The present paper disputes all known fallacies by presenting facts.
The inhabitants of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (The FYROM) are ethnic Macedonians, direct descendants of, or related to the ancient Macedonians.
The inhabitants of The FYROM are mostly Slavs, Bulgarians, and Albanians. They have nothing in common with the ancient Macedonians.
Dr. Eugene Borza, a historian of Classics in his academic paper "Macedonia Redux," in The Eye Expanded: life and the arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity, ed. Frances B. Titchener & Richard F. Moorton, University of California Press, 1999, 255, has stated on the matter,
“If the claim is based on ethnicity, it is an issue of different order. Modern Slavs, both Bulgarians and Macedonians[sic], cannot establish a link with antiquity, as the Slavs entered the Balkans centuries after the demise of the ancient Macedonian kingdom. Only the most radical Slavic factions – mostly in the United States, Canada, and Australia – even attempt to establish a connection to antiquity… Politics in the Balkans transcends historical and biological truths”.
The assumption of Slavs of ethnic consanguinity between them and the ancient Macedonians has been refuted long ago by testimonies of The FYROM’s officials:
a. The former President of The FYROM, Kiro Gligorov declared, “We are Slavs who came to this area in the sixth century … we are not descendants of the ancient Macedonians” (Foreign Information Service Daily Report, Eastern Europe, February 26, 1992, p. 35).
b. Also, Mr. Gligorov proclaimed, ”We are Macedonians, but we are Macedonian Slavs. That’s who we are! We have no connection to Alexander the Greek and his Macedonia… Our ancestors came here in the 5th and 6th century” (Toronto Star, March 15, 1992).
c. On 22 January 1999, Ambassador of the FYROM to the USA, Ljubica Achevska gave a speech on the present situation in the Balkans. In answering questions at the end of her remarks, Mrs. Acevshka articulated, “We do not claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great … Greece is Macedonia’s[sic] second largest trading partner, and its number one investor. Instead of opting for war, we have chosen the mediation of the United Nations, with talks on the ambassadorial level under Mr. Vance and Mr. Nimetz.” In reply to another question about the ethnic origin of the people of FYROM, Ambassador Achevska stated that “we are Slavs and we speak a Slav language.”
d. On 24 February 1999, in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Gyordan Veselinov, FYROM’S Ambassador to Canada, admitted, “We are not related to the northern Greeks who produced leaders like Philip and Alexander the Great. We are a Slav people and our language is closely related to Bulgarian.” He also commented, “There is some confusion about the identity of the people of my country.”
e. Moreover, the Foreign Minister of the FYROM, Slobodan Casule, in an interview to Utrinski Vesnik of Skopje on December 29, 2001, said that he mentioned to the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, Solomon Pasi, that they “belong to the same Slav people.”
The Macedonian Greeks are of the same ethnic group as the “Macedonians” of The FYROM.
The Macedonian Greeks are NOT of the same ethnic group as the "Macedonian" Slavs of The FYROM. The Macedonian Greeks are just that, Greeks who live in or originate from the region of Macedonia. They are the only people that by heritage, can be called Macedonians. Macedonian ethnicity did not and does not exist. The term “Macedonian” is not ethnic, but regional; even Misirkov agreed to it (Misirkov, Skopje, 1970, 159).
Ancient Macedonians were a tribe similar to the Greeks, but not Greek themselves.
Ancient Macedonians were one of more than the 230 Hellenic tribes, sub-tribes, and families of the Hellenic Nation that spoke more than 200 dialects. For more information see Herodotus, Thucydides, Titus Livius, Strabo, Nevi’im, Ketuvim, Apocrypha (Maccabees I, 1-2). It was not until 1945 that the Slavs have challenged their Hellenism for expansionistic reasons.
Ancient Greece was a country, a legal entity, as we understand it today.
No. In ancient times Greece was not a country. Hellas (Greece) was first recognized as a nation state or legal entity as we understand it today in 1830. From the beginning until that time, the term Hellas was only a regional term or an administrative area whose borders were changing depending on the needs of the Roman, Byzantine, or Ottoman Empires.
There was one ancient Greek language, and the ancient Macedonians spoke Macedonian, not Greek.
Linguistically, there is no real distinction between a dialect and a language without a specific factor. People usually consider the political factor to determine whether a particular kind of speech is a language or a dialect. “Politically speaking, one might answer that a language is what is officially accepted as the national form of speech, a dialect what does not have such an acceptance” (Pei 1966, 46). The name of the language of a country depends on the name that the government of a state calls it. Many countries do not include provisions in their Constitutions naming specifically an official language, e.g., Greece, USA.
