Monday, January 11, 2010


I received this comment from an anonymous reader on my recent Word of the Day post. Thanks for the correction!

"I do not wish to delve into Balkan politics and the heated Macedonian naming dispute; however, I do have a problem with your inclusion of Renee Kaplan's description of Macedonia as located "way down in Southeastern Europe between Serbia, Albania, and Greece." This definition refers to the former Yugoslav republic and ignores the existence of a northern Greek region which defines itself as Macedonia. In fact, the birthplace of Aristotle and Alexander (in Stagira and Pella respectively) can be found in northern Greece (the Greek province of Macedonia) and not somewhere "wedged" between Greece and Serbia. The kingdom of Macedonia, which was ruled by Philip and Alexander, primarily lies within the borders of modern Greece and extends into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by only 100km. Renee Kaplan's descriptor of Macedonia's location encompasses the ancient regions of Paeonia and Dardania, and not the Macedonian kingdom of Alexander. However, it should be noted that the geographic boundaries and territories of what is termed to be "Macedonia" changed throughout history. (I point out this distiction because this blog deals primarily with Alexander's Macedonia). One should be careful before linking the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (which is largely Slavic in language and culture) to ancient Macedonia, which spoke a bastardized Greek dialect, or a language closely related to Greek if not Greek itself.

The statement that Macedonia has been home to a "richly varied population encompassing many ethnic groups" is quite true. Macedonia, which became fully assimilated with Greece by the end of the Hellenistic period, would come under Roman and Byzantine rule, overrun by Slavs in the seventh and eighth centuries, conquered by Bulgars and Serbs in the Middle Ages, and settled by Turks and Jews during the Ottoman periods. The mixed population of the region resulted in the competing Greek and Slavic nationalisms in the region, and the present conflict over the name and ancient symbols of Macedonia."


Anonymous said...

MACEDONIA correction to correction

what the person providing their so called "correction" failed to mention is that the part of northern Macedonia which they are refering to as being in greece and the birth place of Alexander the Great (and therefore making it sound as though he was greek) has been in the hands of greece for less than a HUNDRED years! they fail to mention that the region was annexed from Macedonia in 1913.
for over two thousand years prior to that it was a part of Macedonia and had been from the times of Alexander the Great of Macedon,not greece.
check it for yourself by looking at any reputable map of Ancient Macedonia.
Therefore all the Legend and all the Glory of Ancient Times rightfully belongs to Macedonia and those who have always called themselves Macedonians,not to those who have annexed 50% of an Ancient Land and decided to appropriate more than the Land but also its history,and then go about falsely "correcting" blogs and journals such as yours.
my sincere appologies for the "political" comment,but ommiting information in order to hide truth is disgusting.

Truth Is The Daughter Of Time.

Amyntas said...


I knew my posting on Macedonia would draw a response similar to your own, and my intention was not to enter into a heated debate about the Macedonian naming dispute as I indicated at the beginning of my post. Unfortunately, Balkan history and politics are so charged that even a posting on a salad can draw significant controversy. While I do admit that I am of Greek heritage and have my own biases on the issue, I tried to present a balanced view of the issue, as opposed to a nationalistic one like your own.

I believe that most of my points can be verified by most scholars of Classical, Byzantine, and Modern history. I do not intentionally omit that Greek Maedonia has been a part of modern Greece for the last hundred years, as I clearly outline all the foreign invasions, settlements, and conquerors of the wider Macedonian region from the time of the Romans to the Ottomans. Any student of Balkan history knows that Ottoman rule in the region came to an end in the early part of the twentieth century, and that the competing nationalisms among the different ethnicities arose during this period; the geographic region of Macedonia was ultimately divided between Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria in 1913. For brevity’s sake, I did not outline these points in my post.

Amyntas said...

Allow me to correct you on some of your points:

You indicate that the Greek region of Macedonia “was annexed by Macedonia in 1913”. This statement is inaccurate as the region was annexed by Greece from the Ottoman Turks . Most demographic maps of the Ottoman period would attest to a substantial Greek population in the coastal and urban areas of what would become Greek Macedonia-I do not argue that all of Greek Macedonia was a homogenous Greek-speaking entity initially though. The last Macedonian state ceased to exist at the time of the Roman conquest, and from this point on, we can only speak of a geographic region which would come to have a mixed population (hence, the French term for a mixed salad). In fact, one could argue that the name Macedonia disappeared from common usage during the Ottoman period and was reintroduced by Romantics in the 1800s.
With respect to my correction, one cannot disagree with the fact that a region of Macedonia does exist in northern Greece, and that Kaplan’s geographic definition was quite narrow.

You also indicate that I tried to make Alexander the Great “sound Greek”. Aristotle was born in Greek Macedonia and one cannot deny his ‘Greekness’. With respect to Alexander, I purposely avoided claiming that he was “Greek” and that the ancient Macedonians were “Greek”; however, the far majority of classical scholars believe that they spoke a Greek dialect, or a sibling language closely related to Greek. I was careful to include both theories on the language of the Macedonians, despite the recent discovery of the katadesmos stone which points to a northwest Greek dialect. Most scholars also agree that the Macedonians adopted standard Greek koine by the end of the Hellenistic period (and that any distinction which may have existed between Macedonia and the southern Greek states ceased to exist at this point). Over five thousand Greek inscriptions have been excavated in Macedonia, more so than in any other part of Greece. (One can take this evidence and make his or her own conclusion regarding ancient Macedonian ethnicity). The ancient Macedonians certainly did not speak the south Slavic language which is known as “Macedonian” (as the Slavs first made their appearance in the Balkans during the sixth century).

You also wrongfully indicate that the “all the Legend and Glory Ancient Macedonia belongs to the Macedonians, not those who annexed 50 % of an ancient Land and decided to appropriate more than the Land and its history, and then fiercely go about “falsely correcting blogs.” One should remember, though, that national identities are modern twentieth century constructs, and every nation in the Balkans has looked at ancient history to build a national narrative and claim ownership of a territorial area. This applies to all the ethnicities, involved in the modern Macedonian dispute-whether Greek, Bulgarian, or (Slavic) Macedonian.

With respectful regards,