Wednesday, 23 July 2014

More About Goats

During the last forty years I have spent more than half my time in Greece; sometimes in the big cities but more often in small island villages. During that time I have (of course) come to know and love Greece, its people, and its culture and traditions. It is sometimes thought racist to talk of ‘National Characteristics’ but to deny their existence is about as sensible as insisting that the inhabitants of Ulan Bator are just like those of Athens or London. Of course you might find someone in Ulan Bator who was ‘More like a Londoner’, and I’ve certainly met Londoners who would have been more at home in Athens. But yes, of course one can generalise and say ‘The Germans are like this’ or ‘the Mongolians are like that’.

To the point: I have naturally seen and heard how Greek villagers manage their neighbourly relations. Sometimes these are ones of friendly co-operation, but all too often they are best illustrated by this well-known Greek anecdote:

Neighbours Costas and Iannis both have goats. Costas’s goat gives lots of milk, but Iannis’s almost none. Does Ianni wish his goat was more like Costas’s? No. He wishes Costas’s goat would get sick and die.

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