Beware of Greeks bearing gifts: Metaphors as viruses in discourses on the Greek crisis | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2052-3971
  • E-ISSN: 2052-398X



During negotiations in February 2015 over the Greek debt crisis, a German official was widely quoted referring to the latest Greek offer as a ‘Trojan horse’ designed to sabotage the latest bailout package. The recent economic debacle and the threat of a ‘Grexit’ from the eurozone produced a veritable outbreak of tropes in the classical style: Greece is Europe’s ‘Achilles heel’, its collapse a ‘modern Greek tragedy’, its prospects for recovery ‘Sisyphean’, etc. What are the effects of these classicizing clichés – all of which function, in effect, as Trojan horses – on the debate over European unity and identity, past, present and future? A closer examination of these suggests that they constitute important weapons or antidotes for conceptualizing and, by the same token, quarantining Greece as a form of economic, political and cultural ruin metastasizing within the European body politic. But the effort to ward off the virus of the Greek ruin only helps transmit it. What finally underlies Europe’s resentment of Greece is the anxiety produced by the metaphorical itself: the fear that Greece is either not enough or too much like Europe.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): contagion; debt crisis; gift; Grexit; metaphor; rhetoric; ruin; Trojan horse; virus
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