Archive for June 2007

The Byzantine historian Scylitzes about the Bulgarian Samuil

June 30, 2007

The Byzantine historian Scylitzes describes how Samuil, son of a Bulgarian noble, became ruler of all Bulgaria
11th-12th c.

Immediately after the death of Emperor Ioannes the Bulgarians rose in revolt and four brothers were chosen to govern them: David, Moses, Aaron and Samuil, sons of one of the all-powerful comites of the Bulgarians and for this reason named Kometopouli…Of the four brothers, David was immediately killed by some Wallachian vagabonds between Castoria, Prespa and the so-called “Fair Oak Wood.” While besieging Seres, Moses was hit by a stone cast from the wall and died. Aaron was killed by his brother Samuil on July 14 in the place called Razmetanitsa, together with all his kin, because he was a sup­porter, so they say, of the Byzantines, or because he was trying to seize power for himself. Only his son Vladislav Ivan was saved by Samuil’s son Radomir Roman. Thus Samuil became the absolute ruler of all Bulgaria …

Georgii Cedreni compendium, op. cit., pp. 434-435; cf. ГИБИ, VI. p. 275; the original is in Greek

The Byzantine historian Scylitzes describes the wars between Bulgaria under Tsar Samuil and Byzantium

11th-12th c.

Samuil set out against Thessalonica and deployed the main part of his army in ambushes and traps, and he sent only a small part on an incursion to Thessalonica itself … Samuil camped on the opposite bank. Because of the torrential rains, the river rose and caused floods, so that no battle was expected at that moment. The magister, however, by inspecting the upper and lower reaches of the river, found a place through which he thought he could cross. In the night, having roused his troops, he crossed the river and attacked Samuil’s soldiers in their carefree sleep. A very large number of them were massacred, without anybody thinking of defense. Samuil himself and his son Roman were wounded, receiving grave wounds, and would have been taken prisoners, had they not mixed with the dead, lying as though dead. When night fell, they secretly fled towards the Aetolian Mountains and from there, across the peaks of these mountains, crossed the Pindus and took refuge in Bulgaria. And the magister, after freeing the Byzantines who had been taken prisoners, and strip­ping the Bulgarians who had fallen, looted the enemy camp and with very rich booty returned to Thessalonica with his troops…
In 6508, indiction 13, /= 999/ the Emperor sent a strong army against the Bulgarian fortresses beyond the Haemus Mountains … The Byzantine troops captured Great and Little Preslav, as well as Pliska, and returned unscathed and victorious.The following year, the Emperor again set out against the Bulgarians via Thessalonica. He was joined by the governor of Berrhoea, Dobromir, who sur­rendered the town to the Emperor and was honoured with the dignity of anthypatus. The defender of Servia Nikola, who, because of his small stature was called by the diminutive name of Nikolitsa, put up valiant resistance and cheerfully endured the siege imposed on him. The Emperor, however, set himself the task of capturing the fortress and succeeded, taking Nikolitsa himself prisoner. He deported the Bulgarians from there and left a garrison of Byzantines. After all this he returned to the capital, taking Nikolitsa with him, whom he honoured with the title of patrician. But the inconstant Nikolitsa es­caped from there and returning secretly to Samuil, together with him began to besiege Servia. The Emperor, however, moved swiftly and lifted the siege from the town and Nikolitsa fled with Samuil… The Emperor went to Thessaly and rebuilt the fortresses destroyed by Samuil, while those which were in the hands of Bulgarians he captured by siege and resettled the Bulgarians in the so-called Voleron. After posting strong garrisons in all fortresses, he returned to the place known as Voden. Voden is a small fortress situated on steep cliffs where the waters of the Ostrovo Lake fall after running unseen below the ground and coming to the surface again at this place. As the inhabitants of this town did not surrender of their own free will, the Emperor took it by siege. He deported them also to Voleron, then installed a strong guard in the town and returned to Thessalonica.…………….

In the following year, indiction 15 /= 1003/, the Emperor set out on a campaign against Vidin and captured it by force after full eight months of siege. While he was busy with the siege, Samuil with a swift movement suddenly fell on Adrianople on the very feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. With a sudden assault he also seized the fair annually held there and attended by a great crowd and, after collecting much booty, he returned to his country. And the Emperor, after fortifying Vidin very well returned to the capital without losses, having devastated and destroyed all the Bulgarian fortresses on his way. When he ap­proached the town of Skopje, he found Samuil calmly camping across the Axios river, which is now called Vardar. Relying on the river being in flood and thus impossible to ford, he had set up his camp in a negligent manner. But a soldier found a ford and led the Emperor through it. Shocked by his sudden appearance, Samuil hastily fled in confusion, and his tent and the entire camp were captured. And the town of Skopje was surrendered to the Emperor by Roman, the son of Peter, Tsar of the Bulgarians, and brother of Boris, called also Simeon after his grandfather and placed there as governor by Samuil. The Emperor received him and after honouring him for his decision with the title of patrician and prepositor, sent him as a strategus to Abydos.

