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

By Miltiades Elia Bolaris
June 26, 2009

Balkan Illusion - phantasia archaica:

“Daron. This is a name for the ancient Macedonian god of healing. Its etymology is known, and it means “he that gives health.” This means that the name of this god contains the Macedonian noun “dar” (a gift). The names Darun, Dare, Dara and others are present in todays’ Macedonian onomasticon.” From: “Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today’s’ Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)” by Aleksandar Donski, celebrity “historian”-propagandist from FYROM.

Darron / Δάρρων

Doron / Δωρον in Greek means gift. Dora Theon/ Δωρα Θεων means gifts of the Gods. Several names derive from this expression: Theodoros / Θεοδωρος (God’s gift) and Theodora/ Θεοδωρα (God’s gift,in the female form), Dorotheos /Δωροθεος and Dorothea/ Δωροθεα (both meaning: gift of God), but also Diodoros/ Διοδωρος (gift of Zeus) Apollodoros/ Απολλοδωρος (gift of Apollon), Artemidoros/ Αρτεμιδωρος (gift of Artemis), and several others, including Herodotos/ Ηροδοτος (given by Hera, a gift of Hera). The same word for gift exists in the Thracian language, which is distantly related to Greek through the common linguistic Indo-European relationship. In Thracian we have the formation of the names: Bendidōra and Bendidōros, (gift of -Goddess- Bendis). While the Slavs came into the Balkans a thousand years after Philip and Alexander, and they have no relation to the ancient Macedonians, despite the modern Nationalists counter-geographic and anti-historical claims, the languages are all all branches of the Indo-European tree. The word Dar/-dar/dar-/där/дар/gift, to give and also dan/дан, are derived from the OCS (Old Church Slavonic) *darъ, and they have produced some well used Slavic names such as Božidar/Божидар/Bojidar/Bozhidar/God’s gift, and Bogdan/Bohdan/Богдан/given by God. The Slavic words *darъ/dar/gift, to give and dan/дан/gift are cognates of the Latin Dare/to give and of the Greek doron/δώρον/gift. The words “donor” and the verb “to donate” are similarly modern English cognates of all the words mentioned above.

We will prove as we continue with this paper that the Macedonian name Darron/Δάρρων is not a “divine gift”-derived name: it has a completely different etymology and of course it has no -and could never have any- relationship to the proto-Slavic *darъ. It is obvious to anyone with even elementary knowledge of ancient Macedonian history and medieval Slavic history that these two people had never met in History since at the 4th cBC the Macedonians were in Northern Greece and the proto-Slavs in Northern Ukraine. Therefore, nobody serious would ever try to raise such an un-historical claim, unless he was guided by extreme nationalistic motives, which is of course not out of the ordinary for the Balkans. A modern Slavomacedonian from Skopje has as much claim to the ancient Macedonian legacy of Aristotle and Alexander, as a Peruvian Latin American, a descendant of the Incas has to the legacy of the Romans. But, to the Peruvian’s defense, he at least speaks a Latin-derived language, Spanish, while the man in Skopje does not even speak the language of Aristotle and Alexander, Greek. Some claims lead to a dead alley.

It has been assumed (Achileas Samothrakes, Thrakikon Lexikon, ) that Darron is related to, or possibly even is the same deity as Darzalas, a Thracian God, known to us mostly from the Black Sea Greek city of Odessos/ Οδησσος (not the Odessa built by Catherine the Great in Russia/Ukraine, but the original ancient Greek Odessa, in today’s Bulgaria, now called Varna). The Greeks of Odessos accepted the Thracian God Darzalas/ Δαρζάλας, also known as Derzelates/ Δερζελάτης and Derxelates/ Δερξελάτης and incorporated him into their pantheon as their own deity and called him Derdelaxes Theos Megas/ Δερξελάτης Θεος Μεγας/ Derdelaxes Great God. An inscription on a carving from Moesia speaks of a thanks giving to lord Darzalas by a parliamentarian (vouleutes):

IGBulg II 768Thrace and Moesia Inferior

κ]υρίῳ Δαρζαλᾳ̣ Τ̣ούρβων

βου(λευτὴς) ∙ εὐχαριστήριν ἀνέ-

to lord Darzalas, a vouleutes (elected official) of the Tourboi

(dedicated) this thanks giving offering

Like most deities everywhere, Darzalas too has some characteristics of a healing God. Though he definitely has some healing and chthonian (earthy, subterranean) attributes, when we look at his depictions, in coins or marble carvings, we always see him holding a cornucopia, a symbol of land fertility, wealth and plenty. He has been addressed as Θεος Μεγας/Theos Megas, a Great God, which of course makes him much more than simply a specialized minor deity. In some more unusual depictions, he is also shown as a Thracian Hero, the Thracian horseman, cornucopia in hand, where we would expect the Thracian hero to he brandishing a spear, attaching the boar, symbol of agricultural destruction.

On a coin from the Roman empire, we see Darzalas the Great God in a depiction almost identical to the Greco-Egyptian god Serapis with a kalathos/καλαθος (basket) headgear on his head. Most interestingly, the place to his right is taken by Tyche/Τυχη/Fortune, goddess of good fortune and luck, holding Darzalas’ (and Serapis’) trademark, the cornucopia. Darzalas, in other words, being a Great God/Theos Megas, has taken over more and more attributes, but he is primarily identified with plenty, wealth, fertility and fortune, in a typical for that era mix of Greek, Thracian and Egyptian religious syncretism.

On an Odessan commemorative coin of the Roman times, we read the imperial name “Augustus Antoninus Gordianus” written in Greek. The emperor is to the left facing a Serapis looking Darzalas with kalathos on his head and cornucopia next to him. On the reverse side we have a basket of plenty with the inscription Darzaleia/ Δαρζαλεια, a reference to the annual festival games in honor of the Great God Darzalas.

