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Classics and National Cultures$
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Susan A. Stephens and Phiroze Vasunia

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212989

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212989.001.0001

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Eastern European Nations, Western Culture, and the Classical Tradition

Eastern European Nations, Western Culture, and the Classical Tradition

(p.141) 7 Eastern European Nations, Western Culture, and the Classical Tradition
Classics and National Cultures

Asen Kirin

Oxford University Press

Russian and Bulgarian nation‐building was deeply rooted in the medieval past. Nevertheless, classical studies and ancient culture gained prominence in this process, expressing not ethnocentric but cosmopolitan, pro‐Western tendencies. Three topics provide a basic outline for this phenomenon and its varied political agendas as they evolved over the span of two hundred years. First is the late eighteenth‐century Russian assertion of a special link with classical Greece mediated through Byzantium. Next comes the establishment of the Russian Archaeological Institute in Constantinople (1896–1914). The final topic is the rise of Thracology as the pillar of Bulgarian nationalism during the 1970s and 1980s under communist dictatorship. All these are facets of the tale about eastern European cultures' ‘classical deficiency’ and the determination to overcome it.

Keywords:   Russian nationalism, Bulgarian nationalism, Catherine the Great, Byzantium, Russian Archaeological Institute in Constantinople, Thracian studies, communist ideology

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