Ethnicity of the Ancient Macedonians

Contrary to modern Greek claims, Macedonia was never part of Greece, and the ancient Macedonians were not regarded as ancient Greeks. Quite the opposite – the Macedonians conquered Greece and enslaved the Greeks for centuries until Rome conquered Macedonia in 168 BC.

PART I. ANCIENT AND MODERN HISTORIANS, ORATORS, WRITERS

The purpose of these pages therefore is:

  • To provide the reader with documented evidence for all these assertions above.
  • To show the reader that ancient Macedonians could not have been Greeks based on all documented evidence.
  • That ancient Macedonians conquered Greece and did not unite the Greek city-states.
  • That ancient Macedonians did not regard the Greeks as their kindred.
  • Alexander the Great was not a Greek king, did not regard the Greeks as kinsmen.
  • Alexander’s Macedonian Army was not a Greek army.
  • Alexander’s Macedonian conquest was not a Greek conquest.
  • Ancient Macedonians were just that – Macedonians, and looked down upon the Hellenes with contempt.

It will provide scholarly evidence that the ancient Macedonians:

  • hired mercenaries from Greece, and used the Greeks as foreign allies.
  • razed Greek cities to the ground.
  • sold the Greek inhabitants as slaves.
  • pillaged and burnt Greek cities and countryside.
  • garrisoned Greek cities (a sure sign of servitude).
  • were asked to evacuate from the whole of Greece back to their own Macedonia by the Romans.
  • were hated and cursed by the Greeks.
  • destroyed Greek religious temples and monuments.
  • enslaved the Greeks.
  • were not regarded as Greeks (Hellenes) by the Greeks, nor they regarded themselves to be Greek, but were proud of their Macedonian nationality and way of life.
  • the Macedonians were called barbarians, a label that the ancient Greeks attributed only to all non-Greeks.

Here you will find evidence, both ancient and modern, that proves that the ancient Macedonians were not Greeks, evidence that is indeed overwhelming. To the ancient peoples and to the ancient authors that was not a matter for debate; it was simply an accomplished fact.

ANCIENT SOURCESMODERN SOURCES
1) Arrian7) Demosthenes1) Eugene Borza7) Pierre Jouguet
2) Plutarch8) Thracymachus2) E.Badian8) Ulrich Wilcken
3) Quintus Curtius Rufus9) Isocrates3) Peter Green9) M.Grant
4) Polybius10) Herodotus4) A.B.Bosworth10) F.Reed
5) Livy11) Thucydides5) N.G.L.Hammond11) David G Hogarth
6) Justin12) Diodorus6) Werner Jaeger12) APA American Philological Association

PART II. THE MODERN GREEK PROPAGANDA

Below are the main points of the Greek propaganda which claims that the ancient Macedonians were Greek. All of these claims are absurd in the eyes of the history and are completely unsupported by credible evidence. The goal of this page is to provide the audience with all evidence (ancient and modern), and to prove the absurdity of the modern Greek claims that the ancient Macedonians “were Greek”.

THE “GREEK” POSITION

Professor Eugene Borza who is rightfully credited as a “Macedonian specialist” by the American Philological Association, and who have done extensive studies regarding the ethnicity of the ancient Macedonians, had also presented in-depth analysis on the modern Greek position in his In the Shadow of Olympus p.91-92:

“Thus, long before there was a sufficient ancient evidence to argue about the ethnic identity–as revealed by language–of the ancient Macedonians, there emerged a “Greek” position claiming that the Macedonian language was Greek, and that thus the inhabitants were Greek.”

The modern Greeks have therefore, developed a position that the Macedonians were Greek, even though there was not enough evidence long before. The “Greek” position although prematurely established, had not however changed yet, despite the overwhelming evidence available today, which will be presented below.

Borza continues: “For example, recent work describes the funerary stelae found in the tumulus covering the royal tombs at Vergina. These stelae date from the fourth and early third centuries, and the preponderance of names are Greek”. “The excavator of Vergina, Manolis Andronikos, in a useful summary of the epigraphic evidence, writes: “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, 83-85.”

Here is 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.”

Indeed. Not only Andronakis was obviously wrong to conclude that the Macedonians were Greek, but also notice how the Greek archeologist does not point that the Macedonians might have been a separate nation, but prefers instead to call it if not Greek, either Illyrian or Thracian, two ancient nations that can not be associated with the Balkans politics surrounding Greece since 1913 in the matter of Macedonia (see below). Also notice how Andronikos used the term “like all the others who lived on Greek territory”. It’s like he wants to convince us that Macedonia is a Greek territory, which is exactly what he uses as a base for his inaccurate conclusion.

