Macedonian Language and Ethnicity – Ancient Testimonies vs Politically Motivated Manipulations

Australian Macedonian Advisory Council
amaclogo Macedonian Language and Ethnicity   Ancient Testimonies vs Politically Motivated Manipulations
June 01, 2010
This article is a response to Risto Stefov´s article “Ancient versus Slav controversy”

This is what the Macedonian envoy stated when he figured out that a Roman was present at this Hellenic assembly.So who needs the biased view of a certain professor Mr. Tone P. or something so from Slovenia on the issue of ancient Macedonian language and ethnicity,since this question is already answered by Macedonians themselves centuries ago?

The Macedonian nobles in the court of king Ptolemy in Alexandria had Doric names and spoke their Macedonian-Doric dialect:

“One of the poems on the Milan papyrus of Posidippus of Pella (P.Mil.Vogl. VIII 309) celebrates the chariot victories of the Ptolemaic house; the epigram is imagined as inscribed upon, and thus spoken by, an image of Philadelphus:

“We were the first three kings to win on our own the chariot race at Olympia,my parents and I.I am one of them, Ptolemy’s namesake, son of Berenice, of Εordean stock,and my two parents.To my father’s great glory I add my own. but that my mother won a chariot victory as a woman,this is something great.(Posidippus 88 AB,trans. Austin (adapted))This Philadelphia speaks with a markedly Doric flavour,as also do Berenice’s horses in another of the new epigrams (87 AB).

In the new epigram,Philadelphia proudly declares himself nursling of Eordaia (an important province of central Macedonia),and it is this combination of Doric language and Macedonian heritage which calls attention to itself.Whether or not the Macedonian language – for which we have painfully little evidence — was a form of Greek has been much discussed, but it is clear that its Greek affiliations are to west Greek and Aeolian dialects.

but if we were to speculate for a moment that some memory,if not in fact knowledge, of a believed affinity between the local dialects of Macedonia and Doric speech had survived through to the Ptolemaic court, then, as the language of both Argos and Macedonia, Doric would indeed have been marked in a particularly powerful way at the court. Its ‘otherness’ marks it as the preserver of genuine Greek tradition, and in particular of the rightful claim of the Ptolemies to be the heirs of Heracles and Alexander.

Praxinoa´s claim to share in such a culture may seem inherently absurd, and this would be in keeping with the mimic context in which it is set, but in fact she reflects both Ptolemy’s Macedonian heritage and his claims to be the standard-bearer of Greek culture.”

“Tradition and innovation in Hellenistic poetry” by Marco Fantuzzi,Richard L.Hunter page 375

Another peculiarity of the Macedonian nobles in Ptolemaic Alexandria is that besides speaking their native Macedonian-Doric dialect they also had Doric names:

32 259 Androkades (koine Ανδροκήδης)

34 257 Kebbas (Doric gen. Κεββά)

43 247 Kratidas (Doric gen. Kρατίδα)

46 245 Damas (koine Δημη|-)

55 236 Eubatas (Doric gen. Ευβάτα)

63 228 Ikatidas (koine εικοσι-)

73 218 Mnasiadas (koine Μνηασιάδης)

103 188 Charileos (koine Χαρίλαος)

133 158 Charimortos (northern Greek; cf. Masson. On. Set., pp. 43-47)

135 156 Kaphisodoros (koine Κηφισόδωρος)

d ca. 145 Nikaso (koine Νικησώ)

All these names have in common the feature that they are not koine, but represent one of the “Doric” Greek dialects.As the old Greek dialects gradually disappear in Greece itself towards the end of the Hellenistic period, it is the more interesting to see them alive and well in the names of the most prominent families at the royal court in Alexandria. Dialect names were not born by peasants or common Alexandrians, but functioned as a hallmark of the highest nobility.

To the same class of society as the eponymous priests belonged the eponymous officers, as is clear from the fact that in more than one case the same persons or members of the same families held both offices.” The list of eponymous officers in Pros. Plot. II and VIII 1825-2022 also presents us with several non-koine names:

Pros.Ptol. Π name date

1825 Αγήσανδρος 225

1826 Άγησίδας 132

1841 Άντίοχος Κρατδα: 258-243

1872 Δάμων 238-236

1917 Ίκατίδας 237

1938 Λιχας (gen Λίχα) 238

1957 Ναύτας (gen. Ναύτα) 282

1987 Πτολεμαίος Ναύτα 235

The list of eponymous officers confirms that of the eponymous priests: Doric names were typical of some of the highest families at the royal court. It seems possible that members of these families were still speaking a Doric dialect.

This reminds us of a famous passage where Plutarch criticizes the later Ptolemies because some of them had forgotten to speak Macedonian .This shows that at the Alexandrian court Macedonian remained spoken for a long time alongside koine Greek and was considered as a sign of aristocratic descent. Speaking only plain koine was even considered a sign of degeneration! A vivid illustration of the Macedonian roots of the Ptolemies is provided by one of the poems of Poseidippos in the famous Milan papyrus, which is to be published shortly by G. Bastianini and C. Gallazzi.The poem was no doubt meant to accompany a statue group of Ptolemy II and his parents, perhaps in Olympia- Ptolemy II himself speaks, proudly reminding the reader of his roots in Heordaia:

“We are the first three and only kings who have won the Olympic chariot race, my parents and I.I am number one having the same name Ptolemaios and being the son of Berenike belonging to the race of the Heordaioi.The two others are my parents.”

