Archive for January 2007

Ancient writers about Macedonia – Polybius

January 26, 2007
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Thursday, 25 January 2007
  • “Let it, however, be granted that what I have now said may in the eyes of severe critics be regarded as beside the subject. I will now return to the main point at issue, as they state it. It was this: ‘If the circumstances are the same now as at the time when you made alliance with the Aetolians, then your policy ought to remain on the same lines.’ That was their first proposition. ‘But if they have been entirely changed, then it is fair that you should now deliberate on the demands made to you as on a matter entirely new and unprejudiced.’ I ask you therefore, Cleonicus and Chlaeneas, who were your allies on the former occasion when you invited this people to join you? Were they not all the Greeks? But with whom are you now united, or to what kind of federation are you now inviting this people? Is it not to one with the foreigner? A mighty similarity exists, no doubt, in your minds, and no diversity at all! Then you were contending for glory and supremacy with Achaeans and Macedonians, men of kindred blood with yourselves, and with Philip their leader; now a war of slavery is threatening Greece against men of another race, whom you think to bring against Philip, but have really unconsciously brought against yourselves and all Greece. For just as men in the stress of war, by introducing into their cities garrisons superior in strength to their own forces, while successfully repelling all danger from the enemy, put themselves at the mercy of their friends,–just so are the Aetolians acting in the present case. For in their desire to conquer Philip and humble Macedonia, they have unconsciously brought such a mighty cloud from the west, as for the present perhaps will overshadow Macedonia first, but which in the sequel will be the origin of heavy evils to all Greece.
  • “But if thanks are due to the Aetolians for this single service, how highly should we honour the Macedonians, who for the greater part of their lives never cease from fighting with the barbarians for the sake of the security of Greece? For who is not aware that Greece would have constantly stood in the greatest danger, had we not been fenced by the Macedonians and the honourable ambition of their kings?”

(Polybius, Book IX, 35, 2)

  • “…I assert is that not only the Thessalians, but the rest of the Greeks owed their safety to Philip.”

(Polybius, Book IX, 33, 3)

  • “…because he (Philip) was the benefactor of Greece, that they all chose him commander-in-chief both on sea and land, an honour previously conferred on no one.”

(Polybius, Book IX, 33, 7)

  • “…he (Alexander) inflicted punishment on the Persians for their outrages on all the Greeks, and how he delivered us all from the greatest evils by enslaving the barbarians and depriving them of the resources they used for the destruction of the Greeks, pitting now the Athenians and now the Thebans against the ancestors of these Spartans, how in a word he made Asia subject to Greece.

(Polybius, Book IX, 34, 3)

  • “The 38th book contains the completion of the disaster of the Hellenes. For though both the whole of Hellas and her several parts had often met with mischance, yet to none of her former defeats can we more fittingly apply, the name of disaster with all it signifies than to the events of my own time. In the time I am speaking of a comon misfortune befell the Peloponnesians, the Boiotians, the Phokians, the Euboians, the Lokrians, some of the cities on the Ionians Gulf, and finally the Macedonians

(Polybius, Book IX, 38, 8)

  • “..the Achaean magistrates refused the latter request on the ground that they were not empowered to receive additional members without consulting Philip and the rest of the allies. For the alliance was still in force which Antigonus had concluded during the Cleomenic war between the Achaeans, Epirots, Phocians, Macedonians, Boeotians, Acarnanians,º and Thessalians. They, however, agreed to march out to their assistance on condition that the envoys deposited in Sparta their own sons as hostages, to ensure that the Messenians should not come to terms with the Aetolians without the consent of the Achaeans.”

[Polybius IV, 9, 4]


Ancient writers about Macedonia – Isocrates

January 25, 2007

Isocrates, Speeches and Letters, “To Philip”

[7]”and was convinced that they would be beneficial, not only to us, but also to YOU AND ALL THE OTHER Hellenes

[8]”unless the greatest states of Hellas should resolve to put an end to their mutual quarrels and carry the war beyond our borders into Asia and should determine to wrest from the barbarians the advantages which they now think it proper to get for themselves at the expense of the Hellenes”

[16] For I am going to advise you to champion the cause of concord among the Hellenes and of a campaign against the barbarian;”

[23]”not only would you and Athens be grateful to me for what I had said but all Hellas as well.”

