Modern historians about Macedonia – Percy Gardner

“New Chapters in Greek History, Historical Results of Recent Excavations in Greece and Asia Minor: Historical Results of Recent Excavations in Greece and Asia Minor ” by Percy Gardner; G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1892

The Macedonians spoke the Greek language, using a peculiar dialect, but that dialect disappears with their other provincialisms when they suddenly become dominant. We find no trace in Asia of any specially Macedonian deities; it is the gods of Hellas that the army of Alexander bears into the East. Even in manners and customs there seems to have been small difference between Greek and Macedonian; in our own day many primitive Greek customs, which have died out elsewhere, survive in remote districts of Macedonia. No doubt there was a great deal of Thracian blood among the hardy shepherds who followed the standards of Philip and Alexander; but if not only the nobility but even the common people had no language, religion, or customs different from those of the Greeks, how was it possible to prevent the races from becoming mingled? The more wealthy and educated classes in Macedonia were mostly Greek by blood, and entirely Greek in everything else except the practice of self-government. Wherever Alexander went, Homer and Aristotle went too. In the wake of his army came the Greek philosopher and man of science, the Greek architect and artist, the Greek merchant and artisan. And Alexander must have known this. When he tried to fuse Greeks, Macedonians, and Persians, into one race, he must have known that whose blood soever ruled the mixture, Greek letters, science, and law must needs gain the upper hand. He must have known that the Greek schoolmasters would make Homer and Hesiod familiar to the children; that the strolling companies of Dionysiac artists would repeat in every city the masterpieces of the Greek drama; and that the Odes of Simonides and Pindar would be sung wherever there was a Greek lyre.

Page 415

The truth is, that the history of Greece consists of two parts, in every respect contrasted one with the other. The first recounts the stories of the Persian and Peloponnesian wars, and ends with the destruction of Thebes and the subjugation of Athens and Sparta. The Hellas of which it speaks is a cluster of autonomous cities in the Peloponnesus, the Islands, and Northern Greece, together with their colonies scattered over the coasts of Italy, Sicily, Thrace, the Black Sea, Asia Minor, and Africa. These cities care only to be independent, or at most to lord it over one another. Their political institutions, their religious ceremonies, their customs, are civic and local. Language, commerce, a common Pantheon, and a common art and poetry are the ties that bind them together.

In its second phase, Greek history begins with the expedition of Alexander. It reveals to us the Greek as everywhere lord of the barbarian, as founding kingdoms and federal systems, as the instructor of all mankind in art and science, and the spreader of civil and civilized life over the known world. In the first period of her history Greece is forming herself, in her second she is educating the world. We will venture to borrow from the Germans a convenient expression, and call the history of independent Greece the history of Hellas, that of imperial Greece the history of Hellenism.

Page 416

Related posts: