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

Miltiades Elia Bolaris

Balkan Illusion – phantasia archaica:

“Zaika. This is one of the most interesting ancient Macedonian female names. It may represent a female form of the present day Macedonian “zajak” (rabbit). In any case, there are numerous examples of names taken from names of animals. The names Zaia (Zaja) and Zaiko (Zajko) are present in todays’ Macedonian onomasticon..” Quote taken from: “Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today’s’ Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)” by Aleksandar Donski, celebrity historian and propagandist of pseudo-macedonism from FYROM.


The southern edge of ancient Paionia, the land of the Paionians, was originally starting from the Aegean coast of Northern Greece (Macedonia proper), went up into the southwestern part of what is now Bulgaria and then continued north to the central lands of what is now the ex-Yugoslav republic of Slavic Makedonija (ПОРАНЕШНАТА ЈУГОСЛОВЕНСКА РЕПУБЛИКА МАКЕДОНИЈА / FYROM). It included the lands on either side of the Axios/Αξιός river (ВАРДАР in Slavic) and the Strymon/Στρυμων river (СTРУМА in Slavic) and their respective watersheds.

Ancient Thrace included most of the lands of what is now Bulgaria, including parts of modern Romania as well as the provinces of Eastern Thrace of Turkey and Western Thrace of Greece. Thracians also lived in parts of Chalcidice and even Pieria, just north of mount Olympus.

Beginning around the 8th or 9th century BC, the Greek-speaking Macedonians started coming down from their original homelands in upper Macedonia(upper meant “mountainous” not “northern”), slowly pressing Thracians and Paionians out of the flat-lands in Pieria, Emathia and Amphaxitis. The Paionians gradually lost the coastline (early 5th cBC) and kept being pressed northward. A little more than a century later, in a series of campaigns between 358BC and 346BC Philip II of Macedon defeated the Paionians and extended his kingdom by either incorporating lands that previously belonged to the Paionians and to various neighboring Thracian tribes, or converting their kingdoms into Macedonian client states, creating a loyal buffer zone to his north, against attacks from the Illyrians and from other barbarians beyond the Danube. Two centuries later, Philip V/Φίλιππος Ε΄ feeling the pressure of the Romans and their Illyrian allies in a strategically defensive rather than offensive move, to stabilize his northern frontiers, shed all semblance of Paionian independence and incorporated their semi-independent kingdom into Macedon.

The Thracians suffered a similar fate, being slowly pushed north and east while many of their cities resigned to accepting incorporation into the Macedonian state, whether under Philip II, Alexander II (the Great) or later under Lysimachos/Λυσίμαχος (360 BC – 281 BC), an epigonos of Alexander who created his own Macedonian kingdom within Thrace proper. Philip, we know from history kept on shuffling populations around, bolstering his frontiers with Greek Macedonians and building new cities where needed, like Heracleia Lynkestis/Ηράκλεια Λυγκιστίς (Μοναστήρι/Bitola/Битола) in Pelagoneia or Veroia/Βέροια (Stara Zagora/Стара Загора) and Philippoupolis/Φιλιππούπολις (Plovdiv/Пловдив) in Thrace, or reorganizing cities like Callindeia/Καλλίνδεια, Amphipolis/Ἄμφίπολις or Crenides/Κρηνίδες (renamed: Philippoi/Φίλιπποι).

The ancient historians have left us a grim picture of this population engineering, of bringing barbarians into the cities to be assimilated and sending Greeks to be established in settlements along the frontiers, which Philip II used in his attempt to unify his dominions and the promotion of the Greek language was his tool to achieve this:

“7 Reversus in regnum, ut pecora pastores nunc in hibernos, nunc in aestivos saltus traiciunt, sic ille populos et urbes, ut illi vel replenda vel derelinquenda quaeque loca videbantur, ad libidinem suam transfert. 8 Miseranda ubique facies et excidio similis erat. 9 Non quidem pavor ille hostilis nec discursus per urbem militum erat, non tumultus armorum, non bonorum atque hominum rapina, 10 sed tacitus maeror et luctus, verentibus, ne ipsae lacrimae pro contumacia haberentur. 11 Crescit dissimulatione ipsa dolor, hoc altius demissus, quo minus profiteri licet. 12 Nunc sepulcra maiorum, nunc veteres penates, nunc tecta, in quibus geniti erant quibusque genuerant, 13 considerabant, miserantes nunc vicem suam, quod in eam diem vixissent, nunc filiorum, quod non post eam diem nati essent.

VI. Alios populos in finibus ipsis hostibus opponit; alios in extremis regni terminis statuit; quosdam bello captos in supplementis urbium dividit. 2 Atque ita ex multis gentibus nationibusque unum regnum populumque constituit.”