The most remarkable thing about this poem is its language: it is the only poem by Posidippos that is not written in the usual poetic koine. It is written in a Doric dialect, the prestige dialect” which the Macedonian kings spoke among their peer.That the Macedonians kings claimed a relationship with the Dorians is confirmed by an inscription found in Xanthos, where the Dorieis of Central Greece, asking for financial help from the Xanthians,stress that such help would be appreciated by king Ptolemy,who is a relative of the Dorians through the line of the kings of the Argead dynasty since Herakles”.

“The two faces of Greco-Roman Egypt,Greek and Demotic and Greek-Demotic Texts and studies presented to P. W. Pestman” by Arthur M. F. W. Verhoogt and S. P. Vleeming,pages 11-12

The famous 19th century German scholar Otto Hoffman,author of the legendary “Die Makedonen,ihre sprache und ihr vokstum” (The Macedonians,their language and their nationality) after a detailed linguistic research on the Macedonian personal names,toponyms and other saved Macedonian words drew the conclusion that Macedonians were as Greek as Athenians,Spartans e.t.c :

Wer also die Makedonen nicht zu den Griechen zählt,der muss konsequenter Weise folgern,dass sie ihre nationale ursprüngliche Namengebung schon im VI. und V. Jahrhundert vollständig aufgegeben und dafür zum Zeichen ihrer Bewunderung der griechischen Kultur die griechischen Personennamen eingeführt hatten.Diese Auffassung zu bekämpfen halte ich für müssig.Denn sprachgeschichtliche Hypothesen,die ohne Rücksicht auf das reale Leben der Völker in die Welt gesetzt werden, richten sich selbst”.

(Whoever does not consider the Macedonians as Greeks must also conclude that by the 6th and 5th centuries BC the Macedonians had completely given up the original names of their nation – without any need to do so – and taken Greek names in order to demonstrate their admiration for Greek civilization. I think it not worth the trouble to demolish such a notion; for any hypothesis of historical linguists which is put forward without taking into account the actual life of a people, is condemned as it were out of its own mouth).

“Die Makedonen,Ihre Sprache und Ihr Volkstum” by Otto Hoffmann,pages 230-231

Some other fraudulent claims of Mr. Stefov can easily be debunked:

1) “Still, Alexander spoke also Greek, loved Homer,and respected his tutor Aristotle. At the same time though,there is much evidence that generally he was not fond of the Greeks of his day After all, he thoroughly destroyed Thebes”.

First and foremost,it was not Alexander´s decision to destroy the city of Thebes,but rather of some other Greek city-states,allies of Alexander in the battle of Chaeronea that were mortal enemies of Thebans:

“When the destruction of the city was being discussed in council, the Phocians, the Plataeans, the Thespians and the Orchomenians, Alexander´s allies who now shared his victory, recalled the devastation of their own cities and the ruthlessness of the Thebans,reproaching them also with their past as well as their present support of Persia against the independence of Greece.This,they said, had made Thebes an abomination to all the Greek peoples,which was obvious from the fact that the Greeks had one and all taken a solemn oath to destroy the city once the Persians were defeated.They also added the tales of earlier Theban wickedness—the material with which they had filled all their plays—in order to foment hatred against them not only for their treachery in the present but also for their infamies in the past”.

M.Justinus “Epitome of the Philipic history of Pompeius Trogus” 11.3.6

And even if we accept for the sake of the argument that it was a personal decision of Alexander,the destruction of Thebes used by Mr.Stephov as a proof of Alexander´s alleged anti-Greek sentiments is at least a very lame argument,for the total razing to the ground of a Greek city by some other Greek city-state wasn´t something unknown to the ancient Greek world.Taking into consideration what treatment the Melians,the Mitylenaians and the Skionaians suffered by the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War,we should conclude in this cases that Athenians “weren´t fond of the Greeks” either:

“And the strength which might have recovered Amphipolis was put forth in the following year for the destruction of a petty township in the island of Melos.This place,a colony from Sparta,had never been included in the Athenian confederacy;and if force was to be employed to bring them within it,this force should have been used in the days of Aristeides,and not now,when a long war with Sparta had materially altered the complexion of the case.But in the sixteenth year of the war Nikias appeared before the city,and on the refusal of the Melians to become allies of Athens,proceeded to blocked it;time went on;no help came from Sparta;and plots were discovered for betraying the place to the Athenians.The Melians resolved to anticipate them by unconditional surrender;and their recompense for so doing was the murder of all the grown men and the selling of the women and children into slavery.But the case of the Melians is obviously quite different from that of the Mytilenaians,who were threatened with the same punishment,or of the Skionaians, on whom it was actually inflicted”.

“The Athenian empire” by William Cox,pages 110-111

2)”Therefore, his empire is correctly called Macedonian, not Greek, for he won it with an army of 35,000 Macedonians and only 7,600 Greeks…The Macedonians later used the Greeks (along with equal numbers of the Thracians and Illyrians) for their conquest of Persia.”.

You was never good at mathematics,Mr. Stefov…35,000 Macedonians and 7,600 Greeks,that means 42,600 Hellenes altogether.Alexander himself solved it for you:

“Our enemies are Medes and Persians, men who for centuries have lived soft and luxurious lives; we of Macedon for generations past have been trained in the hard school of danger and war. Above all, we are free men, and they are slaves. There are Greek troops, to be sure, in Persian service – but how different is their cause from ours. They will be fighting for pay – and not much of it at that; we, on the contrary, shall fight for Greece, and our hearts will be in it. As for our foreign troops -Thracians, Paeonians, Illyrians, Agrianes – they are the best and stoutest soldiers in Europe”

Arrian, “Alexander´s anabasis”,2a7

So the only truth in what Mr.Stefov claimed above is that Macedonians indeed used southern Greek,Illyrian and Thracian soldiers to conquer the Persian empire.He only missed that Macedonians and southern Greeks were fighting as compatriots for a common cause,unlike both Illyrians and Thracians who were foreign allies or mercenaries that couldn´t be inspired by the same patriotic sentiments

3)”The Macedonians garrisoned the Greek cities (like the Thracian and Illyrian cities) to enforce their occupation”

That´s absolutely right!What this ugly sad replica of Joseph Goebbels again “omits” to mention is that Athenians,Spartans and Thebans had likewise garrisoned the Greek cities in order to consolidate their dominance over the Greek world,almost a century before the ascendance of Macedonia to the throne of Panhellenic hegemony:

“Observing this,the Athenians sent garrisons to the different towns,as far as was possible at such short notice and in winter.”