Since the Pan-Hellenic area consisted of many small city-states or tribal states one might argue (Attica, Lacedaemon, Corinth, etc.), and more important states (Molossia, Thesprotia, Macedonia, Acarnania, Aetolia, etc.). It was common knowledge at the time that the people of all those states used different speech, but it was a matter of what presently we call dialects of the same language, i.e., Hellenic or Greek. The most advanced of all Hellenic dialects was the dialect of Attica (Athens) or Attic. When people state “ancient Greek language” they mean the Attic dialect and any comparison of the Macedonian dialect to ancient Greek is a comparison to the Attic dialect. The difference between Macedonian and Attic was like the difference between Low and High German. Nobody doubts that both are Germanic languages, although they differ from one another. Another excellent example of a multi-dialectal linguistic regime is present-day Italy. The official language of Italy is the Florentine, but ordinary people still speak their dialects. Two people from different areas of Italy cannot communicate if both speak their particular dialect, and yet they both speak Italian. Why should the Hellenic language be treated differently?
At that time, Greeks spoke more than 200 Hellenic dialects or languages, as the ancient Greeks used to call them. Some of the well-known idioms were Ionic, Attic, Doric, Aeolic, Cypriot, Arcadic, Aetolia, Acarnanian, Macedonian and Locrian. Moreover, we know that the Romans considered the Macedonians as Hellenic speaking peoples. Livy wrote, “…The Aetolians, the Acarnanians, the Macedonians, men of the same speech, are united or disunited by trivial causes that arise from time to time …” (Livy, History of Rome, b. XXXI par. XXIX). The Aetolians and Acarnanians were Hellenic tribes. On another occasion, Livy writes “…[General Paulus] took his official seat surrounded by the whole crowd of Macedonians … his announcement was translated into Greek and repeated by Gnaeus Octavius, the praetor…”. If the crowd of Macedonians was not Greek-speaking, the Romans would not translate Paulus’ speech into Greek, but into the native tongue so that people would understand (Livy, History of Rome, b. XLV, para XXIX).
The Macedonian dialect was an Aeolic dialect of the Western Greek language group (Hammond, The Macedonian State, p. 193). All those dialects differ from each other, but never in a way could that one person not understand the other. The Military Yugoslavian Encyclopedia of the 1974 edition (Letter M, page 219), a very anti-Hellenic biased publication, states, “… u doba rimske invazije, njihov jezik bio grčki, ali se dva veka ranije dosta razlikovao od njega, mada ne toliko da se ta dva naroda nisu mogla sporazumevati.” (… at the time of the Roman invasion, their language was Hellenic, but two centuries before it was different enough, but not as much as the two peoples could not understand one another). What the encyclopedia did not explain is that currently, the Greek language did not exist. Furthermore, the Greek the reference insinuates is the Attic dialect. Thus, in fact, the comparison was not between the Macedonian and the Greek, but between the Macedonian Aeolic based with the Attic, a daughter so to speak of Ionic dialect.
After the death of Alexander the Great, the situation changed in the vast empire into a new reality. Ptolemy II, Philadelphos (308-246 BC) the Pharaoh (king) of Egypt realized that the physical unification of the Greeks and the almost limitless expansion of the Empire required the standardization of codification of the already widely used common language or Koinē. Greek was already the lingua franca of the vast Hellenistic world in all four kingdoms of the Diadochi (Alexander’s Successors). It was already spoken, but neither an official alphabet nor grammar had yet been devised.
Alexandria, Egypt was already the Cultural Center of the Empire in about 280 BC. Ptolemy II assigned Aristeas, an Athenian scholar, to create the grammar of the new language, one that not only all Greeks but all inhabitants of the Empire would be able to speak. Thus, Aristeas used the Attic dialect as the basis for the new language. Aristeas and the scholars who were assisting him eliminated the Attic idiosyncrasies and added words as well as grammatical and syntactical rules mainly from the Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic dialects. So, they standardized the Hellenic language, called Koine or Common.
The language was far from perfect. Non-Greeks encountered difficulties reading it since there was no way to separate words, sentences, and paragraphs. Also, they were unable to express their feelings and the right intonation. During that time, Greek was a melodic language, even more, melodic than Italian is today.
The system of paragraphs, sentences, and punctuation were the result of continuous improvement and enhancement of the language with the contribution of many Greek scholars from all over the World.
