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Alexander the Great Coin

 Introduction | Chronology of Ancient Macedonian History |  The Ancient Macedonian Language
 Ethnic Affiliation of the Ancient Macedonians |  Conclusion


"When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months. Because the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia."

The Holy Bible - Acts 20:1-3

Greek propagandists claim that ancient Macedonia was Greek. Why then, would the Holy Bible distinguish between the two?

The history of the Macedonian people began in approximately 2200 B.C. The Ancient Macedonian Empire reached its pinnacle with the conquests of King Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. Greek propagandists insist that the ancient Macedonians were Greek and therefore, Greece has the right to the name, Macedonia. Worldwide scholarly opinion accepts that the ancient Macedonians were a distinct people from the Greeks and that the name Macedonia belongs to the Macedonians.

Here are some quotes...

  • "Examining the dynamics of Macedonian relations with the Greek city-states, he (Borza) suggests that the Macedonians, although they gradually incorporated aspects of Greek culture into their own society, maintained a distinct ethnicity as a Balkan people". 1

  • "It is universally known that the classical Greek authors did not recognise the Macedonians as their fellow countrymen, calling them barbarians, and they considered Macedonian domination in Greece as an alien rule, imported from outside by the members of other tribes, the, as Plutarch says, Allophyloi." 2

  • "The language of these Macedonians was not Greek, nor were their gods, nor were they recognized by the Greeks." 3

  • "The tension at court between Greeks and Macedonians, tension that the ancient authors clearly recognized as ethnic division." 4

  • "Macedonian was the language of the infantry and that Greek was difficult, indeed a foreign tongue to them." 5

  • Excerpt from Macedonia Through the Ages 6

In the course of the second pre-Christian millennium, the ancient Greeks descended in several migratory waves as goatherds and shepherds from the interior of the Balkans to Greece. Some passed through the Morava-Vardar Valley and across the plain of Thessaly on their way south, while others went south through Epirus. More recent scholars point to Asia Minor as the original Greek homeland. There is no evidence that prehistoric Macedonia was ever occupied by ancient Greeks. Archeological finds from Macedonia are meager and sporadic. The scholars believe that ancient Macedonia lay beyond the cultural and ethnic borders of the Bronze Age Mycenaean Greek Civilization (1400-1100 BC).

King PhilipAncient Macedonia was home to many tribes and nations. The ancient Macedonians claimed kinship with the Illirians, Tracians, and Phrygians, but not with the Greeks. In fact, the Brygians of Macedonia are believed to be the European branch of people, who in Asia Minor were known as Phrygians.

Greek migrants came to Macedonia, Trace, and Illiria after they exhausted the possibilities of settlement in Asia Minor, Italy, France, Spain and Scythia (Ukraine and Russia). However, they did not consider Macedonia especially attractive for permanent settlement. Neither did the Macedonians welcome them as openheartedly as did the Italians and Scythians. By the middle of the fourth century BC, the Greek settlers were expelled from Macedonia and their cities, including Aristotle's native Stragira, razed to the ground by the Macedonian king Philip II (360-336). Aristotle died in exile in Greece.

The Macedonian "barbarian" defeated Greece at the battle of Chaeronea in August 338 BC and appointed himself "Commander of the Greeks". This battle had established Macedonian hegemony over Greece and this date is commonly taken as the end of Greek history and the beginning of the Macedonian era. Greece did not regain its independence until 1827 AD.

In 335 BC, Philip's son Alexander campaigned toward the Danube, to secure Macedonia's northern frontier. On rumors of his death, a revolt broke out in Greece with the support of leading Athenians. Alexander marched south covering 240 miles in two weeks. When the revolt continued he sacked Thebes, killing 6,000 people and enslaving the survivors. Only the temples and the house of the poet Pindar were spared.

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Chronology of Ancient Macedonian History

The following are excerpts from: Chronicle of the World 7

Philip becomes regent of the small kingdom of Macedonia on the death of his brother, King Perdiccas, whose son is a mere child. Philip, aged 22, already displays unusual diplomatic and military acumen.

Amyntas, son of the late King Perdiccas, is deposed and Philip is confirmed as absolute king. He signs a pact with the Chalcidian league which names Athens as the common enemy, and goes on to take the city of Potidaea. During the year Philip has more good news: his horse wins at Olympia and his wife, Olympias, gives birth to a son, Alexander.

The orator Demosthenes denounces the expansionist policies of Philip of Macedon and castigates his fellow citizens for their lack of awareness.

Philip of Macedon takes Olynthus by siege and utterly destroys it, securing control of the Chalcidice peninsula. When the Chalcidian league learnt of Philip's intentions, they broke with their former ally and appealed to Athens. Convinced by Demonsthenes, Athens at last sent an expeditionary force - but it was too late.