Thucydides,”History of the Peloponnesian War” republished in 2008 by “Forgotten books” page 239

“The settlements at Chalcis and Eretria are all we need to complete our picture of the condition of the Athenian Empire at the end of the First Peloponnesian War.It was not much different at the beginning of the Great Peloponnesian War a decade later.What had begun as a voluntary alliance of autonomous states had become an imperial organization in which the hegemonal power exacted military support,financial contributions, and religious deference from her colonies.Whatever autonomy might mean, it was plainly incompatible with garrisons,cleruchies,foreign officials,imposed constitutions,and the kind of language found in Athenian imperial decrees”.

“The outbreak of the Peloponnesian War” by Donald Kagan,page 127

“The Boiotian War began in earnest in 378,when some Thehan democrats killed many Spartan supporters among them,and then rallied to assault the Spartan garrison on their acropolis.The return of the acropolis toTheban control—the “Liberation ol Thebes”—was a vital step toward expelling the Spartans from Boiotia,but there were other Spartan garrisons and sympathizers in the area—in Orchomenos,Plataea,and Thespiai,for instance—and the Spartans were determined to support them and their allies”.

“Nothing Less Than Victory:Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History” by John David Lewis,page 50

What have we here?Greeks allying with Persians against fellow Greeks?It can´t be true!According to Mr.Stefov,Greeks allied with Persians only to fight against the “barbarian” Macedonians!

“The Greek cities of Asia expelled the Spartan garrisons and acknowledged the

overlordship of Persia”.

“A history of Greece to the death of Alexander the Great” by John Bugnell Bury,page 539


“While the attention of the Thebans was thus occupied with their northern frontier,the Spartans were on their part not inactive.Archidamus,son of Agesilaus,was.successful in expelling the Theban garrisons which had been introduced into various cities of Laconia”.

“A pictorial history of Greece: ancient and modern” by Samuel Griswold Goodrich,page 270

In Peloponnese in the 360s Xenophon records treaties ‘to be allies and to follow wherever the Thebans may lead’ (Hellenika 7. 1. 42).Military control involved Theban garrisons and commanders,whom Xenophon describes with the Spartan word ‘harmost’.

“Democracy and classical Greece” by John Kenyon Davies,page 218

4) “The ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish historians, geographers, and orators, speak of the Macedonians as distinct nation, separate from their Greek, Thracian, and Illyrian neighbors. The ancient Greeks did not regard the Macedonians as Greeks, nor did the Macedonians regard themselves to be Greek.”.

It seems Mr.Stefov loves to see his claims being humiliated by the abundance of the opposite evidence thrown in his face.Let´s start with Greek historians and orators:Polybius recorded the speech of the Acarnanian envoy Lyciscus who addressed the Aetolians Cleonicus and Chlaeneas at the assembly of Sparta,when the Greek world was threatened by submission to the Romans,as follows:

“Then you were contending for glory and supremacy with Achaeans and Macedonians,men of kindred blood with yourselves,and with Philip their leader;now a war of slavery is threatening Greece against men of another race,whom you think to bring against Philip,but have really unconsciously brought against yourselves and all Greece”.

Polybius,”Histories” 9.37

The Athenian orator Aeschines informs us that king Amyntas of Macedonia (Philip´s father) was present among other Greeks at the Panhellenic congress of Sparta in 371 BC:

“For at a congress of the Lacedaemonian allies and the other Greeks,in which Amyntas,the father of Philip,being entitled to a seat,was represented by a delegate whose vote was absolutely under his control, he joined the other Greeks in voting to help Athens to recover possession of Amphipolis.As proof of this I presented from the public records the resolution of the Greek congress and the names of those who voted”.

Aeschines “On the embassy” 2.32

In case Mr.Stefov has a hard time to understand the full meaning of this abstract:

“In the context of a trial in 343,the Athenian Aeschines similarly identifies Amyntas as a political figure of some significance,when he records that Amyntas had been represented by a delegate at a Panhellenic congress (of which there were three between 375 and 371) but had full power over that delegate’s vote.According to this,Amyntas was regarded as a full member of the community of Greek states at least toward the end of the 370s.The Athenians had already regarded him as such a little earlier in the 370s when they entered into an alliance with him”

“Alexander the Great:a new history” by Waldemar Heckel,page 10

In other words,the Macedonian kingdom was accepted as a full member of the community of Greek states long before it was established during the reign of Philip as a leading power of the Greek world that could impose it´s own will to the other states.Now the burden falls on the shoulders of Mr.Stefov and his colleagues who should explain why the “barbarian” Macedonians were granted full membership in Panhellenic congresses.Do we have any recorded instances of Thracians,Illyrians

Paeonians,Persians e.t.c voting in a Panhellenic congress?

Now let´s see some Roman historians and their opinion on the ethnicity of Macedonians:

“Anthemusias and the other cities,which having been founded by Macedonians, claim Greek names.”

