Winston Churchill? Demetrius Caclamanos? John Rupert Colville? Queen Frederika of Greece? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: A family of statements highlights the valor of military forces. Here are two examples:
Henceforth we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks
Finns don’t fight like heroes; heroes fight like Finns
These sayings use a rhetorical technique called antimetabole in which clauses are repeated while keywords are transposed. The first statement above has often been attributed to statesman Winston Churchill, but I am skeptical because I have not seen a solid citation. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in “The Manchester Guardian” of England in April 1941 within an article by Greek diplomat Demetrius Caclamanos. Boldface added to excepts by QI: 1941 April 18, The Manchester Guardian, The Campaign in Greece by Demetrius Caclamanos (former Greek Minister to Britain), Start Page 4, Quote Page 6, Column 2, Manchester, England. (Newspapers_com)
It was rightly said that “people will not say any more that the Greeks fight like heroes but heroes fight like Greeks.”
Caclamanos’s article discussed the attack on Greece by the forces of Italy and Germany during World War II in 1940 and 1941. Greek forces were initially able to repulse the attacks although the country was ultimately conquered by the Axis powers. The phrasing above signaled that Caclamanos was disclaiming credit for the quotation. Based on current evidence QI believes that the authorship of the saying remains anonymous.
The saying was attributed to Winston Churchill by 1951, but that late date meant the evidence was weak. See the 1951 citation presented further below.
Richard Langworth who is the top expert on Winston Churchill quotations has examined this topic in a posting on his website. Langworth searched a massive digital corpus containing millions of words written by and about Churchill, but he did not find evidence supporting the ascription. Langworth stated “It’s rather good, but I cannot track that quotation”.Website: Richard Langworth, Article title: “Greeks Fight Like Heroes – Heroes Fight Like Greeks”: Not By Churchill, Article author: Richard Langworth, Date on website: November 5, 2021, Website … Continue reading
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1941 April 18, The Manchester Guardian, The Campaign in Greece by Demetrius Caclamanos (former Greek Minister to Britain), Start Page 4, Quote Page 6, Column 2, Manchester, England. (Newspapers_com)|
|↑2||Website: Richard Langworth, Article title: “Greeks Fight Like Heroes – Heroes Fight Like Greeks”: Not By Churchill, Article author: Richard Langworth, Date on website: November 5, 2021, Website description: Discussion of quotations correctly and incorrectly attributed to Winston Churchill. (Accessed richardlangworth.com on June 14, 2022) link|