346BC - Despised Macedonia crushes the Greeks in the "Sacred War"

The Sacred War, waged for the last ten years for possession of Greece's supreme oracle at Delphi, has ended with Philip of Macedon, despised as a barbarian by the Athenians, winning ascendancy over Greece. This unforeseen result of yet another internecine quarrel bodes ill for the city states.

It started when the Thebans, who controlled the Amphictiony, the multi-state council which administers the shrine, forced through a threat of war against the Phocians unless they paid a fine for cultivating sacred ground.

The Phocians, who had once had control of Delphi, chose to go to war to re-establish their position, but there then followed a period of cruel, confused warfare during which the Phocians were generally successful. But then the war drew in the ambitious Philip, who saw his opportunity to seize Greek territory.

His advance and involvement in Greek affairs drew bitter attacks from Demonsthenes, who issued the first of his "Philippics" in 351BC. Athens belatedly sent an army to help Athens' allies besieged by Philip at Olynthus.

It was too little and too late. Philip captured the city and razed it to the ground. Phocis has now been forced to sue for peace and Philip the Barbarian holds power in Greece.

346BC - "Puny Village" becomes a hub of empire

Pella, the capital of the Ancient Macedonian Empire

Pella, the capital of the Ancient Macedonian Empire

Athenian propaganda asserting that the Macedonian capital, Pella, is 'a puny little village' (as Demosthenes, the anti-Macedonian lobbyist, has suggested) is contradicted by eye-witness accounts of recent travellers who visited it.

Far from its being an inaccessible shanty town, they say, it is approaced by a well-engineered road some 30 feet wide. It is ona vast fertile plain flanked by the sea, with a thriving port. This prime site was developed some 50 years ago by King Archelaus. Elegant buildings, with walls six feet thick, are decorated with rare pebble mosaics, Ionic and Doric colonnades, and three-foot roof tiles stamped "Pella".

The palace contains murals by the great artist Zeuxis. Standards of public hygiene, water supply and drainage match the aesthetic quality of the city. The plays of Euripides are performed and the heir to the throne, young Alexander, has Aristotle as a visiting tutor. Pella is unquestionably the hub of a growing empire.

340BC - Macedonia Conquers Thrace, a flourishing kingdom of contrasts renowned for warlike shepherds and sophisticated jewellery

After 20 years at war, Macedonians under Philip II are beginning to take stock of the huge and wealthy Thracian empire they now control.

With lands that stretch from the Danube to the Bosporus, Philip II now rules one of the most culturally, economically and politically advanced regions in the world.

Thracian treasure with its fine filigree work in silver and gold is internationally famous, with Thracian craftsmen setting new standards in fashioning jewellery, helmets and breastplates in gold and silver. Much noted are those decorated with unusual combinations of human and animal subjects, reflecting Thrace's eastern influences.

This ability to generate items of wealth was a weapon in the unsuccessful campaign by Thrace's last overall ruler, Kotys, to win allies and influence friends.

Kotys tried to unite Thrace's tribes of wild shepherds into an empire, reminiscent of the Persians' that would extend from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

Hostilities are renewed between Athens and Macedonia, marking the start of the fourth Sacred War. Philip II occupies Elateia, two days' march from Attica. Demosthenes saves the day for the panic-stricken Athenians by engineering an alliance between Athens and Thebes.

Philip II of Macedon defeats the combined forces of Athens and Thebes at the battle of Chaeronea. With the surrender of Thebes the Boeotian league is dissolved. Philip imposes peace terms on Athens which include allying with Macedonia and dissolving the Athenian league. Struck by the generosity of their conqueror, the Athenians offer citizenship to Philip and his son, Alexander.

337BC - Philip of Macedon conquers the Greeks

After a decisive defeat by Philip II of Macedon, Athenian leaders have accepted peace on terms which effectively end the traditional independence of Greek city states. In a war which began more than 20 years ago, the Macedonian "barbarian" has proved himself a master of political strategy as well as a military genius. He has used the wiles of diplomacy, marriage, banking, corruption and sabotage. His military coups include the defeat of Illyria to the north, together with Athens' maritime ally, Chalcidice, to secure his southern Aegean flank and the remorseless occupation of mainland cities.

Athens, a tardy opponent, held his advance after a long battle in 352BC to control the strategic Thermopylae Pass. Philip used a temporary peace with Athens to join Thebes in its "Sacred War" against Phocis. Theses, a hollow victor, was spent. The real winner was Philip.