Tacitus, “The Annals of Imperial Rome”,6.41

“Such, at all events,were the opinions generally entertained in the reign of Alexander the Great, at a time when Greece was at the height of her glory, and the most powerful country in the world”.

“The natural history” of Pliny the Elder,chapter 12

“For if all the wars which we have carried on against the Greeks are to be despised, then let the triumph of Marcus Curius over king Pyrrhus be derided; and that of Titus Flamininus over Philip; and that of Marcus Fulvius over the Aetolians; and that of Lucius Paullus over king Perses; and that of Quintus Metellus over the false Philip; and that of Lucius Mummius over the Corinthians. But, if all these wars were of the greatest importance, and if our victories in them were most acceptable, then why are the Asiatic nations and that Asiatic enemy despised by you?”

Cicero,”For Lucius Morena” chap.31

Some Jew historians:


“And when he had said this to Parmenio,and had given the high priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city.And when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest’s direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests. And when the Book of Daniel was showed him (Alexander) wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians,he supposed that himself was the person intended.And as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present; but the next day he called them to him, and bid them ask what favors they pleased of him;”


“Because after that Alexander the Macedonian became king, the kingdom of the Greeks was founded, since Alexander also was one of them, even of the Greeks”.

“But when Alexander the Greek came,he slew Darius,King of Media and Persia. For thus the angel said to Daniel, when he was explaining the vision to him:

5) “The assertion of those modern historians that propagate that the Macedonians “were Greeks” which have “united” Greece,is absurd and is completely unsupported by the words of the ancients who clearly considered Greece subjected by the Macedonian foreigners”.

This quote deserves a place in any lexicon under the “pitiful liar” definition and I really wonder how does it feel to be repeatedly caught lying!Judging by Mr.Stefov´s attitude,I can guess what it definitely doesn´t feel:Shame!Unless Mr.Stefov is that clueless of the works of ancient Greek historians!In that case,I apologize and I suggest him to read Polybius´ “Histories”:

“Again, you bitterly denounced Alexander, because, when he believed himself to be wronged, he punished Thebes: but of his having exacted vengeance of the Persians for their outrages on all the Greeks you made no mention at all; nor of his having released us all in common from heavy miseries, by enslaving the barbarians, and depriving them of the supplies which they used for the ruin of the Greeks,sometimes pitting the Athenians against the ancestors of these gentlemen here, at another the Thebans; nor finally of his having subjected Asia to the Greeks”

Polybius,”Histories” 9.34

“Not being able to say anything in defence of any of these acts,you talk pompously about your having resisted the invasion of Delphi by the barbarians, and allege that for this Greece ought to be grateful to you.But if for this one service some gratitude is owing to the Aetolians; what high honour do the Macedonians deserve, who throughout nearly their whole lives are ceaselessly engaged in a struggle with the barbarians for the safety of the Greeks? For that Greece would have been continually involved in great dangers,if we had not had the Macedonians and the ambition of their kings as a barrier,who is ignorant?”

Polybius, “Histories” 9.35

6) “We know who we are and we already have an ethnic identity. It is called Macedonian! We are Macedonians defined by our motherland Macedonia on which our ancestors were born. We are the product of all people who have ventured to Macedonia since the last ice age. We are the indigenous people of Macedonia and have always been Macedonian”.

Sorry for breaking the news to you,Mr.Stefov,but your ancestors a century ago held a very different view on their real origin and.Some abstracts from the report of the International Commission on the conduct of the belligerent parties of the Balkan Wars are eloquent,especially those that refer to the ethnic self-identification of the native population of cities of modern FYROM such as Krushevo,Uskub (Skopje),Veles Prilep and Ghevgheli:

“On the next day,Vantcho Iogov,one of these recruits,beat a Bulgarian merchant,Demetrius Krestev,in the open market because the latter had a Bulgarian sign.On the merchant’s complaint the sub-prefect issued a notice ordering the removal within twenty-four hours of all signs in the Bulgarian language: they were ordered, on pain of courtmartial,to be replaced by Servian signs.(The same facts are repeated everywhere,at Uskub,Veles,Prilepe, etc.We need not mention the other acts of violence committed under pretext of domiciliary perquisition.Even women were beaten and imprisoned for calling themselves Bulgarian.On June 29/July 12,the birthday of King Peter,all the prisoners were brought into the gov-

ernment hall.The sub-prefect promised them an amnesty if they would agree to admit that they were Servians.Two of them replied in the name of all the others that it was solely as Bulgarians that they could be loyal subjects of Servia and useful to the State.They were immediately taken back to prison where they remained for another month”.

“Report of the International Commission to inquire into the causes and conduct of the Balkan Wars”,page 180

“Anastasia Pavlova, a widow of Ghevgheli:

Shortly before the outbreak of the second war I was staying with my daughter,a Bulgarian school teacher in the village of Boinitsa.A Greek lady came from Salonica,and distributed money and uniforms to the Turks of the place some six or eight days before the outbreak of the second war.She also called the Bulgarians of the village together,and told them that they must not imagine that this village would belong to Bulgaria.She summoned the Bulgarian priest,and asked him if he would become a Greek.He replied,”We are all Bulgarians and Bulgarians we will remain”.

“Report of the International Commission to inquire into the causes and conduct of the Balkan Wars”,page 304

“Athanas Ivanov of Kirchevo,near Demir Hisar.

Our village is pure Bulgarian and consists of 190 houses”

“Report of the International Commission to inquire into the causes and conduct of the Balkan Wars”,page 305

The English journalist George Frederick Abbott who visited Macedonia and FYROM in 1900 wrote about the population of the city of Veles (in modern FYROM):

“The majority of the Christians call themselves Bulgarians,at least they did at the time of which I was speaking”.

