The Union of Greek Secondary School Students have expressed their alarm at a statement by Greek Education Minister Nikos Filis, in which he hinted at a reduction in the compulsory teaching hours of ancient Greek in the high school curriculum.
“It is well known that Ancient Greek is the bedrock of a rounded education, and moreover it is an essential part of our national heritage. We are against any move that would threaten its teaching in schools, and we believe that 12 years is the ideal age to be exposed to it.” The students presented their position in detail, stressing the value of Ancient Greek not only as a foundation for better appreciating the richness of Greek culture and language, but also as a way to teach civic values.
Pressed to offer an example, Menios (Agamemnon) Atridis, 14, from the 2nd High School of Argos, quoted in the original his favourite passage from Pericles’ Funeral Oration from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian Wars: “Φιλοκαλοῦμέν τε γὰρ μετ’ εὐτελείας καὶ φιλοσοφοῦμεν ἄνευ μαλακίας”, which translates as “We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy”.
To his friends’ riotous applause, he explained that this was not only a classic example of the art of rhetoric, but also a seminal exposition of democratic values. In it, the great Athenian General Pericles uses the occasion of the funeral for the war dead of the first year of the Peloponnesian wars to remind his fellow citizens why democracy made their city a superior power to oligarchic Sparta.
The budding classicist went on to stress the passage’s relevance to life in modern Greece: “Normally, the word μαλακία (malakía) would earn you a clip round the ear, but this makes it totally legit. I know the English translation sounds, well, a bit “gay”, but in Greek it’s even better because it means (whispers) ‘w*ank’. Get it? ‘We philosophise without w*ankiness’! That’s classic! Respect to the ancients!”
The students were outraged when they heard the statement by the Minister, in which he was recorded saying that teaching three hours per week of Ancient Greek and only two of Modern Greek in the first year of high school was “unnatural”. “Dude, did he really say “παρά φύσιν” (pará físin)? You know what that means, right? C’mon, it’s from Diodorus Siculus, it means literally “against nature”, as in, you know, “up the -“. At this point unfortunately the interview was terminated by an intervention by the Headmaster.
It is understood that many female students are also planning to protest against a leaked draft of a proposed “code of conduct” for parents, which forbids the use of the word “princess” as a term of affection because “all children are different but equal”. “My friends and I are planning to march on the Ministry dressed as our favourite Disney heroines and sing “Let it Go” from Frozen over and over until Mr Filis relents on this unreasonable demand.”