Macedonian names and makeDONSKI pseudo-linguistics: The case of the name Pella

Miltiades Elia Bolaris
June 16, 2010
Balkan Illusion - phantasia archaica:

“…it is very interesting to note that many of the authentic ancient Macedonian words, according to their etymology and pronunciation, have a striking resemblance to the appropriate words used in the modern Macedonian language (and other so called “Slav”[sic] languages).”…”Pella is another ancient Macedonian word. The etymology of this word is “a stone”. The corresponding word in contemporary Macedonian language is “spila”, which is similar in pronunciation with the ancient Macedonian word “pella”. Quote taken from: “Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today’s’ Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)” by Aleksandar Donski, celebrity propagandist-historian from FYROM.

Pella / Πελλα

In the Mythology of the Hindus, Surya, “god of the Supreme Light”, has many names: he is also known as Bhanu – the light, Ravi – the fire band, Pusha – the best purifier, Divakar – the creator of the day, and also as Vivasvat, Visvakarma, Vivasvan and Bhaskar, meaning the creator of Light, so by his names alone we know that he is definitely a light-bearing and fire-bearing deity. Surya is also one of eight forms of Shiva, the supreme deity of the Hindu religion, and as such Surya also goes by the name Astamurti. He is a supreme God, carrying fire, a solar God. Surya at some time pursued, abducted and had children by the beautiful Goddess Saranyu, also known as Saraniya. Saranyu is a Goddess of dawn and clouds and from her rape by Surya she gave birth to two boys, the Ashvins, the twins, also named Ashwini Kumaras, the twin youths. The twins are associated with healing and lunar light (which is a moving, running source of light, we need to note here) and whom scholars who study the Indian Mythology identify as the “Indian Dioscuri”.

In the small but fertile plain of Lacedaemon in southern Peloponnese, king of the city of Lacedaemon was Tyndareus and his queen was Leda. Leda was a beautiful girl, the daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius. She had a suitor in high places: Zeus, supreme God among the Olympians, wielder of the fire-carrying thunderbolt, wanted to have her. Powerful among the powerful, Zeus was still scared witless of the jealousy of his wife Hera, the queen lady of Olympus. Brains being subservient to sexual desire, he put his mind to work to achieve his goal. He could disguise himself. Two strikes with one stone: becoming a spotless bright white Swan. Hera would not see him. And what a better way to start a conversation with the girl he was after:

“Hello Leda! What do you say you take a stroll by the royal gardens with a talking swan?”. We can see why she couldn’t possibly resist. Nine months later Leda gave birth to two girls and two boys. Why two and two? Being the good queen girl that she was she had not resisted her king husband sleeping with her that very same night that Zeus as swan had paid a visit to her.

So, here was Leda, queen of Lacedaemon, giving birth to four extra large, extra jumbo sized eggs, to the gasping amazement of all in the palace: Helen/Ελενη, Clytemnestra/Κλυτεμνήστρα and the two Dioskouroi / Διόσκουροι = Dios + kouros = Zeus’s boys: the twin brothers, Castor and Polydeukes.

Castor’s name which means beaver in both Greek and Latin, still survives in the name of the town Castoria/Καστοριά, in Macedonia, in modern northern Greece. The neighboring Slavs call it Kostur/Костур. Τhe Dioskouroi Castor and Polydeukes ride bright white horses, and, like their horse-faced Hindu cousins the Ashvins, in the equivalent story of the Sanskrit text of the Vedes, they are also identified with a nightly sky constellation. Since one of the Dioskouroi was mortal and the other immortal, they asked their father Zeus upon their death to keep them together. Zeus made them stars, to shine light down to earth as the Δίδυμοι /Didymoi, the Gemini constellation. The equivalent Hindu Vedic story has only Saranyu, the Ashvins brothers´ mother as the one who combines the attributes and stories of mother and daughter, in the Greek myth we see Helen and Leda split into two separate personas, so that the Dioskouroi are Leda’s sons but Helen’s brothers.

Beautiful Helen is later abducted by the prince of Troy Alexandros – Paris, as her mother Leda and the beautiful and feminine Vedic Saranyu, goddess of dawn light and clouds had also been abducted. This of course gives us a clear hint of a millennia-old, common Indo-European abduction myth that has survived in the mythologies of the Hindus and the Greeks. Light is important in both myths. But while Saranyu is a fairly important goddess in the Sanskrit Vedes, Helen in Greek religion is but a “faded” deity. Helene’s and Saranyu’s names are linguistically also related and both are derived from the Indo-European root *sel- which originally indicates movement but also developed to indicate light, moving light. Here, thus, we have the hint that Helen had a more prominent divine position in her past. Helen/Ελένη/Helene is also is related to *sehaul that gives us Sol-Sun in Latin but also Ήλιος/Helios - Sun and Σελήνη/Selene - moon in Greek. It is also linguistically related to the Greek Selas / Σέλας – bright light as in Βόρειον Σέλας /Boreion Selas - the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). All of them are “moving” and “sources of light” at the same time. Helen also had a sister, named Phoebe Φοιβη, the Bright-illuminating one, full of Φως / Phos / Light. Helen, the name, is most certainly also related to the mythical progenitor of the Greeks Hellen / Έλλην as well as Hellas / Ελλάς, the name Greeks use for their country. Ήλιος / Ελένη / Έλλην / Ελλάς / Σέλας / Σελήνη, and in the Latin script: Helios / Helene / Hellen / Hellas / Selas / Selene, are all related noematically, thematically and linguistically and as we have proven, through their connction to the Sanskrit Vedic myths, they are VERY OLD names indeed.

As a twist to all this, and to tie things together even more closely, let us remember who made love to Helen’s mother, Leda: it was the Zeus-as-swan, but swan in Greek is κύκνος /kyknos and kyknos means the “bright white one” and it is derived from the Indo-European root word *keuk- which means: to burn, and to create bright white light (another example from Greek being: καύσις/causis, to burn from which the word “caustic” is derived).

Helen, as we previously mentioned was a “demoted” divinity of light in Greek religion. In Sparta though and in Lacedaemon in general, she held a position comparable to the other Olympians, if nor larger. Her divine personality was also merged with a historic personality, a real heroine-queen of the pre-Dorian Achaeans that had survived in the sacred memory of the Spartans from the original, Mycenaean inhabitants of Lacedaemon. We now know her as Helen of Troy or, more properly, Helen of Sparta.

To the distress of many frustrated modern Greek and other archaeologists, though, Sparta has never produced any Mycenaean archaeological finds, and a Mycenaean Megaron, an Achaean palace was never to be found! Not for any luck of effort either: Archaeological digs had been going on for almost one hundred and fifty years, immediately after Greece became independent from the Ottomans, post 1830. Something was wrong with the identification, therefore.

As soon as we drive north of Sparta though and we come to a place that the locals used to call Spelies / Σπηλιές, the rock caves, the caverns. It was here that the archaeologist Th. Karachalios/ Θ. Καραχάλιος in 1926 excavated two small Mycenaean vaulted “tholos” tombs, and here also that in 1970 the director of the Ephorate G..Steinchauer discovered a large vaulted cut into the rock, a tomb created not by building stone in the usual corbelled system of the Mycynaeans but simply bu enlarging the pre-existing cavern to the shape of a tholos-type tomb:

Begining in 1980 and working without stop until 1995, the new director of the Archaeological Ephorate Dr. Th. Spyropoulos/ Θ. Σπυρόπουλος discovered still more large tholos-type tombs, the earliest being circa 1500 BC, prehistoric remains of a fortified acropolis and, most astonishingly, remains of a Mycenaean palace, along with tablets of linear B Greek writing, which is always indicative of Royal store-rooms close by; proof enough that this was indeed the political, military, and economic center of ancient Laconia.

