Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Macedonian names and makeDonski pseudo-linguistics: The case of the name Pyrrias

by Miltiades Elia Bolaris

Balkan Illusion - phantasia archaica:

"...it is very interesting to note that many of the authentic ancient Macedonian words, according to their etymology and pronunciation, have a striking resemblance to the appropriate words used in the modern Macedonian language (and other so called "Slav"[sic] languages). "Pyri(as). The root of this name could be connected to the noun "pir" (merriment). The name Piri is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon." Quote taken from: "Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today's' Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)" by Aleksandar Donski, celebrity historian from FYROM./ Πυρίας/Pyrrias/Πυρρίας

In his "Dictionary of Classical Mythology", Sorbonne professor Pierre Grimal gives us a beautiful story from the Greek Mythology. It is an ancient myth about a boatman, named Pyrias/

"Pyrias was a boatman from Ithaca who took pity on an old man captured by pirates. The old man was carrying vessels full, apparently of pitch. These jars later came into the possession of Pyrias who realized that under the pitch they contained jewels and treasures. In his gratitude Pyrias sacrificed an ox to his unknown benefactor. From this came the proverb : "Pyrias is the only man to have sacrificed an ox to his benefactor.""
 Pyrrias was not a very common Greek name, but at the same time it was not exclusive to any part of Greece either. We find this name from Peloponnesus to Macedonia and from Sicily to the Hellenistic East.

Pyrias of the aforementioned myth was from Ithaca, Ulysses' island, but a more flesh and bone Pyrrias appears in the historical record. It was in the year 401BC, right after the battle of Cunaxa. He was an Arcadian from central Peloponnese. He was stranded, like all the other myriad (10 thousand) Greek mercenaries, in the midst of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) then part of the huge and powerful Persian Empire. The Greek Mercenaries had been in the pay of Cyrus who had revolted against his brother, the king of Persia, Artaxarxes. In the Cunaxa battle Cyrus was killed, leaving his Greek mercenaries stranded deep inside enemy territory. When their military leaders from their Spartan general Clearchos down to the most junior officers were massacred in a treacherous banquet plot where king Artaxerxes had invited them the situation for the Greek rank and file hoplites became desperate.

In the midst of the night, with Persian arrows harassing them on top of the hill where they had gathered to defend themselves, they started to .....
....resign to fatalism considering their imminent doom. Xenophon, an Athenian former student of Socrates, found words to encourage and instill into them valor and determination. Then they did what no other people in their time would have even dreamed of: they organized and held elections among themselves. They elected their own leaders, starting from petty officers, up to company captains, and eventually to generals. They become a democratic army of free men, a military assembly on the move. They sliced their way through the Persian empire via what is now Kurdistan (then the land of the Karduchoi/Καρδούχοι, as Xenophon calls them, with steel and determination, moving north, until they finally reached the Black Sea, the Euxine Pontus: Thalatta! Thalatta! / The Sea! The Sea!, they exclaimed in jubilation, as the Pontus meant to them one thing: Greek cities lining the coast, where they would be welcome and they would find supplies to survive. But the Persians still harassed them, and they had to defend themselves every mile of the way:

ἐκ τούτου οἱ μὲν ἥσυχοι προῆγον, ὁ δὲ τρεῖς ἀφελὼν τὰς τελευταίας τάξεις ἀνὰ διακοσίους ἄνδρας τὴν μὲν ἐπὶ τὸ δεξιὸν ἐπέτρεψεν ἐφέπεσθαι ἀπολιπόντας ὡς πλέθρον· Σαμόλας Ἀχαιὸς ταύτης ἦρχε τῆς τάξεως· τὴν δ᾽ ἐπὶ τῶι μέσωι ἐχώρισεν ἕπεσθαι· Πυρρίας Ἀρκὰς ταύτης ἦρχε· τὴν δὲ μίαν ἐπὶ τῶι εὐωνύμωι· Φρασίας Ἀθηναῖος ταύτηι ἐφειστήκει.

Ξενοφώντος, Κύρου Ανάβασις, 6.5.11 
Beyond this point some advanced quietly, while he, withdrawing the rear-guard battalions, two hundred men strong each, allowed the one to the right flank to follow the main body by a distance of one plethron (100 feet). Samolas the Achaean was the leader of this taxis. The one to the center he placed to a position following them. Pyrrias the Arcadian was leader of it. And the one to the left flank was commanded by Phrasias the Athenian.

