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

By Miltiades Elia Bolaris

“Lyka. This female Macedonian name, which exists in the present day language, is possibly derived from the noun “lika” (a face, pretty face). The name Lika is present in today’s Macedonian onomasticon.” Quote was taken from: “Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today’s’ Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)” by Aleksandar Donski, celebrity “historian” and propagandist from FYROM.


Lykos/Λύκος in Greek means wolf. In Greek the substitution of the -os/ος ending of masculine names by the -e/-η and -a/-α endings signifies the female equivalent of the same noun or adjective. Therefore, to the uninitiated, Lyka obviously sounds like female wolf in Greek. Under certain conditions it could be, but properly it is not. The female wolf in standard modern Greek, is Lykaina (G.Babiniotis, Athens, 2002). Lyka/Λύκα is also understood, but it does not sound proper.

The modern Slavic name Lika/Лика, (wherever it is not a simple cut-off derivative of Angelika) can possibly be a survival of the ancient Greek name Λύκα/Lyka, since many Greek rural populations lived side by side with Slavic ones and some were probably assimilated into the Slavic populations of later times, post 7th century Ad. But since this name is found also in other Slavic languages, who never came into contact with the local Greek speaking populations of the Balkans, then this hypothesis is probably unsupported.

Personally, I would would tend to think that if, and that is a big if, the Slavic female name Lika/Лика is related to Greek, then it is most probably a modern loan name that could in fact be derived from the Greek Lykos/ Λύκος=wolf that in a dialectical format in some parts of modern Greece may also be called Lyka/λύκα, the she Wolf. In ancient Greek the she wold was either Lyko/Λυκώ or Lykaina/Λύκαινα(Stamatakos, Athens, 1972). The commonly used word to describe the the she-wolf in Modern Greek is also Lykaina/Λύκαινα, the “Wolfette” . For the record, Lykos/ Λύκος is derived from the common Indo-European word for the wolf *wlkwos, which is found in numerous other Indo-European languages, besides Greek: Latin “Lupus”, Sanskrit “Vrka”, Tocharian B “Walwa”, Lithuanian “Vilkas”, Albanian “Ujk”, English and German “Wolf”, Russian “Volk”, etc. (Oxford Introduction to Indo-European, Oxford 2006).

Professor Donski may actually be correct in pointing out that Lika/Лика “is possibly derived from the noun “lika” (a face, pretty face)”. Face in Russian is “Litso/лицо”, and when speaking of a Saint’s face they say “lik/лик svjstogo”. In Serbian and Croatian it is “Lice/лице” and in Bulgarian it is “Litse/лице” or “Lik/лик” so it seems probable that Donski may actually be partially right on this one, on the derivation of the Slavic Lika.

Regardless of where the modern Slavic female Lika/Лика is derived from, the ancient Macedonian name Λύκα/Lyka is unquestionably Greek. Unlike the modern version, though, it is for sure not derived from Λύκος/Lykos, the wolf. Linguistically the two words are totally unrelated.

We must go to the ancient sources and look at what the ancient epigraphy can reveal to us, in order to find out why.

The first inscription is from the Macedonian city of Amphipolis/Ἀμφίπολις, not far from the city of Serres:

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia

SEG 35:712

Makedonia (Edonis) — Amphipolis — Portraita se Taphika Mnemeia (1983) 194, 127 — Grabdenkmäler mit Porträts (1998) 104,135

Ζώσιμος καὶ Χρη-

σίμα Λύκᾳ τῷ τέ-

κνῳ μνήμης


Zesimos and Chre-

sima to Lyka their

child in memory’s


A second inscription from Macedonia comes from Beroia:

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia

EKM 1. Beroia 341

Makedonia (Bottiaia) — Beroia — 2nd/3rd c. AD

Ἡλιοφῶν Λύκαν τὴν γυ-

νε̑κα μνήμης χάριν κὲ Οὐα-

λέριν τὸν υἱὸν ἥρωα.

Heliophon to Lyka his

wife in memory’s Grace and to Oua-

lerios his son the Hero.

