Tuesday, August 29, 2017

So Your Character is from Greece ... Featuring Lisa @ My Bookshelf Dialogues, Artemis @ The Radical Creative, and Zizeloni @ Zizeloni van Kat

It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last week's  So Your Character is from Uruguay ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!

Greece has influenced Western culture greatly. There's Greek architecture and Greek and Latin mottoes and symbols for my country. It's hard not to know about Greece. I'm a huge Greek mythology buff. XD I also very much enjoy Greek cuisine like baba ghanoush and baklava. But there's so much about Greece I didn't know which is why I'm so happy to have these ladies on the blog today!

Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts are as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.

(None of the Images are Mine)

My name is Lisa, I am 24 years old and I come from Athens, Greece. In 2012 I’ve moved to Groningen in the north of the Netherlands where I did my Bachelor of Science in Psychology. I am currently studying for my Masters in Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Groningen. My free time is filled with reading lots and lots of books which I review on my blog, My Bookshelf Dialogues. My two pups, a lady Labrador and a gentleman Maltese, keep me company when I’m not studying or reading a book.
Blog//Facebook//Twitter//Instagram (Personal/Blog)

My name is Artemis and I currently live in Athens in sunny Greece. I’m a web designer, an illustrator and a blogger. I love Greek and international cuisine, cooking, traveling, drawing and designing. I’m always on the scoop for new alluring pictures and new artists. My latest obsession is “bob hairstyles” on Pinterest.
Blog//Instagram (Personal/Blog)

I lived all my life in Athens, until 5 years ago when I moved to the Netherlands in order to finish my PhD in Cognitive Science. I am still living in the Netherlands, working in a company as a data analyst (it is way more interesting than it sounds). On my free time I read books, I travel all around the world (but especially Asia) and then I blog about it. My blog/instagram/goodreads nickname is Zizeloni, which I have borrowed from my cat Zizel. 

What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
Lisa: A lot of people know that when you go to Greece you see a lot of ancient “stuff” which probably doesn’t sound very appealing to younger tourists, tired of hearing all about ancient Greece in school. There are, however, some very cool landmarks that hold mind-blowing history behind them. For example, the Parthenon. Did you know that much of the structure is built according to the golden ratio? Did you know it was full of colours before pollution turned the marbles grey/white? And that was only 2.500 years ago. There’s also an active volcano in Santorini which caused a great destruction of a whole civilization with its eruption more than 3500 years ago. 

Today, we can all safely visit the volcano, walk on the warm surface of the volcanic islands and swim at Santorini’s beaches where the sand is black due to the lava. One can also visit an actual shipwreck on the coast of Zakynthos, one of the Ionian islands where the view is simply stunning. Alternatively, you can visit the breath-taking Meteora which constitute an impressive arrangement of humongous monolithic pillars and boulders. The name in Greek translates to “suspended in the air” and when you take a look at them you will understand why. These are just the tip of the iceberg of the numerous landmarks that you can find when you visit Greece.

Artemis: Well, the first thing that comes in my mind is the sun! Greece is a pretty sunny country all year round having a direct impact on people’s mood making us extrovertially social with the best thing of our routine to be having coffee outdoors.

In number two I would place the natural beauty of the seaside alongside the country. It‘s very common to us to spend our summers by the sea, or visit it in any given chance.
Furthermore, I ‘d like to add a specific quality of Greek people, which is hospitality. We take really good care of our guests and try to make them feel like home. Buying them dinner, coffee, or homemade goodies are gestures of good manners.

As far as  the celebrations go, I’ll introduce you the traditional way to celebrate Easter. Even though many young people, including myself, don’t embrace this religion we embrace its customs because our families do, plus it’s fun (if you’re not vegan!). On Easter day we impale a whole lamp and barbeque it and we even make a treat from its organs that’s called “kodosuvli” (not personally my favorite thing). The whole family gathers together eating, drinking and gossiping!

Zizeloni: There are many many different celebrations in some islands or small cities, such as special carnival traditions or the breaking of the jars in Corfu for the Easter. In general Easter is very important in Greece. On Saturday, after 12:00 at night there are fireworks and on Sunday the whole family (usually including cousins, uncles, and aunts) gets together and roasts lamb (yeah, not a good day for lambs) and eats red eggs, after having a competition of “who has the strongest egg” (by hitting one egg with the other).

Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
Lisa: Living in the Netherlands for the last five years has really given me a perspective of Greece’s various terrains. Of course, Greece is a popular destination in the summer for the beautiful islands, sandy beaches and blue sea. But, Greece also has a lot of mountains and you can actually go on a skiing vacation, too. Bringing me to two of my favourite places, Elati and Pertouli. Elati is a village surrounded by beautiful mountainous landscapes where you can taste the local cuisine while gazing at the snowy scenery. Pertouli is the village next to Elati where you can find a ski resort and also enjoy the scenic houses with roofs of stone or red-tiles. 

I’ve also gone rafting on river Lousios in western Arcadia where the forest is magical and the water is icy cold. Or, if you are feeling extra adventurous, you could get up early in the morning and, starting from the cold White Mountains, descend and walk the Samaria gorge in Crete where you can find the rare kri-kri, the Cretan goats. After this 5 hour hike you will deserve a shot of ouzo and some fresh grilled calamari or octopus to prepare you for next day’s sore muscles! Finally, if you’d like the unique experience of staying in a hotel room on the mountain but walking to the beach every morning for a swim, you have to visit Pelion which offers the best of both worlds.

Artemis: I’ve lived in three towns so far, in Lamia where I was born and raised, in Corfu where I was studying and in Athens, that I’m currently living. The last one has undoubtedly the best weather conditions. It’s warmer in winter with less humidity and always sunny, as I mentioned earlier. The only con is that summers are really hot and temperature touches even 40 Celsius degrees.

The island of Corfu is radically beautiful along with the town. I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to take a taste from Greek summer. Moreover, I love Thessaloniki, the second biggest city in Greece. It is warm, cultured and you can go anywhere on foot! Now, when it comes to Athens, there are uncountable extraordinary places, but I would recommend The Acropolis Museum  and the Planetarium.

Zizeloni: Greece is known for the beaches, the blue sea, the islands and the nice weather. 

Most Greeks spent their summer vacation on an island or at least somewhere near a beach in the mainland (islands can be very expensive). Although the beaches and the islands are probably the best part of Greece, there is much more Greece can offer.
There are amazing mountain scenery in North Greece:

And then there is Greece’s big negative… the cities. Greek cities are usually not very pretty. I will describe the one I have lived in, Athens.  Half of Greece’s population (about 5 million) lives in Athens. That makes it a big and noisy city that sometimes you find annoying and sometimes you love. I really miss Athens sometimes, even though I live in an awesome city now.  Athens can look a little ugly but despite the traffic and noise, people are always sitting in the cafes in the sun and there is nightlife every night. We know how to have fun!

Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
Lisa: First things first, while I know that in most other countries – at least in Europe – breakfast is a big meal consisting of a variety of flavours, in Greece I cannot say that we pay much attention to what we eat in the morning. Coffee is always consumed for breakfast, but other than that, Greeks will opt for a toasti, maybe some cereal, tiropita (pastry with cheese) or koulouri (circular bread with sesame seeds). Lunch consists of a warm dish of either meat (chicken, pork, beef, goat, lamb), fish or something lathero (=oily) which are veggies cooked with olive oil and tomato. In Greece most people I know cook the meat until it’s well done. We don’t like meat when it’s red or even pink. 

And yes, we use a lot of extra-virgin olive oil and we eat a lot of feta. For dinner, we also differ from other countries in that, we eat again a full warm meal and we eat late, maybe 21:00 or 22:00. For example, souvlaki (which is one of my favourite foods) or pizza would be a dinner choice for many. Another favourite food is my grandma’s slow cooked goat in a kind of Dutch oven we call γάστρα. My mom also makes delicious lamb chops in the oven.

Artemis: I could just go on and on this question but I’ll be as brief as possible! The Greek cuisine is one of the most delicious in the world. It combines meat and vegetables in the most harmonious way with a touch of local olive oil.

One of my favorite dishes is “yemista”, tomatoes and green peppers stuffed with herbed rice and occasionally sliced beef meat, baked in the oven. Also the famous “musakas” isn’t famous for no reason. It requires pure talent to bake all the ingredients separately and then combine them all to one piece with warm, rich taste. And last, but not least the dessert “galaktobureko”, which is made of lots of milk, syrup and thin, multiple layered crust. Just yummy!

