Asked Questions on Macedonia
presented here is based on various sources. These sources are
included at the end of this document or mentioned when first used.
In cases we need to write text in Greek the following transliteration
of the greek alphabet will be used:
As an example AUHNAI is spelled A Theta Eta N A I
The term Macedonia is used to describe the geographic region that
evolved into the area called Macedonia in modern Greece. This
area seems to coincide with the area called Macedonia in ancient
Republic of Skopje (or Skopje in short) and Skopjans are the terms
used to describe the ex-Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia and the
various ethnic groups living there (especially the ones
who call themselves "Macedonians"). With reference to
ancient times the lands of the Republic of Skopje were divided
among various tribes, the Bardanians in the north (including the
where the city of Skopje is presently located), the Paeonians
in the south and the Illyrians in the west.
- What were the borders
of ancient Macedonia?
- When did the first hellenic
tribes reside in the area latercalled by them Macedonia?
- What is the meaning of
the word 'Macedon'? References.
- The Macedonian state
until the end of the 6th century BC.
- What were the relations
of Macedonia with the other two Greek Kingdoms of Thessaly and
- What were the relations
between the Macedonians and the Illyrians?
- What was the Macedonian
form of government?
- What did ancient Greek
writers write about Macedonia?
- "Hellas" and
"Macedonia". When was the first time that the word
Hellas was used to describe the country inhabited by people
belonging to hellenic (greek) tribes?
- Was the Macedonian tongue
a greek dialect or not?
- "ANEBOA MAKEDONISTI"
- There is a reference
in a work by Pausanias that may give the impression that Macedonians,
around 214-213BC, were speaking a non-Greek language.
- Did Demosthenes
believe the Macedonians were barbarians?
- Is there any reference
by Demosthenes to an incident that can lead us to conclude that
he and his fellow Athenians believed that Macedonians indeed
spoke a greek dialect?
- Is it possible [ignoring
historic evidence that shows that this was not the case] that
Macedonians had spoken a non-greek language before 340BC and
within a 10-20 year period every Macedonian was fluent in the
- Who may have 'hellenized'
ancient Macedonians, if we we assume, despite proof for the
contrary, that they were not a greek tribe ?
- Isocrates used the phrases
"ALOFYLON TO GENOS", "OYX OMOFYLOY GENOYS".
Do they mean "of other tribe" or "of other race"?
- Skopjans accuse us Macedonians
in Greece of changing the names of our cities into Greek ones
some time in the 20th century instead of using the slavic names
assigned to these cities since "ancient" (sic) names.
They claim that Edessa for example should not be called so but
VODEN instead, and Thessaloniki should be called SOLUN.
- Skopjans claim that when
Slavs descended to the Balkan peninsula, in the 7th century
AD, Macedonians vanished and there was a kind of 'slavicization'
of Macedonia which 'gave birth' to the "Slavic-Macedononians"
as Skopjans claim they are (at least some of them), the supposedly
deserved ancestors of ancient Macedonians. Are such claims true
say up to 15th century AD?
- Do the Skopjans
have desires on Macedonia, Greece?
- When did 'Macedonians'
of the Skopjan type first appear?
- What was the
population distribution of Macedonia, the Republic of Skopje,
and parts of Bulgaria in the years of Ottoman rule?
- What is the nationality
of the Vlachs?
- Was the Bulgarian
King Samuel of Skopjan nationality as some Skopjans claimed
- What is the size
of the Greek minority in the Republic of Skopje.
- Macedonia and
the (Greek) War of Independence.
- When was the
first time the word ``Macedonia'' was defined to include lands
of the nowadays Rep. of Skopje?
- What were the
views of the Bulgarian Exarchate on the population composition
- Did all the Greeks
in Macedonia speak Greek only in the late 19th century?
- What were the
events that followed the Berlin Congress of 1878?
- The Neuilly treaty
- Communism and
- Bulgaria and
Germany in World War II.
- What are the
intentions of the Communists still ruling Skopje towards the
region of modern-day Greece called Macedonia since ancient times?
- Skopjan claims
on Greece (continued).
- Why Skopjans
use the term "Aegean macedonia"?
- What do some
Skopjans claim that the population composition of Macedonia
- Bulgarian statements
on Skopje in the late fifties [after the Tito-Stalin breakup].
- Skopjan minority
- Are there any
Slavs living in Greece? When the last few Slavs left Greece?
Are there any Slavophone living in Greece? Where are they living?
Who are they?
- A brief history
of the Bulgarian-origin terrorist group IMRO (Internal Macedonian
Revolutionary Organization ) founded one hundred years ago (1893).
were the borders of ancient Macedonia?
Thucydides (II 99) defined ancient Macedonia as the area extending
to the east as far as the lands of mountain Paggaion, east of
river Strymon, to the south to the Thermaikos Bay, Chalcidice,
river Pineios (the border with Thessaly) and the Kambounia mountains,
to the north up to (including) the city of Pella, south of the
lands of Paeonians, and to the west to the mountains (Pindos,
Tymfe etc) that separate Macedonia from Epeiros and ancient Illyria
Macedonia, as defined by Thucydides, coincides with the region
of Macedonia of modern Greece minus some lands of the Chalcidice
In later dates the borders of the Macedonian State (that is, the
lands ruled by the Macedonian Kings) varied and depending on the
circumstances it extended westwards up to the Adriatic Sea, eastwards
up to river Evros and beyond, and to the north up to
the city of Lychnidon between the lakes of Brygies and Lyhnetis
[the translation of some Greek names into English may seem weird.
Blame me for this.]. References pointing to the borders of the
Macedonian state can be found in Strabo, VII.
The terms Macedonia and Macedonian State may seem analogous to
the terms Great Britain and British Empire.
did the first hellenic tribes reside in the area later called
by them Macedonia?
The first hellenic tribes of Dorians and Achaeoi resided in Macedonia
in prehistoric times, first in Emathia near mountain Vermion and
later expanded northwards and eastwards to cover the lands outlined
in Question 1. Herodotos mentioned that around
the 9th century BC the Macedonian State had the city of Aegae
as its capital and that either Caranos or Perdikkas was considered
the founder of the Macedonian dynasty.
[ Note: The ancient royal city of Aegae is located in modern day
Vergine in the Emathia prefecture of Greece. Excavations which
began in 1976 by the late Professor Manolis Andronikos revealed
that the site of the city was indeed located near Vergina and
not near Edessa as many archaeologists, Professor Andronikos included,
previously believed. It was Professor N. G. L. Hammond who in
1968 first suggested that Vergina was the place to look for Aegae,
a belief peculiar even to himself at that time.
The first royal tombs in Vergina were excavated in 1976-1977 and
one of them is believed to belong to Philippos II, father of Alexander
the Great. ]
According to Herodotos, the Makednoi (Macedonians) who crossed
Doris and moved to Peloponnesos were later called Dorians. Since
the term Dorians is much more well known than the term Makednoi
we shall also use it to identify the latter people in the discussion
The Dorians who formed the Macedonian state came in contact with
the local Pelasgic population whose size was much smaller than
the one residing at the sea shores and the islands of Southern
Greece. It is for this reason that German Historian K. Belloch
considered the Macedonians the purest Greeks of any other part
of Greece (Gr. Geschichte, I, 1a, p92). The Dorians(Makednoi)
of Macedonia were larger in number than those who moved southwards.
This is because those who moved southwards
were reduced in number either due to attrition or to settlements
in the areas they visited along their movement to Southern Greece.
Such a place of permanent residence for some Makednoi(Dorians)
was Doris. When these Dorians (known until then as Makednoi only)
moved to Peloponnesos they became known there as Dorians (that
is, the people [coming] from Doris).
is the meaning of the word 'Macedon'? References.
The word Macedon (Gk: Makedvn) is very likely to come from the
greek word 'makednos' first mentioned in Homer's Odyssey (Od.H106),
and later by Herodotos, who called 'Makednon eunos' the various
Doric tribes among which he included the Macedonians (Her. I.56,
The word 'Makednos' has the meaning of long, tall, and highlander.
Some archaeologists believe that the Macedonians were called so
because they were tall. Nowadays the meaning of 'highlander' is
more prevalent. This is because Macedonians used to live early
in prehistoric times in the mountains of Vermio in
The greek words Macetia (Gk: MAKETIA) and Macetae (Gk: MAKETAI)
were also used in early times to identify Macedonia and the Macedonians.
