The Truth About Macedonia
Simple answers to frequently used Slavic (FYROM) arguments that question the Greek identity of Macedonia.
"Greece officially denied the use of the name Macedonia after the Balkan wars."
This is a very inaccurate argument. There are several examples of state institutions and private businesses using the name Macedonia which operate in Greece since the early 1900s. These are just a few of them:
The "Macedonia" newspaper (1912)
The Society for Macedonian Studies (1939) [web site]
The museum of ancient Macedonia (1961) [web site]
The museum of the Macedonian struggle (1979) [web site]
Greece has been actively using the name Macedonia since its liberation from the Ottoman empire. If Greece's official position was to "deny the existence of Macedonia," how would it be possible for hundreds of private companies to be named after Macedonia?
"Greece has changed the 'Macedonian' names of locations in the Macedonia region."
The Greek names are older than the Slavic ones and most of them have their roots in ancient Greece. The Greek names of the towns in Macedonia are also mentioned in the Bible. A characteristic example is Thessaloniki. This city was founded in 315 bc by the Macedonian king Kasssandros and it was named after Alexanders' half sister - Thessaloniki. How could the Greeks change the name from Solun (as the Slavs claim) to Thessaloniki in 1912 if that was the original name? The name Thessaloniki is even mentioned in the bible by St Paul. Why did he address his letters (epistoles) to the people of Thessaloniki and not the to the people of Solun? What about the Greek names of towns inside FYROM used during the Ottoman times? Did Greece change them as well?
"Today's 'Greeks' and ancient 'Hellenes' have no relation between them."
How is it possible for the people who live in the same region, speak the same language and have the same names and culture not to be descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the region? Similarly we could say that today's Egyptians are not descendants of ancient Egyptians and today's Chinese people are not descendants of ancient Chinese.
The name 'Greek' is in fact ancient as well as the famous philosopher Aristotelis verifies:
"...and she was not there forever, but after the cataclysm of Defkalion, which occurred in the Hellenic area, in fact, in the ancient Hellas, which was around Dodoni, and it changed many times the flow of Acheloos river. In that area live the Selloi and the ones that were once called Graecoi and are now called Hellenes..." [Aristotelis Meteorologika, I, 14]
"There is a large Macedonian minority in Greece"
There is no "Macedonian minority" in Greece because there is no such nationality. There is a small group of people who speak a Slavic dialect which is in fact different from what is claimed to be the "Macedonian language" These people are not a "Macedonian minority" as they consider themselves Greeks. There is also an even smaller group of Slav propagandists who are trying to create a Macedonian minority in Greece. Anyone who didn't consider him/herself Greek could and should have left Greece during the exchange of populations in 1919.
"One million people in Greece consider themselves Macedonians"
In the 1996 parliament elections in Greece the political party of the people who claim to be a "Macedonian minority" gained 3.485 votes (official result). In the 2000 parliament elections they didn't take up part at all. Of course there is no doubt of the integrity of the election procedures since Greece is a member of the European Union. If there was such a large number of "Macedonians" in Greece (1/10th) wouldn't be easy for them to stand up against the "Greek occupation"?
"Greece acquired illegally Aegean Macedonia in 1913"
Greece acquired 51% of Macedonia in 1913 as a result of the treaty of Bucharest. International treaties are not illegal. Furthermore Greece in 1913 was not a powerful country to acquire any land it desired. This land was "given" to Greece because it historically belonged to Greece and its residents were Greek.
"What gives Greece the right to name another country? This issue is straightforward, every country has the right to call itself whatever it wishes."
This is a misleading statement. The author knows very well why Greece is objecting to the use of the name Macedonia. In fact every country has the right to chose its own name as far as it does not belong to another country's history. The name Macedonia belongs to the Greek history. Greece has the right to protect its history and heritage.
"Saints Cyril and Methdje (or Kirl and Metodi) were not Greeks but Macedonians."
Saints Cyrilos and Methodios were Greeks born in Thessaloniki and this is well known to all Christians. Pope John Paul the B' in an official apostolic homily to the entire Catholic Church proclaimed that Methodius and Cyril "Greek brethren born in Thessaloniki" are consecrated as "heavenly protectors of Europe". John Paul B' repeated this statement in a speech delivered in the church of Saint Clements, in Rome. You can see the original document here.