There were a few alphabets employed by various Hellenic cities or states, and these alphabets included letters specific to the sounds of their particular dialect. There were two main categories, the Eastern and the Western alphabets. The first official alphabet omitted all letters not in use any longer ( Ϡ sampi, Ϙ qoppa, H heta (served as consonantal function and a letter), Ϻ san, Ϝ digamma also known as a stigma in Greek numbering) and it presented a 24-letter alphabet for the new Koinē language. However, the inclusion and use of small letters took place over a period of many centuries after the standardization of the Koinē.
After the new language was completed and codified, the Jews of Egypt felt that it was an opportunity for them to translate their sacred books into Greek since it was the language that the Jews of Diaspora spoke. So, on the island of Pharos, by Alexandria’s seaport, 72 Jewish rabbis were secluded and isolated as they translated their sacred books (Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim, etc.) from Aramaic and Hebrew to the Koinē Greek, the newly created language. It is known as the Septuagint translation. The Koinē evolved, and in about two to three centuries it became the language that Biblical scholars call Biblical Greek. In fact, only those who have studied the Attic dialect can understand the difference between the Septuagint Greek and the Greek of the New Testament. It happened about 265 BC.
Although the Koinē was officially in use, ordinary folk, in general, continued to speak their dialect, and here and there one can sense the insertion of elements of the Attic dialect in various documents such as the New Testament. The Gospel according to St. John and the Revelation are written in perfect Attic. The other three Synoptic Gospels were written in Koinē with the insertion of some Semitic grammatical concepts (i.e., the Hebrew genitive) and invented words (i.e., epiousios).
The outcome is that today in Greece there are many variations in speech; of course not to the point of people not understanding each other, but still, there is a divergence in the Greek spoken tongue. Today the Hellenic language accepts only one dialect, the Tsakonian, which is a direct development of the ancient Doric dialect of Sparta. The Demotic is a development of mostly the Doric sound system, whereas the Katharevousa is a made-up language based on the Classical Attic. Presently, the speech in various areas of Greece somehow differs from each other, and sometimes an untrained ear might have difficulty understanding the local speech. Pontic and Cypriot Greek are excellent examples of such cases to the unacquainted listener. Tsakonian dialect, the descendant of the Spartan Doric, is almost impossible to understand if one is not familiar with it. It is the only dialect accepted by the Academy of Athens.
Over the years, Macedonia had several names. At first, the Macedonians gave the land the name, Emathia, after their leader Emathion. It derives from the word amathos, amathoeis meaning sand or sandy. From now on, all of its appellations are Greek. Later it was called Maketia or Makessa and finally Makedonia (Macedonia). The latter names are derived from the Doric/Aeolic word “makos, (in Attic “mēkos) meaning length (see Homer, Odyssey, VII, 106), thus Makednos means long or tall, but also a highlander or mountaineer. (Cf. Orestae, Hellenes).
In Opis, during the mutiny of the Macedonian Army, Alexander the Great spoke to the whole Macedonian Army addressing them in Greek (Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, VII, 9,10). The Macedonian soldiers listened to him, and they were dumbfounded by what they heard from their Commander-in-Chief. They were upset. Immediately after Alexander left for the Palace, they demanded that Alexander allow them to enter the palace so that they could talk to him.
When this was reported to Alexander, he quickly came out and saw their restrained disposition; he heard the majority of his soldiers crying and lamenting, and was moved to tears. He came forward to speak, but they remained there imploring him. One of them, named Callines, whose age and command of the Companion cavalry made him preeminent expressed as follows, “Sire, what grieves the Macedonians is that you have already made some Persians your ‘kinsmen’, and the Persians are called ‘kinsmen’ of Alexander and are allowed to kiss you, while not one of the Macedonians has been granted this honor” (Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, VII, 8-11).
The previous story reveals that the Macedonians were speaking Greek since they could understand their leader. There were thousands of them, not just some selected few who happened to speak Greek. It would be unrealistic for Alexander the Great to talk to them in a language they supposedly did not speak. It would be impossible to believe that the Macedonian soldiers were emotionally moved to the point that all of them were lamenting after listening to a language they did not understand. There is no way for the Macedonians to have taken a crash course in Greek in 20 minutes so that they would be able to understand the speech simultaneously as Alexander was delivering it.
Furthermore, the Macedonians wore a distinctive hat, the “kausia” (καυσία) (Polybius IV 4,5; Eustathius 1398; Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, VII 22; cf. Sturz, Macedonian Dialect, 41) from the Greek word for heat that separated them from the rest of the Greeks. That is why the Persians called them “yauna takabara,” which meant “Greeks wearing the hat.” The Macedonian hat was very distinctive from the hats of the other Greeks, but the Persians did not distinguish the Macedonians because the Macedonian speech was also Greek (Hammond, The Macedonian State p. 13 cf. J.M. Balcer, Historia, 37  7).