Other governments anointed him as a peacemaker, but in 341BC he attacked Athens' allies in Thrace-Gallipoli. Renewed warfare culminated in an evenly-matched combat at Chaeronea last year. The turning point was a feigned retreat by Philip behind piles of corpses, enticing the Athenians into hot pursuit and an ambush. This was sprung by seasoned Macedonian cavalry, led by Philip's son Alexander.

In the immediate aftermath of the war, Thebes has been occupied by Macedonians. Nominal self-government continues elsewhere, but without autonomy overseas. Most states must join Philip's new League of Corinth as he prepares to repay Persia for its earlier attacks. Greece is unified, but at a great cost.

Philip's decision to marry Cleopatra, a woman from the Macedonian nobility, causes a stir at court. The marriage, which will be polygamous, stems from Philip's concern about his line of succession. Alexander is his heir-designate but, as his second son, Arrhidaeus, suffers from epilepsy, he thinks it wise to have a third son.

336BC - Philip slain: Alexander is in power

King Philip II of Macedon has died at the hands of an assassin in his hour of triumph. After attending a state ceremony at which his own statue was displayed as a new Olympian god, he was stabbed by Pausanias, a royal bodyguard with a grudge. Philip is succeeded by his son Alexander, aged just 20.

In spite of his youth Alexander is already a veteran of warfare and of government. Four years ago, while Philip was on an expedition to Byzantium, Alexander acted as regent of Macedonia and fought his own local war against the Thracian Maedi. His role in the battle of Chaeronea spread his reputation throughout Greece.

Alexander has had a rich and complex education. Along with the studies normally pursued by a young aristocrat he has been exposed to hard lessons in practical politics within the family circle. In his early years at Pella, the Macedonian capital, he came under the influence of his mother, Olympias.

Her kinsman Leonidas introduced him to the Homeric legends as a guide to practical living from the art of war to navigation. At the age of 13 he was taken by his father to become a pupil of Aristotle. A liberal education with others in residence at Miezeincluded medicine, geometry, rhetoric and literature.

Throughout his formative years his mother's influence remained. When Philip married a younger woman named Cleopatra polygamously last year, it provoked a near fatal division between the two men. At the wedding feast, the bride's uncle unwisely predicted a "legitimate heir to the throne". An enraged Alexander, war veteran as well as true heir, started fighting. Philip intervened but collapsed, drunk. Alexander left, saying: "Here's the man who was making ready to cross from Europe to Asia, and who cannot cross from one table to another without losing his balance." Only recently was Alexander persuaded by his father to come out of self-imposed exile in Illyria, after escorting his mother to sanctuary.

After succeeding his father as king of Macedonia, Alexander sets out on his first military campaign, aiming to punish the Triballi for their rebellion of 339BC and re-establish order in the Balkans. His victory reinforces Macedonian power in the region of the lower Danube.

337BC - Alexander subdues restless Greeks

Alexander's attacks on regional enemies have been bold. He led a pre-emptive attack against the Triballi and the Illyrians which took him across the Danube. In his absense, however, there was disaffection in Sparta and Athens.

It was in Thebes that the most serious trouble occurred, ignited by rumour that Alexander had been killed in action. After a forced march of 310 miles (500km) in 13 days, Alexander stormed the city and systematically destroyed everything except temples and the home of Pindar the poet. The city's 8,000 people were sold as slaves and their homeland split into lots which were also sold. Other states tempted to dissent hastily sought the king's pardon.

To complete preparations for his campaign against Persia, Alexander consulted the Oracle at Delphi, but chose a day regarded by temple authorities as inauspicious for any "reading". The king promptly summoned the presiding priestess, who refused to perform the ceremony. Alexander manhandled her towards the temple. The frightened woman shouted words to the effect that Alexander was "invincible". A delighted Alexander released her and said he had no further need of prophecies.

Beneath his confidence, though, it is clear that Alexander is not ready to place people from the old city-states of Athens, Sparta or Thebes in positions of trust. Regiments from these areas are now second-rate members of his expeditionary force, or potential hostages.

Already in control of a large part of Asia Minor (Anatolia), Alexander defeats Darius III of Persia at Issus. This follows his great victory over the Persians last year at the river Granicus. Darius is put to flight and Alexander captures his camp and family, sleeping in the Persian king's tent on the night of his victory.

Alexander has taken the city of Tyre after an eight-month siege. It is reported that 8,000 citizens have been killed and 30,000 sold into slavery. After Alexander's recent rout of the Persians the cities of Phoenicia - except for Tyre - wisely surrendered to him.

After his unopposed expedition to Egypt, Alexander moves into Persia and defeats the Persian army at Gaugamela. Babylonia and Susa surrender to him.

