Philhellenism

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Philhellenism ("the love of Greek culture") was the intellectual fashion at the turn of the 19th century that led Europeans like Lord Byron to lend their support for the Greek movement towards independence from the Ottoman Empire.

A revival of interest in the shadowy Scythian philosopher Anacharsis was sparked by Jean Jacques Barthelemy's fanciful Travels of Anacharsis the Younger in Greece (1788), a learned imaginary travel journal, one of the first historical novels, which a modern scholar has called "the encyclopedia of the new cult of the antique" in the late 18th Century; it had a high impact on the growth of philhellenism in France at the time. The book went through many editions, was reprinted in the United States and translated into German and other languages. It later inspired European sympathy for the Greek struggle for independence.

In the period of reaction after the fall of Napoleon, when liberal-minded Europeans found the romantic revolutionary ideals repressed by the restoration of old regimes at home, the idea of the re-creation of a Greek state offered an ideal.

When the Greek Revolution broke out on March 25, 1821, many would come to Greece and fight for her freedom. It is estimated that over 300 philhellenes died in the war including: 142 Germans, 42 Italians, 60 Frenchmen, 11 Swiss, 21 Britons, 11 Dutchmen, 11 Poles, 10 Scandinavians, 3 Americans, etc.

Famous Philhellenes