Given the above, a direct connection between Darron and Darzalas, despite the phonetic similarity, seems very sketchy at best, if not outright improbable.

Looking into the Thracian onomastics we do find some Thracian names starting with Dar- / Δαρ-. On an inscription from Moesia Inferior, we read the name: Daros / Δαρος:

IGBulg III,1 1108

Thrace and Moesia Inferior

Ἥρωι] Ζ̣υδεηνῳ Δαρος

— — — — —]τραλεος

to Hero Zydeenos Daros

son of ……….tralis

In far away Egypt where a sizable Hellenized Thracian community has been documented during the Hellenistic period of the Ptolemaic dynasty, we find the Hellenised Thracian name Darsideus / Δαρσίδευς.

Egypt, Nubia and Cyrenaïca

SB 1:2162

Egypt and Nubia

Δαρσίδευς Ἀγριανίου.

Darsideus son of Agrianios

In the 5th century BC Herodotus speaks of a Thracian tribe between Strymon and Nestos, called Dersaeoi / Δερσαι̂οι:

ταύτας μὲν δὴ τὰς πόλιας τὰς παραθαλασσίας τε καὶ ̔Ελληνιδας ἐξ εὐωνύμου χειρὸς ἀπέργων παρεξήιε: ἔθνεα δὲ Θρηίκων δι’ ὡ̂ν τη̂ς χώρης ὁδὸν ἐποιέετο τοσάδε, Παι̂τοι Κίκονες Βίστονες Σαπαι̂οι Δερσαι̂οι ̓ Ηδωνοὶ Σατραι. τούτων οἱ μὲν παρὰ θάλασσαν κατοικημένοι ἐν τῃ̂σι νηυσὶ εἵποντο: οἱ δὲ αὐτω̂ν τὴν μεσόγαιαν οἰκέοντες καταλεχθέντες τε ὑπ’ ἐμευ̂, πλὴν Σατρέων, οἱ ἄλλοι πάντες πεζη ἀναγκαζόμενοι εἵποντο.

Xerxes marched past these Greek cities of the coast, keeping them on his left. The Thracian tribes through whose lands he journeyed were the Paetoi, Cicones, Bistones, Sapaeoi, Dersaeoi/Δερσαίοι, Edonoi, and Satrae. Of these, the ones who dwelt by the sea followed his army on shipboard; the ones living inland, whose names I have recorded, were forced to join with his land army, all of them except the Satrae.

Ηροδοτου Ιστοριαι ζ’ 110/Herodotus vii 110 (transl. A. D. Godley)

We also have coins called Derronikon / Δερρωνικον from a tribe in a land close to the Bisaltai / Βισαλται called Derrones Δερρονες, though a high probability exists that they are the same tribe as the Dersaioi.

To the ones who claim that that Darron owes his name to this Thracian tribe’s ethnic name, George Chatzidakis (Γεώργιος Χατζηδακης, 1848-1941, Η γλώσσα των Μακεδόνων), the father of Greek linguistics, gives a very convincing argument: A God was always given a name based on his attributes Zeus Xenios/Ζευς Ξενιος/Zeus protector of the foreigners, Apollon Argyrotoxos/Απολλων Αργυροτοξος/Apollon with the silver bow, Artemis Agrotera / Αρτεμις Αγροτερα/Artemis of the fields, Athena Παρθενος/Αθηνα Παρθενος/Athena the virgin. Alternatively they would get a name of a place Zeus Dodonaios/Ζευς Δοδωναιος Apollon Delios/Απολλων Δηλιος/Apollon of Delos, Artemis Ephesia/Αρτεμις Εφεσια/Artemis of Ephesos, etc. We never see a deity being called a national name, something like Apollon Trivalos (of the Tribaloi) or Zeus Odomantos (of the Odomantes) or Athena Illyria of the Illyrians): It simply never happened.

Looking for the meaning of Dar- in the Thracian language, we are surprised to find out that this is one of the very few Thracian words that has been deciphered in this extinct language with fairly solid accuracy. In “The Language of the Thracians”, Bulgarian linguist Ivan Duridanov gives us a very convincing explanation:

“Dársioi (Hekataios in Steph. Byz.), Dersáioi (Hdt., Thuk.), the neighbours of the Spaei and Edoni in Aegean Thracia. The name is related to the Old-Pruss. personal names Dersko, Dirse, the Lith. place name Darsikikáimas, which are explained from the Old-Pruss. dyrsos gyntos ´able, brave men´, similar to the Old-Ind. dhrsnú- ´brave, audacious, bold´, the Avest. dar vyu- ´brave, strong´, the Greek thrasys ´brave´, the Goth. ga-dars ´to dare´. The Thracian Darsioi, Dersaioi originated form the IE *dhorso- (resp. *dherso-).”

Under his Thracian vocabulary we read: “darsas (dersas) ´brave, courageous´ [Old-Pruss. dyrsos (pl.) ´able, brave´, Avest. dar yu- ´brave, strong´].”

This can explain why we find personal masculine names with such a positive personal attribute, especially in such a warrior society which the Thracians were. And we can see why a belligerent tribe would want to call itself Dársioi, “the brave ones”.

