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Hellenocentrism is a worldview centered on Greeks and Greek civilization. The worldview presupposes the idea that Greeks were somehow unique in world history and that Greek civilization essentially emerged from within itself.[1] Nonetheless such premises have been frequently questioned.[1]


According to Hatoon al-Fassi, Hellenocentrism "is a vision of history that views the Greek world as the centre of the civilised universe."[2] Werner Jaeger employs the term "hellenocentric" to describe the Greek influence on the advancement of modern European culture.[3] He argues that European history should always begin with Greece, where, he believes, the West belongs, both "physically and intellectually". Greece should always be a source of inspiration for Europe because it is the "hellenocentric world" that possesses "the ideal", and because both the temporal and spiritual journey of Europe begins there.[4] For Nasos Vayenas, hellenocentrism can be understood as "a conviction of the uniqueness of the Greek element and its superiority over everything foreign – a conviction that usually leads elevating Greekness to the level of an absolute value".[5] Vayenas argues that it is rather a traditionalism that speaks of the discovery of a "silenced Greek tradition".[6]

According to Heinrich von Staden, the term hellenocentrism appears to carry at least two charges in the history of science. The first is that science historians prefer Greek science to science from other ancient civilizations, often with disastrous consequences. The second is that Eurocentric historians prefer a version of 'science' that "allows them to credit the Greeks with the invention of science and of 'the' scientific method".[7] In Enrique Dussel's view, Hellenocentrism asserts that Greece is the cultural origin of the West and that Greek civilization "owes nothing to the Egyptians and Semites," arguing that Greece was nothing more than a "dependent" and "peripheral Western part" of the Middle East.[8]


Lidewijde de Jong maintains that hellenocentrism is deeply rooted in European history and archaeology.[9] For Peter Green, it has "distorted and diminished the achievements of any civilisation" that came in contact with the Greeks.[10] Han Lamers argues that proponents of a hellenocentric worldview, such as George Trapezuntius, sought to "reduce all forms of progress and decline ultimately to Greek affairs".[11]

Enrique Dussel held that hellenocentrism is the forefather of Eurocentrism.[12][13][14] For Markus Winkler, racism and colonialism have their roots in Eurocentric worldview which essentially emerged from ancient hellenocentrism.[15] Kang Jung In and Eom Kwanyong also refer to hellenocentrism as the archetype of "Westcentrism" which, they argue, has adopted the Greek civilization as its "intellectual origin" and universalized it.[16] According to Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, hellenocentrism paved the way for "Westernization" as a "process of imposing Euro-North American-centric values on other people" at the expense of their own values.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rollinger, Robert (2008). "The Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond: the Relations between the World of the 'Greek' and 'Non-Greek' Civilizations". In Kinzl, Konrad H. (ed.). A Companion to the Classical Greek World. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 197. ISBN 9781444334128.
  2. ^ al-Fassi, Hatoon (2007). Women in pre-Islamic Arabia: Nabataea. Archaeopress. p. 3. ISBN 9781407300955.
  3. ^ Borody, W. A. (10–15 August 1998). "Classical Greek Philosophical Paideia in Light of the Postmodern Occidentalism of Jacques Derrida". The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy. pp. 7–13. doi:10.5840/wcp20-paideia199820361. ISBN 9781634350518. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  4. ^ Werner, Jaeger (1945). Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture: Volume I: Archaic Greece: The Mind of Athens. Oxford University Press. pp. xv, xvii. ISBN 9780195004250.
  5. ^ Vayenas, Nasos (1997). "Hellenocentrism and the Literary Generation of the Thirties". In Tziovas, Dimitris (ed.). Greek Modernism and Beyond: Essays in Honor of Peter Bien. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 45. ISBN 9780847685776.
  6. ^ Kourdis, Evangelos (2016). "The Velopoulos-Liakopoulos Phenomenon. Α Semiotic View of the Explosion of Greek Conspiracy Theories and Urban Legends in the Economic Crisis". Lexia. Rivista di Semiotica (23–24): 233.
  7. ^ von Staden, Heinrich (1992). "Affinities and Elisions: Helen and Hellenocentrism". Isis. 83 (4): 578–595. doi:10.1086/356290. JSTOR 234259. S2CID 224839490.
  8. ^ Dussel, Enrique (2007). Ethics of Liberation: In the Age of Globalization and Exclusion. Duke University Press. p. 260. ISBN 9780822352129.
  9. ^ De Jong, Lidewijde. Becoming a Roman province: an analysis of funerary practices in Roman Syria in the context of empire (Ph.D.). Stanford University. p. 22. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  10. ^ Green, Peter (2013). "Against Hellenocentrism". London Review of Books. 35 (15): 41–42. ISSN 0260-9592.
  11. ^ Lamers, Han (2015). Greece Reinvented: Transformations of Byzantine Hellenism in Renaissance Italy. Brill. p. 165. ISBN 9789004303799.
  12. ^ Enrique Dussel, Politics of Liberation: A Critical World History Translated by Thia Cooper (SCM press, 2011) p.11 "Here we have to stop to note one aspect. As we indicated, Hellenocentrism is the father of Eurocentrism."
  13. ^ a b Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J. (2016). The Decolonial Mandela: Peace, Justice and the Politics of Life. Berghahn Books. p. 38. ISBN 9781785331190.
  14. ^ Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J. (2018). "Racism and Blackism on a World Scale". In Rutazibwa, Olivia U.; Shilliam, Robbie (eds.). Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics. Routledge. p. 75. ISBN 9781317369394.
  15. ^ Sammons, Jeffrey L. (2011). "Von Iphigenie zu Medea. Semantik und Dramaturgie des Barbarischen bei Goethe und Grillparzer (review)". Goethe Yearbook. 18 (1): 306–307. doi:10.1353/gyr.2011.0485. ISSN 1940-9087. S2CID 201792785.
  16. ^ Jung In, Kang; Kwanyong, Eom (2003). "Comparative Analysis of Eastern and Western Tyranny: Focusing on Aristotle and Mencius". Korea Journal. 43 (4): 117.

Further reading[edit]