Continuing from there, the Emperor set out for Pernik, whose defender was Krakra, a man excellent in military matters. He spent a considerable time there and lost no small number of soldiers in the siege. Finding the fortress im­pregnable and Krakra impervious to flattery or other promises and proposals, he returned to Philippopolis, whence he returned to Constantinople.

Georgii Cedreni compendium, op. cit, pp. 449-456; cf. ГИБИ, VI, pp. 278, 280, 283 285; the original is in Greek

The Byzantine historian Scylitzes describes the blinding of 15,000 captured Bulgarian soldiers by Basil II, the death of Samuil and the conquest of all Bulgaria

11th-12th c.

Every year the Emperor continued to invade Bulgaria and devastated and laid waste everything on his way. Samuil could not put up opposition in the open field, nor could he come out in an open battle against the Emperor, and he suffered defeats on all sides and began to lose his strength. For this reason he decided to dig trenches and block the Emperor’s road to Bulgaria … The Emperor was already losing hope of getting through when Nicephorus Xiphias, appointed it that time by him as strategus of Philippopolis, persuaded him to remain there and to keep up his constant assaults on the barrier, saying that he would go to see whether he could not do something advantageous and salutary. And so, having taken his soldiers …, all of a sudden, with cries and noise, he appeared on high ground in the rear of the Bulgarians. Terrified by his sudden appearance, they fled. The Emperor destroyed the abandoned palisade and began to pursue them. Many were slain and many more were captured. Samuil was barely saved from death by his son, who valiantly warded off the attackers. He put him on a horse and led him to the fortress called Prilep. And the Emperor blinded the captive Bulgarians, about 15,000 so they say, ordering each group of one hundred to be led by a soldier with one eye, and thus sent them to Samuil. When the latter saw them coming in rows of equal numbers he could not stand this suffering courageously and in silence, but became unwell, fainted and fell to the ground. Those present tried to restore his breathing with water and perfumes and succeeded in bringing him round a little. When he had recovered consciousness, he asked for cold water, but after taking a drink, he suffered a heart attack, and two days later he died. His son Gavril, called also Roman, who surpassed his father in might and force but was far inferior to him in wisdom and reason, took power over the Bulgarians. He was Samuil’s son by a slave girl from Larissa. He began to rule on September 15, indiction 13 /1014/. A year had not passed before he was murdered while out hunting by Aaron’s son, Ivan Vladislav, whom he had rescued from death when he was about to perish.
Before these occurrences, at the time when Theophylactus Botaniates was sent as governor of Thessalonica, following Arianites, David Nestoritsa, a Bulgarian noble, was sent by Samuil with a large army against Thessalonica. Theophylactus met them with his son Michael, engaged in battle against them and utterly defeated them. He took much booty and many prisoners and brought them to the Emperor, who was besieging the barrier at the Gorge of Kleidion. Passing through the barrier, as we have already said, the Emperor advanced to Stroumitsa and captured the fortress, called Matzukion, situated near Stroumitsa. He also sent the Thessalonica duke Theophylactus Botaniates with his troops, ordering him to cross the hills at Stroumitsa, so as to burn the palisades on the roads to them and open a convenient road for him to Thessalonica. He set out, and the Bulgarians guarding these places let him pass everywhere unimpeded along the road. But when he was preparing to return to the Emperor after having fulfilled his orders, he fell into ambushes set up for this purpose and waiting in a long and narrow pass. When he entered it, sur­rounded from all sides and showered from above with stones and arrows, he fell dead without anyone being able to help him and without being able to make use of his hands, owing to the narrow and impassable place. A large part of the army perished with him. When this was reported to the Emperor, he was filled with great sorrow. It was because of this that he did not dare advance but turned back and arrived in Zagoria where the extremely strong fortress of Melnik stood, built on a rock and encircled on all sides by steep and very deep precipices. The Bulgarians from the area had gathered there and were not at all interested in the Byzantines. The Emperor sent to them one of his menservants, a eunuch named Sergius, an intelligent and eloquent man, to find out what their mood was. Once there, he succeeded by dint of much persuasion in con­vincing these people to lay down their arms and to surrender, together with the fortress, to the Emperor. The Emperor received them and conferred honours upon them, and leaving a sufficient garrison in the fortress, he returned to Mosynopolis. While he was there, they informed him also of Samuil’s death on October 24. The Emperor immediately left Mosynopolis and went down towards Thessalonica, and from there he went to Pelagonia, without devastating the lands on his way, and merely burning Gavril’s palaces in Buteli. Having sent troops, he captured the fortresses of Prilep and Stip. From there he reached the river called Cherna, which he crossed on rafts and inflated skins and returned to Voden , whence on January 9 /1015/ he went to Thessalonica.
Georgii Cedreni compendium, op. cit, pp. 457 464, 464-476; cf. ГИБИ, VI, pp. 283-296; the original is in Greek

Skopjan propaganda #3 “Philip of Macedon didnt unite the Greek city-states”

June 16, 2007


[1]”[If Philip and Alexander were “uniting” the Greek states, then, why were the Greeks fighting for the liberty of Greece?]”

