Your RDA of Irony

The Story of Hanukkah: Hellas, No. We Won’t Go!

In the second century BCJ (before Cousin Jesus), Syria extended far beyond the borders of the country that we know and love. It also included Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Israel and Lebanon. (Lebanon still may be part of Syria.) This very large kingdom was a fragment of Alexander’s Empire that had been divided among his generals. Seleucus grabbed it, and his ancestors continued to rule it two centuries later.

Seleucus was Greek as was the ruling caste; and these Hellenes made themselves comfortable by recreating the Greek culture in their kingdom. The same was true of the other grasping Greek and Macedonian generals. Egypt, under the Ptolemies, was Hellenized. There were Hellenized satraps in Afghanistan and India. (Even the statues of Buddha started to look remarkably like Apollo.)

A descendant of Seleucus, Antiochus the Third attempted to expand his empire into Greece. However, Rome had the same idea at the same time. Guess who won? The Romans pushed him out of Greece and then defeated him in Asia Minor (190 B.C)

His son Antiochus the Fourth inherited a smaller empire; however, he tried to make it more cohesive by imposing uniform Hellenization. But one province, with a very idiosyncratic theology, did not really appreciate the glories and gifts of Greek civilization.

Who could resist all the enticements of Western civilization? Art, theater, medicine, bathing! Had we been a little more receptive, “Pygmalion” could have been a musical 2000 years sooner.

My ancestors must have been real ingrates. In fact, those Semitic fundamentalists were so unappreciative of imposed western values, that they rose in rebellion. (Do you think that history repeats itself?)

The Greeks were then obliging enough to lose the war. This was at a time when the Jews hardly ever won–obviously long before there were Nobel prizes in Economics or Emmy Awards for comedy writers.

In any case, but for Jennifer Aniston’s ancestors, we wouldn’t have Hanukkah as a psychological shield against the veritable avalanche of Christmas.

  1. SwanShadow says:

    Happy Hanukkah, Eugene! I hope that you and your family enjoy a wonderful holiday.

  2. Brent says:

    And from the rest of us: Merry Festivus, celebrated on December 23 this year, with mikvahs aplenty and ritual readings of Your RDA of Irony. Best wishes to Karen for good health in 2009.

  3. Peggles says:

    Happy Hanukkah, Eugene. My best wishes for a new year of happiness and good health for you and Karen. By the way, I have it on good authority, that on December 25, there are no calories or fat grams in ice cream. Go for it!

  4. Speaking for Karen as well as myself, thank you all for your good wishes.


    While others were buying rock salt to prepare for the next snow fall here, I bought 18 pints of ice cream. Of course,they were on sale–I am a practical glutton.

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