Diafotismos (Greek: Διαφωτισμός; "enlightenment," "illumination" from "fos" "light"), The Modern Greek Enlightenment was an ideological, philological, linguistic and philosophical movement among 18th century Greeks that attempted to translate the ideas and values of European Enlightenment into the Greek world of ideas.


The 'Diafotismos' was given impetus by the Greek predominance in trade and education, in the Ottoman empire. Greek merchants financed a large number of young Greeks to study in universities in Italy and the German states. There they were introduced to the ideas of the European Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Encyclopedia Britannica, "Greek history, Intellectual Revival", 2008 ed.] The Greek students also became aware of the admiration that their Western counterparts had for the culture and language of ancient Greece, this realization arousing a consciousness of their own past. In the half century leading up to 1821 a veritable flood of books on ancient Greek, literature and history of the ancient Greek world was written and published for an eager Greek readership.

Role of the merchants

It was the wealth of the extensive Greek merchant class that provided the material basis for the intellectual revival that was the prominent feature of Greek life in the half century and more leading to 1821. Impelled by the brand of local patriotism that has always been of feature of the Greek world, they endowed libraries and schools. It was not by chance that on the eve of the Greek War of Independence the three most important centres of Greek learning, schools-cum-universities, were situated in Chios, Smyrna(Izmir) and Ayvalik, all three major centres of Greek commerce.Encyclopedia Britannica, "Greek history, The mercantile middle class", 2008 ed. ]

Role of the Phanariotes

The Phanariotes, were a small caste of Greek families who took their collective name from the Phanar quarter of Constantinople where the Ecumenical Patriarchate is still housed. They held various administrative posts within the Ottoman Empire, the most important of which were those of hospodar, or prince, of the Danubian principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. Most hospodars acted as patrons of Greek culture, education, and printing. These academies attracted teachers and pupils from throughout the Orthodox commonwealth, and there was some contact with intellectual trends in Habsburg central Europe. For the most part they supported the Ottoman system of government, too much to play a significant part in the emergence of the Greek national movement; however, their support of learning produced many highly educated Greek scholars who benefited from the cosmopolitan environment the Phanariotes cultivated in their principalities.Encyclopedia Britannica, "Greek history, Transformation toward emancipation, The Phanariotes", 2008 ed. ] .


One consequence of the obsession with antiquity ("αρχαιολατρία" or archaeolatry) on the part of the nationalist intelligentsia was the reintroduction of Classical Greek toponyms and first names. Another was the continuation of the use of an atticizing form of the Koine as the official language of the state by the linguistic purists, which was appropriately named Katharevousa (pure). This was only abandoned in Greece in the latter half of the 20th century.

The movement saw the spread of schooling and literacy among the Greek population, and by the early 19th century most schools in the Balkans were in Greek hands while Greek never lost its place as a literate language akin to Latin in the West and Arabic and Persian in the Muslim world.

However, large segments of the Greek speaking world were hostile to this movement since they saw it as a threat to the Ottoman Empire, the status quo they supported. These included the higher ranking clergy and the wealthy provincial notables who were dependent on the Porte for their privileges as well as some of the Phanariotes.

Notable people and societies

*Adamantios Korais A witness of the French Revolution, Korais took his primary intellectual inspiration from the Enlightenment, and he borrowed ideas copiously from the philosophers Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
*Rigas Feraios Greek emigre to Vienna. He was an admirer of the French revolution and hoped to transplant its humanistic ideas to the Greek world.
*Filiki Eteria The Society of Friends in Greek, was a secret organisation working in the early 19th century, whose purpose was to overthrow Ottoman rule and to establish an independent Greek state founded on the humanist ideals of the Enlightenment. Etairia members were mainly young Phanariot Greeks.


Dimitris Michalopoulos, "Aristotle vs Plato. The Balkans' Paradoxical Enlightenment","Bulgarian Journal of Science and Education Policy (BJSEP)", 1 (2007), pp.7-15. ISSN 1313-1958.

ee also

*Adamantios Korais
*Rigas Feraios
*Filiki Eteria

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