This site has now been identified by Dr. Spyropoulos as the site of ancient Lacedaemon the actual city of king Menelaos and queen Helen. The Achaean king Menelaos and his queen Helen (of Troy) never lived in what was the (much later built) city of the Dorians, Sparta. Their city was Lacedaemon / Λακεδαίμων.

Lacedaemon lent its name in historic times to the whole province around Sparta, and hence the Spartans were also known as Lacedaemonians/Λακεδαιμονιοι, and they had Λ (=L) for Λακεδαιμων/Lacedaemon inscribed on their bronze shields, not Σ (=S) for Σπάρτα/Sparta.

Most writers, even some prominent archaeologists, unfortunately, totally miss the point of the origin of the names Laconia and Lacedaemon, and they ascribe them to the “lakkos” of the Laconian landscape. If Thessaly or the plain of Serrai were called Laconia, I would agree, both being enclosed all over by mountains, but Laconia is only a partial lakkos, being enclosed on two sides only, the southern part being open to the sea. The fact that the ancients in the Roman times missed it too and came up with a false etymology is not an excuse for us, now, after the discovery of the Achaean tholos tombs, the ones cut into the pre-existing caverns. Another point missed is that Laconia the province, took its name from Laconia and Lacedaimon the city, NOT the other way around!

In “the catalogue of the ships / νεών κατάλογος / neon katalogos, Homer describes Lacedaemon very precisely. We simply need to read Homer´s text literally, not necessarily poetically:

“Οι δ΄ είχον κοίλην Λακεδαίμονα κητώεσσα,”.

“And they had hollow Lacedaemon the cavernous place”

Ομήρου Ιλιάς, Ραψωδία β / Homer, Iliad, II

After the discovery of the cavernous caves under the acropolis of the Mycenaean acropolis, there should be no doubt on how we must read Homer´s precise (as always!) description. The locals until very recently had even called the place σπηλιές/spelies: caverns. Λάκκος/laccos in Greek means a hollow, a pit, a tank, a cistern. Δαίμων/daemon means a deity, a god, a tutelary guardian deity of the city. This, I think, hits the nail on its head. This, to me, seems much closer to deciphering the meaning of Laconia and Lacedaemon than anything else: Λακωνία / Laconia, being “the place of the Λάκκοι / lakkoi”, the caverns, and Lacedaemon, being “the city of the subterranean deity – the city of the god of the caverns”:

Λάκκος + Δαίμων ~ Λακεδαίμων.

Laconia, or Lacedaimon, therefore, seems to be the right place for identifying the capital city of Hellen and Menelaus, the city of the Achaean Greeks of the second millennium BC. It was destroyed by the Dorians, who built their own capital city, Sparta, further south. Laconia, the Mycenaean city was eventually repopulated and it subsequently remained inhabited throughout archaic, classic, Hellenistic and Roman antiquity and through the Byzantine era. It only fell into oblivion a short time after the fall of Constantinople, fully 3000 years after its large cavernous Mycenaean royal tombs were dug out of its cavernous rock. In historic times Lacedaemon had remained a small municipality, a “kome/κώμη”, wholly dependent on Sparta proper. But along with the name Lacedaemon, another name lingered on: Pellana / Πελλάνα, which was most probably the original name, Lacedaimon, and Laconia being the epithets, adjectives to Pellana, such as: Laconia Pellana, i.e. the cavernous Pellana and Lacedaemon of Pellana.

Pellana was built on a high hill with a spring gushing water out of it. The creek formed is called Κάστωρ/Castor , the name of one of the two Dioscuri and it runs into the Eyrotas / Ευρώτας river. The water spring is called Pellanis Krene / Πελλάνις Kρηνη, Pellanian Spring. The video below will help us get a sense of the topography, having been shot from the top of the hill, looking down the cliff:

The geographer Pausanias who walked from Sparta to Pellana wrote in his Laconica:

“Προϊόντι δε ως επί την Πελλάναν Xαράκωμά εστιν ονομαζόμενον και μετά τουτο Πελλάνα, πόλις το αρχαίον”

“Someone walking towards Pellana, first meets the so called Charakoma and right after that Pellana, which used to be a city state in ancient times”

Παυσανίου, Eλλάδος Περιήγησις, Λακωνικά 21.2 / Pausanias, Laconica 21.2

Pellana, the name, therefore, is much older than 1200 BC, the year generally accepted as the beginning of the end for the Achaean Greeks due to the Dorian invasion into the southern Greek mainland and islands. The myth of Helen brings us even further back, to the common existence of the Indo-Europeans, probably around 4000 or 5000 BC, before the Hellenic-speaking Greeks and the Sanskrit-speaking Hindus broke off linguistically, and for sure much earlier than 2050 to 2000 BC, the year the Greeks seem to appear into what is now Greece. This, in turn, is about 2700 years BEFORE the invasion of the south Slavs into the Balkan peninsula…just to keep things in perspective!

Far from the Laconian Pellana, on the other side of the Peloponnese, to the North, overlooking the Corinthian gulf there was in ancient times the city of Deme. This was the city´s name during the classical times, but in more ancient times, the name was different.

ἐκαλεῖτο δὲ τὰ μὲν ἀρχαιότερα Πάλεια· ἐχόντων δὲ ἔτι Ἰώνων ὄνομά οἱ μετέθεντο τὸ ἐφ´ ἡμῶν, σαφῶς δὲ οὐκ οἶδα εἴτε ἀπὸ γυναικὸς ἐπιχωρίας Δύμης εἴτε ἀπὸ Δύμαντος τοῦ Αἰγιμίου.»

“Its more ancient name was Paleia, but the Ionians changed this to its modern name while they still occupied the city; I am uncertain whether they named it after Dyme, a native woman, or after Dymas, the son of Aegimius.”

Παυσανίου, Eλλάδος Περιήγησις Αχαϊκά, 7.17.6 / Pausanias, Description of Greece, Achaica 7.17.6

Here, in other words, we have one Hellenic tribe taking over the city of another, still earlier Hellenic tribe and changing the name, as it happened in Sparta-Lacedaemon-Pellana

Walking further east, towards Corinth, Pausanias stumbled on υετ another city with a similar name.

It had been built on the heights high above the Corinthian gulf and its name was Pellene / Πελλήνη, of Achaea. The goat-shaped giant Pallas, whom Athena had killed in the Gigantomachy, was supposed to have been this city’s fabled mythological founder:

“τῆς δὲ Αἰγειρατῶν ἔχονται Πελληνεῖς: πρὸς Σικυῶνος δὲ οὗτοι καὶ μοίρας τῆς Ἀργολίδος Ἀχαιῶν οἰκοῦσιν ἔσχατοι. τὸ δὲ ὄνομα ἐγένετο τῇ πόλει λόγῳ μὲν τῷ Πελληνέων ἀπὸ Πάλλαντος, τῶν Τιτάνων δὲ καὶ Πάλλαντα εἶναι λέγουσι, δόξῃ δὲ τῇ Ἀργείων ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς Ἀργείου Πέλληνος.”

” The territory of Aegeira is bounded by that of Pellene, which is the last city of Achaia in the direction of Sicyon and the Argolid. The city got its name, according to the account of the Pellenians, from Pallas, who was, they say, one of the Titans, but the Argives think it was from Pellen, an Argive.”

Παυσανίου, Eλλάδος Περιήγησις Αχαϊκά, 7.26.12 / Pausanias, Description of Greece, Achaica 7. 26. 12

Pallene / Πελλήνη, being a city built on a high promontory, had two ports down by the sea, Gonoessa / Γονόεσσα and Hyperesia / Υπηρεσία and, according to Homer, it took part in the Trojan war contributing 100 ships, which means it was not an insignificant city in its heydays, during the Mycenaean era, 2050 to 1150 BC:

“..οἵ θ’ Ὑπερησίην τε καὶ αἰπεινὴν Γονόεσσαν Πελλήνην τ’ εἶχον ἠδ’ Αἴγιον ἀμφενέμοντο Αἰγιαλόν τ’ ἀνὰ πάντα καὶ ἀμφ’ Ἑλίκην εὐρεῖαν,τῶν ἑκατὸν νηῶν ἦρχε κρείων Ἀγαμέμνων Ἀτρεΐδης•…

those who held Hyperesia, high Gonoessa, and Pellene; Aegium and all the coast-land round about Helice; these sent a hundred ships under the command of King Agamemnon, son of Atreus.

