The timeless messages of the Battle of Salamis and the Battle of Thermopylae, in a critical period for humanity, were discussed at the 5th Delphi Economic Forum by the Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and President of the Honorary Committee of the Anniversary Year “Thermopylae – Salamina 2020”, Marianna V. Vardinoyannis and the Rector of the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Helene Ahrweiler.
In the discussion, entitled “Thermopylae and Salamis: The Triumph of Will” and coordinated by journalist Mr. Antonis Sroiter, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis pointed out that the pandemic has changed our view of the world, making things uncertain. Speaking about the Delphi Economic Forum, Mrs. Vardinoyannis stressed that it will contribute to the effort to restructure the future and it is just as good as the Forums abroad, while it brings out the unique spirit of Delphi.
Referring to the 2,500th anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Salamis, she said it was “an epic that transcends the history of Greece, because it taught morals and values that are still alive”. “This is a lesson that the few have taught the many and it has shown that virtue is power and strategy is more important than politics”, Mrs. Vardinoyannis stated. “The triumph of the human will is the lesson we have learnt and it is a legacy that is deeply imprinted in the DNA of the Greek people”. She stressed that with the pandemic, the Greeks have transformed, in their minds, the “I” into “We”: “Greece, this small and miraculous country that knows how to make us proud, has once again delivered a message to the whole world that the right strategy, unity, philotimo and will, can make anyone victorious. They make the difference”.
“The deeper meaning of the 2,500th Anniversary was further emphasized by the pandemic. The epic of Thermopylae and Salamis is an epic that transcends the history of Greece. It is a piece of world history with special meaning and significance, not only because it marked the birth of Western Civilization but also because it taught us ethics and values that are still alive. I really feel that the legacy of so many centuries of history that is so aptly formulated in today’s theme as “The triumph of will” is more relevant than ever. That is why, in the end, we Greeks are the same in the depth of time! Whenever Greece needs us, whenever humanity needs Greece, “Thermopylae” may change, but we remain the same, as guardians of culture and humanity. As exaggerated as it may sounds, the international significance and profound meaning of the Anniversary Year was further emphasized by the pandemic. Thermopylae and Salamis are not geographical designations, but ideological ones. These are not the places where the battles occured. It is the vision and the values. It is the people and the ideals they fought for”.
At the same time, Mrs. Vardinoyannis made an extensive reference on how the pandemic changed her priorities, focusing on humanity. Mrs. Vardinoyiannis specifically spoke about the social work that has been implemented with the funds of the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation”, which were intended to be used for the celebrations of the Anniversary Year: “following the new status as it is developing, our Foundation has decided to put aside the celebrations for a while and to prioritize the social meaning of the Anniversary Year events, since they all would be carried out to honor mankind. So, a significant amount of the funds that our Foundation would use to prepare the events for the Anniversary Year has become support and expression of solidarity to vulnerable groups in our society, such as the elderly, children and the homeless. And we are very pleased that we have contributed to the relief of thousands of people who, in the midst of the storm of the pandemic, needed something like a life jacket to keep them safe”.
The moderator of the discussion, journalist Antonis Sroiter, asked the Rector of the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne Helene Ahrweiler if the Greeks have the right to say that Salamis and Thermopylae changed the world. The President of the European Cultural Center in Delphi said that the Greeks never forgot this triumph. Mrs. Ahrweiler pointed out that even in the years of great slavery this triumph was a part of us, and with the straightforwardness that distinguishes her she stated that “Dimaratos was not right for the Greeks when he said that when they stand in front of the enemy they unite and become as strong as a fist, because Xerxes marched through all of Northern Greece without a single battle to give. And then he reaches Thermopylae. There, the alleged defeat of Leonidas by Xerxes is the biggest victory in history”. The program of the conference is being broadcasted live on delphiforum.gr.