"Greece stole the Macedonian history"
Greece does not 'steal' history. It has its own lengthy and respected history. It is the only thing that Greece has plenty of it. The Greek history and culture is respected by all the countries in the world. People who don't have their own history need to 'steal' someone else's...
"Linguistic science has at its disposal a very limited quantity of Macedonian words. A very limited quantity in this case is a quantity indeed, that Greeks cannot ignore."
This argument proves the Greek point that the "Macedonian language" was a Greek a dialect. There only exists "a limited quantity of Macedonian words" because the Macedonian dialect had "limited" differences from the Greek language. How could it be possible for a separate "ancient Macedonian language" to disappeared after what Alexander had achieved?
"If Philip united and not conquered the Greeks why did Alexander leave 25.000 men of his army in Macedonia when he is about to face the strongest and most numerous army in the world?"
No sensible leader would go on a quest taking ALL his army with him and leaving his homeland unprotected! And of course he did not leave 25.000 men in Macedonia because he was afraid of the other Greeks. Macedonia had lots of real enemies at its northern border (Illyrians, Dardanians, Paionians etc).
"If Macedonians were Greek then why only 30% of Alexander's army were Greek?"
The right question to ask is 'why as many as 30% of Alexander's army were from the rest of Greece?' After all Macedonians and Greeks were supposed to be enemies! The Macedonians 'conquered' the Greeks according to the Slavic version of the Macedonian history. The fact that a very significant part of Alexander's army were non-Macedonian Greeks shows the truth.
"Ancient Macedonians did not take part in the Olympic Games"
This is another false statement. It can be easily proved that people from Macedonia took part in the Olympic Games. For a list Macedonians who won the Olympic Games the click here.
"Ancient Macedonians fought against Greece."
This is another misleading statement. It is well known that the ancient Greek states were largely independed of each other and that often led to wars between them. Some well-known examples are the Peolloponisian was between Athens and Sparti, the Athenians quest in the island of Mitilini, the brutal war between Sparti and Thebes and many more. A war between two ancient Greek regions did not mean that one of them was not Greek.
"There are no ancient monuments written in the Macedonian language because Greek archaeologists destroy them when they are recovered."
Even if we accept that this is true it still doesn't explain why aren't there any monuments in the rest of Macedonia! What about the ancient monuments in FYROM and Bulgaria? What about the ancient monuments on Alexander's route in Asia? Why aren't there any "non Greek Macedonian monuments"? Oh, I know why! The Greek archaeologists must have destroyed them as well!!!
"If in fact, "Macedonia is Greece", how come they feel the need to emphasize, to shout, and to proclaim over and over again? After all, we never hear them proclaiming that 'Thebes is Greece', or 'Sparta is Greece' ".
If the Salvs wanted to name heir country "Republic of Thebes" or "Republic of Sparta" we would shout out "Thebes and Sparta are Greek". But they are claiming to be Macedonians so we shout that
"MACEDONIA WAS GREEK"
"MACEDONIA IS GREEK"
"MACEDONIA WILL BE FOREVER GREEK"
Were the ancient Macedonians Greek?
There is no doubt that ancient Macedonians were Greek. It is thoroughly proved by historic documents and archaeological discoveries which can be found in history books and museums in Greece and arround the world. The most important archeological discovery in Macedonia is the tomb of King Philippos II. It was excavated in Vergina, Greece in 1978 and it proves beyond any doubt the Greekness of ancient Macedonia. All the findings are characteristic of the Greek culture and all the inscriptions are written using the Greek language. Among the discoveries of this tomb is the "Vergina sun" the symbol that FYROM attempted to use on its flag initially.
Facts which prove that ancient Macedonians were Greek people:
Macedonians spoke a dialect of the Greek language
All the monuments and inscriptions found in the Macedonia are written using the Greek language. Take a look at the archaeological discoveries. There is no historic evidence to suggest that the Macedonians were using a different language.
Macedonians had Greek names
All the ancient Macedonian names mentioned in history or found on tombs are Greek. All the kings of Ancient Macedonia had Greek names. Nobody discovered ancient Macedonian names ending to -ov or -ovski or whatever.
Alexander's name is Greek. The word Alexandros is produced from the prefix alex (protector) and the word andros (man) meaning "he who protects men". The prefix alex can be found in many Greek words today (alexiptoto = parachute, alexisfairo = bulletproof - all these words have the meaning of protection).
