The district of Macedonia took its name from Macedon theson of Zeus and Thyia, Deucalion’s daughter, as Hesiod says:‘And she conceived and bare to Zeus who delights in the thunderbolt two sons, Magnes and Macedon, rejoicing in horses, who dwell round about Pieria and Olympus.’(1)(Hesiod, c.720 BC)
In ancient Greek
Magnhta Makhdona Makedonia h cwra wnomasqh apo Makedonos tou Dios kai Quias ths Deukaliwnos, ws fhsin Hsiodos:h d’ upokusamenh Dii geinato terpikeraunw uie duw Magnhta Makhdona Q’ ippiocarmhn, oi periPierihn kai Olumpon dwmat enaion. (1)(Hsiodos, c.720 BC)
Maketai’ from ‘Maketia’ Greek and Western history begins with Homer and Hesiod writing eternal masterpieces c.720 BC. Homer and Hesiod wrote The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Theogony, The Works and Days, and many more great western masterpieces. They recorded events of their prehistoric world passed on through oral traditions. This prehistoric period is known as the Bronze Age, the Heroic Age, the Mycenaean Age, and the Homeric Age. From these great works of literature of Greek Mythology and Legend, the ancient and modern historical record, and the archaeological record, much is known about the Macedonians and their world. The Macedonians are ingrained in Greek mythology from the earliest prehistoric times. The Macedonians lived in a traditional, free peasant, egalitarian, warrior, patriarchal society that was grounded in transhumant pastoralism. The Macedonians spoke one of the oldest Greek dialects, Aeolic Greek, the same dialect of Homer and Hesiod. The nomenclature of people, places and descriptions is Greek and original, many unique to Macedonia alone, formed with proper Greek roots. The language of the Macedonians was not controversial in antiquity. Hesiod the poet and recorder of Greek mythology tells us about Macedonia, the Macedonians, their background, habitat and language in his cosmology of the Greek world. Hesiod, in his own time c.720 BC casts the traditions of the people in his Greek world into the form of genealogies, in which “eponymous ancestors of ethnic groups were related to one another,”(3) as summed up quite well by Hammond.
In simpler terms Hesiod determined the race and ancestry of the Greeks by the separate Greek dialects of the period. Hesiod was writing of a period much earlier than his own time, the first appearance of the Magnesians and Macedonians being about the thirteenth century BC. The Iliad tells us that the Magnesians were placed ‘around Peneus and the quivering foliage of Pelion’,(4) which is Magnesia or more commonly known as Thessaly. In Hesiod's work Deucalion living in Thessaly had a son Hellen and daughter Thyia. Hesiod writes, “And from Hellen the war-loving king sprang Dorus and Xuthus and Aeolus delighting in horses.”(5) These three children of Hellen represent the three major Greek dialects, the Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic in respective order. Hesiod then writes, “The district of Macedonia took its name from Macedon the son of Zeus and Thyia, Deucalion’s daughter, as Hesiod says: And she conceived and bare to Zeus who delights in the thunderbolt two sons, Magnes and Macedon, rejoicing in horses, who dwell round about Pieria and Olympus.”(6) Hesiod makes Magnes and Macedon brothers, sons of Zeus, and first cousins of the Hellenes because he regards them as speakers of a dialect of the Greek language. Magnes fathered the Magnesians who settled south of Mt. Olympus in Thessaly, becoming closer to the Classical Greek world. Macedon settled north of Mt. Olympus in Macedonia, a far richer land, and fathered the Macedonians. Hesiod would not have made Macedon and Magnes first cousins of Dorus, Xuthus and Aeolus, the founders of the three main dialects of Greek speech if they were not Greek speakers. Modern archaeology and the historical record have proven Hesiod correct. In Thessaly inscriptions of the Aeolic dialect recording names and events have been found and placed in c.500 BC.(7) It follows then that Macedon being a brother of Magnes spoke Aeolic Greek. This was corroborated by Hellanicus c.500 BC, a Greek historian and contemporary of Herodotus, who visited the court of the Macedonian King and interacted with the Macedonians during his stay. He changed Hesiod’s cosmology. He stated that Aeolus and Zeus fathered Macedon, making Macedon a son and not a cousin of Aeolus, and a direct descendant of Hellen.(8) Why did Hellanicus make this change? He recognized the strong Aeolic dialect which he was very familiar with and concluded that Hesiod was not accurate enough when describing the cosmology of the Greek world. Greek origins were indicated by dialects in Hesiod’s cosmology, which is Greek Mythology, and Hellanicus’ observations as a historian needed to be expressed by Greek traditional mythology. Hesiod’s mythology and the historical record must match in Hellanicus’ world. Hellanicus clarified Hesiod’s work by adding greater detail about Greek origins. Hellanicus corroborates Hesiod’s cosmology, there is no question that the Macedonian people were of Greek origin and Greek speakers of the Aeolic dialect.
