What is Hellenism?


The History of the Word Hellenism

The word “Hellenism” derived from the Greek word “Ellinismos” (ελληνισμός). In Greek, Ellinismos has been used to describe the people of Greek lineage and also to describe a set of values for living that were invented by the ancient Greeks. These values became the basis of today’s Western civilization. First appearing in English as Hellenism in 1609, the word came to represent all things related to Greece including a body of humanistic and classical ideals associated with ancient Greece, and includes reason, the pursuit of knowledge and the arts, moderation, and civic responsibility.

At the National Hellenic Museum, you can explore Greek heritage and ideals represented within our Collections, Library & Archives, and Oral Histories.