Hellenic studies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Hellenic Studies (also Greek Studies) is an interdisciplinary scholarly field that focuses on the study of language, literature, history, and politics of post-classical Greece. Through a wide range of courses, students are exposed to a range of viewpoints which help them understand the historical and political experiences of Byzantine, Ottoman and modern Greece; the ways in which Greece has borne its several pasts and translated them into the modern era; and the distinguished literary and artistic traditions of a country that many regard as the birthplace of Western civilization.


Hellenic refers to a period in Ancient Greek history between 507 BCE (the date of the first democracy in Athens) and 323 BCE (the death of Alexander the Great). This period is also referred to as the age of Classical Greece and should not be confused with The Hellenistic World, which designates the period between the death of Alexander and Rome's conquest of Greece (323 - 146 - 31 BCE). The Hellenic World of ancient Greece consisted of the Greek mainland, Crete, the islands of the Greek archipelago, and the coast of Asia Minor primarily (though mention is made of cities within the interior of Asia Minor and, of course, the colonies in southern Italy). This is the time of the great Golden Age of Greece and, in the popular imagination, resonates as 'ancient Greece'.

The great law-giver, Solon, having served wisely as Archon of Athens for 22 years, retired from public life and saw the city, almost immediately, fall under the dictatorship of Peisistratus. Though a dictator, Peisistratus understood the wisdom of Solon, carried on his policies and, after his death, his son Hippias continued in this tradition (though still maintaining a dictatorship which favored the aristocracy). After the assassination of his younger brother (inspired, according to Thucydides, by a love affair gone wrong and not, as later thought, politically motivated), however, Hippias became wary of the people of Athens, instituted a rule of terror, and was finally overthrown by the army under Kleomenes I of Sparta and Cleisthenes of Athens. Cleisthenes reformed the constitution of Athens and established democracy in the city during 507 BCE. He also followed Solon's lead, but in addition, instituted new laws, which decreased the power of the artistocracy, increased the prestige of the common people, and attempted to join the separate tribes of the mountain, the plain, and the shore into one, unified people under a new form of government. According to the historian Durant, "The Athenians themselves were exhilarated by this adventure into sovereignty...they knew the zest of freedom in action, speech, and thought; and from that moment they began to lead all Greece in literature and art, even in statesmanship and war" (126). This foundation of democracy, of a free state consisting of men who "owned the soil that they tilled and who ruled the state that governed them", stabilized Athens and provided the groundwork for the Golden Age.

The list of thinkers, writers, doctors, artists, scientists, statesmen, and warriors of the Hellenic World comprises those who made some of the most important contributions to western civilization: The statesman Solon, the poets Pindar and Sappho, the playwrights Sophocles, Euripedes, Aeschylus and Aristophanes, the orator Lysias, the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, the philosophers Zeno of Elea, Protagoras of Abdera, Empedocles of Acragas, Heraclitus, Xenophanes, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the writer and general Xenophon, the physician Hippocrates, the sculptor Phidias, the statesman Pericles, the generals Alcibiades and Themistocles and many more lived during this period. The Golden Age of Greece, according to the poet Shelley, "is undoubtedly...the most memorable in the history of the world" for the accomplishments and advancements made by the people of that time. Interestingly, Herodotus considered his own age as lacking in many ways and looked back to a more ancient past for a paradigm of a true greatness. The writer Hesiod, an 8th-century BCE contemporary of Homer, claimed precisely the same thing about the age Herodotus looked back toward and called his own age "wicked, depraved and dissolute" and hoped the future would produce a better breed of man for Greece. Herodotus aside, however, it is generally understood that the Hellenic World was a time of incredible human achievement.

Major city-states and sacred places of pilgrimage, in the Hellenic World, were Argos, Athens, Eleusis, Corinth, Delphi, Ithaca, Olympia, Sparta, Thebes, Thrace, and, of course, Mount Olympus, the home of the gods. The gods played an important part in the lives of the people of the Hellenic World; so much so that one could face the death penalty for questioning - or even allegedly questioning - their existence, as in the case of Protagoras, Socrates, and Alcibiades (the Athenian statesman Critias, sometimes referred to as `the first atheist', only escaped being condemned because he was so powerful at the time). Great works of art and beautiful temples were created for the worship and praise of the various gods and goddesses of the Greeks such as, the Parthenon of Athens, dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin) and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (both works which Phidias contributed to and one, the Temple of Zeus, listed as an Ancient Wonder). The temple of Demeter at Eleusis was the site of the famous Eleusinian Mysteries and is considered the most important rite in ancient Greece. In his works, The Iliad and The Odyssey, immensely popular and influential in the Hellenic World, Homer depicted the gods and goddesses as being intimately involved in the lives of the people. The deities were regularly consulted in domestic matters as well as affairs of state. The famous Oracle at Delphi was considered so important at the time that people from all over the known world would come to Greece to ask advice, or favors from the god, and it was considered vital to consult with the supernatural forces before embarking on any military campaign.

Among the famous battles of the Hellenic World that the gods were consulted on were the Battle of Marathon (490 BCE), the Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis (480 BCE), Plataea (479 BCE,) and The Battle of Chaeronea (338 BCE) where the forces of the Macedonian King Philip II commanded, in part, by his son Alexander, defeated the Greek forces and unified the Greek city-states. After Philip's death, Alexander would go on to conquer the world of his day becoming Alexander the Great. Through his campaigns he would bring Greek culture, language and civilization to the world and, after his death, would leave the legacy which came to be known as the Hellenistic World.


