The misuse of the term Philhellene during Antiquity


..Herodotus, the Father of History, relates how the Macedonian king Alexander I (498-454 BC), a Philhellene (that is “a friend of the Greeks” and logically a non-Greek),…

It is currently wide-spread, mainly to modern Fyrom’s propaganda (see quote above), a misuse of the term Philhellene as having a meaning of non-Greek.  During antiquity, Philhellene certainly didnt mean ‘Non-Hellene’ but had the conotation of ‘Philopatris’ (=the one who loves his country)

To make it clear:

Example 1
Xenophon, the Spartan Agesilaos general and leader as Philhellene : “It is a honour for a Greek to be friend of the Greeks
(Xen.Agesilaus, 7.1)

Again, if it is honourable in one who is a Hellene to be a friend to the Hellenes , what other general has the world seen unwilling to take a city when he thought that it would be sacked, or who looked on victory in a war against Hellenesas a disaster?

Example 2
Plato wants the leaders of Greeks to be Philhellenes and not separatists

(Plato Rep. 5.470e)

And won’t they be philhellenes, lovers of Hellenes, and will they not regard all Hellas as their own and not renounce their part in the holy places common to all Hellenes ?” “Most certainly.” “Will they not then regard any difference with Hellenes

Plato here gives clearly the meaning of the term Phillelene during antiquity.

Example 3

Greeks, however, we shall say, are still by nature the friends of Greeks when they act in this way
[Plato, Republic 5.470c]

Example 4

Isocrates called Jason of Pherae and Evagoras of Cyprus, ‘Philhellenes’ and certainly this doesnt mean we should exclude Thessalians and Cypriots from being Greek.

Explore posts in the same categories: Language

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