Category Archives: Greece

“It is folly for a man to pray to the gods…” – Epicurus


By T.V. Antony Raj


Rogue pastors and patients in hospitals


Why don’t pastors perform “healing” in hospitals?

An excellent question!

The answer is that all these faith healers are just preying humbugs who are just keen on swindling innocent people who place their faith in an unseen god sketched out by these conscienceless rogues.

This act of placing one’s trust in God or god by the gullible is not a recent phenomenon. Even before the time of Jesus Christ people prayed to gods.


Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher
Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher


The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341–270 BC) the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism wisely said:

It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.

Also, keep in mind what Jesus said (Mathew 6:5-8):

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.

Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.



A Plethora of Refugees in Europe


By T.V. Antony Raj.


Europe has a population of 740 million of which 500 million are in the European Union (EU). According to the European Union border agency the plethora of refugees entering Europe had increased over the past 10 months. More than 150,000 refugees entered the EU in August 2015 increasing the total influx of refugees to more than half a million for the year 2015.

Although this amount of refugees is not large enough to construe it as an invasion or being over-run when compared to the population of Europe, the European leaders were slow to respond. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU migration commissioner has called it “the worst refugee crisis facing Europe since World War II.


Europes refugee crisis (Source:
Europes refugee crisis (Source:


For many refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war and the abominable ISIS, the Greek islands have been the gateway to enter the European Union.  This year alone, more than 259,000 refugees entered Greece by boat via Turkey. The arrival of about 88,000 refugees in the Greek islands in August 2015 was the largest so far, an eleven-fold increase compared to the same month a year ago.  Almost 75% percent of the refugees seeking asylum were Syrians.

The Schengen Area

Six founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany created the European Economic Community (EEC) by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. This regional organization aimed to bring about economic integration between its member states, including a common market and customs union.

When the ten member states of the then EEC were not able to reach a consensus on the abolition of border controls, five of its members signed The Schengen Agreement on June 14, 1985, paving the way to the creation of Europe’s borderless Schengen Area. The treaty signed near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg was not implemented in full until 1995.

The Schengen Agreement proposed the gradual abolition of border checks and allow vehicles to cross the common borders of the signatories of the treaty without stopping. It permitted residents in the border areas to cross the borders away from fixed checkpoints.

In 1990, the Schengen Convention supplemented the Schengen Agreement by proposing the abolition of internal border controls and a common visa policy. For most purposes, the Schengen Area with a common visa policy functions as a single country for international travel purposes. The Schengen Agreement and the rules adopted under it were quite separate from the EU structures.

Map of Schengen Area (Source:
Map of Schengen Area (Source:


The Schengen Area now comprises 26 European countries. These member states have strengthened their external border controls with non-Schengen states. Out of the current 28 European Union member states, 22 are participants in the Schengen Area.

Countries comprising The Schengen Area
State Area (km²) Population
Austria 83,871 8,414,638
Belgium 30,528 11,007,020
Czech Republic 78,866 10,535,811
Denmark (excluding Greenland
and the Faroe Islands)
43,094 5,564,219
Estonia 45,338 1,340,194
Finland (Including Åland Islands) 338,145 5,391,700
France (mainland and Corsica only) 551,695 63,929,000
Germany 357,050 81,799,600
Greece 131,990 10,815,197
Hungary 93,030 9,979,000
Iceland 103,000 318,452
Italy 301,318 60,681,514
Latvia 64,589 2,245,357
Liechtenstein 160 36,010
Lithuania 65,300 3,207,060
Luxembourg 2,586 511,840
Malta 316 417,608
Netherlands (excluding Aruba,
Curaçao,  Sint Maarten
and the Caribbean Netherlands)



Norway (excluding Svalbard) 385,155 5,063,709
Poland 312,683 38,186,860
Portugal (Including Madeira and Azores) 92,391 10,647,763
Slovakia 49,037 5,440,078
Slovenia 20,273 2,048,951
Spain (with special provisions for
Ceuta and Melilla)
506,030 46,030,109
Sweden 449,964 9,415,570
 Switzerland 41,285 7,866,500
Schengen Area 4,189,111 417,597,460



Currently, the Schengen Area has an area of 1,617,4245 square miles (4,189,111 square kilometers) and a population of over 400 million people.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania are four of the six EU members that do not form part of the Schengen Area, are legally obliged and wish to join the Area. The other two, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, maintain opt-outs.

