Modern historians about Macedonia – George Cawkwell


The Macedonians were Greeks. Their language was Greek, to judge by their personal names and by the names of the months of the calendar; Macedonian ambassadors could appear before the Athenian assembly without needing interpreters; in all Demosthenes’ sneers about their civilization there is no hint that Macedonians spoke other than Greek. But it was a distinct dialect not readily intelligible to other Greeks;
linguistically as geographically, Macedonia was remote from the main stream of Greek life. King Alexander ‘the Philhellene’ had been allowed to compete in the Olympic Games only after his claim to being Greek had
been fortified by the claim that the Macedonian ruling house had originated in Argos in the Peloponnese, which really conceded that those who sneered at Macedonia as ‘barbarian’ were right. The sneers went on.
The sophist Thrasymachus at the end of the fifth century referred even to king Archelaus as a ‘barbarian.’ Isocrates in the fourth no less than Demosthenes spoke of the Macedonians as ‘barbarians.’ The truth was that Macedon was as culturally backward as it was liguistically remote, and even the exact Thucydides classed it as ‘barbarian.’* Archelaus began to change all this and to make clear the Greeknes of his country. It was
under him that the city of Pella began to be not only the ‘greatest city in Macedonia’ but also a show-place which Greeks desired to visit, a centre of Greek culture. Archelaus was a generous patron of the arts,
and the leading literary figures of the age were happy to reside at his court. Euripides spent his last years in Macedon, and wrote there the Bacchae and the Archelaus. At Dium in the foothills of Mount Olympus a
Macedonian Olympic Festival was instituted which included a drama competition. There must have been as appreciateive audience. Under Archelaus, Macedon had ceased to be a cultural backwater.”

George Cawkwell’s (Fellow of the University College, Oxford)
“Philip of Macedon,” Faber & Faber, London, 1978, pp. 22-3: