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Published by Vladan Golubovic

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Published by: Vladan Golubovic on Aug 21, 2011
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What language did these “Macedones” speak?
The name itself is Greek in root and in ethnictermination.
It probably means ‘highlanders,’ and it is comparable to Greek tribal names such as‘Orestai’ amd ‘Oreitai,’ meaning ‘mountain-men.’ A reputedly earlier variant, ‘Maketai,’ has thesame root, which means ‘high,’ as in the Greek adjective ‘makednos’ or the noun ‘mekos.’ Thegenealogy of eponymous ancestors which Hesiod recorded (p. 3 above) has a bearing on thequestion of Greek speech. First, Hesiod made Macedon a brother of Magnes;
as we know frominscriptions that the Magnetes spoke the Aeolic dialect of the Greek language, we have apredisposition to suppose that the Macedones spoke the Aeolic dialect
. Secondly, Hesiodmade Macedon and Magnes first cousins of Hellen’s three sons — Dorus, Xouthus, and Aeolus —who were the founders of three dialects of Greek speech, namely Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic.
Hesiodwould not have recored this relationship, unless he had believed, probably in the seventhcentury, that the Macedones were a Greek-speaking people
. The next evidence comes fromPersia. At the turn of the sixth century the Persians described the tribute-paying peoples of their province in Europe, and one of them was the ‘yauna takabara,’ which meant the ‘Greeks wearingthe hat.’[27] There were Greeks in Greek city-states here and there in the province, but they wereof various origins and not distinguished by a common hat, the ‘kausia.’ We conclude that thePersians believed the Macedonians to be speakers of Greek. Finally, in the latter part of the fifthcentury a Greek historian, Hellanicus, visited Macedonia and modified Hesiod’s genealogy bybringing Macedon and his descendants firmly into the Aeolic branch of the Greek-speakingfamily.[28] Hesiod, Persia, Hellanicus had no motive for making a false statement about thelanguage of the Macedonians, who were then an obscure and not a powerful people. Their independent testimonies should be accpeted as conclusive.That, however, is not the opinion of most scholars. They disregard or fail to assess the evidencewhich I have cited,[29] and they turn instead to ‘Macedonian’ words and names, or/and to literaryreferences. Philologists have studied words which have been cited as ‘Macedonian’ in ancientlexica and glossaries, and they have come to no certain conclusion; for some of the words areclearly Greek, and some are clearly not Greek. That is not surprising; for as the territory of theMacedonians expanded, they overlaid and lived with peoples who spoke Illyrian, Paeonian,Thracian and Phrygian, and they certainly borrowed words from them which excited the authors of lexica and glossaries. The philological studies result in a verdict, in my opinion, of ‘non liquet.’[30]
The toponyms of the Macedonian homeland are the most significant. Nearly all of them areGreek: Pieria, Lebaea, Heracleum, Dium, Petra, Leibethra, Aegae, Aegydium, Acesae,Acesamenae; the rivers Helicon, Aeson, Leucus, Baphyras, Sardon, Elpe’u’s, Mitys; lakeAscuris and the region Lapathus
. The mountain names Olympus and Titarium may be pre-Greek; Edessa, the earlier name for the place where Aegae was founded, and its river Ascorduswere Phrygian.[31] The deities worshipped by the Macedones and the names which they gave tothe months were predominantly Greek, and there is no doubt that these were not borrowings.To Greek literary writers before the Hellenistic period the Macedonians were ‘barbarians.’ Theterm referred to their way of life and their institutions, which were those of the ‘ethne’ and not of the city-state, and it did not refer to their speech. We can see this in the case of Epirus. ThereThucydides called the tribes ‘barbarians.’ But inscriptions found in Epirus have shown conclusivelythat the Epirote tribes in Thucydides’ lifetime were speaking Greek and used names which wereGreek.[32] In the following century ‘barbarian’ was only one of the abusive terms applied byDemosthenes to Philip of Macedon and his people.[33]In passages which refer to the Macedonian soldiers of Alexander the Great and the earlysuccessors there are mentions of a Macedonian dialect, such as was likely to have been spokenin the original Macedonian homeland. On one occassion Alexander ‘called out to his guardsmen inMacedonian (’Makedonisti’), as this [viz. the use of ‘Macedonian’] was a signal (’symbolon’) that