Historiarum Philippicarum in Epitomen redacti A M Iuniano Iustino, Book VIII

“On his return to his kingdom, as shepherds drive their flocks sometimes into winter, sometimes into summer pastures, so he transplanted people and cities hither and thither, according to his caprice, as places appeared to him proper to be peopled or left desolate. The aspect of things was every where wretched, like that of a country ravaged by an enemy. There was not, indeed, that terror of a foe, or hurrying of troops through the cities, or seizure of property and prisoners, which are seen during a hostile invasion; but there prevailed a sorrow and sadness not expressed in words, the people fearing that even their very tears would be thought signs of discontent. Their grief was augmented by the very concealment of it, sinking the deeper the less they were permitted to utter it. At one time they contemplated the sepulchres of their ancestors at another their old household gods, at another the homes in which they had been born, and in which they had had families; lamenting sometimes their own fate, that they had lived to that day, and sometimes that of their children, that they were not born after it.6 Some people he planted upon the frontiers of his kingdom to oppose his enemies; others he settled at the extremities of it. Some, whom he had taken prisoners in war, he distributed among certain cities to fill up the number of inhabitants; and thus, out of various tribes and nations, he formed one kingdom and people.”

Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus. Marcus Junianus Justinus

This is the best explanation of how Paeonians and Thracians eventually became Hellenic in speech, though many kept their names and religious beliefs as the epigraphical record amply shows. History, unfortunately is not lending a hand to her falsifiers.

The Romans eventually defeated Philip V in the battle of Cynos Cephalai (197 BC) and later Perseus in the battle of Pydna (168 BC), and Macedonia became a Roman province. During the Roman era, all areas previously under the Macedonians went through a period of bilingualism, with Greek eventually replacing Thracian and Paionian as the dominant language in the southern part of the Balkans. Unlike the northern lands of the Balkan Peninsula, Latin never made much inroad in Macedonia or lower Thrace. The coins of Macedonia kept on being issued in Greek, and all the funeral and votive inscriptions were written in Greek, reflecting the dominant Hellenic language of the area. By the dawn of the early Christian era, and certainly by the fourth century AD, the lower Balkans had become completely Hellenic-speaking areas, while the north had become Latinized in speech. The Jireček Line, has been used as the imaginary linguistic boundary separating the Hellenic-speaking and the Latin-speaking areas of the Balkans, before the Slavic invasions.

The Slavs started raiding the south Balkans towards the mid to end of the 6th cAD, and by the 7th and 8th centuries AD they had breached the Danube frontier of the Byzantine Empire and had established themselves in many settlements in the Balkans. The Slavs had never been in contact with the ancient people of the Balkans, namely the Greeks, the Illyrians, the Thracians, the Dacians or the Paionians. The Albanians, another Balkan people, are related to the ancient Dacians, but during the Greek and Roman antiquity they were not living in what is now modern Albania. They are not related to the Illyrians, despite what their own state national mythology propagates. The Albanians moved south to their present location, sometime in the eleventh cAD, from their original the Carpathian homeland. The Romanians, although Latin in speech are to a great extend descended from the ancient Dacians too, as well as from Greek and Latin-speaking populations of Thrace and the Black Sea. The Thracians were either Latinized or Hellenized and many of their descendants became Slavic in speech after the Bulgarians and the Slavs took over part of their lands from Byzantium. Later on, some also became Turkish in speech and identity, and it is believed that the Slavic speaking Muslims of Thrace, the Pomaks/ Помаци/Πομάκοι are to a great degree of Thracian stock.

Most serious modern researchers seem to agree that the most probable original homeland of the Slavs was the Pripet Marshes, between Belorussia, Poland and Ukraine. The Slavic languages are grouped together with the Baltic languages in a common Balto-Slavic linguistic family. The Balkans as homeland of the proto-Slavs is as serious a theory as suggesting a Chinese descent for the inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent. It has only been suggested by discredited pseudo-scientific circles in Skopje, in the service of irredentist and ultra-nationalist goals.

Any attempt, to make a linguistic connection between the ancient inhabitants of these lands and the Slavs cannot be taken seriously by anyone except some extremist nationalist groups and their supporters in political parties like the VMRO, a fascist-irredentist group until recently in the list of terrorist groups of the US State Department but now the political party in power in Skopje.