Zizeloni: Mediterranean cuisine! Tasty! A lot of meat but also fish and vegetables. Eggplants and feta are two of the famous Greek ingredients that are also my favorite. I love moussaka: on the bottom potatoes, then eggplant, on top of that minced meat and on the very top béchamel! Yum yum! I also love dakos: thick dry (teeth-breaking) toast on the bottom, on top grated tomato, grated feta, olive oil, oregano, and maybe capers. Amazing choice for the summer. And of course the Greek souvlaki. With less than two euros you can have this amazing street food and be completely full. Meat (pork or chicken), tomato, onion (or lettuce), fries, and tzatziki (or a mayonnaise based sauce if you prefer), all wrapped in a fried pita. Finally, spanakopita: a pie with many crunchy dough layers surrounding spinach and feta.

Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?
Lisa: Because I’ve been away from my country for almost five years now, I’ve been missing out on a lot of the new slang. But, here are some examples of slang that Greek youth uses still in 2017: “What’s it saying?” meaning “How are you?” or “How’s it going?”. When someone wants to say that they are doing okay they would say “I’m fighting her”, her meaning life probably as in I and life are fighting and I am able to stand against it. There’s also the exclamation “Extreme” which is new, but I’ve heard a lot of my friends use it in a discussion to show that something surprised them, like: “There was a bug in my tea” “Extreme.” It’s funny because it’s not really extreme but people still say it! 

Some interesting vocabulary differences can be found between the two biggest cities of Greece, Athens and Thessaloniki. For example, when you say cheese in Athens you mean the solid products derived from milk but in Thessaloniki cheese means specifically feta cheese while every other cheese is called kaseri. Also, in Athens when you ask for a souvlaki you will get the meat wrapped in pita bread with tomatoes and potatoes, but in Thessaloniki you will only get the meat on a stick (meat on a stick in Athens would be called “straw”).

Artemis: That is a bit difficult to translate, but I’ll do my best to give you some examples. One that comes in my mind is that, when it rains heavily, we say “it rains armchairs” instead of “cats and dogs”. 

Also, the word “malakas” has a double meaning depending on the context and the way you say it. It literally means “jerk” (and I’m being polite!), but you can also say it to a close friend on answering the phone or on greetings.

Another idiom that crosses my mind is the “shoeless on thorns” when somebody is in a difficult situation, or “pantless in cucumbers” in a more funny and spicy way.

Zizeloni: You have Athens and central Greece, then there is North Greece with Thessaloniki and then Crete and Peloponissos… you will find small differences in slang between these areas. The big fight is about souvlaki. In Athens when we say souvlaki we mean the whole thing: the meat, the pie, the fries, the tzatziki, the tomatoes. In the rest of Greece, souvlaki means only the meat on a stick and the whole thing is called pita. The war is still ongoing, I will let you know if there is a final decision.

Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
Lisa: A regular day is hard to define, I think, when it comes to my country. Everyone knows about the horrible economic situation that has affected Greece in the last years and this has tremendous consequences in the way of life. For example, parents who are still lucky to have their jobs go to work in the morning and return at 16:00 or 17:00 to eat a late lunch and then relax at their home. School aged children would go to school until 14:00, go home for a quick lunch and leave again for evening classes which either supplement school education or foreign languages until 18:00 or 19:00. Then they would go home again to study until they fall asleep, exhausted. University students would have irregular classes and schedule, but they would probably spend most of their day with their friends. Since I only ever visit Greece for vacation now, I really have no idea what a regular day would look like for someone my age.

Artemis: This depends on whether you stay in Athens or the rest of Greece. If someone stays in a smaller town they will have more free time and go to work much faster, because the distance is shorter and the traffic extremely less!

Greeks typically don’t have breakfast. They may have some toast or milk with cereals, but that’s all. All they usually have is coffee (I’m an exception!). They go to work, coffeetime when work is over, dinner and some housework afterwards. Everyone has morning coffee on weekends. They may go out for a drink on weekdays, but you’ll never see people wasted on the streets, not even on weekends.

