Language represents one of the most important elements of Greek culture. Since ancient times, the Greeks have long imparted wisdom to the world by way of poetry and philosophy. We have all read and loved the great words of wisdom of many great Greek scholars and philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Today, however, we will take a look at some common Greek proverbs.
Proverbs, along with fables, folktales, and folk songs, are parts of every spoken language. There is a host of wise proverbs and sayings in the Greek culture as well that have been passed down across generations. These words provoke thought and illustrate just how deeply Greeks see the world around them.
1. 'Είπε ο γάιδαρος τον πετεινό κεφάλα'
Meaning: This proverb refers to the situation when the one who is mocking the other about a particular characteristic, themselves possess the same trait.
2. 'Αγάλι-αγάλι γίνεται η αγουρίδα μέλι'
Meaning: These words suggest that it takes time for anything to grow – be it people, ideas, or projects. If you are willing to be patient, then you will eventually be rewarded.
3. ‘Όταν λείπει η γάτα, χορεύουν τα ποντίκια.’
Meaning: This means that when a person in authority, say a boss or a family head, is away, people do or behave the way they want. It implies that when people have no fear of authority over them, they may break rules or misbehave.
4. ‘Μάτια που δε βλέπονται, γρήγορα λησμονιούνται.’
Meaning: It says that we soon forget people or things that are no longer visible or present in front of us. In other words - out of sight, out of mind.
5. ‘Η γλώσσα κόκαλα δεν έχει, αλλά κόκαλα τσακίζει.’
Meaning: The tongue may not have bones, but it can crush. Because powerful words can hurt or bring down anyone.
6. ‘Η καμήλα δε βλέπει την καμπούρα της.’
Meaning: This refers to those situations when someone easily criticizes and points out other people’s weaknesses, without thinking of their own faults.
7. ‘Oι πολλές γνώμες βουλιάζουν το καράβι.’
Meaning: This saying suggests that you won’t be able to make any correct decision if you listen to too many opinions. Because eventually, you will end up being confused.
8. ‘Από αγκάθι βγαίνει ρόδο και από ρόδο αγκάθι.'
Meaning: This says that a person shouldn’t be characterized as good or bad based on their parents' character. Just because someone’s parents have particular traits or skills, doesn’t mean their child too will have the same.
9. ‘Όταν καείς από τον χυλό, φυσάς και το γιαούρτι.’
Meaning: This is used to describe those who have faced a difficult situation in the past and have hence become overly cautious. They have been so badly hurt that even when a seemingly good situation arises in front of them, they continue to behave extra guardedly for fear of being hurt again.
10. Έξω από τον χορό πολλά τραγούδια λέγονται.’
Meaning: It refers to those people who give advice to someone in a difficult situation while having never experienced anything similar themselves. It's hence wrong of them to judge the person they are giving advice to.
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