Interactions between Philhellenic Ideas and Greek Identity Discourse
First Historians and Travelers to Suli
The specific character of the 19th-century historical discourse on Suli
The history of Suli was not written exclusively by “professional historians,” but it was written mainly by European travelers, politicians, and diplomats with historiographical and literary ambitions. Because of the basically illiterate character of Suliote culture, the written sources are scant, particularly those written by the Suliotes themselves, and many questions related to the early period of Suliote history remain unresolved. As a result, the 19th-century historiography of Suli could not apply the common methods of historical research, particularly internal and external source criticism. Moreover, due to the fact that the historiographers in question described the culture radically different from their own, they often adopted the role of ethnographers, as they aspired to a possibly complex description of the researched people. Their accounts favor what seems eccentric and unusual or what confirms their philhellenic vision of Greece and Europe.
On the other hand, the works of Greek historians depict the deeds of the Suliotes as a prelude to the later Greek Independence War. Their stories became a source of national myths and ideal role models.1 A comparison of the 19th-century historiographies and travelogues with the contents of Greek and European archives reveals that much information not confirmed by reliable archival sources permeated into the historical narratives. In such a way, it has lately become possible to grasp the historiographical myths, the invariable and dogmatized narrative parts that went basically unquestioned by researchers.2 However, the...
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