There have been certain fallacies circulating for the past few years due to ignorance on the «Macedonian Issue». It is exacerbated by systematic propaganda emanating from AVNOJ, or communist Yugoslavia and present-day FYROM, and their intransigent ultra-nationalist Diaspora.
- Fallacy #1: The inhabitants of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (The FYROM) are ethnic Macedonians, direct descendants of, or related to the ancient Macedonians.
Fact #1: The inhabitants of The FYROM are mostly Slavs, Bulgarians and Albanians. They have nothing in common with the ancient Macedonians. Here are some testimonies from The FYROM’s officials:
- The former President of The FYROM, Kiro Gligorov said: «We are Slavs who came to this area in the sixth century … we are not descendants of the ancient Macedonians» (Foreign Information Service Daily Report, Eastern Europe, February 26, 1992, p. 35).
- Also, Mr Gligorov declared: «We are Macedonians but we are Slav Macedonians. That’s who we are! We have no connection to Alexander the Greek and his Macedonia… Our ancestors came here in the 5th and 6th century» (Toronto Star, March 15, 1992).
- On 22 January 1999, Ambassador of the FYROM to USA, Ljubica Achevska gave a speech on the present situation in the Balkans. In answering questions at the end of her speech Mrs. Acevshka said: «We do not claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great … Greece is Macedonia’s second largest trading partner, and its number one investor. Instead of opting forwar, we have chosen the mediation of the United Nations, with talks on the ambassadorial levelunder Mr. Vance and Mr. Nemitz.» In reply to another question about the ethnic origin of the people of FYROM, Ambassador Achevska stated that «we are Slavs and we speak a Slav language».
- Moreover, the Foreign Minister of the FYROM, Slobodan Casule, in an interview to Utrinski Vesnik of Skopje on December 29, 2001, said that he mentioned to the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, Solomon Pasi, that they «belong to the same Slav people.»
- Fallacy #2: The Macedonian Greeks are of the same ethnic group as the «Macedonians» of The FYROM.
Fact #2: The Macedonian Greeks are NOT of the same ethnic group as the Macedonian Slavs of The FYROM. The Macedonian Greeks are just that, Greeks who live in or originate from the geographic area of Macedonia. They are the only people, that by inheritance, can be called Macedonians.
- Fallacy #3: Ancient Macedonians were a tribe similar to the Greeks, but not Greek themselves.
Fact #3: Ancient Macedonians were one of more than the 230 Hellenic tribes, sub-tribes, and families of the Hellenic Nation that spoke more than 200 dialects. For more information see Herodotus, Thucydides, Titus Livius, Strabo, Nevi’im, Ketuvim, Apocrypha (Macabees I, 1-2). It was not until 1945 that their Hellenism has been challenged by the Slavs for expansionistic reasons.
- Fallacy #4: Ancient Greece was a country, a legal entity, as we understand it today.
Fact #4: No. Hellas (Greece) was first recognized as a nation state or legal entity as we understand it today in 1830. From the beginning until that time, the term Hellas was only a geographic term or an administrative area whose borders were changing depending on the needs of the Roman, Byzantine, or Ottoman Empires.
- Fallacy #5: There was one ancient Greek language and the ancient Macedonians spoke Macedonian, not Greek.
Fact #5: Linguistically, there is no real distinction between a dialect and a language without a specific factor. People usually consider the political factor to determine whether a certain kind of speech is a language or a dialect. Since the Pan-Hellenic area consisted of many small city- states (Attica, Lacedaemon, Corinth, etc.), and larger states (Molossia, Thesprotia, Macedonia, Acarnania, Aetolia, etc.), it was common knowledge at the time that the people of all those states were speaking different languages, when in fact they were all variations of the same language, Hellenic or Greek. The most advanced of all Hellenic dialects was the dialect of Attica (Athens) or Attic. When people state «ancient Greek language» they mean the Attic dialect and any comparison of the Macedonian dialect to ancient Greek is actually a comparison to the Attic dialect. The difference between Macedonian and Attic was like the difference between Low and High German. Nobody doubts that both are Germanic languages, although they differ from one another. Another good example of a multi-dialectal linguistic regime is present-day Italy. The official language of Italy is the Florentine, but common people still speak their own dialects. Two people from different areas of Italy cannot communicate if both speak their respective dialect, and yet they both speak Italian. Why should the Hellenic language be treated differently?
At that time, Greeks spoke more than 200 Hellenic dialects or languages, as the ancient Greeks used to call them. Some of the well-known dialects were Ionic, Attic, Doric, Aeolic, Cypriot, Arcadic, Aetolic, Acarnanic, Macedonian and Locric. Moreover, we know that the Romans considered the Macedonians as Hellenic speaking peoples. Livy wrote, «…The Aetolians, the Acarnanians, the Macedonians, men of the same speech, are united or disunited by trivial causes that arise from time to time …» (Livy, History of Rome, b. XXXI par. XXIX). The Aetolians and Acarnanians were definitely Hellenic tribes. On another occasion Livy writes «…[General Paulus] took his official seat surrounded by the whole crowd of Macedonians … his announcement was translated into Greek and repeated by Gnaeus Octavius the praetor…». If the crowd of Macedonians were not Greek speaking, why then did the Romans need to translate Paulus’ speech into Greek? (Livy, History of Rome, b. XLV, para XXIX).
