An Oxford University lecturer has been exploring what he thinks the Ancient Greeks might advise the modern Greeks concerning their current financial crisis. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18255039
Armand D'Angour looks at ten well known Ancient Greek people to see whether their wise words may contain clues to a way out of calamity. Here are three of my favourites.
Solon, who faced a similarly tough economic climate in the 6th century BCE, passed a series of unpopular reforms to redistribute some of the wealth. In so doing, he eventually led the way to the world’s first democracy.
Dr D’Angour concludes that, ‘great statesmen must have the courage to implement unpopular compromises for the sake of justice and stability.’
Odysseus, Dr D’Angour reminds us, exclaimed, "Hold fast, my heart, you have endured worse suffering," What better advice for the Greeks?
Surely they have endured much over the years. The dispirited Athenians were similarly urged by Pericles, an Athenian statesman, not to give up after having suffered war and plague in the 5th century BCE:
‘Born, however, as you are, citizens of a great state, and brought up, as you have been, with habits equal to your birth, you should be ready to face the greatest disasters and still to keep unimpaired the lustre of your name.’
Or, of course, you could always consult the Oracle at Delphi.
Dr D’Angour points out that the Oracle did not always give clear advice, and explains that, in response to the question,’… "Should Greece leave the euro?" the oracle might have responded: "Greece should abandon the euro if the euro has abandoned Greece" leaving proponents and opponents of "Grexit" to squabble over what exactly that meant.’
If this is the case, the Greek leaders should beware. King Croesus of Lydia in 547 BCE asked, ‘should I make war on the Persians?’. His answer was: 'If you make war on the Persians, you will destroy a great realm'. That persuaded Croesus to attack but, unfortunately, the realm that was referred to was his own. He lost the war.