Misstating History Robs Greeks of Heritage

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 27, 1999 | Go to article overview

Misstating History Robs Greeks of Heritage


In his Op-Ed column on Kosovo ("In the land of Pyrrhus," May 13), Lowell Ponte mischaracterizes King Pyrrhus and his ancient kingdom, Epirus, as being part of "Albanian history." History, in fact, leaves no doubt that Pyrrhus, the land of Epirus and its people were Greek and clearly discernible from the Illyrians, who inhabited an adjacent territory and who many believe were the ancestors of today's Albanians.

That Albania has occupied the northern part of Epirus - which still contains a Greek Orthodox majority in many areas despite decades of ethnic cleansing, pogroms and institutionalized discrimination - since 1913 should not mean that its Hellenic past should be appropriated retroactively into Albanian history. This is the same Orwellian logic that has been used to claim that Homer, the Byzantine Empire and St. Nicholas were Turkish or that the Indo-Europeans who invaded northern India were Germanic.

It is not merely that nationalist sensitivities are offended by this forging of history. Renewed efforts by some to discredit Greek civilization or to disassociate it from its Hellenic identity in support of a Balkan agenda detrimental to the region's most democratic and egalitarian nation, European Union member Greece, explain why many Hellenes react with such alarm. It is a strategy with a long, sordid and successful history.

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