Distortions of the modern Greek and western authors

Ancient Macedonia | 0 comments

It is indeed shocking to see that despite the overwhelming ancient and modern evidence that clearly separates the Macedonians from the Greeks as two different peoples, there are still some authors to nonetheless portray them as “Greek”. We have therefore reserved this section for criticism of the works of these modern Greek and western writers:


A.B. Daskalakis – Hellenism, Nicholas Martis – The Falsification of Macedonian History

Referring to the statement where Thrasymachus refers to the Macedonian king Archelaus as barbarian i.e. non-Greek, the modern Greek writer Daskalakis claims that the ancient Macedonians were nevertheless Greek, despite what Thrasymachus had written. Here is Professor Borza’s response to Daskalakis:

“Daskalakis (Hellenism, 234) contended that Thrasymachus was not referring to barbarians in a usual sense. The passage, he argued, should be taken ‘in its rhetorical slant of a difference between advanced and backwards Greeks in an intellectual sense.’ This is strained and unconvincing.” (Eugene Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus, p.165)

Borza can not be more correct. The Greeks clearly called all non-Greeks barbarians, as we saw in the section Macedonian “Barbarians” of Chapter I. Based on Daskalakis’s statement, are we now supposed to believe that the Thracians (which the Greeks also called barbarians) were some kind of “backward Greeks” in an “intellectual sense”? We do not however, see the modern Greek authors claim that. Daskalakis’s argument is simply incorrect.

We need to remind ourselves of what Professor Borza had written regarding the modern Greek writers Daskalakis and Martis:

“The fullest statement of the “Greek” position, and also the most detailed study of the Macedonian language, is by Kallaris, Les anciens Macidoniens, esp. 2: 488-531, in which alleged Greek elements in the Macedonian language are examined exhaustively. A more chauvinistic (and less persuasive) point of view can be found in Daskalakis, Hellenism, esp. pts. 2. and 3. The most blatant account is that of Martis (The Falsification of Macedonian History). This book, written by a former Minister for Northern Greece, is an polemical anti-Yugoslav tract so full of historical errors and distortions that the prize awarded it by the Academy of Athens serves only to reduce confidence in the scientific judgment of that venerable society of scholars. The most sensible and scholarly Greek position is that laid out by Sakellariou, in Macedonia, 44-63.” (Eugene Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus, p.91-92)

It is clear that the modern Greek writers, in their quest to forcefully portray the ancient Macedonians as Greek, are failing in the eyes of scientific judgement. Their works are described as chauvinistic, not persuasive, and full of historical errors and distortions. Furthermore, it is obvious that the modern Greek writers are writing such blatant books not because of their scientific beliefs that the Macedonians were Greek, but because of their political motivation. This is precisely why Martis’s book is a depicted as an anti-Yugoslav tract. These books should be barred from any library since their creators are not historians but chauvinistic fabricators.

Manolis Andronikos – Vergina: The Royal Tombs

The Greek archeologist Manolis Andronikos also claims that the ancient Macedonians were Greeks based on the following:

“In the most unambivalent way this evidence confirms the opinion of those historians who maintain that the Macedonians were a Greek tribe, like all the others who lived on Greek territory, and shows that the theory that they were of Illyrian or Thracian descent and were hellenized by Philip and Alexander rests on no objective criteria.” (Manolis Andronikos, Vergina: The Royal Tombs, p.83-85)

Here is Professor Borza’s answer to Andronikos: “This argument is true enough only as far as it goes. It neglects that the hellenization of the Macedonians might have occurred earlier then the age of Philip and Alexander, and can not therefore serve as a means of proving the Macedonians were a Greek tribe.” (Eugene Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus, p.91-92)

Indeed, Andronikos does not mention that the Macedonian king Archelaus (413-399 B.C.) carried pro-Hellenic policy some 70 years prior to Philip and Alexander’s times, and even invited the well-known artists from Greece into Pella to beautify the Macedonian court. Nonetheless, the ancient Greek sources show us that Archelaus was not a Greek. (Thrasymachus, On Behalf of the Larisaeans.)