A third inscription, this one from Thessalonike mentions yet another Lyka:

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia

IG X,2 1 326

Makedonia (Mygdonia) — Thessalonike — 2nd c. AD

Σεραπιακὸς καὶ

Λύκα Λευκίππ[ῃ]

καὶ Ἀθηνοδώρῳ

τοῖς τέκνοις μνεί-

ας χάριν.

Serapiakos and

Lyka to Leukipe

and Athenodoros

their children, in me-

mory’s Grace

Then, on an inscription, from the Paionian city of Stoboi, now in Central FYROM, the name appears in its masculine form, Lykas/Λύκας.

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia

SEG 16:406

Makedonia (Paionia) — Stoboi — Sirkovo — Roman period — ZAnt 3 (1953) 237, 7

Κλυμένη Λύ-

κᾳ τῇ θυγατρὶ

καὶ Πουπλίῳ

τῷ ἀνδρὶ ἐποίει

μνήμης χάριν καὶ

ἑαυτῇ ζῶσα.

Klynene, daughter of Ly-

kas to her daughter

and to her husband

Pouplios she made

(and dedicated this monument)

in memory’s grace and

to herself, while still alive.

We see that there are plenty of inscriptions in Macedonia, which indicates that the name Lyka and apparently Lykas too were quite common in Macedonia. In fact there was a city known from Hellenistic times called Lyka, on the island of St Achileios in the Prespa Lake, which has been recently identified by Roman and Hellenistic fragments under Byzantine archaeological strata, and of course the epigraphy found at the spot:

EAM 149

Macedonia : Lynkestis: Lyke (Agios Achilleios)

Λυ]κ̣αίων ἡ̣ π̣ολειτεία

Κ(όιντον) v Ἰούλιον Κρίσπον

The city of the Lykaioi

to Kointos Ioulios Krispos (a Latin name written in Greek)

SEG 47:910

Macedonia : Lynkestis: Lyke (Agios Achilleios)

θε]ο̣ῖς Σεβαστοῖς καὶ τῇ Λ̣υ̣καίων

πό]λ̣ει Λ(εύκιος) Φλαούιος Φαβρικιανὸς

to the Respected Gods to the city of the

Lykaioi Leukios Flauios Fabrikianos

The St. Achileios island inscriptions, besides the identification of Lyka, the city of the Lykaoi, it also gives us a good hint of the language spoken in this macedonian city during the Roman times.

But was the name Lyka/Λύκα exclusive to Macedonia? Apparently not, as the epigraphic record will easily prove.

An Athenian man, sometime in the early 5th c BC inscribed his name in ancient graffiti form, for posterity:

SEG 40:47 Attica

Att. — Würzburg: Martin-v.-Wagner — c. 480-470 bc




In the Attic town of Eleusis, in Athens we read:

Regions : Attica (IG I-III) : Eleusis

SEG 45:188

Att. — Eleusis — AD 47.1992[1997].B.42

Λύκα Θρέπτου ἐγ Μελιτέων

Lyka daughter of Threpsis from Meliteoi.

A woman’s funerary dedication on her father’s tomb, tells us that the name Lyka was also in use in the island of Crete.

Regions : Aegean Islands, incl. Crete (IG XI-[XIII]) : Crete

IC II v 43

Crete, W. — Axos — IIp.

Λύκα Μυ̣-


τῷ πατρὶ



Lyka to My-


her father

in memory’s


The name Lyka appears twice on a long list of about 270 names from the Torre Nova area of Rome, the vast majority of which are Greek, with some Latin ones, which indicates that this was a Greek religious cult or mystic order, since such religious titles as ἱέρεια/Hiereia, μύσται/mystai, ἥρως/hero, δᾳδοῦχος/dadouchos, ἱεροφάντης/hierophantes, βουκόλοι ἱεροί boukoloi hieroi, πυρφόροι/pyrphoroi and of course a φαλλοφόρος/phalophoros are mentioned, all by name:

Regions : Sicily, Italy, and the West (IG XIV) : Italy, incl. Magna Graecia

IGUR I 160

Italia — Roma: Torre Nova, area of — ca. mid. 2nd c. AD — cf. IGUR IV, p. 148, 160







and further down:


Οὐαλερία Ἀριστεῖνα/Oualeria Aristeina







Finally, in the Greek city of Knidos, in Caria of Asia Minor, at the base of a statue we read:

Regions : Asia Minor : Caria

IK Knidos I 165

Karien — Knidos (Tekir) — 180-170 v.Chr. — AJA 77.1973.422 Anm.37

Κλέαρχον Ἀναξιδώρου

Τιμόξενος Ἀριστοκλεῦς

καὶ Λύκα Ἀναξιππίδα

τὸν αὐτᾶς πάππον

To Clearchos son of Anaxidoros

Timoxenos son of Aristocleus

and Lyka daughter of Anaxipidas

to her grandfather

The epigraphic record, therefore, amply proves, as we said earlier, that Lyka/Λύκα is not only a Macedonian, but a Panhellenic name; all the Greeks used it, in every part of the Greek speaking word.

Let us now go to two inscriptions from Central Greece, with the name Lyka/Λύκα. They are from the oracle of Delphi, where Apollo was worshiped. Both inscriptions very similar, I would say almost identical, which seems to indicate that they followed a ritual pattern for this type of sacred dedicatory texts, where only the names of the persons, the names of the months and the amounts of money involved in the sacred sale were changing. They are dedications to the Pythian Apollo of Delphi.

1 ἄρχοντος Δαμοσθένεος μηνὸς Δαιδαφορίου, ἐπὶ τοῖσδε

ἀπέδοτο Διόδωρος Μνασιθέου Δελφὸς τῶι Ἀπόλλωνι

τῶι Πυθίωι σῶμα γυναικεῖον ἇι ὄνομα Λύκα, τιμᾶς ἀργυ-

ρίου μνᾶν τεσσάρων ἡμιμναίου, καθὼς ἐπίστευσε

5 Λύκα τῶι θεῶι τὰν ὠνάν, ἐφ´ ὧιτε ἐλευθέρα εἶμεν

which translated into English will give us:

1 during the archonship of Damosthenes in the month of Daidaphorios right here

Diodoros son of Mnasitheos, a Delphian offered to Apollon

the Pythian a body of a woman whose

name is Lyka worthy

four and a half silver mnas since she

5 Lyka has accepted the sale to the Gods

Regions: Central Greece (IG VII-IX) : Delphi

SGDI II 1963 SGDI II 1962 SGDI II 1964

Phokis — Delphi — 182 bc

Now the second Inscription:

ἄρχοντος Κράτωνος μηνὸς Θεοξενίου, ἐπὶ τοῖσ-

δε ἀπέδοτο Λύκα Δώρου τῶι Ἀπόλλωνι τῶι

Πυθίωι σῶμα γυναικεῖον ἇι ὄνομα Εὔπρα-

ξις. τιμᾶς ἀργυρίου μνᾶν τριῶν, καθὼς ἐπί-


and in approximate translation:

during the archonship of Kraton in the month of Theoxenios right

here Lyka daughter of Doros offered to Apollon

the Pythian a body of a woman whose name is

Eupraxis worthy three silver mnas since she be-


Regions: Central Greece (IG VII-IX) : Delphi

SGDI II 1961

Phokis — Delphi — 183 bc

In both of these texts we notice the mention of two women named Lyka. They are obviously unrelated, which seems to indicate that this was probably a common name in the area of Delphi. In fact I found a total of seven inscriptions from Delphi (SGDI II 1741 Delphi, SGDI II 1833, Delphi, SGDI II 1876 Delphi, SGDI II 1961 Delphi, SGDI II 1963 Delphi, SGDI II 1975 Delphi, SGDI II 2243 Delphi) where the name Lyka is mentioned no less than 13 times.

The reason is simple: One of the names of the Pythian Apollon is Lycaios Apollon / Λυκαίος Ἀπόλλων or Lyceios Apollon /Λύκειος Ἀπόλλων. To know the meaning of this adjective we go to other words in the Greek language: Lykauges/Λυκαυγές (from Lyke/λύκη, meaning bright light+auge/αὐγή meaning dawn) is the light of the early dawn, when darkness breaks into day.