[32]”you ought to make an effort to reconcile Argos and Lacedaemon and Thebes and Athens;1 for if you can bring these cities together, you will not find it hard to unite the others as well

[32] Now you will realize that it is not becoming in you to disregard any of these cities if you will review their conduct in relation to your ancestors; for you will find that each one of them is to be credited with great friendship and important services to your house: Argos is the land of your fathers,2 and is entitled to as much consideration at your hands as are your own ancestors; the Thebans honor the founder3 of your race, both by processionals and by sacrifices,4 beyond all the other gods;

[39]”that I am trying to persuade you to set yourself to an impossible task, since the Argives could never be friendly to the Lacedaemonians, nor the Lacedaemonians to the Thebans

[43] “If one should scan and review the misfortunes of the Hellenes in general, these will appear as nothing in comparison with those which we Athenians have experienced through the Thebans and the Lacedaemonians

[47] “The Lacedaemonians were the leaders of the Hellenes, not long ago, on both land and sea, and yet they suffered so great a reversal of fortune when they met defeat at Leuctra that they were deprived of their power OVER the Hellenes, and lost such of their warriors as chose to die rather than survive defeat at the hands of those over whom they had once been MASTERS.”

[48] “they are distrusted by all the Peloponnesians ; they are HATED BY MOST OF THE HELLENES

[54]”that whereas they once hoped that all Hellas would be SUBJECT to them, now they rest upon you5 the hopes of their own deliverance”

[56] “if she can be made to see that your object is to prepare for the campaign against the barbarians

[57] “That it is not, therefore, impossible for you to bring these cities together, I think has become evident to you from what I have said. But more than that, I believe I can convince you by many examples that it will also be easy for you to do this”

[63] that, although he possessed no resource whatever save his body and his wits, he was yet confident that he could conquer the Lacedaemonians, albeit they were the first power in Hellas on both land and sea; and, sending word to the generals of the Persian king, he promised that he would do this. What need is there to tell more of the story? For he collected a naval force off Rhodes, won a victory over the Lacedaemonians in a sea-fight,1 deposed them from their sovereignty, and SET THE HELLENES FREE.

[67] “how can we fail to expect that you, who are sprung from such ancestors, who are king of Macedonia and master of so many peoples, will effect with ease this UNION which we have discussed?

[73] “I observe that you are being painted in false colors by men who are jealous of you,1 for one thing, and are, besides, in the habit of stirring up trouble in their own cities–men who look upon a state of peace which is for the good of all as a state of war upon their selfish interests

[75] “By speaking this RUBBISH, by pretending to have exact knowledge and by speedily effecting in words the overthrow of the whole world, they are convincing many people

76] “For these latter are so far divorced from intelligence that they do not realize that one may apply the same words in some cases to a man’s injury, in others to his advantage”

“if, on the other hand, one should bring this charge against one of the descendants of Heracles, who made himself the benefactor of all Hellas

[82]”for which my nature and powers are suited, to give advice to Athens and to the Hellenes at large and to the most distinguished among men. ”

[87] “until someone has composed the quarrels of the Hellenes and has cured them of the madness which now afflicts them. And this is just what I have advised you to do

[105] “I believe that both your own father and the founder of your kingdom,2 and also the progenitor of your race — were it lawful for Heracles and possible for the others to appear as your counsellors–would advise the very things which I have urged”

“men have arisen3 who thought themselves worthy to rule over Hellas, while among the Hellenes no one has aspired so high as to attempt to make us masters of Asia? [125] Nay, we have dropped so far behind the barbarians that”

[127] “and, while it is only natural for the OTHER descendants of Heracles, and for men who are under the bonds of their polities and laws, to cleave fondly to that state in which they happen to dwell, it is your privilege, as one who has been blessed with untrammeled freedom,5 to consider all Hellas your FATHERLAND, as did the founder of your race

[128] Perhaps there are those–men capable of nothing else but criticism–who will venture to rebuke me because I have chosen to challenge you to the task of leading the expedition against the barbarians and of taking Hellas under your care, while I have passed over my own city.”

[129] Well, if I were trying to present this matter to any others before having broached it to my own country, which has thrice freed Hellas–twice from the barbarians and once from the Lacedaemonian yoke

o arouse to action whoever I think will best be able to benefit the Hellenes in any way or to rob the barbarians of their present prosperity. ”

[132] Consider also what a disgrace it is to sit idly by and see Asia flourishing more than Europe and the barbarians enjoying a greater prosperity1 than the Hellenes

[140]”when AMONG all the Hellenes you shall stand forth as a statesman who has worked for the good of Hellas, and as a general who has overthrown the barbarians?”