“On the mountainsides of the Himalayas and the Indian Caucasus and under Pakistani and Afghanistan jurisdiction lives a tribe whose people call themselves Kalash. They claim to be the descendants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers who for various reasons were left behind in the depths of Asia and could not follow the Great General in his new conquests. Having no contact with the outside world for almost 23 centuries, they are entirely different from any other neighboring nations.
Light-complexioned, and blue-eyed in the midst of dark-skinned neighbors, their language, even though it has been affected and influenced by the many Muslims of nations speaking different languages that surround the Kalash tribe, still incorporates vocabulary and has many elements of the ancient Greek language. They greet their visitors with “ispanta” from the Greek verb “ασπάζομαι” (greetings) and they warn them about “heman” from the ancient Greek noun “χειμών” (winter). These indigenous people still believe in the twelve Olympian gods, and their architecture resembles very much the Macedonian architecture (National Herald, “A School in the Tribe of Kalash by Greeks,” October 11, 1996)”.
Michael Wood, the British scholar in his In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (p.8), quotes the following statement made by a Kalash named Kazi Khushnawaz:
“Long long ago, before the days of Islam, Sikander e Aazem came to India. The Two Horned one whom you British people call Alexander the Great. (sic) He conquered the world and was a very great man, brave and dauntless and generous to his followers. When he left to go back to Greece, some of his men did not wish to go back with him but preferred to stay here. Their leader was a general called Shalakash [Seleucus]. With some of his officers and men, he came to these valleys, and they settled here and took local women, and here they stayed. We, the Kalash, the Black Kafir of the Hindu Kush, are the descendants of their children. Still, some of our words are the same as theirs, our music and our dances, too; we worship the same gods. This is why we believe the Greeks are our first ancestors”. (Seleucus was one of the Generals of Alexander the Great. He was born in 358 or 354 BC in the town of Europos, Macedonia and died in August/September 281 BC near Lysimathia, Thrace).
The Kalash today worship the ancient Greek gods and especially Di Zau [Dias Zeus], the great sky god. Unfortunately, their language died out only in Muslim times. It is further evidence that Macedonians and Greeks spoke the same language, had the same religion and the same customs.
Accusations of Macedonians being barbarians started in Athens, and they were the result of political fabrications based on the Macedonian way of life and not on their ethnicity or language. (Casson, Macedonia, Thrace and Illyria, p158, Errington, A History of Macedonia, p 4). Demosthenes traveled to Macedonia twice for a total of nine months. He knew very well what language the Macedonians were speaking. We encountered similar behavior with Thrasyboulos. He states that the Acarnanians were barbarians only when the Athenians faced a conflict of political interest from the Acarnanians. The Macedonian way of life differed in many ways from the southern Greek way of life, but that was very common among the Western Greeks such as Chaones, Molossians, Thesprotians, Acarnanians, Aetolians, and Macedonians (Errington, A History of Macedonia, p 4.) Macedonian state institutions were similar to those of the Mycenean and Spartan (Wilcken, Alexander the Great, p 23). Regarding Demosthenes addressing Philip as “barbarian” even Badian an opponent of the Greekness of Macedonians states “It may have nothing to do with historical fact, any more than the orators’ tirades against their personal enemies usually have.” (E. Badian, Studies in the History of Art Vol 10: Macedonia And Greece in Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Times, Greeks and Macedonians).
Ancient Macedonia was a nation state as we presently understand it.
Before Phillip II, Macedonia was divided into typical small city-states having adopted the same concept of internal civic structure as the southern Greek city-states. Each Macedonian city-state or area had its main city and government. Philip II united the Macedonian city-states by instituting and establishing a Homeric style of a Kingdom, maintaining the infrastructure of the smaller city-states with the various kings paying tribute to the king of all Macedonia. We know this from the fact that at one time the king of Lyncestis (present-day Bitola – Florina) was Alexander III. The point that has to be made clear is that a man’s first loyalty was to his city, not to the King of Macedonia. (Hammond, The Macedonian State, p. 9).
Over the years the ancient Macedonians disappeared.
The ancient Macedonians did not disappear; over the years they were amalgamated with the other Greeks did among themselves.
If the ancient Macedonians were Greeks, why then was Alexander I, the king of Macedonia, named Philhellene (lover of Greece)? This title is bestowed only to foreigners.
The king of Macedonia, Alexander I, was named Philhellene by the Theban poet Pindaros for the same reason Jason of Pherrai and Euagoras of Cyprus were called Philhellenes (Isocrates 107A, 199A). The title Philhellene in ancient times meant Philopatris (lover of the homeland) or just put “a patriot” (Plato, Politics, 470E; Xenophon, Agesilaus, 7, 4), which is why Alexander the Great did not touch the traditional house of Pindaros when he ordered his soldiers to burn Thebes.
