Loraux, Nicole. 1997a. “La guerre dans la famille.” CLIO, Vol. 5: 21-62.
- Chapter 5. 1946–1949: Emphýlios
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The term emphýlios as a term to denote a war between Greeks appears in Plato's Republic, in reference to the Peloponnesian War, in Theognis, in Oedipus Tyrannus, in Aeschylus's Eumenides (as Arēs emphýlios), in Theocritus as “men's emphýlios battle [machen emphýlion andron],” and in Polybius as war (pólemos emphýlios). In Plutarch, it means mutiny (stasis, also “partisanship, faction, or sedition”) although Nicole Loraux distinguishes between stasis emphyl(i)os, the term used for a war that happened within the city when the city understood itself as belonging to the same phýlon, and oikeios pólemos, a civil war in the city when the city understood itself as part of a maison, in the sense that James Boon has used the term in his reading of Claude Lévi-Strauss, to denote all the segmentary categorizations that are produced when a common ancestry of a large kin group including both affines and agnatics is deployed. (See Loraux 1997a; Boon 1990: 96–114; Lévi-Strauss 1983: 187.)
In Latin we find the term for “civil war” transformed. Rather than centering on the notion of the phylē, it acquires a political dimension that centers on the idea of the polis: civita. Hence Comentarii de Belli Civili, the famous account of the war that Julius Caesar waged against Pompey and the Roman Senate. European languages, with the exception of Greek, have adopted this political formulation (Bürgerkrieg in German, guerre civile in French, guerra civile in Italian). Loraux sees in the term emphýlios the Greek notion of stasis (“sedition, faction, partisanship,” but also “stopping, cessation of movement and motion”) and, in a short-hand motion, translates it into “civil war”: “what the city experiences as stasis, to use the Greek term for what is simultaneously partisanship, faction, sedition, and—as we say in an expression with very Roman connotations—civil war” (2006: 10). But I would like to press a bit further this small aside by Loraux, this gesture of rendering emphýlios, within dashes, as if parenthetically, as “civil war.” As a term emphýlios announces two points: (1) the phyletic self-sameness of those involved and (2) the impossibility of evacuating it. Hence, while the term civil war introduces the importance of the city, it evacuates the notion of kinship, with which emphýlios (linguistically and as an act) is impregnated and which legitimates the characterization of emphýlios as fratricide.
In the context of post-Ottoman Greek history, we find the term used to refer to the two civil wars that erupted during and after the War of Independence from the Ottomans, which broke out in 1821, and then for the emphýlios after the German occupation. The two civil wars of the Greek Revolution occurred from November 1823 to June 1824 and in November 1824. Ioannis Makryiannis, in his memoirs, uses the Latin-derived term fatria (“counter-party, clandestine resistance,” but originally “clan”) in reference to the First Emphýlios when he writes that:
in the Peloponnese, Koliopoulos and others had opened a fatria on the side of the government, whereas Deligiannes, Zaimes, Londos, and others went to the other side. …We asked what sort of thing this fatria was (where we came from we didn't know this word, although we knew other things that the kapetanioi [“captains of the revolution”] were doing). They ordered me to go and try this good thing, to eat fatria with my people. I told them, “I did not take an oath to pick up my arms and fight other Greeks; I took an oath to fight the Turks.” And we did not go. (Makryiannis 1972: 71)
He uses the term emphýlios in reference to the Second Emphýlios when he recounts the offer made to him by Andreas Zaimes (one of the leaders of the revolution) of one thousand grosses a month as a salary in exchange for his allegiance to the party that Londos, Notaras, Zaimes, and Mavrokordatos had formed, fighting Kolokotronis, Deleyiannis, and Sisines. Makriyannis mentions that he rebuked Zaimes by saying: “Even if you give me fifty thousand I will still not sell meat for a civil war [kreas dia emphylion polemon den poulo]” (ibid.: 70). The term also appears in the Greek translation and edition (by Yiannis Kordatos and Tassos Vournas) of George Finlay's History of the Greek Revolution.
Boon, James A. 1990. Affinities and Extremes: Crisscrossing the Bittersweet Ethnology of East Indies History, Hindu-Balinese Culture, and Indo-European Allure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1983. The Way of the Masks. 2d ed.. Trans. S. Modelski. London: Jonathan Cape.
Makryiannis, Ioannes. 1972. Apomnemoneumata (Memoirs)., ed. Tassos Vournas Athens: Tolides.