Ancient inscription sheds more light to the usage of the term Philhellene

Alexander I (ca. 498 - ca. 454 B.C.), king of Macedon is better known as “Alexander the Philhellene” (Gr: Αλέξανδρος ο Φιλέλλην). A modern misconception which currently exist among a small number of scholars, claims that it would be a contradiction in itself to state that an Hellene could not be called a Philhellene.

Its easy to figure out from the following list of literary sources the erroneous assumption behind this claim:

Example 1
Xenophon, the Spartan Agesilaos general and leader as Philhellene : “It is a honour for a Greek to be friend of the Greeks
Xen.Agesilaus, 7.1)


“Again, if it is honourable in one who is a Hellene to be a friend to the Hellenes , what other general has the world seen unwilling to take a city when he thought that it would be sacked, or who looked on victory in a war against Hellenes as a disaster?”

Example 2

Plato wants the leaders of Greeks to be Philhellenes and not separatists.

(Plato Rep. 5.470e)

And won’t they be philhellenes, lovers of Hellenes, and will they not regard all Hellas as their own and not renounce their part in the holy places common to all Hellenes ?” “Most certainly.” “Will they not then regard any difference with Hellenes

Plato here gives clearly the meaning of the term Phillelene during antiquity.

Example 3

“Greeks, however, we shall say, are still by nature the friends of Greeks when they act in this way [..]”

[Plato, Republic 5.470c]

Example 4

Isocrates called Jason of Pherae and Evagoras of Cyprus, ‘Philhellenes’ and certainly this doesnt mean we should exclude Thessalians and Cypriots from being Greek.

However, putting aside literary sources, we also have an ancient inscription which verifies an Hellene could be at the same time a Philhellene.

In an inscription (IG X.2.1, No. 145,) from Thessalonike (before middle of 3rd century A.D.) we can find someone who is called an Hellene and a Philhellene.®ion=4&subregion=11&bookid=14&caller=search&start=101&end=110

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