World Encyclopaedias about Macedonia – Cambridge Ancient History

 

We are left with the Macedones, for whom we have important  literary evidence. Hesiod, wrote of Deucalion’s daughter as follows: “she conceived and bare to thunder-loving Zeus twin sons, Magnes and Macedon who joys in horses, and they had their habitations by Pieria and Olympus. In the Catalogue of Ships, referring to a very much later situation, Homer placed the descendants of Magnes by the Peneus and Mt Pelion {Iliad π. 756f) From this we may infer that The Magnetes had been driven out and the coast of Pieria below Mt Olympus had been occupied by the Thracian Pieres before whatever date we care to attribute to the Catalogue. The Macedones, whom Homer never mentions, evidently stayed on as inland neighbours of the Pieres. According to their own account, as reported by Herodotus, the Macedones were NEIGHBOURS of the Phrygians or Briges, as they were called in Europe, when the so-called gardens of Midas lay below Mt Bermium(Hdt,vII- 73 and vII. 138.2); also, we may add, when the royal cemetery of the Briges was at Vergina on the right bank of the lower Haliacmon. Thus we may define the habitat of the Macedones, before they began to expand, as being inland of the coastal plain below Mt Olympus and situated between Mt Olympus inclusive and the river Haliacmon above Vergina, where it emerges from a long gorge, difficult to traverse. We can arrive independently at this conclusion if we study the account of the Macedones’ expansion in Thucydides n. 99.

Cambridge Ancient History page 280

The  first step in the expansion of the Macedones was associated with the adoption of a new capital, Aegeae, in place of Lebaea, and an oracle of Delphi, certainly a vaticinium post eventum purported to tell the king how to act:

The noble Temenidae have royal rule over a wealth-producing land; for it is the gift of aegis-bearing Zeus, But go in haste to the Buteid land of many flocks and wherever you see gleaming-horned, snow-white goats sunk in sleep, sacrifice to the gods and found the city of your state on the level ground of that land. (Diod. Sic. vII fr. 16)

The new capital was named Aegeae, derived in popular etymology from the goats (Aiges) and all Macedonian kings were buried there from that time until the corpse of Alexander the Great was taken to Alexandria in Egypt. According to the tradition the new name replaced the old name, Edessa, a Phrygian word

page 281

This expansion of the Macedones was associated by Herodotus (viii. 137.1] and Thucydides(n. 99.3) with a royal house, the Temenidae of Argos in the Peloponnese. Thus the Temenidae of Macedon (as in the oracle we have just cited) were a branch of the Temenidae, the royal house of Argos. Both historians were in agreement also on the number of generations which divided the first king, Perdiccas, from the reigning king. Since Thucydides numbered Archelaus (floruit c. 410 B.C.) the ninth of the line, we may date the floruit of the first king c. 610 on the basis of thirty years to a generation.

page 282

Indeed, it has become CLEAR from the inscribed stelai at Vergina which Andronikos has found recently, that the fathers of Philip’s Macedonians had entirely Greek names, and we may deduce that their parents spoke Greek at the beginning of the fourth century- What then of earlier times? Hesiod CERTAINLY thought them to be Greek-speaking; otherwise he would not have made Magncs and Macedon into cousins of Dorus, Xouthus and Aeolus, who were the eponymous ancestors of the three main forms of the Greek language (Dorian, Ionian and Aeolian). Hellanicus, writing late in the hfth century, made Macedon a son of Aeolus; he would not have done so unless he had supposed the Macedones to be speakers of some form of Aeolic Greek. As the twin people, the Magnetes, did speak an Aeolic dialect (this wc know from inscriptions), there is no good reason to deny that the Macedones spoke an Aeolic dialect, retarded indeed and broad, because the Macedones, like the Vlachs of Vlakholivadhi, had been a self-sufficient community on the foothills of Olympus for many centuries.411
If we are correct in our conclusions, the Greek speech of the tribes in Epirus and in Macedonia west of the Axius SHOULD NOT BE ASCRIBED to the influence of the Greek colonies on their coasts. NOWHERE in fact did Greek colonies convert the peoples of a large hinterland to Greek speech; for the differences in outlook and economy between colonists and natives were too great. Equally so in Epirus and Macedonia. For example, Eretria planted a colony at Methone before 700 B.C., but it had no effect whatsoever on the culture of the people who buried their dead at Vergina, only some fifteen miles away as the crow flies. So too the Greek colonies in Chalcidice had NO influence on the Bottiaei during our period, as far as the archaeological evidence goes. If these tribes of the hinterland spoke Greek, it was because they had done so before the Dark Age. What we have seen in this chapter is the consolidation of the Greek-speaking tribes in the north, which enabled them to fulfil their future role of defending the frontiers of a city-state civilization and later of leading that civilization into wider areas

Page 285

Want more of this? See these Posts:

  1. World Encyclopaedias about Macedonia – Encyclopaedia of World History 6th Edition 2001
  2. World Encyclopaedias about Macedonia – Oxford Dictionary of Classical World
  3. The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece – Paul Cartledge
  4. World Encyclopaedias about Macedonia – Britannica
  5. World Encyclopaedias about Macedonia – Encyclopaedia of invasions and conquests

Comments are closed.