331BC - Egyptian city commemorates triumphs of Macedonian conqueror

Foreigners from all parts of the eastern Medierranean are flocking to a splendid city which the conqueroring Macedonian king, Alexander, is building on the Egyptian coast in the west of the Nile delta. A great harbour, being created by constructing a mole linking the mainland with the island of Pharos, will be used as a naval base for Alexander's war against the Persian empire.

The architect Dinocrates, who gained notoriety when he suggestd that Mount Athos be carved into a gigantic seated statue, is marking out the new city, to be called Alexandria, in a grid pattern of straight streets intersecting each other at right angles.

Alexander's decision to found the city was announced after he had visited the oracle of Ammon, at the Siwa oasis in neighbouring Libya. The Greeks identify Ammon with their own Zeus, and it is said that Alexander wanted to trace his birth back to Ammon. He was not disappointed. Having been guided to the oasis by two black crows, he was greeted by a priest who hailed him as a "son of the god".

Alexander marches on Persepolis and allows his army to pillage the royal city. He wants to take Darius alive, but the Persian king is assassinated by rebels. His death marks the collapse of the Achaemenid dynasty.

330BC - Military genius wins war against Persians

Early on a summer's morning, Alexander and his army, crossing the mountainous region of western Iran, came upon the remnants of the once-mighty forces of Darius III. Most of them fled, and when Alexander caught up with the Persian wagons he found Darius in one of them, dead from stab wounds inflicted on the orders of his cousin Bessus. The campaign that had begun three years before, when Alexander crossed into Asia Minor with 30,000 men, was over. At last he was master of the Persian empire.

The Persians had the bigger army, but Alexander had the better one. The first battle took place at the Granicus river, near the Sea of Marmora. It was the first battle of the war in which the phalanx was used. This close formation of long spears behind a wall of overlappping shields devastated the Persian lines.

Alexander secures the conquest of Bactria and Sogdiana, begun two years ago when he crossed the Hindu Kush after conquering the eastern states of the Persian empire.

The official historian of Alexander's expedition, Callisthenes, is executed for his alleged complicity in a conspiracy.

325BC - Alexander expands his empire into India

Alexander has arrived back in this capital (Susa, Persia), his army victorious in their Indian campaign - but almost halved in numbers by the toll taken on them by hear, hunger and thirst on the long march from the Punjab.

Alexander had fought his way across Afghanistan and penetrated the Khyber Pass to descend on to the Punjab plain where he vanquished Porus, the last rajah to have been brought under Persian influence. Porus met him on a river bank with 40,000 men and 200 elephants, but Alexander secretly crossed the river by night and swept down on Porus' exposed flank. Some 20,000 Indian infantry and 3,000 cavalry were killed, for the loss of about 80 of Alexander's men.

It has been an heroic saga, with Alexander winning battle after battle, year after year. He struck through the Hindu Kush into Turkestan, crossed the Oxus river to reach Samarkand and captured the Scythian chief Oxartes, whose daughter Roxana he married.

In his desire to unite his newly-conquered empire he encouraged his men to form marriage alliances with Asian women. He himself has adopted some Persian customs. As king of the rugged Macedonian tribes he had striven to gain acceptance by the cultivated Greeks.

Now he seems to be betraying that ideal, and discontent is growing in his army. He has begun to scent conspiracies and has even had Parmenio, his faithful chief of staff, put to death. Alexander's ambition was to penetrate as far as the Ganges, where he expected to find the eastern limit of the inhabited world. But his troops refused to go further. For three days he sulked in his tent before giving way.

He divided his forces. He sent the main body back through Afghanistan, and dispatched a fleet down the Indus river with orders to sail along the coast to reach the Persian Gulf. A third force he led across the desert of Baluchistan. It was to be a terrible three months' march.

323BC - Alexander dies aged 32

In the spring Alexander came down to Babylon, where embassies from all parts of the known world were waiting to pay homage to the conqueror of the east. He was already planning his next great enterprise, the exploration of the seas around his empire.

In the year since he had returned from India he had devoted himself to overhauling the imperial administration, dismissing officials judged to be incompetent and dealing with complaints of corruption. He sought to bind the conquered Persians to his cause by offering satrapies to Persian grandees and recruiting 30,000 Persian youths for his armies. He took another oriental wife, Satira, the daughter of Darius, before leaving Susa for Babylon.

In Babylon he ordered the construction of an immense fleet, and under dis supervision a great basin was excavated in the Euphrates capable of taking 1,000 ships. He wanted to open a maritime route from Babylon to Egypt, round Arabia. Later, in the far north of his empire, he would seek a passage from teh Caspian Sea to the Northern Ocean.