The Macedonian dialect was an Aeolic dialect of the Western Greek language group (Hammond, The Macedonian State, p. 193). All those dialects differ from each other, but never in a way that one person could not understand the other. The Military Yugoslavian Encyclopedia of the 1974 edition (Letter M, page 219), a very anti-Hellenic biased publication, states, «… u doba rimske invazije, njihov jezik bio grcki, ali se dva veka ranije dosta razlikovao od njega, mada ne toliko da se ta dva naroda nisu mogla sporazumevati.» (… at the time of the Roman invasion their language was Hellenic, but two centuries before it was different enough, but not as much as the two peoples could not understand one another).
After the death of Alexander the Great, the situation changed in the vast empire into a new reality. Ptolemy II, Philadelphos (308-246 BC) the Pharaoh (king) of Egypt realized that the physical unification of the Greeks and the almost limitless expansion of the Empire required the standardization of the already widely used common language or Koine. Greek was already the lingua franca of the vast Hellenistic world in all four kingdoms of the Diadochi (Alexander’s Successors). It was already spoken, but neither an official alphabet nor grammar had yet been devised.
Alexandria, Egypt was already the Cultural Center of the Empire in about 280 BC. Ptolemy II assigned Aristeas, an Athenian scholar, to create the grammar of the new language, one that not only all Greeks, but all inhabitants of the Empire would be able to speak. Thus, Aristeas used the Attic dialect as basis for the new language. Aristeas and the scholars who were assisting him trimmed the language a little, eliminated the Attic idiosyncrasies and added words as well as grammatical and syntactical rules mainly from the Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic dialects. The Spartan Doric, however, was excluded from it (see Tsakonian further down). So, they standardized THE Hellenic language, called Koine or Common.
The language was far from perfect. Non-Greeks encountered difficulties reading it since there was no way to separate words, sentences and paragraphs. In addition, they were unable to express their feelings and the right intonation. During that time, Greek was a melodic language, even more melodic than Italian is today.
There were a few alphabets employed by various Hellenic cities or states, and these alphabets included letters specific to the sounds of their particular dialect. There were two main categories, the Eastern and the Western alphabets. The first official alphabet omitted all letters not in use any longer (sampi, qoppa, digamma also known as stigma in Greek numbering) and it presented a 24-letter alphabet for the new Koine language. However, the inclusion and use of small letters took place over a period of many centuries after the standardization of Koine. After the new language was completed with its symbols, the Jews of Egypt felt that it was an opportunity for them to translate their sacred books into Greek since it was the language that the Jews of Diaspora spoke. So on the island of Pharos, by Alexandria’s seaport, 72 Jewish rabbis were secluded and isolated as they translated their sacred books (Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim, etc.) from Aramaic and Hebrew to the Koine Greek, the newly created language. This is known as the Septuagint translation. The Koine evolved and in about two to three centuries it became the language that Biblical scholars call Biblical Greek. In fact, only those who have studied the Attic dialect can understand the difference between the Septuagint Greek and the Greek of the New Testament.
Although the Koine was officially in use, common folk in general continued to speak their own dialect and here and there one can sense the insertion of elements of the Attic dialect in various documents such as the New Testament. The Gospel according to St. John and the Revelation are written in perfect Attic. The other three Synoptic Gospels were written in Koine with the insertion of some Semitic grammatical concepts (i.e. the Hebrew genitive) and invented words (i.e. epiousios). The outcome is that today in Greece there are many variations in speech; of course not to the point of people not understanding each other, but still there is divergence in the Greek spoken tongue. Today the Hellenic language accepts only one dialect, the Tsakonian, which is a direct development of the ancient Doric dialect of Sparta. The Demotic is a development of mostly the
Doric sound system, whereas the Katharevousa is a made-up language based on the Classical Attic. Presently, the speech in various areas of Greece somehow differs from each other and sometimes an untrained ear might have difficulty understanding the local speech. Pontic and Cypriot Greek are very good examples to the unacquainted ear. Tsakonian dialect, the descendant of the Spartan Doric, is almost impossible to understand if one is not familiar with it.
Over the years, Macedonia had several names. At first the Macedonians gave the land the name, Emathia, after their leader Emathion. It derives from the word amathos, amathoeis meaning sand or sandy. From now on, all of its names are Greek. Later it was called Maketia or Makessa and finally Makedonia (Macedonia). The latter names are derived from the Doric/Aeolic word «makos,» (in Attic «mekos) meaning length (see Homer, Odyssey, VII, 106), thus Makednos means long or tall, but also a highlander or mountaineer. (cf. Orestae, Hellenes).
In Opis, during the mutiny of the Macedonian Army, Alexander the Great spoke to the whole Macedonian Army addressing them in Greek (Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, VII, 9,10). The Macedonian soldiers listened to him and they were dumbfounded by what they heard from their Commander-in-Chief. They were upset. Immediately after Alexander left for the Palace, they demanded that Alexander allow them to enter the palace so that they could talk to him.
When this was reported to Alexander, he quickly came out and saw their restrained disposition; he heard the majority of his soldiers crying and lamenting, and was moved to tears. He came forward to speak, but they remained there imploring him. One of them, named Callines, whose age and command of the Companion cavalry made him preeminent spoke as follows: «Sire, what grieves the Macedonians is that you have already made some Persians your ‘kinsmen’, and the Persians are called ‘kinsmen’ of Alexander and are allowed to kiss you, while not one of the Macedonians has been granted this honor» (Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, VII, 8-11).
