Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Hellenism of the Ancient Macedonians

Papercover: 294 pages
Publisher: Institute For Balkan Studies, Thessaloniki, 1965
Author: Apostolos Daskalakis, Member of the Greek Academy
Status: Rare and Out of print book

The present work represents the fruit of research into the Hellenism of an­cient Macedonia spread over many years, coupled with careful review and interpretation of all the ancient sources dealing with the subject. From the outset its planned aim has been not so much the writing of a history of Macedonia in ancient times, as the collection, critical study and evaluation of any material capable of serving to ascertain the Hellenic identity of the Macedonians and in general to examine their life, set within the range of Greek antiquity.

Admittedly, many of these facts have not been ignored in the views expressed or the conclusions already reached concerning the ancient Macedonians. Distinguished scholars and historians, both Greek and foreign, have made praise­worthy efforts to elucidate many facets of the country's past and their contribu­tions are far from negligible. Despite this, many subjects bearing not only on the language and make up of the nation, but also on the life in general of the old Macedonians, have hitherto remained unexplored, or at any rate not fully stud­ied; and there are many historical problems, particularly concerning the early history of Macedonia, yet to be solved. The partial or imperfect investigation of these problems has often led to faulty interpretations giving rise in their turn to contradictory judgements and questionable reasoning accompanied by violent disputes.

In this study I have examined all historical facts available in the sources of antiquity and have based my treatment and thinking in general about the Hel­lenism of ancient Macedonia on these alone. Wherever it has been possible or helpful to do so, some linguistic or archaeological material has been used. The work is above all historical, written by a historian and supported by data drawn from the sifting and checking of ancient sources.

The book is divided into five sections in each of which one of the principal subjects giving rise to controversy, or creating problems in history with regard to the Hellenism of Macedonia, has been dealt with by itself.

These are :
  1. Origin of the ancient Macedonians: in this for purposes of research all information derived from ancient sources is recorded and also any geographical data found in the ancient authors, to corroborate conclusions reached.
  2. The language of the Macedonians according to historical sources; here all ancient information concerning the language they spoke is cited and examined interpretatively.
  3. The descent of the Arsead-Temenid Royal house of Macedonia, which ruled the country from unrecorded times down to Alexander the Great, a subject closely tied up with the national origin of the Macedonians and the foundation of the State.
  4. Life of Alexandre the Philhellene, a man specially honoured by the Greeks, a subject of wider interest, dealing as it does with the first of Macedonian kings to lead his country into the Greek political horizon and lay the foundations of a Macedonian way of life on Greek lines, a topic which also offers a chance for a fuller historical study of the situation in Macedonia and the Greek wars of liberation against the Persians, as well as for the solution of many problems relating to Macedonia at that time.
  5. The Athenian orators and what was said about Macedonian barbarism, a study refuting by means of historical research many existing misinterpret­ations of ancient texts concerning the conceptions of the Hellenism of the Macedon­ians held principally in Greece during antiquity.

These five sections of the present work, though written as separate studies, combine to give a general picture of the Hellenism of ancient Macedonia.

The book was first published in Greek and each of the five sections had a special bibliographical introduction, giving both the ancient sources on which my opinions were based and my conclusions regarding them. In the present Eng­lish edition, instead of these there is a general bibliography. The ancient texts, which would present a mass of material if quoted in full, have only been retai­ned in certain instances.

Below is a Review of the particular book fron N.G.L. Hammond (The Classical Review, New mSeries, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Dec., 1962), pp. 270-271 , Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical) that conserns the Greek edition.

The Professor of History in the University of Athens has in the past written a number of articles on aspects of Macedonian history, and he is now publishing some volumes on the subject, of which this is the first. It contains five parts; each is a separate study, complete with its own introduction, and they are connected with one another only by their bearing on the 'Greekness' of Macedonia. This system leads inevitably to much repetition, and this repetition combined with the very full, and sometimes verbose, style of Professor Daska-akis makes a very long book of the five topics. He writes with rhetorical power and conviction. At times he seems to protest too much, and he piles up all variety of arguments on the head of his reader. He tilts vigorously against his 'Slav' opponents, whose views, he asserts, are coloured by modern political prejudices. Absit omen! For there was nothing in Russian policy in the last war which the Greeks hated more than the proposal to set up an autonomous Macedonia as a Russian satellite.