It is easy for someone without the classical language background to get carried over and starting with some superficial phonetic similarities of an ancient name (Zaika) of a completely alien and now extinct language (in this case Thracian, as we shall prove) then connect it to a word of his own modern language (the Sloveno-macedonski dialect of Bulgarian) and finally try to explain one from the other. The Slavonic dialect spoken by the majority population in the former province of Yugoslavia that is now FYROM, cannot be credibly named “Macedonian”, for many reasons, chief among which is that it creates confusion between a modern Slavonic dialect and the Greek dialect of the ancient Macedonians. Secondly, the Slavic Macedonians are not the only people that live in Macedonia. In FYROM itself there are Albanians, Vlachs, other Greeks, Turks, Bulgarians, Serbs etc. In Greece, where the vast majority of the land of historic Macedonia lies, the spoken language is Greek. Therefore, calling the Slavonic dialect spoken in parts of Macedonia THE “Macedonian” language is a complete misnomer, and one with political undertones which many unsuspecting linguistic scientists naively ignire. It is also an attempt to usurp a GENERAL geographic term and make a PARTICULAR ethnic term out of it. Macedonia, the geographic area, is first and foremost inhabited by Greeks, secondly by Slavs, thirdly by Albanians, fourthly by Bilingual Vlachs, then by Roma-Gypsies, Jews, Turks, Serbs, Bulgarians, etc. Not one of these nationalities should have the right to usurp the general geographic determinant name for themselves. After all, it is not the right of some of the Slavs who live in a small part of historic Macedonia to call themselves by the name of the province that belongs to all the other nationalities living in it. The Greeks of Macedonia are very content to call themselves Greeks by nationality and language, and Macedonians by cultural and provincial identity, and so do the Albanians, the Vlachs, the Bulgarians and others.

If we want to be taken seriously, we have to go to the sources and base our research on what is epigraphically available.

We have located three Inscriptions with the name Zaika/Ζάϊκα. Τhe first two are from Sintike/Σιντική, an area on the upper run of the river Strymon/Στρυμών, in Bulgaria, just north of Greece. The third one if close to Prilep/Прилеп, inside FYROM:

IGBulg IV 2311

Macedonia : Sintike: Vranya

Βειθυς Παραμόνου ἑαυ-

τῷ καὶ Ζαικᾳ τῇ γυ-

ναικεὶ καὶ Πυρουσαλᾳ τῇ θυγα-

Beithys son of Paramonos to him-

self and Zaika his wi-

fe and Pyrousala his daught-

We have three names here: Paramonos/Παράμονος is most certainly a Greek name but it is quite possibly also a Greek/Paionian isogloss. It is obviously related to the name Parmenion/Παρμενίων, of the famous general of Philip II and Alexander the Great. It has been suggested (Ian Worthington) that Parmenion himself was of Paionian ethnic descent. Parmenion means “son of Parmenon” (the ending -ion notes descend) and Parmenon is obviously a cut off version of Par(a)menon/Παραμένων (Delta I 642,7 , Egypt and Nubia: Παραμένων με ἀνέθηκε τὠπόλλωνι.), “the one with staying power”, which makes it similar in etymology to the Latin name Constantius.

Beithys/Βειθυς seems to appear in the epigraphic record along with other Thracian names. It is probably Thracian. It is certainly not Hellenic, neither in form nor etymology. It is also found written as Bithys/Βιθυς (ΙGBulg IV, 2322), and in the very Thracian form: Beithykenthos/Βειθυκενθος (IGBulg III, 1714).

Pyrousala is a Thracian name too. The word Pyr sounds like the Greek word for fire, but pyros/πυρός is also the maise, the barley seed and it is not exclusive to Greek, so its appearance in Thracian should not surprise us. We will encounter this name further down once again, and we will try to explore a plausible etymology. Salas is a well attested Thracian name, as shown in the following inscription:

IGBulg III,1 1441 [Σαλ]α̣ς Βειθυος. εὐχήν.

Zaika is inconclusive for now.

We now go to the second inscription, which is from SW Bulgaria, part of ancient Sintike/Σιντική

IGBulg IV 2303

Macedonia : Sintike: Kovachevo

Πύρρος Ἀγάθωνος ∙ ἑαυ-

τῷ καὶ Ζαικᾳ τῇ γυναι-

κὶ ἑαυτοῦ ζώων ἐποίει.

Pyrros son of Agathon him-

self and Zaika his wi-

fe and while still alive he made it.

Out of the three names on this inscription, Pyrros/Πύρρος and his patronym Agathon/Ἄγάθων are both Greek names, while Zaika is definitely not.

Our third inscription is from FYROM, close to the town of Prilep/

IG X,2 2 164

Macedonia : Pelagonia: Vitolište: Caracina niva Prilep

Ι#⁷․[— — —]ΛΝ Μυρω-

— — — —] καὶ Ζαικα

— — —]ο̣ς ἑ[α]υτο [— — —]LN


— — — —]and Zaika

— — —]os himself

Myron/Μύρων is a Hellenic name, (see Myron/Μύρων the Athenian sculptor, known by “The discobolus”, the discus thrower, mid-fifth century BC). Zaika/Ζάϊκα, once again, is not Greek.

