Saturday, September 16, 2017



Robert Byron (1905-1941), The Station: Travels to the Holy Mountain of Greece (1928; rpt. London: Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2011), p. 111:
He was a typical Greek of the middle class, enthralled by politics, religious believer in the Hellenic destiny. Anglophil, anxious to be of assistance, boundlessly conceited, yet, save when enlarging on a favourite subject, unobtrusive. During a conversation, I mistook the meaning of a word for another outside the context in which he had used it. This led him to a new field.

"Every word in Greek," he said, "has ten meanings, and every meaning ten words. You need to know each one. Greek is the most beautiful of all languages. The Bible and all the holy works were written in it."

"The Gospels, for instance," I interpolated, wishing to seem intelligent.

"Yes, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the Theologian all used it. Yet they were not Greeks. But the Holy Ghost descended with the gift of tongues——"

"Ah! Of course, the Holy Ghost was Greek."

Whereat Father Methodius, handing a dish of stuffed tomatoes, exploded into giggles; and the guest, his peroration marred, groaned, protesting and reiterative, that this was not the case. I recount the anecdote with pride, as it is not easy to hoist a Greek neatly on his own petard.

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