[141] “for since you have overthrown more nations than any of the Hellenes has ever taken cities


Sibylline Prophecies about Macedonians

January 20, 2007

The Sibylline Prophecies were a miscellaneous collection of Jewish and Christian portents of future disasters and were accumulated among Christians of Late Antiquity


{p. 64}

And the race of the Lydians rich in gold.
And then shall Hellenes, proud and impure,
Then shall a Macedonian nation rule,

210 Great, shrewd, who as a fearful cloud of war
Shall come to mortals. But the God of heaven
Shall utterly destroy them from the depth.
And then shall be another kingdom, white
And many-headed, from the western sea,
215 Which shall rule much land, and shake many men,
And to all kings bring terror afterwards,
And out of many cities shall destroy
Much gold and silver; but in the vast earth
There will again be gold, and silver too,
220 And ornament. And they will oppress mortals;
And to those men shall great disaster be,
When they begin unrighteous arrogance.
And forthwith in them there shall be a force
Of wickedness, male will consort with male,
225 And children they will place in dens of shame;
And in those days there shall be among men
A great affliction, and it shall disturb
All things, and break all things, and fill all things
With evils by a shameful covetousness,
230 And by ill-gotten wealth in many lands,

[208. Hellenes.–The Græco-Macedonian kingdom is here evidently intended.

213. Another kingdom.–That of Rome, here called white, or brilliant, in allusion to the white toga worn by the Roman magistrates. Competitors for office were called candidati, because of the white robe in which they presented themselves. Martial (Epig., viii, 65, 6) speaks of candida cultu Roma–“Rome white in apparel,” The epithet many-headed has been supposed to point to Rome while she was yet a republic and had her hundred or more senators as rulers. But there may be an allusion to the biblical symbolism of Dan. vii, 6, and Rev. xiii, 1.]


{p. 65}

But most of all in Macedonia.
And it shall stir up hatred, and all guile
Shalt be with them even to the seventh kingdom,
Of which a king of Egypt shall be king
235 Who shall be a descendant from the Greeks
And then the nation of the mighty God
Shall be again strong and they shall be guides
Of life to all men. But why did God place
This also in my mind to tell: what first,
240 And what next, and what evil last shall be
On all men? Which of these shall take the lead?
First on the Titans will God visit evil.
For they shall pay to mighty Cronos’s sons
The penal satisfaction, since they bound
245 Both Cronos and the mother dearly loved.
Again shall there be tyrants for the Greeks
And fierce kings overweening and impure,
Adulterous and altogether bad;
And for men shall be no more rest from war.
250 And the dread Phrygians shall perish all,
And unto Troy shall evil come that day.
And to the Persians and Assyrians
Evil shall straightaway come, and to all Egypt
And Libya and the Ethiopians,
255 And to the Carians and Pamphylians–

[233. Seventh kingdom.–Or seventh king (comp. line 765) of the Greek Egyptian dynasty. This would point to Ptolemy Philometer it we reckon Alexander the Great as the first king, but Ptolemy Physcon if the line of the Ptolemies alone are reckoned. Ewald adopts this latter view, Alexandre the former. All the Ptolemies were of Greek (or Macedonian) origin.

237. Again strong.–The writer seems in the spirit and hope of Old Testament prophets to conceive a triumph for the chosen people, is following hard upon the evils of his own time.

242-245.–This passage is in part a repetition of lines 188-190 above.]


765 The seventh of Egypt, shall rule his own land,
Reckoned from the dominion of the Greeks,
Which countless Macedonian men shall rule

………………………………………….. .
910 And a great store of bows and arrows barbed;
For forest wood shall not be cut for
But, wretched Hellas, stop thy arroganceAnd be wise; and entreat the Immortal One
Magnanimous, and be upon thy guard.

[900-903. Cited by Justin Martyr, Cohort. ad Græcos, xvi [G., 6, 273].

907-911. Comp. lines 815-816 above, and note.

912. Wretched Hellas.–Addressed apparently to the Greek dominion of Egypt under the Ptolemies.

Ancient Macedonian Language by Marcus Templar

January 20, 2007

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 certain kind of speech is a language or a dialect. Since the Pan-Hellenic area consisted of many small city- states (Attica, Lacedaemon, Corinth, etc.), and larger states (Molossia, Thesprotia, Macedonia, Acarnania, Aetolia, etc.), it was common knowledge at the time that the people of all those states were speaking different languages, when in fact they were all variations of the same language, 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 actually 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 good example of a multi-dialectal linguistic regime is present-day Italy. The official language of Italy is the Florentine, but common people still speak their own dialects.

Two people from different areas of Italy cannot communicate if both speak their respective 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 dialects were Ionic, Attic, Doric, Aeolic, Cypriot, Arcadic, Aetolic, Acarnanic, Macedonian and Locric. Moreover, we know that the Romans onsidered 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 definitely 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 were not Greek speaking, why then did the Romans need to translate Paulus’ speech into Greek?
(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 that one person could 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).

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 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 basis for the new language. Aristeas and the scholars who were assisting him trimmed the language a little, eliminated the Attic idiosyncrasies and added words as well as grammatical and syntactical rules mainly from the Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic dialects. The Spartan Doric, however, was excluded from it (see Tsakonian further down). 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. In addition, 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 some symbols like ~. ;`’! , 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 ( sampi, qoppa, digamma also known as 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 Koinē.

