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

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”[sic] languages).”

“Bere(s). The root of this name contains the verb “bere” (to pick up) that exists today in the Macedonian language and in other “Slavic”[sic] languages. Also in the present day Macedonian onomasticon there are names derived from verbs. The name “Bere” is present In todays’ Macedonian onomasticon…”

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

Beres / Βερης

Aelius Herodianus/Αλιος ρωδιανός who lived between 180 and 250 AD, was one of the best known grammarians of antiquity. He was from Alexandria, the old capital of the Ptolemies, in Egypt, the cultural capital of the ancient world, second in learning only to Athens itself. He had also lived in Rome, where he became a friend and acquaintance of the scholar-emperor Marcus Aurelius. Herodianos talked about a city in Macedonia, called Beroia.

Βέροιας πόλις Μακεδονίας, ήν Φέρωνα κτίσαι φασίν, αυτός δέ τό Φ εις Β μεταποιείν, ως Φάλακρον Βάλακρον καί Βίλιππον κα Κεβαλίνον. Αλλοι από Βέροιας τού Βέρητος τού Μακεδόνος. Εστί καί πόλις Συρίας.

Ηρωδιανός Γραμματικός, “Περί καθολικής προσοδείας

Beroea is a city in Macedonia, which they say was built by Pheron, but they (the Macedonians) change Ph to B, as from Phalakros to Balakros and to Bilippos (from Phillipos)and Kebalinos (from Kephalinos). Others claim that Beroea is derived from Beres the Macedonian. There is also a city in Syria by the same name.

Herodianos the Grammatist, “Peri catholikes prosodeias”

This is how Herodianos describes the two most popular etymologies of the name of the city of Beroia. In the first version he considers the B a dialectical mis-pronunciation by the Macedonians who famously pronounced B in words where southern Greeks pronounced Ph/Φ. He notes among some other examples the name of the father of Alexander the Great, Phillip II: Philippos/Φιλιππος, which the Macedonians pronounced as Bilippos/Βιλιππος. We can also mention the name of the Ptolemaean queen of Egypt which other Greeks would have pronounced Pherenike/Φερενικη but the Macedonians pronounced as Berenike/Βερενικη, etc. In modern European languages this name now appears more in tune with the Macedonian pronunciation: Berenice, or Veronica. So, the name Pherenike (meaning : “the one who brings nike” [where phero/φέρω=to carry, to bring and nike/νίκη=victory] in the Northwestern Greek dialect that the Macedonian spoke was pronounced as Berenike/Berenike. Therefore, Herodianos continues, some had claimed that the original founder of the city was Pheron/Φερων (= the Carrier) whose name was pronounced in the Macedonian dialect as: Beron/Βερων.

Thus, according to this founding story, the city that Beron founded was named after him Beroia/Βεροια, instead of what he would have considered as more proper: Pheroia/Φεροια.

At this moment I will take the liberty of making a parenthesis and bring our attention to the point Herodianos just made: the dialectical differences between the more sophisticated Attic Greek, the dialect of Greek that all educated Greeks used for writing after the 5th century BC, and the Macedonian dialect which to southern Greeks seemed rough and uncultured, if not outright barbaric (the heavy and rough sounding Macedonian B instead of the softer Attic Ph, is only one example). It becomes obvious though, to anyone reading Herodianos’s passage above, that he was indeed speaking of dialectical differences of pronunciation among different dialects within the same Greek language. There are still here and there some academics who have spent a lifetime trying to convince themselves and others that the language of the Macedonians was not Greek. Since the spectacular finds at the sites of ancient Aegae and Pella of the last 30 years, that have enriched the Epigraphical corpus, there seem to be fewer and less convincing apologists of the two separate languages theory. When considering the plethora of Greek inscriptions, the deafening absence of any inscription in ANY other language, and when we add to the mix the Pella catadesmos/κατάδεσμος Πέλλης, then the question seems to be passing itself to the hands of Balkan history revisionists and other nationalist groups, and away from the academia.

