Everyone knows how much we owe to those Ancient Greeks – if you don’t then just look at this wonderful statue probably made for a rich Roman by Greek sculptors in around the year 28 BC. If I were a sculptor, I would give up trying to improve on this ancient marvel. It was excavated in near Rome in 1506 in an archaeological dig supervised by Michelangelo, one of only a few artists comparable to the great Classical Greek sculptors.
The statue shows the Trojan high priest Laocoon being dragged with his sons to his grisly death pulled under the sea by serpents.
Poor guy – he angered the gods, probably Poseidon but possibly Apollo. He upset them because he tried to save Troy from the invading Greeks by warning his fellow citizens to beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Those troublesome Greeks were hiding inside a giant wooden horse disguised as a gift and dragged into the city by the gullible Trojans. The rest, as we know from the movies if nowhere else, was bad news all round. Soon Troy was in ruins.
I suppose we’re lucky today that the modern Greeks are so broke that they can’t afford to offer us any gifts. Well, actually, they’ve given us enough already and we should be grateful for it. So much of Western culture and beyond comes from them that we shouldn’t resent too much turning the tables on gift-giving. It might be fair enough to give the Greeks some money to help them out of their plight. The trouble is that that multi-billion euro bail-out, with its formidable repayments, is Germany’s relentless economic plan and it’s draconian conditions mean that nearly everyone else sees it as spelling disaster for poor old Greece.
Remembering Laocoon’s fate, I’m scared of warning the Greeks about Germans bearing gifts. Here in the UK, we live too near the sea to anger Poseidon.