The previous story clearly reveals that the Macedonians were speaking Greek since they could understand their leader. There were thousands of them, not just some selected few who happened to speak Greek. It would be unrealistic for Alexander the Great to speak to them in a language they supposedly did not speak. It would be impossible to believe that the Macedonian soldiers were emotionally moved to the point that all of them were lamenting after listening to a language they did not understand. There is no way for the Macedonians to have taken a crash course in Greek in 20 minutes so that they would be able to understand the speech simultaneously as Alexander was delivering it.
Furthermore, the Macedonians wore a distinctive hat, the «kausia» (καυσία) (Polybius IV 4,5; Eustathius 1398; Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, VII 22; cf. Sturz, Macedonian Dialect, 41) from the Greek word for heat that separated them from the rest of the Greeks. That is why the Persians called them «yauna takabara,» which meant «Greeks wearing the hat». The Macedonian hat was very distinctive from the hats of the other Greeks, but the Persians did not distinguished the Macedonians, because the Macedonian speech was also Greek (Hammond, The Macedonian State p. 13 cf. J.M. Balcer, Historia, 37  7).
On the mountainsides of the Himalayas and the Indian Caucasus and under Pakistani and Afghanistan jurisdiction lives a tribe whose people call themselves Kalash. They claim to be the descendants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers who for various reasons were left behind in the depths of Asia and could not follow the Great General in his new conquests. Having no contact with the outside world for almost 23 centuries, they are quite different from any other neighboring nations. Light complexioned, and blue eyed in the midst of dark skinned neighbors, their language, even though it has been affected and influenced by the many Muslim languages of nations that surround the Kalash tribe, still incorporates vocabulary and has many elements of the ancient Greek language. They greet their visitors with «ispanta» from the Greek verb «ασπάζομαι» (greetings) and they warn them about «heman» from the ancient Greek noun «χειμών» (winter). These indigenous people still believe in the twelve Olympian gods and their architecture resembles very much the Macedonian architecture (National Herald, «A School in the Tribe of Kalash by Greeks», October 11, 1996).
Michael Wood, the British scholar in his In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (p.8), quotes the following statement made by a Kalash named Kazi Khushnawaz:
Long long ago, before the days of Islam, Sikander e Aazem came to India. The Two Horned one whom you British people call Alexander the Great. (sic) He conquered the world, and was a very great man, brave and dauntless and generous to his followers. When he left to go back to Greece, some of his men did not wish to go back with him but preferred to stay here. Their leader was a general called Shalakash [Seleucus]. With some of his officers and men, he came to these valleys and they settled here and took local women, and here they stayed. We, the Kalash, the Black Kafir of the Hindu Kush, are the descendants of their children. Still some of our words are the same as theirs, our music and our dances, too; we worship the same gods. This is why we believe the Greeks are our first ancestors… (Seleucus was one of the Generals of Alexander the Great. He was born in 358 or 354 BC in the town of Europos, Macedonia and died in August/September 281 BC near Lysimathia, Thrace.)
(Casson, Macedonia, Thrace and Illyria, p158, Errington, A History of Macedonia, p 4). Demosthenes traveled to Macedonia twice for a total of nine months. He knew very well what language the Macedonians were speaking. We encountered similar behavior with Thrasyboulos. He states that the Acarnanians were barbarians only when the Athenians encountered a conflict of political interest from the Acarnanians. The Macedonian way of life differed in many ways from the southern Greek way of life, but that was very common among the Western Greeks such as Chaones, Molossians, Thesprotians, Acarnanians, Aetolians and Macedonians (Errington, A History of Macedonia, p 4). Macedonian state institutions were similar to those of the Mycenean and Spartan . Regarding Demosthenes addressing Philip as «barbarian» even Badian an opponent of the Greekness of Macedonians states «It may have nothing to do with historical fact, any more than the orators’ tirades against their personal enemies usually have.» (E. Badian, Studies in the History of Art Vol 10: Macedonia And Greece in Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Times, Greeks and Macedonians).
- Fallacy #6: Ancient Macedonia was a nation state.
Fact #6: Before Phillip II, Macedonia was divided into small typical city-states having adopted the same concept of internal civic structure as the southern Greek city-states. Each Macedonian city-state or area had its own main city and government. Philip II united the Macedonian city-states by instituting and establishing a Homeric style of a Kingdom, maintaining the infrastructure of the smaller city-states with the various kings paying tribute to the king of all Macedonia. We know this from the fact that at one time the king of Lyncestis (present day Bitola – Florina) was Alexander. The point that has to be made clear is that a man’s first loyalty was to his city, not to the King of Macedonia (Hammond, The Macedonian State, p. 9).
- Fallacy #7: Over the years the ancient Macedonians disappeared.
Fact #7: The ancient Macedonians, under the influence of the new common language, the Koine, as developed over the years, were amalgamated with the rest of the Hellenes, or Greeks.
- Fallacy #8: If the ancient Macedonians were Greeks, why then was Alexander I, the king of Macedonia, named Philhellene (lover of Greece)? This title is bestowed only to foreigners.
Fact #8: The king of Macedonia, Alexander I, was named Philhellene by the Theban poet Pindaros for the same reason Jason of Pherrai and Euagoras of Cyprus were called Philhellenes (Isocrates 107A, 199A). The title Philhellene in ancient times meant Philopatris (lover of the homeland) or simply put «a patriot» (Plato, Politics, 470E; Xenophon, Agesilaus, 7, 4), which is why Alexander the Great did not touch the traditional house of Pindaros when he ordered his soldiers to burn Thebes.