The Pella cadadesmos is an extensive lead leaf inscription, found in a tomb of a woman of low social status, in the ancient Macedonian capital Pella, and it is written in the Northwestern Greek dialect, akin and similar to Aeolic and Dorian. It is the only inscription found that is written in the local vernacular dialect found to date in Macedonia. Part of the problem of some historians, we must add, is their lack of training in the Greek language, which hinders their ability to read the sources from the original text, and to do research on original epigraphic material, relying instead on translations. The example of the revisionist American professor, at the 7th congress on ancient Macedonia organized by the University of Thessaloníki, who, when confronted with a passage from an original text in Greek proving her wrong, was unable to read it admitting to her lack of training in Greek, was most revealing and extremely humbling to her reputation as an “expert”. But let us continue:

Stephanos Byzantios/Στέφανος Βυζάντιος from Constantinople, compiling his dictionary some centuries later gives us yet another version of a founding story for Beroia, and this one speaks not of Pheron but offers us another take on etymology:

Μιεζα; πολις Μακεδονιας; Στρυμονιον εκαλειτο απο Μιεζης θυγατρος Βερητος του Μακεδονος, ως Θεαγενης εν Μακεδονικοις. Βερης γαρ τρεις εγεννησεν, Μιεζαν, Βεροιαν, Ολγανον, εφ’ ων ποταμος ομωνυμος και πολις Βεροια και τοπος Στρυμωνος.

Στέφανος Βυζάντιος Λεξικογράφος (6ος αι. μ.Χ.), Εθνικα.

Mieza; city in Macedonia which was also called Strymonion; from Mieza, the daughter of Beres the Macedonian, as Theagenes tells us in his Makedonica. Beres had three children, Mieza, Beroia and Olganos [incidentally, it is the personified river Olganos, son of Beres, whose statue we see at the beginning of this article], from whom we have a river by the same name and a city called Beroia and an area named Strymon.

Stephanos Byzantios Lexicographer (6th c AD), Ethnica.

What Stephanos Byzantios tells us above is that according to the local myth the founding of the city (or at least its naming) was attributed to the nymph Beroia, the daughter of the Macedonian Beres/Βερης.

The city of Beroea/Beroia/Berroia/Βερροια (I know the reader by now is getting confused by the multiple variations in the spelling of the city, but it is only in the Latin transliterations that the different spellings of this name occur: in Greek it remains the same, it is always Βέρροια, or Βέροια, with one “ρ“/”r”) is well known to Christians because it was one of the first Greek cities that the Apostle Paul visited in Europe, having first passed through a few more Macedonian cities: Neapolis/Νεάπολις, Philipoi/Φίλιπποι, Amphipolis/μφίπολις, Apollonia/πολλωνία and Thessalonike/Θεσσαλονίκη. We know of the dream that came to Paul while he was asleep in Troad:

κα ραμα δι τς νυκτς φθη τ Παύλ· νήρ τις ν Μακεδν στς, παρακαλν ατν κα λέγων· Διαβς ες Μακεδονίαν βοήθησον μν. ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ 16:9

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. Acts 16:9

In Macedonia indeed he went, and by Macedonia we mean THE historic Macedonia, not the Makedonijan wannabe neighbor of Kossovo: Paul never put his foot on what is now FYROM. Not that this historic fact would be enough to dissuade the regime there from claiming an association between St. Paul’s trip to Macedonia proper and “their” Makedonija. In fact they recently re-named the airport of Ochrid to St. Paul’s legacy and his trip to Macedonia: Aerodrom “St. Paul” Ochrid/АеродромСв. Апостол ПавлеОхрид (Skopje airport, FYROM’s main international airport was also renamed, from Aerodrom Skopje/Аеродром Скопје to Aleksandar Veliki/Aлександар Вeлики. Who was Aleksandar Veliki/Aлександар Вeлики? The fabled Czar of the proto-Slavs, of course: yes we are indeed talking about Alexander the Great…Alexandros III/Αλέξανδρος Γ‘, son of Philip II!).

Since we are on the subject, let us also see how falsification of history by association is achieved by the pseudo-makedonists. We take the example of St. Luke the Evangelist. Professor Donski assures us that:

“The likelyhood[sic] that St. Luke was from a Macedonian origin is indicated even in the world renown encyclopaedia Microsoft Encarta 98 (Encyclopaedia Deluxe Edition, USA, 1998; “Luke Saint”). More detail on this topic can be found in the book “Jesus Christ and the Macedonians” by A. Donski (Centre for Cultural Initiative, Stip, FYROM, 2000.”