Xenophon, Anabasis, 6.5.11

A more famous (or infamous) Pyrrias is the Aetolian general who led the Aetolian army, aided by Romans legions, into the first battle of Lamia, which was fought in 209BC between the forces of Philip V of Macedon and the Aetolians. Pyrrias lost to Philip V two battles in that engagement. His name incidentally is alternatively also spelled in Roman letters as Pyrrhias, to account for the pronunciation of the Greek double "rr", though in the Greek original the spelling is still

Two centuries earler, in the 5th century BC, on a poetic elegiac funerary epitaph written in the Aeolian dialect and found in Thessaly, we hear of a hard working Thessalian peasant who, instead of emigrating to a faraway place, stayed and cultivated his land, dying in an old age, happy, rich and content:

μνμ´ μ Πυριάδα {Πυρριάδα}, ς οκ ε̄̓π̣ί̣-

στατο φεύγε̄ν λ´ {λλ´} αθε πρ γς τσδε

πολν {πολλν} ριστεύο̄ν θανε. (IG IX, 2, 270)

A monument I am of Pyrias {Pyrrias} who never

thought of leaving but here on this land

he died excelling over most

Regions : Central Greece (IG VII-IX) : Thessaly (IG IX,2) , SEG 40:473, Thessalia (Thessaliotis) — Grammatiko— ca. 475-450 BC — IG IX,2 270, l. 1

Remaining in Thessaly, we read another inscription, scribed by a husband on the tomb of his wife:

Πυρίας πιγόνην τν

δίαν γυνακα μείας χάριν.

Pyrrias to Epigone his

own wife in her memory

Regions : Central Greece (IG VII-IX) : Thessaly (IG IX,2)

IG IX,2 1311 IG IX,2 1310 IG IX,2 1312

Perrhaibia — Azoros: Elasson — date?

South of Thessaly, and closer to Athens, by Boeotia, a short inscription on a funerary plaque gives us the name of the deceased and the customary Greek greeting of the dead to the passing by living:





IG VII 1371

Megaris, Oropia, and Boiotia (IG VII)

On an Athenian marble plaque we read:





Son of Pyrros

From Heracleia

Regions : Attica (IG I-III) : Attica

IG II² 8772

Att. — Athens: Akr. — s III a

In the Panhellenic oracle of Delphi the name Pyrrias is found on more than a few inscriptions. On an inscription of a decree that has been saved in full, we find the names of two persons named Pyrrias, one being a councilman of the city of Delphi (and the oracle) and another being a priest of Apollo. In the beginning of the decree we read:

ρχοντος Τιμοκρίτου το Εκλείδ[α, μηνς Δα]ιδαφ[ορ]ί-

ου, βουλευόντων τν πρώταν ξάμην[ον Πυρρία] το ρχελά-

ου, Σωτύλου το Τιμοκλέος, γραμματε[ύον]τος δ Κλεοδά-

μου το Πολυκράτεος

During the archonship (presidency) of Eucleidas, in the month of Daidaphori-

on, when Bouleutes (councilmen) for the first six months were Pyrrias son of Archela-

os, Sotylos son of Timocles, and Secretary was Cleoda-

tos son of Polycrates…

Then, further down on the same inscription at the end of the decree we read:

μάρτυροι· ο ε-

ρες το πόλλωνος ρχων, θαμβος, κα ο

ρχοντες Σω[τύ]λος, [Πυρρ]ίας, τισίδας, Πασί-

ων, [․․․․]λος, Αακίδας, Βαβύλος, Νικάρετος

witnesses: the priests

of Apollon: Archon, Athambos and the

archons Sotylos, Pyrrias, Atesidas, Pasi-

on, [….]los, Aiakidas, Babykos, Nikaretos

Regions : Central Greece (IG VII-IX) : Delphi

FD III 2:212 FD III 2:211 FD III 2:213

Phokis — Delphi — 138 bc

Across from Hellas, Central Greece, on the island of Euboea we find yet another Pyrrias:




a good citizen

Regions : Aegean Islands, incl. Crete (IG XI-[XIII]) : Euboia (IG XII,9)

IG XII,9 886 IG XII,9 885 IG XII,9 887 , Euboia — Eretria

Further south, on the island of Crete and in the city of Lato, we find a sepulchral epigram from the second century BC where such names as Kleonymos, Nemonios, Lydos, Mnastocles, Stasagoras and Kypelos are mentioned. Among them we encounter the name Pyrias Serapionos/
Πυριας Σεραπιωνος/ Pyrias son of Serapion:

Χαρισθένης Κοστύλω, Νεμονήιος Λύδω,

Πυρίας Σαραπίωνος, Κύπελος σχόλα,

Μναστοκλς Λαττύγω, γάκλυτος Στασαγόρα,

Charisthenes son of Kostylos, Nemoneios son of Ledos

Pyrias son of Sarapion, Kypelos son of Ischylas

Mnastokles son of Latygos, Agaklytos son of Stasagoras

Crete : Crete, Ctr.: Lato Olous: Sta Lenika, BCH 1938:389,1

(Portrait of a Polis: Lato Pros Kamara (Crete) in the Late Second Century B. C., by Martha W. Baldwin Bowsky © 1989 American School of Classical Studies at Athens).