The same meaning is also found in the Greek word Lykophos/Λυκόφως (λύκη + φώς) for twilight. In ancient Greek we also encounter the word Lykabas/Λυκάβας (Λύκη+βαίνω) which means the going, the traveling, the departure of light, and it signified the time of day that still has light – before it gets dark, but also alternatively the solar year. Therefore, Lyke is a word that means light, and it is related to the word Lychnos which is the oil lamp the ancients used at night. Therefore Lycaios Apollon/Λυκαίος Ἀπόλλων means Apollo the illuminating one, which makes perfect sense considering that Apollon is a Solar God, a God of Light. Homer calls Apollon Lykegenes/Λυκηγενής=born of light, offspring of the light (and not wolf-born as popular etymology would assume, that would have been: Lykogenes/Λυκογενής).

In Arcadia in central Peloponnese we find the worship of Lycaios Zeus/Λυκαίος Ζεύς and indeed the toponym (one of many throughout Grteece, from Macedonia to the Peloponnese) of Lycaeon/Lykaion/Λυκαίον Oros/Lycaeon mountain and on that mountain we also find the temple of Apollon at Bassae, in Phigaleia, a work of the celebrated architect Iktinos, one of the most magnificent temples in all of Greece.

On top of the mountain Lycaeon/Lykaion the Arcadians celebrated the festival of Lycaea/Lykaia/Λυκαία in Honor of Lycaios Zeus/Λυκαίος Ζεύς.

An inscription from the town of Tegea, in Arcadia, enumerates the career victories of a Tegaean athlete, a native son, Damatrios/Δαμάτριος (Doric form of Demetrios), son of Aristippos/Ἀρίστιππος, and we read that among his numerous victories he had also won four times the Javelin throw prize in the Lykaian Games, the Lykaia/Λύκαια, held in his native Arcadia:

IG V,2 142 Arkadia (IG V,2) Arkadia — Tegea — late 3rd c. BC

Δαμάτριος Ἀριστίππου Damatrios son of Aristippos

Ὀλύμπια παῖδας στάδιον, Olympic Games children, Stadion run

Νέμεα παῖδας δόλιχον, Nemean Games children, Javelin

Ἀσκληπίεια παῖδας δόλιχον, Asclepieian Games, children, Javelin

Ἀλέαια παῖδας δόλιχον, Aleaian Gamnes, children, javelin

Λύκαια ἄνδρας δόλιχον τετράκις, Lykaian Games, men, Javelin, four times

Νέμεα ἄνδρας δόλιχον τρίς, Nemean Games, men, Javelin, thrice

Ἑκατόμβοια ἄνδρας δόλιχον ἵππιον δίς, Ecatomboia Games, men, Javelin, twice

Ἴσθμια ἄνδρας δόλιχον δίς, Isthmian Games, men, Javelin, twice

Ἀλέαια ἄνδρας δόλιχον τρίς, Aleaian Games, men, Javelin, thrice

Πύθια ἄνδρας δόλιχον δίς, Pythgian Games, in Delphi, men, Javelin, twice

Ὀλύμπια ἄνδρας δόλιχον ἅπαξ, Olympic Games, in Olympia, men, Javelin, once

Βασίλεια ἄνδρας δόλιχον δίς. Basileian Games, men, Javelin, twice

In the center of Athens, across the Acropolis, there is the white capped hill of Lycabetus/Λυκαβητός, a name it has had since prehistoric times. Then there is Lykeion/Λύκειον, the neighborhood by the temple of Lyceios Apollon, where Aristotle established his school of philosophy appropriately named the Lyceion/Λύκειον, in Latin transliterated as Lyceum. Now schools worldwide are called Lyceum/Lyceo/Lycee’ due of Aristotle’s random choice of that neighborhood as a good place to locate his school.

An inscription found in Athens actually mentions Lyceion/Λύκειον as an Athenian neighborhood landmark location:

IG II² 457 Attica

το τό τε στάδιον τὸ Παναθην]αϊκὸν καὶ τὸ γυμνάσιον τ-

ὸ κατὰ τὸ Λύκειον κατεσκεύ]ασεν καὶ ἄλλαις δὲ πολλαῖ-

ς κατασκευαῖς ἐκόσμησεν] ὅλην τὴν πόλιν·

and the stadion known as Panathenaikon and the gymnasion (a place for exercise),

the one next to Lykeion (Lyceion/Λύκειον) he built and other numerous

structures he decorated throughout the city.

