Saturday, April 12, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions on Byzantine Macedonia, Part 1

Q1 ) FYROM Skopjans accuse us Macedonians in Greece of changing the names of our cities into Greek ones some time in the 20th century instead of using the slavic names assigned to these cities since "ancient" (sic) names. They claim that Edessa for example should not be called so but VODEN instead, and Thessaloniki should be called SOLUN.

Cities in Macedonia, the ancient kingdom and the province of Greece, still have the names they had in antiquity, at least for the cities that existed at that time. The names of some of these cities may not be even of Greek origin, thus showing that Skopjan claims are not only false but at least silly or absurd.

The Skopjans claim that the Macedonian city of Edessa in the Pella prefecture of Macedonia, Greece, should not be called so but Voden instead. They also claim that we Macedonias changed the name of the city from the slavic one "VODEN" into the "greek" one EDESSA. The city of EDESSA has been called so since prehistoric times. It is amusing to point out that many believe the name Edessa is not of Greek, but possibly of phrygic origin denoting a place rich of waters. Edessa has always been famous of her waterfalls. Others may claim that the suffix "-dessa" may indicate 'water' in some prehistoric form of the greek word (GK:YDVR) for water. This connection of the name 'EDESSA' with 'water' had confused many historians until 1976. They used to believe that Edessa was ancient Aegae, the royal city of the Macedonian Kings. They thought that the word 'Aegae' was derived not from the word 'aega' (she-goat) as this is related with the myth of the creation of the Macedonian state by Karanos, but from the doric prefix Aeg- denoting 'water' (cf Edessa). In Doric, 'aegae' means '(water) waves' (The 'Aegean Sea' is an obvious example). Given that both names Edessa and Aegae have to do with 'waters' archaelogists thought that Edessa=Aegae.

This argument was put in rest by Nicholas L. G. Hammond in 1968 when he suggested that Vergina and not Edessa was the ancient Aegae, a correct assertion as it was proved in 1976 by the excavations of M. Andronikos in Vergina. Though Vergina is not on the sea shore of Thermaikos Bay it is believed that in the BC centuries the present lands separating Vergina from the sea were wetlands.

It is noted that the slavic word VODEN also denotes 'water'. It is also worth mentioning that the city of Skopje whose name is probably derives from the greek one 'Skopia', was invariably called 'Uskub', 'Skupoi', 'Skup', 'Skopje', and as of few years ago 'Skoplje'.

Another Example is the city of Kastoria in Western Macedonia, Greece. Skopjans prefer to call it Kostur and suggest that Greeks should call it so. The name of the city 'Kastoria' comes from the mythical hero Kastor (Castor) brother of Polydeukes, son of Leda and Zeus.

Regarding Thessaloniki (called Salonica or Saloniki also in English) if one opens an ancient map he will realize that the name of the city has been Thessaloniki and not Solun (as Skopjan suggest that we should call the city) since ancient times.

Q2) FYROM Skopjans claim that when Slavs descended to the Balkan peninsula, in the 7th century AD, Macedonians vanished and there was a kind of 'slavicization' of Macedonia which 'gave birth' to the "Slavic-Macedononians" as Skopjans claim they are (at least some of them), the supposedly deserved ancestors of ancient Macedonians. Are such claims true say up to 15th century AD?

The distinction between Macedonians, Thessalians, Athenians, Spartans and Lacaedemonians in antiquity which indicated among other things greek tribes of distinct customs, spoken dialects ceased to exist with the passage of time. As of the hellenistic period almost all Greeks were using the attic dialect for their communication while all the other dialects (of greek) were dropped from regular use. The rise of Christianity erased distinctions based in religious matters and the place of residence was then used distinguish say Thessalians from Macedonians and Athenians. Their common greek dialect (the attic one) though evolved differently in various regions thus giving the various dialects of modern greek.

To say that Macedonians vanished some time in the 7AD century is to claim that the Greeks (many of them ancestors of doric people called Macedonians, other possibly ancestor of other aeolic, doric or ionic people, others of mixed parentage) residing in Macedonia were all killed at that time, an absurdity.

Around 688, emperor Justinian B', after the defeat of the Bulgars and Slavs in lower Moissia transferred all the Slavs in the northern european part of his empire (that is of Macedonia and Thrace of nowadays Greece and territories covering the Rep. of Skopje, Albania and parts of Bulgaria) to Asia Minor. These were estimated to be 80,000 but probably were more than that since two years later the emperor preparing for a war against the Arabs conscripted 30,000 men from this population to his army. These Slavs subsequently switched sides and supported the Arabs. The emperor for retribution killed all the remaining Slavs in Asia Minor.

About one hundred years later, in 773AD, the Bulgarian population in the Balkans was reduced after repeated defeats in battles with the Byzantine emperors. When the Bulgars decided to strengthen their army and find new recruits they marched to Thessaly, since there were no Slavs in Macedonia, to capture a small Slavic tribe living there. On their way there they were annihilated by the Byzantine forces. In the next century forced movements of Slavic populations from Greece to Asia Minor continued.