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland have signed the Schengen Agreement even though they are member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and are not in the EU.

The three European microstates, the Vatican, Monaco, and San Marino do not have border controls with the Schengen countries that surround them. Though considered as de facto within the Schengen Area they have not officially signed documents that make them part of the Schengen Area.

The influx of refugees


Since many Eastern European countries are guarding their borders in the face of the influx of refugees, the distribution of refugees among the 28-member EU is somewhat skewed. According to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), EU countries received more than 437,000 asylum applications from January 2015 to July 2015. Germany received the most applications, followed by Hungary, Sweden, Italy and France.

The migrants from African countries enter the EU through Italy and Spain. Many of those who enter Italy apply for asylum on landing there. Some try to cross into France.


A group of migrants gathering near a line of trucks on the motorway that leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais, northern France. (Source:
A group of migrants gathering near a line of trucks on the motorway that leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais, northern France. (Source:


From France, a few try to enter the United Kingdom by perilous means such as getting smuggled in containers through the Eurotunnel from Calais, northern France.

Many Syrians try to reach Italy from Greece while others head to Austria via Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia.

Most refugees try to reach the Schengen Area. From there, they move into Hungary through Macedonia and Serbia. Also, some refugees from Turkey reach Hungary via Bulgaria and Romania. The popular route to enter the Schengen zone is through Norway, by way of Russia and Lebanon.

From Hungary, most refugees continue their journey to richer countries such as Germany and Sweden that have liberal immigration policies.



The ‘Oath’ of Alexander the Great


By T. V. Antony Raj


Alexander the Great


French writer, politician, diplomat and historian François-René de Chateaubriand, said:

“If someone was compared to a god, that was Alexander.”

It was the Romans who named Alexander “Great.” They deified him. They considered him a role model and embraced the arts and sciences spread by him in the East. So, it was through them that Greek civilization and culture spread in the West.

Plutarch in his “Moralia. De Alexandri magni fortuna aut virtute” (Morals. About the Virtue or Fortune of Alexander the Great) wrote:

“States which never got to know Alexander were as though they had never seen the light of the sun.”

He also said:

“If one were to judge from what Alexander taught and did, he would verify that he was a philosopher.”

Alexander was the first person to regard all men as brothers before one God and that they should live together in harmony and as equal partners. This was Alexander’s vision and dream, which for centuries humans have been longing for.

Before he left Macedonia to undertake his expedition against the Persians, Alexander gave away his property and belongings. When asked what he would keep for himself, he answered “hope.”

In 326 BC, Alexander crossed the Indus river. There his army fought King Porus’ army in a region in Punjab. Alexander won the epic Battle of the Hydaspes.

Alexander never followed Aristotle’s advice that he should treat Barbarians (non-Greeks) differently than the Greeks. Alexander respected the traditions of the people he conquered. He eliminated discrimination and prejudice between the conquerors and the conquered.

Impressed by Porus’s bravery, Alexander made him an ally. He appointed Porus as satrap (governor) and gave him more territories – land that he did not own before – to govern. This strategy of choosing a local ruler as governor helped him control the conquered lands so far away from Greece.

East of Porus’ kingdom, near the Ganges River, was the Nanda Empire of Magadha. And further east was the Gangaridai Empire (of modern day Bangladesh).

After years of campaigning, Alexander faced mutiny from his exhausted Army at the Hyphasis River. Fearing the prospect of facing other large armies, they refused to march further east. And, so, the Ganges River, thus marks the easternmost extent of Alexander’s conquests.

Alexander tried to persuade his soldiers to march farther. But his general Coenus pleaded with him to stop marching further and return. Coenus said, “the men longed to again see their parents, their wives and children, their homeland”. Alexander agreed and turned south, marching along the Indus. Along the way, he conquered the Malhi (in modern day Multan) and other Indian tribes. He also sustained an injury during the siege.

After that, Alexander sent much of his army to Carmania (modern southern Iran) with general Craterus. He commissioned a fleet to explore the Persian Gulf shore under Admiral Nearchus. And, he led the rest back to Persia through the more difficult southern route along the Gedrosian Desert and Makran.