Trying to double check my sources, I opened another encyclopaedia, which is published by an ecclesiastical organization that may possibly have a slightly deeper connection to biblical scholarship than Microsoft Corp, the Catholic Encyclopaedia. Here is what it says about St. Luke, St. Paul’s associate:

“It is generally held that St. Luke was a native of Antioch. Eusebius (Church History III.4.6) has: Loukas de to men genos on ton ap Antiocheias, ten episteuen iatros, ta pleista suggegonos to Paulo, kai rots laipois de ou parergos ton apostolon homilnkos–”

and further down:”St. Luke was not a Jew. He is separated by St. Paul from those of the circumcision (Colossians 4:14), and his style proves that he was a Greek.” and also: “His great command of Greek is shown by the richness of his vocabulary and the freedom of his constructions.”

In Thessalonica (This is the Latin transliterated name for the city. The yugo-Slavs and Bulgarians call her Solun/Солун, while Greeks still use the original Macedonian name: Θεσσαλονίκη/Thessalonike) Paul was able to convert several of the locals:

καί τινες ξ ατν πείσθησαν κα προσεκληρώθησαν τ Παύλ κα τ Σίλ, τν τε σεβομένων λλήνων πολ πλθος γυναικν τε τν πρώτων οκ λίγαι.ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ 17:4

And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.Acts 17:4

After Thessalonica he went to Berroia, where:

10 Οι δε αδελφοι ευθέως δια της νυκτος εξέπεμψαν τόν τε Παυλον και τον Σίλαν εις Βέροιαν, οιτινες παραγενόμενοι εις την συναγωγην απηεσαν των Ιουδαίων. 11 ουτοι δε ησαν ευγενεστεροι των εν θεσσαλονικη οιτινες εδεξαντο τον λογον μετα πασης προθυμιας καθ ημεραν ανακρινοντες τας γραφας ει εχοι ταυτα ουτως 12 πολλοι μεν ουν εξ αυτων επίστευσαν, και των Ελληνίδων γυναικων των ευσχημόνων και ανδρων ουκ ολίγοι.

Πράξεις Aποστόλων 17:10,11,12

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

Acts 17:10,11,12

Passages like this speak volumes about who the ancient Macedonians truly were and what language they spoke.

The bible mentions the small community of the Jews living in the city of Berroia at the time but it also tells us that “not a few” Greek women and men, indeed of high social standing, believed in his message. The same as we saw had happened earlier in Thessalonike. Now let us think about this:

Paul has been “invited” in his dream while in Troad by a Macedonian man who asked for his help to come to Macedonia. Paul goes to Macedonia, and to our surprise, no “Macedonian” is ever mentioned, anywhere. Some Jews, yes, small communities here and there, who are in personal contact with each other, so we know they were not too many of them: a rather small community. Then an occasional Roman official or guardsman, as the ones in Philippoi shows up in the text. Finally we hear of “multitudes” of Greeks, both men and women, who listen to Paul and accept his message, in Philippoi in Thessalonike and in Beroia.

So, then, we are left wondering: what happened to the OTHER Macedonians? Why do they not appear in the text? Where are the imaginary NON-GREEK Macedonians? Why is the Christian bible failing to mention ANY other, non-Greek Macedonians? If they existed, we must surely conclude that they must have been a rude bunch indeed, for having had “invited” St. Paul and then failing to ever show up in his speeches, or even to stop by and say hello! Well, that is rude! Surely the bible would have mentioned them, but then, the bible is not supposed to lie: it is not Utrinski Vesnik or Nova Makedonija or some politicaly inspired manifesto on pseudo-makedonism authored by the VMRO untra-nationalist party in Skopje!

When you lie, lies eventually catch up with you after a while. When you use other people’s sacred books to promote your nationalistic agenda, that exposes your lies to a harsher light, for it betrays your cynicism. But would an administration such as that of prime minister Gruevski sweat twice for being accused of supporting what would some consider as sacrilegious lies to promote their regime’s pseudo-makedonist agenda? “What’s the big fuss about dragging St.Paul into our propaganda game?” they will be wondering…Tito’s Stalinist government of Yugoslavia went as far as forcibly splitting the Serbian Orthodox Church in order to create a church for the Makedonci (the only instance of a nominally “atheist” and “socialist” state going to such a degree of “church building” initiative, in order to support the shaky identity of the newly created (since 1943) Slavo-“Makedonski” nation!

If this was in 19th century Thessalonica, or Berroia, we would have heard of not only Greeks and some Jews, but also Turks, and Serbs, Gypcies, Greco-Latin Vlachs and Bulgarians, but most of these (except the Vlachs) these would have to wait centuries yet to appear in Macedonia. For now in the 1st cAD, in Roman occupied Macedonia we hear the bible mention as inhabitants only Greeks, Jews and Roman administrators. Any differentiations in dialect or state allegiance that the Macedonians of the 4th cBC had as compared to the other Greeks further south have now melted away: They are all simply Greek now, as it is clearly shown in the scriptural quotes above.