The conclusion is that the Byzantine emperors did everything possible to clear up the northern territories (including Macedonia and Thrace of modern day Greece) of their empire of Slavs.
Various non-Greek sources indicate that not only Macedonia of modern day Greece but also Rep. of Skopje (the latter, if not entirely, at least predominantly) were Greek till the late 15th century AD.

C. Jirecek, in "Geschichte der Serben" claimed that Macedonians were always Greek and all the area south of the line defined by the cities Achris-Skopje-Nissa-Sofia-Aimos-Messimbria was greek (an assertion also confirmed by other authors such as Th. Mommsen, A. Karnach).
Hertzberg (in "Geschichte Byzantinissen") (Vol B, Book A, Chapter Gamma, page 184, 1906 edition). said that in 1282, the population below the line Euxinus Pontus-Aimos-Kustendil-Skopje-Skutari was Greek, in tongue, in customs and working for the greek interests.
One can then wonder when the Bulgarian idiom spoken by the Skopjans was in use say in the lands of nowadays Rep. of Skopje, let alone in antiquity [since Skopjans claim that the Slavic idiom spoken by the Slavs who descended to the Balkans in the 7th AD century was used by the ancient Macedonian 1000-1500 years earlier!].

The French historian Haumant, in "La formation de la Yugoslavie", mentioned that in the 13th century the area from Prisreni to Nissa was empty of people. If there were no Slavs there, then how and when the "Macedonians" of Skopjan type appeared in Macedonia and the Republic of Skopje? This is the reason Albanians (70%?) occupy the region of Cossyphopedio (Kosovo).
Hertzberg, in "Geschichte Byzantinissen", mentioned that when in the 14th century Dushan shared his kingdom with his son he kept the greek area south of Skopje and gave his son the northern Serbian areas (this is also confirmed by a Czech historian, Jirecek). All his orders were then written in Greek and not in any idiom like the onenow spoken in the Republic of Skopje. In 1350 when John Katakouzenos was in the city of Verhoia representatives of all big greek cities (Skopje included) visited him and asked for help. Jirecek mentioned in his book that at this time Skopje was a greek city inhabited mainly by Greeks despite being part of the Serbian kingdom for more than a century. Following Dushan's death around 1355 his son's empire began to collapse. Dushan's brother, Symeon, proclaimed himself an emperor and accorded himself the surname of "Palaeologos" in an attempt to gain the favor of the Greek population of his kingdom(empire). He also wrote his orders in Greek (and not in any strange called slavic idioms).
Soon the Greeks gained the control of the garrisons of various greek cities (such as Verhoia, Edessa, and Skopje). Officials in Dushan's empire quickly abandoned these greek cities and moved to Prisreni and later to Krusevach. The greek inhabitants remained in the areas they had been living for many centuries, if not millenia.

Since even in the years of Dushan, when the slavic influence and control in the areas of Macedonia(Greece), western part of Albania, Republic of Skopje and Yugoslavia (Serbia+Kosovo) was at its peak Macedonian Greeks were not "slavisized", how was that possible under the Ottoman rule, when after the defeat of Serbia by the Ottomans circa 1459, the Slavs migrated to the north and the area south of the city of Skopje was inhabited by Greeks only? If the strong presence of Slavs at that time didn't cause the Macedonians to vanish how was that possible to happen before? How come the vanished Macedonians of 7th AD survived as late as 15th AD? and later?

Q3) Was the Bulgarian King Samuel of FYROM Skopjan nationality as some Skopjans claimed he was?

Skopjans in order to by-pass the now established truths about the greekness of the ancient Macedonians and build a future for their so-called "macedonian nationality" and acquire historical rights to the Macedonian area claim that the infrastructure and population of the kingdom which Samuel established for a period of close to 18 years with the city of Achris as its capital was "Macedonian" (of the Skopjan type).

They also claim that Samuel was also a "macedonian" (of the Skopjan type) even though certain historias today believe that he was an Armenian. They also claim that Samuel as a ruler of a state that also included Macedonia was himself a Macedonian and that the state he established was the first "Macedonian state" (of the Skopjan type). Regarding Samuel, he was a Bulgarian king and not a "Macedonian" one, and the state he founded was a Bulgarian one as well. It is for this reason that the emperor Vasileios II of the Byzantine empire, who defeated Samuel, is known in history as Vasileios the Bulgar-slayer and not as Vasileios the "macedonian"-slayer.

This fact is supported by historians such as Vasiliev and Levtchenko.

There is another piece of evidence which shows that the Skopjan claims that Samuel was a "Macedonian" are ridiculous. An inscription from the city of Monastirio dated 1017 has been preserved where John, nephew of Samuel and son of his elder brother Aaron is mentioned to be of Bulgarian descent. This inscription has been published in the book written by Gordana Tomovic "Morfologija Cirilickin Natpisa na Balkann", Belgrade, 1974, page 33.

It is worth mentioning that the area of Achris ws inhabited in the Roman and Byzantine periods by Greeks. The book "The tombs of Trebenitse" by Keramopoullos (page 490) shows inscriptions from that period referring to persons with Greek names only. On one inscription the God of Lychnetis was Heracles Megistos.

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