Not only that Andronikos was obviously wrong to conclude that the Macedonians were Greek, but notice how the Greek archeologist does not point that the Macedonians might have been a distinct nation. Instead, if not Greek, he prefers to call them Illyrian or Thracian. Notice also how Andronikos uses the line “like all the others who lived on Greek territory”. It’s like he wants to convince us that Macedonia has been a Greek territory, which is exactly what he uses as basis for his inaccurate conclusion. The reasoning is simple – if in ancient times there was a Greek tribe (Macedonians) living in Macedonia, then Macedonia itself must be Greek too. We have however seen that Andonikos have failed in his attempt, just like Daskalakis and Martis above.


Michael Sakellariou – Macedonia: 4000 years of Greek History

We will now analyze the most sensible and scholarly Greek approach laid out by the modern Greek writer Michael Sakellariou in his Macedonia: 4000 years of Greek History.

Dorian Theory, Official Macedonian View, and Hellenicos

According to Sakellariou, the Macedonians were Greek based on the following what he calls “reliable evidence” (Michael Sakellariou, Macedonia: 4000 years of Greek History, p.54):


[1] Dorian (Greek) roots of the Macedonians.

[2] Official View of the Macedonian Kings about themselves.

[3] Testimony of Hellenicos.


We will analyze each one of the these three points individually, and prove that they are not only unconvincing, but biased as well:

[1] The only information that we have regarding the so-called Dorians comes from the ancient myths and traditions. According to this myth, as Sakellariou writes, the Dorian Greek tribe was a section of the Macedonians, which later migrated towards the south and populated Greece. But to reconstruct a history of the Macedonians and ascribe them a Greek (Dorian) background based on myths (especially Greek myths) is quite suspicious, since the mythical imagination was always fertile in Greece, and it would have found Greek ancestors for the Macedonian people as easily as it had done for the royal line“(Pierre Jouguet, Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic World, p.70).

The key words here are mythical imagination. Furthermore, the Dorian theory is not supported with any credible evidence, and it is not clear why Sakellariou calls it “reliable evidence”:

The theory of the Dorian invasion (based on Hdt. 9.26, followed by Thuc. I.12) is largely an invention of nineteenth-century historiography, and is otherwise unsupported by either archeological or linguistic evidence.” and “The Dorians are invisible archeologically.” and “There is no archeological record of the Dorian movements, and the mythic arguments are largely conjectural, based on folk traditions about the Dorian home originally having been in northwest Greece” and “The explanation for the connection between the Dorians and the Macedonians may be more ingenious than convincing, resting uncomfortably on myth and conjecture.”

So Sakellariou is relying on conjecture, mythical imagination, and an invention of the nineteenth-century historiography, in order to form his conclusion? His point [1] is certainly not a “reliable evidence” since there is no evidence at all to support his Dorian questionable myth.

[2] On the same page of his book, Sakellariou claims that since the official documents of (a) Alexander the Great (the letter to Darius), and (b) Philip V (treaty of alliance) refer to “Macedonia and rest of Greece”, then the “Official View of the Macedonian Kings” is that Macedonia is Greek. Here is why Sakellariou is wrong again:

(a) “The designation of Macedonia as part of Greece has intrigued modern critics… The reason for including Macedonia as part of larger Hellas was designed to justify Macedonian participation in the so-called war of revenge. Whatever the truth on this point, on the basis of what we know happened in Macedonia in 480, Alexander had no more grounds for carrying out a war of revenge on behalf of Macedonia than he had on behalf of Athens or Sparta. Of course, Macedonians never regarded their territory as forming part of Greece, and certainly the Greek poleis did not regard Macedonia as being another Greek polisThe reason why Alexander here includes Macedonia as being part of Greece may be an attempt to paper over the glaring anomaly between what Philip and he had just done to ‘the rest of Greece’ and what he is in the process of doing to the Persian empire. (Professor Edmund F. Bloedow, Diplomatic Negotiations between Darius and Alexander: Historical Implications of the First Phase at Marathus in Phoenicia in 333/332 BC.).