- Fallacy #9: The ancient Greeks had a Greek or Hellenic national conscience and the Macedonians, by destroying Greek cities, proved that they were not Greeks.
Fact #9: Greece is an area which lacking geographic continuity fostered alienation of individual tribes not only in the general sense, but also in a narrower sense. That explains why the ancient Greeks did not have a common national conscience which is why they were warring against each other. The Macedonians destroyed or burned cities belonging to other Greek City States for the same reason the Athenians, the Thebans, and the Spartans battled one another.
It was common practice for various Hellenic states to form political/military alliances with each other and against each other, but they did not develop ethnic partnerships. There are plenty of such alliances in the ancient Hellenic world.
A few centuries went by until the Greeks began developing a national conscience. The Greeks definitely achieved the completion of a national conscience by the time Justinian was crowned the
Emperor of Byzantium. Very few ancient Greeks, such as Pericles, Demosthenes and Phillip II of Macedonia had the vision of a united country, but each one wanted to see his own state as the leading force of such a union. Pericles dreamed of it, Demosthenes advocated it, but Phillip II materialized it. Also, the Macedonians had common religious practices and customs as the Spartans.
- Fallacy #10: The ancient Macedonians were one of the Illyrian tribes.
Fact #10: Although there is a lot of evidence (mostly indirect) regarding the language of the ancient Macedonians, there is one piece of evidence offered by Polybius in book XXVIII, paragraphs 8 and 9, where it states that the Macedonians were using translators when they were communicating with the Illyrians. This means the Macedonians and the Illyrians did not speak the same language. For instance, Perseus, the Macedonian king, sent Adaeus of Berroia (who spoke only Greek) and Pleuratus the Illyrian, as a translator (because he spoke the Illyrian language) on a mission to the Illyrian king Genthius (169 BC). Pleuratus was an exile living in Perseus’ court. Moreover there is evidence that the Illyrians and the Macedonians were vicious enemies.
- Fallacy #11: Many of the Greeks living in Greek Macedonia are actually refugees that came to Macedonia during the First World War and especially during the 1920’s and 1930′ from Turkey, the Middle East, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria.
Fact #11: It is very true that a good number of the Greeks living in Greek Macedonia are refugees from various Middle Eastern countries. However, it is also true that these Greeks are descendants of those ancient Greeks, including ancient Macedonians, who either colonized various areas of what presently are Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria, Turkey, the Middle East, or followed the greatest General of all times, Alexander the Great. These Greeks simply came home after at least two and one half millennia of spreading the Greek spirit, culture, language and civilization. Mother Greece made her lands available to her returning and thought to be lost offspring. It was the least she could do. After all they had every right to come home, just as the Jews did and they are still going home to Israel.
- Fallacy #12: Sts. Cyril and Methodius were Slavs and that is the rationale why they are called «the Apostles of the Slavs» and also «the Slav Apostles.»
Fact #12: The term «Slav Apostles» or the «Apostles of the Slavs» does not mean that the two brothers were Slavs. St. Thomas is called «the Indian Apostle,» but we all know that he was not an Indian. He simply taught Christianity to the Indians. The Greek brothers from Thessaloniki taught Christianity to the Slavs, they gave them the alphabet (presently called Cyrillic), and they translated the sacred and liturgical books of Christianity into the Old Church Slavonic, otherwise known as Old Bulgarian. Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Epistles of December 31, 1980, and June 2, 1985, while he was commemorating the two brothers, affirmed the fact that both were Greeks from Thessaloniki. Professors Ivan Lazaroff, Plamen Pavloff, Ivan Tyutyundzijeff and Milko Palangurski of the Faculty of History of Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria in their book, Kratka istoriya na bulgarskiya narod (Short History of the Bulgarian Nation, pp 36-38), state very explicitly that the two brothers were Greeks from Thessaloniki. The late Oscar Halecki, Professor of Eastern European History, in his book Borderlands of Western Civilization, A History of East Central Europe (chapter Moravian State and the Apostles of the Slavs) agrees with the authors of Kratka istoriya na bulgarskiya narod.
- Fallacy #13: The present day Emblem of the FYROM is the lion. This lion is the same lion that Alexander theGreat is depicted wearing above his head imprinted on some old coins.
Fact #13: There is nothing in common between The FYROM’s lion and the lion’s skin that Alexander the Great wears in some coins. The FYROM’s lion is actually the Bulgarian lion, which is depicted in the Bulgarian Coat of Arms. Alexander’s lion is the lion’s skin that Heracles killed in Nemea, which is one of the 12 deeds executed by the mythological hero. The lion skin that Alexander the Great wears signifies his ancestral relationship to Heracles (Hercules). There is an unpublished inscription from Xanthos dating from the third century BC (cf. Robert, Amyzon, 1,162, n 31) where the Ptolemies refer to their Ancestors as «Herakleidas Argeadas» (Errington, A History of Macedonia, p 265, n 6).
- Fallacy #14: In other coins we see Alexander the Great having two horns on his head and this signifies that he was a very bad man.
Fact #14: In the Middle Eastern tradition a horned man meant that he was powerful. Darius in his letters to Alexander the Great called him, Zul-Al-Kurnain or Double Horned one. Thus the horns on Alexander’s head means that he was recognized as most powerful.
