Greek nationalism

Greek nationalism (or Hellenic nationalism) refers to the nationalism of Greeks and Greek culture.[1] As an ideology, Greek nationalism originated and evolved in pre-modern times.[2][3][4] It became a major political movement beginning in the 18th century, which culminated in the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829) against the Ottoman Empire.[1] It became a potent movement in Greece shortly prior to, and during World War I under the leadership of nationalist figure Eleftherios Venizelos who pursued the Megali Idea and managed to liberate Greece in the Balkan Wars and after World War I, briefly annexed the region of İzmir before it was retaken by Turkey.[1] Today Greek nationalism remains important in the Macedonian issue and Greco-Turkish dispute over Cyprus.[1]


Greek hoplite (right) and Persian warrior (left) depicted fighting, on an ancient kylix, 5th century BC.
"Grateful Hellas" by Theodoros Vryzakis.

The establishment of Panhellenic sites served as an essential component in the growth and self-consciousness of Greek nationalism.[2] During the Greco-Persian Wars of the 5th century BCE, Greek nationalism was formally established though mainly as an ideology rather than a political reality since some Greek states were still allied with the Persian Empire.[3] Aristotle and Hippocrates offered a theoretical approach on the superiority of the Greek tribes.[5]

When the Byzantine Empire was ruled by the Paleologi dynasty (1261–1453), a new era of Greek patriotism emerged, accompanied by a turning back to ancient Greece.[4] Some prominent personalities at the time also proposed changing the Imperial title from "basileus and autocrat of the Romans" to "Emperor of the Hellenes".[4] This enthusiasm for the glorious past constituted an element that was present in the movement that led to the creation of the modern Greek state, in 1830, after four centuries of Ottoman imperial rule.[4]

Popular movements calling for enosis (the incorporation of disparate Greek-populated territories into a greater Greek state) resulted in the accession of Crete (1908), Ionian Islands (1864) and Dodecanese (1947). Calls for enosis were also a feature of Cypriot politics during British Rule. During the troubled interwar years, some Greek nationalists viewed Orthodox Christian Albanians, Aromanians and Bulgarians as communities that could be assimilated into the Greek nation.[6] Greek irredentism, the "Megali Idea" suffered a setback in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922), and the Greek genocide. Since then, Greco-Turkish relations have been characterized by tension between Greek and Turkish nationalism, culminating in the Turkish invasion of Cyprus (1974).

Nationalism played a significant role in Greek politics during the first century and a half of existence of the Greek state. Nationalist parties, past and present, include:


See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d Motyl 2001, "Greek Nationalism", pp. 201–203.
  2. ^ a b Burckhardt 1999, p. 168: "The establishment of these Panhellenic sites, which yet remained exclusively Hellenic, was a very important element in the growth and self-consciousness of Hellenic nationalism; it was uniquely decisive in breaking down enmity between tribes, and remained the most powerful obstacle to fragmentation into mutually hostile poleis."
  3. ^ a b Wilson 2006, "Persian Wars", pp. 555–556.
  4. ^ a b c d Vasiliev 1952, p. 582.
  5. ^ Hope 2007, p. 177: "Hippocrates and Aristotle both theorized the geography was responsible for the differences between peoples. Not surprisingly, both writers theorized their own Greek tribes as superior to all other human collectives."
  6. ^ Çaǧaptay 2006, p. 161.


  • Burckhardt, Jacob (1999) [1872]. The Greeks and Greek Civilization. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-24447-7.
  • Çaǧaptay, Soner (2006). Islam, Secularism, and Nationalism in Modern Turkey: Who is a Turk?. London and New York: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group). ISBN 978-0-415-38458-2.
  • Hope, Laura Leigh Bevis (2007). Staging the Nation/Confronting Nationalism: Theatre and Performance by Contemporary Irish and German Women. Davis, CA: University of California, Davis.
  • Motyl, Alexander J. (2001). Encyclopedia of Nationalism, Volume II. London and San Diego: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-08-054524-0.
  • Vasiliev, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich (1952). History of the Byzantine Empire, 324–1453, Volume II. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-80926-3.
  • Wilson, Nigel (2006). Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. New York, NY: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group). ISBN 978-1-136-78799-7.

Further readingEdit