Sakellariou, however, does not point that there is an Official Macedonian View in which Alexander himself differentiates Macedonia from Greece. In Curtius Rufus we see a completely different picture when Alexander responds to Darius in a letter:

“His Majesty Alexander to Darius: Greetings. The Darius whose name you have assumed wrought utter destruction upon the Greek inhabitants of the Hellespontine coast and upon the Greek colonies of Ionia, and then crossed the sea with a mighty army, bringing the war to Macedonia and Greece.” (Quintus Curtius Rufus, The History of Alexander, p.50-1)

A clear separation of Macedonia from Greece, a separation that Alexander himself wrote about. The obvious question arouses – why Sakellariou did not even mention this ancient fact? Surely, this is the Official View of the Macedonian King Alexander and as such it deserves the attention. The fact that Sakellariou had purposely avoided citing it only proves how bias he is. The truth is that Alexander uses his propaganda towards his enemies (in the above case Darius), as he likes and when he likes, based on his best interest, as we saw in Bloedow above. Of course, Alexander did not consider Macedonia as forming a part of Greece, a proof of that we found in both Bloedow and Curtius, a proof that Sakellariou avoided to even mention.

(b) Sakellariou also mentions the “Treaty of Alliance” between the Macedonian king Philip V and Hannibal, which was recorded by Polybius. However, Sakellariou had once again failed to notify the reader that Polybius himself did not consider the Macedonians to be Greek. Based on evidence in his works, Macedonia was not a part of Greece and the passage from the treaty of alliance can therefore be explained as a cultural link, not ethnic, since Polybius, the Roman generals, and the ancient Greeks, clearly separate Macedonia from Greece (Polybius, The Rise of the Roman Empire, Book V.104 p.300; Book XVIII, 1, 2, 3, 5). As ancient Greek himself, Polybius was in position to know that the Macedonians were not part of his Greek nation. Again we ask the same question – why did Sakellariou avoided these facts? It’s obvious that his argument is biased and taken out of context.

If Sakellariou cared to reveal the real Official Macedonian View, he should have mentioned that the Macedonians never considered themselves as Greek in their own writings. For example, they always wrote their nationality next to their names – a Macedonian, something that was uncommon for the Greeks. The Macedonian kings in Egypt “loved to call themselves Macedonians, which is that they were” (Pausanius. X. 7) and Ptolemy proudly refers to himself as Macedonian in the inscription of Olympia. (Pausanius. VI. 3) Herodotus always refers to the Macedonian kings by their ethnic name. Arrian pays close attention to clearly identify the Macedonians and the Greeks: fathers name in the case of Macedonians and for the Greeks their city of origin. Sakellariou has also avoided mentioning the following Official View of Alexander the Great as well:

“I do not separate people, as many narrow-minded others do, into Hellenes and barbarians. I am not interested in the origin or race of citizens, I only distinguish them on the basis of their virtue. For me, each foreigner is a Hellene, and each bad Hellene is a barbarian.”

Here, Alexander himself states that for him the ancient Greeks (Hellenes) are foreigners. He degrades even further the bad Hellenes into barbarians! In other words, Alexander clearly distinguishes his Macedonians from the Greeks (whom he calls foreigners and barbarians). Alexander himself seems to have made little distinction in his last years between Greeks of Europe or Asia, or even between Greeks and barbarians.(A.B.Bosworth, Conquest and Empire, p.257) These are all Official Views of the Macedonians, pointing to the fact that they are not Greek. Sakellariou had completely avoided them, obviously because they do not suit his conclusion, and obviously because he is biased.

[3] The last of Sakellariou’s arguments rests on the myth quoted by Hellanikos and is the weakest of all. That this myth is not “reliable evidence” as Sakellariou claims, we find proof in the words of Professor Borza, who responds here to Hammond, although the same response can be attributed to Sakellariou:

“Hammond’s firm conclusion that the Macedonians spoke a distinctive dialect of Aeolic Greek is unconvincing to me, resting as it does on an interpretation of a bit of myth quoted by Hellanicus, who made Aeolus the father of the legendary progenitor Macedon”. “The handful of surviving genuine Macedonian words – not loan words from a Greek – do not show the changes expected from a Greek dialect. And even had they changed at some point it is unlikely that they would have reverted to their original form”. (Eugene Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus, p.92)

Sakellariou as a historian should know that one could not derive such far-reaching conclusion on the basis of mythological crumbs. History cannot be reconstructed even from complete mythological legends.

The term ‘Greeks’

We will address few more of Sakellariou’s groundless arguments. He claims that in the ancient quotes were Alexander addresses the “Macedonians and Greeks” separately, the “term ‘Greeks’ is used to indicate the soldiers of the confederation of the ‘Greeks,” while the Macedonians are the “other Greeks.” This does not make any sense. What about the ancient texts where the Greeks who do not belong to the so-called “confederation of the ‘Greeks” are clearly distinguished from the Macedonians?