Zizeloni: It is not fun describing a working day, so I will describe a weekend day. Waking up late, going for coffee with friends, lunch with your parents (mandatory at least on Sundays) and then out again for coffee or ouzo out in the sun! Fun! If it is summer, it will include going to the beach, even if that means spending half an hour in Athens traffic to reach it.

How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
Lisa: Greece has a presidential parliamentary republic where the Prime Minister is the head of the government and a multi-party system dominated by a liberal-conservative and a social-democratic party. Unfortunately, the Greek people have increasingly lost faith in the politicians who have led the country to an economic disaster. 

Culturally, religion is still a big part of Greek customs and festivities. Most people are Christian Orthodox and so Eastern is celebrated with two weeks off of school, for example. Greeks also celebrate Name Days which is kind of a big deal, especially for names like Konstantina, Maria, or Georgios. We also celebrate Christmas but we don’t have the Halloween or Thanksgiving holidays. Around February, a few weeks before the Eastern holiday we celebrate by dressing up in costumes and having a carnival. 

Other cultural differences include smoking which is happening almost anywhere (and almost by everyone!), even though it’s prohibited in bars, cafés and such. You cannot take away smoking from Greeks! In Greece you can drink alcohol from the age of 18 but you cannot drive a car before that age no matter who sits in the car with you.

But also, on a more serious note, Greece is still struggling with issues of homophobia and patriarchy. Men still hold the place of the “protector” in the family and older people expect girls to help out in the house while boys are freer to do what the like. 

Artemis: My knowledge of American culture comes mostly from movies and TV shows, I don’t have any American friends, so I’ll answer keeping that in mind. 

At first, politically at the moment our countries seem to follow opposite directions. Greece goes to the left and America to the right.

America is the greater cultural influencer to Greeks, especially the really young ones, that have even adopted American phrases on their vocabulary and use them on a daily basis. 
Expressions like “OMG”, “loser”, YOLO and many more are leading in chats and small talks. 
On the other hand America is a huge and multinational country, thing that is far away from Greece, despite the big amount of immigrants that stay here so long, that they haven’t been part of the Greek culture and regular population.

 Politically the Greeks are revolutionary, even if there are not many important reasons to complain about. Whatever government we have, there will be demonstrations about something. Culturally, we are very close to our family. Children stay with their parents at least until 25 (many times until they get married). The parents are always there for you: they will help you buy your house, they will give you money to raise your children if you need it. And when they are old, they will move in with you so that you take care of them. And as for environmentally, I want to believe that we are improving. We are far from north-European standards, but with some help from the government (recycling is not a thing in Greece) we could improve. There are good intentions, but if there is no recycling bin, the intentions are not enough.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Briefly describe three of your country’s historical events that you feel are important.
Lisa: In chronological order, I’d start with The Greek War of Independence that took place between 1821 and 1832 and in which Greeks successfully waged war against the Ottoman Empire which gained power after The Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Today we celebrate this national holiday on the 25th of March. 

The second historical event that should be mentioned is a more recent one: Oxi Day. On the 28th of October, Greece and Cyprus celebrate the rejection of the ultimatum by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to the Greek Prime Minister, Ioannis Metaxas in 1940.The ultimatum demanded Greece to allow Axis forces to enter and occupy certain strategic locations or face war. 

Finally, the most recent historical event is the Athens Polytechnic Uprising that took place from the 14th to the 17th of November 1973. It was a massive demonstration of popular rejection against the Greek dictatorial rule of the military that ended in a bloodshed on the 17th after a tank crashed through the gates of the Polytechnic university killing civilians and students. Today, we commemorate the events on the 17th of November.

25th of March: National celebration of  when Greeks got liberated from Turkish in 1821
28th of October: When Greek politician John Metaxas refused to dictator Musolini to cross the country in 1940.

2001: Greece started using Euro and changed its currency from Drahmas.

Zizeloni: Whenever you ask someone about Greece they will all go on and on about Socrates and Plato. That was more than 2000 years ago. That was ancient Greece and now we are in modern Greece. I think not many non-Greek people realize that Greece is a very young country. The Byzantine Empire was destroyed by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 and Greece became a country only in 1830 and it was only half of what is now. After 1830 there was still a lot of fighting and wars to become what we are today. A German king was ruling us and the reign of that family finished only in 1973 (Queen Sofia of Spain is part of that family, she was a “Greek” princess). As you can imagine, in the beginning of 20th century, the decisions for Greece were taken by other countries and of course they did not do it out of philanthropy. 

