"Greeks Are Not Degenerate" article - Chicago Daily Tribune, December 18, 1910

Published in the Chicago Daily Tribune, December 18, 1910


By Rodney Gilbert.

Travelers of a few generations back who knew just enough of "the glory that was Greece" to expand sentimentally on her abasement led the world to believe that Greece was a degenerate people, fallen in intelligence, physique, and the love of culture that made the one time glory possible.

As a matter of fact, there is today not a race in Europe that inclines so readily to intellectual pursuits, and there is not an immigrant that comes to America that is sharper witted or more facile in his powers of absorption than the heirs to Pericles' splendor.  In the centers of population in Greece the blood of the true Greek has been considerably adulterated by its mixture with Slavs, Turks, and Albanians, but in the smaller towns, where the tourists do not penetrate, and in the country one still sees the true types which recall the ideal creations of Phidias, and the schools and universities are so well attended that the professions are overcrowded in Greece as in no other land.

One comes into villages frequently of 3,000 population where 75 lawyers and 25 doctors hang out their shingles.  Long centuries of oppression have impoverished Greece as a nation, but they have not in any degree extinguished the spark of national genius.  The same intellectual curiosity which excited St. Paul's wonder in Athens is to be found in the square of the Constitution to this day, where men meet in the late afternoon to argue any topic which may be in the air and comment on the news of the day.  Moreover, the merchants of the big ports are growing in wealth, and it is a well known maxim in the near orient that an Athenian Greek can out bargain any man of any race on the face of the earth.

This mercantile adaptability is evident enough in any large American city, where the immigrants are prosperous business men a year after their landing.  In Greece, moreover, the men who prosper are imbued with an unselfish patriotism which leads every one of them to give lavishly to the improvement of their land, for there is not a Greek who does not look up at the ruins of the Acropolis and swear that the day will again come when the city of Athens will be the center of the cultured world.