Sunday, February 18, 2007

The 'Hellenization' argument contradiction

Whenever the issue of ancient Macedonian greekness arises, i notice the same contradiction over and over. Until now as we all know all the archaeological inscriptions found and mostly Pella's curse tablet of 4th cent. BC, which is the only ancient 'Macedonian' text we have, are proving that Macedonians spoke a dialect related to North-West Greek, and this is a something the entirety of the scientific community agrees on.

Now, if archaeologists discover eg. an inscription written in a different language, and its older than the existing ones, this is obviously evidence that Macedonia had a language/dialect which was not greek.But if they dont, as they havent found all these decades, this is only taken as evidence, that ancient Macedonia was simply 'Hellenized'.

In other words, according to what people claim, if they find archaeological discoveries, older than the existing in a different language that's proof Macedonia wasnt greek and if they dont, its proof Macedonia was 'hellenized' therefore it wasnt greek again.Same contradiction exists with other arguments i read every now and then about

Alexander declaring in every chance he was given that he was greek.

The explanation of some is usually that Alexander was doing "propaganda".

All these examples, mean exactly, nothing at all could be accepted as evidence that Macedonians were of greek origin since only evidence that they were not is counted.It is logical that in order to perform a genuine discussion of a theory people must permit the possibility of evidence that would count against it.

If you do not, the discussion cannot be genuine or constructive, because a discussion that is run with the presumption that nothing could count as a failure of a point is no real discussion at all, but rather its a joke.

Beware of the above guys, next time anyone will use the "Hellenization" argument against you.

In spite of the political turbulence and chaos of the fourth century BC, Greece was poised on its most triumphant period: the Hellenistic age. The word, Hellenistic, is derived from the word, Hellene, which was the Greek word for the Greeks. The Hellenistic age was the "age of the Greeks; during this time, Greek culture and power extended itself across the known world.

While the classical age of Greece produced great literature, poetry, philosophy, drama, and art, the Hellenistic age "hellenized" the world. At the root of Hellenism were the conquests of Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander. However, the Macedonians did more than control territory; they actively exported Greek culture: politics, law, literature, philosophy, religion, and art. This was a new idea, exporting culture, and more than anything else this exporting of culture would deeply influence all the civilizations and cultures that would later erupt from this soil: the Romans, the Christians, the Jewish diaspora, and Islam.

Macedon all during the age of the Greek city-states was an anomaly: it was a Greek kingdom. Located north-east of the Greek mainland and northwest of Asia Minor, Macedon was firmly entrenched on the European continent. The Macedonians were the Greeks who had to contend, then, with all the European tribes, many of which were war-like. So the Macedonians served as a kind of buffer for the Greeks, as the faithful Greeks who stood between the tribal Europeans and the Greek city-states. For all that, the Macedonians were deeply unappreciated by their fellow Greeks; they were looked on as no better than barbarians themselves, particularly since they had never developed or adopted the polis.

The Macedonians were ruled by a king, much like the Mycenean kings. The king came to power through inheritance, but first had to be approved by the army. Beneath the king was an aristocracy of nobles who had a limited amount of power; like all monarchies that shared power with an aristocracy, the balance of power frequently shifted from the king to the nobles and back again. Into this situation, at the peak of the political chaos roiling the Greek world to the south, stepped a powerful king who unified the country of Macedon and set his sights on conquering the whole of the Greek world: Philip of Macedon.

Despite the constant conflict, the Hellenistic world was an incredibly prosperous one. Alexander and his successors had liberated an immense amount of wealth from the Persian empire, and with this new wealth in circulation the standard of living rose dramatically. Each of the empires embarked on building projects, on scholarship, on patronage of the arts, and on literature and philosophy. The Ptolemies built an enormous library in their capital city of Alexandria, and sponsored the translation of a host of religious and literary works into Greek.This period really marked the first international culture in western, middle eastern, and north African history.

The Greeks imported their culture: political theory, philosophy, art, and literature all over the known civilized world. This culture would greatly alter the culture and religion of the Mediterannean. But the flow of culture worked in the opposite direction as well; non-Greek ideas and non-Greeks flowed into Greece (and Italy). They took with them their religions, their philosophies, science, and culture; in this environment, eastern religions in particular began to take hold in the Greek city-states both in the east and in Greece. Among these religions was Zoroastrianism and Mithraism; in later years, this international environment would provide the means for the spread of another eastern religion, Christianity.

This process of the "hellenization" ("making Greek") of the world took place largely in the urban centers the Greeks began to zealously build. While the Greeks had for a long time believed that monarchy was a sign of barbarity, they had to come to terms with the reality of their new form of government. So they compromised. While they accepted the monarchy, the set about building somewhat independent poleis that had the structure of the polis without its political independence. The growth of these cities provoked massive migrations from the Greek mainland, as Greeks settled in these new, far-flung poleis to assume lucrative positions in the military and administration.

Spread from Italy to India, from Macedonia to Egypt, Greek culture was the most significant of its times. The mighty empires of the Greeks hung onto this vast amount of territory for almost three centuries. Slowly, however, a new power was rising in the west, steadily building its own, accidental empire. By the time of Christ, the great Greek empires of the Hellenistic world had been replaced and unified once more into a single empire under the control of an Italian people, the Romans.


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