The biblic Hettieim or Kitim and Kitiaioi originate
from Maketia and Maketai. Hesiod in Theogonia, written in the
middles of 8th century BC, claimed that Makednos and Magnes who
used to live in the lands around mountain Olympos and Pieria were
sons of Zeus and Thyias, daughter of Deukalion. This suggests
that the other Greeks of
that time believed that the Macedonians and Magnetes belonged
to the same tribe (a hellenic one).
Hellanikos, who lived at the time of Herodotos, considered Macedon
son of Aeolos. Apollodoros considered Macedon son of Lykaon and
thus grandson of the king of Argos Pelasgos and Lykaon king of
Arcadians whose 50 sons became leaders of various greek tribes.
On the other hand Aelianos considered Lykaon, King of Emathia
and Pindos, son of Macedon.
Aeschylus, in Iketidai, had the king of Argos
that his family was ruling the lands beyond Pindos and Dodoni
up to river Strymon (that is including Macedonia, the one part
of modern day Greece).
Macedonian state until the end of the 6th century BC.
The Macedonians until the 6th century BC lived isolated
from the other Greeks a pastoral life known as transhumant pastoralism
moving their herds to the mountain pastures in the spring and
to the lowland pastures in the winter (see N. G. L. Hammond).
Their language was affected by the way of their life and was not
as linguistically developed as that of Athens. Macedonians built
their houses on hilltop and well-protected areas and retained
the lifestyle of the original Dorians possibly emphasized by the
need of intermittent wars needed to preserve their own existence.
A German historian and linguist, O. Hoffmann, considered Macedonians
a greek tribe that first lived in the mountains of Pindos then
moved towards the lands of river Haliakmon and in some unknown
time towards the valley of river Axios.
The first contact between the Macedonians and other Greeks (those
of Chalcidice) occurred at the end of the 6th century BC when
Amyntas I, father of Alexander I, conquered Anthemounta in Chalcidice.
This contact terminates the isolationism of the Macedonian State
and signifies a new era of participation in the events taking
place in the hellenic world by forging alliances with various
city-states, becoming an enemy of other ones, and switching sides,
as fit to the interests of the State.
There are some people who advocate the thesis that the Macedonians
were not Greek. An English archaeologist, St. Casson, observed
that it was difficult to give a definition of what could be considered
'hellenic'. If one, according to him, included in such a definition
everything found north or south of the Korinthos bay (in Peloponnesos,
Southern Greece) between the 10th and 8th century BC, then Macedonia
should be considered greek.
The people, according to Casson, living in Macedonia were using
the same jewels with those living in Sparta, Olympia, Delphoi,
Aegina, and Argos. This at least proves the close relations of
the people living in these areas in the first centuries of the
1st millenium BC.
The recent excavations in Vergina confirm the conclusions of Casson
for the remaining centuries.
were the relations of Macedonia with the other two Greek Kingdoms
of Thessaly and Epeiros?
Epeiros, Macedonia and Thessaly were all inhabited by Greek tribes.
Epeiros, Macedonia and Thessaly had more in common than any other
Greek state. All three were kingdoms [monarchies], a form of government
highly disliked by the Greeks in the South [Sparta being a sole
exception had two kings]. For Epeiros and Macedonia monarchy was
the result of the pastoral life which forced people to live in
areas surrounded by mountains and be isolated from the other Greeks.
Despite references by Thucydides that the Epeirotians were not
Greek, excavations in Epeiros in the 1950s proved such claims
of Thucydides to be totally untrue, since it can now be proved
that Molossians, Athamanians, Chaones and Thesprotians and other
people living in Epeiros [known collectively as Epeirotians] were
Greek, speaking Greek and writing in Greek throughout the life-time
of Thucydides and even before that according to the archaeological
evidence found so far.
Ancient Greeks (Iliad P.234) believed that Dodoni in Epeiros was
the center of the Hellenic world and that the names Hellas and
Hellenes were first given to the people of Epeiros also called
Graecoi, the root of the English word 'Greek'. For more details
we refer to Aristotle's Meteorologica 352a, 34.
Macedonians were in close contacts with both the Thessalians and
the Epeirotians. Marriages among the members of the royal families
of the three kingdoms were common. Olympias, mother of Alexander
the Great, was a Molossian princess. Molossians believed that
the founder of their tribe was Neoptolemos son of homeric
Achilles. Macedonians and Epeirotians were many times allies in
wars against their common enemy, the Illyrians. Diodoros (XV 13)
mentioned that in a single battle following an Illyrian invasion
of Macedonia 15,000 Epeirotians were killed, a quite high
number, by the Greek standards of that time.
were the relations between the Macedonians and the Illyrians?
The Illyrians were Indoeuropeans and used to live in nowadays
Albania and the western-northwestern part of the Republic of Skopje.
They were not a greek tribe. Nowadays Albanians can be considered
descendants of the ancient Illyrians although many other people
lived in Illyria in various times (such as Greeks, Latins, Germans,
Slavs, and Turks).
The modern albanian language seems to have greek
elements but these elements were most probably introduced in the
older illyrian language during the hellenistic and roman periods
and later, in the byzantine times, when Illyrians appeared to
be speaking Greek.
Various authors have supported the thesis that Illyrians and Macedonians
belonged to the same (non-greek) tribe and spoke the same (non-greek)
language. Given that it has been proved beyond any reasonable
doubt (see following questions) that the language
spoken by ancient Macedonians was a greek dialect such claims
are not true.
An ancient writer Polyvios (XXVII 8,9) wrote
that Macedonians were using translators in their contacts with
the Illyrians, which implies that they were not speaking the same
Illyrians used to live up to the hellenistic and roman years a
primitive life raiding neighboring areas. Raids by Illyrians,
whenever they were able to cross the mountain passes, in Macedonia
and Epeiros were frequent [See also Question 5]. In the
early 4th century BC, when the succession to the Macedonian throne
was problematic Illyrians invaded Macedonia and occupied most
of the lands of the Macedonian State. They were driven out of
the State only with the combined efforts of Macedonians,
Epeirotians, Thessalians and the settlers of Chalcidici.
was the Macedonian form of government?
It was mentioned in a previous question that the Macedonian State
was a kingdom. The form of government reminded that found in Iliad
and Odyssey. The rule of the Macedonian king was not absolute
and his 'hetairoi', as the Macedonian soldiers were called, were
consulting the king sometimes quite vociferously. It was not uncommon
even for Alexander the Great to have to convince his Macedonian
soldiers for his future actions and to request their approval.
The institution of 'hetairoi' had its roots in Homer
(Iliad D 204, 532, E 663, Z 170,260) where the Myrmidon soldiers
of Achilles were called so.
did ancient Greek writers write about Macedonia?
Aeschylus (Iketidai, 250) and Herodotus (V 22) believed that Macedonians
were Dorian Greeks. Herodotos claimed that the Macedonians (called
at that time Makednoi) who moved to Peloponnesos from Doris were
later called Dorians.
[The English translation of the works by Herodotus we use is due
to A. D. Godley and published by Harvard University Press in the
US, and Willian Heineman Ltd in Great Britain as part of the Loeb
In Herodotus Book I, 56 (page 53) it is mentioned "These
races, Ionian and Dorian, were the foremost in ancient time, the
first a Pelasgian and the second an Hellenic people. The Pelasgian
stock has never yet left its habitation, the Hellenic has wandered
often and afar. For in the days of king Deucalion it inhabited
the land of Phthia, then in the time of Dorus son of Hellen the
country called Histiaean, under Ossa and Olympus; driven by the
Cadmeans from this Histiaean country it settled about Pindus in
called Macednian; thence again it migrated to Dryopia, and at
last came from Dryopia to Peloponnesos, where it took the name
Elsewhere, VIII-43 (referring to the naval battle in Salamis)
"The Peloponnesians that were with the fleet were, firstly,
the Lacedaemonians, with sixteen ships, and the Corinthians with
the same number of ships as at Atemisium; the Sicyonians furnished
fifteen, the Epidaurians ten, the Troezinians five, the people
of Hermione three; all these, except the people of Hermione were
of Dorian and Macedonian stock, and had last come from Erineus
and Pindus and the Dryopian region. The people of Hermione are
Dryopians, driven by Heracles and the Malians from the country
now called Doris.".In another passage Herodotos described
how the Macedonian state had been founded (VIII,136-138).
