Shocking examples of kleptocracy by the political elite explain the ferocity of the reaction. And it is this which has repercussions for the rest of Europe.
Thieves! Thieves!" cry the protesters outside the Greek parliament in Syntagma Square, although thief is not the most colourful allegation being levelled at the Greek ruling class.
The scenes are now familiar to TV viewers across the world: the angry banners, the scuffles or sometimes more serious violence, the petrol bombs and tear gas, the world's media, including battle-tested war reporters, descending.
The latest wave of Hellenic protesters call itself Aganaktismenoi, in the spirit of the Spanish indignados, a broad-based and non-party-political movement. The silent majority is, at last, finding a voice. Around me, in Athens, the fear, outrage, despair are palpable. But there is also a profound sense of bewilderment at a situation from which there appears no escape, and to which the only response is a call for more economic pain made by some of the same people who created the fiasco.
How did it come to this? How fair is this charge of "Thieves"? Did Greek politicians simply loot their own country, and EU taxpayers, for personal gain? There is truth in this tale, but...