Ομήρου Ιλιάς Β΄ 573-577 / Homer, Iliad II 573-577

Two of its youths Asterios / Αστέριος and Amphion / Αμφίων joined Jason and participated in the Argonaut expedition. Alarich’s Germanic barbarians destroyed the Achaean Pellene in 396 AD. The modern village by the old city has the original name: Pellene. A temple of Athena and an ancient theater attest the old city’s strength and economy, while temples to Dolios Hermes, Apollon, Artemis, Eileithyia, Theoxeneia and Lampter Dionyssos were also known to exist.

I think it is very important to read how Pausanias describes the morphology of the city´s position:

“Πελληνεῦσι δὲ ἡ πόλις ἐστὶν ἐπὶ λόφου κατὰ ἄκραν τὴν κορυφὴν ἐς ὀξὺ ἀνεστηκότος. τοῦτο μὲν δὴ ἀπότομον καὶ δι’ αὐτό ἐστιν ἀοίκητον: τῷ δὲ χθαμαλωτέρῳ πεπόλισταί σφισιν οὐ συνεχὴς ἡ πόλις, ἐς δὲ μοίρας νενεμημένη δύο ὑπὸ τῆς ἄκρας μεταξὺ ἀνεχούσης.”

“The city of Pellene is on a hill which rises to a sharp peak at its summit. This part then is precipitous, and therefore uninhabited, but on the lower slopes they have built their city, which is not continuous, but divided into two parts by the peak that rises up between.”

Παυσανίου, Eλλάδος Περιήγησις Αχαϊκά, 7.27.1 / Pausanias, Description of Greece, Achaica 7. 27. 1

We need to remember this description as we continue. Stephanos Byzantios / Στέφανος ὁ Βυζάντιος,a grammatician and lexicographer of the 6th cAD in his Εθνικά/Ethica whote (among other things) about Pellene:

Πελλήνη, πόλις Αχαίας λέγεται και …σημειωτέον δε ότι Παλλήνη καί Πελλήνη ενί μόνον γράμματος διαφέρουσι.

Pellene, city of Achaia it is called and…it is also noteworthy that Pallene and Pellene in only one letter are different.

Stephanos Byzantios , Ethica / Στέφανος ὁ Βυζάντιος, Εθνικά

Stephanos Byzantios, in other words noticed, 1500 years ago, the linguistic affinity of the different cities that sounded so similar. He also tells us about Pele a city in Thessaly, in North-Central Greece:

Πέλη, πόλις Θεσσαλική διττή, μία μέν υπό Ευρυπύλω, ετέρα δέ υπό Αχιλλεί…

Pele, Thessalian city of a dual nature, one under Eyrypylos and the other under Achilleus…

Stephanos Byzantios , Ethica / Στέφανος ὁ Βυζάντιος, Εθνικά

The name of Achilles´ father, incidentally, was Πελίας/Pelias, a name derived from the name of Πέλη/Pele, the city in which he was king. Pele, Pelias and Achiles´ city was in Hellas, the small province that lent its name later on to the whole of the country that in English is called Greece: Ελλάς / Hellas, and its people Έλληνες/Hellenes, the Greeks. You cannot get more Greek than that, in other words, than Achilles, Hellas, Pelias and Pelle.

We stay in Ethn ica and immediately under the lemma Pele, we find yet another city, also in Thessaly, with an obviously similarly-connected name:

Πέλλινα, πόλις Θεσσαλίας εν τη Θθιώτιδι, κέκληται από Πελίνου του Οιχαλιέως. έστι δε καί Πελινναίον όρος Χίου…

Pellina, city of Thessaly in Phthiotis, it is called so from Pelinos son of Oechaleus. There is also Pelinnaion mountain (on the island of ) Chios…

Stephanos Byzantios , Ethica / Στέφανος ὁ Βυζάντιος, Εθνικά

A city, and not just one city, several ones, all with similar names, spread throughout Greece, and a mountain of the same or similar name. We keep note of this and we continue again our search in Greece.

We back track, once again in the Peloponnese and we read in Hesechios/Ησύχιος the 5th cAD grammatician and lexicographer from Alexandria that there was yet one more Pellene/Πελλήνη this one in central Peloponnese:

Πελλήνη. πόλις εν Άργει (Β574)

Pellene; city in Argos

Ησυχίου Λεξικόν /Hesychios Lexicon

Now crossing from the Peloponnese into central Hellas and Attica, we go past the city of Athens, over the Mount Pentelicon / Πεντελικόν, and we arrive at the Attic municipality of Pallene / Παλλήνη. While today’s Pallene is a bustling western suburb of Athens, overlooking the eastern plain of Attica, the modern Athens airport and the port of Rafina, in the ancient times it was one of the most ancient demes of Attica and it belonged to the Antiochis phyle / Αντιοχίς φυλή.

Her mythical founder was Pallas, brother of Aegeus (after whom the Aegean Sea, according to Greek Mythology, takes her name). He fought against his nephew Theseus, king of Athens. This myth corroborates other myths and stories that speak of the Pallenians’ refusal to become incorporated into the early confederate state of Attica under the leadership of Athens. Pallene had its own famous temple dedicated to Pallenian Athena / Παλληνίς Αθηνά, which Herodotus mentions:

“καὶ οὗτοί τε πανστρατιῇ ἤισαν ἐπὶ τοὺς κατιόντας καὶ οἱ ἀμφὶ Πεισίστρατον, ὡς ὁρμηθέντες ἐκ Μαραθῶνος ἤισαν ἐπὶ τὸ ἄστυ, ἐς τὠυτὸ συνιόντες ἀπικνέονται ἐπὶ Παλληνίδος Ἀθηναίης ἱρόν, καὶ ἀντία ἔθεντο τὰ ὅπλα.”

“Meantime the army of Peisistratos, which had broken up from Marathon, meeting their adversaries near the temple of the Pallenian Athena, pitched their camp opposite them. “

Hροδότου Ιστορίαι Α.62.3 / Herodotus Ηistories 1.62.3

The pine-tree-covered hill of Levides in the middle of today’s municipality is probably where the ancient Pallene had its prehistoric beginning.

Following the bird’s flight north, we see the place where Macedonia spreads Chalcidike’s / Χαλκιδικης three-pronged palm open and juts it into the Aegean Sea. It is now called Cassandra / Κασσανδρα, because of the city Cassandreia / Κασσανδρεια that Cassandros son of Antipatros / Κασσανδρος Αντιπατρου, one of Alexander’s epigones had built on this peninsula and named it after him. It had been built on the site of yet another Greek city, Potidaea.

While that city is nothing more than a small fishermen’s village now, another town that he built by the site of the ancient Greek city of Therme, (which he named after his wife Thessalonike / Θεσσαλονικη, the half sister of Alexander the Great) still stands. It is in fact the greatest port of the Balkans and the second city of Greece, after Athens.

In ancient times, this peninsula was called Pallene / Παλλήνη and a city by the same name was built on it. This city, Pallene, eventually gave its name to the whole peninsula which was previously called Phlegra / Φλέγρα, quite possibly its original Thracian name. It was named, we are told, after the mythical daughter of Sithon / Σιθων, whose Thracian name in turn became the name of the second (middle) headland of the Chalcidike peninsula: Sithonia / Σιθωνια. Pallene was married to Cleitos / Κλειτος, following a battle where two suitors Cleitos and Dryas / Δρυας fought a duel to the death fighting from chariots, like true Homeric heroes. These myths bring us unmistakably back to the Homeric era of the Achaeans, the Mycenaean Greeks.

