What Is Hellenism?


The word 'Hellenism' is derived from the word 'Hellen' which means Greek. Thus Hellenism represents Greek culture and spirit. One of the features of Romanticism was love for the classical past. Beset by the frustrations and disappointments of contemporary times the Romantics somethings sought solace and refuge in the Greek world. This world always had a charm of its own for the Romantics because of the Greek gods and goddesses symbolized a harmony, a superior pattern and a sense of completeness which the Romantic poets craved for. The diverse aspects of nature reminded the poets of the aura of the classical world. For example, by imagining the locks of an approaching turbulent storm Shelley began to be reminded of the disheveled hair of the Maenads. 

The passion of Hellenism is most prominently found in Keats. His works like 'Lamia', 'Hyperion' and 'Endymion' are based on Greek legends while the subject matters of 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' and 'Ode to Psyche' are unmistakably Greek. Keats, in the process of giving expression to his passion for beauty, gets transported into the Greek world in his imagination. Most importantly, it should be remembered that Keats was a Greek in temperament and that is the best explanation for his love for everything Greek. Shelley also has his interest not only in the myths of Greece but in her timeless truths. ; Prometheus Unbound', 'Adonais' and 'Hellas' testify to this. In 'Hellas' he talks about the Greek ideal:

Greece and her foundations are 
Built below the tide of war,
Based on the crystalline sea
of thought and its eternity

Source: NSOU

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