Archive for July 2007

Ancient sources about the Religion of ancient Macedonians

July 20, 2007


Having settled these affairs, he returned into Macedonia. He then offered to the Olympian Zeus the sacrifice which had been instituted by Archelaus, and had been customary up to that time;

(Arrian Anab. I 11.1)


It is said he [Alexander] also held a public contest in honour of Muses

(Arrian Anab. I 11.2)


when he was about the middle of the channel of the hellespont he sacrificed a bull to Poseidon and the Nereids and poured forth a libation to them into the sea from a golden goblet

(Arrian Anab. I 11)


they say also that he was the first man to step out of the ship in full armour on the land of Asia, and that he erected altars to Zeus, the protector of people landing, to Athena and to Heracles

(Arrian Anab. I 11.6)


Philip, after this vision, sent Chaeron of Megalopolis to consult the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, by which he was commanded to perform sacrifice, and henceforth pay particular honour, above all other gods, to Zeus;

(Plutarch, The life of Alexander)


He [Alexander he Great] erected altars, also, to the gods, which the kings of the Praesians even in our time do honour to when they pass the river, and offer sacrifice upon them after the Greek manner.

(Plutarch, The life of Alexander)


Along with lavish display of every sort, Philip included in the procession statues of the twelve Gods brought with great artistry and adorned with a dazzling show of wealth to strike awe to the beholder, and along with these was conducted a thirteenth statue, suitable for a god, that of Philip himself, so that the king exhibited himself enthroned among the twelve Gods.

(Diodorus Histories, Chapter 16, 95.2)


He (King Philip) wanted as many Greeks as possible to take part in the festivities in honour of the gods, and so planned brilliant musical contests and lavish banquets for his friends and guests. Out of all Greece he summoned his personal guest-friends and ordered the members of his court to bring along as many as they could of their acquaintances from abroad.

(Diodorus Histories, Chapter 16, 91.5-6)


The future prosperity [of the historical general] Seleukos was foreshadowed by unmistakable signs. When he was about to set forth from Makedonia with Alexandros [the Great], and was sacrificing at Pella [in Makedonia] to Zeus, the wood that lay on the altar advanced of its own accord to the image and caught fire without the application of a light.

Pausanias, Guide to Greece 1.16.1


Delos would win the foremost guerdon from the Mousai, since she it was that bathed Apollon, the lord of minstrels, and swaddled him, and was the first to accept him for a god. Even as the Mousai abhor him who sings not of Pimpleia [town in Pieria/Macedonia sacred to the Mousai] so Phoibos abhors him who forgets Delos.

Callimachus, Hymn IV to Delos 3


They say that afterwards [the establishment of a shrine to three Mousai on Mount Helikon in Boiotia] Pieros, a Makedonian, after whom the mountain in Makedonia was named, came to Thespiae and established nine Mousai, changing their names to the present ones

Pausanias, Guide to Greece 9.39.3


Speaking of Alexander the Greatʼs luxury, Ephippus of Olynthus in his book On the Death of Hephaestion and Alexander says that in the park there was erected for him a golden throne and couches with silver legs, on which he sat when transacting business in the company of his boon companions. And Nicobule says that during dinner every sort of contestant exerted their efforts to entertain the king, and that in the course of his last dinner Alexander in person acted from memory a scene from the Andromeda of Euripides, and pledging toasts in unmixed wine with zest compelled the others also to do likewise. Ephippus, again, says that Alexander also wore the sacred vestments at his dinner parties, at one time putting on the purple robe of Ammon, and thin slippers and horns just like the gods, at another time the costume of Artemis, which he often wore even in his chariot, wearing the Persian garb and showing above the shoulders the bow and hunting-spear of the goddess, while at still other times he was garbed in the costume of Hermes; on other occasions as a rule, and in every-day use, he wore a purple riding-cloak, a purple tunic with white stripes, and the Macedonian hat with the royal fillet; but on social occasions he wore the winged sandals and broad-brimmed hat on his head, and carried the caduceus in his hand; yet often, again, he bore the lionʼs skin and club in imitation of Heracles. What wonder that the Emperor Commodus of our time also had the club of Hercules lying beside him in his chariot with the lionʼs skin spread out beneath him, and desired to be called Hercules, seeing that Alexander, Aristotleʼs pupil, got himself up like so may gods, to say nothing of the goddess Artemis? Alexander sprinkled the very floor with valuable perfumes and scented wine. In his honour myrrh and other kinds of incense went up in smoke; a religious stillness and silence born of fear held fast all who were in his presence. For he was hot-tempered and murderous, reputed, in fact, to be melancholy-mad. At Ecbatana he arranged a festival in honour of Dionysus, everything being supplied at the feast with lavish expense, and Satrabates the satrap entertained all the troops.

Ath. Deipn. Book XII. 537 d – 540 a


Concerning the professional “companions” Philetaerus says this in The Huntress: “No wonder there is a shrine to the Companion everywhere, but nowhere in all Greece is there one to the Wife.” But I know also of a festival, the Hetairideia, celebrated in Magnesia, not in honour of these “companions” (hetaerae) but for a different reason, which is mentioned by Hegesander in his Commentaries, writing thus: The Magnesians celebrate the festival of the Hetairideia. They record that Jason the son of Aeson, after gathering the Argonauts together, was the first to sacrifice to Zeus Hetaireios* and that he called the festival Hetairideia. And the kings of Macedonia also celebrate with sacrifices the Hetairideia.

Ath Deipn. Book XIII. 572 d – e

Stratonicus verifies greekness of ancient Macedonians

July 10, 2007

One of the most famous harp-players of the ancient Greek world was the Athenean Stratonicos (410-360 B.C). In Athenaeos Deipnosophistes, there are series of anecdotes concerning Stratonicos where except his witty answers we learn also valuable infos about life in ancient Greece


Stratonicus said once to the father of Chrysogonus, when he was saying that he had everything at home in great abundance, for that he himself had undertaken the works, and that of his sons, one could teach and another play the flute; “You still,” said Stratonicus, “lack one thing.” And when the other asked him what that was, “You lack,” said he, “a theatre in your house.” And when some one asked him why he kept travelling over the whole of Greece, and did not remain in one city, he said- “That he had received from the Muses all the Greeks as his wages, from whom he was to levy a tax to atone for their ignorance.”

[Ath. Deipn. VIII.350e]


And Machon records these reminiscences of him: ‘Once on a time Stratonicus journeyed to Pella, having previously heard from several sources that the baths there usually made people splenetic. Well, observing several lads exercising in the bath beside the fire, all of them with bodies and complexions at the top of their form, he said that his informants had made a mistake. But when he came out again, he noticed a man who had a spleen twice as large as his belly. (He remarked) “The door-keeper who sits here and receives the cloaks of patrons as they enter must plainly have an eye on their spleens as well, to make sure immediately that the people inside are not crowded

[Ath. Deipn., Book VIII. 348 e-f]


And when Zethus the harper was giving a lecture upon music, he said that he was the only person who was utterly unfit to discuss the subject of music, inasmuch as he had chosen the most unmusical of all names, and called himself Zethus instead of Amphion. And once, when he was teaching some Macedonian to play on the harp, being angry that he did nothing as he ought, he said, “Go to Macedonia.”

[Ath Deipn. VIII.351b]

So Stratonicos the harp-player was “travelling all over Greece” without remaining in one city while he himself declared he considered “all the Greeks as his wages, from whom he was to levy a tax to atone for their ignorance”

Since Stratonicos visited also Pella, its clear that Pella (and naturally Macedonia) is inside Greece and this is even more clear from the fact that among the Greeks he was trying to educate, there were also Macedonians!!!

Stratonicos lived between 410-360 B.C.E. meaning he visited Macedonia before Philip’s reign but from the text attested we find absolutely no problem of communcation between him and Macedonians, obviously because they spoke the same language.