After the new language was completed with its symbols, 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. This 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.
Although the Koinē was officially in use, common folk in general continued to speak their own 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 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 very good examples to the unacquainted ear. Tsakonian dialect, the descendant of the Spartan Doric, is almost impossible to understand if one is not familiar with it.

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 names 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 spoke 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 clearly 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 speak 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 distinguished the Macedonians, because the Macedonian speech was also Greek (Hammond, The Macedonian State p. 13 cf. J.M. Balcer, Historia, 37 [1988] 7).

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 encountered 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 statesIt 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 Macedonian Language Part V

January 18, 2007


We have alreadymet various indications of the relations between the Macedonians and other Greek tribes. These relations demonstrate that the Macedonians were a Greek tribe from as early as the Bronze Age.

The Macedonians were bound to the Dorians and the MAgnesians by very close ties of kinship. Their ties with the former are attested by a tradition preserved in Herodotos, corrected by other evidence. They are also implicit in a number of dialect features common to both Doric and Macedonian; the fact that the kings of Sparta and of the MAcedonians offered sacrifices to the Diskouroi; the cult of Pasikrata in Macedonia and in the Doric world (at Selinous, a colony of the Dorian Megarians); and the division of the Temenids into two branches one of which stayed in Macedonia while the other appears in the Dorian Argos.

The relationship between the Macedonians and the Magnesians was familiar to the ancients, for Hesiod portrays Makedon and Magnes as brothers. It is confirmed by the fact that the name of both peoples is derived from the root mak – “high, tall” and by the circumstance that the Macedonians and Magnesians celebrated a festival called the Hetaireidia, unknown elsewhere.

… other material relating Macedonia with other Greek tribes neighbouring Macedonia and with Theseus is deleted ….


We have examined in turn
1) the surviving traditions and testimonia concerning the Macedonians
2) the available evidence for the Macedonian tongue
3) what is known today of their religion and ethnology
4) the relations between the MAcedonians and other various Greek tribes.

The valid data under all these headings leads naturally and definitively to the same conclusion: the Macedonians were a GREEK TRIBE. Some of the evidence indeed points to a more specific conclusion: that the MACEDONIANS constituted a distinct GREEK tribe from as early as the Bronze Age

Ancient Macedonian Language Part IV

January 18, 2007

5) That the group ay was converted to a is a conjecture based on a very small number of names and words. Since there are also reliable indications that the group was also preserved we may reasonably assume that this is another case in which we have to deal with two different kinds of development: that one of these(the preservation of the group) does not distinguish Macedonian from Greek; and that the other (the conversion of the group to a) since it was sporadic, is not an ancient hallmark of Macedonian but is due to the influence of populations conquered by the Macedonians.

6) The hypothesis that the group ay became a in Macedonian is based entirely on a dubious derivation. By contrast the preservation of the group au in this tongue is well attested

7) the dropping of final r is similarly supported by unlikely etymologies

8) The formation of feminines in -issa is attested in Macedonian by basilissa, Makedonissa, and sarissa. The view that the -issa in these examples corresponds to the -izza in Illyrian remains undecided. On the other hand, the Greek Kilissa and Foinissa cannot be ignored. Admittedly the -issa of the Macedonian examples cannot be interpreted phonetically in the same way as the -issa in the two Greek words (from Kilik-j-a and Foinik-j-a) but it is not impossible that basilissa etc were formed by analogy with Kilissa and Foinissa in accordance with a phenomenon familiar in linguistics. Furthermore, the mostlikely derivation of sarissa related it to a common noun indicating a type of oak-tree which is attested in Greek.

9) The name of the nations of upper Macedonia Orestai and Lygkhstai, the ethnics found in various parts of Macedonia derived from the names of cities such as Argestaioi (from Argos) Diestai/Diastai (from Dion) e.t.c. and personal names such as Peykestas have been thought to be Illyrian since an affix does in fact appear in ethnic names in Illyria an in regions inhabited by Illyrian tribes. However:
a) the names Argestaioi Orestai Peykestas have stems in -es (Arges- etc) and a termination -tas (-ths) like the familiar Greek words and names Uyesths, Oresths, telestas, orxhsths, etc. They do not therefore, belong to the category of names that have an affix -st. Moreover the Lygkhstai and the Orestai were Greek tribes and Argos whose inhabitants were called Argestaioi was a city of the second of these tribes. The Eordistai derived their name from the verb eordizv.
b) The toponyms Dion and Kranna were Greek. In these and all the others that were also Greek the -st- may best be attributed to the influence of the Greek Orestai. For the others we have to assume a double influence both from the Greek and from Illyrian names.


