Enthusiasm and hubris are not Greek to them

As the ancient Greek drachma is replaced by the euro in our pockets and our monetary system, the only consolation is that Europe, to which Greece belongs, is named after Europa, a goddess of Greek mythology. Former French President Giscard d’Estaing is a firm friend of Greece; it was his presidential aircraft that brought Constantine Karamanlis to Greece on the night of July 23-24, 1974, marking the end of the dictatorship and the return to democratic rule. On an official visit to Greece, he addressed the vast crowd – which had assembled to greet him and Prime Minister Karamanlis at Hadrian’s Arch – in Greek as «Fili mou agapimeni» or «My dear friends.» He returned for the signing of Greece’s accession to the EEC at the Zappeion Hall in May 1979, and he expressed his thanks in Greek for the 1999 Onassis Foundation award for International Understanding and Social Contribution at a grand ceremony attended by Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos at the Athens Concert Hall in 2000. With his mind still on Greece, d’Estaing, who is president of the Convention on the Future of Europe, ended his speech with the word «enthusiasm,» explaining that it derives from the Greek word «en-theos» or «inspired by God.» Another ancient Greek word much in evidence during a stormy «prime minister’s hour» last week was «hubris,» which was lobbed back and forth like a tennis ball between deputies.

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