Johann Gustav Droysen, creator of Greece's Fake History
Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Perhaps it was convenient that a German created Greece's history. Only the Germans at the time understood how powerful history was, especially if you twist, invent and fake it.

Most of you have read “Hellenistic this ... Hellenistic that”, envisioning in your mind something very ‘old’, ancient if you will.

If you did envision something old (like your great grand-father old), you‘d be right, because it dates back to 1836. If you envisioned something ancient, sorry to disappoint you.

But first, lets see what happened in 1833?


An area around Athens with the help of France and Britain had just gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire. To be more precise Greece didn't win its independence, rather it was given to her by both France and Britain because they needed strategic access to the Mediterranean, but couldn't get it because of the Turks.


As expected when someone else gives you independence they will govern you - which is precisely what happened as the Franco-German axis appointed a German ruler, Prince Otto.

Otto loved his new job in Greece. He loved the as he called "ethnic soup" there, although he grew concerned as to how would he rule all of those different people.


His biggest concern was Athens, where the Albanians and Turks dominated the city.
To obtain help, Prince Otto contacted his twenty seven (27) year old friend  Johann Gustav Droysen at Friedrich Wilhelm University.

Droysen, a student turned part time teacher was such an authority on “History” that he was a privatdozent and then a professor (appointed by Otto) who received no salary.  


Sadly, even Prince Otto didn’t think Droysen was good enough to have a salary. Granted, friendship can sometimes go far, as in this case. Johann was hired by Greece’s ruler to create a new beginning i.e. “new history” for Greece and the peoples of Athens, to unite the populace... Otto also asked Droysen to give him an 'idea for a language' in such a way that the populations wouldn’t be in conflict with each other.


Reviewing the situation, Johann Gustav had recommended Albanian as the core language of Greece because it dominated Athens. Greece as a country was not much bigger than Athens and the surrounding area.

"Albanian" as the language for Greece didn’t sit well with Prince Otto who explained that people in and outside of Athens spoke Turkish as well. Besides, the idea was to unite the populations.


Johann’s showed his cleverness by suggesting to adopt the long lost Koine language. As a comparison, this would be the same as Americans today being told to adopt what is now considered the dying Latin language.

Prince Otto loved Johann's idea and very soon after set the wheels in motion. Koine was the language introduced to the Greek populace first as the language of intellectuals, then introduced in schools, although the elderly population never really accepted it. Many in Greece even today still don't accept it and speak their mother tongues instead!

The game-set-match moment was when Prince Otto decided that he would call the Koine languge "Greek", it looked better on paper and hoped it could be swallowed easier by the populace.

Prince Otto showed his genius once again when drafting the Greek constitution - the very first line states "Greek is a Christian who lives in Greece" in other words there isn't a "Greek" ethnicity rather an ethnic soup of Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Vlachs, Roma etc. All of these ethnicities who consider themselves 'Christians' with the new constitution became "Greeks". 


Little unknown fact was that Otto’s friend and “history” professor Johann Gustav had transferred to yet another University, this time at Kiel, where once again was not able to get a salary. Shortly afterwards he made a decision to move into Politics! A shocker! You’d think History would have worked out for him.


We are not done with Greece and Johann Gustav Droysen. Once the Koine language was introduced, Johan decided to further help Prince Otto in uniting the ethnic soup in Greece.

This marks the birth of the term "Hellenism", in 1836, three long years after Otto took over. The term was invented by non other but our remarkable History Professor turned Politician Johann Gustav.


I understand few of you are disappointed because this term doesn’t go back in ancient time as some believe. 1836 is the year, the word Hellenism was first coined. Not a minute before that. When you consider who coined the word, any comment can be superfluous.


Pose for a moment and think that an entire country got its name from a failed 'history' professor as Greece calls itself "Hellas" and the "Hellenic Republic". Talk about living a lie... how sad...


I suppose Macedonians can adopt the Hebrew language and call it "old Macedonian", that way anything that was ever written in Hebrew during the past 4,000 years they can claim as being Macedonian. Easy enough, if you follow "Greek logic".


Incredibly, foolish historians describe something that happened 1000 years ago around the Mediterranean as "Hellenic", or would describe the culture as hellenic!? This would be the same as saying the first humans on this planet probably drove a Lexus. What the hell right? 


Perhaps, I’d accept the term “Hellenistic” to describe something that happened in Athens around after the 1830's, though I don’t know what that would be, still,  the term "Macedonistic" period should, and ought to be, used to cover any other historical references.


There is no denying that the period from Alexander the Great until well into the Roman time deals with Macedonian Dynasties, their rule, succession and their eventual interaction, or lack there of with the indigenous local populations throughout the Balkan Peninsula, Asia and Egypt.

The term "Hellenistic” can hardly do any justice to historical scholarship since its coverage/domain leaves a huge section of history completely untouched. "Hellenism", the term Johann Gustav Droysen gave to this era, is such a narrow cultural belt of history that its usage is not only misleading and inappropriate but it very much distorts and minimizes the greatness of the ancient Macedonians.

Perhaps the Athenian contribution, from a cultural point of view, may be argued to have occupied a place of some importance in the administrative sector of the empire, however the organizational, the military and the structural components of the Macedonian Empire must have been obtained, delivered and maintained strictly from Macedonian resources and for Macedonian interests.


The concept of an empire, an esoteric notion for the Athenians, was born with the first few initial successes of Alexander, and its meaning, magnitude, scope and structure grew as the string of victories and the success on the battlefields allowed Alexander to enlarge, coordinate and control huge land areas in Asia and Egypt. For almost 3 centuries after Alexander, it was his successors that carried the symbols and the name of the Macedonian Empire.


Thus, the very narrow strip of "Hellenism" that comes, as a residue, attached to the period in question, cannot, in any meaningful way, embrace and encompass the scope and the magnitude of an empire that was built, organized and maintained on the strength and the efficiency of the Macedonian army.

If Johann were to be alive today to see what his drive-by history and the god-father style of creating Greece has caused, I am certain he would have broken off his friendship to Prince Otto.

Marina Sazdovska


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