Macedonian names and makeDonski pseudo-linguistics: The case of the name Apelles

May 03, 2009

By Miltiades Elia Bolaris


Balkan Illusion – phantasia archaica:

“…it is very interesting to note that many of the authentic ancient Macedonian words, according to their etymology and pronunciation, have a striking resemblance to the appropriate words used in the modern Macedonian language (and other so called “Slav” languages).”

“Apell(es). The root of this name contains the noun “apel” (a call) which we have in the present day Macedonian language”

From: “Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today’s’ Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)”, by: Aleksandar Donski, celebrity folk “historian” from FYROM.


Ephoros, son of Demophilos, from Kyme/Εφορος Δημοφιλου Κυμαιος was born about 100 BC. He wrote a 30-book history of the world, from the descent of the Heraclidae (the Dorians) to the years just before the death of Phillip ΙΙ. No lesser a historian than Polybios himself considered Euphorus’ monumental work to be the first attempt ever at a writing of a universal history.

Euphorus’ work has regrettably disappeared, but in one of his surviving fragments it is that we hear of a beautiful story, a myth about the fabled parentage of the greatest poet of them all: Homer. According to Euphorοs, some distant time back, three brothers lived in Kyme/Κυμη, Apelles/πελλς, Maeon/Μαίων and Dion/Δίων. Before he died, Apelles entrusted his daughter Kritheis/Κριθηίς (written also as: Kretheis/Κρηθηίς) to his brother Maeon/Μαίων. Maeon violated his own niece Kretheis and then betrothed her to a man from Smyrna, called Phemios. One day that Kretheis had gone down to the river Meles/Μελης to do her laundry, as was the usual way to wash cloths in that age, she went into labor and there, by the river Meles she gave birth to a boy. She named him Melesigenes/Μελησιγενης (born of Meles).

Based on the meaning of the name, some say that Kretheis was actually violated by the river Meles himself (all rivers were Gods in those ancient times) and this is how the boy eventually got his name. This last story is what the people of Smyrna believed and accepted as being the true story. The baby boy Melesigenes grew up to become the celebrated poet, the blind man of epic poetry: Homer/Ομηρος himself. (Source: «Epitomo Lexico Ellenikes Mythologias-Επίτομο λεξικό Ελληνικής Μυθολογίας», εκδ. οίκος Χάρη Πάτση, Athens/Αθήνα 1969. Müller, original quote of Euphorus in: “Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum” (FHG), Bd. 1 & 3, Paris 1841-1849).

Apelles/πελλς, then, is what the myth passes down to us as being the name of Homer’s grandfather.

Leaving the age of myth, we step into history, four centuries later and into the turbulent times of 4th century BC. Not far from Smyrna, in the Ionian city of Colophon, as most people agree, another man of the arts was born, destined to steal Homer’s Poetic fame in a different discipline of the Arts: Painting. Of course, like with every famous man, more than one place, (in his case the island of Cos/Κως, in the Dodecanese/Δωδεκανησα islands) claims to have been his birthplace.

Apelles/πελλς (flourished 352-308 BC) studied under the celebrated painter and Art theorist Pamphilos of Sikyon/Παμφιλος ο Σικυωνειος. He is said to have combined his native Ionia’s graceful lines with the Dorian school’s simplicity. His fame quickly spread throughout the Greek world and he was soon invited by Phillip II to become the court painter of the Macedonian palace in Pella. Alexander retained Apelles as painter in his court and he refused to have his portrait done by any other painter. Some of his famous works include the portrait of Alexander the Great holding a thunderbolt, exhibited at the temple of Artemis in Ephesos, and Aphrodite Anadyomene, which was taken from the Asclepeion of Cos to Rome and Augustus dedicated it to the shrine of Caesar.

