|Reshaping the Image of the Greek: The Bulgarian Version (19th Century)|
|The purpose of this paper is to negotiate the notion of Hellenism into a transnational context, in other words to highlight how it was conceptualized by the national Other in the 19th century. The gradual prevalence of national ideology in the Balkans completely altered the physiognomy of this Ottoman province in every domain of human activity. The Orthodox millet was split into several ethnic groups seeking for or inventing their specific national character. This process of reconsidering the image of the Self clearly influenced the perception of the Others, that is of those belonging to different ethnic communities. In order to explore this issue, we will focus on the case of the Bulgarians and investigate their attitudes about the Greeks.
Until the emergence of nationalism, Greek was the predominant language and culture among the orthodox population of the Ottoman empire. Moreover, for the Bulgarians, learning Greek and identifying themselves as Greeks was the means to advance socially. This inclination of the Bulgarians towards their Greek neighbours completely changed as a result of their differentiation on a national basis. The image of the Greek was negatively coloured then. We will examine this alteration of feelings and ideas by presenting the opinions of many distinguished Bulgarian intellectuals such as Paisij Hilendarski, Georgi Rakovski and Ljuben Karavelov.|