Hellenism and Philhellenism at BU

BOSTON, MA – Kelly Polychroniou, Lecturer of Modern Greek in the Department of Classical Studies at Boston University and co-Founder of the Boston University Philhellenes (BUP), along with the Consul-General of Greece in Boston Iphigenia Kanara organized on March 26th the second annual Lectures in Modern Philhellenism, marking the occasion of the Greek Independence Day.

BUP is an organization that was founded by the Department of Classical Studies and the Program in Modern Greek two years ago to promote: the appreciation of Greek Culture and history; a summer study program sending students to Greece; and scholarships for the study of Modern Greek at Boston University.

The event brought together Philhellenism and Hellenism.

Polychroniou in her introductory remarks set the stage and the structure of the event by saying that “this year we would like to start a “debate,” on the provocative subject “is the Modern West living up to the standards of Ancient Greece?” There will be a “pro” and “con” panel. Each panel will have two scholars. Each scholar will present a 10-12 minute talk on one or more aspects of this question. After all the scholars have made their presentations, one of the “pro” scholars will respond to the views of the “con” panel, and vice versa.  At that point we will open up the event to comments and questions from you.  We encourage your participation and we are hoping for a lively discussion.

The 2015 Lectures in Modern Philhellenism are dedicated to the memory of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe of Boston, Massachusetts (1801-1876), philanthropist and true philhellene, who served in the Greek War for Independence (1824-1827). The event took place at the Photonics Building of Boston University.

Two of Polychroniou’s best students, Anastasia Kourtis and Joshua Allbright, presented the speakers:  Dr. Nicolas Prevelakis (Harvard University, Center for Hellenic Studies) Professor Ioannis Evrigenis (Tufts University) Professor (Boston University) Professor Loren J. Samons (Boston University).

Consul General Kanara in her greetings said that “today commemorates the 194th anniversary of the long struggle for Greek Independence. In 1812, Patriots from all across the soon to be Hellenic Republic united in a common cause for freedom and succeeded in casting off the bonds of 400 years of slavery. The sacrifices of these men and women proved not only to liberate a nation, but to safeguard an ancient heritage and the legacy of Western Civilization’s most profound teachings.

“Today, however, also marks another significant anniversary in the history of Hellenism and an incredibly important moment for the sacred legacy of our common Western principles. It is the commemoration of that moment which brings us together tonight and its significance remains a timeless obligation for those who share our values.

“The anniversary of which I speak is, of course, the birth of Philhellenism.

Not only did the Greek Revolution bring about the establishment of a new Greek Republic but it sparked the beginning of a lasting relationship between Hellenism and its greatest friends. These allies of the Hellenic people and the Greek Revolution became known as Philhellenes and their actions set in motion a long tradition of protecting our collective Hellenic inheritance.”

Professor Prevelakis called the topic whether or not the Modern West lives up to the standards set by Ancient Greece as “huge” and the one that has multiple difficulties”. He said “first what do we mean by Ancient Greece? Athens?  Sparta? And what period? The Homeric period? The Classical period? The Hellenistic times? Last who sets up the standards? Is it the philosophers? And if so, which ones? Is it the political institutions? The intellectual, political, artistic, achievements?”

Professor Samons spoke of Citizenship, History and Historians, Monetary/Fiscal Policy, Freedom of Speech/Parrhesia, and Freedom vs. Security.

Professor Evrigenis focused primarily on Socrates.

The event was well attended by many professors, scholars and graduate students.


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