The national flag of Greece was officially adopted by the First National Assembly at Epidaurus on 13 January 1822. There is a blue canton in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white cross; the cross symbolises Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Greek nationalism, otherwise referred to as Hellenic nationalism, refers to the nationalism of Greeks and Greek culture.[1] As an ideology, Greek nationalism originated and evolved in classical Greece.[2][3][4] In modern times, Greek nationalism became a major political movement beginning in the early 19th century, which culminated in the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829) against the Ottoman Empire.[1]

Greek nationalism became also a potent movement in Greece shortly prior to, and during World War I, when the Greeks, inspired by the Megali Idea, managed to liberate parts of Greece in the Balkan Wars and after World War I, briefly occupied the region of Smyrna before it was retaken by the Turks.[1]

Greek nationalism was also the main ideology of two dictatorial regimes in Greece during the 20th century: the 4th of August Regime (1936–41) and the Greek military junta (1967–74). Today Greek nationalism remains important in the Greco-Turkish dispute over Cyprus[1] among other disputes (Greek nationalism in Cyprus).


Main articles: Ancient Greece, Panhellenic Games, Byzantine Greeks § Identity, and Greeks § Identity

Greek hoplite (right) and Persian warrior (left) depicted fighting, on an ancient kylix, 5th century BC.
St. John III Doukas Vatatzes the Merciful King, Emperor of the Romans and "Father of the Greeks."
Grateful Hellas, painting by Theodoros Vryzakis (1858), National Historical Museum, Athens. Greece personified as a woman, depicted with revolutionaries who participated in the Greek War of Independence.
Eleftherios Venizelos, a prominent leader of the Greek national liberation movement.

The establishment of Panhellenic sites served as an essential component in the growth and self-consciousness of Greek nationalism.[2] During the Greco-Persian Wars of the 5th century BCE, Greek nationalism was formally established though mainly as an ideology rather than a political reality since some Greek states were still allied with the Persian Empire.[3] Aristotle and Hippocrates offered a theoretical approach on the superiority of the Greek tribes.[5]

The establishment of the ancient Panhellenic Games is often seen as the first example of ethnic nationalism and view of a common heritage and identity.[6]

During the times of the Byzantine Empire and after the capture of Constantinople in 1204 by the Latins, the Roman Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes made extensive use of the words 'nation' (genos), 'Hellene' and 'Hellas' together in his correspondence with the Pope. John acknowledged that he was Greek, although bearing the title Emperor of the Romans: "the Greeks are the only heirs and successors of Constantine", he wrote. In similar fashion John’s son Theodore II, acc. 1254, who took some interest in the physical heritage of Antiquity, referred to his whole Euro-Asian realm as "Hellas" and a "Hellenic dominion".[7] The generations after John looked back upon him as "the Father of the Greeks".[8]

When the Byzantine Empire was ruled by the Paleologi dynasty (1261–1453), a new era of Greek patriotism emerged, accompanied by a turning back to ancient Greece.[4] Some prominent personalities at the time also proposed changing the Imperial title from "basileus and autocrat of the Romans" to "Emperor of the Hellenes".[4] This enthusiasm for the glorious past constituted an element that was present in the movement that led to the creation of the modern Greek state, in 1830, after four centuries of Ottoman rule.[4]

Popular movements calling for enosis (the incorporation of disparate Greek-populated territories into a greater Greek state) resulted in the accession of Ionian Islands (1864), Thessaly (1881), Crete (1912), southern parts of Macedonia and Thrace (1913), and finally Dodecanese (1947). Calls for enosis were also a feature of Cypriot politics during British rule in Cyprus. During the troubled interwar years, some Greek nationalists viewed Orthodox Christian Albanians, Aromanians and Bulgarians as communities that could be assimilated into the Greek nation.[9] Greek irredentism, the "Megali Idea" suffered a setback in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922), and the Greek genocide. Since then, Greco-Turkish relations have been characterized by tension between Greek and Turkish nationalism, culminating in the Turkish invasion of Cyprus (1974).

Nationalist political parties

Nationalist parties include:




See also



  1. ^ a b c d Motyl 2001, "Greek Nationalism", pp. 201–203.
  2. ^ a b Burckhardt 1999, p. 168: "The establishment of these Panhellenic sites, which yet remained exclusively Hellenic, was a very important element in the growth and self-consciousness of Hellenic nationalism; it was uniquely decisive in breaking down enmity between tribes, and remained the most powerful obstacle to fragmentation into mutually hostile poleis."
  3. ^ a b Wilson 2006, "Persian Wars", pp. 555–556.
  4. ^ a b c d Vasiliev 1952, p. 582.
  5. ^ Hope 2007, p. 177: "Hippocrates and Aristotle both theorized the geography was responsible for the differences between peoples. Not surprisingly, both writers theorized their own Greek tribes as superior to all other human collectives."
  6. ^ "The Panhellenic Games". Hellenic Museum. 2021-07-01. Retrieved 2021-07-13.
  7. ^ "Byzantium 1220 To 1330 | Byzantine Empire | Constantinople". Scribd. Retrieved 2021-07-13.
  8. ^ A. A. Vasiliev. History of the Byzantine Empire. Vol. 2. University of Wisconsin Press, 1971. pp. 531–534.
  9. ^ Çaǧaptay 2006, p. 161.
  10. ^ Alison, Phillips W. (1897). The war of Greek independence, 1821 to 1833. London : Smith, Elder. pp. 20, 21. (retrieved from University of California Library)


Further reading