BORZA’S CONCLUSION ON THE GREEK POSITION

“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. Lest it seem, however, that the “Greek” position is held only by modem Greeks, see Cawkwell, Philip of Macedon, 22: “The Macedonians were Greeks.” – Borza, his In the Shadow of Olympus p.91″

Sakellariou, in his Macedonia 4000 years of Greek History, 44-63 (quite questionable of accuracy title to begin with), “proves” that the “Macedonians were Greek” although he purposely avoided the overwhelming evidence that does not suit his conclusion. Borza has a line for him as well: “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″ (In the Shadow of Olympus p.96). Of course, Badian from Harvard’s Department of History in his extensive research Greeks and Macedonians, had presented all evidence and soundly concluded that the Macedonians were distinct nation from the Greeks. That is precisely what Sakellariou had avoided, and choused instead to nit-pick.

WHY IS GREECE STEALING MACEDONIAN HISTORY?

We can indeed see a trend among the Greek scholars. Sakellariou’s Macedonia 4000 years of Greek History was even donated for free to the libraries throughout the United States, which smells like there is a well-developed Greek propaganda strategy, to influence all those who are unaware that “Macedonians were Greek.” But the Greeks are showing the world that the “Macedonians were Greek”, regardless of the fact that they avoid all evidence that does not suit their purpose, and in that process they try to pass books so full of historical errors and distortions that can only be awarded by their Greek Academy. It is really ironical to see now the former Greek politician Nicolas Martis write a book called The Falsification of Macedonian History, when in fact he is the one who is falsificating and lying about the history of Macedonia. We can only imagine what harm he had done in Macedonia while he was a minister of the Northern Greece province.

It is pathetic, but also sad and worrisome at the same time, that the students of the countries who have nothing to do with the modern Greek politics, must be exposed on historical inaccuracies, fabrications, and propaganda, all directed against one of the most dynamic powers of the ancient times – the Macedonians.

But why is Greece doing this, what is behind it, why do they steal the history of the ancient Macedonians? Well it’s rather quite simple. Macedonia was partitioned in 1913 after the Balkan wars and Greece swallowed the biggest part – 51%. There was nothing in Macedonia then that connected that land with Greece, since the Greek minority there was not more then 10% comparing to the overwhelming majority ethnic Macedonians who lived throughout Macedonia. For complete statistical evidence, please see the “Macedonian-Greek Conflict” on this matter. Now, in 1913, since Greece acquired obviously a foreign land, they had to provide a link that would justify their claim on that ½ of Macedonia, and that is exactly why they claim that the ancient Macedonians are Greek, so if in the ancient times there was a Greek tribe (Macedonians) living in Macedonia, then that land therefore is Greek (just like Andronikos points above). Indeed absurd. What is not disputable however, is that since 1913 till today, that modern Greek state still discriminates against the ethnic Macedonians who now find themselves living in Greece (see Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International) which is evidenced in the “Macedonians in Greece” page. The other northern part of Macedonia, today’s Republic of Macedonia, broke out of Yugoslavia and became independent in 1991. That brought addition fuel to the Greek nationalists who are afraid now that one part of the ethnic Macedonian nation is independent, the partition of 1913 can be seen as illegal, and that could lead to loss of their Greek Macedonian part and a reunification of one Macedonia. That is exactly why they claim that there is no modern Macedonian nation, not in Greece nor anywhere, and continue to violate the basic human rights of their Macedonian minority. It is indeed mean politics, filled with paranoia, which without the revision of the ancient history could not breathe.

THE GREEK LIES

But let us now go through the Greek Propaganda, a propaganda which extensively bombards the internet, the libraries, the bookstores, and try to examine it in greater details:

Greek Propaganda on the Internet

Lie 1: “Macedonia is a Greek land”

Lie 2: “Ancient Macedonians were Greeks”

Lie 3: “Philip II from Macedon united the Greek states”

Lie 4: “Alexander’s conquest was a Greek conquest”

Lie 5: “Alexander’s army was a Greek army”

Lie 6: “There is no ancient Macedonian Language but a Greek dialect”

THE GERMAN 19TH CENTURY VIEW AND ITS NEGATIVE INFLUENCE

Late nineteenth and early twentieth century historians who were inamorata with anything Greek, who saw ancient Greece as the cradle of the Western civilization, could not possibly imagine that uncouth, and brute people like the ancient Macedonians could topple the Greek states, specifically Athens, and build an empire of the likes that Europe has not seen yet. They regarded Philip of Macedon and his Macedonians as destroyer of “Greek spirit and culture”, as people who extinguished the flame from the Athenian glory. Philip was seen as “great not for what he was, but for what it was given him to do”. (Thirwall)

Athens in particular, and the rest of the Greek city-states in general, were culturally and physically exhausted. Hogarth says that they suffered from “premature senility”, incapable of growth and re-organization of its citizenry. The enthusiasm for Hellas in a cultivated modern age, and the romanticism with Greek art and culture, created an atmosphere of hatred for the person and the people (Philip and his Macedonians) who destroyed Greek autonomy. In the backdrop of such a poisonous milieu, the ancient Macedonians “could not possibly be perceived as masters of the world”, for if anybody should achieve such a supreme act, then they must be Greek. Thus, subsequent reference to ancient Macedonians as Greeks should not come to a great surprise. These people could not accept the fact that a) the organism in the Greek city-state, as they have come to know and appreciate, no longer breathed any signs of life, and b) that the Macedonians as a non-Greek nation possessed power, discipline, and inner strength to conquer not only the Greeks but the Persians too.

