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Russia and the Making of Modern Greek Identity, 1821–1844$
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Lucien J. Frary

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198733775

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198733775.001.0001

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Secret Societies, Armed Rebellions, and Oracular Prophecies

Secret Societies, Armed Rebellions, and Oracular Prophecies

(p.167) Chapter 5 Secret Societies, Armed Rebellions, and Oracular Prophecies
Russia and the Making of Modern Greek Identity, 1821–1844

Lucien J. Frary

Oxford University Press

In nineteenth-century Greece, secret societies and oracular prophecies provided nationalists with a powerful repertoire of myths and symbols easily adapted to modern politics. During the Eastern Crisis of 1839–41, the uncovering of a secret association in Athens called the Philorthodox Society, a major military rebellion on Ottoman Crete, and a surge in oracular prophecies about the resurrection of an Orthodox Empire provided an opportune moment for politically minded individuals to implement their vision of national revival. Capitalizing on the turmoil unleashed by the Eastern Crisis, a group of Greek nationalists drew upon the reservoir of myths and symbols relating to Russian salvation to mobilize traditional society toward certain implied goals, including the overthrow of the King and the “liberation” of territory under Muslim rule. Suspicions about a tsarist-backed conspiracy led to sweeping changes in the Greek government and Holy Synod, which, paradoxically, undermined the traditionalists in power.

Keywords:   Eastern Crisis 1839–41, Russian–Greek relations, Ottoman Empire, Crete, secret societies, oracular prophecies, Eastern Orthodoxy, Russian foreign policy, national identity, Eastern Question

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