Greeks


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Greeks

 

(self-designation, Hellenes), a nationality constituting over 95 percent of the population of Greece. Greeks also live on the island of Cyprus (78 percent of the inhabitants of the island) and in the Arab Republic of Egypt, Italy, Albania, the USSR, Canada, Australia, the USA, and other countries. Greeks number over 8.3 million in Greece (1970 census) and over 1.6 million in other countries. Their language is Modern Greek, and almost all believers are Orthodox. Nearly half of those living in Greece are engaged in agriculture. On the seacoast and islands of Greece they are engaged in fishing and in gathering shellfish and sponges. One-fifth are wage earners in industry. Folk arts and crafts, such as domestic weaving, embroidery, wood carving, and ceramics, have been preserved on the islands and in some parts of mainland Greece.

The ancient Greek ethnic group began to form at the beginning of the second millennium B.C., following the migration to the Balkan Peninsula of the proto-Greek tribes, the Achaeans, the Ionians, and, from the 12th century B.C., the Dorians. These proto-Greek tribes absorbed the autochthonous population (Pelasgians and others). During the period of Greek colonization (eighth to sixth centuries B.C.) pan-Greek cultural unity and the general self-designation “the Hellenes” became established. At first this was the name given to the population inhabiting one region in central Greece, but later it was extended to the entire Greek-speaking population. The Romans gave the name Greeks to the Hellenes. Originally this name was applied to the Greek colonists of southern Italy, but afterward it was extended to all Hellenes, and through the Romans it became known to the peoples of Europe. During the Hellenistic period the commonly spoken and written Greek language, or Koine, became widespread throughout the eastern Mediterranean.

The ancient Greeks created an advanced culture that exerted great influence on the development of the culture of Europe and the Near East. In the Middle Ages the ethnic composition of the Greek population changed greatly through the influx of peoples from the north, including Vlachs, Slavs (sixth and seventh centuries), and Albanians (from the 13th to the 15th centuries). But the Greek ethnic element remained basic and formed the direct link between modern and ancient Greeks.

In the Byzantine period the Greeks (Rhomaioi) were the most cultured European nation and influenced the formation of the culture of other peoples of the Balkan Peninsula and of Rus’. The Turkish hegemony (14th century to the first quarter of the 19th century) left a considerable mark on the Greeks’ material culture, everyday life, and language. For a long time the Greeks struggled for freedom and the preservation of their culture, a struggle that culminated in the Greek War of Independence of 1821–29. In the course of this struggle regional differences were overcome and the Greek nation was formed. A rich folklore of songs, tales, and funeral laments celebrating the fighters for independence has been preserved.

REFERENCES

Narodi Zarubezhnoi Evropy, vol. 1. Moscow, 1964. (Bibliography on pages 919–20.)
Georgiev, V. Issledovaniia po sravnitel’no-istoricheskomy iazykoz-naniiu. Moscow, 1958.

IU. V. IVANOVA

References in classic literature ?
By degrees it became a Greek city, the rulers became Greek, and Greek was the language spoken.
For in 1204 the armies of the fourth Crusade, which had gathered to fight the heathen, turned their swords, to their shame be it said, against the Christian people of the Greek Empire.
The Greek word "apeiros" means "inexperienced," "ignorant.
Oh yes," said Philip; "lots of them, besides the Greek stories.
It is one of the most marked characteristics of Greek political theory that Plato and Aristotle think of the statesman as one who has knowledge of what ought to be done, and can help those who call him in to prescribe for them, rather than one who has power to control the forces of society.
There is one paper published here in the English language--The Levant Herald--and there are generally a number of Greek and a few French papers rising and falling, struggling up and falling again.
The King of the Greeks made his boast that no fish patrol had ever taken him or ever could take him, and the fishermen cheered him and said it was true.
While Greek was speaking so powerfully to the cultivated class, other forces were contributing to revolutionize life as a whole and all men's outlook upon it.
Only to ask a few questions of a Greek gentleman who is visiting us, and to let us have the answers.
The Latin tongue is hardly understood, Syriac is unknown, Greek so odious that 'tis accounted no ignorance in the most learned to skip a Greek word without reading it, and to say, '
We oyster pirates were all visited by the searching Italian, and we were convinced, from what we knew of their movements, that Whisky Bob and Nicky the Greek were the guilty parties.
What the Greek king said excited the vizir's curiousity, and he said to him, "Sire, I beg your majesty to have the condescension to tell me what the vizir said to King Sindbad.