“Darius’ Greeks fought to thrust the Macedonians back into the water and save the day for their left wing, already in retreat, while the Macedonians, in their turn, with Alexander’s triumph plain before their eyes, were determined to equal his success and not forfeit the proud title of invincible, hitherto universally bestowed upon them. The fight was further embittered by the old racial rivalry of Greek and Macedonian.” (Arrian, Book II – The Campaigns of Alexander, p.119)

Sakellariou argument is obviously biased, he hides again the ancient texts that do not suit his misleading conclusion. It is a fact that not once in the history of the antiquity there had been writings referring to the Greek Athenians, Thessalians, or Spartans being next to “Greeks.” There are no ancient writings where “Athenians and Greeks” or “Spartans and Greeks” are mentioned, not even once in the many wars the Greeks fought among themselves! On the other hand, the fact that we only find writings of a kind “Macedonians and Greeks” proves that the Macedonians and the Greeks were indeed two different people, just like the writings of the battles between “Persians and Greeks” prove that the Persians and Greeks were two different peoples as well. Arrian, himself an ancient Greek writer, was in position to know this, just like every other ancient Greek author in antiquity, including the twenty-two we mentioned above in Chapter I, Ancient Testimony. If for example Arrian or Curtius, meant what Sakellariou is suggesting, they would have specified that by ‘Greeks’ they meant the ‘confederation of the Greeks’, or they could have written, “Macedonians and other Greeks,” but they haven’t. Finally, had the Macedonians been Greek, there would have been no need to differentiate at all, and the ancient writers as well as the Macedonian kings would have simply used the term ‘Greeks’ for both, without even mentioning the Macedonians. That of course did not happen. The truth is that by “Macedonians and Greeks”, both the ancient writers and the Macedonian kings clearly recognized two different ethnicities, proving that Sakellariou’s attempt to change the meaning of the sentence is unsuccessful, just like in the previous three points.

Alexander I

Sakellariou also fails in his analysis on Alexander I. He concludes that this Macedonian king took part in the Greek Olympic Games (and therefore is Greek), but fails to notify the reader that his name is not on the list of the winners in the race in which he supposedly won. He also fails to notify the reader of the overwhelming evidence, which shows that Alexander I was not Greek. Instead, he hangs on text out of context yet again.

The Macedonian Tongue

He continues writing about the Macedonian tongue, which he concludes, is a ‘dialect of Greek’. (Michael Sakellariou, Macedonia: 4000 years of Greek History, p.54) However, in the process he once again does not mention at all the ancient writings that clearly show that the Macedonian was a distinct language (the testimony of Quintus Curtius Rufus The History of Alexander p.138, Plutarch Alexander 51, Ps. Kallisth., B 32, 14, Plutarch Eumenes 14,5, Pausanius (IV, 29), A.B. Bosworth Eumenos, Neoptolemos and PSI XII, 1284 GRBS 19/3 1978, p227-237, Wilcken, Borza, and Badian). Why doesn’t Sakellariou tell the audience the Official View of the Macedonian King Alexander the Great on the Macedonian language?

“The Macedonians are going to judge your case,” he (Alexander) said. “Please state whether you will use your native language before them.” and “Do you see how offensive Philotas find even his native language? He alone feels an aversion to learning it. But let him speak as he pleases – only remember he as contemptuous of our way of life as he is of our language“.(Quintus Curtius Rufus, The History of Alexander, p.138)

This is Alexander himself talking about his native language, not about a dialect of Greek. Sakellariou is extremely biased by not even mentioning this ancient fact and his ‘conclusion’ that the Macedonians spoke a ‘dialect of Greek’ is simply corrupt.

Sakellariou’s Criticism on Badian

Sakellariou’s critics on Badian are weak as well. Badian has produced magnificent work where relying strictly on ancient evidence and common logic he proves that the Macedonians and Greeks were two separate nations. (Ernst Badian, Studies in the History of Art vol. 10: Macedonia and Greece in Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Times. Greeks and Macedonians.)

