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Which 7 people in history would you like to high-five?
Tough question, Habib le toubib: I don’t do heroes, I like my critical faculties about me, and I’ve been jaded for a while. And of course, anyone I’d choose would be morbidly obscure anyway.
OK, challenge accepted.
- Hubert Pernot. The underappreciated giant of Modern Greek historical linguistics. Not a polemicist, not a tub-thumper; he just got on with it, from a safe distance in Paris. His three volume monograph on the dialect of Chios is an accidental history of all of Modern Greek. His neogrammarian probity in his grammar of Tsakonian is a work for the ages.
- Giovanni Gabrieli. Author of the music of the spheres, the Canzone e Sonate. Thanks, man. It’s music that makes you proud to be human.
- Stephanos Sahlikis. If you don’t count Jalal ad-Din Rumi, the first poet to rhyme in Greek, rhyming about whores and gambling and doing time, in the 14th century.
- Woah! His poems just got published in Panagiotiakis’ long-awaited posthumous critical edition, in 2015! Why didn’t I know about this?! I’m going to have to have words to the maintainer of the Early Modern Greek blog. Thanks Habib, for helping me discover that!
- Helen Waddell. I’ve already written about my teen crush on her: Nick Nicholas’ answer to If you could take one historical person from history as a lover/date, who would it be and why? “If I had to pick, I’d pick someone with poetry in their blood, an awkward smile, and gentle donnish erudition. Someone like Helen Waddell.”
- Gough Whitlam. Flawed, self-important, chaotic politician (was this guy even Australian?), who built up my country’s pride and dignity, and made my country worthy of the name. Yes, there’s a reason we won’t see his like again. We still owe him.
- Charilaos Trikoupis. Taciturn, reserved, orderly politician (was this guy even Greek?), who presided over reforms and infrastructure and a bankruptcy, and made my country worthy of the name. Yes, there’s a reason we won’t see his like again. We still owe him.
- Theodore Metochites. For writing the most obscurantist overgilded Greek ever in his pseudo-Homeric poems, which posed the greatest challenge I faced in all my time at the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae. For decreeing that the Ancients left us Mediaeval Greeks nothing to say—in a foreword to 120 essays. For commissioning the marvels of Chora Church, while he was the moneybags-in-charge of the Empire. And for retreating into his own church with dignity, with his books and his sorrow, after he lost everything.