Finally in ancient Greece we encounter the names Lycaon/Λυκαων of Arcadia, Lykastes/ Λυκαστης of Crete, Lycarios/Λυκαριος the Spartan, Lycaonides/Λυκαονιδης the Arcadian, Lycanthos/Λυκανθος the Athenian, Lycainion/Λυκαινιον as a name for a woman from Athens Lycaros/Λυκάροs (IG X,2 2 327) in Macedonia : Derriopos: Styberra (Cepigovo), and Lycaretos/Λυκάρητος (Lebedos 6) from Ionia. We find Lyka/Λυκα a name very popular in Delphi and also Lyca/Λύκα (I.Apollonia 115) from Epeiros, and Lyca/Λύκα ( SEG 36:1156) from Bithynia, Lyca/Λύκα (IC I xviii 95) from

Crete, Ctr.: Lyttos and Lyca/Λύκα (SEG 37:450) from Thessaly (IG IX,2): Magnesia: Demetrias. Lycaon/Λυκάων (IvO 91) from Elis in the Peloponnese, Lycaon/Λ̣υκά̣ων (MAMA 10 244) also from Phrygia, Lycaon/Λ̣υκά̣ων (FD III 1:478) from Delphi but also from (Spomenik 98 (1941-48) 48,101) Macedonian Paionia: Idomene? (Isar-Marvinci). Lykaios/Λυκαῖος (Epigr. tou Oropou 353) from Megaris in Boiotia (IG VII), Λυκάδας (Brunšmid, Inschriften 2-14) Epeiros, Illyria, and Dalmatia : Dalmatia, IG IV²,1 188, Λύκαιθος (IG IV²,1) from Epidauros in the Peloponnese, Lycades/Λυκάδης (ID 338) from the Cycladic island of Delos (IG XI and ID), Lycarion/Λυκαρίων (IGUR II 756) from Magna Graecia, in Southern Italy but also Lycarion/Λυκαρίων (SEG 40:1568) from Egypt. Lycandros/Λύκανδρος ( Graffites d’Abydos 91) from Egypt, Lycaris/Λυκάρις (IK Klaudiu polis 15) from Bithynia, Lycaithion/Λυκαίθιον (IK Knidos I 73) from Caria : Knidos. Lycaithos/Λύκαιθος Chios 152) from the island of Chios, and Lycaithos/Λύκαιθος (Iscr. di Cos ED 81) from Cos and Calymna : Kos. Lyc/Luk-/Λυκ- derived Greek names, are all over the map, they are not exclusive to the Macedonians.

Lyka-/Λυκα- is derived from Lyke/Λυκη meaning “bright light”, which is also distantly related to Leukos/Λευκος which means “bright white, shiny, clear, bright” in Greek, and both are directly derived from the original Indo-European word *leukos which meant light, shiny, clear and bright, and related to the Indo-European noun *loukes for light. The Germanic-derived English word “light”, the Old Irish “Loch” (glowing white), Hittite “Lukke”, Sanskrit “Roki”, Tocharian B “Lyuke”, Lithuanian “Laukas” for blazing white, as well the Latin words “Lux” for light and “Luceo” for kindle, are all linguistically related to the Greek words “Leukos/Λευκός” and Lyke/Λύκη” and of course to the ancient Macedonian Greek name “Lyka/Λύκα”.

If we had the white she-wolf, shown in the photograph above, and had named her Lyka, she would have been Lyka/Λύκα, the lyceia/λυκεία-leuce/λευκή lykaina/λύκαινα:

In ancient Greek:

Λύκα ἠ λυκάλευκη λύκαινα - Lyka he lykaleyke Lykaina: Lyka the brightly white - shiny white she-wolf.

Come to think of it, it almost sounds like the title for a beautiful children’s fable, like one of those professor Donski could be writing, once he stops wasting his great talent with words in fake nationalist fables for politically delusional adults of the type that belongs to the VMRO-DPMNE party; fables that try to promote an imaginary Ancient Macedonian Greek past for those with an uncertain and confused identity who happen to live in the lands of ancient Paionia and Dardania.

Source : American Chronicle

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