Brown University[edit]

Department Of Classics at Brown University Sponsoring Dept.: Committee of Modern Greek Studies Established: language instruction in 1972; instruction in Modern Greek literature and history in1995 Director: David Konstan (Classics) Exec. Committee: Constantine Dafernos (Mathematics), Georgia Gotsi (Comparative Literature), Elsa Amanatidou (Classics, Modern Greek)

Columbia University[edit]

Hellenic Studies at Columbia


NYU A.S. Onassis Program in Hellenic Studies The Program in Hellenic Studies provides students with a comprehensive and interdisciplinary understanding of the language, literature, history, and politics of post-classical Greece. Through a wide range of courses, students are exposed to a polyphony of viewpoints which help them understand the historical and political experiences of Byzantine, Ottoman and modern Greece; the ways in which Greece has borne its several pasts and translated them into the modern era; and the distinguished literary and artistic traditions of a country that many regard as the birthplace of Western civilization. One of the leading centers in the United States for the study of Hellenism, the Onassis Program includes a diverse faculty drawn from a variety of disciplines. The Program also sponsors numerous cultural and intellectual activities. The University's Bobst Library is home to two special endowed collections of Hellenic Studies: the Papamarkou Library of Byzantine and Medieval Greek Books, and the Vardinoyannis Library of Hellenic Civilization's. Also, NYU in Athens gives students the opportunity to study in Greece during the summer.

Princeton University[edit]

Princeton University's, Program in Hellenic Studies is a well established and respected program. Sponsoring Dept.: Program in Hellenic Studies Established: 1979 Director: Peter Brown, Professor of History Executive Director: Dimitri Gondicas, Lecturer in Modern Greek Level: Undergraduate Certificate in Hellenic Studies; Ph.D. in Classical and Hellenic Studies

Simon Fraser University[edit]

Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University was established in 2011 and offers courses in Ancient, Byzantine, Early Modern, and Modern Greek History, in addition to Greek language training.

Yale University[edit]

Hellenic Studies Program Established in July 2001 with the generous support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and from 2007 onwards funded by the Stavros Niarchos Center for Hellenic Studies at Yale, the Program organizes lectures, symposia, conferences and supports faculty and student scholarly activities, as well as cultural events. The Program of Hellenic Studies offers a comprehensive program of instruction in the modern Greek language at the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels and cooperates closely with the Center for Language Study at Yale University for the development of technology-based teaching aids for the acquisition and mastering of modern Greek and the enrichment of other Hellenic oriented courses. In addition, the Program offers a variety of courses in modern Greek literature and culture as well as in Ottoman and modern Greek history providing students with the opportunity to study post-classical Greece in a broad geographical, historical, and comparative context. The Program also fosters courses in other departments, including Byzantine history and Byzantine history of art.

York University[edit]

Hellenic Studies Program Under the leadership of the Hellenic Heritage Foundation (HHF) and with the generous support of the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT) and several other community organizations and individuals, these efforts culminated in the official establishment of the HHF Chair and the Program at York University on January 28, 2000 with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement. The current holder of the HHF Chair is Dr. Athanasios (Sakis) Gekas. He came to York from the University of Manchester and he has been appointed as a tenure-stream Assistant Professor and holder of the HHF Chair in Modern Greek History, effective July 1, 2009. Dr. Sakis Gekas is also a member of the HCAAO and he is currently serving on the HCAAO Executive Council.

University of Florida[edit]

Center for Greek Studies The mission of the Center for Greek Studies is to bring together under one aegis the various UF courses and programs that deal with Greece past and present, to promote the values of Greek civilization around the state and to assist citizens of Gainesville and Florida in their interactions with Greece. It maintains study of Modern Greek language until state accounts can support the instruction.

Sponsoring Department: Classics Established: 1980 Directors: Karelisa Hartigan, Professor of Classics & Drama; Leonidas Polopolus, Professor of Food Resources Level: B.A. in Classics, with concentration in Greek Studies; Minor in Greek Studies

University of Indianapolis[edit]

Office of Hellenic Studies Study Abroad Program is offered in conjunction.

University of Missouri-St. Louis[edit]

Greek Studies Hellenism and Hellenic culture have had a profound impact on our civilization in a wide range of fields: from art, society, politics, and economy, to philosophy, law, medicine, and science. The Hellenic Government-Karakas Foundation Professorship in Greek Studies is one of the first Chairs of Greek Studies to be established in the United States. Its mission is to focus, develop, and sustain research, teaching, and public education on Hellenism, with particular emphasis on the impact of ancient, medieval, and modern Hellenic civilization on contemporary society. At a time when research and education in the Humanities are facing extinction, the Professorship aims at preserving and promoting the humanistic values of Greek civilization.

Johns Hopkins University[edit]

Johns Hopkins University publishes a Journal of Modern Greek Studies.[1] The journal publishes critical analyses of Greek social, cultural, and political affairs, covering the period from the late Byzantine Empire to the present.


Concerns have arisen in the Australian Greek community about the decline in Modern Greek Studies as a discipline. [2]

Scholarships and fellowships[edit]


See also[edit]


External links[edit]