The ancient Greeks had a Greek or Hellenic national conscience, but the Macedonians proved that they were not Greeks because they destroyed Greek cities.
Greece is a peninsula, which lacking geographic continuity fostered alienation of individual tribes not only in the general sense but also in a narrower sense. That explains why the ancient Greeks did not have a collective national conscience which is why they were warring against each other. The Macedonians destroyed or burned cities belonging to other Greek City States for the same reason the Athenians, the Thebans, and the Spartans battled one another.
The Peloponnesian War authored by Thucydides, the first and foremost scientific historian ever, explain all about Greeks fighting each other and the reasons behind the authorship of this book. The Melian Dialogue in the same book (Thucydides V, 84-116) explains a few more things besides the result of that debate.
According to Xenophon (Xenophon, Hellenika Book II, chapter II, sections 19-20) at the end of the victorious for Sparta Peloponnesian war, Spartan allies Thebes and Corinth suggested that they burn the city of Athens. Spartans being magnanimous refused to do so.
I am offering information on a few more battles as the Battle of Helos that took place in circa 1213 BC, 20 years before the Trojan War (1193-1183 BC), the Battle of Leuktra (371 BC), the two Battles of Mantineia (418 BC and 362 BC).
They knew that somehow they were related, but localism and tribalism were much stronger than an ethnic Pan- Hellenic one. Ancient Greeks, of the Hellenic mainland, were united before an enemy attack that could endanger their freedom and welfare. This fact was displayed anytime the Persians attacked the Hellenic lands. Greeks from Ionia and Aeolia (present-day Aegean shores of Turkey), however, were mostly Persian allies in opposition to the Mainland Greeks.
It was common practice for various Hellenic states to form political/military alliances with each other and against each other, but they did not develop ethnic partnerships. There are plenty of such partnerships in the ancient Hellenic world.
A few centuries went by until the Greeks began developing a national conscience. The Greeks had achieved the completion of a national conscience by the time Justinian was crowned the Emperor of Byzantium. Very few ancient Greeks, such as Pericles, Demosthenes and Phillip II of Macedonia had the vision of a united country, but each one wanted to see his state as the leading force of such a union. Pericles dreamed of it, Demosthenes advocated it, but Phillip II materialized it. Also, the Macedonians had shared religious practices and customs as the Spartans.
The ancient Macedonians were one of the Illyrian tribes.
At that time, Illyrians lands were much to the north beyond the River Shkumbin. Although there is a lot of evidence (mostly indirect) regarding the language of the ancient Macedonians, there is one piece of evidence offered by Polybius in book XXVIII, paragraphs 8 and 9, where it states that the Macedonians were using translators when they were communicating with the Illyrians. It means the Macedonians and the Illyrians did not speak the same language. For instance, Perseus, the Macedonian king, sent Adaeus of Berroia (who spoke only Greek) and Pleuratus the Illyrian, as a translator (because he spoke the Illyrian language) on a mission to the Illyrian king Genthius (169 BC). Pleuratus was an exile living in Perseus’ court. Moreover, there is evidence that the Illyrians and the Macedonians were vicious enemies.
On the contrary, Macedonians and the rest of Greeks did not need nor use any translators.
Many of the Greeks living in Greek Macedonia are refugees that came to Macedonia during the First World War and especially during the 1920’s and 1930′ from Turkey, the Middle East, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, and Bulgaria.
It is very accurate that a good number of the Greeks living in Greek Macedonia are refugees from various Middle Eastern countries. However, it is also true that these Greeks are descendants of those ancient Greeks, including ancient Macedonians, who either colonized multiple areas of what presently are Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria, Turkey, the Middle East, or followed the greatest General of all times, Alexander the Great. These Greeks just came home after at least two and one-half millennia of spreading the Greek spirit, culture, language, and civilization. Mother Greece made her lands available to her returning and thought to be lost offspring. It was the least she could do. After all, they had every right to come home, just as the Jews did and they are still going back to Israel.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius were Slavs, and that is the rationale why they are called “the Apostles of the Slavs” and also “the Slav Apostles.”
The term “Slav Apostles” or the “Apostles of the Slavs” does not mean that the two brothers were Slavs. St. Thomas is called “the Indian Apostle,” but we all know that he was not an Indian. He merely taught Christianity to the Indians. The Greek brothers from Thessaloniki taught Christianity to the Slavs, they gave them the alphabet (presently called Cyrillic), and they translated the sacred and liturgical books of Christianity into the Old Church Slavonic, otherwise known as Old Bulgarian.
Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Epistles of December 31, 1980, and June 2, 1985, while he was commemorating the two brothers, affirmed the fact that both were Greeks from Thessaloniki.
Professors Ivan Lazaroff, Plamen Pavloff, Ivan Tyutyundzijeff and Milko Palangurski of the Faculty of History of Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Veliko Tŭrnovo, Bulgaria in their book, Kratka istoriya na bŭlgarskiya narod (Short History of the Bulgarian Nation, pp 36-38), state very explicitly that the two brothers were Greeks from Thessaloniki. The late Oscar Halecki, Professor of Eastern European History, in his book Borderlands of Western Civilization, A History of East Central Europe (chapter Moravian State and the Apostles of the Slavs) agrees with the authors of Kratka istoriya na bŭlgarskiya narod.
The present-day emblem of the right wing VMRO-DPMNE party and other ultra-nationalist organizations in the FYROM is the lion. This lion is the same lion that Alexander the Great is depicted wearing above his head imprinted on some old coins.
There is nothing in common between the lion used by the right wing VMRO-DPMNE party and other ultra-nationalist organizations in the FYROM and the lion’s skin Alexander the Great wears as depicted in some coins. The FYROM’s lion is the Bulgarian lion, which is depicted in the Bulgarian Coat of Arms.
Alexander’s lion is the lion’s skin that Heracles killed in Nemea, which is one of the 12 deeds executed by the mythological hero. The lion skin that Alexander the Great wears signify his genetic relationship to Heracles (Hercules). There is an unpublished inscription from Xanthos dating from the third century BC (cf. Robert, Amyzon, 1,162, n 31) where the Ptolemies refer to their Ancestors as “Herakleidas Argeadas” (Errington, A History of Macedonia, p 265, n 6).
In other coins we see Alexander the Great having two horns on his head, and this signifies that he was an evil man.
In the Middle Eastern tradition, a horned man meant that he was dominant. Darius in his letters to Alexander the Great called him, Zul-Al-Kurnain or Double Horned one. Thus the horns on Alexander’s head means that he was recognized as most influential.
After the battle of Granicus, Alexander sent the Athenians 300 full suits of Persian armor as a present, with the following inscription: “Alexander, son of Philip, and the Greeks, except the Lacedaemonians, dedicate these spoils, taken from the Persian who dwell in Asia.” J. R. Hamilton in a note on this event states, “Given the small part, which the Greeks had played in the battle the inscription [with the omission of any mention of the Macedonians] must be regarded as propaganda designed for his Greek allies. Alexander does not fail to stress the absence of the Spartans.”
J. R. Hamilton’s assumption is unconvincing. Alexander the Great had no reason to please anyone because the troops from South Greece were only 9,400, and as he admits, they only played a small part in the battle. Being the master of the expeditionary force and ignoring his Macedonians while exalting the “foreign Greeks,” Alexander would have faced the same angry Macedonians that he was confronted with in Opis when he appointed foreigners (Persians and Medes) to high ranks and offices in his Army and administration. However, none of the Macedonians complained about the inscription after the battle of Granicus because they considered themselves included in it.
The fact is that Alexander the Great considered himself and his Macedonians, Greek. He claimed ancestry on his mother’s side from Achilles and his father’s side from Hercules (Heracles). His ancestor, Alexander I, stated that he was Greek (Herodotus, Histories, V, 20, 22; VIII, 137; IX, 45).
The Macedonians themselves were Greek speaking peoples (see: Papazoglu, Makedonski Gradovi, p 333 and Central Balkan Tribes, p 135; Casson, Macedonia, Thrace and Illyria, pp157-162; NGL Hammond, The Macedonian State, pp 12-15 and 193; Cavaignac, Histoire générale de l' Antiquité, i, p 67; Hoffman, Die Makedonen, p. 259; Errington, A History of Macedonia, p 3; Yugoslavian Military Encyclopedia 1974 “Antička Makedonija”; Hogarth, Philip and Alexander, p.5, n 4), Urlich Wilcken, Alexander the Great, II pp 23 and 24, Botsford, Hellenic History, p 237).
Some of the scholars mentioned above initially were not sure about the Greekness of the Macedonians (i.e., NGL Hammond). Newly discovered artifacts and monuments that were excavated indicating the Macedonians were Greek made them admit their previous error. NGL Hammond explains the reason why scholars like Badian do not consider the Macedonians Greeks in his book, The Macedonian State (page 13, note 29). Hammond states that most recently E. Badian in Barr-Sharrar (pp 33-51) disregarded the evidence as explained in A History of Macedonia (NGL Hammond and G. T. Griffith, 1979 pp 39-54).