There is one passage in Thucydides that describees the Molossians
and other Epeirotian tribes among the 'barbarians'. It was proved
following the excavations in Epeiros in 1950-1960 that the Molossians
and other Epeirotian tribes were Greek, speaking Greek, and writing
in Greek well before Thucydides' time. Thus Thucydides was wrong
for these tribes. He was also wrong if he claimed, as some translators
allege, that Macedonians had not been a greek tribe. Thucydides
had also accused the Eurytanes, another Greek tribe, of being
barbarians for their bad and improper use of the greek language
and their aboriginal customs. The misinterpreted passage of Thucydides
is given below.
In Thucydides IV,124,1 (Loeb edition by C.F.
Smith) the following passage appeared.
"The total hellenic force was about three thousand; the cavalry
that went with them, Macedonians and Chalcidians, were all told
a little less than one thousand, and there was besides a great
multitude of barbarians".
[In Gk: "MAKEDONVN JYN XALKIDEYSIN OLIGVN ES XILIOYS, KAI
OMILOS TVN BARBARVN POLYS"]
This passage is sometimes misinterpreted so that Macedonians and
Chalcidians for that matter appear to be considered barbarians
by Thucydides. That this is not so can follow from an analysis
of this passage. First, no one ever considered the Chalcidians,
whose number is added to that of Macedonians, barbarians. Second,
Thucydides distinguishes Macedonians and Chalcidians on the one
hand and barbarians on the other by using the adjective few (Gk:
OLIGVN) for the former and many for the latter (Gk:POLY).
These two adjective clearly indicate a contradistinction.
Euripides lived many years and died in Macedonia. Many of his
tragedies were written and played while he was in Macedonia. This
would have been impossible, had the Macedonians been 'barbarians'
(non-Greek). This is because in one of these tragedies, 'Iphigeneia
in Aulis', the Greek superiority over the barbarians is emphasized.
The following epigram in memory of Euripides which is attributed
by some authors to Thucydides may give us more light to the actual
beliefs of the people of that
time (and possibly Thucydides)
"MNHMA MEN ELLAS APAS' EYRIPIDOU, OSTEA D' ISXEI GH MAKEDVN,
H GAR DEJATO TERMA BIOU".
In brief, Macedonia, the land that holds the bones of Euripides
is considered part of Greece.
Polyvios (VII 11,4, V 103,9, XVIII, XXXiV 7,13 , VII 9,1 IX 37,7)
clearly stated his belief that Macedonia was greek, part of Greece,
and considered Achaeans and Macedonians of the same race. The
same beliefs were shared by Strabo as well as Titus Livius,
to name a few other writers. It is also interesting to note that
Polyvios describing the Balkan Peninsula he says that it includes
Greece, Illyria and Thrace. One can thus deduce that he includes
Macedonia in Greece. Had he not done so, he could have listed
Plutarchos(Flam. XI) describes Titus Contus Flamininus during
the Isthmia celebrations claimed that Macedonia prevented barbarian
barbarian attacks against Southern Greece. Arrhianos' work is
full of references to "Macedonia and the other
and "Macedonia". When was the first time that the word
Hellas was used to describe the country inhabited by people belonging
to hellenic (greek) tribes?
Although the words Hellas and Hellen (and the other two English
equivalents Greece and Greek) have been used to describe the country
and the people of modern day Greece, their use in ancient times
differed in various periods of time. The usage of these words
to describe the various hellenic tribes as a whole was unknown
to the people of the Homeric poems.
In Iliad, the words Hellen (Gk: ELLHN) and Hellas (Gk: ELLAS)
defined a small greek tribe and the land inhabited by them in
Thessaly. (Iliad B' 683) "OI T' EIXON FUIHN HD' ELLADA KALLI
GYNAIKA, MYRMIDONES DE KALEYNTO KAI ELLHNES KAI AXAIOI".
At some earlier line (B' 530) there is a reference to the word
"PANELLHNVN". This word since the time of Aristarchos
has been considered to be absent in the original poem and was
added at some later time.
Plutarchos (Lykourgos 6) wrote about the message brought from
Delphoi to Sparta by Lykourgos " DIOS (S)ELLANIOU KAI AUHNAS
(S)ELLANIAS IERON IDRYSAMENON...". Because of this reference,
it is believed that the words "Hellas" and "Hellen"
became more widely used after the dispersion of the Dorians. It
is also possible that they were sacred words possibly related
to the (S)elles priests of the Dodonian Zeus. [the parenthesized
(S) is to mean that the S say in the word SELLANIOY was later
dropped from use thus giving ELLANIOY.]
The words Hellas and Hellen became more widely used some time
in the 8-7th century BC and in the 5th century BC we find the
first references of them to describe the lands and the Greek people
living south of river Peneios. In the 4th century BC and later
they were also used to describe the various hellenic (greek) tribes
as a whole. The passage from Herodotos (I,56), mentioned in a
previous Question indicated another use of these words, that of
distinguishing Ionian Greeks from Dorian Greek.
Since the Macedonians were pretty much isolated from the Greeks
of Southern Greece up to the early 5th century BC, the words 'Hellas'
and 'Hellen' were not used by them to describe collectively the
lands of various hellenic tribes, as this was also true for all
the other greek tribes until the 8-7th century BC.
Hence when the Macedonians initiated contacts with other Greek
tribes they continued to use the word 'Macedonian' to describe
themselves instead of the collective 'Hellen(es)'. This is the
reason various authors (such as Isocrates, Philippos 154) use
the term "Hellenes" and "Macedonians" on the
one hand and 'barbarians" on the other to distinguish the
greek tribes (of Macedonians and other Hellenes) from the non-greek
The intellectual Athenians of the 4th century gave yet another
definition for the word "Hellen" (Isocrates, Panegyrikos
50 ), that of the person having an Athenian educational background,
"... the name 'Hellenes' suggests no longer the people but
an intelligence, and that the title 'Hellenes' is applied rather
to those who share our [note: the 'our' refers to the Athenians]
culture than to those who share a common blood".
It is also believed (N.G.L. Hammond,page 6)
that the distinction made by authors of Macedonians and Hellenes
differentiates only the descendants of Hellen from the descendants
of Thyia, as in the genealogy provided by Hesiod. According to
Hesiod, Deucalion had a son Hellen and a daughter Thyia. The ancestors
of Hellen were Dorus, Xouthus (whose son was Ion) and Aeolus.
Thyia had two sons Magnes and Macedon. According to Hellanikos
on the other hand, Macedon was a son of Aeolus.
the Macedonian tongue a greek dialect or not?
Yes it was a greek (doric) dialect.
We shall break this discussion into two parts. The first one consists
of evidence found prior to the excavations in Vergina by the late
Professor Manolis Andronikos. The second one consists of evidence
found mainly since then. This evidence leads beyond
any doubt to the conclusion that the Macedonians spoke a greek
dialect which was basically a doric one, it borrowed words and
was influenced by the aeolic dialect spoken by the Thessalian
neighbours of Macedonians, and also borrowed few words of Phrygic
and Illyrian origin.
The Thessalian (aeolic) influence convinced some researchers that
the genealogy of Makedon given by Hellanikos (see Question 3)
was more accurate than that given by Hesiodos. In the volume "Macedonia:
4000 years of Greek history and civilization" Professor M.
Sakellariou examined the words known to be unique in the macedonian
dialect of greek and related their root to the roots of words
of other Greek dialects.
Summarizing, many of the words that were previously
considered of non-Greek origin
were also in (rare) use in other parts of Greece.
There have been made various claims that the Macedonians up to
some time in the 4th century BC used to speak a non-Greek language
and at that time (around 340BC) were 'hellenized' by the Athenians
and thus learned how to speak the attic dialect. These
claims can be easily proved to be totally false even if one uses
only pre-Vergina evidence.
Below we present various views on the topic.
(I) Pre-Vergina evidence.
Fr. Sturz (in "De Dialecto Macedonica et Alexandrina",
1808) concluded that the Macedonian tongue was a greek doric dialect.