“It is indicative of the strength of Badian’s case that his critics have succeeded only in nit-picking: e.g., Sakellariou, Macedonia, 534-35 nn. 52.53″. (Eugene Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus, p.96)

As much as we can talk about the strength of Badian’s case, we can at the same time talk about the weakness of Sakellariou’s case. He had only managed to nit-pick Badians arguments, but did not even come close to proving them “wrong”, (Michael Sakellariou, Macedonia: 4000 years of Greek History, p.534-535 nn. 52-53) for the evidence presented is too strong and persuasive to be defeated.

Ancient Evidence

It is not just a coincidence that the ancient authors have left us with evidence that the Macedonians were not Greek, but a distinct people. Indeed, this evidence is overwhelming when compared with Sakellariou’s weak misleading points above, taken out of context. This is precisely why he was not able to counter it, and instead choused to “nit-pick” as Borza states, or simply avoid it. While evaluating the ancient authors, Sakellariou nowhere mentions in his book that Arrian, Diodorus, Plutarch, Polybius, Livius, Curtius Rufus, Justin, Demosthenes, Isocrates, Thrasymachus, Herodotus, Athenaios, Pseudo-Kalisthanes, Pausanius, Strabo, do not consider the Macedonians to be Greek. It is obvious that he avoids them simply because they do not conclude what he concludes.

Modern Macedonia

failed to establish a ‘Greek’ link to the ancient Macedonians and a so-called “4000 Years of Greek History”, Sakellariou had failed once again regarding the modern Macedonian history as well. He is completely ignorant to the existence of the modern Macedonian nation and avoids evidence once again, which supports its existence. For example, not once does he mention (while talking about population statistics) that all neutral (German, Austrian, English) statistics on the population of Macedonia before 1913, show that the Greeks were only a small minority of about 10%, while the overwhelming majority of the population were the Macedonian Slavs or simply the Macedonians (K.Gersin, Dr.Peucher, A.Rousos). (see the Macedonian-Greek conflict


We have thus proven with facts that Sakellariou’s conclusion that the Macedonians “were Greek” is not only unconvincing, but biased as well. He had avoided all ancient testimony that does not suit his conclusion and it is simply amazing that such “historian” is trying to pass his book as scholarly evidence, “proving” that the Macedonians “were Greek” based on not a single credible evidence. His book of the supposed “4000 years of Greek History in Macedonia”, should therefore be disregarded as distortion of the Macedonian history, for ascribing wrong (Greek) identity to the ancient Macedonians.


Malcolm Errington – A History of Macedonia

Malcolm Errington is a typical western writer, follower of Droysen, which concludes that the “Macedonians are Greek”, despite the overwhelming ancient and modern evidence we presented in the Ethnicity of the Ancient Macedonians, which clearly proves the opposite. Errington on page 3 of his book writes:

“That the Macedonians and their kings did in fact speak a dialect of Greek and bore Greek names may be regarded nowadays as certain.” (Malcolm Errington, A History of Macedonia, p.3)

This is not correct. Modern historiography nowadays does not regard the Macedonians as Greek speakers (Eugene BorzaBosworthGreenBadian). It is simply incorrect to claim that the “Macedonians spoke a dialect of Greek” when among the ancient evidence Alexander himself refers to the Macedonian language as “our native language“, excluding it from Greek. We also explained as well that the “Greek names” are not a proof that the Macedonians were Greek. Errington uses the following words to back up his claim that the Macedonians were Greek:

“Ancient allegations that the Macedonians were non-Greek all had their origin in Athens at the time of the struggle with Philip II.” (ibid, p.4)

This is completely wrong. The supposed “ancient allegations that the Macedonians were non-Greek,” do not have “their origin in Athens” in the time of Philip II, but century ago, ever since we have written evidence about Macedonia. Errington avoids mentioning that Pseudo-Herodotus called the Macedonians non-Greeks (barbarians) in his Peri Politeias, in the fifth century B.C. The Macedonians were also called non-Greeks during the reigns of the Macedonian kings Alexander I and Archelaus, both cases date before the times of Philip II. On page 4 of his book, Errington suggests that Demosthenes called Philip “not only no Greek, nor related to the Greeks” and “barbarian”, only because of “a political struggle” which “created the prejudice”. This position is easily debunked when we consider the following:

If the Macedonians were Greeks but nonetheless called “barbarians” and “nor related to the Greeks”, why is then no other Greek tribe called “barbarians” and “nor related to the Greeks” because of “a political struggle” which “created the prejudice”? No Spartan, Athenian, Theban, had ever been called non-Greek or barbarian during any of the many “political struggles” among the Greeks states, which could have easily “created the prejudice“. Not even once! Based on Errington’s reasoning, even the Thracians and the Persians can be Greek tribes as well, but were called non-Greeks because of the “political struggle” with Greece, which “created the prejudice”? The truth is that the term barbarian comes from a linguistic sphere, not cultural. The ancient Greeks called barbarians those who spoke other, incomprehensible languages. Persians and Egyptians who were not at lower standard than Greeks were called barbarians while the Greek Dorians, who really were at a much lower cultural level than the Greek Achaeans and Ionians, were never called barbarians. The lesson is clear. The ancient Greeks called all non-Greeks barbarians, and Errington’s argument simply does not make any sense.

Errington also wrongly concludes that Alexander I was a “Greek” who participated in the Olympic Games. However, Errington does not explain that Alexander’s participation in the Olympic Games is questionable since his name is not on the list of the victors of the race he supposedly won, among other things. Also, Errington is ignorant on the fact that Alexander I’s claim of Greek origin was only an invention, propaganda, directed towards the Greeks with a clear political goal (BorzaBadianGreen).

Errington fails not only to notify the reader of these facts, but also ignores the writings of all ancient Greek and Roman historians, geographers, and orators (Arrian, Diodorus, Plutarch, Polybius, Livius, Curtius Rufus, Justin, Demosthenes, Isocrates, Thracymachus, Thucydides, Herodotus, the unknown author of Peri-Politeias, Medeios, Athenaios, Pseudo-Kalisthanes, Pausanius, Strabo, Ephoros, Pseudo-Skylax, Dionysius son of Kaliphon, and Dionisyus Periegetes) who did not consider the Macedonians to be Greeks. Nevertheless, he concludes based on not a single presented credible evidences whatsoever that the “Macedonians were Greek”. It is indeed sad to see people like Errington, write books about the history of Macedonia based on false assumptions and incomplete (or biased) research.


N.G.L.Hammond – The Macedonian State and History of Macedonia

Hammond is one of the modern writers representing the ‘Greek’ position. It’s interesting to note that Hammond had changed his position. His earlier position was that the Macedonians spoke a “patois which was not recognizable as a normal Doric Greek but may have been a north-west-Greek dialect of a primitive kind” (in other words he couldn’t say for sure). Later however, he changed this position and launched his “firm conclusion” that the Macedonians now spoke a dialect of Aeolic Greek, i.e. the ancient Macedonians were Greek, despite of the overwhelming and extensive research done by Badian and Borza which proved the opposite. Interestingly, he had done this ‘transformation’ towards firm Greek origin of the ancient Macedonians, during the period when the modern Greek propaganda intensified in spreading their “Macedonians are Greek” position, a position which was later used against the part of the modern Macedonian nation that was in a process of getting independence (today’s Republic of Macedonia). It may look like Hammond is a ‘Greek agent’ whose writings reflect the wishes of modern Greece and it’s propaganda, however, in that process he proved that he was obviously ignorant to many of the ancient sources that do not conclude what he concludes. He is also ignorant to many modern sources as well, particularly the ones of Borza, Green, and Badian which have proven in-depth that the Macedonians could not have been Greek. It should be pointed out that Hammond had been proven incorrect in many matters (not just the ethnicity of the ancient Macedonians) regarding the history of Macedonia, specifically by the Macedonian specialist Borza. His views are nowadays corrected and regarded as outdated.

Although Hammond believes that the Ancient Macedonians had a Greek origin, he however, contradicts himself in few passages where he clearly separates the ancient Macedonians from the ancient Greeks:

“We have already inferred from the incident at the Olympic Games c.500 that the Macedonians themselves, as opposed to their kings, were considered not to be GreeksHerodotus said this clearly in four words, introducing Amyntas, who was king c.500, as ‘a Greek ruling over Macedonians’ (5.20. 4), and Thucydides described the Macedonians and other northern tribes as ‘barbarians’ in the sense of ‘non-Greeks’, despite the fact that they were Greek-speaking. (Thuc. 2. 80. 5-7; 2. 81. 6; 4. 124.1) When it comes to political controversy, it was naturally good invective to call the king a barbarian too. Thus a Greek speesh-writer called the Thessalians ‘Greeks’ and Archelaus, the contemporary Macedonian king, ‘a barbarian’. Demosthenes spoke of Philip II as ‘the barbarian from Pella’.”