“The tale of a tour in Macedonia” by G.F.Abbott,pages 9-10

After all,the only dilemma that bothered Mr.Stefov´s ancestors was not whether they were of Slavic or ancient Macedonian origin,but in what language should they call themselves Bulgarians.In Serbian or in Bulgarian?

“The remaining two fifths speak a Slave patois,which appears to resemble the Bulgarian more closely than the Servian,except on the Servian frontier,and until the recent strife arose they were generally content to be known as Bulgars,although, curiously enough,when they call themselves Bulgars they do so in Serb1.

1Ja sam Bougarim (“I am Bulgarian”).The Bulgar proper calls himself Bolgarim”.

“The East end of Europe” by Allan Upward,page 54

Written by Kapetan Doukas

Anyone even slightly acquainted with ancient history would feel at least a major astonishment reading Mr. Stefov´s illusionary delirium and more specifically the assertion that ancient Macedonians were Proto-Slavs and spoke a Slavic language since Neolithic times!However it doesn´t only take an average knowledge of history to explain why Mr. Stefov has spent and devoted half of his life so far in this incomprehensible obsession with the Proto-Slavic origin of ancient Macedonians.After all,he seems to be so confused on the subject of the ethnic origin of his people that while he initially claims modern FYROMacedonians descend from both ancient Macedonians and Slavs that settled in Macedonia during medieval time,he finally concludes that ancient Macedonians were Slavs themselves.Thus it´s rather the task of some qualified in a specific field scientists to shed light on the inner world of Mr.Stefov,but I´m personally convinced he won´t stop diving into even more greater depths of extreme hilariousness.(Thank God!).

Mr. Stefov discovered this time some ambiguous and ambivalent excerpts of Quintus Rufus Curtius “History of Alexander” to back his illusions regarding the origin of ancient Macedonians.And while one could possibly agree that the excerpts of this Roman historian in question might indeed attest to the distinct non-Greek nature of the ancient Macedonian language,there is nowhere to be found not even the minimal indication that they spoke some form of Proto-Slavic language as Mr. Stefov firmly believes.Furthermore he bet again on the wrong horse if he chose Quintus Rufus Curtius out of all ancient historians to find evidence of the non-Greek character of the language that ancient Macedonians spoke.Even the famous passage of Philota´s trial and his response to Alexander that he will speak in Attic Greek and not Macedonian,because “besides the Macedonians, there are many present who, I think, will find what I am going to say easier to understand if I use the language you yourself have been using” (Praeter Macedonas … plerique adsunt,quos facilius quae dicam percepturus arbitror,si eadem lingua fuero usus qua tu egisti) proves nothing more than Macedonian was a Greek dialect not incomprehensible to the non-Macedonians, but a bit more difficult to understand. In fact, the whole incident shows the Macedonian dialect was not unintelligible to an Attic Greek speaker and could be understood even though with some difficulty by other Greeks.The key-phrase is “easier to understand”.If Macedonian was a separate language,then no one else besides the Macedonians would have understood anything and Philotas would certainly have pointed out this mutual unintelligibility with Greek avoiding the word “easier”.”Easier to understand” (Attic Greek dialect) means that on the contrary Macedonian was understood with some difficulty,not that it was not understood at all.It makes the same sense as if a modern Greek would say he can easier understand standard modern Greek instead of various dialects of modern Greek,such as Cretan,Cypriot or Pontic.

As for the second excerpt with Philotas being accused by another fellow Macedonian of “hearing the men of his language through an interpreter”,do we have here a clear definition of what was really that language?Does really Quintus Rufus Curtius say explicitly here that the native language of Macedonians was not Greek?I don´t think so,because in another excerpt of his history,he clearly states their language was Greek:

“In pursuit of Bessus the Macedonians had arrived at a small town inhabited by the Branchidae who,on the orders of Xerxes, when he was returning from Greece, had emigrated from Miletus and settled in this spot. This was necessary because, to please Xerxes, they had violated the temple called the Didymeon. The culture of their forebears had not yet disappeared, though they were by now bilingual and the foreign tongue was gradually eroding their own. So it was with great joy that they welcomed Alexander to whom they surrendered themselves and their city. Alexander called a meeting of the Milesians in his force,for the Milesians bore a longstanding grudge against the Branchidae as a clan. Since they were the people betrayed by the Branchidae. Alexander let them decide freely on their case, asking if they preferred to remember their injury or their common origin. But when there was a difference of opinion over this, he declared that he would himself consider the best course of action. When the Branchidae met him the next day, he told them to accompany him. On reaching the city,he himself entered through the gate with a unit of light-armed troops. The phalanx had been ordered to surround the city walls and when the signal was given, to sack this city which provided refuge for traitors, killing the inhabitants to a man. The Branchidae who were unarmed, were butchered throughout the city, and NEITHER THE COMMUNITY OF LANGUAGE nor the olive-branches and entreaties of the suppliants could curb the savagery. Finally the Macedonians dug down to the foundations of the walls in order to demolish them and leave not a single trace of the city”.

Quintus Curtius Rufus,”The history of Alexander” VII.5.28-34

And that´s not the only instance where Quintus Rufus Curtius considers the Macedonians as Greeks beyond doubt.Here you are:

“Mutiny was but a step away when, unperturbed by all this, Alexander summoned a full meeting of his generals and officers in his tent and ordered the Egyptian seers to give their opinion. They were well aware that the annual cycle follows a pattern of changes, that the moon is eclipsed when it passes behind the earth or is blocked by the sun, but they did not give this explanation, which they themselves knew, to the common soldiers. Instead, they declared that the sun represented the Greeks and the moon the Persians, and that an eclipse of the moon predicted disaster and slaughter for those nations.”

