Ancient Macedonian Language Part IV

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

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