- Fallacy #15: After the battle of Granicus, Alexander sent the Athenians 300 full suits of Persian armor as a present, with the following inscription: «Alexander, son of Philip, and the Greeks, except the Lacedaemonians, dedicate these spoils, taken from the Persian who dwell in Asia.» J.R. Hamilton in a note on this event states, «In view of the small part, which the Greeks had played in the battle the inscription [with the omission of any mention of the Macedonians] must be regarded aspropaganda designed for his Greek allies. Alexander does not fail to stress the absence of the Spartans.»
Fact #15: J.R. Hamilton’s assumption is unconvincing. Alexander the Great had no reason to please anyone because the troops from South Greece were only 9,400, and as he admits, they only played a small part in the battle. Being the master of the expeditionary force and ignoring his Macedonians while exalting the «foreign Greeks», Alexander would have faced the same angry Macedonians that he was confronted with in Opis when he appointed foreigners (Persians and Medes) to high ranks and offices in his Army and administration. However, none of the Macedonians complained about the inscription after the battle of Granicus because they considered themselves included in it.
The fact is that Alexander the Great considered himself and his Macedonians, Greek. He claimed ancestry on his mother’s side from Achilles and on his father’s side from Hercules (Heracles). His ancestor, Alexander I, stated that he was Greek (Herodotus, Histories, V, 20, 22; VIII, 137; IX, 45). The Macedonians themselves were Greek speaking peoples (see: Papazoglu, Makedonski Gradovi, p 333 and Central Balkan Tribes, p 135; Casson, Macedonia, Thrace and Illyria, pp157-162; NGL Hammond, The Macedonian State, pp 12-15 and 193; Cavaignac, Histoire de l’ antiquite, i, p 67; Hoffman, Die Makedonen, p. 259; Errington, A History of Macedonia, p 3; Yugoslavian Military Encyclopedia 1974 «Anticka Makedonija»; Hogarth, Philip and Alexander, p.5, n 4), Urlich Wilcken, Alexander the Great, II pp 23 and 24, Botsford, Hellenic History, p 237).
Some of the scholars mentioned above initially were not sure about the Greekness of the Macedonians (i.e. NGL Hammod). Newly discovered artifacts and monuments that were excavated indicating the Macedonians were actually Greek made them admit their previous error. NGL Hammond explains the reason why scholars like Badian do not consider the Macedonians Greeks in his book, The Macedonian State (page 13, note 29). Hammond states that most recently E. Badian in Barr-Sharrar (pp 33-51) disregarded the evidence as explained in A History of Macedonia (NGL Hammond and G. T. Griffith, 1979 pp 39-54). In Barr-Sharrar, Badian holds the view that the Macedonians (whom he does not define) spoke a language other than Greek. Badian keeps ignoring evidence that is against his beliefs and convictions choosing only certain proof and ignoring other relevant proof. That is exactly the pattern others, like E. Borza, P. Green, etc. have chosen to follow.
All names, whether members of the royal family or not, including names of other simple Macedonian citizens, i.e. Kallinis (Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, VII par 11), Limnos from Chalastra (Plutarch, Parallel Lives of Famous Greeks and Romans, chap. Alexander) and all toponymies in the area of the Macedonian homeland were Greek. The Macedonian homeland included the city-states of Imathia, Pieria, Bottiea, Mygdonia, Crestonia, Bisaltia, Sintiki, Odomantis, Edonis, Elimea, Orestis, Eordea, Almopia, Lyncestis, Pelagonia and Macedonian Paeonia. Macedonian Paeonia is the part of Paeonia which lies south of the narrow pass at the area of Demir Kapija (The FYROM).
Fanula Papazoglu indirectly agrees with the concept of the above borderlines stating, «… it is often forgotten that ancient Macedonia occupied only a relatively small part of the Yugoslav Macedonia» (Papazoglu, Central Balkan Tribes, p. 268). Papazoglu’s two maps at the end of her doctoral dissertation (Makedonski gradovi u rimsko doba, Skoplje, 1957) portray only Macedonian territories under Roman rule.
Macedonia conquered the already Hellenized Paeonia in 217 BC under King Philip V, 106 years after the death of Alexander the Great. Any map that incorporates Paeonia into Macedonia before that year is absolutely false.
All inscriptions and artifacts excavated, including those in Trebeniste and Oleveni near Bitola, are in pure Greek. With a few exceptions, the only time one sees non-Greek names and toponymies is in areas that constituted the expansion of Macedonia, i.e. Paeonia, Thrace, etc. Any non-Greek names, words or toponymies found in the Macedonian homeland are remnant of Thracians, Phrygians or Paeonians that used to live there before their expulsion by the Macedonians. Participation in the Olympic Games was unequivocally and definitely a function that only athletes of strictly Hellenic origin could partake. Archelaus had won in the Olympic and Pythian Games (Solinus 9, 16) and Alexander I had also won in the Olympic Games (Herodotus, Histories, V, 22).
It is stated by Herodotus (Histories VIII, 43) that a number of Peloponnesian cities inhabited by Lacedaemonians, Corinthians, Sicyonians, Epidaurians, Troezinians, and Hermionians and that with the exception of Hermionians all others were of Dorian and Macedonian blood. The above people were living in cities located in Peloponnesus, which makes the Macedonians as Greek as the Dorians.
The answer as to why Alexander sent the 300 full suits of Persian armor to goddess Athena, goes back to the battle of Thermopylae and all events that followed. But in order for one to understand it better, one has to know the story of the battle of Thermopylae.
