The Use of phrases ‘ουχ Ομόφυλου γένους’ and “Αλλόφυλον γένος” in ancient sources

One of the usual arguments being raised by the few supporters of the alleged non-Greekness of ancient Macedonians mention references by Isocrates in his letter to Philip II of Macedon. Specifically the usage by Isocrates of the phrases “Αλλόφυλον το Γένος”, “Ουχ Ομοφύλου γένους”. We are going to examine the validity of this argument and whether it constitutes an indication of non-greekness of Macedonia.

Firstly we should consider the previous usage of these phrases in ancient sources regarding other Greeks.

We find the following cases:


 μάχῃ μὲν γὰρ μιᾷ πρὸς ἅπαντας Ἕλληνας δυνατοὶ Πελοποννήσιοι καὶ οἱ ξύμμαχοι ἀντισχεῖν, πολεμεῖν δὲ μὴ πρὸς ὁμοίαν ἀντιπαρασκευὴν ἀδύνατοι, ὅταν μήτε βουλευτηρίῳ ἑνὶ χρώμενοι παραχρῆμά τι ὀξέως ἐπιτελῶσι πάντες τε ἰσόψηφοι ὄντες καὶ οὐχ ὁμόφυλοι τὸ ἐφ’ ἑαυτὸν ἕκαστος σπεύδῃ· ἐξ ὧν φιλεῖ μηδὲν ἐπιτελὲς γίγνεσθαι

 [Thuc. 1.141.6]

Therefore Pericles is refering to members of Peloponesian league as “ουχ ομοφύλου γένους” pointing out the difference of the Ionic Athenians with some Doric Peloponessians.

Thucydides also uses the phrase “Αλλόφυλος” in:


  δείσαντες τῶν Ἀθηναίων τὸ τολμηρὸν καὶ τὴν νεωτεροποιίαν, καὶ ἀλλοφύλους ἅμα ἡγησάμενοι, μή τι, ἢν παραμείνωσιν, ὑπὸ τῶν ἐν Ἰθώμῃ πεισθέντες νεωτερίσωσι 

[Thuc. 1.102.3]

In this reference, Spartans decided to sent away the expedition force of Atheneans under Kimon who came for their help during the revolt of Helots, not just because they consider Atheneans as agitators but also because they were “Αλλόφυλοι” (=different tribe). Hence the difference here consists between the two different tribes of Ionian Atheneans and Doric Spartans but again it doesnt hold anyway the meaning of ‘non-greek’.

We are receivers of the same message in:

  γε πάλιν καθ’ ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς λόγοις κοινοῖς χρώμενοι· τοὺς δὲ ἀλλοφύλους ἐπελθόντας ἁθρόοι αἰεί, ἢν σωφρονῶμεν

[Thuc. 4.64.4]

In this reference,  The Doric Syracusian Politician Ermocrates states the war against Atheneans is war against “Αλλόφυλων”.

In another quote of Thucydides we find:


 πάτριόν τε ὑμῖν στρατὸν ἀλλόφυλον ἐπελθόντα καὶ ἐν τῇ  οἰκείᾳ καὶ ἐν τῇ τῶν πέλας ὁμοίως ἀμύνεσθαι. Ἀθηναίους

 [Thuc. 4.92.2]

 Pagondas spoke to the Boeotians,  a little earlier before the battle of Delius and distinguished the “Πάτριον” (Boeotian) from the “Αλλόφυλον” Athenean army.

Α Similar case is found on Demosthenes while he addresses Philip he calls him “Αλλόφυλον[Demosth. Peri Stefanou 18.185]. Furthermore in [Thuc. 4.86.5] the Spartan Brasidas refers to Atheneans as “Αλλόφυλους” (..τῆς ἀλλοφύλου ἀρχῆς)

Conclusion: The phrase “Ουχ ομοφύλου γένους” is not used solely to refer to foreigners (non-Greeks). The aforementioned examples prove the phrase was used intensively in the ancient literary sources to distinguish between two Greek tribes. Similarly in our  case, Isocrates distinguish “το γένος” of Makedones to the one of the ruling dynasty that claimed Herakleid/Argive descent. Even from a skeptic’s point of view it will be absurb, Isocrates to propose a PanHellenic expedition which would be based on… non-Greeks.

 The difference between the Royal house of Macedonia versus Macedonians is similar to the difference between the hereditary kings of Sparta (paternal side) versus the rest of Lakedaimonians, or the Neleids and Gephyraians versus the rest of Athenians, etc.



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