For the Macedonians, on the other hand, one of their most beloved Gods, along with Dionyssos, heracles, Apollon and Artemis was Aclepios/Ἀσκληπιός, the one whom the Romans later adopted under the name Aesculapius. Asclepios was originally, most probably, a deified hero. His beginnings are royal and very humble at the same time. He is the son of Koronis/Κορωνίς, a princess from Trike/ Τρικη (today’s Trikala / Tρικαλα), in Thessaly/Θεσσαλια, and Apollo Smintheus/Απολλων Σμινθευς (god [destroyer] of mice). Korinis gave birth to him in the land of the Epidaurians and the greatest of all Asclepeia/Ἀσκληπεία sanctuaries was established there. Let us follow the story in Pausanias:

“[4] ὅτε δὲ παρεγένετο ἐς Πελοπόννησον, εἵπετο ἡ θυγάτηρ αὐτῳ̂, λεληθυι̂α ἔτι τὸν πατέρα ὅτι ἐξ Απόλλωνος εἰ̂χεν ἐν γαστρί. ὡς δὲ ἐν τῃ̂ γῃ̂ τῃ̂ Επιδαυρίων ἔτεκεν, ἐκτίθησι τὸν παι̂δα ἐς τὸ ὄρος του̂το ὃ δὴ Τίτθιον ὀνομάζουσιν ἐφ’ ἡμω̂ν, τηνικαυ̂τα δὲ ἐκαλει̂το Μύρτιον: ἐκκειμένῳ δὲ ἐδίδου μέν οἱ γάλα μία τω̂ν περὶ τὸ ὄρος ποιμαινομένων αἰγω̂ν, ἐφύλασσε δὲ ὁ κύων ὁ του̂ αἰπολίου φρουρός. [5] ̓Αρεσνας δὲ-ὄνομα γὰρ τῳ̂ ποιμένι του̂το ἠ̂ν-ὡς τὸν ἀριθμὸν οὐχ εὕρισκεν ὁμολογου̂ντα τω̂ν αἰγω̂ν καὶ ὁ κύων ἅμα ἀπεστάτει τη̂ς ποίμνης, οὕτω τὸν Αρεσθάναν ἐς πα̂ν φασιν ἀφικνει̂σθαι ζητήσεως, εὑρόντα δὲ ἐπιθυμη̂σαι τὸν παι̂δα ἀνελέσθαι: καὶ ὡς ἐγγὺς ἐγίνετο, ἀστραπὴν ἰδει̂ν ἐκλάμψασαν ἀπὸ του̂ παιδός, νομίσαντα δὲ εἰ̂ναι θει̂όν τι, ὥσπερ ἠ̂ν, ἀποτραπέσθαι. ὁ δὲ αὐτίκα ἐπὶ γη̂ν καὶ θάλασσαν πα̂σαν ἠγγέλλετο τά τε ἄλλα ὁπόσα βούλοιτο εὑρίσκειν ἐπὶ τοι̂ς κάμνουσι καὶ ὅτι ἀνίστησι τεθνεω̂τας. [6] λέγεται δὲ καὶ ἄλλος ἐπ’ αὐτῳ̂ λόγος, Κορωνίδα κύουσαν Ασκληπιὸν ̓́Ισχυι τῳ̂ Ελάτου συγγενέσθαι, καὶ τὴν μὲν ἀποθανει̂ν ὑπὸ Αρτέμιδος ἀμυνομένης τη̂ς ἐς τὸν Απόλλωνα ὕβρεως, ἐξημμένης δὲ ἤδη τη̂ς πυρα̂ς ἁρπάσαι λέγεται τὸν παι̂δα ̔Ερμη̂ς ἀπὸ τη̂ς φλογός.”

“[2.26.4] When he went to the Peloponnesus, he was accompanied by his daughter, who all along had kept hidden from her father that she was with child by Apollo. In the country of the Epidaurians she bore a son, and exposed him on the mountain called Nipple at the present day, but then named Myrtium. As the child lay exposed he was given milk by one of the goats that pastured about the mountain, and was guarded by the watch-dog of the herd. And when Aresthanas (for this was the herdsman’s name) [2.26.5] discovered that the tale of the goats was not full, and that the watch-dog also was absent from the herd, he left, they say, no stone unturned, and on finding the child desired to take him up. As he drew near he saw lightning that flashed from the child, and, thinking that it was something divine, as in fact it was, he turned away. Presently it was reported over every land and sea that Asclepius was discovering everything he wished to heal the sick, and that he was raising dead men to life. [2.26.6] There is also another tradition concerning him. Coronis, they say, when with child with Asclepius, had intercourse with Ischys, son of Elatus. She was killed by Artemis to punish her for the insult done to Apollo, but when the pyre was already lighted Hermes is said to have snatched the child from the flames.

Παυσανιας, Περιηγησεις, Αργολις, 26.4-6 / Pausanias, Bοοκ 2 ARGOLIS 26.4-6

We see a connection with herds and herding dogs, and the dog is indeed almost as much part of his worship as the snake. Sacred dogs were used to lick the wounds of patients who came to the Asclepeia for curing. The dog was also used in cathartic rituals to cleanse the Macedonian army. A dog was split in half and the army had to march through the two hanging separate parts of the sacrificed dog’s body.

The snake is both a chthonian/χθονιον (subterranean, of the earth) symbol, as well as a symbol of birth and resurrection. Snakes change their outer skin annually, shedding their old skin after winter, and this did not escape the notice of the farmer who saw in this a symbolism of immortality, a rebirth out of its old shelf, something of the same cycle as in his own agricultural experience: nature rarely dies with finality, it only rests in winter only to reappear forceful and invigorated and full of youth in the spring.

But there is another aspect of the snake, that of a mice destroyer. Snake and mouse live in the ground, yet one is destructive to agriculture while the other by default an ally of the farmer, eating the destructive forces of his field.

Asclepios is the son of Apollo and one of the most primitive attributes of the sun god is being Apollon Smintheus / Απολλων Σμινθευς the “mice exterminating” Apollo.

The first mention of Apollo Smintheusis found in Homer’s Ilias I, 39. The beginning of the Ilias describes how Apollo strikes the Argives with a plague because Agamemnon has raped Chrysis, the daughter of Apollo’s priest Chryses, and has thus humiliated his priest.