Point of Interest: I will stop Hammond here and analyze his last words. He begins by saying that the Macedonians were considered non-Greek. At the end he says that the Macedonians, including their kings were called barbarians i.e. non-Greeks, but he implies that they were really Greek, and were called non-Greek only due to “political controversy”. This is not convincing at all. If the ancient Greeks referred to the Macedonians as barbarians only because of political conflict, then why other Greek tribes are not called barbarian or non-Greek by the ancient Greeks. That never happened, during any of the so many political conflicts, “controversies”, and wars among the Greek city-states, not involving the Macedonians. Furthermore, the ancient Greeks referred to the Persians as barbarians too. According to Hammond’s logic the Persians are therefore Greek too, but were called non-Greek only because ancient Greece was in “political controversy” with Persia. Hammond’s words obviously make no sense. The ancient Greeks called very clearly all non-Greeks barbarians (Macedonians and Persians included), and any try to change the meaning of that word only in the case of the Macedonians, is ridiculous and can be ascribed as siding with the modern Greek propaganda. Now let’s examine the rest of Hammond’s words:

“Writing in 346 and eager to win Philip’s approval, Isocrates paid tribute to Philip as a blue-blooded Greek and made it clear at the same time that Macedonians were not Greeks. (Isoc. 5. 108 and 154) Aristotle, born at Stageira on the Macedonian border and the son of a Greek doctor at the Macedonian court, classed the Macedonians and their institution of Monarchy as not Greek, as we shall see shortly. It is thus not surprising that the Macedonians considered themselves to be, and were treated by Alexander the Great as being, separate from the Greeks. They were proud to be so.”

Interesting (inadvertent) reversals in Hammond narrative: “Philip and Alexander attracted many able foreigners, especially Greeks, to their service, and many of these were made Companions (e.g. Nearchus a Cretan, Eumenes a citizen of Cardia, and Sitalces a member of the Odrysian royal family). Some of them, if they served in the King’s Army, were given Macedonian citizenship, which apparently was in the gift of the king.” The Macedonian State p.141

Points of interest: These phrase alone claims that:
(a) Macedonia was a not a Greek land, and
(b) that Macedonians were not Greeks
One does not attract foreigners from his own country, and second, one cannot be called a foreigner in his own country.

“These instances show us that even Philip II and Alexander III introduced very few Greeks into the Assembly of Macedones. They wanted the ‘Macedones’ to have their own esprit the corps; and those of them who came from Lower Macedonia continued to speak the Macedonian dialect among themselves and to address the king or a commander in that dialect as a sign of affection.”

[53-an ordinary soldier is represented as speaking in the Macedonian dialect to the dying Alexander in Ps-Callisthenes B 32. 14 (ed. Kroll), and the Macedonian soldiers greeted Eumenes in the Macedonian dialect when he came to command them (Plu. Eum. 14. 11). [p.64]

“The name of the ancient Macedonians is derived from Macedon, who was the grandchild of Deukalion, the father of all Greeks. This we may infer from Hesiod’s genealogy. It may be proven that Macedonians spoke Greek since Macedon, the ancestor of Macedonians, was a brother of Magnes, the ancestor of Thessalians, who spoke Greek.”

Response to Hammond’s conclusion that the Macedonians were Greek:

[1] There were many tribes in Macedonia. If we accept Macedon to be the progenitor of his tribe, where is the connection for the rest of the Macedonian tribes? What about the Lynchestians, Elimiotes, Eordians, Orestians etc., etc.. Besides; In the ‘Catalogue of Women’, the eponymous founder of Makedonia, Makedon, was the son of Zeus and Deukalion’s daughter Thuia. This line of descent excludes him from the Hellenic geneology – and hence, by implication, the Makedonians from the ranks of Hellenism.” (Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity, by J.Hall, p.64)[2] Professor Borza who is credited as Macedonian specialist and who had completed an extensive research on the ethnicity of the ancient Macedonians, had proven that Hammond’s conclusions that the Macedonians were Greek are inaccurate:

Hammond’s firm conclusion that the Macedonians spoke a distinctive dialect of Aeolic Greek is unconvincing to me, resting as it does on an interpretation of a bit of myth quoted by Hellanicus, who made Aeolus the father of the legendary progenitor Macedon”. (“In the Shadow of Olympus” p.92.)

