not used in ancient Greek, either.  Therefore, my vote is for “ph”.


Constantin Polychronakos M.D., F.R.C.P.C.

Professor, Departments of Paediatrics and Human Genetics

Director, Division of Endocrinology

McGill University Health Centre

(Children’s Hospital)

Editor, Journal of Medical Genetics

2300 Tupper, Montréal, Qc
H3H 1P3


From: Hellenic Professors and PhDs Electronic Forum [mailto:HELLENIC-PROFESSORS-PHDS@HEC.GREECE.ORG] On Behalf Of theoantikas
Sent: March-20-10 2:47 AM
Subject: Re: Arthro on Greek Philotimo

Dear friend, this is an excellent article. I wish you had spelled Filotimo with an ‘f’ as there is no ‘ph’ in Greek language. Following the ‘ph-principle’ I should call you a phriend.


Theo. G. Antikas, DVM, PhD
FEI Veterinarian 2353041753
Makrygialos, 60066 Methoni

—– Original Message —–