Ancient sources about ancient Macedonian language

July 5, 2007



[3] When day dawned and the inhabitants had realized the danger that beset them, they were at first under the impression that the Lacedaemonians had forced an entry into the town, and attacked them more recklessly owing to their ancient hatred. But when they discovered from their equipment and speech that it was the Macedonians and Demetrius the son of Philip, they were filled with great fear, when they considered the Macedonian training in warfare and the good fortune which they saw that they enjoyed in all their ventures.

[Pausanias Messeniaka XXIX, 3]

This quote shows Messenians were able to understand Macedonian speech, thus they recognized the newcomers were Macedonians and Demetrius, son of Philip.



But some go so far as to call the whole of the country Macedonia, as far as Corcyra, at the same time stating as their reason that in tonsure, language, short cloak, and other things of the kind, the usages of the inhabitants are similar

[Strabo 7.7.8]

Interestingly we learn from this quote Macedonians spoke similar language to the Greeks “as far as Corcyra”. We know Epirotes spoke a North-West Greek so obviously the North-West Greek dialect was also spoken by Macedonians.



But while he lay encamped there near him, many who came out of Beroea infinitely praised Pyrrhus as invincible in arms, a glorious warrior, who
treated those he had taken kindly and humanely. Several of these Pyrrhus himself sent privately, pretending to be Macedonians, and saying, now was the time to be delivered from the severe government of Demetrius, by coming over to Pyrrhus, a gracious prince, and a lover of soldiers.

[Plutarch Pyrrhus XI.4]

So Pyrrhus planted some of his Epirotes into Macedonian army urging Macedonians to get rid of Demetrius since Epirotes spoke the same Greek dialect as Macedonians.



one recollecting himself, stripped off a piece of bark from an oak, and wrote on it with the tongue of a buckle, stating the necessities and the fortunes of the child, and then rolling it about a stone, which was made use of to give force to the motion, threw it over to the other side, or, as some say, fastened it to the end of a javelin, and darted it over. When the men on the other shore read what was on the bark, and saw how time pressed, without delay they cut down some trees, and lashing them together, came over to them. And it so fell out, that he who first got ashore, and took Pyrrhus in his arms, was named Achilles, the rest being helped over by others as they came to hand.

[Plutarch Pyrrhus II.1]

Plutarch tells us the story of the infant Pyrrhus when his companions tried to save the infant Pyrrhus from Molossians and while heading to the court Of Glaucias, they came across Megara, a Macedonian village in the other side of where they were. Apparently the Macedonian peasants were able to read the message of the Epirotes guards of Pyrrhus since they spoke the same language thus they helped them.



Alexander speaks: “The Macedonians are going to judge your case,” he said. “Please state whether you will use your native language before them.”Philotas: “Besides the Macedonians, there are many present who, I think, will find what I am going to say easier to understand if I use the language you yourself have been using, your purpose, I believe, being only to enable more people to understand you.”

Curtius VII 9.25 – 11.7

in fact in Philotas affair it becomes even clearer Macedonian is a Greek dialect, since Philotas explicitely states that using the Koine would make his speech “easier to understand“, indicating that Macedonian dialect was not incomprehensible to the non-Macedonians, but a bit more difficult to understand. In fact, the whole incident shows the Macedonian dialect was not that different from the Koine and could be understood eventhough it had some difficulty by other Greeks. This also explains the quick disappearance of the Macedonian dialect and the quick adoption of the Koine from Macedonians.



Aetolians, Acarnanians, Macedonians, men of the same language

[T. Livius XXXI,29, 15]

Nothing more to be added. Aetolians, Acarnanians and Macedonians spoke the same language.



“General Paulus of Rome surrounded by the ten Commissioners took his official seat surrounded by the whole crowds of Macedonians…Paulus announced in Latin the decisions of the Senate, as well as his own, made by the advice of his council. This announcement was translated into Greek and repeated by Gnaeus Octavius the Praetor-for he too was present.

[T. Livius, XLV]

Another proof the Macedonian population spoke Greek.