The Persian Army and Navy, headed by Xerxes, won the battle against the 1300 Greeks (1000 from Phocis) lead by the 300 Spartans whose commander was Leonidas. It is important for one to note that the Persians were victorious only when a local Greek, Ephialtes, betrayed a secret passage to the enemy who came from behind and thus surrounded the few Greeks. It is also important to know that according to Lycourgos’ laws, Spartans were not allowed to leave the battlefield for any reason, nor they were allowed to follow anyone in the battle. That’s why the Spartans did not follow Alexander against the Persians. Herodotus (Histories b. VIII, 114) tells us:
… the Spartans upon the urging of the Oracle of Delphi sent a messenger to Xerxes demanding reparations for the death of Leonidas. The man who obtained an interview with Xerxes said to him: ‘My lord, King of the Medes, the Lacedaemonians and the house of Heracles in Sparta demand satisfaction for blood, because you killed their king while he was fighting in defense of Greece.’ Xerxes laughed, and for a time did not answer…The royal house of Sparta (Herodotus VII, 204), and the royal house of Macedonia (cf. Fact #13) both claimed descent from Heracles (Hercules).
Taking into consideration all of the above, we come to the conclusion that Alexander the Great, being victorious at the battle of Granicus, sent 300 full armor uniforms to goddess Athena who was also the goddess of war, and in this way he AVENGED the 300 Spartans who died defending Greece.
An abundance of information regarding the ancient Greek past comes to us from the Greek Mythology. Unfortunately, Mythology cannot be a dependable source since it cannot furnish trustworthy information which would help us reconstruct the Hellenic past. However, it does not mean it is completely useless either. It elucidates through symbolism truths leading us to the right path while searching for historical facts through written or unwritten monuments. Such monuments are the only ones accepted by historians in their attempt to unlock hidden elements that hold the key to the reconstruction of the past of all Hellenic group of nations.
Countries are products of historical events, which is why they are born and die. Nations do not. Nations are entities that take a very arduous time to evolve. The same thing is true for their appellation. Nations cannot be given birth and receive names whenever politicians wish by legislation, as it is the case of the FYROM.
The present-day Hellenic nation is the result of social, civic and linguistic amalgamation of more than 230 tribes speaking more than 200 dialects that claimed descent from Hellen, son of Deukalion. The Hellenic nation is blessed to espouse in its lengthy life great personalities such as politicians, educators, soldiers, philosophers and authors. They have all contributed in their own way to the molding of their nation. They are the result of natural maturity and a consequence of historical, social, civic, linguistic and political developments that have taken place in the last 4,000 years.
«When we take into account the political conditions, religion and morals of the Macedonians, our conviction is strengthened that they were a Greek race and akin to the Dorians. Having stayed behind in the extreme north, they were unable to participate in the progressive civilization of the tribes which went further south…» (Wilcken, Alexander the Great, p 22). Most historians have assessed the Macedonian state of affairs in a similar fashion. The Macedonians were a Hellenic group of tribes belonging to the Western Greek ethnic group.
The Macedonians incorporated the territory of the native people into Macedonia and forced the Pieres, a Thracian tribe, out of the area to Mt. Pangaeum and the Bottiaiei from Bottiaia. They further expelled the Eordi from Eordaia and the Almopes from Almopia and they similarly expelled all tribes (Thracian, Paeonian, Illyrian) they found in areas of Anthemus, Crestonia, Bysaltia and other lands. The Macedonians absorbed the few inhabitants of the above tribes that stayed behind. They established their suzerainty over the land of Macedonia without losing their ethnicity, language, or religion . They also incorporated the lands of the Elimeiotae, Orestae, Lyncestae, Pelagones, and Deriopes all tribes living in Upper Macedonia who were Greek speakers, but of a different (Molossian) dialect from that spoken by the Macedonians (Hammond, The Macedonian State, p. 390). Then, living with savage northern neighbors such as Illyrians, Thracians, Paeonians and later Dardanians, the Macedonians physically deflected their neighbors’ hordes forming an impenetrable fence denying them the opportunity to attack the Greek city-states of the south, which is why they are considered the bastion of Hellenism. N. G. L. Hammond states:
What language did these `Macedones’ speak? The name itself is Greek in root and in ethnic termination. It probably means `highlanders’, and it is comparable to Greek tribal names such as `Orestai’ and `Oreitai’, meaning ‘mountain-men’. A reputedly earlier variant, `Maketai’, has the same root, which means `high’, as in the Greek adjective makednos or the noun mekos. The genealogy of eponymous ancestors which Hesiod recorded […] has a bearing on the question of Greek speech. First, Hesiod made Macedon a brother of Magnes; as we know from inscriptions that the Magnetes spoke the Aeolic dialect of the Greek language, we have a predisposition to suppose that the Macedones spoke the Aeolic dialect. Secondly, Hesiod made Macedon and Magnes first cousins of Hellen’s three sons -Dorus, Xouthus, and Aeolus-who were the founders of three dialects of Greek speech, namely Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic. Hesiod would not have recorded this relationship, unless he had believed, probably in the seventh century, that the Macedones were a Greek speaking people. The next evidence comes from Persia. At the turn of the sixth century the Persians described the tribute-paying peoples of their province in Europe, and one of them was the `yauna takabara’, which meant `Greeks wearing the hat’. There were Greeks in Greek city-states here and there in the province, but they were of various origins and not distinguished by a common hat. However, the Macedonians wore a distinctive hat, the kausia. We conclude that the Persians believed the Macedonians to be speakers of Greek.
