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Doing Justice to the Classics

Site Blames “Decline” of Greece on Loss of Racial Purity

American Renaissance is a site edited by Jared Taylor, whom the SPLC calls “a courtly presenter of ideas that most would describe as crudely white supremacist, a kind of modern-day version of the refined but racist colonialist of old.” Alongside promotions for an all-white dating service and a racist book by a former Classics professor that is favorably reviewed by a neo-eugenics site is a post asking “What Race were the Greeks and Romans?” This article claims that the ancient Greeks of the Classical period were descended from “Nordic” northern Europeans and that the later “decline” of Greece resulted from the thinning of that “Nordic” blood. The post aims to provide a historical example of a threat that American Renaissance warns its readers about on its “Our Issues” page: “If whites permit themselves to become a minority population, they will lose their civilization, their heritage, and even their existence as a distinct people.”

The claim that the ancient Greeks were of “Nordic” descent is one that Pharos has documented on other white supremacist sites. The American Renaissance article claims that both the Greeks and Romans were “Nordic.” Here Pharos documents this site’s argument about Greece and will return to Rome in a future post.

The article claims that white and blonde “Nordic” invaders “most likely from the middle Danube River Valley” in northern Europe conquered the darker-skinned and -haired Minoans and Pelasgians who previously lived in Greece. It argues that this took place in four waves: the first two waves established the Mycenaean culture, the third “Achaean” wave conquered that culture, and the fourth “Dorian” wave replaced the Achaeans. After this, “Classical Greece was a fusion, both cultural and racial, of these two types of whites” with Sparta and Thebes cited as examples of “predominantly Nordic” cities. The article cites Werner Jaeger, who, writing in 1939, said the “national type of the invader remained purest in Sparta.” Racist and nationalist movements’ admiration for Sparta has been documented by Pharos previously.

The article’s warning to whites: "It is almost as if today’s northern Europeans have set out perfectly to imitate the ways in which the Greeks destroyed themselves."

After charting this supposed rise of Nordic blood, the article asks “What became of the Nordic Greeks?” It claims that two factors erased this identity: first, “protracted internecine war” such as the Peloponnesian War and especially conflicts between Sparta and Thebes “which pitted Nordics against Nordics.” Second, marriage with wealthy but non-Nordic women: “money was,” it claims, “as always a racial solvent,” citing as evidence a passage of Theognis saying that “race is confounded of riches” when a “good man” marries “the bad daughter of a bad sire if the father give him many possessions.”

The article concludes with its warning to whites: “Viewed in a historical context, it is almost as if today’s northern Europeans have set out perfectly to imitate the ways in which the Greeks destroyed themselves…will we be able to resist the forces that brought down the ancients?” According to the article, in America as in antiquity, the purity of the white race has been weakened by “patriotic young men slaughter[ing] each other in terrible fratricidal wars,” by “the descendants of slaves” becoming “the majority in many great cities,” and by the “mass immigration of aliens.”

Evidence for any "invasion" is inconclusive, and there is even less evidence for the white supremacists’ specific claim, that the invaders were "Nordic"

American Renaissance‘s article picks up on a 19th century theory of a “Dorian Invasion” of ancient Greece. The theory is based on the ancient myth of the return of the descendants of Heracles to Greece following a period of exile, but archaeological evidence for any “invasion” of this type is inconclusive. There is even less evidence for the white supremacists’ specific claim, that the invaders were “Nordic” northern Europeans.

For evidence the article points primarily to the “famed” 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica which, in 1911, said that “the early Greeks, or Hellenes, were Nordic, one of ‘the fair-haired tribes of upper Europe known to the ancients as Keltoi.’” It claims that this “pre-1960s consensus” is not refuted by arguments that such 19th century “theories of racial origins” are a product of the racist biases of that period because one source (The Penguin Historial Atlas of Ancient Greece) does not explicitly list the “dubious presumptions” on which such theories were based. The article also claims that “classical historians today are silent on the subject” of the racial identity of the ancient Greeks and believe that “it is not something worth looking into.” (Scholars’ contributions to Pharos’ series on the casting of a black actor to play Achilles refute this, as does Pharos contributor Rebecca Futo Kennedy’s article on the racist persistence of the “invasion” myth).

In addition to a 1911 encyclopedia article and the fact that “a hundred years ago, Europeans took it for granted that many Greeks were the same race as themselves,” the article cites the following evidence in support of its contention that the ancient Greeks of the Classical period were descended from northern European invaders.

  • “Later Greeks,” it says, “attributed” the fall of Mycenean palaces “to invasions from the north,” which the article takes to refer to northern European Achaeans.
  • It mentions (without citation) passages from ancient literature that praise or at least mention blonde hair among the Greeks.
  • It claims that “experts have determined from microscopic paint particles that [Praxiteles’] Aphrodite was painted blonde,” citing Joanna Pitman’s 2003 book On Blondes.
  • It describes the blue-eyed, blonde-haired sculpture of Athena in the Nashville Parthenon as a “faithful copy” of Phidias’ “masterwork” and is “modeled on descriptions of the original,” though Pausanias’ description, at least, makes no mention of the hair or eye color.
  • “Even a cursory examination of ancient marble reliefs, statues, and busts,” it claims, shows faces that “could just as easily be those of Celtic chieftains or Viking kings.”

American Renaissance features advertisements, so we have linked above to archived versions of the page. The article itself may be viewed here.

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