The Turks were gone after 400 years of occupation, we were basically being ruled by Germany or England or France. The three big historical events in 20th century that I would choose are:

1. World War II: This is a time I was proud for my country. It was the first country to beat the dream team of Italy-Germany. We actually beat the Italians and started chasing them back to Italy. The Germans had to come to their rescue. Of course we could not compete with the German army so we were occupied. But at least the Germans arrived in Russia way later than they had planned, winter caught up with them, and we all know what happened. WWII was tough for Greece. Many people died of hunger. But there was also resistance. The Greek resistance did some damage to the Germans and kept the moral high… but we all know what Germans did when they wanted to punish… About 10% of the Greek population died in WWII
2. After WWII most countries started to rebuild and regroup. On the other hand, Greece had a civil war. This is one of the worst moments in Greek history. Both sides did horrible things.
3. After the civil war, we kind of became a country for some years (with the “help” of other countries that of course did it out of philanthropy) and then from 1967-1974 we had a dictatorship. 

So to those that are wondering why is Greece now in this situation now, take a look at the dates I am mentioning above and try to think when did we have the time to become a normal country. 

What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Lisa: One of the stereotypes that I find unfair is that Greeks are loud. Yes, we may be yelling around our grandparents but that’s because they are mostly deaf or have terrible hearing. Otherwise, Greeks are not being particularly loud compared to other countries. After living in the Netherlands I can say that Dutchies are so much louder! A second stereotype is that Greeks are lazy. Well, according to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) Greek workers toil an average of 2.017 hours per year which is more than any other European country. Even my grandmother is constantly on the move, making sure there is food ready and groceries in the fridge and the house is clean. 

Mass media all over the world are constantly portraying Greece as a poor country that has been destroyed by the people’s own fault. I feel that right now this is the most serious form of misrepresentation of the media for Greece resulting in hatred and prejudice against people who are struggling with severe economic difficulties and with masses of people seeking refuge in a country that can hardly support itself.

Artemis: There is this big misunderstanding about Greek people that they are lazy or not smart enough so it’s their problem they got into economical crisis.  The truth is that Greeks are really hardworking people and this unfortunate situation came from political corruption. I’ve heard people making racist jokes, even to my face when I was being abroad to study, so I want to remind people to think twice before they reproduce some inaccurate comment.

I can’t think of any specific media that spread that misbelief, I can only recall some people.

Zizeloni: After 5 years living in Netherlands, I get very angry with the Greek crisis jokes. Jokes that do not focus on our politicians (I would have no problem with that, on the contrary), but on the people. Jokes like “yeah, we have to pay taxes here you know” (when my parents have to pay a tremendous amount of taxes every year, thanks to the Greek crisis) and “yeah we work here, not going out for coffee every day” (when 99% of the Dutch barely work 8 hours per day for minimum 1300 per month for people stacking up the shelves in the supermarkets and my friends in Greece with master diplomas have to work 10-12 hours as lawyers or programmers for half that money… if they are lucky to have a job)… 

Yes I have a lot to be annoyed for. I will not deny that there are horrible people that cheat their taxes or pretend to work in a government office (for 3 hours a day and 3 months vacation or something similar), but these people are usually from my parent’s generation, the generation that brought Greece to this point. And now the young people have to pay for all this mess.

The rest of the stereotypes don’t annoy me. I think on a less exaggerated level they are all true for some (or many) Greeks. Of course generalization is not allowed! Don’t assume when you meet Greeks that they enjoy eating moussaka or dream of having a big traditional wedding or love lying at the beach all day (believe it or not, one of my close friends hates the beach and doesn’t even own a bathing suit).

What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Lisa: I find this a rather difficult question to answer, honestly, because the TV shows that I can think of that portray my country well are all Greek productions. Also, even though I read a lot of books, I haven’t read many Greek authors or books set in Greece. One movie that I’ve watched multiple times and is set in Greece is Mamma Mia! the musical which was filmed in Skiathos, Skopelos (two islands) and Damouhari in Pelion. Even though people are randomly dancing and singing, the viewers can see some parts of the beautiful islands and the sea. But, that’s about everything I can think of when it comes to media portraying Greece.