Quintus Curtius Rufus,”The history of Alexander” IV.1.10

“As generally happens too,past omens had been brought back in mind by the present worry.They recalled that at the start of his reign Darius had issued orders for the shape of the scabbard of the Persian scimitar to be altered to the shape used by the Greeks, and that the Chaldeans had immediately interpreted this as meaning that rule over the Persians would pass to those people whose arms Darius had copied.”

Quintus Curtius Rufus,”The history of Alexander” III.3.6

“For his part Alexander responded much like this: ´His majesty Alexander to Darius: Greetings. The Darius whose name you have assumed wrought much destruction upon the Greek inhabitants of the Hellespontine coast and upon the Greek colonies of Ionia, and the crossed the sea with a mighty army, bringing the war to Macedonia and Greece. On another occasion Xerxes, a member of the same family, came with his savage barbarian troops, and even when beaten in a naval engagement he still left Mardonius in Greece so that he could destroy our cities and burn our fields though absent himself.”

Quintus Curtius Rufus,”The history of Alexander” IV.1.10

“Alexander called a meeting of his generals the next day.He told them that no city was more hateful to the Greeks than Persepolis, the capital of the old kings of Persia, the city from which troops without number had poured forth, from which first Darius and then Xerxes had waged an unholy war on Europe. To appease the spirits of their forefathers they should wipe it out, he said.”

Quintus Curtius Rufus,”The history of Alexander” V.6.1

“One of the latter was Thais.She too had had too much to drink, when she claimed that, if Alexander gave the order to burn the Persian palace, he would earn the deepest gratitude among all the Greeks. This was what the people whose cities the Persians had destroyed were expecting she said.As the drunken whore gave her opinion on a matter of extreme importance, one or two who were themselves the worse for drink agreed with her. the king, too, was enthusiastic rather than acquiescent. “Why do we not avenge Greece, then and put the city to the torch?” he asked.”

Quintus Curtius Rufus,”The history of Alexander” V.7.3

“As for Alexander, it is generally agreed that, when sleep had brought him back to his senses after his drunken bout, he regretted his actions and said that the Persians would have suffered a more grievous punishment at the hands of the Greeks had they been forced to see him on Xerxes´ throne and in his palace.”

Quintus Curtius Rufus,”The history of Alexander” V.7.11

Even the excerpt of Plutarch where Alexander is supposed to “calling out aloud to his guards in the Macedonian language” is nothing more than a mistranslation.This is one of the mostly misinterpreted abstracts of all the ancient texts that Mr. Stefov uses as “evidence” of the existence of a distinct Macedonian language.However,if we read the original Greek text,there is no way to claim with certainty whether Plutarch meant “Macedonian language” or “Macedonian dialect”.Why is that?Because Plutarch uses the adverb “makedonisti” (μακεδονιστί):

“ἀναπηδήσας ἀνεβόα Μακεδονιστὶ καλῶν τοὺς ὑπασπιστάς,τοῦτο δ´ ἦν σύμβολον θορύβου μεγάλου”

(he sprang to his feet and shouted in Macedonian calling the hypaspistes;This was a sign of big turmoil)

Plutarch,”Alexander” 51.4

And if you ask what´s wrong with that specific word,”μακεδονιστί”:

Adverbs like μακεδονιστί are not precise;they may mean,for instance,”in Macedonian style”,”in the Macedonian dialect” and “in the Macedonian language”.

“The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 3, Part 1: The Prehistory of the Balkans; and the Middle East and the Aegean world, tenth to eighth centuries B.C.” by John Boardman,page 847

And since Mr.Stefov is so concerned about the language of ancient Macedonians,why doesn´t he search to find the answer in ancient texts,written by people who were familiar with Macedonians and their speech?Why does he instead try to convince us to take into serious consideration the absurdities of some anonymous deluded Panslavists?Who is this Prof. Dr. Tone P. from Slovenia,whom Mr.Stefov cites as if he is an undisputable authority and what are his credentials?Give us all a break,Mr´Stefov,and make space for authentic testimonies and real historians instead of infamous delusions:

“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 Magnes 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 fifth 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 we 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.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”.

“The expansion of the Greek world, eighth to sixth centuries B.C.” by John Boardman,N. G. L. Hammond,page 285

“What language did these ‘Macedones’ speak? The name itself is Greek in root and in

ethnic termination.It probably means ‘highlanders’,and it is comparable to Greek

tribal names such as ‘Orestai’ and ‘Oreitai’,meaning ‘mountain-men’.A reputedly

earlier variant, ‘Makctai’, has the same root, which means ‘high’, as in the Greek

adjective makednos or the noun mekos. The genealogy of eponymous ancestors which

Hesiod recorded [. . .} has a bearing on the question of Greek speech.First,Hesiod

made Macedon a brother of Magnes;as we know from inscriptions that the Magnetes

spoke the Aeolic dialect of the Greek language,we have a predisposition to suppose

that the Macedones spoke the Aeolic dialect.Secondly,Hesiod made Macedon and

Magnes first cousins of Hellen´s three sons – Dorus, Xouthus, and Aeolus – who were

the founders of three dialects of Greek speech,namely Doric,Ionic,and Aeolic.Hesiod

would not have recorded this relationship,unless he had believed, probably in the

seventh century,that the Macedones were a Greek-speaking people.The next evidence

comes from Persia.At the turn of the sixth century the Persians described the tribute-