August Flick, O. Hoffmann, Otto Abel, and Karl Belloch, as well
as Georg Busolt, Fritz Geyer, Ulrich Wilcken, Helmuth Berve, Gustave
Glotz, P. Roussel, P Pouquet, A Jarde, R Cohen, J. Bury,, St.
Casson, W. Heurtley, D. Hogarth, J. de Waele, just to name a few
(non-Greek) historians and archaeologists, shared the same views.
On the other hand, there were some historians and writers such
as M. Vasmer (Revue du ministere d' instruction publique de Russie,
1908), P Kretschmer and Bulgarians G. Kazarow and Vlad. Georgiev
that rejected this thesis. Georgiev attempted to show that Macedonians
were member of a Thracoillyrian nation thus speaking illyrian,
a non-greek language. That this was not the case was shown in
Question 6. G Weigand also shared the opinions of these authors.
G. Hatzidakes rejected these theses in various texts and among
them in "Zur Abstammung der alten Makedonier (eine ethnologische
Studie)". For more details we refer to Daskalakis (page 104).
Coins found in Macedonia have inscriptions in greek
and are dated from the early 5th BC century. Such found coins
are the following ones.
i) An octadrachm of Alexander I (circa 478BC).
ii) Coins from the reign of Archelaos (413-399BC) and Amyntas
iii) the ring of Sindos with the word Gk:'DVRON' (Gift) dated
These coins are dated well before 340BC, the time of the alleged
"hellenization" of Macedonians.
Macedonians had their own month names. If one accepts the thesis
that Macedonian were 'hellenized' by the Athenians some time around
340BC hen one can safely assume that these names must be identical
to those used by the Athenians. If not, they would show the linguistic
roots of the Macedonians prior to their alleged who claimed that
Dorians and Macedonians belonged to the same tribe (Herodotos
claimed that the Macedonians who descended to southern Greece
after crossing Doris became known as Dorians) and thus Macedonians
were a Greek tribe, the month names of Macedonians were Greek
and were different from the ones used by the Athenians. The list
of these names used by the Macedonians and the list of month names
of the Lacedaemonians (who were Dorians) have a common intersection,
the names Artemisios and Apellaios.
Persians when first occupied Macedonia during their conquests
in Europe around 510-480BC described the people living in Macedonia
as "The Greeks wearing a shield-like hat" and who were
non other than the Macedonians themselves. This incident occurred
long before the alleged "hellenization" of Macedonians.
It is believed that the worship of the 12 Olympian Gods had started
in Macedonia (as related to their place of ``residence''.
Mountain Olympos is located in Pieria and both these
names are Greek. It is claimed the magnificent view of Mt. Olympos
when viewed from Macedonia, while its view from the south (Thessaly)
is hindered by other mountains, inspired the Macedonians and
from the the other Greeks to consider this mountain the residence
of their Gods.
Athenian comedies used to make fun of the idioms and the dialects
of other Greeks like those of Spartans, Boeoteans and of course
Macedonians. Some time in the 5th century BC a comedy entitled
"Pausanias or Macedonians?" written by the Athenian
Strattis was played in Athens. In various parts of this comedy
a Macedonian explains how various words of the attic dialect are
called in the Macedonian dialect. It can be inferred from these
references that Macedonians spoke a Doric greek dialect. In a
work of the ancient writer Athenaios, one can find samples of
the work of Strattis. In an article written by A. Koerte quoting
Athenaios VII,323b we can find in that comedy of Strattis the
following conversation: "STRATTIS GOYN EN MAKEDOSIN EROMENOU
TINOS ATTIKOY VS AGNOOYNTOS TO ONOMA KAI LEGONTOS: H SFYRAINA
D' ESTI TIS;" FHSIN O ETEROS " KESTRAN MEN YMMES VTTIKOI
In English (as it appeared in the article by M. Sakellariou) an
Athenian asks "sledfish, what do you mean?" and a Macedonian
replies "wha ye Attics ca' a hammer-fush, ma freen"
i.e. in my own words, which i hope do not change the meaning of
"what you Attics call a hammer-fush, (we call a) freen".
One can appreciate the value of the Macedonian's reply for the
object under discussion fi he does not forget that as is clear
from many passages in Aristophanes the attic comedians made their
non-Greeks speak broken Greek with an a mixture of barbarian words
(some of them imaginary) while Lacedaemonians, Boeotians, Macedonians
and other Greeks spoke their own dialects. The Macedonian's reply
is in good Greek with dialect (ymmes, sfyraina) and archaizing
elements (kiklhskete). Both YMMES and SFYRAINA are not attic words
but they are Greek. Therefore claims that Athenians "hellenized"
Macedonians seem to be baseless. It is also noted that these words
were used by the Macedonians some
time in the 5th century BC that is at least 50 years before their
An ambassador from Macedonia speaking to the Aetolians in 200BC
observed that the Macedonians, the Aetolians and the Arkanians
all spoke the same language.
The expressions "aneboa makedonisti", "makedonisti
th fvnh" have been taken by opponents of the thesis that
the Macedonians were Greeks as indicating that their language
differed from Greek. One can claim that these formulation indicate
a Greek dialect (cf [In Greek] "aiolizein th fvnh",
"attikizei", "attikisti", "boivtiazein","dvrizein"
To those who are more interested in the characteristics of the
dialect of Greek spoken by the Macedonians read the article by
M. Sakellariou in "Macedonia: 4000 years of Greek history
and civilization" are available on request. In general few
words of non-greek origin were used in the Macedonian dialect
of greek an most of these words were proper names. Some of them
were names of Egyptian deities worshipped in Macedonia after the
3rd century BC. Even in the times of Herodotos (II 153, III 27,
IV 155, VI
27) barbarian (non-greek) names were in use by Greeks. Strabo
VII 7,1 (C321) also mentioned various names of non-greek origin
such as KEKROPS (Greek: KEKROC) KODROS, AIKLOS (Gk: A.I.KLOS),
KOTHOS (Gk: KOUOS), DRYMAS (Gk: DRYMAS) KRINAKOS (Gk: KRINAKOS).
It should also be mentioned that many place-names in ancient Macedonia
(and modern-day Macedonia of Greece) are of Greek origin and of
use in other areas of Greece as well. Such names are: Argos (Gk:
ARGOS), also found in Thessaly and Peloponnesos.
Arnissa(Gk: ARNISSA) reminds of Arnen (Gk: ARNHN) of Thessaly
and Boeotia. Arethoussa (Gk: AREUOYSSA) also found in Ithaca,
Boeotia, Syracuses. Prasias a lake and a city name is also found
in Athens as PRASIAI, and many other ones (such as Oedomenae,
Petra, Fila, Gortynia, Pynda etc).
Many other words of the Macedonian dialect are of ancient doric
origin such as [the macedonian-doric and attic equivalent names
are shown in Greek only]: santoria = svthria, zereuron = bereuron
, barauron xarvn = xairvn arkon = argos dvraj = uvraj danon =
uanon , uanatos kadaron = kauaron sarisa = dory (from the verb
sairv, sarvnv) etc. Some other words of the macedonian dialect
of greek can be traced back in the Homeric poems: amalos = apalos
indea = meshmbrian ( indion hmar) leykanih = laimos lisson = omalon
, leion (lygos = rabdos).
Fore more details see the work of Geyer Fr., where he showed that
the names of macedonian months and festivities although they could
not be found anywhere in classic Greece were archaic Greek ones
and showed the doric origin of the Macedonians.
The fact that Macedonians participated in various
celebrations like the Amphictyonies and the Phocica also show
the belief of themselves and the other Greeks in their origin.
It is for these reasons that Professor F. Papazoglou in "Historija
Hellenizma", Belgrade, 1967 claimed that Macedonians were
Greeks, a claim also supported by Heinz Kreissing in "Povijest
Hellenizma", Zagreb, 1988. Prof. Arnold Toynbee in "The
Greeks and their Heritages", Oxford University Press, 1981
also claimed that ancient Macedonians were
(II) Post-Vergina evidence.
The excavations in Vergina have brought to light many tombs that
buried ancient Macedonians. There are inscription on these tombs
with the names of the deceased person and those of his/her progenitors.
All names found so far have been Greek.