The epigraphic record is full of mentions of the city of Berroia or of people from Beroia, and all show its Greek character and the names we encounter are all Hellenic.

On an inscription of Perinthos in Thrace, now part of Turkey, we read the following inscription:

Regions : Thrace and the Lower Danube (IG X) : Thrace and Moesia Inferior


Thrace — Perinthos-Herakleia (Marmara Ereğlisi) — 3rd c. AD

Πθια ν Τρωδι λε

Pythian (games) in Troy Ale-

ξνδρεια λμπια ν Βεροίᾳ,

xandreian Olympics in Beroia

δριαν λμπια ν Κυζκ,

Adrianian Olympics in Kyzikos

Πθια ν Καλχαδνι κοιν

Pythian (games) in Kalchedon common

In other words, we have a part of a larger list of Athletic games, the typical Panhellenic games of the Greeks everywhere, sometimes called Olympic, for Zeus, somethimes Pythian for Apollo, and other. In Beroia they were called λεξνδρεια λμπια ν Βεροίᾳ/Alexandreia Olympia en Berroia: Olympics in Beroia, in honor of Alexander. This kind of games were not held by Skythians, Thracians, Illyrians or Roman, they were particular to the Greeks, nobody else, not until their re-refounding by Pierre de Coubertin in the late 19th century at least…

We also know that Beroia was operating as a typical Greek city, with its own elected city council (Boule/βουλή) and municipal government (Demos/Δήμος), hardly a barbarian mode of government, as the following inscription attests:

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia

EKM 1. Beroia 111

Macedonia : Bottiaia: Beroia

Β]εροιαων [ βουλ]

κ]α δμος [— — —]

the parliament of the Beroians

and the municipality

Sometime ago, I photographed a partial of a Greek statue at the Skopje Museum whose base has the following Greek inscription:


Adymos Evandrou Beroiaios Epoiei

Αdymos son of Evandros from Beroia Created this

It was found in the Yugoslav village of Marvinci, by Valandovo, in the ancient Amphaxitis. A very similar inscription, where the names share the same patronym has been found in Thessaly in Central Greece:

IG IX,2 601

Thessaly (IG IX,2) : Pelasgiotis: Larisa

Εανδρος Εὐάνδρου Βεροιαος ποε[ι].

Evandros son of Evandros from Beroia created this.

This shows that a well known family of Greek sculptors was producing in a local marble sculpture studio in Beroia, right about the 1st c AD and their products were being commissioned by clients from and sold to clients as far as Thessaly and Paeonia.

Then, on a very long list of names inscribed around 230 to 220 BC, on an inscription from the Pan-Hellenic Oracle and sanctuary of Delphi, among literally hundreds of names of various Greek cities from all over the Hellenic world, we see some cities from Macedonia and we copy them. Next to the name of the city we read the names of the representatives o the Panhellenic congress or competition or religious event for which the inscription was dedicated:

Regions : Central Greece (IG VII-IX) : Delphi

BCH 1921:1

ν Δωι Μντωρ γαθοκλους Πολυκλς

in Dion Mentor son of Agathocles, Polykles

ν Πδναι ρχας Φλιππος Διο[ν]υσογνης

in Pydna Archias Philippos Dionysogenes


son of Alkimachos

ν Βεροαι ντνωρ Νεοπτολμου

in Beroia Antanor son of Neoptolemos

Μνανδρος πελλς Φιλτα

Menandros son of Apellas of Philotas

μ Μζαι Νικωνδας Νικνωρ Μνασιγνεος

in Mezai Nikonidas Nikanor son of Mnasigenes

ν δσσαι Μοσχων Τρικας Μσχος

in Edessa Moschion Triakas Moschos

ν Πελλα πολλωνδης Δφιλος Χρης

in Pella Apollonides Diphylos Chares

These are all very typical Greek names: hardly the type of typical proto-Slavic names, in other words that would corroborate a non Hellenic, Slavic identity for the ancient Macedonians. The south Slavic tribes, if we remember, came into Macedonia from ukraine and Belorussia, not less than 800 years after this inscription was written.