Tracing the route of the mighty Persian navy and army of King Xerxes, in 480 BC, as it snaked its way through Asia, crossing the Hellespont, following through the coast of Thrace and as it entered Macedonia, Herodotus informs us that the army kept swelling by forced conscriptions as it passed one Greek city after another. This Pallene / Παλλήνη was one of them:

1.ἡ μέν νυν χώρη αὕτη Σιθωνίη καλέεται, ὁ δὲ ναυτικὸς στρατὸς ὁ Ξέρξεω συντάμνων ἀπ’ Αμπέλου ἄκρης ἐπὶ Καναστραίην ἄκρην, τὸ δὴ πάρης τη̂ς Παλλήνης ἀνέχει μάλιστα, ἐνθευ̂τεν νέας τε καὶ στρατιὴν παρελάμβανε ἐκ Ποτιδαίης καὶ Αφύτιος καὶ Νέης πόλιος καὶ Αἰγη̂ς καὶ Θεράμβω καὶ Σκιώνης καὶ Μένδης καὶ Σάνης: αὑ̂ται γὰρ εἰσὶ αἱ τὴν νυ̂ν Παλλήνην πρότερον δὲ Φλέγρην καλεομένην νεμόμεναι.

1.This country is called Sithonia. The fleet held a straight course from the headland of Ampelus to the Canastraean headland, where Pallene runs farthest out to sea, and received ships and men from the towns of what is now Pallene but was formerly called Phlegra, namely, Potidaea, Aphytis, Neapolis, Aege, Therambus, Scione, Mende, aPallene but was formerly called Phlegra, namely, Potidaea, Aphytis, Neapolis, Aege, Therambus, Scione, Mende, and Sane.

2. παραπλέων δὲ καὶ ταύτην τὴν χώρην ἔπλεε ἐς τὸ προειρημένον, παραλαμβάνων, στρατιὴν καὶ ἐκ τω̂ν προσεχέων πολίων τῃ̂ Παλλήνῃ, ὁμουρεουσέων δὲ τῳ̂ Θερμαίῳ κόλπῳ, τῃ̂σι οὐνόματα ἐστὶ τάδε, Λίπαξος Κώμβρεια ,Αἱ̂σα, Γίγωνος, Κάμψα, Σμίλα, Αἴνεια: ἡ δε τουτέων χώρη Κροσσαίη ἔτι καὶ ἐς τόδε καλέεται.”

2. “Sailing along this coast they made for the appointed place, taking troops from the towns adjacent to Pallene and near the Thermaic gulf, of which the names are Lipaxus, Combrea, Aesa, Gigonus, Campsa, Smila, Aenea; the territory of these cities is called Crossaea to this day.”

3. “ἀπὸ δὲ Αἰνείης, ἐς τὴν ἐτελεύτων καταλέγων τὰς πόλις, ἀπὸ ταύτης ἤδη ἐς αὐτόν τε τὸν Θερμαι̂ον κόλπον ἐγίνετο τῳ̂ ναυτικῳ̂ στρατῳ̂ ὁ πλόος καὶ γη̂ν τὴν Μυγδονίην, πλέων δὲ ἀπίκετο ἔς τε τὴν προειρημένην Θέρμην καὶ Σίνδον τε πόλιν καὶ Χαλέστρην ἐπι τὸν Αξιον ποταμόν, ὃς οὐρίζει χώρην τὴν Μυγδονίην τε καὶ Βοττιαιίδα, τη̂ς ἔχουσι τὸ παρὰ θάλασσαν στεινὸν χωρίον πόλιες Ιχναι τε καὶ Πέλλα.”

3. “From Aenea, the last-named in my list of the towns, the course of the fleet lay from the Thermaic gulf itself and the Mygdonian territory until its voyage ended at Therma, the place appointed, and the towns of Sindus and Chalestra, where it came to the river Axius; this is the boundary, between the Mygdonian and the Bottiaean territory, in which are located the towns of Ichnae and Pella on the narrow strip of coast.”

Ηροδοτου Ιστοριαι Βιβλιον 7.123

Herodotus Book 7.123 - English by A. D. Godley.

And here is where we find Πέλλα/Pella.

Pella, the capital of Macedonia? Well…nor exactly…not at this early period anyway!

It becomes obvious by reading the text above, that Pella was a port city. It was actually built on the narrow strip of coast, as Herodotus tells us; the sea, 2500 years ago was not exactly where it is now. It made a large loop that included within it what became later a lake, the lake of Gianitsa, a lake that was dried up and turned over to agriculture in the 1930s, after historic Macedonia was liberated from the Ottoman Turks and joined Greece following the Balkan wars.

Looking at the ancient map, some may as well claim that Pella was named so, because its inner sea looked so much like a huge bucket of milk, a pella/πέλλα. The pronunciation and the spelling are identical, after all.

Πέλλα/pella (in Ionian: πέλλη/pelle) does in fact mean a milk pail, a bowl or bucket, according to Oxford´s Liddell and Scott Greek-English dictionary. Hesechios is in agreement:

πέλλαι. αγγεία τινά, εις ά αμέλγεται το γάλα…

pellai (in plural). buckets into which (during milking) the milk is gathered…

Ησύχιος, Λεξικόν /Hesechius Lexicon

The modern English word “pail” is most definitely connected linguistically with the ancient Greek pella, not only in form (pella ~ pail), but also in definition and it betrays their common, ancient, Indo-European affinity; Ancient Greek pella/πέλλα and Middle English payle (probably from the Latin “palea”): too similar to be a mere coincidence.

Many people have assumed (thought without any substantiation whatsoever) that the original city was probably built next to some huge rock formation by the sea, and it was named so since πέλλα/pella also means stone in Greek.

On an amusing note, our favorite punching bag of a Skopian pseudo-“historian”, Aleksandar Donski, is also a supporter of this theory. He actually tells us that:

“Pella” is another ancient Macedonian word. The etymology of this word is “a stone”…the only think the dear professor conveniently forgot to tell us is in what language “pella” means stone!

This is not a problem though, because back in the 5th cAD Hesychios had already solved Aleksandar Donski´s memory problem for us in his Lexicon / Λεξικόν:

πέλλα. λίθος : pella. stone

It is in Greek, in fact, that pella means “stone”, after all, not in Turkish, Albanian, Bulgarian or Donski´s own Slavomakedonski.

“The corresponding word in contemporary Macedonian language is “spila”, which is similar in pronunciation with the ancient Macedonian word “pella”.”, continues professor Donski from FYROM. But “spila” as a rock is not a Slavonic word. The Serbs and the Bulgarians, the two languages that Slavomacedonian is most closely related to, do not have it. Neither does Russian, Polish Slovak, Czeck or any other Slavonic tongue.
Here is the Slavonic word for stone, in the Slavic dialect commonly spoken in FYROM:

Камен / kamen : stone

There is also: Карпа/ karpa / rock, and we even find also words like: Рок / Rock, a suspiciously English-sounding loan-word, into Slavomakedonski, if you asked me, despite its Cyrillic spelling (Рок) but “spila”? There is a word in Russian, spelled and pronounced spila, but it means a split-off piece of wood or stone, and it is a cognate of the English word for “split”, not related to”pella” as “stone” per se.

