Abstract and Keywords
This article argues that Hellenism is a controversial concept with a lengthy history, and which ultimately defies all attempts to give it definition. In discussing Matthew Arnold, it suggests that people think of Hellenism as a relationship between a particular past and a perpetually changing present. The ancient Greek world is contested, fragile, and phantasmatic; it is constructed by a gaze that looks intensely back into the past. While the concept of Hellenism has been extraordinarily fertile, it is also restrictive, and its evasions and exclusions need to be acknowledged. A broader and more inclusive conception, as some have argued, would allow for a more critical and self-aware reception of the Greek past and would engage with the range of diverse traditions that have contributed to the formation of Hellenism since antiquity. The article focuses on German and British Hellenism, the two most formative traditions in modernity.
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