The Two Sides to Every Greek: Hellene vs. Romoi

Essay by steppenwolfA+, April 2004

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Louis De Bernieres's novel, Corelli's Mandolin, is a story about time and change. The story itself explores many aspects of life such as love, betrayal, chaos, tradition, history and numerous other elements that are often warped over time. De Bernieres notes that he tried to be as true to history as possible. But beneath the layers of time, change and history there is another element of Greek culture that parallels the stories within the novel. There is a continuous theme of the conflicting forces of good and evil and the changes that occur when these forces assimilate. This is the Greek dualistic concept of both nature and humanity. Beyond the exterior war that is the central theme of the novel, there is an interior war that takes place within each character. This war, or dualism, is the Greek notion of Hellene vs. Romoi.

The notion of Hellene goes back to ancient Greece.

In spite of the political turbulence and chaos of the fourth century BC, Greece was poised on its most triumphant period: the Hellenistic age. The word, Hellenistic, is derived from the word, Hellene, which was the Greek word for the Greeks. The Hellenistic age was the "age of the Greeks; during this time, Greek culture and power extended itself across the known world. While the classical age of Greece produced great literature, poetry, philosophy, drama, and art, the Hellenistic age "hellenized" the world. Greeks (Hellenic) were isolated and their civilization was termed classic because it was not heavily influenced by outside forces. The Romans, or Romoi, presented a chaotic element when they invaded Greek culture, an element explained in detail by Dr. Iannis.

Dr. Iannis explains the there are two Greeks within every Greek. Being a doctor, he believes that he knows this quality better than...