ὡDς ἔφατ, ἔδεισεν δ’ ὃ γέρων καὶ ἐπείθετο μύθῳ:

βη̂ δ’ ἀκέων παρὰ θι̂να πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης

πολλὰ δ’ ἔπειτ’ ἀπάνευθε κιὼν ἠρα̂θ’ ὃ γεραιὸς

̓Απόλλωνι ἄνακτι, τὸν ἠύ̈κομος τέκε Λητώ:

κλυ̂θί μευ ἀργυρότοξ’, ὃς Χρύσην ἀμφιβέβηκας

Κίλλάν τε ζαθέην Τενέδοιο τε ἰ̂φι ἀνάσσεις,

Σμινθευ ̂ ε ἴ ποτε τοι χαρίεντ’ ἐπι νηὸν ἔρεψα

ἢ εἰ δή ποτέ τοι κατὰ πίονα μηρί’ ἔκηα

ταύρων ἠδ αἰγω̂ν, τὸ δέ μοι κρήηνον ἐέλδωρ:

τίσειαν Δαναοὶ ἐμὰ δάκρυα σοι̂σι βέλεσσιν.

ὣς ἔφατ’ εὐχόμενος, του δ’ ἔκλυε Φοι̂βος Απόλλων,

βη̂ δὲ κατ’ Οὐλύμποιο καρήνων χωόμενος κη̂ρ

τόξ’ ὤμοισιν ἔχων ἀμφηρεφέα τε φαρέτρην:

ἔκλαγξαν δ’ ἄρ’ ὀϊστοὶ ἐπ’ ὤμων χωομένοιο,

αὐτου κινηθέντος: ὃ δ’ ἤϊε νυκτὶ ἐοικώς.

ἕζετ’ ἔπειτ’ ἀπάνευθε νεω̂ν μετὰ δ’ ἰὸν ἕηκε:

δεινὴ δὲ κλαγγὴ γένετ’ ἀργυρέοιο βιοι̂ο:Text Box: 50

οὐρη̂ας μὲν πρω̂τον ἐπῴχετο καὶ κύνας ἀργούς,

αὐτὰρ ἔπειτ’ αὐτοι̂σι βέλος ἐχεπευκὲς ἐφιεὶς

βάλλ’: αἰεὶ δὲ πυραὶ νεκύων καίοντο θαμειαί.

ἐννη̂μαρ μὲν ἀνὰ στρατὸν ᾤχετο κη̂λα θεοι̂ο,

τῃ̂ δεκάτῃ δ’ ἀγορὴν δὲ καλέσσατο λαὸν Αχιλλεύς:Text Box: 55

τῳ̂ γὰρ ἐπὶ φρεσὶ θη̂κε θεὰ λευκώλενος ̔́Ηρη:

κήδετο γὰρ Δαναω̂ν, ὅτι ῥα θνήσκοντας ὁρα̂το.

οἳ δ’ ἐπεὶ οὐ̂ν ἤγερθεν ὁμηγερέες τε γένοντο,

τοι̂σι δ’ ἀνιστάμενος μετέφη πόδας ὠκὺς ̓Αχιλλεύς:

Ατρεί̈δη νυ̂ν ἄμμε παλιμπλαγχθέντας ὀί̈ω

ἂψ ἀπονοστήσειν, εἴ κεν θάνατόν γε φύγοιμεν,

εἰ δὴ ὁμου̂ πόλεμός τε δαμᾳ̂ καὶ λοιμὸ Αχαιούς:

ἀλλ’ ἄγε δή τινα μάντιν ἐρείομεν ἢ ἱερη̂α

ἢ καὶ ὀνειροπόλον, καὶ γάρ τ’ ὄναρ ἐκ Διός ἐστιν,

ὅς κ’ εἴποι ὅ τι τόσσον ἐχώσατο Φοι̂βος Απόλλων,Text Box: 65

εἴτ’ ἄρ’ ὅ γ’ εὐχωλη̂ς ἐπιμέμφεται ἠδ’ ἑκατόμβης

αἴ κέν πως ἀρνω̂ν κνίσης αἰγω̂ν τε τελείων

βούλεται ἀντιάσας ἡμι̂ν ἀπὸλοιγὸν ἀμυ̂ναι.

So he spoke, and the old man was seized with fear and obeyed his word. He went forth in silence along the shore of the loud-resounding sea, and earnestly then, when he had gone apart, the old man prayed [35] to the lord Apollo, whom fair-haired Leto bore: Hear me, god of the silver bow, who stand over Chryse and holy Cilla, and rule mightily over Tenedos, Sminthian god, if ever I roofed over a temple to your pleasing, or if ever I burned to you fat thigh-pieces of bulls and goats, [40] fulfill this prayer for me: let the Danaans pay for my tears by your arrows So he spoke in prayer, and Phoebus Apollo heard him. Down from the peaks of Olympus he strode, angered at heart, bearing on his shoulders his bow and covered quiver. [45] The arrows rattled on the shoulders of the angry god as he moved, and his coming was like the night. Then he sat down apart from the ships and let fly an arrow: terrible was the twang of the silver bow. The mules he assailed first and the swift dogs, [50] but then on the men themselves he let fly his stinging shafts, and struck; and constantly the pyres of the dead burned thick. For nine days the missiles of the god ranged among the host, but on the tenth Achilles called the people to assembly, for the goddess, white-armed Hera, had put it in his heart, [55] since she pitied the Danaeans, when she saw them dying. When they were assembled and gathered together, among them arose and spoke swift-footed Achilles: Son of Atreus, now I think we shall return home, beaten back again, should we even escape death, [60] if war and pestilence alike are to ravage the Achaeans. But come, let us ask some seer or priest, or some reader of dreams-for a dream too is from Zeus-who might say why Phoebus Apollo is so angry, whether he finds fault with a vow or a hecatomb; [65] in hope that he may accept the savour of lambs and unblemished goats, and be willing to ward off the pestilence from us.