The only Slavonic spila I was able to locate was Vela Spila in the Dalmatian island of Korčula in Croatia. Korčula was a Greek colony named Κέρκυρα/Kerkyra in ancient times. It had the same name as the Greek island which Greeks call Κέρκυρα/Kerkyra but others call Corfu. Korčula/ Κέρκυρα /Kerkyra was not the only Greek colony on the Dalmatian coast. The Croatian city of Hvar on the Dalmatian island Hvar is the ancient Greek Pharos/Φάρος, meaning the city of lighthouse, for example. It is obvious that the Slavonic speaking Croatians arriving around the 7th cAD in these Byzantine lands had to paraphrase the Greek toponyms they found to make them conform to their own pronunciation, as it naturally happens in such cases. Κέρκυρα /Kerkyra became Korčula, Pharos/Φάρος became Hvar and Σπηλιά/Spilia a Greek word for “cave” being a famous place name, was absorbed into Croatian and it remained as Vela Spila, meaning the Big Cave. Spilia lost its “i” (pronounced as “j”- or “y” in Byzantine and modern Greek when it is before another vowel) and Spilia/Spilja became Spila. This is easily proven once we visit yet another famous Croatian cave: Drakonjina špilja, on the island of Brač, the island which Greeks called Βραττία/Brattia, also in Croatia. The original Greek name of that cave was Δρακοντινιά σπηλιά/Drakontinia spilia, meaning the Dragons´ cave, that passed on in Croatian as Drakonjina špilja. The Croatians kept the Greek toponym but they did something else: they invented a new, Slavonic name for it: Zmajeva pečina which means exactly what the Greek name means too: Dragons’ cave.

It is also interesting that while both caves kept the their Greek name, in one of them, the Vela spila, “spila” is a slight paraphrase of the Greek σπηλιά/spilia, while in the other one, Drakonjina špilja is called spilja (the difference is in the “j”), which corresponds almost exactly with the Greek pronunciation of σπηλιά/spilia, cave,

The common Slavonic word for a cave is:

Pečina / Пећина/Petsina in Serbocroatian,

Пещера/petshera, in Bulgarian, in Russian and in Ukranian and it is:

Пештера/petchtera in FYROM´s Slavomacedonian. Very close to the other Slavic words for a cave but no connection with the Greek spilia/σπηλιά i.e. a cavernous rock, whatsoever, except only as a Greek loanword. But we do not expect Aleksandar Donski and his fellow Skopian propagandists to admit (horror of horrors!) any cultural influence from the hated Grci…After all, the pseudomakedonists consider it a slander to even admit their Slavic ethnic and linguistic roots. Being Slavic is too little for them…they want to be Aleksandar Veliki´s grandchildren. The last I checked, Cassandros, the man who married Alexander´s sister, made sure that no grandchildren of Alexandros III survive to the 21st century, killing both Heracles and Alexandros IV, both of Alexander the Great´s known children.

Leaving them aside, we return to Pella, the city, which some think that it took its name from some pre-existing rocky outcrop by the sea. This etymology unfortunately has no documented or scientific connection to factual reality.

Stones do not disappear just like that over two or three millennia, unless humans intervene to cut them down. No sign of such activity exists anywhere in the area. The archaeologists would have noted it. There is a hill in Pella, by the modern village of Nea Pella, and we know that the Royal palace was built on a small island called Φανός / Phanos, between the sea and the marsh, but it is obvious to anyone that has visited the site that no huge or imposing rock formation exists anywhere in the surrounding territory imposing enough to inspire the founders of the city to named it “Stone”~Pella~Πέλλα. The video below is quite revealing and its air views offer us a good sense of the topography of Pella:

“Αρχαία Πέλλα - Ancient Pella birth land of Alexander the Great”

In matter of fact, not much stone is there to be found in the surrounding plains. This is true now as it was true in the ancient times, when Archelaos re-built Pella (in late 5th - early 4th c.BC). Pella is situated on an alluvial plain that was formed by the silt and sediments of two rivers, Axios and Loudias. The plain is very fertile and of course without stones. This is a land created by these modest rivers (they are not Danube or Nile), so the stones that are scattered in the plains of Macedonia are of very modest size, definitely not imposing ones, and most definitely not rocky formation. To anyone that has seen the excavated walls of ancient Pella, it is apparent that the mighty walls protecting Pella, were actually built of brick, 50X50cm baked brick. Stone was only sparingly used and then only for the foundation. This is what the archeologist’s spade has shown us. Therefore, the “stone” connection, if true, which I think it is, must definitely be hiding elsewhere.

Most importantly, and if we want to be serious about this, we must ask ourselves: what about the many other Pella - related toponyms scattered all over Greece? How do we account for the numerous other cities throughout the Hellenic world that have very similar names, names whose explanation post factum by the name of the mythical founder can hardly start explaining their meaning.

We met Pellana/ Πελλανα and Pellene/ Πελλήνη in the Peloponnese and Pelle/ Πέλη and Pellina/ Πέλλινα, in Thessaly, Pallene in Attica and Macedonia, among others, as well as Pellinnaion/ Πελινναίον a mountain in Chios.

Then there is also a Venetian castle on a 216 meter high rock cliff (let us remember the cliff) overlooking the city of Ναύπλιον/ Nauplion called Palamedion/Παλαμηδιον. Palamedion is a Venetian castle built over successive ancient embattlements. Palamedion means that this is a place that belongs to or has taken the name of Palamedes. The name Palamedes in turn is a combination of Palla + the ending -medes (as in Diomedes/Διομηδης) that gives us Palamedes/ Παλαμηδης, the name of the fabled builder of Palamedion. Medos/Μήδος, means wisdom, administration, care for. Palamedes means the councilman, the ruler and administrator of “Pala”. We will find out what palla means, as move along. What seems apparent though is that in this case at least, the myth is properly hitting the nail: The ancient embattlements have indeed taken the name of a person, or rather an official: Palamedes.

In the Ionian Sea there is the similarly sounding Pale/Πάλη in the westernmost peninsula of the Ionian island of Cephalonia/Κεφαληνία, whose name has survived to modern times as Palike~Paliki / Παλίκη as the locals call it. Some modern researchers, after reading Strabo and Homer afresh, more clearly and literally, started finding the inconsistencies in accepting the identification of modern day Ithaca as Homer;s Ithaca, the island of Odysseus – Ulysses.

To begin with, Homer never mentions Cephalonia as an island, but he tells us that Odysseus ruled over the Cephalenians:

Αυτάρ ‘Οδυσσεύς ήγε Κεφαλλήνας μεγαθύμους,

οί ρ’ ‘Ιθάκην είχον καί Νήριτον εινοσίφυλλον

καί Κροκύλει’ ενέμοντο καί Αιγίλιπα τρηχείαν,

οί τε Ζάκυνθον έχον ηδ’ οί Σάμον αμφενέμοντο,

οί τ’ ήπειρον έχον ηδ’ αντιπέραι’ ενέμοντο:

τών μέν ‘Οδυσσεύς ήρχε Διί μήτιν ατάλαντος…

Ulysses led the brave Cephallenians,

who held Ithaca, Neritum with its forests,

Crocylea, rugged Aegilips,

Samos and Zacynthus,

with the mainland also that was over against the islands.

These were led by Ulysses, peer of Zeus in counsel…

Ομήρου Ιλιάς Β 627-632 – Homer, Iliad B:627-632

Everyone that is ruled by Odysseus is a Cephalenian, but no island was then called Cephalonia. As Strabo tells it:

Κεφαλλῆνας δὲ νῦν μὲν τοὺς ἐκ τῆς νήσου τῆς Κεφαλληνίας λέγουσιν, Ὅμηρος δὲ πάντας τοὺς ὑπὸ τῷ Ὀδυσσεῖ,

But though at the present time only the people of the island Cephallenia are called Cephallenians, Homer so calls all who were subject to Odysseus

Στράβωνος Γεωγραφικά 10.2.10 /Strabo, Geography 10.2.10

There is in fact a town called Σάμη/Same on modern Cephalοnia and we can identify Cephalonia as the Homeric Σάμη/ Same. Zakynthos has kept her name over millennia, and we know it is the same as Homeric Ζάκυνθος/Zacynthos. What then of Δουλίχιον/ Doulichion and Ιθάκη/ Ithaca, the other two main islands of the Cephalenians?