From the point of view of the question of the nationality of the Macedonians the surviving religious and ethnological evidence may be divided into Greek, non-Greek doubtful and irrelevant; the Greek evidence may in turn be subdivided into
a) that found throughout Greece
b) that which is attested in various parts of Greece, and
c) local Macedonian.
This subdivision is rendered necessary by the fact that opinion is divided as to the value as evidence of the first group and also fo some of the items in the second. Some scholars agree that this evidence demonstrates that the Macedonians were Greeks while others claim that it does not prove this, since the relevant information dates mainly from the period of Alexander the Great and his successors and only rarely from the time of Philip
and earlier. If this argument holds good however then , a fortiori, we must reject as irrelevant all the non-Greek evidence since the passages concerning them are of much later date.

A. Greek Elements

a) Panhellenic elements

From the data at our disposal at present we know that the Macedonians worshipped the 12 Olympian Gods both collectively and individually and also Pluto, Persephone, … [Note: other names omitted for brevity] etc. They also gave them the familiar Greek epithetssuch as Agoraios, basileys, Olympios, Hypsistos of Zeus, basileia of Hera, Soter of Apollo, HAGEMONA (Attic-Ionic Hegemone) and Soteira of Artemis etc.Some of the evidence of the worship of Ge Helios Dionysos pan Asklepios and Herakles is earlier than the period of Philip while the earliest evidence fro the twelve gods comes from this period. The large number of these Gods’ names and the early
date of the evidence militates against the familiar false argument advanced by those opposed to the idea that the Macedonians were Greeks- namely, that the Greeek cultural features that appear in Macedonia were imposed by the kings who admired things Greek, especially philip. Moreover Philip or one of his immediate predecessors introduced the attic dialect as the official language of the state and if the Greek names of gods used by the Macedonians were impoerted they ought to be attic in form. the name AGEMONA however has
retained the original long a in both the first syllable of the stem and the termination. If this word did not have its roots in Macedonia but had been imported as a result of royal initiative we would know it in the
form of HGEMONH.

b) Elements limited to particular Areas

In Macedonia, the name Uayl(l)os was used of a God who was identified with Ares. The hypothesis that this Goa was Thraco-Phrygian is groundless. On the contrary, he has been convincingly related to Zeus Thaulios of Thessaly the clan of Thaulonidai of Attica, and the Doric festival, the Thaulia. The god Thaulos was probably originally a separate god who had qualities which later led to his identification with Ares in some regions and with Zeus in others.

…..[other stuff related to epithet of Gods deleted] ….
In addition to the above religious evidence, reference should be also be made to the dance KARPAIA since it too is attested outside Macedonia, in regions to the south of Olympos, notably in Magnesia and Ainis

c) Elements limited in MAcedonia
The following Greek names are cited or occur as exclusively MAcedonian:
Alkidemos (as an epithet to Athena)
Aidonaios (name of a month from the name Aidoneus= Hades)
Aretos (epithet of Heracles)
Hyperberetaios (name of a month)
Xandikos (name of a month) etc (another 16 names are given).
The names Xandikos and Hyperberetaios have d and b in place of the Greek
u and f but are Greek in all other aspects.

B) Thracian elements

The names of the Gods Asdoules, Bendis, Daimones, etc and the epithet Derronaios (of Herakles) are indigenous in Pelagonia, Derriopos and Paionia all areas in which Pre-Macedonian populations survived. Moreover they are
attested at late dates chiefly from the Christian centuries when Thracian and other foreign religions were to be found throughout the Greek world. Tha name Zeirene (a goddess identified with Aphrodite) and sauadai (the
name of demons identified with the Satyrs) are each attested once. The reference to each, in an article in the lexicon of Hesychios, contains the statement that they were local in Macedonia. Bearing in mind that the
gods’ names mentioned above occurred in very restricted areas it seems at least possible that these latter names too were restricted to regions in which pre-Macedonian populations survived and were disseminated throughout Macedonia in theHellenistic period.


The names of two Macedonian months Gorpiaios and Dystros have given rise to inadequately supported etymologies.

D) Evidence without value

The passage stating that the Macedonians worshipped the air under the name bedu has been disputed with very convincing arguments. It has also been shown that Totoes, the god of sleep who was thought to be Thracian or “Macedonian” was imported from Egypt.

Some of the other names or deities and nymphs are of no value, since they are derived from place -names Bloureitis and gazoreitis (epithets of artemis) etc. The suggestion that these names indicate distinct deities is erroneous as is the attribution of the first two to thracian deities identifies with Artemis.

E) Conclusion from the Comparison of the Greek and non Greek religious and thnological elements

Elements that are unquestionably Greek are much more numerous than those which are not Greek. the great majority of the Greek elements is earlier in date than the the non-Greek and the doubtful elements.