Ομηρου Ιλιας, Ραψωδια Α’ 39-65 / Homer’s Iliad, Rhapsody I, 33-65

We see that Homer and his contemporaries were very much aware of the connection between mice and the outbreak of plague. Apollon Smintheus is the protector, against pestilence but he can cause it too, like any other avenging God, if you get on his wrong side. Apollon’s healing nature was one of his most beloved attributes. The renowned temple of Apollon at Bassae was built by the Phigaleians for having saved their city from a devastating plague.

Asclepios became a healer having learned the medicinal arts training next to the healer centaur Cheiron/Χειρων. He practiced medicine and healing going as far as resurrecting people from death.

Being Apollon’s son, Asclepios takes some of his father’s attributes. One of the possible, yet not proven, etymologies of Asklepios is coming from Aspalax/Ασπαλαξ, the mole. If this is true, it would make him very much a chthonian God. He is in fact coming in mortal conflict with the greatest of the chthonian Gods, Pluto/Pluto/Πλουτων who is enraged that Asclepios is treading into his underground abode by resurrecting people who have died. Life can win over death, only as a repetition of well conforming resurrections, following precise cycles that define human experience. The father can live through the genes of the child he has begotten, and life continues in this way, but the father has to die. The parent plant lives through its own seed and it comes back in spring, as a new child-plant which in turn also dies in the summer, having given its fruits, its children, the seeds. Death is part of the cycle of life, in human life, in animal life and subsequently in animal herding, and also in agriculture. Life continues with the new, the invigorated, the young. Death is eventually unavoidable for the old and unproductive. Asclepios can only help so much, but he himself has been killed by Artemis, on orders of Zeus to appease Zeus’ chthonian brother Pluton, the ultimate lord of the underworld, Hades.

Not unlike Dionyssos, Asclepios’ retinue included many male and female deities. His wife was Epione/Ηπιονη. Ηe had five daughters Akeso/Ακησω, Iaso/Ιασω, Panaceia/Πανακεια, Aglaeia/Αγλαεια, Hygeia/Υγεια, and three sons: Machaon/Μαχαων, Telesphoros/Τελεσφορος and Podalirios/Ποδαλιριος. But he also had various health related minor demons following him, like Eurostos/Eὐρωστος, Euamerion/Ευαμερἰων, Alexanor/Αλεξἀνωρ, Akesis/Ἀκεσις and Telesphoros/Τελεσφὀρος.

His worship was truly wide spread, throuout the Greek world, and later on, the Roman world too. Asclepeia were the hospitals of the ancient world. The patients were instructed to sleep and to relate their dreams to a priest of Asclepios the next morning. The priest then prescribed the type of treatment that he thought would cure the patient, and that included a specific course of diet, rest, bathing, and cleansing inside and out with clean water. A course of exercise was prescribed once the patient was able to follow it. On special occasions surgery was performed and chiropractic readjustments were not out of the ordinary.

Starting with the 5th century and especially after the 3rd century BC Asclepeia became wide spread and very popular. Philip II of Macedonia raised the priests of Asclepios into Eponymous Archons/Επωνυμος Αρχων in all the Macedonian cities. Most if not all Macedonian cities had an Asclepiad tribe/Aσκληπιας φυλη.

Two inscriptions from Thessaloniki speak of the Asclepiad tribe:

IG X,2 1 183, Macedonia : Mygdonia: Thessalonike

ἀρετῆς ἕνεκεν

φυλὴ Ἀσκλη-


Honoring (his) virtue

The Asclepias tribe (dedicated)


IG X,2 1 265, Macedonia : Mygdonia: Thessalonike

φυλὴ Ἀ[σ]κληπιά[ς].

The Asclepias tribe

Another inscription is from Heracleia Lyncestis. Heracleia Lyncestis/Ἠράκλεια Λυγκηστίς Happens to be the only major ancient Macedonian city that is now part of the Balkan republic that actively seeks to be recognized with and claims the name Macedonia. The inscription reads:

IG X,2 2 112, Macedonia : Lynkestis: Herakleia

τῆς Ἀσκληπιάδος·

Of the Asclepiad (tribe)

Another inscription is from Heracleia reads:

IG X,2 2 112

Macedonia : Lynkestis: Herakleia

τῆς Ἀσκληπιάδος·

of the Asclepiad (tribe)

Incidentally, The best inbsciption is the one of which I took myself a photograph, in the ancient Greek theater of Heracleia:


It is written with 30cm high capital letters on the first rows of the theater, and it indicates the division of the theater seating into the four tribes of Heracleia. The ofher inscription are of the Heracleiad tribe and the Dionysian tribe. If my memory does not fail me, the fourth tribe was named after Artyemis, Artemisias Phyle.

Two inscriptions from Thessaloniki speak of the Asclepiad tribe:

IG X,2 1 183, Macedonia : Mygdonia: Thessalonike

ἀρετῆς ἕνεκεν

φυλὴ Ἀσκλη-


Due to (his) virtue

The Asclepias tribe (dedicated)


IG X,2 1 265

Macedonia : Mygdonia: Thessalonike

φυλὴ Ἀ[σ]κληπιά[ς].