Finally, in the latter part of the fifth century a Greek historian, Hellanicus, visited Macedonia and modified Hesiod’s genealogy by making Macedon not a cousin, but a son of Aeolus, thus bringing Macedon and his descendants firmly into the Aeolic branch of the Greek- speaking family. Hesiod, Persia, and Hellanicus had no motive for making a false statement about the language of the Macedonians, who were then an obscure and not a powerful people. Their independent testimonies should be accepted as conclusive (N.G.L. Hammond, The Macedonian State, p.12-13).
The evidence above shows that the ancient Macedonians were one of the Hellenic groups of tribes speaking a Greek dialect and having the same institutions as the Spartans and especially the Greeks of the Western group of nations. Thus, the fallacies emanated from the FYROM and its diaspora are strongly repudiated.
Marcus A. Templar
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- Αρριανός, Αλεξάνδρου Ανάβασις, Γ. Ε. Σ., Δ/νσις Στρατιωτικών Εκδόσεων, Αθήναι, 1971
- Auty, R., Handbook of Old Slavonic, University of London, 1977
- Botsford, G. W., Hellenic History, New York, 1956
- Casson, S., Macedonia, Thrace and Illyria, Westport, CT, 1971
- Cohen, E., The Athenian Nation, 2003
- Crampton, R. J., A Concise History of Bulgaria, 2000
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- Δημόπουλος, Δ. Π., Η Καταγωγή των Ελλήνων, 1995
- Dvornik, F., Byzantine Missions Among the Slavs: Ss. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius, 1970
- Errington, R. M., A History of Macedonia, 1990
- Ferluga, J., Byzantium on the Balkans, Amsterdam 1976
- Hammond, N. G. L., A History of Greece, 1959
- Hammond, N. G. L., The Macedonian State, 1989
- Hammond, N. G. L., The Genius of Alexander the Great, 1997
- Ηρόδοτος, Ιστορίαι, Γ. Ε. Σ., Δ/νσις Στρατιωτικών Εκδόσεων, Αθήναι, 1971
- Jarde, A., The Formation of the Greek People, New York, 1970
- Liddell, H. G., and Scott, R., The Great Lexicon of the Hellenic Language, Athens, 2001
- Ναλτζάς, Χ. Α., Φίλιππος ο Μακεδών, Ενωτής των Ελλήνων, Θεσσαλονίκη, 1970
- Obolensky, O., The Byzantine Commonwealth, London, 2000
- O’Brien, J. M. Alexander the Great, London, 1994
- Παπαγεωργίου, A. Β., Η Αρχαία Μυγδονία, Θεσσαλονίκη, 1988
- Papazoglu, F., The Central Balkan Tribes in Pre-Roman Times, Amsterdam, 1978, English Edition.
- Mario Pei, The Story of Language, Scarborough, Ontario, 1966
- Rufus, Q. C., Alexander the Great, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Wauconda, Il 1991
- Schuster, M. L., A Treasury of the World’s Great Letters, New York, NY 1968
- Smith, ?., S. J., Biblical Greek, Rome, 1990, English Edition.
- Συνοπτική Ιστορία των ΙΙας και VΙης Μεραρχιών, Β’ Σ.Σ./3ον Ε.Γ., Βέροια,1965
- Θουκιδίδης, Ιστορία του Πελοπονησιακού Πολέμου, Γ. Ε. Σ., Δ/νσις Στρατιωτικών Εκδόσεων, 1971
- Vasiliev, ?. ?., History of the Byzantine Empire, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1980
- Wilcken, U., Alexander the Great, New York, 1967
- Warren, P., The Aegean Civilizations, New York, 1989
- Wood, M., In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, 1997
Research about Macedonia
- «The Macedonian people and their kings were of Greek stock, as their traditions and the scanty remains of their language combine to testify.» [John Bagnell Bury, «A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great», 2nd ed. (1913)]
- «That the Macedonians and their kings did in fact speak a dialect of Greek and bore Greek names may be regarded nowadays as certain.» [Malcom Errington, «A History of Macedonia»]
- «Ancient allegations that the Macedonians were non-Greek all had their origin inAthens at the time of the struggle with Philip II.» [Malcom Errington, «A History of Macedonia»]
- «What language did these Macedones speak? The name itself is Greek in root and in ethnic termination. It probably means highlanders, and it is comparable to Greek tribal names…»[N.G.L. Hammond, «The Macedonian State» (1989)]
- «The toponyms of the Macedonian homeland are the most significant. Nearly all of them are Greek.»[N.G.L. Hammond, «The Macedonian State» (1989)]
- «And yet if we take into account the political conditions, religion and morals of the Macedonians, our conviction is strengthened that they were a Greek race andakin to the Dorians.»[Ulrich Wilcken, «Alexander the Great», (1967)]
- «Nowadays historians generally agree that the Macedonians form part of theGreek ethnos; hence they also shared in the common religious and cultural Features of the Hellenic world.»[M.Oppermann, «Oxford Classical Dictionary», 3rd ed. (1996), p.905]
- «Hesiod first mentioned ‘Makedon’, the eponym of the people and the country, as a son of Zeus, a grandson of Deukalion, and so a first cousin of Aeolus, Dorus, and Xuthus; in other words he considered the ‘Makedones’ to be an outlying branch ofthe Greek-speaking tribes, with a distinctive dialect of their own, ‘Macedonian’.» [N.G.L.Hammond, «Oxford Classical Dictionary», 3rd ed. (1996), pp.904,905]
- «The Macedonians were located between the Thracians and the Greeks, inhabiting the fertile plains drained by the Vardar and Struma rivers. From antiquity to the present the question has been debated as to whether these early Macedonians were Greeks or barbarians. The Macedonian rulers claimed to be descendants of Heracles and therefore genuine Greeks, a claim which the orators of the Athenian assembly scoffed at and rejected. The debate has continued to the present day, enlivened by the conflicting claims of modern Balkan states to the Macedonian lands.Recent philological and archaeological research indicates that the ancient Macedonians were in fact Greeks, whose civilization had not kept up with that of the tribes which had settled further to the south. Their language closely resembled the classical Greek from which it differed no more than one English dialect from another. Various non-Greek peoples apparently had come under the rule of the Macedonian nobles and kings, but these latter definitely were Greeks in language and outlook, and invited Greek men of learning to their courts.»[L.S. Stavrianos, The Balkans since 1453, (2000), p.18]
- «All in all, the language of the Macedones was a distinct and particular form of Greek, resistant to outside influnces and conservative in pronunciation. It remained so until the fourth century when it was almost totally submerged by the flood tide of standardized Greek.» [Hammond and Griffith, «A History of Macedonia» Vol ii, 550-336 BC.]
