Greece is a unique country, it has a history that rivals any other in terms of prominence, yet it is difficult to speak of Greece as a nation or even a unified ‘people’ until after the Greek War of Independence (1821-32). After which, the nation was at liberty to create its own history, its own values and pick and choose which ‘pasts’ to give prominence to in order to create a new nation. The classical past played a key role in this invention and continued to do so through the Greek nation’s early history. My interest in Modern Greece began with the discovery of this and has continued to even more modern elements.
I am a Classicist by training, having spent three years here in Birmingham studying BA Classical Literature and Civilisation - something I thoroughly enjoyed. As such, my interests have been primarily in the Classical past. However, while in my final year, I became considerably more interested in Modern Greece, particularly as the global crisis seemed to be having a greater and greater impact upon the country, its people and its relationship with the rest of Europe. I was shocked, yet enthralled, by the Golden Dawn party and their blatant use of the Classical past in nationalistic, neo-Nazi propagandistic hate speech. I was even more surprised that it seemed to be working; they were growing in popularity and gaining seats and influence in the Greek parliament. I became fascinated in the continuing use of the Classical past as both a political and social tool within, and as an idealistic projection from outside Greece.
My research intends to look at how Modern Greece has used different elements of the Classical past in the past 30 or so years (1981-2014), and how this has changed in the wake of the financial crisis. I intend to focus particularly on how the laxation of borders and the globalisation of the country, that came with membership of the EU in 1981 and the relative shrinking of the world, has changed the way in which Greece’s Classical past is used. I am also interested in which elements of the Classical past gain prominence in relation to certain events, and ultimately what this tells us about the ongoing role of the ancient past in Modern Greece.