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I’m finally getting a chance to see the entire original Star Trek and have gotten up to the episode “Balance of Terror” (season 1, episode 8/14).

A few minutes into the episode, Spock gives a speech to the rest of the ship about the Earth-Romulan conflict of “over a century ago” (2166). He goes on to say that because they had used primitive atomic weapons and vessels with no visual communication screen, “no human Romulan, or ally had ever seen the other”, and that they can only assume Romulans are a war-like, cruel, and treacherous people. He also explains that the treaty that established the neutral-zone was conducted via sub-space radio.

Okay, I can accept that humans and Romulans had never seen each other in the more-than-100-years that they have known of the others’ existence, but what about Spock?

We know that Vulcans and Romulans are related, branching off from a common ancestor a while ago. So why does Spock not know anything about Romulans? It seems difficult to believe that Vulcans would have erased everything about Romulans from their history books.

I thought that maybe they had not yet established the link between Vulcans and Romulans at this point in the franchise, but Spock theorizes later in the episode that Romulans are realted to Vulcans. So why is Spock so surprised that Romulans look like Vulcans? How had he never seen at least a photo of a Romulan or read about them in history class?

Is there a mention in canon about Vulcans trying to bury the connection? Has it been retconned?

Nothing was mentioned of the discrepancy in the episode’s Memory Alpha, Wikipedia, TV.com, or IMDB pages.

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Interesting side note Spock was born in 2230 - so he was actually alive during the conflict in 2266! –  Liath Oct 16 '13 at 8:46
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The time of the division was marked by violent upheaval on Vulcan. It isn't hard to imagine the records being lost, or the Vulcans never making the connection between those warlike Vulcans who disappeared thousands of years earlier and the Romulan Star Empire. From the Wikipedia entry on Surak:

During the "Time of Awakening" a Vulcan schism of those who "sought a return to savage ways" and "marched beneath the raptor's wings" (later the symbol of the Romulan people) perpetrate a cataclysmic nuclear attack upon Surak and his enlightened society. Soon after Surak's death, these Vulcan recidivists abandon their homeworld to colonize the planets Romulus and Remus.

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I didn’t realize they’d split that long ago; I always had the impression it was just a few generations. I still don’t think a space-faring civilization would have purposely buried a significant part of their history, and even a couple of millennia wouldn't be enough to wipe out their memories (we have records of significant historic events going back even longer). However, considering how strongly they react to avoid discussing private things like pon farr, mind-melds, etc. (out of embarrassment? ಠ_ఠ), I suppose they could have chosen to bury their connection to the oh-so emotional Romulans. –  Synetech Oct 17 '13 at 0:32
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