Asclepias tribe

In the Macedonian city of Philippoi we find on an inscription proof of a great festival in honor of Asclepios:

BCH 59 (1935) 140,41, Macedonia : Edonis: Philippoi

τῶν μεγάλων


of the Great


The city of Philippoi goes a step further and its city council actually votes for a decree to be sent to the Great Asclepeion of the island of Cos (where Hippocrates the famous doctor who established the scientific understanding of illnesses and put rules on the practice of medicine was from), respecting that sanctuary as a sacred asylum, essentially creating a fraternal bond between the two cities. Basileus / King Antigonos / Αντιγονος is actually mentioned as an overseer who accepts this decree by the city council of one of his cities:

Meletemata 22, Epig. App. 36, Macedonia : Edonis: Philippoi

ἱερῶν· ὑπὲρ τῆς ἐκ Κῶ θεωρίας. γνώμη τῆς ἐκλησίας· ἐπειδὴ ἡ πόλις ἡ Κώιων κατὰ

τὰ πάτρια καὶ κατὰ τὴμ μαντείαν τὸ ἱερὸν τοῦ Ἀσκληπιοῦ ἀπέσταλκεν ἀρχιθέωρον Ἀριστόλοχον Ζμένδρωνος καὶ θεωρὸν μετ´ αὐτοῦ Μακαρέα Ἀράτου ἐπαγγέλλοντας τήν τε θυσίαν τῶι Ἀσκληπιῶι καὶ τὴν ἐκεχειρίαν, οἵτινες ἐπελθόντες ἐπὶ τὴν ἐκλησίαν τὴν οἰκειότητα τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν τῆι πόλει τῆι Κώιων

τὸ ἱερὸν ἄσυλον εἶναι, ἀγαθῆι τύχηι δεδόχθαι τῆι ἐκλησίαι δέχεσθαι τὴμ πόλιν

τήν τε ἐπαγγελίαν τὴν τῶν Ἀσκληπιείων τῶν ἐν Κῶι καὶ τὴν ἐκεχειρίαν, κα-

θάπερ ἐπαγγέλλουσιν οἱ θεωρ[οί], ἐπαινέσαι ὲ καὶ τὴμ πόλιν τὴν Κώιων ἐπὶ ταῖς

γονον καὶ τὴμ πόλιν τὴν Φιλίππων καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους Ἕλληνας καὶ Μακεδόνας, δοῦ-

ναι δὲ καὶ τὸ ἱερὸν τοῦ Ἀσκληπιοῦ τὸ ἐν Κῶι ἄσυλον, καθάπερ καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἀντίγο-

νος προαιρεῖται, δοῦναι δὲ τὸν ταμίαν τοῖς θεωροῖς ὑπὲρ τῆς πόλεως εἰς ξένια

Not to be outdone, another Macedonian city, Amphipolis, not far from Philippoi, brings forward and votes on a similar decree, granting an asylum status to the same Asclepeion of Cos, because of its euneian / εὔνοιαν (good will) that the Asclepeion of Cos has shown towards tom Basilea Antigonon / τὸμ βασιλέα Ἀντίγονον / King Antigonos, kai pros tous Makedonas / καὶ πρὸς Μακεδόνας / and towards the Macedonians:

Meletemata 22, Epig. App. 41, Macedonia : Edonis: Amphipolis

δόνας καὶ τὴν εὔνοιαν ἐνεφάνιζον, ἣν ἔχουσα διατελεῖ ἡ πόλις πρός τε

τὸμ βασιλέα Ἀντίγονον καὶ πρὸς Μακεδόνας, ἐπηγγέλλοσαν δὲ καὶ τὰ Ἀσκλη-

πίεια τὰ γεινόμενα παρ´ αὐτοῖς καὶ τὴν ἐκεχειρίαν καὶ ἠξίουν τὸ ἱερὸν τοῦ Ἀσ-

κληπιοῦ τὸ ἐν Κῶι ἄσυλον εἶναι, δεδόχθαι τῆι πόλει τῆι Ἀμφιπολιτῶν τήν τε

ἐπαγγελίαν τῶν Ἀσκληπιείων καὶ τὴν ἐκεχειρίαν προσδέξασθαι καὶ ἐπαι-

νέσαι αὐτοὺς ἐπί τε ταῖς τιμαῖς, αἷς συντελοῦσι τοῖς θεοῖς, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆι εὐ-

The city of Cassandreia in Chalkidice follows with an similar decree, reminding us that it is all according to basileos boulesin/ βασιλέως βούλησιν/the kings wishes:

Meletemata 22, Epig. App. 47, Macedonia : Chalkidike: Poteidaia-Kassandreia οἱ στρατηγοὶ καὶ οἱ νομοφύλακες εἶπαν· ἐπειδ{δ}ὴ παραγεγένηνται θεωροὶ παρὰ τῆς Κώιων πόλεως ἐπαγγέλλοντες τὰ Ἀσκληπίεια……..καὶ τὴν Κασσανδρέων πόλιν καὶ πρὸς τοὺς λοιποὺς Μακεδόνας……τὴν ἐκεχειρίαν καὶ εἶναι τὸ ἱερὸν τοῦ Ἀσκληπιοῦ ἄσυλον κατὰ τὴν τοῦ βασιλέως βούλησιν, ἐπαινέσαι δὲ τὴμ πόλιν τῶν Κώιων

Refusing to be left out of this pan-Asclepeian good will alliance, the Pellaians during the term of the priest Asclepiodoros put forward their own decree, but now it is the capital city of the Macedonians, the decree includes mention of Antigonon kai pros Pellaious kai ten loipen choran ten Makedonon/Ἀντίγονον καὶ πρὸς Πελλαίους καὶ τὴν λοιπὴν χώραν τὴν Μακεδόνων/to Antigonos and the Pellaians and to the rest of the country of the Macedonians. It mentions tous agonas/τοὺς ἀγῶνας/the (gymnastic) games, tous en te panegyrei esomenous/τοὺς ἐν τῆι πανηγύρει ἐσομένους / the ones taking place during the religious festivals, and end up like the decrees of the other cities conferring asylum status to the Asclepeion of Cos and the armistice between the two cities.

