Ancient sources – Macedonians Vs Barbarians

Collection of ancient sources making it clear to anyone that ancient Macedonians were dinstict from Barbarians.

[1] During this period he [Alexander] defeated the Maedi who had risen in revolt, captured their city, drove out its barbarous inhabitants, established a colony of Greeks assembled from various regions and named it Alexandroupolis.

[Plut. 7.9, page 260)

[Here we have undisputed evidence of Macedonia’s Greekness. On one hand, the term “barbarians” is used only for Maedi, not Macedonians while on the other hand Alexander of course establishes a Greek colony since he is Greek himself.]

[2]There he [Philip] scolded his son and angrily reproached him for behaving so ignobly and so unworthily of his position as to wish to marry the daughter of a mere Carian, who was no more than the slave of a barbarian king.

(Plut. 7.10, page 262)

[Point of interest: Philip uses the term barbarian for a foreigner. Its obvious Philip was Greek, otherwise he wouldnt use at all the derogatory remark if he was “barbarian”himself]

[3]The neighbouring barbarian tribes were eager to throw off the Macedonian yoke and longed for the rule of their native kings.

(Plut. 7.11, page 263)

[The difference between the “neighbouring barbarian tribes” and Macedonians is clear.]

[4]As for the barbarian tribes they [Macedonians] considered that he [Alexander] should try to win them back to their allegiance by using milder methods.

(Plut. 7.11, page 263)

[Again, Barbarians are being distinguished from Macedonians, even by Macedonians themselves]

[5]At the same time he [Alexander] was anxious to give the other Greek states a share in the victory. He therefore sent the Atheneans in particular three hundred of the shields captured from the enemy and over the rest of the spoils he had this proud inscription engraved:

Alexander, the son of Philip, and all the Greeks, with the exception of the Spartans, won these spoils of war from the barbarians who dwell in Asia.

[Things are pretty clear. Alexander considered Macedonia as a Greek state and the inscription itself reveals Macedonians are Greeks]

[6]he [Alexander] managed to extend it round the enemy’s left, outflanked it, and fighting in the foremost ranks, put the barbarians to flight.

(Plut. 7.20, page 274)

[The dinstiction between Macedonians and Barbarians is obvious]

[7]It was here that the Macedonians received their first taste of gold and silver and women and of the luxury of the Barbarian way of life.

(Plut 7.24, page 278)

[Macedonians couldnt receive their first taste of the luxury of the Barbarian way of life if they were Barbarians themselves]

[8]he [Alexander] dshed to the nearest camp fire, dispatched with his dagger the two barbarians who were sitting by it

(Plut. 7.24, page 280)

[Another evidence Macedonians were Greeks and certainly not Barbarians]

[9] On this occasion, Alexander gave a long address to the Thessalians and the rest of the Greeks. They acclaimed by shouting for him to lead them against the barbarians and at this he shifted his lance into his left hand, so Callisthenes tells us, and raising his right be called upon the gods and prayed that he were really the son of Zeus they should protect and encourage the Greeks.

(Plut. 7.33, page 290)

[Greek soldiers couldnt have shouted to Alexander to lead them against the Barbarians if him and his Macedonians were Barbarians themselves. Alexander’s pray includes Macedonians to the rest of Greeks.]

[10]From this point he advanced into Parthia, and it was here during a pause in the campaign that he first began to wear barbarian dress.

(Plut. 7.45, page 301)

[So Macedonian dresses were Hellenic since in Parthia was the FIRST time Alexander began to wear BARBARIAN dresses]

[11]However he didnt go so far as to adopt the Median costume, which was altogether barbaric and outlandish.

(Plut. 7.45, page 302)

[More evidence of the greekness of Macedonians. The remark about the Median costume being Barbaric wouldnt make sense if Macedonian costume was Barbaric too. Here we have another dinstinction between Barbaric and Macedonian (Greek) costume]

[12]The barbarians were encouraged by the feeling of partnership which their alliance created, and they were completely won over by Alexander’s moderation and courtesy..

(Plut. 7.47, page 304)

[Again a clear dinstiction between barbarians and Macedonians]


[13]After the company had drunk a good deal somebody began to sing the verse of a man named Pranichus which had been written to humiliate and make fun of some Macedonian commanders who had recently been defeated by the Barbarians.

(Plut. 7.50, page 307)

[ The dinstiction between Macedonian commanders and Barbarians is more than obvious]

[14]IX. When Philip was besieging Byzantium he left to Alexander, who was then only sixteen years old, the sole charge of the administration of the kingdom of Macedonia, confirming his authority by entrusting to him his own signet. He defeated and subdued the Mædian rebels, took their city, ejected its barbarian inhabitants, and reconstituted it as a Grecian colony, to which he gave the name of Alexandropolis.

