(in Polish, Filomaci, Towarzystwo Filomatow), members of a secret student organization at the University of Wilno (Vilnius), active between 1817 and 1823. The society, founded by A. Mickiewicz, T. Zan, J. Jeżowski, F. Malewski, J. Czeczot, and O. Pietraszkiewicz, was originally devoted to self-education but soon turned to social issues. Strongly influenced by J. Lelewel, the Philomats, whose ideas of enlightenment were closely linked with a desire for national liberation, favored revolutionary action. The Philomats, while they were not numerous, had a great influence on the development of the Polish liberation movement, which can be attributed mainly to Mickiewicz’s poetry. They founded branch organizations to popularize their ideas, the most important and best known of which was the organization of Philarets. The Philomats established contacts with Russian nobles who advocated revolution. In 1823 the most prominent Philomats were arrested, and in 1824 they were exiled to inner Russia.
I. S. MILLER