“In pursuit of Bessus the Macedonians had arrived at a small town inhabited by the Branchidae who, on the orders of Xerxes, when he was returning from Greece, had emigrated from Miletus and settled in this spot. This was necessary because, to please Xerxes, they had violated the temple called the Didymeon. The culture of their forebears had not yet disappeared thought they were now bilingual and the foreign tongue was gradually eroding their own. So it was with great joy that they welcomed Alexander, to whom they surrendered themselves and their city. Alexander called a meeting of the Milesians in his force, for the Milesians bore a long-standing grudge against the Branchidae as a clan. Since they were the people betrayed by the Branchidae, Alexander let them decide freely on their case, asking if they preferred to remember their injury or their common origins. But when there was a difference of opinion over this, he declared that he would himself consider the best course of action.When the Branchidae met him the next day, he told them to accompany him. On reaching the city, he himself entered through the gate with a unit of light-armed troops. The phalanx had been ordered to surround the city walls and, when the signal was given, to sack this city which provided refuge for traitors, killing the inhabitants to a man. The Branchidae, who were unarmed, were butchered throughout the city, and neither community of language nor the olive-branches and entreaties of the suppliants could curb the savagery. Finally the Macedonians dug down to the foundations of the city walls in order to demolish them and leave not a single trace of the city.”

[Curtius VII.5.29]

The greek-speaking Branchidae had common language with Macedonians.


Encyclopaedia Britannica about FYROM

July 2, 2007


The people
Ethnicity and languageMacedonia has inherited a complex ethnic structure. The largest group, calling themselves Macedonians (about two-thirds of the population), are descendants of Slavic tribes that moved into the region between the 6th and 8th centuries AD. Their language is very closely related to Bulgarian and is written in the Cyrillic script.In language, religion, and history, a case could be made for identifying Macedonian Slavs with Bulgarians and to a lesser extent with Serbs. Both have had their periods of influence in the region (especially Serbia after 1918); consequently, there are still communities of Serbs (especially in Kumanovo and Skopje) and Bulgarians.


The people who form the majority of the inhabitants of the contemporary Macedonian republic are clearly not Greeks but Slavs. However, this ecclesiastical tradition, taken together with the long period during which the region was associated with the Greek-speaking Byzantine state, and above all the brief ascendancy of the Macedonian empire (c. 359–321 BC) continue to provide Greeks with a sense that Macedonia is Greek.


Yet, although the inhabitants of the present-day republic are Slavs, it remains to be determined what kind of Slavs they are. Among the short-lived states jostling for position with Byzantium were two that modern Bulgarians claim give them a special stake in Macedonia………………


Vŭtreshnata Makedono-Odrinska Revolutsionna Organizatsiya secret revolutionary society that operated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to make Macedonia an autonomous state but that later became an agent serving Bulgarian interests in Balkan politics……….IMRO’s terrorist bands operated in conjunction with Bulgaria’s foreign policy, which was designed to force a redistribution of Macedonia.


Alexander the Great
also known as Alexander III or Alexander of Macedonia king of Macedonia (336–323 BC)………………….LifeHe was born in 356 BC at Pella in Macedonia, the son of Philip II and Olympias (daughter of King Neoptolemus of Epirus). From age 13 to 16 he was taught by Aristotle, who inspired him with an interest in philosophy, medicine, and scientific investigation; but he was later to advance beyond his teacher’s narrow precept that non-Greeks should be treated as slaves.

He then marched south, recovered a wavering Thessaly, and at an assembly of the Greek League at Corinth was appointed generalissimo for the forthcoming invasion of Asia, already planned and initiated by Philip


Alexander’s short reign marks a decisive moment in the history of Europe and Asia. His expedition and his own personal interest in scientific investigation brought many advances in the knowledge of geography and natural history. His career led to the moving of the great centres of civilization eastward and initiated the new age of the Greek territorial monarchies; it spread Hellenism in a vast colonizing wave throughout the Middle East and created, if not politically at least economically and culturally, a single world stretching from Gibraltar to the Punjab, open to trade and social intercourse and with a considerable overlay of common civilization and the Greek koinē as a lingua franca. It is not untrue to say that the Roman Empire, the spread of Christianity as a world religion, and the long centuries of Byzantium were all in some degree the fruits of Alexander’s achievement.


By Orphic Hymn

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