Hellenic Migrations and Katadesmos: A Paradigm of Macedonian Speech




Hellenic Migrations and Katadesmos:

A Paradigm of Macedonian Speech

Marcus Alexander Templar

OCTOBER 30, 2009

Secondary sources have informed us that a comedy, “Macedonians,” written by Strattis circa 410 BC contained a piece of conversation between an Attican and a Macedonian, each speaking in his own dialect. From the few saved words and other lexical evidence, Hoffman and Ahrens had identified the Macedonian speech as Aeolic, similar to Thessalian and Lesbian. Romiopoulou (1980) thought that Doric might have been a second dialect in pre-Hellenistic Macedon in addition to a Macedonian dialect.

The lead scroll known as the Pella katadesmos, dating to first half of the 4th century BC, which was found in Pella (at the time the capital of Macedon) in 1986, and published in the Hellenic Dialectology Journal in 1993, changed this view. Based on this scroll, Olivier Masson expressed his opinion in the Oxford Classical Dictionary that the Macedonian Dialect was one of the Northwestern dialects, an opinion that is echoed by Emmanuel Voutyras (cf. the Bulletin Epigraphique in Revue des Etudes Grecques 1994, no. 413). Brixhe and Panayotou (1994: 209) agree, although they have not ascertained whether it was the dialect of the whole kingdom. James L. O’Neil (2005) categorized the dialect as 4 century BC date, whereas Prof. Edmonds of Bryn Mawr College suggests a 3rdth century BC.

On the historical side, Hammond has expressed the view that Upper Macedonians, being Molossian (Epirotan) tribes, spoke a northwestern dialect while Lower Macedonians spoke Aeolic. He based his opinion on archeological and literary evidence of ancient sources referring to Hellenic migrations before and after the Trojan War. Heurtley (BSA 28 (1926), 159-194), also basing his theory on archeological evidence, cites the specific migration of the Macedonians through the Pindus mountain range to Pieria as ending by the mid-11 Katadesmos proves to be a challenge due to the deteriorated condition of the scroll, the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of its dialectal form, as well as the location in which it was discovered. Nevertheless, the fourth century BC spell written in a Northwest Hellenic dialect reinforces Livius’ statement in the History of Rome that Aetolians, Akarnanians and Macedonians [were] men of the same speech.” In this paper, I will appraise the scroll, analyze the script from a linguistic standpoint, and compare and contrast it with other Hellenic dialects, while stressing the significance of the Dorian migrations in the Hellenic dialectology.

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