Venerem exeuntem e mari divus Augustus dicavit in delubro patris Caesaris, quae anadyomene vocatur “His [Apelles’] Aphrodite emerging from the Sea was dedicated by his late lamented Majesty Augustus in the Shrine of his father Caesar; it is known as the Anadyomene.” Pliny, Natural History (XXXV.91)

The female model for Aphrodite Anadyomene, was a girl considered to have been the first mistress of Alexander the Great, the Larissian Kampaspe/Καμπάσπη, whom Alexander later gave as a gift to Apelles, recognizing that Appeles was more appreciative of her beauty than he himself was and had fallen in love with her.

Considering that none of his work survived the end of Antiquity, his fame as the greatest painter of the ancient world, made him the envy of Renascence painters to whom scant descriptions of his paintings exerted a disproportionately great influence.

There are of course numerous men of antiquity named Apelles, one being among the 70 (O’ in Greek numerals) proto-martyrs of the early Orthodox Church:

Την κιθάραν του Πνεύματος την έξάχορδον, τήν μελωδήσασαν κόσμω τας υπέρ νουν δωρεάς, ως έκφάντορας Χριστού άνευφημήσωμεν, Στάχυν Άμπλίαν Άπελλήν συν Ναρκίσσω, Ούρβανόν, και Άριστόβουλον άμαως γαρ Απόστολοι θείοι, χάριν αίτούνται ταις ψυχαίς ημών.

Άπολυτίκιον. Ήχος πλ. α

The six chord guitar of the Spirit, the one that melodiously played to the world in support of gifts to the mind as a revealer of Christ we worshipfully praise Stachys, Amplias, Apelles and Narcissos, Urbanus and Aristoboulos together since as holy Apostles, demand grace for our souls.

Apolytikion, Echos plagios α

This early Christian Apelles is known to have followed Paul to Rome

Άπελλήν τον δόκιμον εν Χριστώ” (Ρωμ. Στ‘ 10)

“Apelles the approved in Christ” Romans 16:10

Apelles the proto-martyr is known to have died a martyr’s death in Smyrna (yet another Smyrna connection but now with a different Apelles).

Every city in Greece was considered to be a separate and independent state, with its own laws, traditions, army and foreign policy. The only exceptions were the city was considered as part of a whole state entity were the Greek kingdoms of Epeiros, Macedonia and on occasion Sicily and Thessaly, where there were kings (basileis/βασιλείς) or dictators (tyrannoi/τύραννοι) that could rule over an extended territory, in which territory the cities had far more limited autonomy.

Some Balkan historical revisionists habitually hide behind the fact that few written monuments exist (the famous Pella katadesmos and funerary inscriptions are the only ones to date) of the Macedonian dialect (the Macedonians spoke their colloquial Northwestern Greek dialect but wrote most everything official in Attic Greek, the “proper” Greek of their age) to put forward a claim that the Macedonians did not speak Greek. They are at a loss to explain the fact that the proper names of all the known Macedonians, the names of all the cities that they built, their military terminology and bureaucratic nomenclature is all Greek.

Finally, all of the names of the months of the ancient Macedonians were Greek, and, most importantly, their name combination unique to Macedonia. This means that the Macedonians did not simply copy the names of the Macedonian months wholesale from another city state (otherwise they would have copied intact a calendar of another state). This proves that the Macedonian calendar was an old, traditional calendar, which while it shared most of the names of the months with other Greek state calendars, was unique in its own combination of names of months to the Macedonians.

Why is the Macedonian an important calendar? Because it regulated not only the lives of the people in Macedonia, but after Alexander’s trail blazing conquest of the East, it also regulated the lives of people throughout Hellenistic Asia and Egypt.

For many years after the collapse of Macedonian power in Persia and Media, of modern Iran, the Persians still used the Greek language as a contract language of choice and the Macedonian calendar, to contact their business. An inscription of around 88-87BC from Medea, in Northern Iran is mentioning the Macedonian month Apellaios:

Regions : Greater Syria and the East : Media

IK Estremo oriente 454     IK Estremo oriente 279    IK Estremo oriente 455 

Media — Avroman — 88/7 bc — JHS 35.1915.22-65

βασιλεοντος βασιλων ρσκου Εεργτου Δικαου πιφα

νος κα Φιλλληνος, κα βασιλισσν Σικης τε τς μοπατρας

ατο δελφς κα γυναικς κα ρυαζτης τς πικαλουμνη[ς]

Ατομ τς γ βασιλως μεγλου Τιγρνου κα γυναικς ατ[ο]

κα ζτης τς μοπατρας ατο δελφς κα γυναικς, τους εκσʹ

μηνς πελλαου, ν παρχείᾳ Βαισεροις πρς σταθμ Βαιθαβαρ

τοις ν κμ Κωπνει,…

While king of kings being Arsaces the Euergetis (the Benefactor) and Dikaios (the Just) and Epiphanes (the Distinguished) and Philhellen (who loves Greeks) and his queens being Siake his compatriot sister and wife, and Aryazate the so called Automa, who is of the great king Tigranes and his wife, and Azate his compatriot sister and wife, in the year εκσʹ in the month of Apellaios, in the province Baiseirois, towards the station Baithabartois, in the township of Kopanei….

A similar in tone inscription comes from Hellenistic Egypt, from 238BC:

Regions : Egypt, Nubia and Cyrenaïca : Egypt and Nubia

Milne, Cairo Mus. 5,22187     Milne, Cairo Mus. 1,22186    Milne, Cairo Mus. 8,9299 

Eg. — Tanis (San) — 238 bc — OGIS 1.56A; Prose 91

βασιλεοντος Πτολεμαου το Πτολεμαου κα ρσινης, θεν δελφν τους ντου, φ´ ερως {²⁷π ερως B}²⁷ πολλωνδου το

Μοσχωνος λεξνδρου κα θεν δελφν κα θεν Εεργετν, κανηφρου ρσινης Φιλαδλφου Μενεκρατεας

τς Φιλμμονος μηνς πελλαου βδμηι, Αγυπτων δ Τυβ πτακαιδεκτηι· ψφισμα· ο ρχιερες

κα προφται κα ο ες τ δυτον εσπορεομενοι πρς τν στολισμν τν θεν κα πτεροφραι κα ερογραμματες κα

While king being Ptolemaios son of Ptolemaios, and queen being Arsinoe, fraternal Gods, during their ninth royal year, and kanephoros (basket carrier in the festival) of Arsinoe Philadelphos being Menekrateia daughter of Philammon, in the month of Apellaios the seventh, and in the Aegyptian calendar Tybi the seventeenth, the decree is passed: The archpriests (chief priests)and prophets and the ones allowed to enter the adyton to decorate the the Gods and the wing carriers and the hierogrammateis (the holy scribes)…

More tellingly, a complete list of the months of the Macedonian calendar is seen written on an inscription from Gerasa, and the Arabian Decapolis, in Arabia, in 6AD:

Regions : Greater Syria and the East : Arabia

Gerasa 295     Gerasa 294    Gerasa 296 

Syria, S./Arabia-Decapolis — Gerasa (Jerash) — 6th ac

Month names in separate panels:}²































It is documents like these that declare the Hellenism of the ancient Macedonians, at least as much as the Greek language that the Macedonians propagated to the far reaches of their empire. It is not enough for someone to simply take on the name of the Macedonians, as the psudomakedonists have done, and automatically achieve a connection to the ancient Macedonians. A boy who dresses in girl’s clothes and puts on a lipstick is still a boy. It takes more than that. Nations are not built on Nazi notions of blood and land. No blood and no land united the people who came as immigrants to the United states, from diverse lands speaking diverse languages, yet a new nation was formed, the American nation. The Greeks who live in Macedonia today can still read the inscriptions from Iran or Egypt, as written above and they can translate and comprehend them without even as much as the use of an ancient Greek dictionary, while the Slavomacedonians are speechless in front of these inscriptions. For good reason: a Greek visiting Skopje or Belgrade, Kiev or Moscow cannot understand the Slavic inscriptions there either. But to their credit, Greeks never claimed to be Slavs either. It is the other way around with some of the Slavomacedonians, who claim to be [pseudo-]Macedonians, therefore Greeks. Then they reach levels of self ridicule trying to prove that the ancient Macedonians of the 4th century BC were essentially Slavic speaking and not Greek.

You can write the names of these months months in Cyrillic, but still, Иперверетајос, Диос, Aпeллеjос mean nothing to the average person in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: they are dead letters to anyone with no Greek language training or knowledge.

We know the names of most months for many Greek city states. November, for example in Athens was Maimakterion/Μαιμακτηρίων. The same month in Macedonia has a very different name: Apellaios/Απελλαίος. We need to remember here what Herodotus tells us about the Dorians…that they were initially part of the Macedonian tribes, before they split from them and descended to southern Greece:

2] στορων δ ερισκε Λακεδαιμονους κα θηναους προχοντας τος μν το Δωρικο γνεος τος δ το ωνικο. τατα γρ ν τ προκεκριμνα, ἐόντα τ ρχαον τ μν Πελασγικν τ δ λληνικν θνος. κα τ μν οδαμ κω ξεχρησε, τ δ πολυπλνητον κρτα. [3 π μν γρ Δευκαλωνος βασιλος οκεε γν τν Φθιτιν, π δ Δρου το λληνος τν π τν σσαν τε κα τν λυμπον χρην, καλεομνην δ στιαιτιν: κ δ τς στιαιτιδος ς ξανστη π Καδμεων, οκεε ν Πνδ Μακεδνν καλεμενον: νθετεν δ ατις ς τν Δρυοπδα* μετβη κα κ τς Δρυοπδος οτω ς Πελοπννησον λθν Δωρικν κλθη.

Ηροδοτου Ιστοριαι A’ 56.2

2] He found by inquiry that the chief peoples were the Lacedaemonians among those of Doric, and the Athenians among those of Ionic stock. These races, Ionian and Dorian, were the foremost in ancient time, the first a Pelasgian and the second a Hellenic people. The Pelasgian race has never yet left its home; the Hellenic has wandered often and far. [3] For in the days of king Deucalion it inhabited the land of Phthia, then the country called Histiaean, under Ossa and Olympus, in the time of Dorus son of Hellen; driven from this Histiaean country by the Cadmeans, it settled about Pindus in the territory called Macedonian; from there again it migrated to Dryopia, and at last came from Dryopia into the Peloponnese, where it took the name of Dorian.

Herodotus, Book I, 56.2) Translated in English by: A.D.Godley.

It is obvious that mythologically there is a strong thread connecting the Macedonians, the Epirotans and the Dorians of the Peloponnese far in the south. Let us remind ourselves that what we now call mythology of the Greeks was to them their religion. It was the sacred tales of their Theogony and Ethnogony, the holy books that described their primeval world and their ancestral descent. It was stories told and retold from generation to generation, tales poetically recited, epics of heroes and acts of the progenitors, that were later written down for posterity and for teaching the younger generations. Herodotus, whose stories -from details about Egyptian Mummification techniques to stories about the Thracians, Persians and Skythians- have been proven to be correct from the archaeological record and through linguistics and other fields time and again. Dismissing his stories as some kind of ancient paid propaganda (as some professors have claimed in recent years, judging possibly “εκ των ιδιων τα αλλοτρια“/”others by their own standards”) should never be done without running the risk of being proven wrong, once again, and Herodotus (as always) right!

It was shown by Herodotus that the sacred mythology of the Greeks connects the Dorians of the Peloponnese and the Macedonians. Let us for a moment remember November’s name in Attic Greek: Maimakterion/Μαιμακτηρίων. But the Macedonians who were using the dialect of the Athenians, Attic Greek, as language of written documentation in their state, had steadfastly held on to their religious and other traditions, the calender being a major part among them. The calendar is closely knit with the religious fabric of the city: all religious, civic and agricultural aspects of their society was regulated by their calendar. The calendar, therefore was not something they would readily exchange or alter. It was simply too complicated to do that. So we know that the calendar of a state was always conservative and old. In fact the Macedonian calendar not only survived in Macedonia but was in fact exported to all the places where Macedonians ruled in the Hellenistic age, from Egypt to India. In point of fact, it out survived the Macedonian dialect itself.

Let us see how November was called in Boeotia, where Thebes was the major city: Alalcomenios/λαλκομένιος. In Rhodes, it was called Sminthios/Σμίνθιος. Among the Cretans November was called Eiman/Ειμάν.

The Epeirotans/Ηπειρωται, on the other hand, who spoke the same Northwestern Greek dialect as the Macedonians, called November not surprisingly: Apellaios/Απελλαίος. We move to the sacred oracle of Delphi/Δελφοί, in Central Greece, in Phocis/Φωκίς, far removed from Macedonia but close to Thebes and Athens, yet by the Delphians November was called Apellaios too. In Doric Lacedaemon/Λακεδαίμων whose principal city was Sparta / Σπαρτα, in the south of the Peloponnese, the Dorian Spartans also called their November Apellaios.

If we take the boat from the southern tip of Peloponnese and sail towards Crete we will find first Kythera and then the smaller island of Antikythera. The Antikythera mechanism, is an ancient Greek computing device that was found by sponge divers in an ancient ship wreck by the Antikythera island, in 1901. It is a marvel of ancient Greek technology, created out of bronze between 150 and 100 BC. It is now exhibited at the National Archeological Museum of Athens.

A group of scientists has recently announced that this mechanism was not just another computer but specifically a computer of the night skies, a planetarium in a box, a mechanical calendar used to precisely calculate, among other things, the different Olympic and other athletic sacred games and holidays of the Greeks.

The assumption was always that the mechanism was probably made in Rhodes, which was a center for this kind of mechanical devices in antiquity, but lately we hear of something else: that the Antikythera mechanism was most probably not made in Rhodes, as previously hypothesized, but in Taormina/Ταυρομενιον, a Greek colony of Syracuse/Συρακουσαι in Sicily. How can we know? Because they were able to read the inscriptions on the bronze rings, and the names of the months were corresponding to the last to the months used by Taormina and Syracuse of Sicily, both of which were Corinthian (therefore Dorian) colonies, and they all used the same calendar…just proving once again the conservative power of calendar based tradition!

We read the months, in the Corinthian alphabet as they are written on the Antikythera mechanism: ΦΟΙΝΙΚΑΙΟΣ, ΚΡΑΝΕΙΟΣ, ΛΑΝΟΤΡΟΠΙΟΣ, ΜΑΧΑΝΕΥΣ, ΔΩΔΕΚΑΤΕΥΣ, ΕΥΚΛΕΙΟΣ, ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣΙΟΣ, ΨΥΔΡΕΥΣ, ΓΑΜΕΙΔΙΟΣ, ΑΓΡΙΑΝΙΟΣ, ΠΑΝΑΜΟΣ, ΑΠΕΛΛΑΙΟΣ. (reconstructed) (in original condition)

It is very interesting to note the name of the last month of this calendar, November as it was called by the Dorian Corinthians of the Peloponnese and the Sicilian Greeks of Syracuse and Taorminia: ΑΠΕΛΛΑΙΟΣ/APELLAIOS! Anyone that can read capital Greek letters can clearly read it in the photograph of the reconstructed mechanism at the website shown above.

Is there a meaning to the name? All Greek names have a meaning. Nothing is arbitrary in the Greek language. It is very logical. Pelas/Πελας is the near one, the neighbor, the one close by. There is a related verb called Pelazo/Πελαζω and its shorter form Pelao/Πελαω which means to be close to others to associate with others. Homoios homoio aei pelazei/Ομοιος ομοιω αει πελαζει, the ancient Greek expression still used in Modern Greek reminds us: “Simillar people associate with their each other”. Apellazo/πελλάζω in Laconic Dorian meant exactly what Ekklesiazo/εκκλησιάζω meant in Attic Athenian: to get together, the gathering of the people the ΛΑΟΣ/LAOS, in order to make a decision. In more Archaic times, in Homer or earlier, Laos/Leos meant specifically the armed men, the people under arms,