By the summer everything was ready and a date fixed for his departure He spent two nights carousing with friends. Afterwards he awoke with a fever, which at first he dismissed as trivial. But soon he became delirious. The palace swarmed with generals, soothsayers, and priests making sacrifices and uttering incantations. Once, during a lucid moment, he was asked who should inherit his empire. His reply: "The best man."

One by one the men of his Macedonian army passed through the sickchamber, bidding him farewell. It is said that he recognised each man by name. He died as the sun was setting on the plain of Babylon. He was 32 years old.

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The following are excerpts from: Macedonia and Its Relations With Greece and Macedonia FAQ 8

The Ancient Macedonian Language

In Greece today people start from the a priori assumption the "Greek identity of Macedonia is an obvious fact". Identifying the Greeks from the ethnic and linguistic point of view with the ancient Macedonians is not scientifically supportable.

Although none of the Mycenaean scholars in the world takes seriously Greek hypothetical interpretations of the Mycenaean texts, Greek scholarship nevertheless wishes to discover in them "proofs" that the ancient Macedonians were Indo-Europeans, proto-Hellenes, and that their language was the oldest, purest and most conservative Greek dialect which at the same time cast a new light on the history of the Greek ethnos (Istoria tou Elinikou ethnous, Proistoria kai proto istoria, Athens, 1970). This thesis reached its culmination at the beginning of the 1980's when an unusual jubilee under the title of 4000 years of Greek Macedonia was celebrated with great pomp.

Ancient Macedonian House of PsalmsThe theory thus constructed has pretensions to scholarship, but in fact it starts out from unsupported presuppositions. The history of the Ancient Macedonians over a lengthy period of 1 600 years (2200-600 BCE) has been reconstructed on the basis of a pre-judgement that they could have been nothing other than Greeks.

In fact there is no argument that will prove any phase of a alleged close relation between the Greeks and the Macedonians in the ancient period. The assertation, very often emphasized, that there is no preserved documents about the language of the Macedonians, is unconvincing and is result of a prejudiced policy. It is impossible that the great and powerful Macedonian state should not have produced numerous administrative documentation. The question is where that documentation had been kept; is it still on that undiscovered place or is it destroyed, and if this is true who destroyed it and when.

Only about hundred words of the old Macedonian language are known. While earlier on Doric forms were being sought in the Macedonian words, Greek linguists are now investing great efforts in revealing archaic Aeolian, Arcado-Cypriot and Mycenaean parallels. The hypothesis that ancient Macedonian was closest to the Thessalian and Magnesian Aeolian dialect is based upon a fragment from Greek mythology in Hesiod (Fr.7-MW), that Magnes and Makedon were first cousins by the sons of Helen. It is methodologically unsound to reconstruct histor y on the basis of. The same myth offers a similar link between the Romans and Greeks, and consequently, according to the modern Greeks, this would imply that even the Romans were Greeks ??? It is clear that among the glosses there are borrowings from Greek which in antique times was a language of great prestige (as English and French are today, and Latin was in the Middle Ages).

"The Kultursprache of ancient Macedonians, as soon as they felt the need for one, was inevitably Greek, as it was in the case of various other ancient peoples. There was no feasible alternative. But as N.G.L. Hammond remarked, in the memorable closing words of volume I of his History of Macedonia, "a means of communications is very far from assuring peaceful relations between two peoples, as we know from our experience of the modern world."9
It is equally far (we might add) from betokening any consciousness of a common interest.

The Greek words however have been adapted according to a different, non-Greek phonetic system, just as English borrowed words from Latin (dignity = dignitas, tatis) and just as any language today borrows words from English and Latin (English Computer, Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, kompjuter; or Latin - dignitas, tatis, English - dignity, Macedonian - dignitet). Here are some examples from ancient Greek and Macedonian:

Macedonian Greek
ade (sky) aither (air)
danos (death) thanatos (death)
keb(a)le (head) kephale (head)

But at the same time there are among the glosses such words that are not found in Greek but have parallels in other Indo - European languages:

Macedonian: aliza (a white layer under a bark of tree)
Slavonic: e/olha (a white layer under a bark of tree)

Macedonian: goda (innards)
Greek: entera (innards)
Old Indian Sanskrit: gudam (intestine)

From the analysis of the ancient Macedonian glosses it can be concluded that ancient Macedonian was an Indo-European language distinct from Greek. The well-known French Indo-European scholar A. Meje says that Greek is no closer to ancient Macedonian than it is to any other Indo-European language.