ὅσσοι γὰρ νήσοισιν ἐπικρατέουσιν ἄριστοι,

Δουλιχίῳ τε Σάμῃ τε καὶ ὑλήεντι Ζακύνθῳ,

ἠδ᾿ ὅσσοι κραναὴν Ἰθάκην κάτα κοιρανέουσιν,»

All the princes who rule the islands,

Dulichium, Same, and wooded Zacynthus,

and those here in rocky Ithaca,

Οδύσσεια Α-.245/Odyssey A.245

The identification of Homer;s Ithaca has been a puzzle since classic antiquity, and Strabo mentions several of the predominant theories of his time on the issue, and for a good reason…the island we now call Ithaca does not match what we hear from Homer, or at the very least, it leaves a lot of room to wild interpretation. Was it closest or farthest from the land (ambiguous) in relation to the other islands? Was it towards the south (impossible) or most northern of the other islands (most probably)? Then there is another puzzle. We hear of an isthmus and a tiny long island between Ithaca and Seme/Cephalonia which simply does not exist between today´s Ithaca and Cephalonia. Both are islands well defined, and at distance than no Greek would ever call an isthmus/ἰσθμὸν, i.e. a narrow water way separating two land masses. Let us read what Starbo the Roman-era Greeek Geographer describes this isthmus:

“30 [15] κεῖται δ᾽ ἡ Κεφαλληνία κατὰ Ἀκαρνανίαν, διέχουσα τοῦ Λευκάτα περὶ πεντήκοντα (οἱ δὲ τετταράκοντά φασι) σταδίους, τοῦ δὲ Χελωνάτα περὶ ὀγδοήκοντα. αὐτὴ δ᾽ ἐστὶν ὡς τριακοσίων τὴν περίμετρον, μακρὰ δ᾽ ἀνήκουσα πρὸς εὖρον, ὀρεινή: μέγιστον δ᾽ ὄρος ἐν αὐτῇ ἐν ᾧ τὸ Διὸς Αἰνησίου ἱερόν: καθ᾽ ὃ δὲ στενωτάτη ἐστὶν ἡ νῆσος, ταπεινὸν ἰσθμὸν ποιεῖ ὥσθ᾽ ὑπερκλύζεσθαι πολλάκις ἐκ θαλάττης εἰς θάλατταν: πλησίον δ᾽ εἰσὶ τῶν στενῶν ἐν κόλπῳ Κράνιοί τε καὶ Παλεῖς. [16]

μεταξὺ δὲ τῆς Ἰθάκης καὶ τῆς Κεφαλληνίας ἡ Ἀστερία νησίον (Ἀστερὶς δ᾽ ὑπὸ τοῦ ποιητοῦ λέγεται) ἣν ὁ μὲν Σκήψιος μὴ μένειν τοιαύτην οἵαν φησὶν ὁ ποιητής” λιμένες δ᾽ ἔνι ναύλοχοι αὐτῇ


Cephallenia lies opposite Acarnania, at a distance of about fifty stadia from Leucatas (some say forty), and about one hundred and eighty from Chelonatas. It has a perimeter of about three hundred70 stadia, is long, extending towards Eurus, 71 and is mountainous. The largest mountain upon it is Aenus, whereon is the temple of Zeus Aenesius; and where the island is narrowest it forms an isthmus so low-lying that it is often submerged from sea to sea. Both Paleis and Crannii are on the gulf near the narrows. [16]

Between Ithaca and Cephallenia is the small island Asteria (the poet calls it Asteris), which the Scepsian72 says no longer remains such as the poet describes it,”but in it are harbors safe for anchorage with entrances on either side;

“73Apollodorus, however, says that it still remains so to this day, and mentions a town Alalcomenae upon it, situated on the isthmus itself.

Στράβωνος Γεωγραφικά 10 /Strabo, Geography 10

It is obvious for anyone looking at the map today that the geography simply does not match the textual descriptions. His numbers, of the distances between the islands are all astonishingly correct, measured by modern instruments, so we know that he is a reliable geographer, but then, something in his description is missing: where is Strabo´s isthmus?

Modern researchers, as- solicited the help of geologists, soil engineers and seismologists and they have conclusively established that an isthmus existed indeed between the peninsula Paliki and the rest of Cephalonia/Same, making it a separate island in antiquity. If someone looks at the geological map of the isthmus, the existence of a long/ narrow islet, can be construed on the map too. And of course the existence of a navigable channel, an isthmus with “harbors safe for anchorage with entrances on either side” now makes perfect sense! This channel was filled by seismic activity (it lies exactly where the European and African plates meet and collide, causing earthquakes of tremendous force) making Peliki now part of Cephalonia, a peninsula, not an island. Peliki, (with an ancient city named Πάλη/Pale on it) being in fact a separate island, the question naturally arises: Which island was it? Not Same and not Zacynthos, for sure, so it must be either Doulichion or Ithaca. Knowing that Peliki is the only place in these island where a Mycenaean Anactoron, a palace, has been located it is easy to identify Peliki as Ithaca. Incidentally, despite years of archaeological searches, no Mycenaean buildings have been unearthed in Ithaca, making it probable that this island is Doulicheion, that was renamed at some point when Ithaca´s original inhabitants resettled on it. Ithaca makes perfect sense as being Homer’s Doulichion. We only need to look at a map of today’s Ithaca and the name Doulichion/Δουλίχιον makes perfect sense: What we call today Ithaki is indeed “double-tongued” shaped.

(The Geological Society, “Geoscientist” 18.9 September 2008)

The ancient Πάλη/ Pale is where Homer’s Ιθάκη /Ithaca and Odysseus’s palace was located. By 131/132 AD, Πάλη/Pale was the westernmost of Cephalonia’s four major cities part of its Τετράπολις/ tetrapolis (the “four cities” union). On that year it proclaimed itself to be “free and autonomous” city, and it so declared on a dedication to Hadrian found on an inscription stela in Athens’s Olympeion temple:

Αὐτοκράτορα Καίσαρα Τραια-

νὸν Ἁδριανὸν Σεβαστὸν

Ὀλύμπιον folium

ἡ πόλις Παλέων τῆς Κεφαλη-

νίας · ἐλευθέρα · καὶ · αὐτόνο-

μος διὰ ἐπιμελητοῦ Ἀρνου-

φίλου · τοῦ · Ἀγαθοκλέους υἱοῦ.

To Emperor Caesar Traia-

Nos Andrianos Sebastos

Olympian (folium)

the city of the Paleans of Cephale-

nia free and autono-

mous, through its curator Arno-

philos son of Agathocles.

Regions : Attica (IG I-III) : Attica

IG II² 3301

Across from Pale, Palike and the Ionian Islands is Southern Italy and Sicily, Μεγάλη Ελλάς / Megale Hellas or Magna Graecia of the ancients. There, on the island of Sicily we find the Greek city of Παλική / Palike, as mentioned in Stephanos Byzantios in his Εθνικά/Ethnica¨

Παλική, πόλις Σικελίας…

Palike, city of Sicily…

Crossing back the Ionian sea, bypassing once again of Ithaca and Cephalonia we reach the Central Hellas mainland and Aetolia. It is there that we find the Aitolian city of Πυλήνη/Pylene:

καὶ Ὤλενον δὲ καὶ Πυλήνην ὀνομάζει πόλεις ὁ ποιητὴς Αἰτωλικάς,

and the poet also mentions Olenos and Pylene as Aetolian cities

Στράβων, Γεωγραφικά 10.2 / Strabo, Geography 10.2

Leaving Homer´s and Odysseus´ Achaean Pale on the Paliki peninsula, the Palike of Sicily and the Pylene of Aetolia, we return once again back to Pella, the capital of Macedonia. Although we cannot find a rock formation in Pella, we cannot also completely dismiss or ignore the pella~rock connection. After all, as we mentioned earlier with the mountain on the island of Chios, Pella – connected toponyms are not to be found only on cities but also on mountains. We have the Chaonian city of Πήλιον/Pelion next to the Greater Prespa lake, now in Albania, but we also have the Thessalian mountain by the same name, Πήλιον/Pelion, in Magnesia, the mountain of the mythical Centaurs. The rock-mountain-cliff-city connection is therefore unmistakable. We need to investigate it further.