Plutarch’s Lives – Life of Alexander


[15]What spectator… would not exclaim… that through Fortune the foreign host was prevailing beyond its deserts, but through Virtue the Hellenes were holding out beyond their ability? And if the ones [i.e., the enemy] gains the upper hand, this will be the work of Fortune or of some jealous deity or of divine retribution; but if the others [i.e. the Hellenes] prevail, it will be Virtue and daring, friendship and fidelity, that will win the guerdon of victory? these were, in fact, the only support that Alexander had with him at this time, since Forune had put a barrier between him and the rest of his forces and equipment, fleets, horse, and camp. Finally, the Macedonians routed the barbarians, and, when they had fallen, pulled down their city on their heads. “Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander, 344 e-f


[Clear dinstiction emphasizing Macedonians rooting Barbarians]

[16]Pericles collected tribute from the Greeks and with the money adorned the Acropolis with temples; but Alexander captured the riches of barbarians and sent them to Greece with orders that ten thousand talents be used to construct temples for the gods.

On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander, II, 13

[The riches of Barbarians were sent by Alexander back to Greece.]

[17]Yet no such busy wars as these employed their time in civilizing wild and barbarous kings, in building Grecian cities among rude and unpolished nations, nor in settling government and peace among people that lived without humanity or control of law.

On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander, I, 4

[18]But Alexander, building above seventy cities among the barbarous nations, and as it were showing the Grecian customs and constitutions all over Asia, quite weaned them from their former wild and savage manner of living.

On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander, I, 5

[19]It may, however, be more justly averred of those whom Alexander subdued, had they not been vanquished, they had never been civilized. Egypt had not vaunted her Alexandria, nor Mesopotamia her Seleucia; Sogdiana had not gloried in her Propthasia, nor the Indians boasted their Bucephalia, nor Caucasus its neighboring Grecian city; by the founding of all which barbarism was extinguished and custom changed the worse into better.

On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander, I, 5

[20]But it behooves us also, as it were, to make a new coin, and to stamp a new face of Grecian civility upon the barbarian metal.

On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander, I, 5

[21]But Alexander made good his words by his deeds; for he did not, as Aristotle advised him, rule the Grecians like a moderate prince and insult over the barbarians like an absolute tyrant; nor did he take particular care of the first as his friends and domestics, and scorn the latter as mere brutes and vegetables…

On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander, I, 6

[22]Nor would he that Greeks and barbarians should be distinguished by long garments, targets, scimitars, or turbans; but that the Grecians should be known by their virtue and courage, and the barbarians by their vices and their cowardice

On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander, I, 6

[23]In all there were about three thousand Hellenic heavy infantry, accompanied by all the Macedonian cavalry with the Chalcidians, near one thousand strong, besides an immense crowd of barbarians.”

(Thukydides 4.124)





He also ordered the archers and slingers to run forward and discharge arrows and stones at the barbarians, hoping to provoke them by this to come out of the woody glen into the ground unencumbered with trees.

Arrian 1a2


[If the Macedonians were barbarians themselves, this quote wouldn’t have any meaning. We have a clear distinction between Macedonians and Barbarian Thracians.]


Alexander found some ships of war which had come to him from Byzantium, through the Euxine Sea and up the river. Filling these with archers and heavy-armed troops, he sailed to the island to which the Triballians and Thracians had fled for refuge. He tried to force a landing; but the barbarians came to meet him at the brink of the river, wherever the ships made an assault

Arrian 1a3

[26] Alexander… said to Ptolemaios… `as soon as you perceive the BARBARIANS  to be trying  to force a way  through  here, you yourself  will  at once  bid  the bugler  to  sound  an alarm…’ Such were Alexander’s orders; and Ptolemaios…”
   <Arrian Anabasis 5.23.7>

[27]“But Ptolemaios…  made a proclamation to the BARBARIANS in the village,…”    

    <Arrian anabasis 3.30.2>

[28]Alexandros observed that his soldiers were exhausted with their constant campaigns. …The hooves of the horses had been worn thin by steady marching. The arms and armour were wearing out, and the Hellenic clothing was quite gone. They had to clothe themselves in materials of the barbarians,…”

(Diodoros of Sicily 17.94.1-2)

[29] Alexander came by the statue of his father and spoke loud: `Youths of the Pellaians and of the Macedonians and of the Hellenic Amphictiony and of the Lakedaimonians and of the Corinthians… and of all the Hellenic peoples, join your fellow-soldiers and entrust yourselves to me, so that we can move against the barbarians and liberate ourselves from the Persian bondage, for AS Hellenes WE should not be slaves to barbarians.” 


< `Pseudo-Kallisthenes’ 1.15.1-4> 




  • [30]“Even though Xerxes had a huge host with him, he was a barbarian and was defeated by the prudence of the Hellenes; whereas Alexander the Hellene has already engaged in 13 battles and has not been defeated once.” 

< `Pseudo-Kallisthenes’ 2.3.4.-5; Oration of Demosthenes> 

  • [31]“And, now, is justly the barbarian praised by the Athenians for capturing Hellenes? As for Alexander who is a Hellene and captured Hellenes, not only did he not imprison his opponents, but enlisted them and made them his allies instead of enemies… “ 

< `Pseudo-Kallisthenes’ 2.4.5; Oration of Demosthenes> 




  • [32]“…so said the military leaders to the camps: `We have made enough war in Persia and conquered Dareios who claimed taxes from the Hellenes, but what are we accomplishing by marching against the Indians, in scary lands and doing things IMPROPER FROM HELLAS? If Alexandros has become full of himself and wishes to be a warrior, and subjugate barbarian peoples why do we follow him? Let him move on alone and engage in wars. Having heard these Alexander separated the Persian host from the MACEDONIANS AND THE OTHER HELLENES and addressed them…” 

(`Pseudo-Kallisthenes’ 3.1.2-4)  



[33]But if thanks are due to the Aetolians for this single service, how highly should we honour the Macedonians, who for the greater part of their lives never cease from fighting with the barbarians for the sake of the security of Greece? For who is not aware that Greece would have constantly stood in the greatest danger, had we not been fenced by the Macedonians and the honourable ambition of their kings?”

(Polybius, Book IX, 35, 2)


  • While wintering in Macedonia Philip spent his time in diligently levying troops for the coming campaign, and in securing his frontiers from attack by the barbarians of the interior.

Polybius [XX,3]




  • Antiochus traversed the worst part of the road in the manner I have described, safely but very slowly and with difficulty, only just reaching the pass of Mount Labus on the eighth day. 2 The barbarians were collected there, convinced that they would prevent the enemy from crossing, and a fierce struggle now took place, in which the barbarians were forced back for the following reason. 3 Formed in a dense mass they fought desperately against the phalanx face to face, but while it was still night the light-armed troops had made a wide detour and occupied the heights in their rear, and the barbarians, the moment they noticed this, were panic-stricken and took to flight. 4 The king made every effort to restrain his men from continuing the pursuit, summoning them back by bugle-call, as he wanted his army to descend into Hyrcania unbroken and in good order.

 Polybius 10.31.2-4


  • Philip, then, is but the nominal pretext of the war; he is in no kind of danger; but as he has for allies most of the Peloponnesians, the Boeotians, the Euboeans, the Phocians, the Locrians, the Thessalians, and Epirots, you made the treaty against them all, the terms being 5 that their persons and personal property should belong to the Romans and their cities and lands to the Aetolians. 6 Did you capture a city yourselves you would not allow yourselves to outrage freemen or to burn their towns, which you regard as a cruel proceeding and barbarous; 7 but have made a treaty by which you have given up to the barbarians the rest of the Greeks to be exposed to atrocious outrage and violence.

Polybius 11.5.6-7

[37]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 4.1.10-11)

*[Its obvious Alexander himself considers Macedonia as part of Greece and all misfortunes against Greeks as his own misfortunes]


[38]]“and he [alexander] demonstrated the strength of his contempt for the barbarians by celebrating games in honour of Aesclepius and Athena.”(Curtius Rufus 3, 7, 3)


[39]He did not want her tainting the character and civilized temperament of the Greeks with this example of barbarian lawlessness


(Curtius Rufus 7.5.36)[40]“Alexander advanced from there to the river Tanais, where Bessus was brought to him, not only in irons but entirely stripped of his clothes. Spitamenes held him with a chain around his neck, a sight that afforded as much pleasure to the barbarians as to the Macedonians.”

(Curtius Rufus 7.5.36)

[41]Meanwhile a group of Macedonians had gone off to forage out of formation and were suprised by some Barbarians who came rushing down on them from the neighbouring mountains.”

(Curtius Rufus 7.6.1)

[42]“Menedemus himself, riding an extremely powerful horse, had repeatedly charged at full gallop into the barbarians’ wedge-shaped contingents, scattering them with great carnage.”

(Curtius Rufus 7.6.35)

[43]”Parmernion he had ordered to extend his column as far as he could towards the sea so as to seperate his line further from the hills held by the barbarians.”

(Curtius Rufus 3.9.10)

[44]To protect Parthiene against a Barbarian incursion, he [Alexander] had left Craterus behind with the troops that were under his command and the contingent led by Amyntas to which were added 600 horse and as many archers. 

(Curtius Rufus 6.4.2)




 [45] The ladder was smashed so that no more Macedonians could join him and the barbarians began to gather inside along the bottom of the wall and to shoot at him from below.


(Plut. 7.63, page 320)

[Clear Dinstiction between the Macedonians and Barbarians]

[46]For example he put to death Menander, one of the Companions because he had been placed in command of a garrison and had refused to remain there, and he shot down with his own hand one the Barbarians named Orsodates who had rebelled against him .(Plut. 7.57, page 314)



[47] Both men were wounded and Limnaeus was killed, but Peucestas stood firm wile Alexander killed the Barbarian with his own hand. But he was wounded over and over again and at last received a blow on the neck from a club which forced him to lean against the wall, although he still faced his assialandts, At ths moment the Macedonians swarmed round him..


(Plut. 7.63, page 321)

[Clear Dinstiction between the Macedonians and Barbarians]

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