Rivers of propaganda ink have been spent by the Skopje regime in FYROM and by its drum beating apologists in Canada and Australia to promote a fake pseudo-Makedonism for some of the citizens of FYROM (I say “some” because Greco-Latin Vlachs, Greeks, Albanians, Muslims, and increasingly more and more Slavs who identify with either Serbia or Bulgaria have consciously opted out of this “ancient glory” pseudo-makedonski circus). This fake identity is built as part and parcel of the parallel promotion of a venomous ethnic hatred against their Greek neighbors to their south. To achieve their usurpation of the identity of the ancient Macedonians (and hopefully, or so they wish, the land too, at some point), they first have to wrest it away from the cultural inheritors of the ancient Greeks of Macedonia. The modern Greeks, are (whether anyone likes it or not) the only people in the area who (without any special education in the classics) can still read and substantially understand, even now, these very inscriptions of the ancient Macedonians, in the original script and language they were written, because they still speak their ancestral language.

The right-wing irredentist nationalists from FYROM on the other hand (some of their mouthpieces regretfully continue to pollute on a weekly basis this progressive forum with venom of ethnic bigotry and hatred directed against Greeks) blatantly claim to be continuing an age-long hatred that the ancient Macedonians supposedly harbored against the other Greeks. What they in fact are doing is to project their own irredentist, land-grabbing, racist, and xenophobic agenda, clumsily dressed in colors of a folkloric dressed, fake antiquity.

Let us now try to experience through an example from the epigraphic record how the ancient Macedonians expressed their alleged burning hatred of Greece. An ancient Greek inscription from the Macedonian city of Pydna, reads as follows:

SEG 50:623

Macedonia : Pieria: Pydna

— — — —]


Βεροιαος κα γυν ατο λλς κα υἱὸς ατν Μνανδρος.

first name missing — — son of— —]onos

Beroiaios (from Berroia) and his wife

Hellas and their son Menandros.

While we are missing in this inscription the name of the husband, we have the ending of his paternal name “-onos”, we are also told that he is a Beroiaios, a Berroian, a man from Berroia. We are additionally given in the inscription the name of his son, Menandros, and the name of his wife: Hellas/λλς.

Hellas in the language of the Greeks means: Greece. Putting this in modern terms, I would say that it would be highly unlikely to find a Turk having a wife named Hellas or a Serb having a wife named Albania, or yet a Palestinian having a wife named Israelia. You always give names of something beloved and dear to you, not something which you hate. Έλληνας Μάριος/Hellenas Marios is a young modern Greek Cypriot poet who was born in Larnaca, Cyprus, in 1975, one year after the Turkinsh invation of Cyprus. I suppose the fact that his Greek Cypriot parents named their newborn boy Hellenas/Έλληνας meaning “Greek man”, in 1975, had something to do with how they felt towards Greece. The same consideration, we must assume, held true with the parents of the baby girl named Hellas-Greece by her ancient Macedonian parents. The Macedonians felt antagonistic towards the southern Greeks, but they also admired their level of culture, and they always strove to catch up with them, especially that of Athens.

In every day Greek speech, modern Greeks and modern Cypriots speaking of each other may out of convenience say Hellenes kai Kyprioi/Greeks and Cypriots (as the ancients said Hellenes kai Makedones, Greeks and Macedonians), but at the end of the day they know that they are all part of the same ethnic community. Modern Italians of the north of Italy do make spiteful jokes about the Italian of the south, and some even advocate for the split between the north and south of Italy into two separate states, but the motives are economic, not ethnic: nobody disputes the basic Italian nature of each of the other side, despite speaking very different dialects and despite their vast economic differences. On a different note, we all refer to the Austrians and to the Germans as separate nations, and they consider themselves as such (but not during the WWII) yet the realization stands that, to the outsider at least, an Austrian is still basically a German of the “Eastern Kingdom”: Österreich – Austria. Now go tell that to an Austrian…he will be as upset as telling an ancient Theban that he was the same as a Macedonian, especially after Alexander destroyed his city, or tell to an ancient Melian that he was the same as an Athenian, after Athens destroyed his city and sold him to slavery! It took Rome for the Greeks, and that includeded Macedonians, Aetolians, Peloponnesians, Epeirotans and Asian Greeks or the Greeks of Egypt to all feel in their skin their Hellenic commonality beyond Economic, dialectical, tribal or other city state considerations.

