Ancient writers about Macedonia – Cosmas Indicopleustes


This Ptolemy is one of those Ptolemies who reigned after Alexander the Macedonian, concerning whom the prophet Daniel prophesied in different passages, and especially in the dream of Nabuchodonosor and in the vision of the four beasts that rose up from the sea which Daniel himself saw; namely in the image, a head of gold, but in the vision a lioness, by which he signified the kingdom of the Babylonians, that is Nabuchodonosor. Then, [145] in the image, the breast and the arms of silver, but in the vision, a bear—-namely, the empire of the Medes, which was inferior to that of the Babylonians, whereby he means Darius the Mede. Next again in the image—-the belly and the thighs of brass, but in the vision a leopard, the kingdom namely of the Persians, by which he signifies Cyrus, whose empire was no less splendid and renowned than that of the Babylonians. Then again in the image, the legs of iron, and in the vision, a beast terrible and dreadful, with claws of brass and teeth of iron, by which he indicates the Macedonian empire—-that is Alexander—-breaking kingdoms in pieces and subduing them. Then again in the image, the feet and toes partly of iron and partly of clay; and in the vision, ten horns corresponding in number with the toes, by which he means the empire of Alexander broken up after his death, which, in the vision also of the ram and the he-goat was, he says, broken up towards the four winds of heaven. For, when Alexander was approaching his end, he divided his empire among his four friends, of whom one reigned in Europe, that is, in GREECE, another in Asia, another in Syria and Babylonia, and |69 the fourth in Egypt, Libya and the southern parts.118 Unto these four were many sons born, who filled their thrones after them and brought manifold evils upon the world, as has been recorded in the book of the Maccabees. Now the little horn speaking great things, that was in the midst of the ten horns, signifies Antiochus Epiphanes, who warred against the Jews in the days of the Maccabees. He speaks therefore of all these things as partly of iron and partly of clay, to show them as conquering each other and being conquered in turn, and not mixed together, just as iron and clay do not commingle.

Book III

Even in Taprobanê, on an island in Further India, where the Indian sea is, there is a Church of Christians, with clergy and a body of believers, but I know not whether there be any Christians in the parts beyond it. In the country called Malê, where the pepper grows, there is also a church, and at another place called Calliana there is moreover a bishop, who is appointed from Persia. In the island, again, called the Island of Dioscoridês, which is situated in the same Indian sea, and where the inhabitants speak Greek, having been originally colonists sent thither by the Ptolemies who succeeded Alexander the Macedonian, there are clergy who receive their ordination in Persia, and are sent on to the island, and there is also a multitude of Christians. I sailed along the coast of this island, but did not land upon it. I met, however, with some of its Greek-speaking people who had come over into Ethiopia. And so likewise among the Bactrians and Huns and Persians, and the rest of the Indians, Persarmenians, and Medes and Elamites, and throughout the whole land of Persia there is no limit to the number of churches with bishops and very large communities of Christian people, as well as many martyrs, and monks also living as hermits. So too in Ethiopia and Axôm, and in all the country about it; among the people of Happy Arabia—-who are now called Homerites—-through all Arabia and Palestine, Phoenicia, and all Syria and Antioch as far as Mesopotamia; among the Nubians and the Garamantes, in Egypt, Libya, Pentapolis, Africa and Mauretania, as far as southern Gadeira,there are everywhere churches of the Christians, and bishops, martyrs, monks and recluses, where the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed. So likewise again in Cilicia, Asia, Cappadocia, Lazica and Pontus, and in the northern countries occupied by the Scythians, Hyrcanians, Heruli, Bulgarians, Greeks and Illyrians, Dalmatians, Goths, Spaniards, Romans, Franks, and other nations, as far as Gadeira on the ocean towards the northern parts, there are believers and preachers of the Gospel confessing the resurrection from the dead; and so we see the prophecies being fulfilled over the whole world.
Book XI

And yet He has not left them without a witness to Himself, that He was working for their good and taking thought for it beforehand, for He manifested to them some tokens of His goodness, some four hundred years or more before the coming of Christ, in the days of Alexander the Macedonian, long after the Trojan war, when the Greeks were still flourishing. Let me give an instance of this: When Alexander the Macedonian was passing by Jerusalem in prosecution of his war against Darius, the High Priest of the Jews, arrayed in the robes of his office, came forth to meet him, whereupon Alexander dismounted from his horse and in a very kindly manner embraced him. And when his attendants reproached him for so doing and said: Why hast thou done so? he excused himself and said: When I set out at first from Macedonia, a man dressed in this style was seen by me in a dream who said to me: Go forth and conquer. The result was that the King himself offered sacrifices to God and bestowed many gifts on the Temple, and accorded many privileges to the country of the Jews.In subsequent times Ptolemy surnamed Philadelphus, after having made careful inquiry from Tryphon the Phalerean about the Jewish books, and learned the truth concerning them, earnestly solicited them from the High Priest Eleazar, to whom as well as to the Temple he sent many presents. These books he received along with seventy elderly men, who translated them from the Hebrew into the Greek tongue, and he deposited them on the shelves of his own library. This also was a work of divine providence, that the translation had been prepared before the coming of Christ, lest, if it were done afterwards in the days of the Apostles, it would be exposed to general suspicion, as if they had interpreted what had been said of old by the prophets both concerning Christ and the calling of the Gentiles in a way to suit their own predilections