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TITLE Melidoni by Hermann von Maltzan (1843-1891): a German tragedy about the Cretan Question. (Initial Publication)
AUTHOR Georgiou Michalis
LANGUAGE Αγγλικά / English
PUBLISH DATE 06.05.2019
KEYWORDS Berlin Conference 1884-1885, colonialism, “Eastern Question”, German Colonial Association, Maltzan Hermann von, Melidonis Antonis, Bismarck Otto von, “Pact of Halepa”, philhellenism, romanticism, Treaty of San Stefano
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Between the years of 1879 and 1883, the German zoologist and litterateur Hermann von Maltzan (born in Rostock in 1843) embarked upon a zoological research journey that encompassed the Iberian Peninsula, French Senegambia, and eventually culminated in Crete and western Turkey. After his return, while situated in Berlin and influenced by the post-revolutionary situation in Crete (he visited the island four years after the revolution of ’78), he authored and published the historical romantic drama Melidoni; a work set in Crete, during the 1821 Greek Revolution against the Ottomans. In this paper, I attempt an analysis of Maltzan’s drama, a piece yet to be studied fully. Firstly, I examine the relationship between the drama and the long tradition of German philhellenism, a phenomenon rooted in the growing German interest in the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of Greece, combining a devotion to antiquity with the Christian reverence expressed by German nationalism. Secondly, I focus on examining the deeper political reasons behind Maltzan’s choice to write a play based on the armed insurrection of the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire. These reasons are related to the German colonial plans drawn up by colonial organizations opposed to Bismarck’s official policies. These plans concern both the small core of Asia and certain Middle Eastern provinces; a policy directly connected to the desire to see a rapid dismantling of the Ottoman Empire.