One multiculturalist tactic for diminishing the Greeks is to deny their originality, asserting that they begged, borrowed or stole their ideas from other cultures. We need not dwell on Afrocentrism, the idea that the Greeks stole everything good they knew from black Egyptians; the incoherence and historical ignorance of this theory have been amply and repeatedly demonstrated. But even scholars who should know better indulge the current fashion for Greek-bashing by attributing their achievements to a vaguely defined East ... That the Greeks borrowed from their Mediterranean neighbours is obvious: no human society lives in a vacuum, untouched by the customs of other peoples ... More important, however, is what the Greeks made of their borrowings. Consider the Greek alphabet, the elements of which were adapted from the Phoenician around the 9th century. The Greek changes ... made possible in just a few centuries the language of Homer's epics and Sappho's lyrics, a literary speech unrivalled in expressive power ... by anything found among the few remnants of Phoenician writing.