Greece set the foundations of our civilization primarily because of her legacy of knowledge.
Homer, Plato, Aristotle and Archimedes, and a galaxy of other thinkers spanning more than a thousand years, wrote books full of facts and questions about society, the natural world and the cosmos.
Greek books of mathematics, science, medicine, engineering and philosophy opened the eyes of the humanists in early modern times, triggering a revolution in thought that made our "modern" world.
If this Greek contribution to civilization seems at odds with the plight of the Greeks in 2013, the explanation comes from history.
The Greeks thrived not merely because, like Plato said, reason was their king. Their other pillar was religion. They sought spiritual sustenance in many gods like Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Hephaestus, Athena and Demeter.
These gods were immortal beings out of society and the cosmos. Zeus was the god of thunder, lightening, and rain. He was also the god of hospitality and justice. His daughter, Athena, was the goddess of knowledge and wisdom -- and of the olive tree. Athena's mother, Metis, was the goddess of intelligence. Poseidon reigned in the seas. Hephaestus was fire, metallurgy and technology. Apollo was light, music and prophecy. His oracle at Delphi was the central strategic policy institute of Greece. Demeter, sister of Zeus, was wheat and rural culture. Another god, Dionysus, was wine and the tragic theater. The life of Athens was basically the celebration of Dionysus.
The Greeks honored their gods with masterpieces of art, literature, theater, and architecture. The Parthenon was dedicated to Athena. The Olympics was a hymn to Zeus.
The Greeks also decoded the cosmos in order to understand the movements of the Earth, the sun, the moon and the planets, which were also gods. Indeed, they invented the world's first computer, the Antikythera mechanism, to predict the eclipses of the sun and the moon.
All this broke down in the fourth century. By that time, Greece was a province of Rome. The Roman emperor Constantine raised Christianity to the throne. Christianity then smashed the Greek temples, abolished the Olympics, and forcibly spread its ideas in Greece. But not all Greeks abandoned their culture. Indeed, key Greek texts remained the textbooks of the Greek schools.
When Greek books lit up the Renaissance in the 15th century, hordes of Muslim Turks overran Greece.
In the 1820s, Greece got rid of the Turks and has been free ever since.
The Europeans resent the living Greeks, however. They want to have a monopoly of the Greek legacy. They and the Americans stock their museums with art they continue to plunder from their "archaeological" excavations in Greece.
In general, the West ignores the Greeks, usually treating their country like a colony. When the Greeks won the first victory in WWII, the Western allies quickly forgot it. And after the war ended, Greece got practically nothing from the Germans who leveled Greece and murdered tens of thousands of Greeks.
Then the American-triggered financial meltdown of 2008 struck. This time rapacious moneylenders joined the West's contempt for Greece and ignited another occupation of the country.
The occupiers formed a troika made up of America's International Monetary Fund and Europe's Central Bank as well as the European Commission. These bankers terrorized the Greek government. They put aside Greek sovereignty, thus violating Greek and international law and all standards of decency and civilization. They imposed such an inhumane "austerity" on the Greeks that, within three years, 2009-2012, they spread homelessness, hunger, and destitution all over the country.
So this is why the Greeks in 2013 appear to be so far removed from their ancestors. The financiers of the West, barbarians in pin-stripped suits, are trying to steal Greece from the Greeks. First of all, they ordered the Greek government to sell all its assets at bargain-basement prices.
For example, the Greek government sold a gold mine near Thessaloniki in northern Greece to the Canadian Eldorado Gold Corporation. But the Greeks rejected that sellout. Protesters recently burned the mine down. If and when such a colonial deal materializes, the Eldorado Company will devour forests and groundwater, and will contaminate the region with poisons, injuring public health, fishing, and tourism.
Second, the troika sees sun-drenched Greece as a perfect track of land for condominiums and tourism. Forget Homer. Who cares for Aristotle and Archimedes?
Aeschylus, the fifth century BCE Athenian poet, predicted Erinyes, the avenging furies, stalk men like the moneylenders, grinding them down to death.
I would also hope patriotic Greeks and philhellenes rush to prevent this occupation of Greece from becoming final. They need to kick the troika out of the country. Clearly, the IMF and the European Union are a façade for moneylenders. What they did to Greece assures their oblivion. This is particularly true for the EU.
Greeks must return to their own currency and terminate payments to the lenders. They need to restart their independence by producing all their food. Create public works to raise hope and income. And invest in knowledge, an asset of Greece from the ancient times to today.
 Knopp, Guido (2009) (in German). Die Wehrmacht - Eine Bilanz. Goldmann.