Another fact proving the idea that ancient Macedonian was a separate language is the fact that the mother tongue of Alexander the Great was not understood by the ancient Greeks: a fact of which there are explicit proofs. (Quintus Curtius Rufus, VI, 9, 37 ). Plutarchus wrote that the Macedonians had their own language:

  • "But, he [Alexander]...jumped up on his feet and started to call his shield bearer in Macedonian [and that was a sign of great danger]..."

Plutarchus, Alexander, 51.

The question of the use of the Macedonian language was raised by Alexander himself during the trial of Philotas, one of his generals accused of treason. Alexander said to Philotas:

"The Macedonians are about to pass judgment upon you; I wish to know whether you will address them in their native tongue." Thereupon Philotas replied: "Besides the Macedonians there are many present who, I think, will more easily understand what I shall say if I use the same language which you have employed, for no other reason, I suppose, than in order that you speech might be understood by the greater number." Then said the king: "Do you not see how Philotas loathes even the language of his fatherland? For he alone disdains to learn it. But let him by all means speak in whatever way he desires, provided that you remember he holds our customs in as much abhorrence as our language."

Quintus Curtius Rufus, Alexander, VI. ix. 34 - 36

There is no doubt that the letters sent by the soldiers to their relatives home were written in their mother tongue, in Macedonian.

Alexander in battleThose historical testimonies are strengthened by the information of N.Oikonomides about the existence of more then 5,000 writings in Macedonian, collected within the frames of the Greek program KERA, but not published in order not to be of use to the "State of Skopje", referring to the Republic of Macedonia. Oikonomides fully denied allegations of the scientists, that written material in Macedonian had not been preserved. Since they write about the Macedonians and their language, and define their ethnic affiliation, they had to take into consideration the serious rebuke and indications of N. Oikonomides (N. Oikonomodes, Book Review, History Department, University of Chicago, 1988, p. 121-6). By the way, only as information and without any suggestion let it be known that at his first visit to Greece after this was published, Mr. Oikonomides died suddenly, and the Greek authorities explained that as alcohol abuse.

But even if (the key word here is IF) the Macedonians might have spoken a form of Greek dialect, it still does not make them Greeks, and it does not nullify the proofs that say the opposite:

"Let us again look at the Jews - those who in the 1930s were living in Eastern Europe. Their names were Hebrew with a slight admixture of German and Slav elements; their alphabet and their sacred writings were Hebrew. Yet their vocabulary was largely, and the structure of their vernacular language almost entirely, that of a German dialect." 10

As a precious survival of a pro-nationalist world, they are of special interest in such comparisons. One wonders what scholars would have made of them, if they had been known only through tombstones and sacred objects. In any case, interesting though the precise affinities of Ancient Macedonian must be to the linguistic specialist, they are again of very limited interest to the historian. Linguistic facts as such, just like archaeological finds as such, are only some of the pieces in the puzzle that the historian tries to fit together. In this case, unfortunately, as every treatment of the problem nowadays seems to show, discussion has become bedeviled by politics and modern linguistic nationalism: the idea that a nation is essentially defined by a language and that, conversely, a common language means a common nationhood - which is patently untrue for the greater part of human history and to a large extent even today.

The allegation, groundless again, that the Macedonian population was not Slavic at all, is a great and complex historical question. Whether the thesis that the Slavs decided to come down to the Balkans much later, which is defined according to Greenberg's writings as a "nomadic-rural settlement" is true, is again an unconfirmed fact. We find confirmation of this thesis (especially) in the writings of G. S. Grinevich, dealing with the subject of pre - Slavic literacy (Genadij Stanistavlovich Grinevich, World History Department, Russian Physical Society, Moscow, 1994).

The decoding and the linguistic coding results that Grinevich had revealed show that the pre-Slavic literacy existed much before the creation of the letters and coding of the Slavic language by the brothers Sts. Cyril and Methody.

The most important argument to the proto-Slavic origin of the Macedonians is that Grinevich has decoded the inscriptions using a language, according to him, spoken by the Aegean Pelasti who were pre-Slavs (p. 175). Grinevich concludes that the pre-Slavic written language had been very close to the Old Slavic written literary language of all Slavs, the later was introduced by the brothers Sts. Cyrilus and Methodius and their students, Sts. Clement and Naum of Ohrid. Since we know the Old-Slavic language from the area around Salonica, it will lead us to the conclusion that that is the language of the Macedonians. The applied antonym Macedonians is in complete accordance to the Ph. Papazoglu's estimation:

Having ceased to exist as a state [after the Roman defeat]... Macedonian people did not vanish; it continued to exist within the frames of the new political community, then Roman State, preserving its ethnic characteristics, its language, religion and customs.