Meletemata 22, Epig. App. 58

Macedonia : Bottiaia: Pella


ἐφ´ ἱερέως Ἀσκληπιοδώρου, Γορπιαίου. ἐπεὶ παραγενόμενος ἐκ Κῶ ἀρχιθέω-

ρος Ἀριστόλοχος Ζμένδρωνος καὶ θεωρὸς Μακαρεὺς Ἀράτου τήν τε οἰκειό-

Ἀντίγονον καὶ πρὸς Πελλαίους καὶ τὴν λοιπὴν χώραν τὴν Μακεδόνων, καὶ ἐ-

πηγγέλλοσαν τὰ Ἀσκληπίεια τὰ γεινόμενα παρ´ αὐτοῖς καὶ τοὺς ἀγῶνας

τοὺς ἐν τῆι πανηγύρει ἐσομένους καὶ τὴν ἐκεχειρίαν, ἠξίουσαν δὲ καὶ τὸ [ἱ]-

ερὸν τοῦ Ἀσκληπιοῦ τὸ ἐν Κῶι ἄσυλον εἶναι, ἔδοξε τῆι πόλει τήν τε ἐπαγγ[ε]-

λίαν τῶν Ἀσκληπιείων τὴν παρὰ Κώιων καὶ τὴν ἐκεχειρίαν προσδέξασθαι

καὶ ἐπαινέσαι αὐτοὺς ἐπί τε ταῖς τιμαῖς, αἷς συντελοῦσι τοῖς θεοῖς, καὶ

From Pella, the capital of Macedonia come several other dedicative inscriptions to Asclepios.

SEG 39:619, Macedonia : Bottiaia: Pella

Ἀσκληπι[ῶι καὶ Ὑγιείαι]

Ἀναξίδοτος [τοῦ δεῖνος]

to Asclepios and Hygeia

Anaxidotos [son of…]

CIG 1997, Macedonia : Bottiaia: Pella:

Ἡρακλίδης Ἀσκληπιά-

δου ἱερεὺς τῆς θεοῦ

Heraclides son of Asclepiades

priest of the God’s…

We know that there were numerous Asclepeia in Macedonia. Thessaloniki, Berrhoia, Dion, Morrylos, Philippoi, Amphipolis, and of course Pella. The Pella Asclepeion was an urban sanctuary, like that of Athens, it was spacious and could accommodate a lot more than the usual amount of sick patients on a normal day. But it also had spacious gardens and open spaces to accommodate the multitudes of pilgrims descending on the sanctuary on the days of the Panygyreis, the annual Great Asclepeia festivals. The Asclepeion of Pella was in the south side of the city, on a location blessed with plenty of clean spring water. It had all the characteristic elements that we encounter in sanctuaries to Gods of Healing and therapy, throughout the Greek world, the Asclepeia: plenty of fresh water, necessary for healing for its cathartic and therapeutic properties, a temple with atria and open spaces for special gatherings.

It is in this place that the only inscription with the name Darron / Δαρρων has been found. It is the famous Amphipolis stele, named after the woman who dedicated it to Darron:

(IGX)SEG 44, Macedonia : Bottiaia: Pella ca. 200-150 BC

Ἀ]μφίπολις Δάρρωνι εὐξαμένηἐπηκόωι.

Amphipolis to Darron wishing that he will be listening

Was Darron an independent deity or simply another name, an epithet for Asclepios? We saw that there is a wealth of epigraphic documentation for Asclepios, his temples, his sanctuaries, the Asclepeia, the naming of one of the city tribes in Heracleia Lynkestis and Thessaloniki (probably in most if not all the other macedonian cities too). We know of the priests of Asclepios being named eponymous archons of their respective cities, after Phillip II. We have found the various Asclepeia and the numerous statues of Asclepios and the dedicative and thanks giving inscriptions to Asclepios throughout Macedonia. For Darron, besides the scant reference in the literary record as being a macedonian healer deity, the only inscription surviving in the epigraphic record is the Amphipolis stele, of Pella, shown in the previous page. Weighing the above facts, I think it is concussive that we should accept that Darron could be one of the following:

a. An local healer demon that remained in the shadows of Asclepios and his more advanced and sophisticated mythology.

b. An independent healer demon that was soon absorbed into the forceful and more organized (Asclepeia, Panygyreis - festivals, result oriented cures, etc) worship of Asclepios.

c. An epithet for Asclepios.

It could be any of the above, or even after a certain point all of the above, but it is probably “b”: while Darron was most probably initially an independent deity, deriving from a hero cult, as it so often happened, his worship was later fused with that of the newcomer God, Asclepios, and his identity was eventually absorbed by him. Old traditions die hard, and more often than not they simply adapt, as it happened with the old religion of the Greeks and the Romans which today survives in monotheistic Christianity under the guise of multiple saints-protectors. Poseidon survives to date for the Greek sailors under the name St. Nicholas, and Apollon/Helios is now identified with Prophet Elias, whose chapels are always built on the high mountain peaks, to catch the sun, while Athena is still the tender protector of the ones in need as Mary-Panagia, Madona for the Italians. Eileitheia is no more, but her duties are now fulfilled by St. Eleutherios, protector of pregnant women. The Thracian Ippeas, the horseman is no more, but his cult now survives in the adoration of St. Demetrios, the equestrian saint-protector of Thessalonica, especially popular throughout Macedonia and Thrace, including Bulgaria. Darron, most probably had the same fate, though his name survived and became incorporated into the cult of Asclepios.

“Darron: A demon, to whom they wish in favor of the sick”. Not a Great God, for whom the Great Asclepeia festivals were held, Not a Megas Theos, like Darzalas of the Black Sea city of Odessa, not even a God, but simply a demon, a lower deity. The Asclepeion of Pella is called Darron’s sanctuary, but while Darron might have held a warm part of a traditional Macedonian woman’s heart, it is still true that the Asclepeion was dedicated to Asclepios and his priest was the annual eponymous archon of the city of Pella.