paying peoples of their province in Europe,and one of them was the ‘yauna takabara’, which means ‘Greeks wearing the hat’.There were Greeks in Greek city-states here

and there in the province,but they were of various origins and not distinguished by

a common hat.However,the Macedonians wore a distinctive hat the kausia.We

conclude that the Persians believed the Macedonians to be speakers of Greek.Finally,

in the latter part of the fifth century a Greek historian,Hellanicus,visited Macedonia

and modified Hesiod’s genealogy by making Macedon not a cousin,but a son of

Aeolus,thus bringing Macedon and his descendants firmly into the Aeolic branch of

the Greek-speaking family.Hesiod,Persia,and Hellanicus had no motive for making

a false statement about the language of the Macedonians,who were then an obscure

and not a powerful people,Their independent testimonies should be accepted as

conclusive.The toponyms of the Macedonian homeland are the most significant.

Nearly all of them are Greek: Pieria,Lebaea,Heracleum,Dium,Petra,Leibethra,

Aegeae,Aegydium,Acesae,Acesamenae;the rivers Helicon,Aeson, Leucus,Baphyras, Sardon,Elpeus, Mitys;lake Ascuris and the region Lapathus.The mountain names Olympus and Titarium may be pre Greek;Edessa,the earlier name of the place where Aegeae was founded,and its river Ascordus were Phrygian.The deities worshipped by the Macedones and the names which they gave to the months were predominantly Greek,and there is no doubt that these were not late borrowings”.

“Alexander the Great:a reader” by Ian Worthington,page 20

In a scene from the Attic comedy “Macedonians”, by the 5th-century writer Strattis, an Athenian asks “ή σφύραινα δ´ έ´στι τίς;(´sled-fish, what do you mean?), and a Macedonian replies “κέστραν μεν ΰμμες ώττικοΐ κικλήσκετε” (´wha ye Attics ca´ a hammer-fush,ma freen´).

“The fragments of Attic comedy” by John M. Edmonds,vol.3 page 823

In order to appreciate the value of the Macedonian´s reply for the problem under dis-cussion,we must not forget that, as is clear from many passages in Aristophanes, the Attic comedians made their non-Greeks speak broken Greek with an admixture of bar-barian words (some of them imaginary),while Lacedaemo¬nians,Megarians, Boetians and other Greeks spoke in their own dialects (albeit with a number of inaccuracies). The Macedonian´s reply is in good Greek with dialect (ΰμ¬μες, σφύραινα) and archaizing (κικλήσκετε) elements:

Athenian : Σφύραινα δε ἔστι τίς ?

Μacedonian : Κέστραν μεν ὕμμες Ὠττικοί κικλήσκετε

(Athenian:what is a “sphuraina”?

Macedonian:You Attic folk call it a “kestra” (type of fish)

Phonologically,this passage exhibits:

ύμμες:Attic υμείς (

Ωττικοί:for the initial vowel cf above

“Dialect in Aristophanes: and the politics of language in ancient Greek” by Stephen Colvin,page 279

However,non-Greek characters in Attic comedy are always presented speaking pidgin Greek in contrast to non-Athenian Greeks who speak their respective dialects and the Macedonian is apparently included by the Athenian comedian Strattis in the second case.Guess why!!

“Contrasts with the way Aristophanes portrays other types of ‘exotic’ or non-standard speech are useful.His Greeks,unlike his barbarians,do not speak pidgin Greek; their language is just as rich,colourful, and dramatic as that of the Attic-speaking characters.We have also noted that each dialect is individually characterized,unlike the speech of the barbarians,which is remarkably undifferentiated”.

“Dialect in Aristophanes: and the politics of language in ancient Greek” by Stephen Colvin,page 299

The ancient Geographer Strabo in his description of Macedonia writes:

“But some go so far as to call the whole of the country Macedonia, as far as Corcyra, at the same time stating as their reason that in tonsure, language, short cloak, and other things of the kind, the usages of the inhabitants are similar.”

Strabo “Geography´,7.7.8

Strabo actually refers to dialect instead of language,for he uses the word “διαλέκτω”,dative of “διάλεκτος” (dialect),if we read the original Greek text:

“ἔνιοι δὲ καὶ σύμπασαν τὴν μέχρι Κορκύρας Μακεδονίαν προσαγορεύουσιν, αἰτιολογοῦντες ἅμα ὅτι καὶ κουρᾷ καὶ διαλέκτῳ καὶ χλαμύδι καὶ ἄλλοις τοιούτοις χρῶνται παραπλησίως”

And what was that dialect that both Macedonians and Epirotes shared?

“We have a similar problem in regard to Epirus, where some had thought the language of the people was Illyrian. In Phlutarch´s Pyrrhus, 1.3 reference was made to the local phone, which to me means “dialect” of Greek: it is so in this instance because Plutarch is saying that Achilles was called in the local phone “Aspetos”. The word “Aspetos” elsewhere was peculiar to Greek epic,but it survived in Epirus in normal speech. It is of course a Greek and not an Illyrian word. See Hammond, Epp. 525 ff. for Greek being the language of central Epirus in the fifth century BC”.