Philip's name is also Greek. It is produced from the prefix Philo (friendly to something) and the word ippos (horse) meaning the man who is friendly to horses. The prefix philo and the word ippos are also found in many words of Greek origin today (philosophy, philology, hippodrome, hippocampus).
A detailed list of ancient Macedonian names can be found here.
The regions of ancient Macedonia had Greek names.
The regions which formed ancient Macedonia had Greek names. Most of these names are used in Greece even today. You can see a list of the regions of ancient Macedonia here.
Macedonian architecture was similar to the Greek architecture.
All the buldings found in the Macedonia region have many common characteristics with the ones found in the rest of Greece. Palaces, temples, theaters markets are characteristic sampes of ancient Greek architecture.
Macedonians fought together with the rest of the Greeks.
Macedonians always fought along with the other Greek city-states against enemies from Asia.
Macedonians took part in the Olympic games.
It is well known then ONLY Greeks were allowed to take part in the ancient Olympic games. For a list of Macedonians who participated in the Olympic Games click here.
Macedonians celebrated the same festivals as the rest of the Greeks.
Examples of festivals which were celebrated in Macedonia as well as in other Greek states are the Hetaireidia, the Apellaia and many more.
Macedonians worshiped the same Gods as the rest of the Greeks.
Several temples dedicated to the Greek Gods have been discovered in Macedonia and especially in Dion the religious center of ancient Macedonians. It is obvious that the Macedonias worshiped the 12 Olympian Gods as the rest of the Greeks. The Gods were "living" on Mount Olympos which happens to be located in Macedonia. How would that be possible if there was hostility between Macedonians and Greeks? This is another proof that Macedonia was considered a part of Greece.
Source: http://truth.macedonia.gr © Real Macedonia 2001.
These sites are probably the most authoritative on the issue, though they are presented from the Greek side. However, most of what is stated (if not all) is true. It is hard, after all, to refute archaeological evidence. If evidence indicates people in a region spoke Greek, wrote Greek, and otherwise acted Greek, then I think it is safe to say these people were in fact Greek. But I guess Skopjans would argue that Alexander the Great was "brainwashed" into speaking Greek and spreading Hellenism throughout the world. See my summary of key points here.
This page is unbiased, as it tells a brief history of Macedonia in the context of the Roman Empire. My favorite quote from this page: "There has been a great deal of debate on whether or not the Macedonian people were actually Greek, as opposed to just hellenized northern neighbors of various European tribal descent. Archeological evidence, however, based on linguistics and surviving writings suggests that these people were, in fact, Greek."
Check out what FYROM originally wanted for its currency and flag.
Check out the guest book; only "approved" entries are allowed. I looked through most of the entries, and there was not a single negative comment. I posted a comment, nicely worded, indicating that I did not agree with what was being stated on the site. To this day, my entry has still not been posted. So much for free speech or dissent.
The Bottom Line
This is my feeble attempt to sum up the arguments against FYROM attempting to lay claim to Greek heritage:
- "Macedonia" is a Greek word. It is the name of a nation that existed 2500 years ago. Its people spoke Greek. Its people spread Greek culture throughout the world. When FYROMians claim that they are the one and only Macedonians, it is perhaps the biggest lie they can tell. Perhaps they have a right to call themselves Macedonians (due to geographical location), but they are not the Macedonians. This does a great disservice to Greek Macedonians, who have done a much better job of connecting with their ancestors.
- The "real" Macedonian language was a dialect of Greek. All historical evidence from the time of the ancient Macedonian kingdom indicates that the written language of the time was Greek. FYROM's language is not "Macedonian". It is a Bulgarian dialect which post-dates Alexander by over 1000 years. There is little, if any, connection to the ancient Macedonian language.
- The most important regions and cities of the ancient kindom of Macedonia are in Greece and they had (and still have) Greek names. There cannot be a "Republic of Macedonia" without the heart and soul of Macedonia.
Looking at these points alone, how can anyone agree that FYROMians should call themselves the one and only "Macedonians"? I personally do not think they are Macedonians at all, since they have so little in common with their supposed ancestors. They hate Greeks, they don't speak Greek, and they emphatically minimize the connection between ancient Macedonians and their Greek brethren. For these reasons alone they do not deserve to call themselves Macedonians.
However, if FYROMians were to finally admit that their language is Bulgarian (or anything but "Macedonian") and call their country Vardar-Macedonia (or Vardacedonia), then this might be an acceptable compromise. But FYROM cannot ever use simply "Macedonia". A nation founded on a lie will not survive.