Let us now look at Darron/Δαρρων from the linguistics point of view.

The linguist Georgios Chatzidakis/Γεωργιος Χατζιδακις (1848-1941), the patriarch of Hellenic Linguistics and a student of the ancient Greek language in all its dialectical forms, in his “Kai palin peri tis Hellenikothtos ton Archaion Makedonon” gave us some tools to understand the dialectical uniqueness of the Macedonian dialect that distinguish it from other Greek dialects of the age.

Chatzidakis explaind that, as a rule, the heavier Indo-European bh, dh, gh changed in Greek into the softer ph, th, kh. Subsequently, in most Greek dialects, from these (ph, th, kh) the even softer φ,θ,χ were eventually derived. In the Macedonian dialect these same ph, th and kh became β,δ and γ.

Φ in Macedonian changed into Β : Bhilippos = Philippos = Φιλιππος and then in Macedonian dialect: Βιλιππος. Bherenike = Pherenike = Φερενικη and then in Macedonian Bερενικη.

Θ in Macedonian changed into Δ : The Macedonian month Dystros/Δυστρος as derived from Dysthla/Δυσθλα through the intermediate change into Dystra/Δυστρα. Thelo/Θελω (Ι want) changed into Delo/Δελω, and (tha) eltho/(θα) ελθω (Ι will come) in the Macedonian dialect became (tha) eldomai/(θα) ελδομαι (Megalon Etymologikon, as shown in A. Panagiotou: “E glossa ton Epigraphon tes Makedonias”)

Χ in Macedonian was pronouncedf as Γ : ο Charax / ο Χαραξ (Charakas/Χαρακας) and ton Charakan/τον Χαρακαν changed into:

o Gar(a)kas/ο Γαρ(α)κας and τον Gar(a)kan/τον Γαρ(α)καν.

Chatzidakis reminds us that the Macedonians would change the “rs/ρσ” sound into a double “rr / ρρ”. But he reminds us that the same holds true for the Athenians in Attic, the Theraians, the Arcadians, and others. We need to mention the Cypriots, too, whose dialect is related to the Arcadian and was actually called Arcado-Cyprian.

Keeping these two characteristics of the Macedonian dialect in mind (Θ pronounced as Δ (something that the ancient Greek themselves noted numerous times, 2,200 years before the advent of modern linguistics, and “rs / ρσ sound into a double “rr / ρρ”) we can now easily understand how it was linguistically possible to go from the original Indo-European root word *dhers- whose meaning (as we already saw in Thracian) was “to be bold, to venture, to be brave”, through its transformation into the common Greek Thαρσεω then to Θαρσεω (Τh to Θ). Θαρσεω in turn further develops dialectically either to the Lesbian Θερσεω, or to the Attic Θαρρεω and Θαρρω or to the Macedonian Δαρρεω and Δαρρω.

Θαρρῶν and Δάρρων are, therefore, equivalent. The original meaning has hardly changed from the Indo-European root word through ancient to modern Greek, and a similar meaning was independently attested in the Thracian language, as we saw earlier in this paper. The words Tharros/Θαρρος/bravery, boldness, courage and Tharraleos/Θαρραλεος/Brave, courageous are used commonly as are the words Thrasos/Θρασος / audacity and Thrasys/Θρασυς/audacious, as is its opposite Thrasydeilos (thrasys + deilos)/θρασυδειλος / the poltroon, the bragging but coward, the fainthearted.

Θαρσεω/Tharseo(αττικ. Θαρρεω/in attic tharreo) θαρσος/tharsos, our dictionary tells us is “to be of good courage, be of good cheer, be confident, assured”. Tharsei/θαρσει “take courage, of good heart, - in bad to be over weening, presumptuous: to feel confident about, have no fear for, to believe confidently that”.

Tharsos/Θαρσος, Thrassos/Θρασσος, (attic Tharros - ἀττικ. Θαρρος) means “courage, boldness, confidence”.

Tharsyno/Θαρσυνω (aatic Tharryno/αττικ. Θαρρυνω) to encourage, to cheer.

The Indo-European root word *dhers, as we said earlier, means to be bold, brave, to undertake and the English word “to dare” ισ ρελατεδ το it. We met its Greek derivative “thersos” but the same root word also appears in Sanskrit as dhrsnoti/to be bold, and Dharsayati/to overcome (Sanskrit vocabulary, By Bernfried Schlerath, ), but also in the Thracian name Daros/Δάρος, the Thracian God Darzalas/Δαρζαάλας and the Thracian ethnonym Darsoi/Δάρσοι (Achileas Samothrakis- Thakiko Lexiko/Αχιλλέας Σαμοθράκης - θρακικό Λεξικό,, among others.

Δάρρων was the God to whom the believers would pray to when they wished to get over a sickness, it was the God that gave them the courage and confidence to psyche themselves up that the worse is over, that the right attitude was and still is everything in overcoming a sickness, that once good cheers set in, the body can do the healing by itself, with the assistance of the healing gods, and this is where Darron was needed. He was the consoler of the desperate, he was what St. Jude is to the Catholics, a minor Saint for sure, a demon as the Greeks called their “saints”, but an important one, when you needed his consolation.

Δάρρων: δαίμων, ᾧ ὑπὲρ τῶν νοσούντων εὔχονται, reminds us Hesychios/Ησύχιος in his Lexicon/Λεξικόν: ‘Darron: demon, to whom they wish in favor of the sick’.

Acknowledgment: My thanks to Sotiria Tsimoura from Arta (now working on her Graduate degree in Germany) for her tireless edititorial help on this and many other articles.

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