We know the pella as stone connection: Proto-Indo-European *p[h]els-l*p[h]ols-l*p[h]ls- ‘stone’: Greek Proto-Indo-European *p[h]els-l*p[h]ols-l*p[h]ls- ‘stone’: Greek πέλλα (< * πέλσα) ‘stone’; Sanskrit pasana-h, pasya (< *pars-) ‘stone’; Pashto parsa ‘stone’; Old High German felis ‘stone’; Old Irish ail ‘rock’. Pokorny 1959:807 *peli-s-, *pel-s- ‘rock’;

In Greek we start with the words pella /πέλλα (*pelsa /*πέλσα) = stone and then we also have paipale / παιπάλη meaning dust (ground rock, in Latin: pollen, Spanish polvo, etc), from which paipale / παιπάλη comes the modern Greek word paspalizo / πασπαλίζω meaning to spread a dust-like substance, such as flour or sugar etc. Paipalon / παίπαλον means pebble and the English pebble is in fact related to it. Paipala /παίπαλα indicated “a place full of rocks and pebbles”. Dyspaipalos /δυσπαίπαλος was a place or a road too inconvenient to walk on due to its many rocks. Polypaipalon /πολυπαίπαλον was something of many rocks. Then there is also the noematically related Pelos /πηλός (Doric: Palos /παλός) which means clay (made of finely ground “stone particles), and finally paipaluris / παιπαλουρίς meaning rocky and mountainous.

We find this same stone connection existing in other Indo-european languages too. The Latins call stone lapis, but they also have pila from which the word pilar, meaning column is derived. Pilar is of course explained as “a pile of one stone on top of another stone” and then we find also pilates or pellates: a type or species or a genus of stone. The round sphere with which children played in the streets of Rome was called pila and in Athens palla. Today we call it balla, or ball and though it may be of leather sphere with air inside it, it still reminds us of a round rock. So, pella is established as definitely being a stone “something”…but what?

Let us go to our Indo-European fountain of words, and search for a roots there, among the scattered linguistic paipala of our origins:

We find the root *pelh1, which means to fill, *pe’l(h1u)ewis which means container and that can easily explain the pella of the milk bucket and the English pail and the πέλωρ/pelor and πελώριος/pelorios meaning the huge one. I do not think that we are quite there, though.

We find *pel(i)s- (Watkins 1985:49 *pelis- and Walde 1927-1932.11:66-67 *pel(e)s-; (also *pels-) ‘rock, cliff) which means cliff, stone, rock. Pella therefore, when seen as a toponym, is not simply just “rock” or “stone” but it also incorporates the original Indo-European meaning of “cliff” woven into it. Pella as cliff also appears in Celtic Irish “all” (from: *plso), in Old Norse Germanic “fjall” (from: *pelso), in Afgani Pashto “parsa” (from: *pelsiha) and in Old Iranian “ail” (from *pelis). In Greek again, paipaloeis /παιπαλόεις - paipaloessa /παιπαλόεσσα means an abrupt and high cliff of a sharply dropped rock face, of a sharp precipice, usually speaking of Islands. We already saw mountains in Greece named with Pella-sounding names: Pelion in Magnesia and Pellinaion in the Aegean island of Chios. Let us remember that all the pella-related toponyms we have encountered are sitting on a high place, Palamedion overlooking Nauplion, Lacedaemon Pellana on the hill with the fountain spring below it, Pallene of Achaia with its two port towns down below overlooking the Corinthian gulf, and the Attic Pallene looking down from mount Pentelicon towards the fields of eastern Attica and the new Airport of Eleutherios Venizelos. Pele of Ithaca, is also high up the hills and Pella in Macedonia while on the prairie next to the shore, still has its little island-hill, Φανός/Phanos, where the palace was built.

We search further and we find out that there is a much more narrowly defined Indo-European derivative of *pel(i)s- : *pelhx- which meant : “fort, fortified place”. Obviously, you had to build a town where it was most inaccessible to your enemies in times of attack, preferably on a high ground, on a cliff, on a hill of some sorts. The Lithuanian - Baltic word pilis meaning fort or castle is on the same page. The Sanskrit pura for “town” and also, most interestingly, for “capital” is also linguistically derived from *pelhx.

Cliffs is exactly where we find all of the Homeric era palaces from Odysseus´ Pelle to Menelaus´ Pellana. Incidentally, the word “palace” comes from the original fortified hill in Rome the Palatine hill, called Palatium: one more instance of a Pella, and this one in the heart of Rome! In fact, I am very suspicious of goddess Athena´s most famous adjective: Palas Athena. Could it be a reminiscence of the Achaean past of Athens, where the Mycenaean Megaron, the royal palace was on top of the Acropolis, close to where the later built Parthenon stands now, and the Goddess that gave her name to Athens the city may have simply been called Athena protector of the royal citadel, Athena of the pella, Παλλάς Αθήνη / Pallas Athena? Here I am only speculating, but informed and formative doubt is what gets a discussion going. Others, more knowledgeable, need to look into this.

It makes perfect sense that pella, being a stone, a rock or a cliff, in an age of insecurity, like the bronze age, quickly acquired the more specific meaning of a fortified settlement up on a high ground. This only can account for the multiple Pellas scattered around the Greek landscape, from Macedonia to the Peloponnese and the western islands too.

Taking the idea of the fortified royal Mycenaean settlement one historical political and linguistic step further, the Greeks in their cultural and social development eventually devised a new word to describe their new sociopolitical unit, the city state that came out of the archaic era of Greece. They called it: Polis/Πολις, a word clearly derived from the pella, the word describing the Achaean royal citadel on the cliff.

From the Archeology of Homeric Greece we have learned that the palace, the Achaean Wanaktoron, home of the Wanax was in the cyclopean wall-protected citadel which was in turn always on a difficult to assail high ground. The palace is always on the highest point of the settlement, overlooking the city, and well protected. Anyone that has visited the citadel of Mycenae on the magnificent cliff overseeing the plains of Argolis with an eagle’s nest view has experienced this. So has anyone that has visited Tyrins, Palamedion, or the Acropolis of Athens for that matter.

It would be easy to assume that the Homeric epic-inspired Macedonians once again did not surprise us by choosing a most Homeric name for their new capital: Pella / Πέλλα. This fits with everything we know of the rough and conservative and royalist-minded Macedonians. The reality, fortunately, is much more complicated than that. We already mentioned Pella/Πέλλα the city next to Ichnai/Ίχναι both being seashore cities close to Axios river through which Xerxes´ army passed on their way to southern Greece. The Greek archaeologist Maria Lilimpaki-Akamati, on a book about Pella published by the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological receipts fund, reminds us, speaking of Pella:

“Pella´s earliest years…in 400 BC or thereabouts the royal capital was moved from Aegae to the shorte of the Thermaikos gulf, above or near an older, existing settlement.”