On the other side of Crete, by the modern village of Kantanos, west of Chania, another inscription reads:

Πυρρίας Πυρρία

περβάλλωνος Μενεκάρτην.

Pyrrias son of Pyrrias,

the son of Heperballon, to Menecartes

Regions : Aegean Islands, incl. Crete (IG XI-[XIII]) : Crete

IC II vi 7 IC II vi 6 IC II vi 8

Crete, W. — Kantanos — III/IIa.

We sail to the other side of the Aegean Sea, to the Ionian city of Colophon where an honorary decree is describing how the city bestowed citizenship rights and other honors to a man who was originally from Sinope (now Sinop, in northern Turkey) a city on the Pontus, the Black Sea:


Πυρρίας Μητροδώρου Σινωπες μετο[ι]-

κν ν τι πόλει


Pyrrias son of Metrodoros from Sinope living as a metoi-

kos (alien resident) in the city…

Regions : Asia Minor : Ionia

Kolophon 5 Kolophon 4 Kolophon 6

Honorary decree of demos of Kolophon for metic Pyrrhias

Metrodorou of Sinope; IV7e; found at Deg
̆irmendere: *AJP 1935, pp.

377-9, no. III. Ionia — Ephesos(?) — Kat.23 — AJP 1935, 377-79, no. III

On another part of ancient Greece, in the island of Sicily, we encounter another inscription with the name:

Πυρρί[α] {Πυρρί[ας]}.
Pyrria {Pyrrias}

Regions : Sicily, Italy, and the West (IG XIV) : Sicily, Sardinia, and neighboring Islands


Sikelia — Gela — ca. 450 BC — SEG 29.874

We cross the Mediterranean Sea and in the Greek city of Hermoupolis in Egypt we ecounter this inscription:

Μίθρωνος παδες
λθον ες τ ερόν,
ος νόματα·

Mithron´s children
came into the holy temple
their names are


Regions : Egypt, Nubia and Cyrenaïca : Egypt and Nubia, SEG 8:623

Egypt— Hermoupolis M. (El Ashmūnein) — c.300-250 ac — SB 3.6306

Finally, we go north to Paeonian Macedonia, to the Paeonian city or Bargala, now in FYROM, and we read the inscription:

Πυρρίας ε[χήν]

Pyrrias (offering) a prayer/vow

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia , SEG 44:515

Makedonia (Paionia) — Bargala (Dolen Kozjak) — 2nd/3rd c. AD — ZPE 101 (1994) 144, 8

In the same area, another Greek inscription, written several hundred years before the 7th cAD influx of the Slavic tribe of the Smoljani who colonized that area of Macedonian Pae
onia, speaks of a Pyrrias, who was the son of a man with a similar, almost identical name: Pyrreios/Πύρρειος.


νοςνέθηκα ετυχς

Pyrrias son of Pyrreios having

vowed I offered for good luck

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia

Spomenik 77 (1934) 72,2 Spomenik 77 (1934) 58,62 Spomenik 98 (1941-48) 20,46,1

Makedonia or Thrace — Kočani — date? — Spomenik 98 (1941-1948) 308, 79 (ph.) — cf. Papazoglou, Les Villes de Macédoine (1988) 88, n. 40

Further south, a votive description from what is now the Bulgarian city of Sandanski but in ancient times the city of Parthicopolis Sintica, proclaims:

Κλήμης Πυρρίου [ρχιερες]

τν Σεβαστν βου̣[λευτς κ]

τν δίων ποί[ησεν — —]

τους̣ η̣[—ʹ].

Clemes, son of Pyrrias, chief priest

of the Sebastoi (the respected Gods), a councilman

using his own (funds) created/erected this

on the year 8…

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia

IGBulg IV 2267 Previous Inscription IGBulg IV 2266 IGBulg IV 2268 Next Inscription

Makedonia (Sintike) — Parthikopolis (Sandanski) — date?

DFinaly, a funerary stela awaits us at the Odomantike province of Macedonia, by the modern city of Serres/Serrai, in northern Greece:

Πυρρίας κα[ Θελξι(?)]-

θόη, Συντύχ τ [θυ]-

γατρ μνήμης χάρι[ν].