Back to Berroia again and five centuries earlier: Long before Christianity and St. Paul, the Athenian historian Thucydides mentions Beroia, in his Peloponnesian War:

1.61] λθε δ κα τος θηναοις εθς γγελα τν πλεων τι φεστσι, κα πμπουσιν, ς σθοντο κα τος μετριστως πιπαριντας, δισχιλους αυτν πλτας κα τεσσαρκοντα νας πρς τ φεσττα, κα Καλλαν τν Καλλιδου πμπτον ατν στρατηγν, ο φικμενοι ς Μακεδοναν πρτον καταλαμβνουσι τος προτρους χιλους Θρμην ρτι ρηκτας κα Πδναν πολιορκοντας. προσκαθεζμενοι δ κα ατο τν Πδναν πολιρκησαν μν, πειτα δ ξμβασιν ποιησμενοι κα ξυμμαχαν ναγκααν πρς τν Περδκκαν, ς ατος κατπειγεν Ποτεδαια κα ριστες παρεληλυθς, πανστανται κ τς Μακεδονας, κα φικμενοι ς Βροιαν κκεθεν π Στρψαν κα πειρσαντες πρτον το χωρου κα οχ λντες πορεοντο κατ γν πρς τν Ποτεδαιαν, τρισχιλοις μν πλταις αυτν, χωρς δ τν ξυμμχων πολλος, ππεσι δ ξακοσοις Μακεδνων τος μετ Φιλππου κα Παυσανου· μα δ νες παρπλεον βδομκοντα. κατλγον δ προϊντες τριταοι φκοντο ς Γγωνον κα στρατοπεδεσαντο.

Θουκιδιδης 1-61

The Athenians also immediately received the news of the revolt of the cities. On being informed that Aristaeus and his reinforcements were on their way, they sent two thousand heavy infantry of their own citizens and forty ships against the places in revolt, under the command of Callias, son of Calliades, and four colleagues. [2] They arrived in Macedonia first, and found the force of a thousand men that had been first sent out, just become masters of Therme and besieging Pydna. [3] Accordingly they also joined in the investment, and besieged Pydna for a while. Subsequently they came to terms and concluded a forced alliance with Perdicas, hastened by the calls of Potidaea, and by the arrival of Aristaus at that place. They withdrew from Macedonia, [4] going to Beroea and thence to Strepsa, and, after a futile attempt on the latter place, they pursued by land their march to Potidaea with three thousand heavy infantry of their own citizens, besides a number of their allies, and six hundred Macedonian horsemen, the followers of Philippos and Pausanias. With these sailed seventy ships along the coast. [5] Advancing by short marches, on the third day they arrived at Gigonus, where they encamped.

Thucydides 1-61

Reading this text by Thucydides, we are immediately struck by a geographic paradox. We have to look at a map to understand what is happening: The Athenian hoplites, the heavy infantry are leaving Pydna, which is a city in Pieria, and they go to Strepsa/Στρέψα, having first stopped at Beroea. We are fairly certain from archaeological identifications ( ) that ancient Strepsa was by the modern village of Basilica/Bασιλικ, just west of Thessaloniki, part of the Pylaia municipality (Demos Pylaias/Δήμος Πυλαίας). Marching to Potidaea, which was their destination, the heavily armed Athenian hoplites moved, we must assume, directly to their point of interest, and they did not wander around to go sight seeing, heavily clad in iron and bronze as they were. Now then here is the paradox: why would these Athenian hoplitae first go to Beroea, which is completely out of their way, being directly West / Northwest of Pydna? To go from Pydna to Potidaea, which is at the narrowest point of Pallene (now called Cassandreia, the first prong peninsula in Chalkidice), they should have headed North East, not North West, as they had left Pydna. Then, after crossing Axios they should head directly East, go around what is now Thessaloniki (but at that time was still Therme) towards Strepsa, and then proceed on to Potidaea. Something does not make sense here…why should they go to Beroea first?

We read Thucydides again, and now we notice that he has already given us the answer: πανστανται κ τς Μακεδονας, κα φικμενοι ς Βροιαν κκεθεν π Στρψαν :They withdrew from Macedonia, going to Beroea and thence to Strepsa. Therefore, this Beroea is not the Beroea we know…it is not the Beroia in Macedonia! There was another Beroea/Βερροια!

We need to understand that Macedonia at the 5th century stopped at the Axios river. Therefore, Thucydides is speaking of a different Beroia here, one that must be placed between the Axios river and Strepsa, probably between Chalastra / Χαλαστρα and Thessaloniki / Therme. Now, finally, the text makes sense: The geography falls in place. Gigonos is by modern Nea kallikrateia, Strepsa and Potidaea are all close to each other, and the Beroia which Thucydides mentions must be close by, not too far from Thessaloniki, but for sure East of the Axios river, in what was then part of geographic Thrace. What does this mean? It simply means that there is yet another Beroia in the prairies, east of Axios river, besides the one we all know and the bible mentions, in Macedonia next to the Bermion mountain. This one was located in what the 5th century Greeks considered part of Thrace.

