kingdoms of ancient Greece : Macedonia / Macedon

Macedonia / Macedon

The Macedonians were of Hellenic stock, claiming legendary descent from the Dorians who conquered Sparta and much of Greece towards the end of the Mycenaean period. Their name is generally thought to mean ‘highlander’, which would be entirely appropriate for their mountainous homeland. They probably arrived in the northernmost parts of Greece on the tail-end of the Dorian influx during the ninth century BC, coming in from the west and driving the Thracians out of Mygdonia in the process.

Neighbouring the friendly Hellenic kingdom of Epirus on their western border, The Macedonians also had Paeonia to the north, Thrace to the east, and Thessaly to the south. Like the Thracians, with whom they had many cultural similarities, they were an aggressive people, perfectly suited to the more mountainous land in which they settled. While they later become more Hellenised from the fourth century, the more southerly Greeks regarded them as being rough and ready, still semi-barbarians.

c. 770 BC – Temenus – Legendary son of Aristomachus of Sparta. King of Argos.

Greek myth paints Caranus as the son of Temenus, king of Argos, who in turn is the son of Aristomachus, the Dorian conqueror of Laconia (although given dating discrepancies between Caranus and Aristomachus, it is more likely that he claims descent from the latter rather than being his actual son).

The ruins of Aigai (Aegae, modern Vergina), which was originally an Illyrian base

According to the Chronicon by Eusebius, Caranus takes his followers north to aid the king of the Orestae, who is at war with his neighbours, the Eordaei. The Orestae (possibly an Epirote tribe) occupy a location in central northern Greece, immediately north-west of Mount Olympus and west of the Eordaei.

The king promises Caranus half his territory in return for his successful aid. The Orestae are indeed successful and the king keeps his promise. Caranus takes possession of the territory, founding the very beginnings of the Macedonian kingdom and reigning for thirty years, eventually dying of old age. He is succeeded by his son. The Macedonians appear to enjoy close and friendly relations with the Epirotes from the very beginning, which supports the idea that the Orestae themselves are Epirotes.

c.770 – 740 BC – Caranus/Karanus –  Son. Macedonian tribal king. Reigned 30 years.

c.740 – 729 BCComus / Koinos / Coenus – Son. Macedonian tribal king. Reigned 12 years.

c.728 – 700 BCTyrmas / Tyrimmas – Son. Macedonian tribal king. Reigned 28 years.

Argead Kings of Macedonia
c.700 – 305 BC

A Macedonian kingdom only emerged around the end of the eighth century under the Argead line of kings. According to legend, they migrated into the region from Argos under Caranus, hence Argead (‘of Argos’). Once there they helped the king of the tribal Orestae to defeat a neighbouring tribe and were given half the king’s territory in thanks. This must have been the eastern half, and three or four generations later, either Perdiccas or Argaeus established a capital at Aigai (or Aegae, modern Vergina, near Veria), east of both the former Orestae and their neighbours, the Eordaei, and close to the northernmost point of the Aegean Sea. The region was in a fertile plain in Lower Macedonia which was irrigated by two rivers, the Axius and the Haliacmon. Under Alexander I the kingdom expanded rapidly and, until the fourth century, occupied an area approximately the same as the modern Greek province of Macedonia.

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