- «In general, however, the Macedonian Slavs differ somewhat both in appearance and character from their neighbours beyond the Bulgarian and Servian frontiers: the peculiar type which they present is probably due to a considerable admixture of Vlach, Hellenic, Albanian and Turkish blood, and to the influence of the surrounding races. Almost all independent authorities,however, agree that the bulk of the Slavonic population of Macedonia is Bulgarian. The principal indication is furnished by the language, which, though resembling Servian in some respects (e.g. the case- endings, which are occasionally retained), presents most of the characteristic features of Bulgarian.» The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia, found online at: http://36.1911encyclopedia.org/M/MA/MACEDONIA.htm]
- The racial situation in Macedonia: Greeks and Slavs «Although in some areas [of Macedonia] the various groups were all inextricably intermingled, it is pertinent to point out that in other sections a given race decidedly predominated. In the southern districts, for instance, and more particularly along the coast, the Greeks, a city people given to trade, had the upper hand, while to the north of them the Slavs, peasants for the most part working the soil, held sway. These Slavs may properly be considered as a special Macedonian group, but since they were closely related to both Bulgars and Serbs and had, moreover, in the past been usually incorporated in either the Bulgar or Serb state, they inevitably became the object of both Bulgar and Serb aspirations and an apple of discord between these rival nationalities. As an oppressed people on an exceedingly primitive level, the Macedonian Slavs had as late as the congress of Berlin exhibited no perceptiblenational consciousness of their own. It was therefore impossible to foretell in what direction they would lean when their awakening came; in fact, so indeterminate was the situation that under favorable circumstances they might even develop ther own particular Macedonian consciousness.» [Ferdinand Schevill, «A History of the Balkans», p.432]
- «We are not related to the northern Greeks who produced leaders like Philip and Alexander the Great. We are a Slav people and our language is closely related to Bulgarian.» «There is some confusion about the identity of the people of this country.» [FYROM’s Ambassador to Canada, Gyordan Veselinov in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, 24 February 1999]
- «We are Slavs who came to this area in the sixth century… we are not descendants of the ancient Macedonians.» [FYROM’S President Mr. Kiro Gligorov, Foreign Information Service Daily Report, Eastern Europe, February 26, 1992, p. 35.]
- «We are Macedonians but we are Slav Macedonians. That’s who we are! We have no connection to Alexander the Greek and his Macedonia. The ancient Macedonians no longer exist, they had disappeared from history long time ago. Our ancestors came here in the 5th and 6th century (AD).» [FYROM’S President Mr. Kiro Gligorov, Toronto Star newspaper, March 15, 1992] [FYROM’S Ambassador in Washington, Mrs. Ljubica Acevshka, 22 January 1999]
- «It should be remembered, to begin with, that there is no Macedonian race, as a distinct type. Macedonians may belong to any of the races of Eastern Europe or Western Asia, as, indeed, they do. A Macedonian Bulgar is just the same as a Bulgar of Bulgaria proper, the old principality, that in October, 1908, at Tirnova, was proclaimed independent of Turkey. He looks the same, talks the same, and very largely, thinks the same way. In short, he is of the same stock. There is no difference, whatsoever, between the two branches of the race, except that the Macedonian Bulgars, as a result of their position under the Turkish government, have less culture and education than their northern brethren.»[Arthur Douglas Howden Smith, «Fighting the Turk in the Balkans: An American’s Adventures with the Macedonian Revolutionists», 1908, p. 4-5]
- «I shall not indulge in a lecture on the ancient identity of the Macedonians and on Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great, but the Greeks were historicallycorrect in the campaign that they launched in the early days of the dispute…
«Nor shall I engage in a lecture on the falsification of the history of Slavo- Macedonia since 1944, although that, too, has much hard factual content. I simply remind the House that Tito’s renaming of Vardar Banovina as the Republic of Macedonia in 1944 was a political statement. More than that, it was a territorial claim. It laid claim to territory in Greece and in Bulgaria. Notably, the objective was the warm water port of Salonika on the Aegean.» [Mr. Edward O’Hara of the British Parliament]