Reading and searching further, we find yet another Beroia in what is now Bulgaria: the major modern Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora was also a Beroia, also mentioned as Beroe. Ian Worthington in his wonderful book “Philip II of Macedoni” (Yale University Press, 2008, page 124) mentions it as a foundation of the great Macedonian king, at the same approximate time as the building of the city Philippoupolis, further south. Whether he actually built it from zero and named it such, or used a previous settlement with the same name to further fortify it and re-populate with Macedonians as was typically the case for Philip and later Alexander, is not clear from the sources, but the name stands. During the Roman times it had been temporarily renamed Augusta Trajana, but when the Byzantine army under the emperor Ioannes II, Comnenos (Ιωάννης B’ ο Κομνηνός) defeated the Petcheneg army in 1122, the battle passed into history as the battle of Beroia. This is still in the land of the ancient Thracians. We also know of another Beroia in Syria. It was established by the Hellenistic Greeks who gave the name of their city back in Macedonia, as they had with another Edessa in Syria, thus the Syrian Beroia does not pose for us any problem, it is explainable as a name loan.

The fact that there are at least three Beroias that we have seen up to now poses an obvious question. Maybe Beroia the name has a meaning. In other words, Beroia, the name of the city mentioned in the founding fables of the Macedonian Beroia that were passed on to later generations, were simply attempts to explain a name that the Greek speaking Macedonians themselves did not really understand. If the name is not Greek, then it is pre-Macedonian. Archeological digs in modern Beroia concluded that Beroia has been inhabited since at least the 10th century BC and probably before that. We also know that before the Macedonians it was the Thracians and the Phrygians that inhabited the land of Emathia where Beroia lies. In other words we must look to Phrygian and Thracian to understand the meaning of the name Beroia. Their languages are now extinct and hardly anything survives of them. But we are lucky. We have Strabo, the ancient geographer coming to our rescue:

κα δησσς Μιλησων ποικος͵ κα Ναλοχος Μεσημβριανν πολχνιον· ετα τ Αμον ρος μχρι τς δερο θαλττης δικον· ετα Μεσημβρα Μεγαρων ποικος͵ πρτερον δ Μενεβρα͵ οον Μνα πλις͵ το κτσαντος Μνα καλουμνου͵ τς δ πλεως βρας καλουμνης θρκιστ· ς κα το Σλυος πλις Σηλυμβρα προσηγρευται͵ τε Ανος Πολτυμβρα ποτ νομζετο·

Γεωγραφία 7.6.1

and Odessus, a colony of the Milesians, and Naulochus, a small town of the Mesembrianoi. Then comes the Haemus Mountain, which reaches the sea here; then Mesembria, a colony of the Megarians, formerly called “Menebria” (that is, “city of Menas,” because the name of its founder was Menas, while “bria” is the word for “city” in the Thracian language. In this way, also, the city of Selys is called Selybria and Aenus was once called Poltyobria).

Strabo Geographia 7.6.1

So, Strabo explains to us that Bria means “city” in Thracian. And indeed he tells us that the ending of many Thracian towns in “-bria” is just that, the equivalent to Greek polis i.e. Alexandroupolis, Philipoupolis, later to be extended to such American cities as Mineapolis and Anapolis, or Ukranian cities such as Sympheropolis/Симферополь, etc.

Strabo mentions Selymbria, Poltyobria, Menebria, and we also know from Herodotus of a Combreia / Κμβρεια in Chalkidike:

7.123 [2] κ τν προσεχων πολων τ Παλλν, μουρεουσων δ τ Θερμαίῳ κλπ, τσι ονματα στ τδε, Λπαξος Κμβρεια Ασα Γγωνος Κμψα Σμλα Ανεια·

7.123 [2] from the cities which come next after Pallene and border upon the Thermaïc gulf; and the names of them are these,–Lipaxos, Combreia, Lisai, Gigonos, Campsa, Smila, Aineia;

From other sources we also know of Skelambria / Σκελαβρία, Mascombria / Μασκοβρία, Bolbambria / Βολβαβρία, Salambria / Σαλαμβρία, as well as town in Thrace called Brea / Βρέα, an area in Thrace called Briantice / Βριαντική, as well as Bra/βρα and Symbra/Συμβρα. Hesechios in his dictionary tells us that “bria meant a farmland town, as well as fort, a castre-protected area” (βρία εσήμαινε την επ´ αγροίς κώμην, ως και φρούριον, τόπον οχυρόν).