Given that some of these tombs are dated from the 350BC era, one
can conclude that by some time in late 5th century Macedonians
have been naming their children with Greek names. And si nce contacts
with the Athenians were rare to non-existent
at that time one can safely conclude that claims that Macedonians
were not Greeks and were only 'hellenized' in the 4th cen tury
BC are false. Published information on the excavations in Vergina
is mostly in the form of papers submitted to various conferences.
Those who claim that the Macedonians were not a Greek tribe considered
this expression as evidence that the language of the Macedonians
was a non-greek one. Previous questions (Question 10) discussed
the refutation of this thesis in more detail. A discussion of
this phrase only will be dealt here. It is based on that of the
book by Daskalakis (see references).
The expression "ANEBOA MAKEDONISTI" was first found
in the works of Plutarchos (ALEXANDORS LI, 4) and that of the
Latin Kurtius Rufus. The phrase is found in the following passage
[ In Greek:
"TVN DE SVMATOFYLAKVN ENOS, ARISTOFANOYS, FUASANTOS YFELESUAI,
KAI TVN ALLVN PERIEXONTVN KAI DEOMENVN, ANAPHDHSAS (cf Alexandros)
ANEBOA MAKEDONISTI KALVN TOYS YPASPISTAS (TOYTO D' HN SYMBOLO
UORYBOU MEGALOU), KAI TON SALPIGKTHN EKELEYSE SAHMAINEIN, KAI
PYJ EPAISEN, VS DIATRIBONTA KAI MH BOYLOMENON..." ]
On the other hand Arrhianos, whose sources included lost works
of Alexander's co fighters and eye witnesses, describing this
episode that resulted in the death of Kleitos used the following
phrase: " ALEJANDROS DE EBOA ANAKALVN TOYS YPASPISTAS".
No reference to MAKEDONISTI appeared in Arrhianos' version of
the episode. This may lead to the conclusion that the word "MAKEDONISTI"
was somehow added at some later time, or the interpretation that
has been given to it by some translators was not the one intended
by Plutarchos. It is also noted that references to the expression
"Macedonia and the other Greece" are numerous in hiswork.
In Plutarchos' rendition of the episode the distinction between
ANEBOA (called, shouted, roared) and KALVN (calling) is evident.
Given the explanatory statement "TOYTO D' HN SYMBOLO UORYBOY
MEGALOY" ('this was a sign of great noise') it can be concluded
that ANEBOA referred to some kind of password used by ALEXANDER
the Great to call his YPASPISTAS (sort of bodyguards) in cases
of emergencies only, that is why its use caused great disturbance.
The absence of MAKEDONISTI in Arrhianos' rendition seems to agree
with this interpretation. Let alone the fact that following this
incident Alexander talked to his YPASPISTAS in attic greek.
The expression "aneboa makedonisti", if this indeed
appeared in the original text, is no more different from other
similar expression "aiolizein th fvnh", "attikizei",
which were used to denote various dialects of ancient greek.
A Latin writer Kurtius (other than the aforementioned Kurtius
Rufus) gave a description of this episode similar to that of Arrhianos.
No reference to MAKEDONISTI was made by him and he only wrote
"that Alexander ordered via a trumpet call his soldiers to
gather outside the royal tent".
There is another passage in the work of Kurtius Rufus describing
the trial of Filotas which is being used by proponents of the
thesis that the Macedonians spoke a non greek language. Allegedly
Filotas during his trial used the attic dialect forcing Alexander
to accuse him of not using his(Filotas's) mother tongue (macedonian,
supposedly a non-greek language). Subsequently, Alexander also
accused Filotas of being unwilling to learn how to speak his mother
tongue! This passage contains several contradictions notwithstanding
the one that Filotas was not capable of speaking his mother tongue.
Alexander on the other hand, allegedly accuses Filotas of detesting
the macedonian dialect but according to Filotas' reply this accusation
is spelled by Alexander
in the attic rather than the macedonian dialect! This fact alone,
had this episode really happened, could have been used against
Alexander himself as a counter argument and accusation. It is
this reference to Alexander that made H. Bardon, publisher of
Rufus's works to wonder how it was possible for Alexander to fall
in such a contradiction and to accuse others of something that
he himself was fighting for.
Neither Arrhianos, who lived closer to the era this episode occurred,
nor Plutarchos present this incident mentioned in the work of
Kurtius Rufus. H. Bardon, French publisher of Rufus's works (pub.
Belles Lettres vol 1 page 201 note 1) commenting on
the alleged speech of Filotas said that Kurtius Rufus was accustomed
to rhetoric artifices and as a result historic truth suffered
in that part of his work. All in all it can be safely concluded
that this passage was more of a product of the rhetoric talents
of Rufus thus attributing to Filotas a speech Filotas never gave
rather than presenting the actual events. Writers who lived well
before Rufus and close to the time of the incident
were not aware of such a speech by Filotas.
is a reference in a work by Pausanias that may give the impression
that Macedonians, around 214-213BC, were speaking a non-Greek
Advocates of the thesis that the Macedonian spoke a non-greek
language claim that this language was spoken by them up to some
time in mid 4th century BC. At that time Macedonians within few
years were fully hellenized and since then they have been speaking
[Long but relevant Parenthesis. Skip it if not interested:
Some of these advocates accept a Skopjan point of view that all
Macedonians perished and thus vanished when Slavs first appeared
in the Balkan peninsula in the 7th century AD. All of a sudden
these new Slavs became heir-apparents of the Macedonians, were
granted presumably by Marshall Tito the exclusive right to be
called 'Macedonians' and named the Bulgarian idiom also consisting
of Greek, Turkish, and Albanian words formed at least ~1000 years
after their descent to the Balkans "the Macedonian
Some of them, possibly all, claim that this Slavic origin language
was the language spoken by the Macedonians before their alleged
the Cyrillic alphabet was introduced to these and other Slavs
along with many greek words by two Macedonian(Greek) brothers,
Kontantinos (later called Cyril) and Methodios from Thessaloniki.
It is quite interesting to know how these Macedonian brothers
escaped the fate of other fellow Macedonians and didn't perish
during the descent of Slavs in the Balkan peninsula, as
the advocates of Skopjans claimed that it had happened.]
According to Pausanias (Messenians IV 29, 1 ) the residents of
Messene a night around 214-213BC first thought that the Lacedaemonians
had attacked them. Later, by the arms and the voices, realized
that those who attacked them were soldiers led by king
Demetrios. Since at that time a Demetrios was King of Macedonia,
it was assumed that the attackers were Macedonians. Some authors
claimed that the 'voices' reference was to mean that the Macedonians
(attackers) were speaking a non-greek language at that
time, an argument not accepted for the Macedonians of that time
by almost everyone.
Later on, it was realized that the Demetrios in question was not
the king of Macedonia, son of Philippos E', but Demetrios the
Pharian, an Illyrian, who was later killed during this campaign
Demosthenes believe the Macedonians were barbarians?
No. Proponents of the thesis that Macedonians spoke a non-greeklanguage
accept (usually...) that the Macedonian kings wereGreeks but were
ruling non-Greek people. Given the evidence that has been found
in the past years from archaeological excavations they have started
claiming that the kings and the upper-class
had been Greek-speakers but the lower class was not.
Now to explain the "NO". One may claim that it should
have been a "YES" and they would point to the "To
Philippos" speech of the orator where he claimed that from
these barbarian Macedonians one could not even buy slaves. I will
let Professor A. Holm in his
work "The history of Greece from its commencement to the
close of the independence of the Greek nation", translated
from German, London New York, Macmillan, 1894-1898, Volume III,
page 206 to explain this passage from the speech of Demosthenes:
"That the Greeks did not consider the Macedonians as barbarians
is proved involuntarily by Demosthenes (To Philippos 3, 31) where
he states that "OYD ANDRAPODON SPOYDAION HN PROTEROY"
from Macedonia, which stripped of its rhetoric means the Macedonians
did not provide the Greeks with slaves, the meaning of which of
course was that the Macedonians were not considered barbarians,
like the Thracians, Phrygians..."
Given this, the discussion below seems to be redundant.
