Posted by Themistokles on February 10, 2001 at 18:39:55:
In Reply to: Re: Greece vs Ellada posted by Petro on February 05, 2001 at 14:18:14:
Dear friends. Please read the entire text of my response:
The term "Graeci" first appeared in the area of Northern Italy, describing one of the Hellenic groups that they encountered (who had settled in Italy, primarily from the island of Euboia and Peloponnesos). The Etruscans used this term in an endearing manner, having come across a neighbouring group which had a written spoken language (the Etruscans have not left any written works behind, in spite of their magnificent command of artistic pursuits). This term, "Graeci" was used to describe someone who was educated and literate. This was around the time of 500-600 B.C. Remember, also, that a large majority of the bottom Italian peninsula (the boot and the heel) as well as Sicily was Hellenic in population and culture.
Jump forward to the era of the 500 A.D. conflicts of the Western Roman part of the Byzantine empire (as for the word "Byantine" I'll write another day; this term was also conceived by the west as an insult as well). Emperor Justinian (of New Rome: Constaninople) had reconquered the Italian Peninsula from the barbarian western tribes (Vandals, Goths etc.). During this period, a massive pandemic killed untold millions of Eastern Mediterranean Christians, including Greeks, Egyptians, Jews, Syrians etc.). This weakened the grip of Constaninople on its western portion of its empire.
During the next two hundred years, the germanic enemies of the east, led by the Frankish kings (Charles Martel and his son, Charlamagne) effectively removed any eastern influence on Italy. The western church effectively ceased to by Roman (Catholic). Through assasination of nearly all Italian bishops and the replacement with pro-Frankish appointees, the western church essentially became a Frankish-dominated entity (in turn, the Franks (led by William the Conqueror) went to rule Britain for a few centuries as well, replacing English with French in the English court).
The Franks, starting with Charlamagne (Charles the Great) who began the Holy Roman Empire (which lasted until the end of World War I - a period of 1100 years with the Hapsburg Dynasty's demise), began a systematic war against anything originating from Constaninople. In spite of the fact that nearly 90% of the entire planet's books were located in this one city, the Franks conducted a war of words in which anything Hellenic was denied respect. In fact, during the Fourth Crusade (in 1204 A.D.), led by the Frankish armies (and the Venetian capital), Constaninople-the world's richest and largest city-was sacked in a manner unparalleled in human history, before or since.
Many millions of books were stolen between 1204 and 1261 A.D. and brought to the west. These Hellenic books became the foundation of the new universities in Padua (Italy), Paris (France), Oxford (England) and many other European cities.
The use of the word "Greek" first appeared within this environment. The first French dictionaries in which the word "Greek" appeared, typically used this term to describe someone who was unscrupulous, dirty, slovenly etc.
If anyone wants more information on this subject, please let me know.
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