How can we be so confident in saying that Zaika is either a Thracian or a Paionian name? First of all, it is encountered in lands historically inhabited by both Paionians, Thracians and Greeks, but it is not a Greek name. Since it also appears all too often in areas too far east (in modern Bulgaria) to be Illyrian, then the logical deduction is that is has to be either Thracian or Paionian. Geography, therefore, is our first clue, but the epigraphical record is what defines it, and clarifies the issue for us, so let us proceed further down. We expand our research and we find a name that sounds very similar to Zaika / Ζαικα appearing on an inscription: Zaikis / Ζαικις. It is from historic Macedonia, though the place of its original exact location is not known.

SEG 52:651

Macedonia : Unkn. Provenance

Ζαικις Ἀνδρονίκου Βαστικείλᾳ τῷ ἀνδρὶ καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις

Ἀνδρονείκῳ καὶ Ἀλλωπόρει καὶ Μητόκῳ καὶ ἑατῇ, ζῶσα.

Zaikis, daughter of Andronikos to Bastikeila, her husband and to her children

Andronikos and Alloporis and Metokos and to herself, while living.

The names Alloporis/Αλλωπορις and Bastikeila/Βαστικείλᾳ are clearly Thracian. The ending “-poris” means “the son of” and is a typical ending for a Thracian name. Epte-poris/Επτή̣-πορις Dindi-poris/Δινδι-πορις, Dili-poris/Διλι-πορις, Raskou-poris/Ρασκού-πορις, Ketri-poris/Κετρι-πορις, etc.

The name Andronikos/Ανδρόνικος (female: Andronike/Ανδρονίκη) is clearly a Greek name from andras/άνδρας, man and nike/νίκη, victory: “Victorious over men”..

Metokos/Μητοκoς sounds like a Greek name but it is not, unless it is a dialectical paraphrase of Metoikos/Μέτοικος (μετά/meta, after + οίκος/oikos, home), meaning the immigrant resident. As Metokos it only appears in a few inscriptions in Thrace, always coupled with other Thracian names: Metokos son of Taroulos/Μητοκος Ταρουλου (IGBulg I² 400), or Metokos son of Mestos/Μήτοκος Μέστ[ο]υ (IG XII,Suppl 471).

Finally, we come to Zaikis: The name Zaikis/Ζαικις is too similar-sounding to Zaika not to be related, both probably being different forms (male-female) of the same name.

Extending our search to names of the area that start with Zai- / Ζαι- , that there are indeed several names to be found on inscriptions, all from historic Peonia, part of which is now in Bulgaria.

IGBulg V 5918

Macedonia : Sintike: Parthikopolis (Sandanski): Laskarevo

Δείδος Πυρούλᾳ τῷ πατρ[ί],

Ζαιβαλῳ, Πυρούλᾳ τῷ ὑῷ {υἱῷ},

Πυρούλᾳ τῷ μεικρῷ ζῶν ἐπύ-

Deidos son of Pyroulas to his father

Zaibalos, to his son

Pyroulas to the little one epy-

None of the names is Greek here, though the Paionians or Thracians who wrote these are on their way to become Hellenized, since we see them using Greek but with spelling variances, betraying variances in dialectical pronunciation (ei/ει instead of i/ι, y/υ instead or yi/υι). The name Pyroulas, is a typical Thracian name, attested as “Pyrumerulas (variants: Pyrmerulas, Pyrymerylas, Pirmerulas), which occurs as an epithet of the Thracian deity of Heros”, according to the Bulgarian Linguist Ivan Duridanov. Duridanov believes it to be related to the Greek word pyros/πυρός the maize, and he is suggesting a meaning of something like: The Powerful one of the maize seed. I would say we would not be off the mark if we were to expand it to mean something like: The Great Farmer, or Farmer Protector, which the Thracian mounted Hero was.

Deidos sounds Greek but it is probably a Thracian name too. The ending “-dos” is not unusual in Thracian onomastics. The Thracian God Zberthurdos was the closest equivalent to being the Thracian “Zeus”.

Zaibalos is most probably related to Zaika and Zaikis, possibly its male version.

Another Inscription from now Bulgarian Thrace speaks of a Zaipas/Ζαιπας. It seems plausible that this name is linguistically also related to the name Zaika/Ζαικα.