Demosthenes, an Athenian orator and politician in various speeches
of his and most notably in Olynthiakos G' and later, when it was
very clear to him that the power of Athens was fading away and
Macedonia was the new power in the hellenic world, accused Philippos
II of many things including that of being barbarian. This is not
surprising for Demosthenes who spent his whole life advocating
the superiority of Athens over the other hellenic states, even
if that required that some Greek city-
states were to be destroyed or to suffer for Athens to remain
the leader of Greece [See, For the Megalopolitans,5].
In his Third Olynthiakos, 16, Dmeosthenes wrote "Is he (Philippos)
not our enemy? Are not our possessions in his hands? Is he not
a barbarian? Is he not anything that you choose to call him?
In God's name, when we have let everything go, when we have all
but put everything into his hands, shall we then inquire at large
who is responsible for it all?" There are no explicit accusations
of Macedonians as a whole of being so (barbarians). Given that
such an assertion against Philippos is shared by noone and given
so many references in antiquity to his descent [Herodotos, Thucydides,
Isocrates, Hesiodos, Hellanikos] in various texts any other discussion
on this question seems pointless. In one translation of this speech
by John Edwin Santys in "The first Philippic and the Olynthiacs
of Demosthenes", Macmillan and Co, the translator commented
on this passage Argos [Herodotos VIII 137, IX 45, Thucydides II
99,2, V 80,2] and one of Philip's ances-
tors, Alexander A', had as a Greek been allowed to compete at
the Olympic games [Herodotos V 22]. Demosthenes, however, in his
hatred of Philip, never acknowledges his Greek descent. ... of
breath as he gasps out this final and comprehensive phrase of
vituperation. In such a spasmodic utterance no one need be surprised
either at the presence of hiatus or at the concurrence of several
short syllables". Those who believe that this phrase of Demosthenes
is not a term of abuse but truth are those who be-
lieve that President-elect Clinton is indeed 'Bozo' as Presint
Bush claimed, which I doubt that even President Bush believes.
There is also another reason that this accusation against Philippos
on behalf of Demosthenes was more of a figure of speech than anything
Demosthenes's mother (or his maternal grandmother) was a Skythian,
a non-Greek anf thus a non-Athenian. Had his accusation been taken
seriously we could have been accused and for a good reason of
being a barbarian himself.
In fact Aeschines (On the Embassy, 78) expressed this opinion
by saying ".... KAI TAYTA, V DHMOSUENES, EK TVN NOMADVN SKYUVN
TO PROS MHTROS VN GENOS", that is, "you, Demosthenes,
a descendant through your mother of the nomad Skythians"
as well as (Against Ctesiphon, 172) "TA D' APO THS MHTROS
[DHMOSUENHS] SKYUHS, BARBAROS, ELLHNIZVN TH FVNH" that is,
"and by his mother's side [Demosthenes is] a Scythian, a
Greek speaking Barbarian", and earlier in that passage Aeschines
accused Demothenes of being a slanderer "EJ' HS YMIN O PERIERGOS
KAI SYKOFANTHS [DEMOSTHENES] GEGENHTAI". [Some authors believe
that Kleovouli, mother of Demosthenes, was daughter of Gylon who
settled in Crimaea and married a Scythian woman.]
Let alone the fact that Demosthenes, an 'honorable' Athenian citizen,
was bribed later by the Persians (barbarians) to write speeches
against Philippos and at the same time was also accusing Philippos
of bribing Athenians and various Athenians of being bribed by
Philippos. Demosthenes would also look very silly since another
Athenian, Isocrates, in, To Philippos,108 wrote considered Philippos
an Hellen and urged him to unite all Hellenes and lead them in
a war against the Barbarians.
In one of his speeches, On the Embassy 305, Demosthenes in his
effort to accuse orator Aeschines of inconsistent and possibly
traitorous behavior accused Aeschines of calling Philippos 'barbarian'
and 'devil'. In his Third Philippic, 31, Demosthenes ac-
cused Philippos of being "he is a pestilent Macedonian, from
whose country it used not to be possible to buy even a slave of
any value" [There were no slave in the Macedonian state as
opposed to other greek city-states]. On the other hand in the
Olynthiac Demosthenes commended the Athenians on extracting 10,000
talents from Macedonia and bringing them into the Acropolis many
years earlier, in the fifth century BC.
Accusations by Aeschines on the past and present behavior of Demosthenes
such as of inflicting wounds on himself and bringing suit for
malicious assault, (in Against Ctesiphon, 212), of becoming a
teacher in order to extract large amounts of money
from his pupils (in Against Timarchus, 171), of taking money from
his clients for writing speeches to be delivered in court and
then revealing the contents of these speeches to their opponents
(in On the Embassy, 165), of belittling young Alexander by claiming
that he would prove incompetent and would never stir out of Macedonia
(Against Ctesiphon 160), of later seeking favor from Alexander
(same,162), of his insincerity and cowardice
(against Ctesiphon 150-152), are omitted.
The following remark made by an ancient writer commenting on Demosthenes's
accusation of Philippos (Olynthiakos G' 16) being a barbarian
highlights the beliefs of all other Greeks as well as the real
beliefs of Demosthenes: "YBRISAI TOYTON (meaning FILIPPON
DEMOSUENHS) BOYLOMENOS KALEIN BARBARON, EPEI <EI> TO ALHUES
SKOPHSEI, EYRHSEI AYTON ELLHNAN ARGEION KAI APO HRAKLEOYS TO GENOS
KATAGOMENON, VS PANTES OI ISTORIKOI MARTYROYSIN...". In short
the accusation on behalf of Demosthenes was just a slander since
every historian at that time knew that Philippos was Greek in
there any reference by Demosthenes to an incident that can lead
us to conclude that he and his fellow Athenians believed that
Macedonians indeed spoke a greek dialect?
Yes. Demosthenes in a speech of his (in Greek: PERI THS PARAPRESBEIAS[On
the Embassy?] 197,229) described an incident in which Frynonas,
an Athenian, while traveling to Olympia had his luggage taken
by Macedonian soldiers. Frynonas acted later as an Athenian ambassador
to Philippos II. Philippos II ordered his soldiers to return the
taken property to Frynonans and apologized for his soldiers not
knowing that that time was a period of religious festivities.
Had the Macedonian soldiers not spoken a
greek dialect Philippos II would have used that as an excuse,
Demosthenes would have been very keen to pointing this out in
his speech, and taken up with great delight, as we may guess,
the opportunity to accuse not only Philippos but also his soldiers
barbarian behavior. Nevertheless, he didn't do that because he
knew that the Macedonians spoke a greek dialect.
No lack of understanding between the Macedonians and the Athenians
at that time (at the time that the alleged "hellenization"
of Macedonians was about to begin) has been reported in any ancient
Demosthenes, as an ambassador of Athens visited Macedonia twice.
This happened before his now famous (or infamous) speeches against
Philippos. During his two visits and afterwards never complained
of Macedonians being "barbarians", or speaking a non-greek
language. On the contrary we was dazzled by the riches of
the palace of Philippos in Pella.
it possible [ignoring historic evidence that shows that this was
not the case] that Macedonians had spoken a non-greek language
before 340BC and within a 10-20 year period every Macedonian was
fluent in the attic dialect?
The answer is no, unless one sites as an example the races in
Star Trek: The Next Generation (Trademark by Paramount Pictures)
who are all fluent in English no matter how alien or young or
French for that matter are:-)
Arrhianos presented many instances of Alexander the Great talking
to his fellow Macedonian soldiers in greek(attic) and not say,
in their supposedly non-greek mother tongue. Wouldn't his soldiers
feel more comfortable in their mother tongue (a supposedly non
may have 'hellenized' ancient Macedonians, if we we assume, despite
proof for the contrary, that they were not a greek tribe ?
This is a question that noone could give an answer. Assuming that
ancient Macedonians were not speaking Greek the large number of
doric and thus non-attic words found in their spoken language,
let alone place-names, month-names, attributes to Gods and
Godesses, festival names etc seem to zero the probability that
Athenians were the ones who hellenized them. The large number
of archaic greek words not used by other Greeks of that time preclude
any other greek city-state or kingdom of the classic times
to be responsible for that alleged 'hellenization'. Remembering
the not so friendly relations between the Macedonians and the
Athenians, the vastness of the Macedonian kingdom as opposed to
that of the city state of Athens, and its population -Macedonians
were able to form sizeable armies, by Greek standards- it is highly
unlikely that any other Greek state or Athens could have undertaken
such an enormous task and had it completed in a 10-20 year period.