Looking in Asia Minor, we also find Phrygian cities called Garsavara of Cilicia/Γαρσάβαρα Κιλικίας, Atabyris/Ατάβυρις, Kibyra of Phrygia/Κίβυρα Φρυγίας as well as Bria/ Βρία, between Eumeneia and Sebaste, next to the Burgas Dagh mountain. Whose coins were epigraphed: ΒΡΙΑΝΩΝ.

When we look back at our Indo-European common language, we see that the original word was *bhergh which originally meant “high”, and also “hill”. The Greek word Boreas/ Βoρέας (originally the wind from the mountains, the northern wind) comes from this word. But the north Germanic word for mountain “berg” is also derived from it, as does the word Iceberg in English and the Russian word Bereg which means “high river bank”. But since the primitive Indoeuropeans found protection on the high hills where they built their wall-protected towns, the original word *bhergh for high and hill eventually came to mean: “a castle on a high ground”. In French it became “bourg” as in Luxembourg (=the luxurious, or full of light castle), in German it became “burg”, as in Hamburg (Originaly named: Hammaburg: Riverside castle or Beechwood castle).

Bourg and burg are in turn also related lingusistically and semanically to the Greek word Pyrgos/Πυργος, meaning castle, as well as to the the Celtic word : “-briga”. The Iberian peninsula is litterally dotted with untold Celtic toponyms ending in -briga,. In Portugal there is Londobris/Λονδοβρίς (*Lond-o-brig-s – wild fortress) just off the Lusitanian coast (if this toponym sounds related phonetically to the Londin of England it is because they are linguistically related, indeed). Then we encounter Talabriga/Ταλάβριγα (*tala + briga – fortres by the river Tala), but also Langobriga, Ierabriga, Caetobriga, Larcobriga etc. In Spain we find Λακόβριγα/Lacobrigenses (Pliny III 3 26); Langobriga (*Lak-o-briga: ‘Lake Fortress’). Sarabriga or Salabriga or Salabris/Σαλαβρίς (almost an issogloss with the Thracian Sylibria, modern Silivi, in Eastern Thrace) (*Sara-brig-s: – the town/fort by the Sara River, now called in its Spanish translation: Torre del Sabre), between the provinces of Salamanca and Zamora. We also find in Spain cities such as Deobriga, Alpobriga, Nertobriga, Ardobriga, Colubriga, and numerous others, all Celtic toponymns.



In France we find Iliberis which rhymes with our Beres, but we also encounter th Franco-Latin Burgundia (the highlands), and in England we find “-bury”: Bury, Salisbury, Bloomsbury, Norbury, Kingsbury, Canterbury, as well towns ending in “-borough”: Thornborough, Thomborough, etc. The words brigand which means the man away from the law up on the mountains and of course the word “fort” and all the forts and the towns ending in “-fort”, or “-furt” like Frankfurt are also related linguistically to the Macedonian Berroia.

In Phrygian and Thracian it became Bria / βρια. Once the Macedonians and the other Greeks took over these places, beginning after the collapse of the Mycenaeans, and for sure after the 10th c BC, they pronounced some of them Bria, others Brea and yet others Beroea/Berroia/Βέρροια.

The mythical name Beres, was a name by which the Greek speaking Macedonians attempted to rationalize the unknown to them name of the city Beroia, whose etymology they did not understand. Beroia, like Strymon and Mieza were names that were pre-existing in the area, they had encountered and adopted from the local Thracian and other populations whom they conquered. Through the ages, any and all of the autochthonous Thracian and other people remaining in Macedonia were linguistically assimilated by the Macedonians and the meaning of Beroia in the language of the old inhabitants was eventually forgotten.

The Greek speaking Macedonians created their own etymologies after a while, weaving myths with river gods like Strymon and Olganos and nymphs like Beroia, the daughter of Beres, the nymph who lent her name to the city. Beroia was now theirs, a Macedonian city, and so was her father, the mythical Beres. Beres himself in their myths was now identified as one of their very own too, a Macedonian hero, becoming nothing less than a son of the fabled progenitor of all Macedonians: the mythical Macedon/Μακεδών

Source: American Chronicle

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