Artemis: I can bring some movies to my mind like Politiki Kouzina, El Greco, and maybe 300, but nothing so great really. Maybe there are better pieces of art that I’m not aware of.

Zizeloni: There are not many Greek characters in American movies (Greeks from Greece, not immigrants born in USA). I don’t want to go back 2000 years and talk about Leonidas or mythological characters like Hercules and the whole war of Troy. 

One very famous movie is Zorba the Greek, with Anthony Quinn (after that, he played the Greek in many movies and stayed in our hearts as Greek). The movie is based on a book by one of the top Greek writers, Nikos Kazantzakis and the music of the film is amazing (written by the famous Theodorakis). Of course it is an old movie. Other old movies that were filmed in Greece and have Greek characters are “James Bond: For your eyes only” (filmed in the amazing Meteora) and the Guns of Navarone. Something more recent, but describing Greece in WWII is “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz.

What about a most recent portrayal of Greeks? The only movie coming to mind is My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Although this movie is super-exaggerated and of course focused on American Greeks, the “essence” of Greeks is captured: proud, loving, stubborn, fun, keeping the Greek traditions. Finally, Mama Mia was filmed in Greece, but there are not many Greek elements there. 

Now I will recommend a French movie that I saw accidentally while flipping the channels. Although I didn’t understand much (French audio with Dutch subtitles, hmm…), I got hooked and watched the whole thing. It is filmed in Milos (some of my island photos above are from Milos, after watching the movie I had to visit!) and it is the story of a father (played by Emir Kusturica) who gets lost in his grief when his wife dies and let’s his 14-year old son deal with life himself. 

The boy becomes friends with a pelican, they swim together, fish, play, all of that in the amazing scenery of Milos. The pelican becomes the symbol of the island and tourists come visit. The movie is very sweet. Watch it and you will not be sorry. It is called Nicostratos The Pelican (or Nicostratos Le Pelican in French) 

Many times you will see a supporting Greek character in a movie. Just keep your ears open for some Nikos, Stavros, Stelios, or a last name ending in –akis, -poulos or -idis.
Now into books. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Berniere. The book takes place in Kefallonia during WWII and many of the main characters are Greek (like Pelagia, the female lead, and her father, the doctor of the island). The book is very good, way better than the movie (but watch the movie too, nice scenery). I totally recommend it. Another book with Greek characters is the 2002 Pullitzer winner “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Who are your top three favorite characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?
Lisa: Again, I feel like I can’t contribute much to this question since I don’t know many characters from books, movies or shows but one of my favourite characters is Calliope Stephanides from the Pulitzer winner novel of Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex. The book is a wonderful story by itself but Callie is also one of the best narrators I’ve ever read a story from. I didn’t mention the book above because the story involves a Greek-American family living in the States which I don’t think is representative of Greek culture.

Artemis: A good and enjoyable movie that portrait the life of Greek painter Dominikos Theotokopoulos was El Greko.

Also, I would recommend to everyone to read ancient Greek mythology. The strong heroes lead lives full of suspense, twists and lots of drama.

Zizeloni: As I mentioned above, it is hard to find a character in general, let alone pick our favorites. I will choose the second-generation Greek Cal (Callie) Stephanides from Middlesex. I also liked her grandmother Desdemona (NOT a Greek name, very mad with Eugenides for some of his name choices…) for managing to become a somewhat independent woman despite coming from a small village in Asia Minor, where a woman’s fate was to get married and become housewives. She found a job, she was very good at it, and she managed to deal with her husband (who started becoming a problem) in her own way. 

And finally, Pelagia’s father in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Dr. Iannis is a very educated man, the doctor of the island, also interested a lot in Greek history. While the rest of the island (we are talking 1940s here) are uneducated and as a result pretty close-minded people, Dr. Iannis is teaching his daughter how to be a doctor, sees the Italians occupying his house as people and not animals, and is in general a wonderful person.

Thank you, Lisa, Artemis and Zizeloni, for this very informative post! I hope everyone enjoyed reading it. Come back next week for So Your Character is from Lebanon ...!

Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Spain, Denmark, Kenya, Argentina, Iraq, and Egypt.

Do you have any characters from Greece? Did this inspire you to write a Greek character or set a book in Greece? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for these ladies? Be sure to thank them!

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