Macedonian names of people are predominantly original and formulated from Greek roots in very early times. They are distinctly Greek in origin and original at the same time.(9) Names in Macedonia as distinctly Greek with Greek roots can only be named by Greek speakers, the Macedonians. These names are also original in form and do not borrow from Greece proper. The Macedonians, in their Macedonian(Aeolic) dialect, called themselves ‘maketai’ and their land ‘maketia’, both of which are distinctly Greek in origin. The ‘maketai’ from ‘maketia’ literally translates to ‘the highlanders from the highlands’. Their root ‘mak’ is very Greek, it is used in nouns, names and as an adjective. Homer in his Iliad and Odyssey, forthe first time in recorded History c.720 BC, uses the words ‘makednos’ and ‘makedne’, which means long or tall. The Macedonians were tall, large, robust people similar in appearance to the Dorians, and the land, Macedonia, was very high, mountainous and rugged. Thus the ‘mak’ root was used to describe the people and the land itself. ‘Maketai’ is a pre-Hesiod, pre-Homeric earlier variant with the root ‘mak’.(10) It is very similar to Hesiod’s language where ‘makednos’ is a Greek adjective and the noun version is ‘mekos’. The Magnesians born of Magnes, brother of Macedon, also have a very distinguished root. The word ‘magnes’ has the same meaning as ‘makednos’ and ‘makros’, which are very similar to words with the root ‘mak’ in them.(11) The Magnesians are also described as larger, stronger and taller, similar to the Macedonians and Dorians. The Macedonians, Magnesians and Dorians have very much in common. All are described as big, tall, strong and powerful people, and their names imply the same. Here are a few more modern examples with roots ‘mak’ and ‘mag’; (in Greek : the meaning), (makrinos : far, distant), (makria : far off), (makros : length), (makrus : long), (makrainw : make longer, grow taller), (in English : the meaning), (macro : big, large, greater), macros : as in large computer commands, macro, pronounced mak-ro : as a prefix for a variety of medical and scientific terms, i.e., macrocosm, macroeconomics, etc., a magnum bottle of champagne, a magnum shotgun or a magnum bullet. There are numerous words throughout our vocabulary and the vocabulary of many modern languages with ‘mak’ and ‘mag’, and even ‘meg’ and ‘mega’ a later derivative with similar meaning denoting many, big, powerful and great. From Hesiod’s cosmology of the Greek world, Macedon and Magnes live on in modern nomenclature.Place names are also original with proper Greek roots and meanings predominantly unique to Macedonia formulated during the earliest times. Some of the most significant names complement Hesiod’s cosmology of the Greek world.
‘Orestai’ describes mountain men and is a famous tribal name, with a connection to the Orestes region, plain and town. ‘Orestai’ and ‘Oreitai’ are similarly used to describe the people as mountain men and highlanders, having the same meaning as ‘maketai’.(12) Orestes is the homeland of the dominant Macedoniantribe from Upper Macedonia, the Argead tribe, led by the original King Perdiccas c.700 BC. The Argead dynasty produced King Philip and Megas Alexandros. Pieria is the plain of central Macedonia, and a mountain range, in Hesiod’s cosmology, and translates into ‘the rich land’, describing the beauty of the region of woodlands,rivers and fertile plains and valleys, the home of the Macedonians. On the Pierian plain there exists Aegae, a very famous Macedonian city that became the capital of Macedonia where archaeological excavations have unearthed the great burial sites of the Kings of Macedon. The name Aegae comes from a Greek root ‘aiges’, which is the name for goats. Hammond points out that the word ‘aiges’ in itself is onomatopoeic(13); it vocally sounds like goats crying when pronounced. The Macedonian Kingdom’s great wealth was tied to transhumant pastorialism and the capital city of the Macedonians reflects that fact. The Macedonian Royals have been buried here from c.650-350 BC. Professor Hammond in 1968, after studying the historical record of ancient writers, believed and stated that Aegae was in fact modern Vergina, and was proven correct a decade later. Professor Andronicos, in 1978, discovered the Royal Tombs of the Argead dynasty, the tomb of King Philip and hundreds of other burials. Hundreds of inscriptions of Greek names have been uncovered written in Aeolic Greek, all Macedonian and the great majority original to Macedonia. Many burials of Macedonians in the pit graves of the middle and lower classes have revealed the same. Hesiod, Hellanicus and others have been proven correct again. Original Greek names of people and places, unique to Macedonia, in Greek and in the Aeolic dialect proves undisputedly that the Macedonians were Greek. Greek Mythology, Legend, ancient and modern history and archaeology show that the Macedonians were very successful transhumant pastoralists, living in a traditional, free peasant, egalitarian, warrior, patriarchal society, and speaking Aeolic Greek. “The mountains belonged to the Magnetes and Macedones, according to Hesiod, the area was exceptionally beautiful and rich, with fertile plains and valleys and woodlands.”(14) The toughest warriors and patriarchs, living up to Mythology and Legend, fortitude and endurance, never leaving that beautiful land. Hesiod’s cosmology of the Greek world still proves to be correct. Who could ever imagine otherwise? ‘Maketai’ from ‘Maketia’, forever.
Written by Dimitrios Panopoulos
1,5,6 Evelyn-White, Hugh, Hesiod: The Homeric Hymns and Homerica. (Cambridge, 1970), p.157.
2 Evelyn-White, p. 156.
3,7,8,9,12 Hammond, Nicholas, The Macedonian State: The Origins Institutions and History. (Oxford,1989), p. 12-14.
4 Iliad 2.757
10,11Daskalakis, AP., The Hellenism of the Ancient Macedonians. (Athens, 1967) p. 12.
13 Hammond, p.4.
14 Hammond, Nicholas, The Miracle That Was Macedonia. (New York, 1991), p. 1.
This newsletter is published by the The Pan-Macedonian Association of Ontario, EST 1960, a not for profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the historical record. If you enjoyed the reading please let us and your member Association know. Get in touch and get involved. Your support is important. You are encouraged to distribute freely, in whole, for educational purposes.