τους ελσʹ, περβερεταίου.

Pyrrias and Thelxi-

thoe along with Tyche (Fortune) to their

daughter in her memory´s grace

On the year 536 during the month Hyperberetaios

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia , Dodone 18 90

Makedonia (Odomantike) — Serrai: Melenikitsi, NE of — 204 AD — Historia tes poleos Serron (1967) 278, 472 — SEG 30.601

Having sailed around the Mediterranean, in search of Greek men named Pyrrias, we once again go back to Greek literature to find the name Pyrrias in one of Menander´s comedies. Menander/Menandros/
Μένανδρος is the 4th cBC (342–291 BC) Athenian dramatist, and student of Theophrastus (who in turn was a student of Aristotle). Theophrastos was the one who instructed him in poetry and philosophy. Menandros was possibly the best representative of what has been termed the New Comedy. The Athenian people, in appreciation, erected Menandros´ statue by the theater of Dionysos, just below the Acropolis. In his Dyscolos/Δύσκολος, (translated as the Grouch, or the Misanthrope – the exact translation from the Greek means "the difficult one"), was found in a well preserved papyrus in Egypt and was brought out into the public eye in 1957.

On line 71 of Dyscolos we read Sostratos speaking of a certain Pyrrhias, a slave in Sostratos' house:


τν Πυῤῥίαν τν συγκυνηγν οκοθεν

γ πέπομφα

ΧΑΙΡΕΑΣ) πρς τίνα;

ΣΩΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ) ατι τι πατρ

ντευξόμενον τς παιδς τι κυρίωι

τς οκίας στις ποτ' στίν.

(SOSISTRATOS) Early this morning

I myself sent Pyrrhias, who had gone hunting with me,

from home —

(KHAIREAS). To whom?

(SOSISTRATOS) To the father himself

of the girl ... to meet him, or the head

of the household, whoever it is.

Then on line 81 Pyrrias himself, the slave, enters the stage:

πάρες, φυλάττου, πς πελθ' κ το μέσου
μαίνεθ' διώκων, μαίνεται.
Σω) τί τοτο, πα;
Πυ) φεύγετε.
Σω) τί στι;
Πυ) βάλλομαι βώλοις, λίθοις
Σω) βάλλει; πο, κακόδαιμον;
Πυ) οκέτι
σως διώκει;
Σω) μ Δία.
Πυ) γ δ' ιμην.
Σω) τί δα
Πυ) παλλαγμεν, κετεύω σε.

PYRRIAS) Let me through, watch out, everybody get out of the way.
He's crazy, the guy who's chasing me, crazy.
(SOSISTRATOS) What's this, boy?
(PYRRIAS) Run away.
So. What is it? (PYRRIAS) Dirt, stones ... thrown at me.
I'm done for.
(SOSISTRATOS) Thrown at you? Where? You're crazy.
(PYRRIAS) He isn't still
chasing me?
(PYRRIAS) But I thought he was.
are you saying?
(PYRRIAS) Let's get out of here, I'm begging you.

Dyscolos was written and performed in Athens in 316 BC. This is about a thousand years before any of the Slavic tribes established a foothold in the lower Balkans. Roughly twelve hundred fifty years before their arrival, a ceramic Arhyballos was painted, immortalizing a prize given to a great Corinthian dancer. It is a charming piece of art, painted in the black figure (melanomorphos) Corinthian technic practiced in Corinth at the time. It shows a group of dancers dancing in front of their music teacher. It is has an inscription on it, written boustredon (left to right and then right to left, alternating), in the peculiarly archaic Corinthian alphabet. It is dating from around 580-575 BC. It is apparently informing us of who won the dancing competition that year:


Πολύτερπος - Πυρfίας προχορευόμενος αυτώ δε fοι όλπα

Polyterpos : Pyrrias leading the choros and to him alone the olpa

To the left is
ΠΟΛΥTΕΡΠΟΣ/Polyterpos, the dance and music teacher, playing the diaulos flute.