The first part, 'The Origin of the Macedonians', begins well with its introduc­tion and sections on geography, and then the author takes the archaeological bull by the horns and hurls it to the ground. 'The archaeological excavations', he asserts, 'assure us in a manner which permits no doubt that Greek elements existed in Macedonia from prehistoric times and subsequently.' He is equally confident that archaeology has revealed Greeks in prehistoric Epirus. But in neither case does he discuss the evidence or say what objects he considers to have been specifically Greek (or in his terminology Achaean and Dorian) at Servia or Armenohori or Dodona. He seems to equate traces of Mycenaean civilization (or Achaean civilization as he calls it on p. 60) with the presence of Greek peoples, although he accepts Homer's placing of Paeonians in much of Macedonia at the time of the Trojan War and although Mycenaean remains are very rare in Epirus; and he sees in the Mycenaean-like style of the treasures found at Trebenishte, near Lake Ochrid, evidence of the survival there of 'the first Indo-European Greeks of the Mycenaean period, the Achaeans' into the latter part of the sixth century b.c. He may well be correct in his general views about the origin of the Macedonians, but he fails to carry conviction in
his use of archaeological evidence. He is much stronger on the literary sources, and he comments well on the famous passage in Herodotus i. 56, where a wandering tribe was called Makednon during its residence in the Pindus area and Dorikon on
entering the Peloponnese. He suggests that the tribesmen were tall (μακεδνοί) and the country was tall, i.e. mountainous, so that the tribe was called Makednon on two counts, and he holds the classical Macedonians to have been descended from the Dorians.

The second part deals with the language. Here the conclusions of Galleris are used, but his valuable glossary is not cited often (Les anciens Macedoniens, 1954). Inscriptions too are rarely used throughout the book. Professor Daska-lakis concentrates more on the literary sources and the names of persons and places, which go some way to support his positive conclusion that the Mace­donians spoke a dialect of Doric Greek. However, he makes too little of the difficulties. For example, Alexander the Great shouted out Μακεδονιστί (Plut. Alex. 51. 4), and he offered Philotas the chance of speaking patrio ser-mone (Q,. Gurt. vi. 9. 34 f.); later the Macedonians are said to have greeted Eumenes Μακ&ονιστΙ rfj φωντ\ (Plut. Eumen. 14. 4), and they were themselves recognized as different from the Spartans ck re των οπλών καΐ τής φωνής (Paus. iv. 29. 1). These passages are submitted to full discussion and some demolition, but they leave a suspicion that the Macedonians did speak a patois which was not recognizable at once as normal Doric Greek but may have been a north­west-Greek dialect of a primitive kind.

The third part, 'Argeadae-Temenidae', is the most convincing, because Professor Daskalakis goes very thoroughly into the literary sources, the names of the Macedonian kings, and the signs of Greek culture at the Macedonian court. This is a large task, well executed, and most readers will agree that the royal house was Greek in origin. The conclusion, which Professor Daskalakis draws, that their subjects were also Greeks of Dorian stock who had stayed in the Pindus area and were led in the early eighth century by the founders of the royal house into central
Macedonia, rests mainly on arguments of probability and will meet with conflicting views.

The fourth part, 'Alexander I the Phil-hellene', is a more straightforward piece of historical study. He puts his birth between 530 and 527 b.c., his competing at the Olympic Games in 496 b.c., and his death c. 454 b.c.; and he attributes to him the institution of the Pezetairoi and other administrative developments which are normally dated to the reign of Archelaus or to the fourth century.

The last part, 'The Athenian Orators and Charges of Macedonians being Barbarians', has a lighter theme but is thoroughly set forth. No doubt Demosthenes called Philip 4 a barbarian* and Aeschines called Demosthenes a barbarian and a Scythian', just as their modern counterparts might call their opponents 'Albanians' or 'Bulgars'. The interesting sentences in Herodes' πολιτείας and in the fragment of Thrasymachus are fully discussed, but I find it hard to believe with Professor Daskalakis that 'Isocrates indubitably . . . believed in the Greekness of the Macedonians' when I read chapters 105-8 and 154 of his Philippus. Isocrates thought the Macedonians to be un-Greek in accepting the rule of a king and probably he thought them un-Greek in blood (ούχ ομοφύλου γένους, in chapter 108). And this brings us back to a definition of Greekness, which must rest partly on archaeological evidence for the early period and on linguistic evidence for the fifth century.

This book is a valuable contribution to the study of an important area. We wish Professor Daskalakis success in carrying on the good work in his later volumes. The print is clear (I noted half a dozen misprints only); there is a full index of proper names; and the book ends with a hand-drawn map, which could be given clearer definition in a later volume.

University of

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