The presence of a pre-Slavic language, such as that one of the Pellastis, is not a new discovery. Even in the distant 1815 the German philosopher L.F. Pasof said that Homer's language is as a matter of fact a form of Slavic. In 1850 his work was translated in English and published in New York (a proof that this theory was not discarded once it emerged). Pasof said that Homer's lexic in the Illiad actually corresponds to the lexic of the Slavic Languages. Because contemporary Macedonian language is also a Slavic language, and according to a lot of research the ancient Macedonian language was of the same kind as the language of the Pellastis, being the oldest recognized Slavic language, it is very likely that contemporary Macedonian in certain laxic elements is like the Homeric Language.

It should be taken into consideration, that the Iliad became popular in Athens in 592 BCE, in the time of king Solon, and his heir, Pysistrates, ordered that the be Iliad translated and decorated in Greek so that the Greek people can be familiar with the victory of the Hellenic peoples over the non-Hellenes (M.N. Gjuric, History of Hellenic Literature, 67 - 8). Plutarchus says that the Iliad was not originally written in Greek, and that Solon used Homer's masterpiece in his own advantage:

Linguistic continuity between the ancient and modern Macedonians is shown by the continuity of the name of the ancient capital of Macedonia, Edessa. The Macedonians knew this city as 'Voden' long before linguists discovered that the Slavic name was a translation of the original name and that both meant "watertown." The Greeks, on the other hand, unless they study linguistics, do not know the meaning of the name.

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Ethnic Affiliation of the Ancient Macedonians

The Macedonians in Ancient times were an ethnic group of Indo-European origin, distinct from the ancient Greeks and the other neighbors (Illirians and Trakians). It is a common knowledge that the classical Greek authors did not recognize the Macedonians as fellow countrymen, calling them barbarians (non-Hellenes):

Makedonsko Sonce - KutleshThe ancient Macedonians regarded the Greeks as potentially dangerous neighbors, never as kinsmen. The Greeks unanimously stereotyped the Macedonians as "barbarians" and treated them in the same bigoted manner in which they treated all non-Greeks. Herodotus, the Father of History, relates how the Macedonian king Alexander I (498 - 454 BCE), a Philhellene, that is, "a friend of the Greeks", and logically a non-Greek, wanted to take part in the Olympic games. The Greek athletes protested, saying they would not run with a barbarian. The historian Thucydides, himself half barbarian, considered the Macedonians as barbarians. Demosthenes, the great Athenians statesman and orator, spoke of the Macedonia king Philip II as:

  • "...not only no Greek, nor related to the Greeks, but not even a barbarian from any place that can be named with honors, but a pestilent knave from Macedonia, whence it was never yet possible to buy a decent Slave." 11

The Hellenes considered Macedonian domination in the Greek states as an alien rule, imported from outside by the members of other tribes, the, as Plutarchus says, allophyloi (Plutarchus, Vita Arati, 16).

In his eighth book, Herodotus wrote about the ethnic affiliation of the Macedonian royal line and emphasized the Spartan thesis about Alexander I as a Macedonian. So, it was in interest of the Hellenes not to believe the Persian emissary, Alexander the Macedonian:

  • "Don't let the Alexander the Macedonian persuade you, he who sweetens the message of the Macedonians [the Persian Commander]. He has to do so since the tyrant cooperates with the tyrant."

Herodotus, The Histories VIII, 142.

The ethnic distinction between the Macedonians and the Hellenes is emphasized by other authors as well. Namely, Alexander III the Great, as Plutarchus wrote, told his soldiers:

  • "For the Macedonians, I will conquer the world...but not for the Hellenes."

Plutarchus, Alexander, 47

Ancient bronze utensilIt is very interesting and important to know according to what source and on what grounds, this very clearly stated commitment of the Macedonian king was made. Very often this statement is overturned by the Historians and his conquest is interpreted as an action in favor of the Hellenes and as an alleged cause of their uniting. The facts are clear, and do not allow any further interpretation.

However, the modern Greeks offer the idea that the Macedonians were just another Hellenic tribe. Proofs offered by the Greek side include sources such as Herodotus and Thukydides:

  • "..the Hellenic nation.. settled about Pindos under the name Makedon."

Herodotus, The Histories 1.56

  • "..all these (groups).. belong to the Dorian and Macedonian nation (and) had emigrated last from Erineus and Pindos and Dryopis."

Herodotus, The Histories 8.43

  • "Now that the men of this family are Greeks, sprung from Perdiccas, as they themselves affirm, is a thing which I can declare on my own knowledge, and which I will hereafter make plainly evident. That they are so has been already adjudged by those who manage the Pan-Hellenic contest at Olympia"

Herodotus, The Histories 5.22

  • "Hereupon Pausanias...addressed the generals, and said, - 'Since the battle is to come with tomorrow's dawn, it were well that you Athenians should stand opposed to the Persians and we Spartans to the Boeotians and the other Greeks;..."