Some fifteen Greek elements had a limited dissemination which did not coincide with a particular geographical area; some of them were local to areas a considerable distance from Macedonia. Furthermore, none of them had
any particular influence. Afurther fifteen Greek elements do not occur outside Macedonia. Nine of the eleven items of non_Greek evidence were local to areas that had pre-Macedonian populations.

When taken as a whole, these observations show that the MAcedonians were not Thracians or Illyrians or any other race tha became hellenized BUT GREEKS WHOSE CULTURE WAS SLIGHTLY INFLUENCED BY NON-GREEK FEATURES

Ancient Macedonian Language Part III

January 18, 2007

3) NAMES. In addition to the Macedonian ethnic name, we today know the ethnic names of some of the Macedonian tribes, scores of place names in Macedonia and dozens of names of gods and heroes, the names of six festivals and twelve months and hundred of personal names covering thousand men and women.

The ethnic names of ELIMIOTAI, LYNKESTAI and ORESTAI derive from place names. The first has an undoubtedly Greek termination. Some scholars believe the -st of the second and third are an affix that is found in Illyrian names. In the name of Orestai at least the s’ belongs to the root (Ores-) and the t to the termination (-tai) which is Greek. Furthermore, both the Orestai and the Lynkestai were undoubtedly Greeks (see page 59).

Alexander I, other Macedonian kings , Philip II Alexander the Great and his successors all gave Greek names to the cities they founded; Alexander the great and some of his officers went further and translated some of the local names into Greek. Those opposed to the view that the Macedonians were Greek are not prepared to take this evidence into consideration, justifying their stance with the argument that it all post dates the introduction of attic into the court and the state administration. There is NO PROOF for this argument, however other than the claim that the Macedonians did not speak Greek and it is this claim that the argument is designed to support. The introduction of this argument into the chain of reasoning designed to demonstrate the above view thus leads to a vicious circle. In order to avoid the accusation that we are using these same toponyms as proof that the Macedonians were Greek, while the evidence for and against this view is still being discussed, we shall restrict ourselves to toponyms in areas where the expansion of the Macedonians ante-dates Philip and to those names attested before his reign. Some of these name are Greek some are non-Greek. The latter do not prove that the Macedonians were not Greeks, for the areas in question were inhabited for many millenia (from the beginning of human habitation to 2300/2200BC, and from 1900 till the eighth seventh and sixth and even the fifth centuries BC) by non-Greek peoples. We also know that place names, survieVx4z|(i\@4|@BD ethnic groups from which they derive. Further if the non Greek toponyms of western and central Macedonia are attributed to the Macedonians this has two consequences. Firstly, we have to concede that the Pelasgians, the Paiones, the Bottiaioi, the Eordoi, the Almopes, The Phrygians, the Thracians and other races left no mark on the toponyms of Macedonia, which is improbable. Secondly the following problem arises if we exclude the possibility that the Macedonians were responsible for the Greek toponyms in western and central MAcedonia before Philip, to which GREEKS are they to be attributed? It is possible that only the names HALIAKMON and PIERIA are earlier than the Macedonian expansion. There are many more toponyms that are connected by our sources with the Macedonian expansion or that cannot be dated to the period when the proto-Greeks occupied Macedonia, for in this case they would exhibit a more archaic form which would have been fossilized or corrupted through the intervention of non-Greek language.

Of seventy-two names and epithets of gods and heroes fifty-six are panhellenic or Greek from a linguistic point of view, at least one is Greek with non-Greek phonetics, eleven are foreign (nine of these came from areas where non-Macedonian populations survived)a and two derive from foreign toponyms, with a Greek terminational the rest are doubtful (see page 60). The proportion of non-Greek names of gods is very small especially in view of the fact that they are attested at very late periods when the entire Greek world was feeling the influence of foreign religions.

All the names of festivals are Greek. All the names of the months have Greek terminations and only two of them have roots that are possibly non-Greek. No comprehensive collection of the personal names has yet been made. The few collections that have been made for prosopographical purposes have not inspired any exhaustive linguistic studies or statistical evaluations. A review of the names borne by members of the royal family of the Temenids, of the dynasties of upper Macedonia, and other Macedonians before the rule of philip, reveals only very small percentages of each of the three groups. The recent discovery of large number of grave stelai at Vergina has increased
our knowledge of Macedonian personal names by adding dozens of examples. With one or two exceptions, these are Greek and a number of them date from before the accession of philip. They are all names of members of the middle classes.

Those who deny that the Macedonians were Greeks assert that they took the Greek names fro gods, heroes, festivals , months and people from the Greeks. in the first place, however there is no other example of a people neighbouring on the Greeks whose names are 95% Greek before the middle of the 4th century; many centuries later than this, a large percentage of Paionians Thracians, Mysians, Lydians, Karians, and Lycians had local names even though they had begun to feel Greek cultural influences much earlier. Furthermore, a member of the Greek-sounding names given by the MAcedonians to gods, heroes , festivals months and persons DO NOT OCCUR outside Macedonia or areas in which Macedonians had settled.