Then we see
ΠΥΡFΙΑΣ/Πυρfίας/Pyrrias, ΠΡΟΧΟΡΕΥΟΜΕΝΟΣ/dancing at the front ΑΥΤΟ ΔΕ FOΙ to him alone, ΟΛΠΑ / the Olpa (oil flask, used by athletes to carry the oil used for cleansing in their gymnasium exercises). At this archaic stage of Greek writing the letter digamma "F" (double "Γ" gamma), was part of the Greek alphabet and was pronounced roughly as "W" in German. From the Greek alphabets of Southern Italy it eventually entered the Roman alphabet as F, and it still exists in most Latin based European alphabets. In Greece itself it gradually disappeared from most Greek alphabets due to changes in oral pronunciation. In its place it left only a trace in the form of the later appearing double "r" , which matched the double "rr" pronunciation:

ΠΥΡFΙΑΣ- Πυρριας/PyrriasàΠυρFιας-Pyrwias-

Having followed the name of Pyrrias, from Myths to its documentation in funerary and votive inscriptions throughout the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Hellenic world, and from Athenian theater to the Archaic Corinthian visual Arts, we come full circle to the meaning of his name:

In ancient Greek we find the word Pyridromos /
Πυρίδρομος the Firetrailer which was one of Zeus' prosonyms. Pyra/Πυρά is the place where the fire is lit, the pyre, while Pyria/Πυρία is the steam bath, the ancient Greek version of Sauna, where water was thrown on rocks that had been burned in fire and then placed on a ceramic dish in the middle of a tight space, usually a tent, to create steam. Pyrigenes /Πυριγενης is the one born of fire and Pyrhoo / Πυρόω means to burn and the Spartan Fire-dance was called Pyricheios/Πυρίχειος. These are all fire-related words, from the Greek word for fire: Pyr/Πύρ.

We have all the human sympathy in the world for the pitiful predicament in which the professional history falsifiers from Skopje (in the Former Yugoslav Republic that wants to claim for itself the name Macedonia) are in. They desperately try to turn history and linguistics on their head and make a Balkan circus out of the truth in their attempt to present black as white and day as night. Trying to convince the world with arguments like: "Pyri(as). The root of this name could be connected to the noun "pir" (merriment). The name Piri is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon", is plainly laughable.

These arguments can easily convince some ill-educated, narrow-minded VMRO party cadre who has been fed Yugoslavic-Makedonski propaganda since kindergarten. It can also convince the hard-core converts to "Greater Makedonija" irredentism in the Slavomakedonijan coffeehouses of Toronto or Sydney. They are not convincing anyone else, not anyone serious and educated anyway, and for sure not even their authors. I explain: Someone who is standing on stable ground does use words like "could" when making an argument such as "this name COULD be connected". You simply say: "this name IS connected". When you know that you are right you do not you do not mince your words and you do not use words like maybe, would, possibly, or could. When someone is lying, on the other hand, then he has to make rounds and rounds and weasel himself out of the hole he has dug himself in, joyfully pretending to act merry as if participating in a "pir" (merriment). When you speak the truth, on the other hand, all you need to do is simply state the facts and bring your documentation to the table.

Now back to Pyr/
Πύρ. The Indo-european root word *pe'h2ur (Pokorny: peu̯ōr) means: fire. *Pe'h2ur gives us the Armenian word for fire Hur, the Hittite word Pa-ah̯-h̯ur, the East Asian Tocharian A word for fire Por and the Tocharian B word Puwar, the old Czech word Púř, the Italic Umbrian word Pir, the Greek word Pyr, from which Pyrrias is derived but also the Germanic words Fiur, Fúrr, and Fyr from which the Old English word Fȳr and the modern English word for Fire are derived.

Πυρρίας/Pyrrias (or in Latin spelling Pyrrhias, also found spelled as ΠυρFίας/PyrFias and Πυρίας/Pyrias) is, as we have amply proven above, a very well attested Greek name which means "The One of Fire". Other Greek names of fire-pyr-related etymology, with the same or similar meaning are: Πυρρίχιος/Pyrichios, Πύρριχος/Pyrichos, Πύριχος/Pyrichos, Πυρίχη/Pyriche, Πύρων/Pyron, Πύρρα/Pyrra, Πύρρος/Pyrros/Pyrrhos, Πυρρς/Pyrras, Πυρραος/Pyrraios, Πυρίδας/Pyridas, and also in combination with other words we also find: Πύρρανθος/Pyranthos, Πυρόμαχως/Pyromachos, Πυρϝαλίων/PyrFalion, Αγιπύρας/Aigipyras, Πυρβαλίων/Pyrbalion, Ζώπυρος/Zopyros, Ζωπυρίων/Zopyrion, Ζωπυρείνα/Zopyreina, Ευπυρίδης/Eypyrides, Pyrimachos/Πυρίμαχος and Πυροφόρος/Pyrophoros, among many others.


Dictionary of Classical Mythology, by Pierre Grimal

Ξενοφώντος, Κύρου Ανάβασις - Xenophon, Anabasis




The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, by Calvert Watkins

The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World (Oxford Linguistics), by J.P.Mallory and D.Q.Adams


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