On the other hand, Alexander A' when he initiated his otherwise
brief contacts with the Greeks in the South he was able to talk
to them in Greek fluently. If Macedonians were to be hellenised
in the 4th century BC there would have been no way for Alexander
A' to speak greek. If he and his family were the only Greek speakers
in Macedonia it would have been highly unlikely that he and his
family had retained the ability to speak Greek fluently.
One of the tragedies Euripides first presented in Macedonia was
Iphigeneia in Aulis and Ekavi. In Iphigeneia (1400) and Ekavi
(1199) "OYPOT' AN FILON / TO BARBARON GENOIT' AN ELLHSIN
GENOS / OYD AN DYNAITO", the greek superiority over the Barbarians
was highlighted. It would have been be too dangerous for him to
express such opinions to a non-greek audience (if Macedonians
were not Greek and spoke a non-Greek language). Let alone the
fact that the language of his tragedies was Greek.
used the phrases "ALOFYLON TO GENOS", "OYX OMOFYLOY
GENOYS". Do they mean "of other tribe" or "of
We discussed in previous paragraphs the various interpretations
of the word Hellen (Greek) in various times in antiquity. The
word Hellen used to describe in homeric times the people living
in some place (the Myrmidones in Thessaly) and later (possibly)
those living in Epeiros if one believes that the Selloi of Epeiros,
also called Graecoi, were later became known as Hellenes. Only
in the 8-7th century BC was the word Hellen used to
describe as a whole various Greek (hellenic) tribes. Since at
that time Macedonians were in constant wars with the Illyrians
an other non-greek tribes and had little contacts with the other
Greek tribes in the South the term Hellenes with its new meaning
was not familiar to them.
Thus distinction between Hellenes and Macedonians used by writers
at that time (who nevertheless had no doubt of the Greekness of
the Macedonians) shouldn't be a ssource of false claims. The following
excerpt of Isocrates' speech highlights this.
(Isocrates. Philip. 154): " HN GAR TAYTA PRATTHS, APANTES
XARIN EJOYSI, OI MEN ELLHNES YPER VN AN EY PASXVSI, MAKEDONES
D' HN BASILIKVS ALLA MH TYRANNIKVS AYTVN EPISTATHS, TO DE TVN
ALLVN GENOS, HN DIA SE BARBARIKHS DESPOTEIAS APALLAGENTES ELLHNIKHS
Although Isocrates distinguished Hellenes from Macedonians by
including in the first term the at that time accepted interpretation
of "the greek tribes living south of river Peneios",
he nevertheless believed that the the people who got rid of the
"BARBARIKHS DESPOTEIAS" (barbarian rule) with the assistance
of Macedonians are now ruled and taken care of ("ELLHNIKHS
EPIMELEIAS TYXVSIN") by people (Macedonians) belonging to
Isocrates is well known for suggesting that Philippos II (In his
speech: To Philippos) lead a panhellenic hegemony, consisting
only of Greeks, that will unify all Hellenic tribes and lead them
in a war against the barbarians [To Philippos, 115,80,127-128,8,16].
A reference by him to Macedonians as "OYX OMOFYLOY GENOYS"(TO
Philippos,108) there, has been interpreted by some to mean "of
other race" rather than "of other tribe" thus earning
him many supporters among the ones who claim that Macedonians
were not Greek. It seems quite weird that Isocrates would like
the leader of a "barbarian tribe" to unite all Hellenes,
including his own "barbarians".The
answer to this misinterpretation of the "OYX OMOFYLON GENOS"
will become apparent shortly.
In the same text (To Philippos,32) Isocrates
wrote "UHBAIOI DE TON ARXHGON TOY GENOYS YMVN TIMVSI"
that is that Isocrates was aware of the Macedonian-Doric connection
and/or the legend that the Macedonian kings were considered descendants
of Heracles. The 'founder of your tribe' refers to Heracles. If
'GENOYS'(of TRIBE) were to mean RACE (the hellenic one in particular)
Isocrates would have used HMVN (that is, 'founder of our tribe')
instead of YMVN (that is, 'founder of your tribe').
This meaning of the word GENOS (tribe rather than race) can also
be found in Herodotos (I, 56, mentioned in question 8) where the
Lacedaemonians are of "DVRIKOU GENOUS' (Doric, presumably,
tribe) while the Athenians are of "IVNIKOY" (Ionian,
Had GENOS meant race onee must conclude that wither Iones (say,
Athenians) or Dorians(say Spartans) were not Greek. It is worth
mentioning that in that same passage Herodotos used the word 'EUNOS'
(nowadays it means 'people'...) for the ancient Pelasgian and
Hellenic people ('EUNH'). Herodotos included the Ionians in
the Pelasgian and Dorians in the Hellenic people, although both
were hellenic (greek) tribes. So much for confusing terms...
In VIII,144, Herodotos distinguished Hellenic tribes from the
Barbarians on the basis of 'blood' and 'speech' (OMAIMON and OMOGLVSSON)
rather than of race or tribe which didn't have very specific meanings
at that time.
The following references in addition to the previous ones, show
that the word "FYLON", "GENOS" had at that
time the meaning of the english word TRIBE rather than that of
RACE, thus "ALOFYLON GENOS" and "OYX OMOFYLON GENOS"
means "of other (not of the same) tribe", as this was
true for the Athenians (ionic tribe) and Macedonians (doric one).
The interpretation "of other (not of the same) race"
for "ALOFYLOY GENOS" and "OYX OMOFYLON" is
a) Thucydides (I, 141) : Pericles talking about the Peloponnesians
said "PANTES TE ISOCHFIOI ONTES KAI OYX OMOFYLOI TO EF' EAYTON
EKASTOS SPEYDH" that is, he considered Peloponnesians not
"OMOFYLOI" to the Athenians. Since everyone considered
both Peloponnesians and Athenians to be Greek, 'OMOFYLOI' had
meaning of the 'same tribe' rather than of 'same race'.
b) Dicaiarchos : "FYLH DE KAI FYLETAI PROTERON VNOMASUHSAN
EK THS EIS TAS POLEIS KAI TA KALOYMENA EUNH SYNODOY GENOMENHS;
EKASTON GAR TVN SYNELUONTVN FYLON ELEGETO EINAI". Same meaning
c) Herodotos (VIII, 144) distinguishes Hellenic
tribes from Barbarians depending on the "OMAIMON" (same
blood) and "OMOGLVSSON" (same tongue) but not of the
"OMOFYLON" (same tribe)`
d) Euripides (Her. Main. 1200) agreed with Herodotos,
e) Eustathios (93,3) assigned the meaning of tribe to 'FYLON'.
It was known to Isocrates (as attested in the same speech) the
tradition relating Macedonians and Dorians and the "ALOFYLOY"
was pointing out this difference between the Athenians and Macedonians.
Later in his speech Isocrates asked Philippos to unite the Hellenes
and drive them against the barbarians. He also suggested that
Philippos should lead only Greeks against the barbarians.
Had Macedonians been considered barbarians (i.e. had an interpretation
of and suggestions would have been at least absurd and offending
rather than encouraging and flattering, as they were intended
In another part of its speech/letter Isocrates mentions that Philippos
rules people (Macedonians) of not his own tribe-race. Some claim
that this is a proof of the non-Greekness of Macedonians in the
sense that considering Philippos to be Greek
(according to the legend of his family's descent) the tribe-race
is to mean that the people he ruled were not Greeks. The accurate
meaning of this phrase can only be derived by reading the whole
passage. Isocrates suggests to Philippos that the kind of rule
(monarchy) that was so successful in Macedonia is not guaranteed
to be successful in the city-states of Southern Greece. Thus,
he should choose another form of government when he (Philippos)
becomes hegemon of all Greece. In order to support this he cites
the example of his ancestors who unable to rule Argos, since at
that time monarchies were detested in Southern Greece and the
trend was the establishment of city-states, were only successful
in ruling another tribe, that of Macedonians.
accuse us Macedonians in Greece of changing the names of our cities
into Greek ones some time in the 20th century instead of using
the slavic names assigned to these cities since "ancient"
(sic) names. They claim that Edessa for example should not be
called so but VODEN instead, and Thessaloniki should be called
Cities in Macedonia, the ancient kingdom and the province of Greece,
still have the names they had in antiquity, at least for the cities
that existed at that time. The names of some of these cities may
not be even of Greek origin, thus showing that Skopjan
claims are not only false but at least silly or absurd.
