September 01, 2012

Survival Greek

Survival Greek

It would be a Сизи́фов труд (Sisyphean Task) to catalog all the Greek idioms that have made their way into Russian. So I will share here only the survivalist minimum commonly used by Russians who still dare call themselves the ру́сский интеллиге́нт – at the risk of opening the Pandora’s Box (откры́ть я́щик Пандо́ры) that surrounds the definition of a ру́сский интеллиге́нт.

Let us agree that the интеллиге́нт ought at least to understand why we should “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” (Бо́йтесь дана́йцев, дары́ принося́щих – i.e. fear the Danaans, the mainland Greeks who gifted the Trojans the so-called Trojan Horse - троя́нский конь).

Yet is it enough for our интеллиге́нт to be versed in idioms with roots in Greek mythology? Or should he also strive to become a наро́дный трибу́н? (This word with Greek origins means more than just an orator; it refers to someone who voices the protest of the people from the трибу́на, the rostrum).

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