“Alexander the Great,a reader”,by Ian Worthington,page 22

“That the Epirotic tribes and the Macedonian tribes spoke Greek in the fifth century B.C., and indeed much earlier, has been argued in CAH III.The conclusive evidence is in the decrees of the Molossian state c. 369 B.C.,which are entirely Greek in language,onomastics and tribal forms.The names of the persons were given to them in the fifth century,presumably by Greek parents and grandparents,and the names of the tribes had no doubt a very long history Moreover,as the Molossian state can have formed only out of tribes of common language,it follows that the ‘Thesprotian” tribes spoke Greek,as three such tribes were members of the Molossian state.At the end of the sixth century,when the Orestae and their neighbours were ‘Molossian’ tribes,they too must have spoken Greek to join that state.Finally,if the Amymni of one decree are the same as the Amymones,a Chaonian tribe (FGrH 703 (Proxenus) f 6), it follows that the Chaonian group spoke Greek,as we should indeed infer from the fact that the Greek-speaking Thesprotians accepted Chaonian command in 429 B.C., and that the Greek-speaking Epirote League later accepted the Chaonians as members.Nor was this Greek speech derived from the Corinthians and Corinthian colonists;for the dialect of the inscriptions was not Corinthian Doric (indeed even the alphabet was not Corinthian).It was evidently their own traditional Greek,probably West Greek,as some recorded inquiries at Dodona seem to show.

“The Cambridge ancient history”,2.000,Volume 6 by David Malcolm Lewis,John Boardman,Simon Hornblower,pages 433-434

Another piece of evidence connecting the North-West Greek language of Epirotans with Macedonians comes from Pyrrhus life. Pyrrhus planted some of his Epirotes into Macedonian army,pretending to be Macedonians while urging Macedonians to get rid of Demetrius.This could be done only if Epirotes spoke the same Greek dialect as Macedonians.

“But after he had pitched his camp over against Pyrrhus, many Beroeans came thither with loud praises of Pyrrhus; they said he was invincible in arms and a brilliant hero, and treated his captives with mildness and humanity. There were some also whom Pyrrhus himself sent into the camp; they pretended to be Macedonians, and said that now was the favourable time to rid themselves of Demetrius and his severity, by going over to Pyrrhus, a man who was gracious to the common folk and fond of his soldiers”.

Plutarch,”Pyrrhus” XI.4

So let´s summarize what is proven so far,and I mean it´s proven by authentic ancient sources quoted by real modern historians,not by the wishful thoughts of some globally unknown day-dreamers.

1)The native language of Epirotes was Greek,namely not Attic Greek but their own North-West Greek dialect.

2)Common Epirote soldiers could easily pretend they were Macedonians,walking among Macedonians and talking with them.Common logic dictates Macedonian and Epirotic dialects were at least very closely akin,otherwise they would never have undertaken that task.Now try to imagine in WW2 some English or American soldiers disguised as Germans and speaking German with typical Cockney or Yankee or Tenesee accent while they are trying to convince their German “comrades” to get rid off Hitler and his Nazistic regime!How long do you think would it take for the Germans to reveal that masquerade and execute them?

The Greek character of the Macedonian speech is indicated further by Pausanias who says that the inhabitants of Messene recognized the intruders as Macedonians,from their weapons and speech,which at the time suggest that the Macedonian speech was understood by the populace of Messene.

“When day dawned and the inhabitants had realized the danger that beset them, they were at first under the impression that the Lacedaemonians had forced an entry into the town, and attacked them more recklessly owing to their ancient hatred. But when they discovered from their equipment and speech that it was the Macedonians and Demetrius the son of Philip, they were filled with great fear, when they considered the Macedonian training in warfare and the good fortune which they saw that they enjoyed in all their ventures”.

Pausanias,”Description of Greece”,IV.29.3

How could Messenians recognize the Macedonian speech if it was a non-Greek language?Messenia is located on the southernmost part of Greece and that means Messenians and Macedonians couldn´t be in close contact.If Macedonians really spoke a distinct non-Greek language as Mr.Stefov suggests,how easily could Messenians distinguish it from the native languages of Macedonia´s neighboring non-Greek tribes,such as Illyrian,Paeonian,Thracian and Dardanian?All these languages would most likely sound the same to the ears of the average ancient Greek.By the same analogy,all modern Slavic languages sound the same to the ears of the average modern Greek,he really can´t distinguish Bulgarian from Serbian,Russian,Polish,

Ukrainian,Chech e.t.c And I guess this happens not only to Greeks,or can you maybe distinguish Danish from Swedish ,Norwegian and Icelandic?This passage of Pausanias makes only sense if Macedonian was a Greek dialect with distinct features.An ancient Greek had no problem to recognize whether one spoke Ionian,Doric,Aeolic,Arcadic or any other ancient Greek dialect and similarly any modern Greek needs only to hear few words to understand whether it´s Cretan,Pontic or Cypriot dialect.

The closest affinity of Macedonian with Aetolian and Acarnanian (both North-West Greek dialects) is conspicuously confirmed by the Roman historian Titus Livius in his description of the events that took place at the Panetolion, the assembly of all the Aetolians as follows:

“The assembly of the Aetolians,which they call Panaetolium,was to meet on a certain day.In order to be present at this,the king’s ambassadors hastened their journey,and Lucius Furius Purpureo also arrived,deputed by the consul.Ambassadors from the Athenians,likewise,came to this assembly.The Macedonians were first heard,as with them the latest treaty had been made…”

The following abstract of the speech of the Macedonian envoy speeks volumes on what Macedonians perceived to be their proper ethnicity and language:

“If foreigners who are separated from us to a greater distance by their language, manners, and laws, than by the distance by sea and land, are allowed to get footing here, it is madness to hope that any thing will continue in its present state… Trifling causes occasionally unite and disunite the Aetolians, Acarnanians, and Macedonians, men speaking the same language. With foreigners, with barbarians, all Greeks have, and ever will have, eternal war: because they are enemies by nature, which is always the same, and not from causes which change with the times.”

Titus Livius,”The history of Rome” XXXI.29.15  

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