Because obviously the slogan “fighting for the Liberty of Greece” was too catchy for those greeks who used it since none into the greek world wanted anyone in the top of their heads. The same slogan was used by Spartans to attract as many allies they could among the Greeks.

The Propagandists of FYROM also tend to ignore how the ‘unification’ of Macedonia took place, forgetting there were noumerous attempts prior to Philip’s reign to “unify” lower Macedonia with the upper Macedonian kingdoms through subduction. Hence why we had examples like the one of Lyncestians who prefered to ally with their old enemies Illyrians in order to save their kingdom from the “unification” with the Argead kingdom.


[2][If these Macedonians, were “Hellenes”, (as the modern Greeks claim today), then why were they not fighting to safeguard the holy soil of Hellas? Weren’t they of the same Hellenic stock? It is clear they were not, and they fought against Greece]

On the contrary it is clear propagandists of FYROM have no clue about history and they never miss a chance to demonstrate it.

Following the same foolish argument anyone who would read the speech of the Spartan general Brasidas to Acanthians (Thuc. 4.85.1 – 88.1) stating :

Acanthians, the Lacedaemonians have sent out me and my army to make good the reason that we gave for the war when we began it, viz. that we were going to war with the Athenians in order to FREE HELLAS.

or from the same speech

And for myself, I have come here not to hurt but to FREE the Hellenes, witness the solemn oaths by which I have bound my government that the allies that I may bring over shall be independent; and besides my object in coming is not by force or fraud to obtain your alliance, but to offer you mine to help you against your Athenian MASTERS.”

he should conclude that…Atheneans were not Greeks.

To top off the ignorance and misinformation spread by the slavs of FYROM, ancient Macedonians indeed fought to safeguard the security of Greece as we learn from the speech of Lykiskos, the representative of Akarnania to the Lakedaimonians (Spartans):

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 greater danger, had we not been fenced by the Macedonians and the honourable ambition of their kings? “

[The Histories of Polybius, IX, 35, 2 (Loeb, W.R. Paton). ]


[3][Ancient Greeks stereotyped and called barbarian all people who were non-Greek, therefore, the Macedonian king Archelaus is not a Greek, but a foreigner who enslaved the Greeks]

The slavs of FYROM are sterotyped as the ultimate clueless persons with anything related to history.

The term “Barbarian” wasnt used solely for non-greeks as the propagandists would love to believe. It was also used as an insult among Greeks and to point out a culturally inferior Greek tribe.

Otherwise we would hve to conclude Boeotians, Thessalians and Eleans were non-Greeks when we read in Athenaios Deipnosophists VIII 350a:

“which were the greatest barbarians, the Boeotians or the Thessalians he said, ” The Eleans.””

or Atheneans were…non-Greeks when Socrates called the Athenean Strepsiades a ‘Barbarian’ in Aristophanes “Nephelai” or when Aeschines calls Demosthenes a ‘Barbarian’ while addressing to him “On the Embassy 2 183


[4] and [5][Modern day Greeks would like to dispatch off Demosthenes castigations of Philip II as political rhetoric, and yet Demosthenes was twice appointed to lead the war effort of Athens against Macedonia]. He, Demosthenes, said of Philip that Philip was not Greek, nor related to Greeks but comes from Macedonia where a person could not even buy a decent slave.

Unfortunately for the slavs of FYROM, obviously a political orator, the leader of Anti-Macedonian Athenean party doesnt constitute anything near an unbiased source but on the contrary an extremely biased thus non-credible source if we keep in mind Demosthenes was even tried for taking “Persian gold” to oppose as much he could Macedonian Hegemony. It was already demonstrated the slanders between political orators as the example of Aeschines, who called Demosthenes himself a Barbarian.


[6] Book II – Battle of Issus, in Arrian’s “The Campaigns of Alexander””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.” [p.119]

There is nowhere in the original greek text the words “racial rivalry” but instead the word “philotimia” who has a completely different meaning. Stick to the original sources.


[7] and [8][When one unifies, there is no “yoke” to be thrown off.]

