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Nat Gerrs : Why Europe?

Rediscovering the Path to Europe
Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe

       EUROPE as a promise and aspiration appears already in the 1st century B.C.[1] Horace understands the Greek tradition of the rape of Europe by Zeus transfigured into a bull, as a prophecy for a divine land.

“’Hold back, said she,[2] from fits of rage and fiery quarrels, when the hated bull delivers up his horns to you to rend. You are, unknowingly, the wife of Jupiter the Invincible. Give up your sobbing, learn to bear great fortune well; a part of this world will bear your name”.[3]

Even though the divine destination of Europe was not forgotten after the capture of Constantinople[4] and the failure of the papacy in the West,[5] there was emerging at the same time the vision of a union of Europe on the ground of various Greek, Roman and Christian values and principles, separated now from their immediate Christian source,[6] values, we would say more precisely: stolen from their source, therefore necessarily and constantly being deformed in the service of the nationalist ambitions of the European nations.

      From the vision of a land of God, Europe started to try to keep the land and throw away God - to take her hands off the bull's horns and to jump by herself, even before the air would take her, and yet not to fall into the void! “She wanted to take God's gifts without God and before God”, St. Maximus Confessor would say.[7] The description of this move is the description of a fall,[8] the most current point of which was the founding of the European Union.

      We ask the reason of the European Union. What made us unite? Why we want to stay united? What our aspiration is? What we are creating, what we want to do with it, what kind of life we want to share in it?


[1] Until then it wasn't just a geographical term. In the Greek mythology Europe is a person, the chosen wife of Zeus; Zeus himself is called Euryopos (having wide vision, seeing everything); Hippocrates (Treatise on airs, waters and places) and Aristotle (Politics VII,6) define her region according to the cultural relation with Greece and the East, at a time when Greece had not yet become the ground of what Europe was going to be.

[2] Venus (Aphrodite) speaks to Europe.

[3] Horace, Ode to Galateia. Cf. Aineid 7.

[4] For the European consciousness of Constantinople, cf. e.g. Gregory the Theologian (To Caesarius, ch. 8, section 4) - 4th c. A.D: “the city was Byzantium, the city that now presides in Europe”. Cf. Christodoulos of Athens and all Greece, With or without Christianity?, for Constantine Porphyrogenitus' remarks - 10th c. A.D. Cf. David Turner, Byzantium : The 'alternative' history of Europe

[5] Cf. Rougemont, Open letter to the Europeans.

[6] Cf. Nietzsche, Nationalism is mediocrity.

[7] Adam wantedto have God's things without God and before God”: On various questions, Patrologia Graeca 91.1156. Cf. Dawson, The making of Europe, and Koestler, European tradition is organic.

[8] Not for all - cf. for example Jaspers (The spirit of Europe), where diversity is considered possible only as opposition!

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Rediscovering the Path to Europe Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House

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