The majority of Macedonian names in all categories, are either nouns as such or adjectives or their derivatives, or a variety of compounds; they also include a number of verb-stems, prepositions and affixes. As a result, the names help us to form a picture of the vocabulary, phonetics, and rules of derivation and synthesis of the Macedonian tongue which is quantitavily richer and qualitatively superior to that derived from the hundred or so roots of words that have been handed down directly. Consequently, in attempting to trace the features of Macedonian in attempting to trace the features of Macedonian, it is necessary to go beyond the words and make use of all the date to be gleaned from the Macedonian names.

a) The nature of the Macedonian tongue

>From the above evidence- testimonia, words and names- it is clear that

Macedonian was not a separate language but a Greek dialect.

b) The relationship of MAcedonian to other Greek dialects.

The fact that there are no texts written in Macedonian prevents us from forming as good an idea of this dialect and its relationship to other
Greek dialects as we can for those in which even a few written documents survive. Nonetheless, the material at our disposal enables us to make a number of observations that demonstrate a relationship between Macedonian and the West Greek dialect (to which Doric and north-west Greek belong) and the Aiolic and Thessalian dialects.

1) Macedonian and West Greek a) -dd- in place of -zz
b) nominative singular of certain compounds in -as instead of -os
c) a number of words (to those already recorded should be added the word k~alon, the existence of which in Macedonian was recently demonstrated by the name Drykalos, read on one of the stelai from Vergina; the name will have meant ‘ he who is of the wood of the oak” cf the Macedonian name
Peykestas: “he who is of the wood of the pine”.

2) Macedonian and Aeolic
a) a -nn- from -sn- (consequently also -ll- from -sl- etc); this phonetic rule is attested in Macedonian by the toponym Kranna
(Doric: Krana, Ionic-Attic :Krhnnh)
b) nominative plural of the second person of the personal pronoun ymmes
(Ionic-Attic: ymeis , Doric: ymes)

3) Macedonian and Thessalian
v (omega) instead of ou attested in both Macedonian and thessalian

4)Macedonian and Arcadian conversion of en to in

5) Macedonian, Thessalian and Arcadian:
Conversion of a into e under certain conditions; Macedonia se- (in Seleykos) from die- which is attested in thessalian (dia- in the other Greek dialects) Macedonian zereuron = arcadian zereuron, thessalian bereuron for barauron.

c) Non-Greek features of Macedonian

A number of features may be observed in the surviving linguistic material that are not Greek. All those who have asserted that Macedonian was a distinct language and not a dialect of Greek have represented these features as having universal application. In fact, they have relied on
selected evidence, which they have put forward as being the only genuine examples of Macedonian.
This evidence consists of:
a) Those of the Macedonian words in the ancient lexica which cannot be assigned
a Greek derivation;
b) the very few Macedonian names fro gods, heroes, festivals, months, places and people that are non-Greek at least phonetically;
c) words known from ancient lexica or other sources which are not stated to be Macedonian but which have features either identical with or similar to those of the first two groups. The evidence is selected on the bases of the following arguments: all the examples that are stated to be Macedonian but have Greek characteristics are not genuinely Macedonian but will have passed into the Macedonian language as loan-words; all the examples that are not stated to be Macedonian but display the same characteristics as Macedonian are concealed examples of the Macedonian language. these arguments however fall into the logical trap of taking as assumed that which has to be proven, namely, that
Macedonian was a separate language which was gradually influenced to a considerable degree by Greek; and that the examples in the third group are Macedonian.

The following features have been suggested as features distinguishing Macedonian from Greek, though most of them in fact suggest an affinity with Thracian and Illyrian:
1) The retention of the Indo-European s before an initial vowel (in Greek the s became h, the DASEIA)
[Note: In the following discussion the aspirates bh,dh,gh should be read as they are written and not translated into their Greek equivalents]
2) The conversion of the indo-european voiced aspirates bh , dh , gh into voiced stops b( beta) d( delta) g (gamma) (in Greek these became f (phi) u (theta) x (chi)),
3)the disimilation of the first aspirate in cases where two of these sounds occur in successive syllables
4)the conversion of b,g,d, into p,k,t,
5) the conversion of the vowel group ai into a
6) the conversion of the vowel group ay( alpha upsilon) into a
7) the dropping of the final r (rho)
8) the formation of feminines in -issa
9) the formation of ethnic names by the affix -st

Let us examine matter more closely:

1) Only three Macedonian words have s- before a vowel in their first syllable: sarissa , Sayadoi/Saydoi , Sigynh/Sibynh.
However: a) none of these has been convincingly derived from an Indo-European root
b) the third is also attested in the Greek dialect of Cyprus from as early as the third century and the second corresponds to the god’s name Sabazios which spread through southern Greece at an early date;
c) Greek has many examples of the retention of Indo-European -s- before a vowel in the first syllable, occurring in words borrowed by Greek from languages spoken by populations subjected to Greek tribes. Thus: either the Macedonian examples do not prove the existence of the phenomenon in question or if they prove it they do not constitute criteria for distinguishing the Macedonian tongue from Greek; in the lattereventuality they will have derived from Pelasgians or thracians who were subjugated by the Macedonians.
The fact that Macedonian has examples in which initial s- is converted into an aspiration cannot be ignored however. This phenomenon cannot be interpreted in terms of Greek influence, for it occurs in the names Yperberetas and Yperberetaios amongst others; these are not only unknown outside Macedonia but exhibit b in the place of f. IT IS ILLOGICAL to cite these names amongst the examples in which b appears in place of the Greek f and simultaneously to ignore the fact that they represent examples of the change of the initial s to h (daseia) in accordance with a GREEK phonetic law.

2) The second phenomenos is attested in Plutarch, Eustathios of Thessalonike, and a number of lemmata in Byzantine Lexica. One of the passages in Plutarch gives the impression that the phenomenon was widespread in Macedonia. Examples are the names Bilippos, Berenikh, Balakros, Beroia etc (for Filippos, Ferenikh, Falakros, Feroia etc). On the other hand,it is to be noted that the name Filippos and Macedoniannames in general in which the first component is fil- are written more frequently with f from the beginning of the written tradition; also that f and not b occurs in : amfoter’os, arf’ys, Boykefalas, falagj, Fobos etc x (chi) and not g in : agxarmos, dimaxai, loxos, Polyperxvn Xariklhs, Xarvn; u (theta) and not d in zereuron, Uaylos, Uoyrides, Peiuvn. Those who oppose the view that elements of Macedonian were Greek argue, of course, that the version with f,u,x, represent Macedonian names transmitted in Greek texts and also name and words borrowed by the Macedonians from the Greeks. If the evidence of the Greek texts is excluded on the grounds that is untrustworthy, then exception cannot be made for those passages which attest to b,d,g, in place of f,u,x. If these latter are not excluded, and it is thus conceded that the Greek authors rendered the Macedonian pronunciation correctly by writing Bilippos etc then it is illegitimate to assert that the version with f,u,x are errors. Furthermore, the spelling Filippos is not solely attested in non-Macedonian texts; it also occurs on coins of philip II and on Macedonian arrows (photo included) and tiles of the same period. It would be curious if the coins issued by the Macedonian state did not accurately reflect the national pronunciation. Let us concede, however, that Philip insisted that his name be written with F since he hasestablished the attic dialect as the official language of the state: this explanation might account for the phonetic form of the royal name on the coinage but not also on arrows and tiles. The hypothesis that Macedonian names and words having f ,y,x in place of b,d,g are borrowed from Greek has properly been countered with the hypothesis that this is unacceptable in the case of words like arfys, which is otherwise unknown; agxarmon which has fallen in disuse in the rest of Greece, zereuron which was used in the isolated region of Arcadia; xarvn which in Macedonia was not used to mean “Charon” but “lion”.

Two conclusions emerge:
1) the pronunciation of the ancient bh,gh,dh, as b,g,d, was not universal throughout the Macedonia, but occurred alongside the pronunciation f,x,u.
2) the pronunciation f,x,u appears in some words which could not have been borrowed by the Macedonians from a Greek people. In the light of these conclusions we must look for some other explanation of the appearance of b,g,d in Macedonia This demand can be satisfied by the following observations:
1) the same phenomenon also occurs sporadically in words and names transmitted in indisputably Greek sources
2) these words and names are thought to be loan words borrowed by the Greeks from other iNdo-European peoples that they first conquered and absorbed
3) the Macedonians too conquered the pelasgians and after them the thracians and illyrians who , like the Pelasgians had converted the bh,gh,dh, into b,g,d. Since on the one hand, the appearance in Macedonian of f,u,x deriving from indo-european bh,gh,dh, cannot be attributed to external influences and since, on the other, the conversion of the same sounds to b,g,d, occurred in Macedonian under conditions similar to those that account for it an indisputably Greek linguistic area, we are obliged to give the same interpretation to the Macedonian data 3 and
4) These two phenomena also occur in words and names found in the Greek world in general where they are regarded as vestiges of pelasgian or of pre-Greek languages generally, that have been preserved in Greek. Their occurrence in Macedonian can therefore also be attributed to pre-Macedonian substrata (both Pelasgian and Thracian).

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