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Citizen's education: The french presence in the Ionian sea (1797-1799) and the nation of the Greeks



Citizen's education: The french presence in the Ionian sea (1797-1799) and the nation of the Greeks


July 2020


Adamantios Korais, in his famous Report (1803), wanting to highlight the fundamental importance of French developments for the Greeks, noted that, especially after 1789, “national vanity gave way to the behaviour of a people preparing to turn into a nation’: to acquire political self-consciousness and to claim an independent political existence. This book attempts to shed light on a critical but largely unknown aspect of this process: the French presence in the Ionian, from the summer of 1797 to the spring of 1799, and its wider implications for the Greek world. Firstly, we focus on the end of the long-standing Venetian rule in the Ionian, but mainly on the new political, administrative and educational institutions, as well as on key conceptual issues that emerged from it: the ways of accepting the rupture, the conceptual movement and semantic expansion of critical terms (citizen, place, virtue, law, homeland, nation), in the new reading of historical time – in particular, in the politicization of antiquity. At the same time, we follow the approach of the Ionian with the Greek core: after centuries, the two worlds begin to converge, due to the developments of the present, but mainly due to the hopes of the future. The overthrow of 1797 and the death of Venice, the complete upset of the balances in the Eastern Mediterranean, the arrival of France on the fringes of the sultan’s territory and the revelation of Rigas’ plans – concentric circles born in 1789 – led to the explosive dissemination of new ideas in the world of the Greeks. The Orthodox Church, within the framework defined by the Ottoman Empire and with a rhetoric resembling the Catholic one, strongly opposed the new ideas, conceptualising in its own way the terms in question: freedom, virtue, equality, homeland. This sharp confrontation hastened the next big step of the Greek world: the conceptual autonomy of the Greek genus from the Orthodox one.

(Edited and translated blurb from publisher’s website)

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