Thoughts I have had while lecturing

I. An interesting shift: at one point African-American slaves took inspiration from Moses leading the Hebrew slaves out of bondage from Egypt, hence the spiritual:

When Israel was in Egypt’s land, Let My people go!
Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let My people go!
Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt’s land;
Tell old Pharaoh To let My people go!

But of course Egypt is African, or judged to be representative of Africa, so starting in the twentieth century African-Americans began to look back with admiration on ancient Egypt, partly as a riposte to the European idealization of Ancient Greece (this is where the Afrocentric charge that the latter “stole” everything from the former comes from). Thus, for example, Alpha Phi Alpha, the nation’s first black fraternity, founded at Cornell in 1906 and which:

utilizes motifs from Ancient Egypt and uses images and songs depicting the Her-em-akhet (Great Sphinx of Giza), pharaohs, and other Egyptian artifacts to represent the organization…. This is in contrast to other fraternities that traditionally echo themes from the golden age of Ancient Greece. Alpha’s constant reference to Ethiopia in hymns and poems are further examples of Alpha’s mission to imbue itself with an African cultural heritage.

(This despite the fact that they use Greek letters to identify themselves – why not a couple of hieroglyphs?)

I suppose the fall of slavery in the United States lessened the appeal of the ancient Hebrews, allowing the shift toward sympathizing with the Egyptians.

II. One of my favorite records when I was in college features the novelty song “Istanbul (not Constantinople),” which dates from the 1950s and is (I suppose) a celebration of the rise of nationalist Turkey. By way of explaining the name change of that county’s most famous city, the song points out a parallel situation:

Even old New York, was once New Amsterdam.
Why they changed it I can’t say, people just liked it better that way.

But perhaps a more accurate assessment of this name change is that the British defeated their continental rivals the Dutch and took possession of the New Netherlands in 1664, and promptly changed the names of New Amsterdam and Fort Orange to New York and Albany respectively, after the Duke of York and Albany, the future King James II. Fort Orange was so called, of course, on account of “Orange” being the name of the ruling house of the Netherlands.

What’s ironic is that James II was a Catholic, and didn’t have the good sense to keep it to himself, and provoked the Glorious Revolution of 1688, whereby Parliament invited his daughter Mary Stuart to become queen, and her husband to become king… that husband being none other than William of Orange, king of the Netherlands. These two reigned as co-monarchs, hence the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.

So an Orange was replaced by an Albany, who was replaced by another Orange (who opened up Ireland for Protestant settlement, hence the Orange Order, and Orangeman’s Day).

Another Service

From Greek Reporter:

First Greek Orthodox Epiphany Celebration in Izmir Since 1922

By Ioanna Zikakou
Jan 5, 2016

For the first time since the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922, a Greek Orthodox Epiphany celebration is set to take place in Izmir on January 6, 2016.

The Greek Orthodox community has received permission from the Turkish authorities to perform the Diving for the Holy Cross ceremony on the local pier.

“For the first year we will be performing the Blessing of the Waters at the port of Izmir. Officially, this is the first year. We had also done it around 10 years ago, but not officially. This time we have received a license from the Turkish government, the Ministry of the Interior,” said Father Kyrillos Sykis.

On the day of the Epiphany the community will celebrate in the church of Agia Fotini. At 12:30 p.m. the blessing of the waters will take place on the waterfront of Izmir, opposite the historical building of the old Greek consulate.

At least three groups will travel from Athens, Mytilene and Chios to Izmir in order to attend the Epiphany celebration. “We hope that since we have created an orthodox community here, we can create something that will continue on,” explained Father Kyrillos Sykis. At the moment, the Orthodox community of Izmir includes about 300 Greeks, while there are also Russians, Georgians and other Orthodox ethnicities, bringing the total between 7,000 and 8,000 people.