“The handful of surviving genuine Macedonian words – not loan words from a Greek – do not show the changes expected from a Greek dialectAnd even had they changed at some point it is unlikely that they would have reverted to their original form“. (“In the Shadow of Olympus” p.93.)

“As a question of method: why would [Macedonia] an area three hundred miles north of Athens – not colonized by Athens – used an Attic dialect, unless it were imported? That is, the Attic dialect could hardly be native, and its use is likely part of the process of Hellenization. To put the question differently: if the native language of the Macedonians is Greek, what is its Macedonian dialect?”

The above passage showed us clearly that Hammond, no mater how firm he stands on his ‘Greek’ position, still contradicts himself by saying that the Macedonians and the Greeks are two separate ethnic groups. The lines of Professor Eugene Borza, had put an end to the Hammond’s speculations of the supposed Greek origin of the ancient Macedonians, and proven on many instances (not just on the ethnicity issue) in In the Shadow of Olympus and Makedonika, that Hammond’s work on the Macedonian history is inaccurate and as such should be rejected.


Michael Wood – In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great: A Journey from Greece to Asia

Michael Wood is yet another western writer who erroneously labels Alexander and his Macedonians as Greek in his book. His book is also filled with other historical distortions as well. What follows is a criticism of his film and book, which appeared in Archeology May/June 1998 issue:

“Despite Michael Wood’s enormous effort, modern politics prevented him from realizing his goal. There is ambiguity about the distinction between Greek and Macedonian, terms that Wood uses indiscriminately even though ancient sources are clear to distinguish between the Greeks and the Macedonians in Alexander’s entourage. As time went on, most Greeks were dropped, and the expedition became solely a Macedonian operation.”

“As is often the practice with these productions, a book has been issued to accompany the film. Written by Wood and published by the BBC and the University of California Press, it lacks the grace of the television production, and its intended audience is not clear It is not very interesting as a piece of travel literature until it gets to north Afghanistan, where, coincidentally, the film comes alive. Most people will find it an uneven and occasionally inaccurate account of Alexander’s careerSome lapses in historical accuracy, while perhaps acceptable in the film where they do not diminish the visual impact, have no place on a printed page. At one point the date of tie deaths of Alexander’s wife Roxanne and son Alexander IV is given as 314 BC, at another 313 (the correct date is 311/310). There is a slightly garbled account of Alexander’s plans, which, according to the first-century B C writer Diodorus Siculus, did not include the conquest of Arabia, as Wood alleges.”

“As in the film, there is confusion between Greeks and Macedonians. During the earlier part of Alexander’s campaign, the army contained important contingents of Greek allies and mercenaries, but in time most of these were replaced Macedonian and Asian troops. It is simply incorrect to call Alexander’s army Greek. In one place Wood refers to the army’s “Greek high command,” though there were only a handful of important Greek commanders and a few pages later it is the “Macedonian high command” that draws our attention.” (Alexander’s Epic March, Archeology, May/June 1998)

It is indeed incorrect to call Alexander’s army Greek, we already saw that. The very title is also incorrect, for Alexander’s journey did not start in Greece, but in Macedonia. How can Wood be respected as historian when he makes such bold mistakes throughout his book, starting with the title?



What can we conclude from the above analysis? Relying on authentic ancient and modern evidence we found clear mistakes and even distortions made by the modern authors Sakellariou, Martis, Daskalakis, Hammond, Errington, and Wood, who should indeed be ashamed of falsely portraying the history of Macedonia and ascribing incorrect (Greek) ethnic identity to the ancient Macedonians. Alexander the Great would have turned in his grave if he only knew that he is being portrayed as Greek today by some unqualified historians and the descendents of the very ancient Greeks whom he slaughtered at Chaeronea and Thebes, and who were one of the greatest obstacle he had to face while conquering Persia. However, this ‘Greek’ position is nowadays regarded as outdated and finally thrown out from the history, pawing the road for the modern literature where the Macedonians are rightfully presented as distinct nation (Borza, Badian, Green, Bosworth, Hogarth, Jouguet), just like in the ancient writings.

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