IGBulg IV 2112

Thrace and Moesia Inferior

Thrace and the Lower Danube (IG X)

IGBulg IV 2112

Thrace and Moesia Inferior


Ταρσου Ζαι-

πᾳ συμβί-

ῳ τῇ καλ-


son of Tarsos to Zai-

pa his life part-

ner the most beau-

Yet another inscription has been found in the same area, this one with the name Zairdainos/Ζαιρδαίνος:

IGBulg III,2 1743

Thrace and Moesia Inferior

Ζαιρδαι[νῳ — — — — — —]

Αυλουζεν̣[— — — — — —]

to Zairdan[os — — — — — —]

son of Aulouzeṇ[— — — — — —]

Zairdanos again starts with “Zai-” and the ending “-rdanos” is very Thracian, reminiscent of and quite probably related to the Thracian ethnonym: Dardanos. Dardania was roughly the land enclosing what is now Kosovo and the northern part of FYROM, and Skopje, far from being a Macedonian city, ever, was the capital of Dardania, yet now it is the capital of the so called Republica “Makedonija”.

Yet another Thracian name that starts with Zai- / Ζαι- is found again in Bulgarian Moesia:

IGBulg I² 130

Thrace and Moesia Inferior

υ]τ̣ῷ καὶ τῇ γ̣[υναι]-

κὶ Ζαινειλᾳ Η[․c.4․]

τ]ὸ̣ μνημεῖ̣[ον ἔστησε].

self and to his wi-

fe Zainela H…….

the monument he erected

An interesting name appears in another Greek inscription from Sintike, by the Bulgarian city of Sandanski, ancient Parthikopolis:

Northern Greece (IG X)

IGBulg IV 2291

Macedonia : Sintike: Parthikopolis (Sandanski): Laskarevo

τῷ ἀδελφῷ


που ἡ γυνὴ


to brother



Δ̣ε̣ιτουζας / Deitouzaipas seems to be a combination of two well-attested Thracian names that we just encountered above: Deidos/Δειδος and Zaipas/Ζαιπας.

Another proof that Zaika/Ζαικα is most probably a Thracian name is in on some inscriptions from Thrace, Northern Greece and Paionia of the Roman times, long before the descent of the Bulgarians and the Slavs into these areas:

SEG 53:663

Macedonia : Sintike: Neine (G. Gradeshnitsa-Ilindentsi)

Σεβήρᾳ τῇ συμβίῳ καὶ Ἰουλίῳ Μαξίμῳ τῷ

υἱῷ καὶ Ζαικαιδενθῃ τῇ ἀδελφῇ κατωχη-

κόσι κατεσκεύασεν μνήμης ἕνεκα.

to Severa his wife, and to Ioulios Maximos his

son and to Zaikaidenthe, his sister, to be buried,

he erected in their memory

Northern Greece (IG X)

Mt. Olympe 479,28

Macedonia : Pieria: Nea Ephesos

Ζαιπύρου Μέξτεως

(of) Zaipyros son of Mextes

Ζαικαιδενθη/Zaikaidenthe means child of Zaika, in Thracian. The endings -denthes /-δενθης and -denthe /-δενθη are typical of many names in the Thracian language. It means: “child of”, equivalent to English “-son”: John-Johnson, James-Jameson, etc.

Examples: Καρδένθης/Kardenthes, Σκαιδένθης/Skaidenthes, Βαργιδένθης/Bargidenthes, Αυλουδένθης/Auloudenthes, Επτακένθης/Eptakenthos – a frequent Thracian name ´Epta´s (a goddess) child´, Διασκενθης/Diascenthus – ´god´s child´. Dia is related to Greek Διός/Dios (genitive of Zeus), and to the Latin Deus, among others. We also find: Δενθηβαρις / Denthevaris, with δένθη/denthe appearing here in the beginning of the word.

Zaika/Ζαικα, Zaikaidenthe/Ζαικαιδενθη, Zaikis/Ζαίκις, Zairdainos/Ζαιρδαίνος, Zainela/Ζαινείλα and Ζαίπα/Zaipa are all Thracian names, for most of which we do not know the exact meaning. The only thing we can do is speculate basing ourselves on existing linguistic data.

The first clue can come from Ivan Duridanov´s list of Thracian names, where we find the following names: Zipyros, Zeipyros, Ziepyrus, Zypyr, Zipyron, Zeipyron, all of which mean: God´s boy, God´s son.

