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Greeks and Romans

  • Tom Winnifrith

Abstract

Many travellers to Greece get no further than Corfu which, in spite of its associations with Alcinous and Thucydides, is with its cricket and greenery and trim tourist villas the least Greek of islands. From Corfu it is two hours by boat to Igoumenitsa and then two hours by bus to the pleasant university town of Ioannina. Most travellers then take the main road which sweeps southward near the site of the battle of Actium past Byron country at Missolonghi to Athens. But there is an alternative route through the Katara pass to Thessaly. In winter and even in spring one can see little on this route except vast tracts of snow, but in summer the red roofs of Metsovo are visible from miles away, and sometimes the bus makes a precipitous detour to Metsovo, bringing nostalgic reminders of Greece as it was before the tourist explosion. From Metsovo it is an hour’s walk by mule track or half an hour by a perilous motor road to the village of Anelion. Here one feels that one has arrived in the real Greece that has survived unchanged for three thousand years. The old men still boast like Nestor of their prowess in battles long ago, the young men still strut and sulk like Achilles, the women work and weep and weave their webs like Penelope, and the wayfarer is still greeted with that charming mixture of curiosity and courtesy which greeted Odysseus.

Keywords

Mountain Pass Balkan Peninsula Sixth Century Roman Province Greek Historian 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    G. Weigand, Die Aromunen (Leipzig, 1895) andGoogle Scholar
  2. A. J. B. Wace and M. S. Thompson, The Nomads of the Balkans (London, 1914) are still among the best books on theGoogle Scholar
  3. Vlachs. J. Cvijíc, La Peninsule Balkanique (Paris, 1918) is still a good introduction to the Balkans as a whole.Google Scholar
  4. Yugoslav statistics may be found in F. Singleton, Yugoslavia (London, 1975) p. 260 andGoogle Scholar
  5. Greek statistics in A. Angelopoulos, ‘Population distribution of Greece today according to language, national consciousness and religion’ Balkan Studies, XX (1979) 151. The Yugoslav figure for Vlachs (probably including some Romanians) in 1971 was over 23,000 and the Greek figure for Vlachs in 1951 was 39,855.Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    N. Wilkinson, Maps and Politics (Liverpool, 1951) and Map 10 on page 63 of this book.Google Scholar
  7. 3.
    For a map of the Jireček line and possible revisions of it see A. Rossetti, Istoria Limbi Romine, vol. II (Bucarest, 1964) pp. 34–50.Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    For the Bulgarian historians Rakowski and Krstovie see D. Dakin, The Greek struggle in Macedonia, 1897–1913 (Salonica, 1966) pp. 12–13.Google Scholar
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  11. 7.
    For survivals of native speech see A. Jones, The Later Roman Empire (Oxford, 1973) pp. 992–3. Some students of Balkan philology like Weigand see Thracian rather than Illyrian as the base of Albanian which also has a large Latin element.Google Scholar
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    Hammond, Macedonia, vol. I (Oxford, 1972) pp. 73–8.Google Scholar
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    What would a modern Jireček have made of the quadrilingual inhabitants of Nižopolje, or the illiterate Vlach I met in Kastoria, who claimed to speak Vlach, Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian, Yiddish, Albanian, German, French, Spanish and Italian. For Latin inscriptions in the Balkans see H. Mihaescu, La Langue Latine dans le Sud-est de l’Europe (Bucarest-Paris, 1978).Google Scholar
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    Larsen An Economic Survey, pp. 465–96 and Rostovtzeff, Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire (Oxford, 1957) pp. 253–4. Both are sceptical of laments by authors living in the time of the Roman empire to the effect that Greece, and to a lesser extent Macedonia, were mere shadows of their former glory.Google Scholar
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  18. 25.
    Yugoslavia and Bulgaria have explored more archaeological sites of the Roman period than Greece, and the Danube frontier has been investigated more than other parts of the country. For the difficulties of accurate dating see A. Moczy, Pannonia and Upper Moesia (London, 1974) p. 300.Google Scholar
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    V. Beseliev, Zur Deutung der Kastellnamen in Prokop’s Werk “De Aedificiis” (Amsterdam, 1970).Google Scholar
  20. 32.
    The Slav invasion of Greece is of course a controversial subject. Most of the primary evidence is cited in the series of articles by P. Charanis, Studies on the Demography of the Byzantine Empire (London, 1972).Google Scholar
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    C. De Boor (ed.) Theophylact (Leipzig, 1887) p. 100. Theophanes 1. 258.Google Scholar
  24. 34.
    Most of the evidence on early Vlach history is to be found in R. L. Wolff, ‘The Second Bulgarian Empire: its origins and history to 1204’, Speculum, vol. XXIV (1949) 167–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Tom Winnifrith and Penelope Murray 1983

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  • Tom Winnifrith

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