Greece History and Culture

By | November 4, 2021


As already in the context of the Roman Empire, according to Zipcodesexplorer, Greece remained subordinate even after the establishment of the Eastern Roman Empire (395), as the Province of Achaea. The invasion of the Goths of Alaric (396) was a severe blow: the economic decline and the demographic decline in progress were followed (after Justinian had the School of Athens closed in 529) also by cultural decadence, while new barbarian invasions of Huns and Slavs followed one another between the century. VI and VIII. With the general reform of the administration (seventh century), the Province of Achaia was divided into two ” themes “: Hellas (Attica, Boeotia, Phocis, Locride, part of Thessaly, Euboea and Aegina), with the capital Thebes, and the Peloponnese, with Corinth as its capital. Northern Thessaly and Aetolus-Acarnania were instead assigned to the theme of Epirus, and Thessalonica to the theme of the same name. At the time of the iconoclastic crisis, Greece sided with the iconodules (727): the revolt was suffocated in blood and the Greek Church (until then dependent on Rome) was placed under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. Meanwhile, the Arabs pressed south (823: fall of Crete) and the sec. XI-XII saw the Normans go on the offensive (1147: sacking of Athens, Corinth and Thebes). With the first fall of Constantinople (1204) Greece was dismembered among the various Crusader conquerors: Boniface of Monferrato, king of Thessalonica, conquered part of Hellas (1204-05), the Venetians occupied the islands, the Franks divided the Peloponnese. In the sec. XIII and XIV, the migratory waves of Vlachs and Albanians. The Byzantines took advantage of the weakness of the Frankish lordships to reconquer the Peloponnese, which between the century. XIV and XV (established in despotate with capital Mistrà) experienced a period of great cultural and artistic splendor. The fall of Constantinople into the hands of the Turks (1453) opened the way for the conquest of Greece which (apart from the islands) was completed by the Ottomans in 1460. With 1453, therefore, begins the so-called period of the Turkocracy, which for much of the Greece lasted until 1821 and beyond (only the Ionian islands escaped the Turkocracy). The first two centuries of this period – although the conquerors had generally respected the goods of communities and cities that had spontaneously submitted – represented a period of stasis and economic involution for Greece, which fell back into the Curtense economy.. Trade flourished again in the mid-century. XVII: fleets were built on the islands (Hydra, Spetse, Psará, Mýkonos, Kásos), while Thessaloniki, the Pelion, the Peloponnese became centers of international trade. The maritime trade had an even greater impulse in the century. XVIII, first with the opening of the Black Sea (1738), then with the blockade of the French fleet during the Revolution. With the development of commerce also said a new bourgeois class, whose interests were different from those traditional aristocracy (Phanariots, kotsambàsides) and whose culture – also due to the influence of European ideas absorbed in the flourishing “communities” settled abroad – was more decidedly oriented towards progressive ideas. With the development of trade, however, also increased the exploitation of the lower classes, the oppressed – in the process of capitalist accumulation – from taxes, tithes and forced labor by the Turks, kotsambàsides and higher clergy: they multiplied so clefti, so that the Turks relaunched the institute of armatoliki (granting of a territory and amnesties to the most powerful clefti, in exchange for the control of the other “bandits”). Thus a favorable climate was created for the acceptance of ideas in gestation then in Europe, in the context of the various national resurgences: the intolerance of the populations manifested itself here and there with uprisings, generally suffocated in blood (revolt of the Morea in 1769-70), while the new intellectuals elaborated the ideology that was to give life to the explosion of 1821 (see above all Rígas Feréos, but also A. Koraís and later the founders of the Filikí Etería). In this regard, the progressive activity of Alī Tepedelenlī should also be mentioned, who sensed the changing times and, in the territories he governed, promoted reforms to favor commercial development, thus coming into conflict with traditional aristocracies.


Modern Greek (or neo-Greek) culture has its roots in the period in which the country was dominated, albeit through alternating vicissitudes, by Byzantium (396-1453). Then the Greek population traced in their origins and subsequently in the West the models with which to free themselves from the Byzantine influence first, and then Turkish. The entire cultural history of modern Greece is, in fact, characterized by these two distinctive traits: the recourse to one’s origins and the constant reference to the bond, maintained and strengthened over the centuries, with the culture of Western Europe, to which that Greek belongs. Thanks to its geographical position, Greece has been and still is a bridge between East and West, a sort of ideal way through which cultural influences from Western Europe flow towards the East. The indigenous traditions, which are disappearing in parallel with the development of Greek society (affirmation of the phenomenon of urbanism and outsourcing of the economy), are mostly linked to the peasant world, in close connection with the religious sphere. There are twenty universities in Greece, the oldest being that of Athens, founded in 1837; in 2004 a new university building was inaugurated in the city of Tripoli (Peloponnese). The whole country is dotted with museums and archaeological sites of important historical and artistic interest, of which at least 15 are protected by UNESCO such as the archaeological site of Delphi (1987), that of Olympia (1989), of Mycenae and Tiryns (1999) and the medieval city of Rhodes (1988). Athens is home to, among others, the Acropolis Museum (the Acropolis of Athens has been included in the UNESCO lists since 1987) and the largest archaeological museum in the country, the National Archaeological Museum. On the occasion of the 2004 Olympics, an extensive restoration work was carried out on the monuments of the capital, restored to their new splendor, and the enhancement of the entire Greek cultural heritage.

Greece History and Culture