Where is Greece? Wolfgang Lazius (1514-1565) and the making of a country.

01 September 2014 → 31 December 2015
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund, Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Theory and methodology of philosophy
    • Philosophy
    • Other philosophy, ethics and religious studies not elsewhere classified
Wolfgang Lazius
Project description

Where is Greece? The answer might seem obvious to u stoday. But on 15th-century maps, for instance, Greece is not even designated as a self standing region, let alone a territoru. This points at a good deal of confusion about what Greece actually was before it emerged as a nation state in the 19th century. Was it a country in the acient past? An artistic symbol? The territory of a people? Was it inside or outside Europe, familiar or alien? While Greece had been a rather vague notion throughout the 15th century, this began to change in the second half of the 16th century. Scholars began to define the limits in time and space of what they called 'Graecia'. They thus produced for the first time, and long before 19th century, an elaborate idea of Grece as a place with a history and geographical location of its own. Greece got its own position among the other emergent countries of Europe. This research ecplores the first self-standing book devoted to the 'Graecia' in the Latin West after Antiquility, published in 1558 by the Austrian historian and mapmaker Wolfgang Lazius (1514-1565). It sets out to show that this work was not a dry list of facts about ancient Greece, but entailed the creation of something surprisingly new: Greece. It thus argues that Lazius image of Greece was not a description of a real country, but a projection of how he liked Greece to be absorbed in the Habsburg Empire.