Zan/Ζάν (genitive: Zanos/Ζανός, plural: Zanes/Ζάνες) is but another name for Zeus/Ζεύς. Zea/Ζέα (a name that survives in one of Peireus´three ports even today: Limani Zeas/Λιμάνι Ζέας), Hesechios tells us was another name for the underworld Goddess hekate/Εκάτη, Godess also of three-roads junctions. Zeus in genitive is Dios/Διός, a cognate of Deus in Latin and Theos/Θεός in Greek, all of which mean “God”. Zeus and Deus and Dios might seem very different at first sight, but the letter Ζ/Ζ is interchangeable with D/Δ in some Greek dialects: Dia/Διά, in the Aeolian dialect was pronounced and written as Ζa/Ζά. Dia nyktos/διά νυκτός, through the night, in Aeolian would be: za nyktos/ζα νυκτός. Zeter/Ζητήρ is Zeus in Cyprus (Ζεύς εν Κύπρω, according to Hesechios, again), which seems like a possible paraphrase of Zeus-Pater, a cognate of the Latin Jupiter. The interchangeability between Z and D exists not only in Greek but in Thracian too:

Deopus – ´son of god´, Deospor, Deospuris – ´son of god´, Desakenthos – ´god´s child´, Diaskenthos, Diascenthus, Diascinthus – ´god´s child´, Diazelmis – ´god´s descendant´, Diazenis, Diuzenes ´born of Zeus, divine´, Dizapes – ´god´s son´, Dizapor – ´god´s son, boy´, Dizazelmis – ´god´s child, descendant, are cognates of the Thracian names we encountered earlier: Zipyros, Zeipyros, Ziepyrus, Zypyr, Zipyron, Zeipyron.

Proposing that Zaika is a Thracian name, with a name that means the divine one, or the blessed by the gods, in the spirit of equivalent Greek names Theone/Θεόνη or Theone/Θεώνη and Διώνη/Διόνη or Dione/Διόνη, for example, is more plausible to me than trying to equate this name with no regard to historical geography to the Slavonic rabbit, or hare. Professor Donski from Skopje, FYROM, tells us that “Zaika…is one of the most interesting ancient Macedonian female names. It may represent a female form of the present day Macedonian “zajak” (rabbit)”.

Let us see what the Bulgarians, who never claimed to be descendants of the ancient Macedonians, call their hare/rabbit: заек/zaek, which is the same as the Slavomacedonians of the Prespa region, call it too: a very Bulgarian-sounding заек/zaek, instead of the proper, Skopje-sanctioned: заjак/zajak. The Serbs and Croats give it a slightly different twist: зец/zec and: zec. The Czechs call it: zajíc, the Slovenians: zajec, which is identical to the Ukrainian hare: заєць/zajec. The Upper Sorbians, a Slavic minority in Germany, whose name betrays ancient fraternal connections to the Serbians of the Balkans call their rabbit: zajac, which is identical in pronunciation to the Russian: заяц/zajac, Belarusian: заяц/zajac, and Slovak: zajac and almost identical to the Polish: zając.

Now, I will have a very hard time trying to convince myself that the Slavomakedonian: заjак/zajak or заек/zaek for that matter, is ancient Macedonian and that Zaika is a hare-related name. All the Slavs have similar sounding and linguistically very tightly related rabbits/hares. In fact, the Slavonic long-eared lovable creatures are linguistically very close to the Baltic ones, the Latvian: zaķis and the Lithuanian: zuikis. This, of course, is to be expected, since the Baltic and the Slavic languages used to be part of the same linguistic Balto-Slavic group, before they split, sometime in the first millennium BC, long before (probably a thousand years or so) some of their descendants descended to the warm and fertile lands of Thrace, Paionia and Macedonia. Incidentally, the hare in Ancient Greek: λαγός/lagós and λαγώς/lagós or λαγωός/lago’os and in Modern Greek: λαγός/lagós.

This brings us unwittingly to Ptolemy Lagos, the Macedonian general who became Pharaph of Egypt: The name of Ptolemy, the childhood friend and comrade of Alexander the Great, was Ptolemaios Lagos/Πτολεμαίος Λάγου. He is the one who started the dynasty of the Ptolemies/Πτολεμαίοι, who were also called Lagidai/Λαγίδαι, from Lagos/Λάγος or Λαγός, the name of Ptolemaios´ father. Ptolemaios himself gladly abandoned his own rabbit/hare-sounding patronym once he himself became a king, the Pharaoh of Hellenistic Egypt. He adopted the prosonym which the Rhodians in gratitude offered him: Soter/Σωτήρ, the Savior! The hare connection of Ptolemaios Lagos is possible and almost obvious, but another, more plausible explanation exists, especially given the fact that Lagos must have been a Macedonian chief himself (little if anything is known of him, and Ptoleμaios spread the royal rumor that Philip II was in fact his own father from Arsinoe/Αρσινόη, his mother).