Borza wrote concerning Demosthenes, "Only recently have we begun to clarify these muddy waters by realizing the Demosthenes corpus for what it is: oratory designed to sway public opinion in Athens and thereby to formulate public policy. The elusive creature, Truth, is everywhere subordinate to its expressive servant, Rhetoric" (Borza1990, 5). Demosthenes was using a political attack on his enemy and was not referring to the Macedonian speech.
In response to Demosthenes’ political accusations, Aeschines reminded the Pnyx, i.e. the Parliament of Athens, that Philip’s father, Amyntas, was invited as a Greek to sit at the Peace Conference of Greek States of 371 BC which took place in Sparta because as a Greek “he was entitled to a seat.” Amyntas participated through an ambassador and voted in favor of Athens. The relevant text is as follows:
For at a congress of the Lacedaemonian allies and the other Greeks, in which Amyntas, the father of Philip, being entitled to a seat, was represented by a delegate whose vote was entirely under his control, he joined the other Greeks in voting to help Athens to recover possession of Amphipolis. As proof of this, I presented from the public records the resolution of the Greek congress and the names of those who voted (Aeschines, On the Embassy, 32).
All names, whether members of the royal family or not, including names of other simple Macedonian citizens, i.e. Kallinis (Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, VII par 11), Limnos from Chalastra (Plutarch, Parallel Lives of Famous Greeks and Romans, chap. Alexander) and all toponymies in the area of the Macedonian homeland were Greek. The Macedonian homeland included the city-states of Imathia, Pieria, Bottiea, Mygdonia, Crestonia, Bisaltia, Sintiki, Odomantis, Edonis, Elimea, Orestis, Eordea, Almopia, Lyncestis, Pelagonia and Macedonian Paeonia. Macedonian Paeonia is the part of Paeonia which lies south of the narrow pass at the area of Demir Kapija (The FYROM).
Fanula Papazoglu indirectly agrees with the concept of the above borderlines stating, “… it is often forgotten that ancient Macedonia occupied only a relatively small part of the Yugoslav Macedonia” (Papazoglu, Central Balkan Tribes, p. 268). Papazoglu’s two maps at the end of her doctoral dissertation (Makedonski gradovi u rimsko doba, Skoplje, 1957) portray only Macedonian territories under Roman rule.
Macedonia conquered the already Hellenized Paeonia in 217 BC under King Philip V, 106 years after the death of Alexander the Great. Any map that incorporates Paeonia into Macedonia before that year is utterly false. The conquest did not in any way alter the ethnic demography of the Paeonia.
All inscriptions and artifacts excavated, including those in Trebenište and Oleveni near Bitola, are in pure Greek. With a few exceptions, the only time one sees non-Greek names and toponymies is in areas that constituted the expansion of Macedonia, i.e. Paeonia, Thrace, etc. Any non-Greek names, words or toponymies found in the Macedonian homeland are remnant of Thracians, Phrygians or Paeonians that used to live there before their expulsion by the Macedonians.
Participation in the Olympic Games was unequivocally and unquestionably a function that only athletes of strictly Hellenic origin could partake. Archelaus had won in the Olympic and Pythian Games (Solinus 9, 16) and Alexander I had also won in the Olympic Games (Herodotus, Histories, V, 22).
It is stated by Herodotus (Histories VIII, 43) that some Peloponnesian cities inhabited by Lacedaemonians, Corinthians, Sicyonians, Epidaurians, Troezinians, and Hermionians and that except Hermionians all others were of Dorian and Macedonian blood. The above people were living in cities located in Peloponnesus, which makes the Macedonians as Greek as the Dorians.
The answer as to why Alexander sent the 300 full suits of Persian armor to goddess Athena, goes back to the battle of Thermopylae and all events that followed. But for one to understand it better, one has to know the story of the battle of Thermopylae.
The Persian Army and Navy, headed by Xerxes, won the battle against the 1300 Greeks (1000 from Phocis) lead by the 300 Spartans whose commander was Leonidas. It is essential for one to note that the Persians were victorious only when a local Greek, Ephialtes, betrayed a secret passage to the enemy who came from behind and thus surrounded the few Greeks. It is also important to know that according to Lycourgos’ laws, Spartans were not allowed to leave the battlefield for any reason, nor they were allowed to follow anyone in the battle. That’s why the Spartans did not follow Alexander against the Persians.
Herodotus (Histories b. VIII, 114) tells us:
“… the Spartans upon the urging of the Oracle of Delphi sent a messenger to Xerxes demanding reparations for the death of Leonidas. The man who obtained an interview with Xerxes said to him: ‘My lord, King of the Medes, the Lacedaemonians and the house of Heracles in Sparta demand satisfaction for blood, because you killed their king while he was fighting in defense of Greece.’ Xerxes laughed, and for a time did not answer…”
The royal house of Sparta (Herodotus VII, 204), and the royal house of Macedonia (cf. Fact #13) both claimed descent from Heracles (Hercules). Taking into consideration all of the above, we conclude that Alexander the Great, being victorious at the battle of Granicus, sent 300 full armor uniforms to goddess Athena who was also the goddess of war, and in this way, he AVENGED the 300 Spartans who died defending Greece.
An abundance of information regarding the ancient Greek past comes to us from the Greek Mythology. Unfortunately, Mythology cannot be a dependable source since it cannot furnish accurate details which would help us reconstruct the Hellenic past. However, it does not mean it is entirely useless either. It elucidates through symbolism truths leading us to the right path while searching for historical facts through written or unwritten monuments. Such monuments are the only ones accepted by historians in their attempt to unlock hidden elements that hold the key to the reconstruction of the past of all Hellenic group of nations.
Countries are products of historical events, which is why they are born and die. Ethnicities are another matter. It takes a very long time to evolve. The same is true for appellations. Ethnicities cannot be given birth and receive names according to their political whim, as it is the case of the FYROM. Even Misirkov agrees with it (Misirkov, Skopje, 1974, 167).
The present-day Hellenic nation is the result of the social, civic and linguistic amalgamation of more than 230 tribes speaking more than 200 dialects that claimed descent from Hellen, son of Deukalion. The Hellenic nation is blessed to espouse in its lengthy life great personalities such as politicians, educators, soldiers, philosophers, and authors. They have all contributed in their way to the molding of their nation. They are the result of natural maturity and a consequence of historical, social, civic, linguistic and political developments that have taken place in the last 4,000 years.
“When we take into account the political conditions, religion, and morals of the Macedonians, our conviction is strengthened that they were a Greek race and akin to the Dorians. Having stayed behind in the extreme north, they were unable to participate in the progressive civilization of the tribes which went further south…” (Wilcken, Alexander the Great, p 22). Most historians have assessed the Macedonian state of affairs similarly. The Macedonians were a Hellenic group of tribes belonging to the Western Greek ethnic group.
The Macedonians incorporated the territory of the native people into Macedonia and forced the Pieres, a Thracian tribe, out of the area to Mt. Pangaeum and the Bottiaiei from Bottiaia. They further expelled the Eordi from Eordaia and the Almopes from Almopia, and they similarly expelled all tribes (Thracian, Paeonian, Illyrian) they found in areas of Anthemus, Crestonia, Bysaltia and other lands. The Macedonians absorbed the few inhabitants of the above tribes that stayed behind. They established their suzerainty over the land of Macedonia without losing their ethnicity, language, or religion (Thucydides, II, 99). They also incorporated the lands of the Elimeiotae, Orestae, Lyncestae, Pelagones, and Deriopes all tribes living in Upper Macedonia who were Greek speakers, but of a different (Molossian) dialect from that spoken by the Macedonians (Hammond, The Macedonian State, p. 390). Then, living with savage northern neighbors such as Illyrians, Thracians, Paeonians and later Dardanians, the Macedonians physically deflected their neighbors’ hordes forming an impenetrable fence denying them the opportunity to attack the Greek city-states of the south, which is why they are considered the bastion of Hellenism.
The evidence above shows that the ancient Macedonians were one of the Hellenic groups of tribes speaking a Greek dialect and having the same institutions as the Spartans and especially the Greeks of the Western group of nations. Thus, the fallacies emanated from the FYROM and its diaspora are vigorously repudiated.
About Marcus A. Templar
Professor Marcus A. Templar is a former U.S. Army Cryptologic Linguist (Language Analyst), Certified U.S. Army Instructor of Intelligence Courses, Certified Foreign Disclosures Officer, Certified Translator Interpreter of Serbo-Croatian, SIGINT / All-Source Intelligence Analyst. He is the Macedonian League's National Security Advisor.
To read all his papers, please click here.
About the Macedonian League
We are an international professional Hellenic advocacy group. Our primary purpose is to advance our interests to informed and responsive governments on issues concerning Greece's national security and territorial integrity.
The Macedonian League's main focus is on the “Macedonian name dispute”, as this dispute is a serious national security issue that threatens the territorial integrity of Greece.
The Macedonian League also focuses on exposing and combating anti-Hellenism and analyzing political developments in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
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