When it comes to Agon, we refer to the
manner the comedy-like activities are performed in the daily life of the
Greeks. Agon refers to the formal convention according to which the struggle
between the characters should be scripted in order to supply the basis of the
action. Agon is a formal debate which takes place between the chief characters
in a Greek play, protagonist and antagonist, usually with the chorus acting as
We can easily spot
the motives suggested by Agon in all aspects of Greek society. Politics,
political actions and debates, social arenas, collectivistic activities, TV programs, etcetera are often organized like Agon.
A modern Greek debate that reminds us of Agon
Greece is a country
of spectacle, music and discussion and public critic. Greeks revel when
communicating in an expressive manner, while the level of noise tends to be
high in public spaces. People tend to congregate rather than be isolated from
one another. Bystanders do not mind becoming part of the action like the
audience of the ancient theater either. Thus, the externalities of Agon on
everyday Greek life and activities are more than obvious.
The Chorus, though
it no longer told the story, was very important, for it set the atmosphere of
the play. The Chorus also served another purpose. Even today, in extreme
occasions, when the intensity of a situation (perceived as a lifestyle,
political, cultural change etc threat) becomes almost too great for any Greek
to bear, relief is often found in some very comic episode which is introduced
to slacken the tension. The Chorus executed this by a song of purest poetry.
In addition, the
mission of the Chorus was to preconceive the audience that the comedy is
acceptable and pleasant, in other terms that it was “safe”. Greeks are not at
all comfortable in ambiguous situations: the unforeseen is always there ready
to “lay an ambush”. In Greece, as in all high uncertainty avoidance societies,
bureaucracy, laws and rules are very important to make the world a safer place
to live in, even though they do not always work.
Greeks need to have
good and relaxing moments in their everyday life, chatting with colleagues,
enjoying a long meal or dancing with guests and friends. Due to their high
score in this dimension Greeks are very passionate and demonstrative people:
emotions are easily shown in their body language, small group behavior,
greeting behavior, even in their traditions. The Chorus respected these
exteriority characteristics and reproduced them during its actions, as a
micrography of the Greek society.
Last but not least,
in Thesmophoriazusae there are two Choruses. The doubling of the Chorus is a
phenomenon that is repeated both in The Frogs and in Lysistrata, where the two
choruses (Old Men and Old Women), appear on stage together after entering
separately. The interconnection of the two choruses with the direction of the
collective unconscious (as suggested by both Plato and Carl Jung) for both
ancient and modern Greeks is more than obvious. The Greek people still pay
attention to the elders, since they subconsciously form an archetype for wisdom
and respect. Masculinity and femininity social Greek models are also exposed
here; If we try to visualize the double Chorus process, it shows that Greek
women have the dynamics to be equal to men in terms of social activities, even
though, since ancient times, they often tended to stay in the house and define
their social status by satisfying their family needs. A controversy that still
exists in modern society.
Does the Greek woman still heterodefine her social role?
In short, a cultural metaphor represents a way to obtain new and deep insights into a group's or nation's culture. Cultural metaphors also provide a method for discussing cross-cultural issues, differences, and similarities in a collegial rather than a stereotypical and perhaps hostile fashion. In developing such insights, it is critical that the cross-cultural research be taken into consideration, and it is for this reason that both the dimensional perspective and the communication perspective should supplement cultural metaphors. Cultural metaphors represent only a starting point for understanding a culture; they are easy to use, but do require much thought to avoid inaccurate stereotyping; and they can be supplemented by other methods. Most importantly, cultural metaphors allow managers with limited time to gain some understanding of a group or nation's culture that they can apply quickly to the myriad problems that they face daily in international activities.
Within the field of
international marketing, cross-cultural consumer behavior, organization and management studies, Prof. Martin J. Gannonuses
cultural metaphors to describe, compare, and analyze national cultures
worldwide. In order to explore in-depth the unique cultural characteristics of
a nation, Gannon adopts an emic approach, focusing on the qualitative
examination of cultural symbols, practices, and institutions within their local
For the existing
cross-cultural research into a country or a nation, the most influential one is
the three-dimensional approach developed by Kluckholn, Strodtbeck, Hall and
Hofstede. Their dimensions of culture, such as power distance, uncertainty
avoidance, individualism-collectivism, masculinity, time orientation constitute
a base upon which a majority of more recent studies have been built. Their
works have been invaluable in the area of cross-cultural studies. However,
their works are somewhat incomplete. Gannon noticed that the dimensional
approach had weaknesses like :
We should not look at a dimension separately,
since culture is a complex whole, and psychological phenomena are multiply
Can be atheoretical
(i.e., always need theory regarding why dimensions exist).
cross-cultural psychology tends to examine one dimension
Are extremely broad,
and miss important elements.
Can obfuscate within
culture diversity and dynamics of culture.
Gannon was based on
all four aforementioned dimensional approaches but also on the following
elements, which he suggests that should be carefully examined so that a the
protocol for a cultural metaphor is applied. Usually, three to seven of these
features of the metaphor, that include elements like below, are needed:
The Greek Comedy
Is the Greek Comedy a good cultural metaphor for Greece? Can it meet Gannon's criteria? Let's discover!
Humor & Komodia
The word komodia
means literally in Greek "party (-komos-) song (-odi-)" and, if this
is any indication of its origin, then comedy stems from revels (komoi) where
partiers (komastai) sang songs (odai) in which they teased, mocked and made
fools of spectators or public figures. Aristophanes used to target and mock
Kleon, a famous Athenian demagogue, through its plays. Satira, the modern word
of comedy, still dominant nowadays, is externalized in small-group discussions,
organized team activities, modern Greek theatres and mass media communication
channels, by teasing politicians, celebrities and in general influencing the
public, social and political behavior in Greece.
Apart from teasing
politicians and celebrities, in most Aristophanes comedies, Gods and goddesses
were personified abstractions who seldom appeared in his plays. That means,
comedies usually boosted the eternal need of the Greek people till today;
Greeks like to feel free. They do not like to be dictated by superior forces
and dislike the effects of any power mechanisms on their everyday life.
Prologue & Parodos
the mood and gives some idea as to what the audience can expect to occur. In
Prologue - Parodos, the topic of discussion is set between the two debaters and
it is implied to the audience that the debate will be refereed. This part of
the comedy is representative of the ideas and the innovations that democracy
and freedom of speech has established, as a public and politics activity. This
concept is in fact the foundation of western civilization.
Parodos process has a direct association with modern Greek entertainment.
Parodos provided entertainment, accomplished with music, dance and extravagant
spectacle, which is still what modern Greeks seek for, as regards their leisure
pursuits and interests. In addition, the high noise levels produced during
Parodos can be characterized as a prelude of the aural space of modern Greeks,
who usually tolerate high noises as part of their routine.
Leisure interests and aural space in Greece.
Last but not least,
Parodos reflects how Greek relationships, both professional and private, are
early structured. Greeks tend to convey their feelings and thoughts, at least
partially at the beginning of a relationship, usually the other party has some
understanding of what will unfold, but it is only an imperfect preview, like
Parodos suggested, because the unexpected frequently occurs.