The alternative theory would be that the name Lagos/Λαγος is possibly a dialectical short rendering of Lagetes/Λαγέτης or Lagetas/Λαγέτας. Lagetas is derived from Λάας-Λαός, meaning “the people” and specifically, in ancient Greek, “the people in arms”, the army, and from ago/άγω, to lead. Lagetas/Λαγέτας appears also much earlier, in pre-Homeric Lawagetas/ΛαFαγέτας. The earliest attestation of Lawagetas/ΛαFαγέτας is in the Linear B tablets of Pylos and Knossos: ra-wa-ke-ta, transliterated by Michael Kendris, the decipherer of the Linear B tablets as: Lawagetas/ΛαFαγέτας, “military commander”. In modern Greek Laos/Λαός means “people”, and Lagetas or Lagetes and Lawagetas can be rendered as Laoegetes/Λαοηγέτης, or Laou egetes/Λαού ηγέτης, both meaning “leader of the people”. The transformation of the -es and/or -as ending into an -os ending can be confusing but not at all unusual in Greek. The same evolution can be seen in the Greek word for “hunter”:

Achaean-Linear B Greek: ku-na-ke-ta =, transliterated as Kynagetas/κυναγετας from kyn/κυν = dog + egetas/ηγετας=leader, meaning literally: “leader of the dogs”, hunter. Kynagetas/κυναγετας developed into Kynegos/κυνεγος from:

Kynagetas/Κυναγετας — Kynegos/Κυνηγος

Likewise: Lawagetas/ΛαFαγετας — Lagetes/Λαγέτης – Lagos/Λαγος

If this is correct, then the rabbit connection needs to be erased completely from the patronym of Ptolemaios. We need to be suspicious of the easy explanations. Lagos sounds like a rabbit in modern Greek and it was the same in ancient Greek, but probably not so in all the Hellenic dialects. Macedonian was notorious in omitting vowels for example, and this confuses us today. Many Greeks still think that Perdikas/Περδίκας the Macedonian general took his name from perdix/πέρδιξ, the partridge bird. On a closer inspection, his name is actually from the preposition peri/περί, around, concerned with, and dika/δίκα δίκη, justice: Peridikas/Περιδίκας. In this sense it is linguistically and grammatically closer to that most famous of Athenian names: Perikles/Περικλής, whose name is also derived from peri/περί and is combined with kleos/κλέος glory.

The modern Македонски Словени/ Makedonski Sloveni, the self-proclaimed “ethnic Macedonians” have absolutely no linguistic or historical relation to the ancient Greek Macedonians, or the Thracians and Paionians of Macedonia proper. They inhabit a sizeable part of the land that used to be ancient Paionia, and only tiny parts of ancient Macedonia and ancient Thrace. Misnaming what is now the Former Yugoslav Republic of Makedonija as “Macedonia” might have made sense at some point, from the perspective of the advancement of Tito´s Yugoslav expansionist dreams. These dreams included the creation of a Titoist fiefdom from the Adriatic to the Aegean sea and to the shores of the Black Sea. The hope, of course, was to incorporate not only northern Greece but the whole of Bulgaria too, and extend this Balkan Mega-Sclavenia to the Black sea. This did not see the light of day, due to the Stalin-Tito break, or possibly, Tito´s demands may have caused it. These considerations, dating back to the 1940´s and 1950´s have no basis on either geography or history and never had any. Jugoslavija, instead of usurping the rest of the Balkan Peninsula, Greek Macedonia and Bulgaria included, ended up breaking up itself, exploding in flames and genocide during the 1990´s.

This process is still painfully with us until now, simmering in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and FYROmacedonia. It is in all these areas that short-sighted Euro-American interests imposed temporary solutions that sought to create mini-Yugoslavias or Mini-Albanias or mini-Afghanistans in the middle of the proverbial Balkan powder keg. None of them has any long term future, not under their respective leaderships anyway and not the way they have been formed and imposed upon the locals, fermenting oceans of ethnic hatred in the process. These ethnic morphemes are all accidents waiting to happen. It is only a matter of when and how, not a question of if.

Edo einai Balkania, den einai paixe gelase/ Εδώ είναι Βαλκάνια, δεν είναι παίξε γέλασε, is how music composer and song-writer Dionysis Savopoulos /Διονύσης Σαββόπουλος prophetically put it in the song Ballos, back in the early 1970´s: This is the Balkans…this is not a play-and-laugh field! For the international community to be tolerating, nay, encourage Skopjan irredentism and extreme ultra-nationalism that borderlines fascism and fringe political lunacy, like the policies of the governing VMRO party of prime minister Nikola Gruevski/Никола Груевски, and all this in a country that for all practical purposes is nothing but a microcosm of Yugoslavia is utterly incomprehensible to the locals. One of the reasons, besides flawed and idiotically near-sighted geopolitics (of the type that led the US into quagmires in Iraq, or Vietnam and now Afghanistan) that Globomagicians-in-training from Washington, London and Brussels are gleefully playing with matches in the midst of the Balkan powder keg is simple: it is not their own backyard! Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs want none of that and they view the likes of Nikola Gruevski and his VMRO political goons as dangerous left-overs from ages past.