The Skopjans claim that the Macedonian city of Edessa in the Pel-
la prefecture of Macedonia, Greece, should not be called so but
Voden instead. They also claim that we Macedonians changed the
name of the city from the slavic one "VODEN" into the
"greek" one EDESSA. The city of EDESSA has been called
so since prehistoric times. It is amusing to point out that many
believe the name Edessa is not of Greek, but possibly of phrygic
origin denoting a place rich of waters. Edessa has always been
famous of her water-falls. Others may claim that the suffix "-dessa"
may indicate 'water' in some prehistoric form of the greek word
(GK:YDVR) for water. This connection of the name 'EDESSA' with
'water' had confused many historians until 1976. They used to
believe that Edessa was ancient Aegae, the royal city of the Macedonian
They thought that the word 'Aegae' was
derived not from the word 'aega' (she-goat) as this is related
with the myth of the creation of the Macedonian state by Karanos,
but from the doric prefix Aeg- denoting 'water' (cf Edessa). In
Doric, 'aegae' means '(water) waves' (The 'Aegean Sea' is an obvious
example). Given that both names Edessa and Aegae have to do with
'waters' archaelogists thought that Edessa=Aegae.
This argument was put in rest by Nicholas L. G. Hammond in 1968
when he suggested that Vergina and not Edessa was the ancient
Aegae, a correct assertion as it was proved in 1976 by the excavations
of M. Andronikos in Vergina. Though Vergina is not on the sea
shore of Thermaikos Bay it is believed that in the BC centuries
the present lands separating Vergina from the sea were wet-lands.
It is noted that the slavic word VODEN also denotes 'water'. It
is also worth mentioning that the city of Skopje whose name is
probably derives from the greek one 'Skopia', was invariably called
'Uskub', 'Skupoi', 'Skup', 'Skopje', and as of few years ago 'Skoplje'.
Another Example is the city of Kastoria in Western Macedonia,
Greece. Skopjans prefer to call it Kostur and suggest that Greeks
should call it so. The name of the city 'Kastoria' comes from
the mythical hero Kastor (Castor) brother of Polydeukes, son
of Leda and Zeus.
Regarding Thessaloniki (called Salonica or Saloniki also in English)
if one opens an ancient map he will realize that the name of the
city has been Thessaloniki and not Solun (as Skopjan suggest that
we should call the city) since ancient times.
claim that when Slavs descended to the Balkan peninsula, in the
7th century AD, Macedonians vanished and there was a kind of 'slavicization'
of Macedonia which 'gave birth' to the "Slavic-Macedononians"
as Skopjans claim they are (at least some of them), the supposedly
deserved ancestors of ancient Macedonians. Are such claims true
say up to 15th century AD?
The distinction between Macedonians, Thessalians, Athenians, Spartans
and Lacaedemonians in antiquity which indicated among other things
greek tribes of distinct customs, spoken dialects ceased to exist
with the passage of time. As of the hellenistic
period almost all Greeks were using the attic dialect for their
communication while all the other dialects (of greek) were dropped
from regular use. The rise of Christianity erased distinctions
based in religious matters and the place of residence was then
used distinguish say Thessalians from Macedonians and Athenians.
Their common greek dialect (the attic one) though evolved differently
in various regions thus giving the various dialects of modern
To say that Macedonians vanished some time in the 7AD century
is to claim that the Greeks (many of them ancestors of doric people
called Macedonians, other possibly ancestor of other aeolic, doric
or ionic people, others of mixed parentage) residing in Macedonia
were all killed at that time, an absurdity.
Around 688, emperor Justinian B', after the defeat of the Bulgars
and Slavs in lower Moissia transferred all the Slavs in the northern
european part of his empire (that is of Macedonia and Thrace of
nowadays Greece and territories covering the Rep. of Skopje, Albania
and parts of Bulgaria) to Asia Minor. These were estimated to
be 80,000 but probably were more than that since two years later
the emperor preparing for a war against the Arabs conscripted
30,000 men from this population to his army. These Slavs subsequently
switched sides and supported the Arabs. The emperor for retribution
killed all the remaining Slavs in Asia Minor.
About one hundred years later, in 773AD, the Bulgarian population
in the Balkans was reduced after repeated defeats in battles with
the Byzantine emperors. When the Bulgars decided to strengthen
their army and find new recruits they marched to Thes-
saly, since there were no Slavs in Macedonia, to capture a small
Slavic tribe living there. On their way there they were annihilated
by the Byzantine forces. In the next century forced movements
of Slavic populations from Greece to Asia Minor continued.The
conclusion is that the Byzantine emperors did everything possible
to clear up the northern territories (including Macedonia and
Thrace of modern day Greece) of their empire of Slavs.
Various non-Greek sources indicate that not only Macedonia of
modern day Greece but also Rep. of Skopje (the latter, if not
entirely, at least predominantly) were Greek till the late 15th
C. Jirecek, in "Geschichte der Serben" claimed that
Macedonians were always Greek and all the area south of the line
defined by the cities Achris-Skopje-Nissa-Sofia-Aimos-Messimbria
was greek (an assertion also confirmed by other authors such as
Mommsen, A. Karnach).
Hertzberg (in "Geschichte Byzantinissen") (Vol B, Book
A, Chapter Gamma, page 184, 1906 edition). said that in 1282,
the population below the line Euxinus Pontus- Aimos-Kustendil-Skopje-Skutari
was Greek, in tongue, in customs and working for the
One can then wonder when the Bulgarian idiom spoken by the Skopjans
was in use say in the lands of nowadays Rep. of Skopje, let alone
in antiquity [since Skopjans claim that the Slavic idiom spoken
by the Slavs who descended to the Balkans in the 7th
AD century was used by the ancient Macedonian 1000-1500 years
The French historian Haumant, in "La formation de la Yugoslavie",
mentioned that in the 13th century the area from Prisreni to Nissa
was empty of people. If there were no Slavs there, then how and
when the "Macedonians" of Skopjan type appeared in Macedonia
and the Republic of Skopje? This is the reason Albanians (~70%?)
occupy the region of Cossyphopedio (Kosovo).
Hertzberg, in "Geschichte Byzantinissen", mentioned
that when in the 14th century Dushan shared his kingdom with his
son he kept the greek area south of Skopje and gave his son the
northern Serbian areas (this is also confirmed by a Czech historian,
Jirecek). All his orders were then written in Greek and not in
any idiom like the onenow spoken in the Republic of Skopje.
In 1350 when John Katakouzenos was in the city of Verhoia representatives
of all big greek cities (Skopje included) visited him and asked
for help. Jirecek mentioned in his book that at this time Skopje
was a greek city inhabited mainly by Greeks despite being part
of the Serbian kingdom for more than a century. Following Dushan's
death around 1355 his son's empire began to collapse. Dushan's
brother, Symeon, proclaimed himself an emperor and accorded himself
the surname of "Palaeologos" in an attempt to gain the
favor of the Greek population of his kingdom(empire). He also
wrote his orders in Greek (and not in any strange called slavic
Soon the Greeks gained the control of the garrisons of various
greek cities (such as Verhoia, Edessa, and Skopje). Officials
in Dushan's empire quickly abandoned these greek cities and moved
to Prisreni and later to Krusevach. The greek inhabitants remained
in the areas they had been living for many centuries, if not millenia.
Since even in the years of Dushan, when the slavic influence and
control in the areas of Macedonia(Greece), western part of Albania,
Republic of Skopje and Yugoslavia (Serbia+Kosovo) was at its peak
Macedonian Greeks were not "slavisized", how was that
possible under the Ottoman rule, when after the defeat of Serbia
by the Ottomans circa 1459, the Slavs migrated to the north and
the area south of the city of Skopje was inhabited by Greeks only?
If the strong presence of Slavs at that time didn't cause the
Macedonians to vanish how was that possible to happen before?
How come the vanished Macedonians of 7th AD survived as late as
15th AD? and later?
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