Πέλλα και η περιοχή της /Pella and its environs, Athens 2004

It has been strongly suggested (“An inventory of archaic and classical poleis”, Mogens Herman Hansen, Thomas Heine Nielsen) that Ichnai/Ίχναι was originally a Paionian city, which early on received an influx of Greek colonists and later absorbed and completely Hellenized by the Macedonians. This makes perfect sense historically and geographically for the time before the 5th cBC. After all, yet another unquestionably Paionian city of the same name existed by the lake of Achinos, in what is now the province of Serres/Σέρρες in Macedonia, Greece. That city was eventually destroyed during an attack of the Bulgarians in the middle Byzantine era, and the city was re-established up on the hills, away from the lake. Its old Paionian name survives today in the name of Nea Zichna/Νέα Ζίχνη close to Serres. The Paionian Ichna/Ίχνα is a cognate of the Greek word ichnos/ ίχνος, meaning the step-ground, a stepping place; a very appropriate name for a city on the solid ground between the sea (or the lake as in Serres´ Ichna) and the marsh. The capital of the Paionians on the Amphaxitis, Άμυδών/Amydon, a city that was at some point destroyed, most probably by the Macedonians, was not far away from either Pella or Ichna.:

Αὐτὰρ Πυραίχμης ἄγε Παίονας ἀγκυλοτόξους

τηλόθεν ἐξ Ἀμυδῶνος ἀπ’ Ἀξιοῦ εὐρὺ ῥέοντος,

Ἀξιοῦ οὗ κάλλιστον ὕδωρ ἐπικίδναται αἶαν.

Pyraikhmes led the Paeonian archers

from distant Amydon, by the broad waters of the river

Axios, the fairest that flow upon the earth.

Ομήρου Ιλιάς B, 848-850 / Homer, Iliad 2, 848-850

Knowing that the Paionians lived in this area and that the Macedonians did not conquer the Αμφαξίτις/Amphaxitis from them until about the beginnings of the 5th cBC, it is very safe to assume that Pella was established originally as a Paionian city and that its name is indeed a Paionian-Greek isogloss. This would not be the only one, after all. Gordion, the capital of Phrygia, known from Alexander´s cutting of the Gordian knot has a counterpart in Gordynia, of Macedonia.

Γορδυνία, πόλις Μακεδονίας…

Gordynia city of Macedonia…

as Stephanos of Byzantium informs us. Gordynia was originally a Paionian city. In Thrace we have Γορδίου τείχος /Gordiou teichos (Gordios´ wall) which almost certainly was originally a Phrygian establishment, later Hellenized.

Further south there is the Greek city of Γυρτών/Gyrton in Thessaly,

Γυρτών, πόλις Θεσσαλίας…

Gyrton, city of Thessally…

also mentioned in Stephanos Byzantios´s Εθνικά/Ethnika.

Far away from the Phrygians and the Paionians, in the center of the Peloponnese, there is Γορτυνία/Gortynia of Arcadia.

Last but not least, and probably the most famous, after Gordion is Γόρτυς/Gortys, or Γορτυν/Gortyn a city in Crete, the largest city on that south Aegean Island during the Roman times. Stephanos Byzantios very revealingly tells us that Γόρτυς/Gortys, or Γορτυν/Gortyn of Crete has also another, explainable name:

οι δέ Γόρτυναν ώς άμυναν

and others (call her) Gortyna meaning: defense.

Considering the close linguistic affinity attested in funerary and numismatic epigraphy as well as surviving toponyms between the Paionians/Παίονες, the Brygians/Βρύγες ~ Phrygians/Φρύγες and the Greeks, we can be certain that all three of whom at some point, were one ethnic and linguistic group. Between 3200, when they first separated from other Indo-European tribes and are first attested in the middle and lower Balkans, and about 2100 to 2000 or so BC they forced their way into Macedonia, Paionia and lower Greece, and this is when they separate linguistically developing dialectical differences that made them incomprehensible to each other, but the basic language structure, the grammar and the vocabulary are still almost identical. The relation of the Phrygian to Greek is now indisputable and modern Phrygiologst linguists consider Greek and Phrygian sister languages (Claude Brixhe, Panagiotou, Vladimir Orel). As for the Paionians:

“The ancient Paionians may have been of Hellenic stock, but relatively little is known about them, partly because “no Paionian Philip ever dominated Greece, and no Paionian Alexander ever conquered the known world” ( Irwin L. Merker, “The Ancient Kingdom of Paionia,” Balkan Studies 6 (1965) 35).”

The fact that Pella is a common word for both Paionians and Greeks makes perfect sense. After all, while there was Παιoνία/Paionia in what is now central Macedonia and central FYROM, there is also Παιανία/Paiania in Attica, in the heart of Greece, in the province of Athens. As a final stone to this, we need to look into the name of Φακός/Phakos, the tiny hill-island on top of which the Royal palace of the Macedonians was built.

“When Aemilius Paulus, the conqueror of Perseus at the battle of Pydna, reached Pella, he encamped outside the city before entering it. There he expressed his admiration for the ideal site occupied by the city, which was encircled by a stout fortification wall. To the South of it, in the direction of the sea, was a small elevation in the land, known as the Phakos so called from its lentoid shape (phaki in greek), which was fortified by a wall. The city communicated with the Phakos by means of a bridge. According to Livy (XLIV 6, 1-2), the royal treasury was located on the Phakos.”

Φακός/Phakos means indeed lentil in ancient Greek (modern Greek φακή/phaki or in plural φακές/phakes). But is this a credible etymology? Why would anyone name an island lentil, even if it is “lentil-shaped”? Lentils, the last I checked are round shaped. Why not name the round (if it was round indeed, the archaeologists can easily verify this through further excavations) island something like Στρογγύλη /Stoggyle, the round one, as in the case of Thera-Santorini, or Ασπίς/Aspis, for the round shape of the Macedonian shield, or something, anything more appropriate, this was the seatof their king, the center of their capital…why call it lentil, of all things? I cannot even understand how people cannot look beyond their nose for the obvious solution: Phakos is definitely a vey Greek sounding word, and in fact we have the exactly same word in modern Greek: φακός/phakos. It describes the item someone uses in the dark to make darkness appear as light: the electric flashlight. It is oreiginally derived from phaos-phos, meaning light. The words photography, photosynthesis etc are all derived from phos. The verb φαίνω /phaino and φαίνομαι /phainomai means “to appear”. Το say “manifest” or “appearing” you add επι/epi and you create the verb επιφαίνομαι/epiphainomai. The Ptolemaian kings were called: Θεοί Επιφανείς / Theoi Epiphaneis : Manifest Gods, “the Gods that can be seen”. Speaking of the Ptolemies, the island of Alexandria with the lighthouse was called the Φάρος/Pharos, the illuminating one, because of the lighthouse that was built on it, and ever since the word for lighthouse in Greek is φάρος/pharos. Phakos is most probably a Paionian cognate word to pharos, that meant “the place that can be seen”. If someone is walking in the thick marshes, the high ground is appearing visible to them from a distance. If it was Greek, it would be φανής /phaneis, or φαινόμενος/phainomenos (passive). To me this etymology makes a lot more sense and it only becomes possible once we accept the simple historical fact that Pella was originally a Paionian establishment. The historical dates (Pella as the capital of Macedonia was re-established by Archelaos about 400BC and the Macedonians took over lower Amphaxitis around 500 BC. Before the 5th cBC there were not Hellenic speaking Macedonians in the Lower Amphaxitis, only their linguistic cousins, Homer´s Παίονες ἀγκυλότοξοι / Paiones of the curved bows ἀπ’ Ἀξιοῦ εὐρὺ ῥέοντος / by the broad waters of the river Axios led by their mythical king Πυραίχμης/Pyraikhmes the one who had Πυρ/Pyr, fire in his αιχμή/aikhme, spearpoint!


Soon after its foundation as an Argaead city, as capital of Macedonia, Pella grew to quickly become a major, world class city:

καὶ Πέλλαν, ἥπερ μεγίστη τῶν ἐν Μακεδονίαι πόλεων»

“and Pella, which is the largest of the cities in Macedonia”

Ξενοφωντος Ελληνικα 5.2.13 / Xenophon Hellenica 5.2.13

Xenophon tells us about it, not too long after Pella´s re-establishment.

In other words, Demosthenes´ infamous oratorical statement (18.68) that Philip was a mere “barbarian” who grew up “in a small and insignificant village”, contained in one sentence not just one but two major (and blatantly dishonest) rhetorical and political exaggeratio

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