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Academics’ cultural take on Greek crisis

Greek’s cultural contribution to the world should not be overshadowed by the ongoing economic turmoil the country is facing, according to a group of Maltese researchers and academics.

They signed a joint declaration pointing out that Malta had a cultural debt with Greece that should not be forgotten.

“This is an appropriate moment to express that we, as Maltese, Mediterranean and Europeans, have an enormous cultural debt with Greece. If one had to take a look at ancient Maltese history and even more recent history one finds connections with Greece,” they wrote in the declaration.

Researcher Karl Littlejohn said Malta’s link with Greece dated back to Greek mythology.

It is believed that Greek poet Homer – who lived between the 12th and 8th centuries BC – referred to the island of Gozo in his work The Odyssey when he wrote about Ogygia, the island home of the nymph Calypso. Calypso holds Odysseus captive on Ogygia for seven years.

Mr Littlejohn also said that common Maltese surnames, such as Calleja and Agius, were also believed to have Greek origins.

These were just a few examples, he stressed, adding that the world had a cultural debt towards Greece.

Over the past weeks, the country has been at the centre of the international media spotlight over its debt that risked pushing it out of the eurozone.

The Greek Parliament has passed sweeping austerity measures demanded by lenders to open talks on a new multi-billion-euro bailout package to keep Greece within the euro.

“The economic situation in Greece should not serve as a blindfold to the heritage we possess in Malta and Europe.

“The discussion about Greece should not focus solely on an economic level,” the declaration said.

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