The Bicentennial of Modern Greece
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
An examination of 200 years passed with an eye to the 200 years ahead
Over the course of the next year, celebrations across Greece and the Diaspora will abound, commemorating 2021 as the 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek Revolution. Throughout these celebrations, we will issue a series of articles relating to the Revolution, covering notable events and individuals, the role of outside aid, how the Revolution was inspired, and its impact on the historical West as well as its present day relevance.
All good Greeks know that, in March 1821, the people of Greece, oppressed for four hundred years by the Ottoman Empire, declared a revolution to fight for their freedom and independence. They know that Bouboulina, Kolokotronis, the Filiki Etairia, and countless individuals and groups fought to create the modern Greek state. They know the mantra that "One hour of freedom is worth more than forty years of slavery and prison." ("Καλυτερα μιας ωρας ελευθερη ζωη παρα σαραντα χρονια σκλαβια και φυλακη"). And they know that, every March, all Greeks come together to shout "Ζητω Η Ελλαδα!" and children gather to recite poems, while everyone marches in parades.
But who recited the words we repeat each year and what were their roles? Why did these people risk and sacrifice their lives and livelihood for the opportunity to be free from Ottoman rule? What is our role in preserving this history? These are the questions that we should ask throughout the year ahead in celebrating the Bicentennial.
And, as we ask these questions, we will find that the Revolution is more than a story of the creation of Greece. It is the fight for the idea of freedom. It is the story of all people from every region uniting for a common cause. It is intertwined with the rest of Western history, occurring on the heels of the American and French revolutions and serving as the spark for the spirit of independence in other areas of Europe. It built relationships between Greece and Philhellenes throughout Europe and North America; and, is therefore, an important piece of history for Greeks, but also other Europeans, Canadians, and Americans.
By learning about the above, we will grow to understand that each piece of our shared history is a brick that creates the foundation on which the modern Western world was built and on which the current and next generation can continue to expand. So, as the year moves forward, we will drill deeper into the above topics, shedding light on and bringing to life the incredibly modern history of Greece and the West. And with this information, we will tie our shared past to our modern day and examine how Hellenes and Philhellenes alike can take a page from the books of their ancestors to unite and learn about the issues of yesterday, solve the issues of today, and build our communities a better tomorrow.
The photo used above is "The Reception of Lord Byron at Missolonghi," created by Theodoros Vryzakis (1861) and contained in the National Gallery of Greece.
Subscribe to the Series:
In celebration of Greece 2021, we will be issuing a series of articles meant to discuss the history of the Greek Revolution, the role of the West in its success, and its impact on the world. To subscribe to our blog, visit our Home page and click subscribe.