To bring this home, and to see how Greeks, Bulgarians, and Serbs view the neo-Ottoman-Great Turkish, Kosovarian-Great Albanian and Skopjan-Antico-Slavomakedonci dreams of Grandeur and land annexation, is to ponder at an analogy: how would the US government and the American people react to any talk of Mexican irredentism, vis-à-vis California, Texas and New Mexico, to name a few states, that some hotheaded Politicos in Mexico city would demand to carve away from the USA and annex to Mexico?

It does not sound good, now, does it? This is, unfortunately the raison d’être behind professor Donski´s laughable theories. They are a medley of nonsense in support of a false and utterly imaginary ethnogennesis, trying to prove that somehow, the Slavs of FYROM are the direct descendents of the Greek-speaking ancient Macedonians, and therefore, Greeks, who have a historically and archaeologically proven presence of four thousand years in Macedonia, should be considered invaders that need to be thrown into the Aegean sea. When you play with history, history has a way to get its revenge. The archaeological and epigraphic record always comes to our rescue and proves professor Donski (and all his fellow propagandists in Skopje) wrong. All they are left with is folk etymology, invented pseudo-history and bogus science.

The limits of folk etymology are very narrow and they rarely hit the mark. Pulling a proverbial rabbit out of a Jugoslavic hat, is not as easy as it seems at first, as it is amply illustrated by our point in case: a counterfeit identity is not going to make a Sloveno-Makedonka out of an ancient Thracian girl. Zaika/Ζάϊκα, our Thracian girl is as closely related to Zajak/Заjaк the rabbit as the girl with the fluffy bunny ears, shown at the beginning of this article, is.

Pretending is not the same as being: PRETENDING to be a Macedonian does not make you an “ethnic” Macedonian. Skopje´s propaganda machine has been tirelessly at work, since 1944, trying to bolster an unsustainable national cohesion (and to avoid Yugoslavia´s fate of dissolution) through an officially-sanctioned pseudo-Macedonian forged ethnic identity. Reality has a way of getting back to those who disregard it. A person that escapes his own reality ends up with a split personality (clinically diagnosed as Dissociative Identity Disorder-DID). Tragic as it is for a person, it can be devastating when applied to a whole population by a repressive state apparatus that “knows best”, as it happened with Tito´s former Yugoslav Republic of Makedonija. The permanent identity crisis that has plagued this mini state from its inception has spilled over, creating problems of ethnic tension, hatred and irredentist passions for everyone else in this volatile Balkan neighborhood. This obvious clash with reality has created a national obsession with identity-searching within the majority of the population in FYROM: a Torbeshi (Bulgarian-speaking Muslim Slav) thinks he is a Turk, a Vlach Greek thinks he is a Slav and a Slav thinks he is a Macedonian Greek (though violently refuses to accept that the Hellenism of the Macedonians). More often than not, the pseudo-Makedonist state propaganda´s version of ethnic reality transcends into the realm of the bizarre and the surreal crosses over and establishes itself well within the borders of the outright ludicrous, ending up with such national-identity-bolstering gems like this:

Our Thracian Zaika/Ζάϊκα notwithstanding, pulling propaganda rabbits out of a hat seems to be part of the daily Show in Skopje´s “Greater Macedonija – Fantasija Balkanika” Circus.


Philip II of Macedonia, by Ian Worthington, Yale university Press, 2008

Historiarum Philippicarum in Epitomen redacti A M. Iuniano Iustino, Book VIII

Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus. Marcus Junianus Justinus

translation by John Selby Watson. London 1853

Езикът на траките/The Language of the Thracians, by Ivan Duridanov, Nauka i izkustvo, Sofia, 1976

Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell & Scott, Oxford, 1951 (1843)

Hσύχιος/Hesychios, Λεξικόν, Aρχαία Ελληνική Γραμματεία, “Οι Ελληνες»», Οδυσσέας Χατζόπουλος, Athens 2004

Linear B – An introduction. J.T.Hooker, Bristol Classical Press, London, 2001

The Decipherment of Linear B, John Chadwick, Cambridge University Press, 1958

Source: American Chronicle

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