I have already demonstrated more than enough evidence about the slogans like “unification” used to oppose those Greeks who wished to lead Greece. Interestingly the word “yoke” was used to refer to an attempt of a Greek tribe as its clear from the following quote of Isocrates (to Philip, 129)

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


[9] [When one “unites”, one does not force submission of the conquered people. Boeotia, Thrace, Sparta, the Aecheans, the Peloponnese are all Greeks and all are said to be SUBDUED]

The persistence of FYROM’s propagandists to prove their.. divorce with history is really amusing.

If these comical slavic characters had a clue, they would even know the upper Macedonian kingdoms were “united” with Argead Macedonia but as Herodotus writes in (Herod. 2.99.2)

“These are of the Macedones also Lyncestae and Elimiotae and other tribes further inland who are indeed allied and subjected to them but have their own monarchies”

In reality the greek original text contains the words “ξύμμαχα” and “υπήκοα”. Alliance of course can exist only between independent states and the term “υπήκοα” points out a relation based on subjection.


[10]”Starting with Macedonia, I now have power over Greece; I have brought Thrace and the Illyrians under my control; rule the Triballi and the Maedi. I have Asia in my possession from the Hellespont to the Red Sea.” [p.277]


In order not to repeat myself over and over stating the obvious (or not so obvious for some), Unification in classical times was considered at certain cases as Forceful, such the one of the Upper Macedonian kingdoms and the greek city-states. Even before Macedonians, successively Atheneans, Spartans, Thebans, Thessalians partly (Jason of Pherai) tried one way or other to “unite” Greece using forceful techniques for the sole reason as stated before none in the greek world wanted someone else in the top of his head. Nonetheless it proved to be a successful way to the broader plans of Argead monarchs. The PanHellenic conquest of Persia and the spread of Hellenic language and culture!!

By Ptolemy

Greek tribes being labeled ‘Barbarians’

June 11, 2007

A usual wordwide misconception is the association of the word ‘Barbarian’ with non-Greeks. This claim is useful for the propaganda of FYROM who uses it heavily but unfortunately for them ancient texts refute them.

 We all know for starters Epirotes being classed as ‘barbarians’ from Thucydides, although they were greek-speakers.

However the ultimate proof of Greek tribes being called ‘barbarians is coming from Athenaios Deipnosophistes where Stratonicus the harp-player was asked “πότερα Βοιωτοί βαρβαρώτεροι…ή θετταλοί, Ηλείους έφησεν” meaning “who were the greatest Barbarians, the Boeotians or the Thessalians” and he replied “the Eleans“.


42. And Clearchus. in the second book of his treatise on Friendship, says,-” Stratonicus the harp-player, whenever he wished to go to sleep, used to order a slave to bring him something to drink; ‘ not,’ says he, ‘because I am thirsty now, but that I may not be presently.'” And once, at Byzantium, when a harp-player had played his prelude well, but had made a blunder of the rest of the performance, he got up and made proclamation, ” That whoever would point out the harp-player who had played the prelude should receive a thousand drachme.” And when he was once asked by some one who were the wickedest people, he said, “That in Pamphylia, the people of Plaselis were the worst; but that the Sidetze were the worst in the whole world.” And when he was asked again, according to the account given by Hegesander, which were the greatest barbarians, the Boeotians or the Thessalians he said, ” The Eleans.”

Athenaios VIII 350a

Plato characterized the Lesbian Aeolic Greek dialect as ‘a barbarian register’ while addressing Pittakos of Mytilene. We do know though Aeolic was a Greek dialect. Another bright example about the abuse of the term “barbaros”

[Protagoras 3410]

Another example is the dialogue between Socrates and Strepsiadis in Aristophanes “Clouds”. At a certain moment Socrates call Strepsiadis “ανθρωπός αμαθές ουτώσι και βάρβαρος“. This make even clearer the term “barbaros” was used as a derogatory term since Strepsiadis…was a well-known Athenian. Unless skopjans insist on believing Atheneans werent greeks either.
Oh! the ignoramus! the barbarian!
I greatly fear, old man, it will be necessary for me to have recourse to blows. Now, let me hear what you do when you are beaten 

Aristophanes, ‘Nephelae’ (line 491)

Here’s another fine example: Aeschines, On the Embassy 2 183

A word more and I have done. One thing was in my power, fellow citizens: to do you no wrong. But to be free from accusation, that was a thing which depended upon fortune, and fortune cast my lot with a slanderer, a barbarian, who cared not for sacrifices nor libations nor the breaking of bread together; nay, to frighten all who in time to come might oppose him, he has fabricated a false charge against us and come in here. If, therefore, you are willing to save those who have laboured together with you for peace and for your security, the common good will find champions in abundance, ready to face danger in your behalf.

Here Aeschines when attempting to refute Demosthenes’ accusations, clearly titles him a “barbarian” that “fabricated a false charge” against him

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