Some historians from the West, specifically German historians led by Droysen, saw parallelism between events which occurred in Greece and Macedonia with those in Prussia and Germany. The 19th century is the birth of nationalism in Europe, Italy was unifying, and Prussia was the advocate of the German unification. Therefore:

  1. When Philip and his Macedonians conquered the Greeks after Chaeronea it was not a conquest but a “unification” (contrary to all ancient sources).
  2. When Alexander undertook the conquest of Asia, it was the “Greek vengeance”, not the Macedonian plan for action (again contrary for all sources that point that Alexander fought for the glory of Macedonia).
  3. When the Macedonian Army conquered territories from Greece to India, it was the “Greek Empire” that received the recognition, not the Macedonian Empire (although Alexander’s empire had been correctly called Macedonian and not Greek in the ancient sources).
  4. And instead of Alexander spreading Macedonism in Asia, it was the “Greeks spreading Hellenism”.
  5. The Macedonian kingdoms after Alexander, which were ruled till their end by Macedonians and not Greeks, became “Hellenistic kingdoms”, and so on, and so on…

Those western historians from the modern age (like the German ones followed by Droysen), by denying Philip and his Macedonians the merit that they so rightfully deserve, have to a certain degree ignored the writings of the ancient biographers and chroniclers, and were ignorant to the truth. However, even with this occasional omission on their part, the inevitable recognition of Macedonians as a separate people from the Greeks does occur nevertheless. In the end, it was the whole revisionist movement launched against the false historical interpretations and led by Badian from Harvard University, to finally put an end to the historical inaccuracies and prove that the Macedonians were not Greeks once for all, but a proud distinct nation who enslaved them for three centuries.

CONCLUSION

It should be no surprise that Alexander introduced the standard koine Greek language for his multi-ethnic empire. For that Greek language was already the only international language on which the people in antiquity communicated prior to the Macedonian conquest (just like English is international language today). The Macedonians were smart enough to keep this international Greek language for the Persians, Egyptians, Jews, and all the nations of his empire to communicate. Forcing all those people to learn now a new foreign Macedonian language (or any other one) would have only provoked an additional hatred and multi-ethnic resistance for the Macedonian occupation of Asia, Egypt, and Greece, which the Macedonians did not wanted to face. Unlike the Roman Empire, there was no single powerful centralized Macedonian Empire, but three fragile Macedonian kingdoms (Macedonia, Asia, Egypt) which were occasionally in conflict with each other, and the Macedonians needed such language standardization to help them maintain their power. That of course, does not mean that although the Macedonians, Persians, Egyptians, Jews, now communicated in Greek, that they all turned into Greeks, just like the African nations did not turn into English because of their usage of that language to communicate among themselves.

What is for certain is that Alexander spoke Macedonian with his own Macedonian troops and used Greek in addressing the Asians and Greeks. After all, the Macedonians were his kinsmen (precisely the way he calls them), not the Greeks. All these sources, both ancient and modern, specifically refer to Macedonian as a language and not as a dialect of Greek, and Alexander himself specifically calls the Macedonian – “our native language“. During the trial of Philotas, Alexander himself clearly distinguishes his native Macedonian language from the Greek language which as a second languageat the Macedonian court alongside with Macedonian, was used in diplomacy, a fact we found in the Philotas trial (Q. Curtius Rufus).

“What did others say about Macedonians? Here there is a relative abundance of information”, writes Borza, “from Arrian, Plutarch (Alexander, Eumenes), Diodorus 17-20, Justin, Curtius Rufus, and Nepos (Eumenes), based upon Greek and Greek-derived Latin sources. It is clear that over a five-century span of writing in two languages representing a variety of historiographical and philosophical positions the ancient writers regarded the Greeks and the Macedonians as two separate and distinct peoples whose relationship was marked by considerable antipathy, if not outright hostility.”

The conclusion is thus complete – ancient Macedonian was a separate Indo-European language, different from ancient Greek, just like the Macedonians were a separate nation different from the ancient Greek nation, and the claim that Macedonian was a “dialect of Greek” and that “Macedonians were Greeks”, a claim that today is supported only by the modern Greeks and only out of political reasons, is absurd and ridiculous.

 

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