οίον δαστέρα ήκε Κρόνου πάϊς αγκυλομήτεω

ή ναύτησι τέρας ηέ στρατώ ευρέϊ λαών

λαμπρόν: τού δέ τε πολλοί από σπινθήρες ίενται:

she shot through the sky as some brilliant meteor which the son of scheming Saturn has sent as a sign to mariners or to some great army,

and a fiery train of light follows in its wake

Homer, Iliad, IV,75-77

Apellazein, therefore, originally meant the gathering of the army, and Apella/Απελλα in ancient Sparta retained this ancient Doric meaning and so was called the meeting of the soldier citizens of Lacedaemon. Apella is the Doric and Macedonian equivalent to the Attic and Ionian Ekklesia: the gathering of the people. (Liddel & Scott Greek English Lexicon).

But Apelles has also a very obvious second meaning: the one of God Apollo/Apóllōn /πόλλων who was also called Apellōn/πέλλων. (as above L&S)

Some offered an alternate etymology by hypothesizing that Apollo’s name could be associated with the Greek verb apollymi/απόλλυμι=”to destroy”. None other than Plato believed that Apollo’s name was derived from πόλυσις= to redeem, πόλουσις = “purification”, or πλον “simple”, (the Thessalian form of Apollo’s name, was Aploun/πλουν), or possibly from ειβάλλων “ever-shooting”.

The Byzantine lexicographer Hesychios/Ησυχειος comes closest to the truth by connecting Apollo’s name with the Doric Αpella/πέλλα = the “assembly”, so that Apollo becomes the God of political life, of the assembly of the army, of the tribe and later of the city. Apollo is also the God of flocks and protector of herdsmen. Apollon seems to have been a very old deity, common to both the Greeks and the Anatolians (the Hittites knew him as Aplu, and to the Trojans as Appaliunas or Apalunas, and Homer mentions Apollon as being the God-protector of Troy-the city of Illion).

Apollon is also known as Nomios/Νόμιος, from Nomos/Νόμος which means the land allocated to the nome/νομή / pastoral distribution of animals. He is also called Karneios/Καρνείος, from Karnos/Κάρνος, Epimelios/Επιμήλιος and Poimniow / Ποίμνιος all meaning the herder of animals. Apella/πέλλα as it becomes apparent, did not only mean a gathering of people, but it also indicated a gathering of animals. Apellon / Apollon, therefore, was originally the God protector of pastoral life and the shepherds. In Odyssey we see him as Helios the sun God, who kept a herd of sacred cattle.

Apollo’s association with music and the “Music” arts of the Muses is very revealing: music, dance history and poetry readings, were essentially communal artistic expressions practiced at communal gatherings, the Apellai/πελλαι.

The Indo-European root word from which the Greek word apella/απέλλα is derived is: pe’lh1us (pelhh1- fill) which also creates: *pleh1dhwe’h1s that indicates: (the mass of) people. The Greek word Plethos / Πληθος (= the mass of people, the croud) and the Latin word Plebes / Plebeians being the “many”, the “multitude”, as contrasted to the “few” Patricians are both derived from it.

The following names are a few of the many Greek names that are derived from Apella/Apellon/Apollon:

Apellas/πελλς, Apellikon/πελλικν, Apelliketis/πελλικετης, Apellaios/πελλαίος, Αpollodemos/πολλόδημος, Apollodotos/πολλόδοτος, Apollodora/πολλοδώρα, Apollodoros, πολλόδωρος, Apollocrates/πολλοκράτης, Apollophanes/πολλοφάνης, Apollonia/πολλωνία, Apollonides/πολλωνίδης, Apollonios/πολλώνιος, Apollonis/πολλωνίς, and of course the name of the famous Greek painter from Ionia, the official portrait painter of Alexander the Great: APELLES/ΑΠΕΛΛΗΣ.


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