Herodotus, The Histories 9.46

  • "Next to the Persians he placed the Medes, facing the Corinthians, Potideans, Orchomenians, and Sicyonians; then the Bactrians, facing the Epidaurians, Troezinians, Lepreats, Tirynthians, Myceneans, and Phliasians; after them the Indians, facing the Hermionians, Eretrians, Styreans, and Chalcidians; then the Sacans, facing the Ambraciots, Anactorians, Leucadians, Paleans, and Eginetans; last of all, facing the Athenians, the Plateans, and the Megarians, he placed the troops of the Boeotians, Locrians, Malians, and Thessalians, and also the thousand Phocians.. Besides those mentioned above, Mardonius likewise arrayed against the Athenians the Macedonians and the tribes dwelling about Thessaly"

Herodotus, The Histories 9.31

  • "`Alexander, I demand you remember Greece, for the sake of which you embarked on this expedition, with the intention to add Asia to that by the Hellenes and Macedonians you are treated as a man in the way fitted for Hellenes to honor."

Arrian, Anabasis 4.11.7 - 12.1

Let's look at part of that quote: that by the Hellenes and Macedonians you are treated as a man in the way fitted for Hellenes to honor...First, Arrian says "Macedonians and Hellenes". If Hellenes and Macedonians were the same, then this is the same as saying Californians and Americans. What are Californians, non - Americans??? No, they are Americans, therefore this phrase is wrong. If Arrian used and, then they are not the same, otherwise if he's such a great historical source he shouldn't make such big grammatical mistakes. It is not a mistake, but Arrian is saying that the Macedonians were not Hellenes!

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Excerpt from: Macedonia and Its Relations With Greece and Macedonia FAQ

Greek scholarship underestimates the migration of peoples, which fundamentally redrew the ethnic map of Europe, and especially of the Balkans, during the early Byzantine period. Macedonia has been represented as a buffer zone protecting Hellenism form the waves of the barbarians throughout the centuries. The Slavonic element in Greece is either denied or minimized and it is well known that the Byzantine historian Constantine Porphyrogenitus openly says that the whole of Hellas had been Slavicized. It is likewise a known fact that Slavonic tribes of the Ezerites and the Milingi were independent in the Peloponnese in the 7th and 8th centuries and did not pay tribute to Byzantium. If such facts are borne in mind, it is not difficult to understand whether Macedonia at that period was really a "Bastion of Hellenism".

There have been protests in Greece that the Republic of Macedonia has not used toponyms from the Aegean part of Macedonia in the forms which were given to them by a decree in 1913 and more specially in 1926 because this has called Greek sovereignty into question. Demelios J. Georgakas notes that in Peloponnese no matter which direction one moves one cannot go three miles without encountering a Slavonic place-name (D. J. Georgacas - W. A. McDonald, Place-Names in Southwest Peloponesus, Athens, 1967, 15). Similar statements have been made by Ph. Malingudis (Ph. Malingudis, Studien zu den Slavischen Ortsnamen Griechelands, 1. Slavische Flurnamen aus der messenischen Mani, Mainz, Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, 1981). If there are so many Slavonic place - names in the Peloponnese, how many more are there in the Aegean part of Macedonia where the Slavonic tribes dwelt? And today Slavs have been living there for a period of 1,400 years. What is more natural, than that the Balkanized Slavs who have lived so long and continuously in Macedonia should be called Macedonians and their language Macedonian.


  1. Borza, Eugene N., In the Shadow of Olympus - the Emergence of Macedon, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1990
  2. Macedonia and Its Relations With Greece, Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Skopje, 1993; p. 11
  3. Macedonia and Greece-The Struggle to Define a New Balkan Nation, John Shea, McFarland and Company Inc., North Carolina, 1997; p.12
  4. Borza, Eugene N., In the Shadow of Olympus - the Emergence of Macedon, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1990
  5. Ernst Badian, (from Harvard University, History Department)
  6. Macedonia Through the Ages, Jacques Bacid, Macedonian World Congress, 1983.
  7. Chronicle of the World, Mercer, Derrick, et al., Dorling Kindersley Limited, London, 1996
  8. Obtained from the Macedonia FAQ website. A project of
  9. Studies in the History of Art Vol.10, Macedonia and Greece in the Late Classical and early Hellenistic Times, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, Prof. E. Badian, Department of History, Harvard University, Boston, Ma.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.

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