there was a serious riot.’ Normally Alexander and his soldiers spoke standard Greek, the ‘koine,’and that was what the Persians who were to fight alongside the Macedonians were taught. So theorder ‘in Macedonian’ was unique, in that all other orders were in the ‘koine.’[34] It is satisfactorilyexplained as an order in broad dialect, just as in the Highland Regiment a special order for aparticular purpose could be given in broad Scots by a Scottish officer who usually spoke theKing’s English.The use of this dialect among themselves was a characteristic of the Macedonian soldiers (rather that the officers) of the King’s Army. This point is made clear in the report — not in itself dependable — of the trial of a Macedonian officer before an Assembly of Macedonians, in whichthe officer (Philotas) was mocked for not speaking in dialect.[35] In 321 when a non-Macedoniangeneral, Eumenes, wanted to make contact with a hostile group of Macedonian infantrymen, hesent a Macedonian to speak to them in the Macedonian dialect, in order to win their confidence.Subsequently, when they and the other Macdonian soldiers were serving with Eumenes, theyexpresed their affection for him by hailing him in the Macedonian dialect (’Makedonisti’).[36] Hewas to be one of themselves. As Curtius observed, ‘not a man among the Macedonians couldbear to part with a jot of his ancestral customs.’ The use of this dialect was one way in which theMacedonians expressed their apartness from the world of the Greek city-states.[27] See J. M. Balcer in ‘Historia’ 37 (1988) 7.[28] FGrH 4 F 74[29] Most recently E. Badian in Barr-Sharrar 33-51 disregards the evidence as set out in e.g. HM2.39-54, when it goes against his view that the Macedonians (whom he does not define) spoke alanguage other than Greek.[30] The matter is dicussed at some length in HM 2. 39-54 with reference especially to O.Hoffmann, ‘Die Makedonen, ihre Sprache und ihre Volkstun’ (Goettingen, 1906) and J. Kalleris,Les Anciens Macedoniens I (Athens, 1954); see also Kalleris II and R. A. Crossland in the CAH3.1.843ff.[31] For Edessa see HM 1.165 and for the Phrygians in Macedonia 407-14. Olympus occurs as aPhrygian personal name.[32] See Hammond, ‘Epirus’ 419ff. and 525ff.[33] As Badian, loc. cit. 42, rightly observes: ‘this, of course, is simple abuse.’[34] Plu. ‘Alex.’51.6[35] Curtius 6.8.34-6.[36] PSI XII 2(1951) no. 1284, Plu. Eun.14.11. Badian, loc. cit. 41 and 50 n.66, discusses theformer and not the latter, which hardly bears out his theory that Eumenes ‘could not directlycommunicate with Macedonian soldiers,’ and presumably they with him. Badian says in his notethat he is not concerned with the argument as to whether Macedonian was a ‘dialect’ or ‘alanguage.’ Such an argument seems to me to be at the heart of the matter. We have a similar problem in regard to Epirus, where some had thouught the language of the people was Illyrian. InPlu.’Pyrrh.’1.3 reference was made to ‘the local ‘phone, which to me means ‘dialect’ of Greek; it isso in this instance because Plutarch is asying that Achilles was called ‘in the local ‘phone’Aspestos.’ The ord ‘Aspestos’ elsewhere was peculiar to Greek epic, but it survived in Epirus innormal speech. It is of course a Greek and not an Illyrian word. See Hammond, ‘Epirus’ 525ff., for the Greek being the language of central Epirus in the fifth century B.C. ”Source : N. G. L. Hammond’s “The Macedonian State: The Origins , Institution and History,”Calrendon Press, Oxford, 1989, pp. 413
Ancient Macedonians worshipped the same gods as the rest of Hellenes. Despite of the claims of the pseudo-historians of FYROM that ancient Macedonians didnt shared the same gods as theother Hellenes, the evidences from ancient and modern writers are obvious.- According to Ulrich Wilcken:
yet if we take into account the political conditions,
and morals of the Macedonians,
our conviction is strengthened that they were a Greek race and akin to the Dorians 
(Wilcken, U., “Alexander the Great)- Secondly, the Skopian propagandists seem to forget about the temple of 
, (literally the cityof Zeus), found in Mt Olympus, of course inside Macedonia.- Furthermore, Pausanias makes perfectly clear that contrary to Skopian claims, Macedonians hadgot the same gods and religion with the rest of Greeks and puts an end to the Skopian lies.(Pausanias [6.18.3])
The people of Lampsacus favoured the cause of the Persian king, or were suspected of doing so,and Alexander, boiling over with rage against them, threatened to treat them with utmost rigor. Astheir wives, their children, and their country itself were in great danger, they sent Anaximenes tointercede for them, because he was known to Alexander himself and had been known to Philipbefore him. Anaximenes approached, and when Alexander learned for what cause he had come,they say that 
that he would verily do the opposite of what Anaximenes asked 
- Moreover we have several ancient sources making clear that Macedonians had the samereligion as the rest of the Greeks and they worshiped the twelve Olympian Gods.- Two quotes from Plutarch’s “Alexander” make it clear.
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 
;” “He [Alexander he Great] erected altars, also, to the gods, which the kings of the Praesians evenin our time do honour to when they pass the river, and 
offer sacrifice upon them after the Greek manner 
.”Diodoros of Sicily also makes clear that the Macedonians worshiped the twelve Greek Gods andexposes skopian lies :
 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 thebeholder, and along with these was conducted a thirteenth statue, suitable for a god, that of Philiphimself, so that the king exhibited himself enthroned 
among the twelve Gods 
.”(Histories, Chapter 16, 95.2)
He (King Philip) wanted as many Greeks as possible to take part in the festivities in honour of thegods, 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 tobring along as many as they could of their acquaintances from abroad 
.”(Histories, Chapter 16, 91.5-6)