Philhellenism

the international dimension and the timeless significance for its cradle

The Exodus of the Guards in April 1826 is the culmination of the revolutionary drama. It is, at the same time, a unique case in world history as the besieged Messolonghi received the practical support of many Philhellenes, who decided to share the sufferings and glory of the Greek revolutionaries. The large number of Europeans who lost their lives in Messolonghi is clear evidence of the supranational importance of Exodus as a European event. As the news of the Exodus spread across the continent, the Greek War of Independence became a personal cause for countless individuals. The Exodus is an international reference point for the stance of enlightened citizens towards oppression and the necessity of defending fundamental human rights all over the world.

Philhellenism was a romantic, intellectual movement which originated in the obsession with ancient Greece. The Greek War of Independence transformed it into a political and military affair. Approximately 1200 European citizens decided to leave the safety of their home and travel to a wild and unfamiliar land using any means possible. Some had pure material motives. The Napoleonic War veterans, who were unemployed for many years, saw in the Greek revolution the opportunity to earn their living, or to revive the glory and enthusiasm of the battlefield.

Most Philhellenes, though, came to Greece inspired by a novel idealism and faith in sacrifice for the preservation of the elemental concept of liberty. The oppression and persecution of liberal Europeans in the aftermath of Metternich’s triumph and the restoration of conservative monarchs underscored the need to protest. In that context, the Greek War of Independence served as the ideal arena on which to express this newfound anti-royalist spirit. Hundreds of European citizens defined the revolution of the descendants of Leonidas and Themistocles as an opportunity to build a better world, where human liberty and dignity are the roadmap to the development of society and state.