In 324 BC, about one year before his death, Alexander came to know that many of his satraps and military governors had misbehaved in his absence. He executed several of them as examples on his way to Susa. As a gesture of thanks, he paid off the debts of his soldiers. He also announced that he would send the over-aged and disabled veterans back to Macedonia, led by Craterus. Yet, his troops misunderstood his intention and mutinied at the town of Opis. They refused to be sent away. They criticized his adoption of Persian customs and dress and the induction of Persian officers and soldiers into the Macedonian units.

After three days, unable to pacify his men, Alexander gave Persians command posts in the army. He conferred Macedonian military titles upon Persian units. The Macedonians relented and begged his pardon. He forgave them.

Alexander then held a great banquet for 9,000 Greek and Asian officers at Opis.

Eratosthenes says that because of the great number of guests, many tables set. Alexander’s table was the largest and most prominent, and on it stood the crater which contained the wine for the libation.

Ptolemy says that along with Alexander sat Macedonians, Persians, some Greek seers, and some Magi (Medes). All those at his table drew for themselves wine from the crater on his table. Those at the other tables did the same from their craters. Thus, the whole assembly made one libation at the same time led, by the Greek seers and the Magi.

The occasion culminated with Alexander’s speech also known as Alexander’s “Oath”. Even today the leaders of states and international organizations consider it as their guiding light.


The “Oath” of Alexander the Great
(OPIS, 324 BC)

Now that the wars are coming to an end, I wish you all to prosper in peace.

From now on, may all mortals live as one people, in fellowship, for the good of all.

See the whole world as your homeland, with laws common to all, where the best will govern regardless of their race.

Unlike the narrow-minded, I make no distinction between Greeks and Barbarians.

I am not interested in the origin of the citizens, or the race into which they were born.

I have only one criterion by which to distinguish them: their virtue.

For me, any good foreigner is a Greek and any bad Greek is worse than a Barbarian.

If disputes ever arise among you, do not resort to weapons, but solve them peacefully.

If needed, I will arbitrate between you.

See God, not as an autocratic despot, but as the common father of all so that your conduct will be like the life of siblings of the same family.

I, on my part, see you all as equal, whether you are white or dark-skinned.

And I wish you all to be not only subjects of the Commonwealth, but members of it, partners of it.

To the best of my ability, I will strive to do what I have promised.

Let us hold onto the oath we have taken tonight with our libations as a Contract of Love”.

Here is the Greek version:

(ΟΠΙΣ, 324 π.Χ.)

“Σας εύχομαι, τώρα που τελειώνουν οι πόλεμοι, να ευτυχήσετε με την Ειρήνη.

Όλοι οι θνητοί, απ’εδώ και πέρα να ζήσουν σαν ένας λαός, μονοιασμένοι για την κοινή προκοπή.

Να θεωρείτε την Οικουμένη Πατρίδα σας, με Κοινούς Νόμους, όπου θα κυβερνούν οι άριστοι, ανεξαρτήτως φυλής.

Δεν χωρίζω τους ανθρώπους, όπως κάνουν οι στενόμυαλοι, σε Έλληνες και Βαρβάρους.

Δεν με ενδιαφέρει η καταγωγή των πολιτών, ούτε η ράτσα που γεννήθηκαν.

Τους καταμερίζω μ’ένα μόνο κριτήριο, την Αρετή.

Για μένα, κάθε καλός Ξένος, είναι Έλληνας και κάθε κακός Έλληνας, είναι χειρότερος από Βάρβαρο.

Αν ποτέ σας παρουσιαστούν διαφορές, δεν θα καταφύγετε στα όπλα, παρά θα τις λύσετε ειρηνικά.

Στην ανάγκη θα σταθώ εγώ διαιτητής σας.

Τον ΘΕΟ, δεν πρέπει να τον νομίζετε ως αυταρχικό κυβερνήτη, αλλά ως κοινό ΠΑΤΕΡΑ όλων, ώστε η διαγωγή σας να μοιάζει με τη ζωή που κάνουν τ’αδέλφια στην οικογένεια.

Από μέρους μου, θεωρώ όλους, ΙΣΟΥΣ, λευκούς και μελαμψούς.

Και θα ήθελα να μην είστε μόνο υπήκοοι της κοινοπολιτείας μου, αλλά μέτοχοι, όλοι συνέταιροι.

Όσο περνάει από το χέρι μου, θα προσπαθήσω να συντελεσθούν αυτά που υπόσχομαι.

Αυτόν τον όρκο που δώσαμε απόψε με σπονδές κρατήστε τον σαν σύμβολο αγάπης.”