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.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Ancient Macedonian Army

The army of Alexander the Great called Macedonian because it fought for the Macedonian king. These soldiers from Macedonia proper were supplemented by considerable forces from other territories. The native Macedonians however remained the most important part of the army. Alexander's father, King Philip II, spent three years in Thebes from the age of fifteen (367-364 BC).

This enabled him to study Epaminondas' Theban army. When Philip ascended to the throne of Macedonia in 359 BC he began to use his genius and experience to develop the brilliant Macedonian war machine. As Greek armies still consisted of both civilians and mercenaries, Philip should be credited for creating the world's first 100% professional army. In doing so, he combined the experience of the trained mercenary with the loyalty of the civilian.


Companion Cavalry

The most prestigious of the mounted troops were the hetairoi or companions. The companion cavalry had its origins in the retainers kept by the Macedonian royal house. At first the members of this elite unit were recruited among the Macedonian nobility.
During the reign of king Philippus II its strength had however been raised from approximately 600 horsemen to over 3000 troopers. Only part of these were selected among Macedonian nobles, others were recruited from Thessaly and other parts of the Greek world.An important contingent in the army of Alexander the Great was the Thessalian cavalry, approximately 4000 that served the Macedonian king because he was tagos or military leader of Thessalia as well. These horsemen generally operated in battle as the heavy cavalry wing deployed on the left flank of the army. Eight territorially recruited ilai were selected to join the Asian campaign.
The Pharsalian had much the same status amongst these squadrons as the royal among the Macedonian companion cavalry. This particular unit may have had a higher establishment strength than the usual two hundred troopers. In contrast to the wedge deployment used by Macedonian and Thracian horsemen the cavalry of Thessaly usually favoured a rhomboid formation. After the war of revenge on the Persian empire was officially brought to an end those Thessalian cavalrymen that opted not to return home were integrated in the reorganised units of the Macedonian hetairoi.


These men can almost certainly be identified with the so called argyraspides or silver shields from the later part of Alexander's reign. These soldiers were not recruited on a territorial basis, but selected individually on merit from the taxeis of the pezhetairo.The hypaspistai numbered three thousand men organised in three subunits of each a thousand soldiers. Although constituting a picked force among the Macedonian infantry one of these battalions, the agema, had a higher prestige than the other two. A modest number of soomatophylakes recruited among the Macedonian nobility was attached to the hypaspistai , which were selected among those of common birth.

Territorial Army

The pezhetairoi formed the main heavy infantry force of the Macedonian army. The training and armament of these heavy foot soldiers were much more flexible than that of the hoplites in most Greek city states. Equipment and tactics could be adjusted to suit different situations. Armed with the hoplite shield and a spear of normal length the foot companions were capable of deployment in a classical Greek hoplite phalanx. In addition these soldiers could be equipped with a long pike requiring the use of both hands, the famous sarissa, and a different rimless shield hanging from the shoulder to fight in the distinctive Macedonian variant of the phalanx



Accompanying Alexander's army during the invasion of Asia were approximately 1,600 light allied cavalry, hailing from Greece, Thrace and Paeonia. These units were equipped with javelins or thrusting spears and carried little or no body armor. Their main function was to protect the heavy cavalry and the phalanx from enemy attacks. In general these units lacked the exclusive discipline and training of the Thessalians and Companions. Most outstanding of the light cavalry were the 600 Thracian prodromoi or Scouts, used for reconnaissance and preliminary attacks

Territorial Army - Hoplites & Peltasts

The infantry was composed of both hoplites and peltastai.On crossing the Hellespont Alexander had up to 7,000 allied Greek infantry, consisting of traditional Greek hoplites. Alexander apparently made relatively little use of these troops other than as reserves behind the Macedonian phalanx or as garrisons in conquered cities. From the tribal areas of Philip's Macedonian empire came about 5,000 light infantry peltasts. The traditional Thracian peltast carried a bundle of javelins and a wicker shield. Added to these troops were 5,000 mercenaries, part hoplites and part peltasts


The 1,000 Agrians (Agrianes, Agrianians) came from the mountainous north of Philip's empire and were invaluable fast and versatile crack skirmisher troops - guerillas if you like - the Ghurka's of Antiquity. Whenever an assault had to be made uphill or through hostile terrain, the Agrians were there. Alexander used them during his attacks on the Pisidians, during the encirclement of the Persian Gates and the challenging sieges of the Sogdian and Indian Rocks. Agrians wore no body armour, perhaps not even a shield.
Alexander also employed 1,000 archers, half of them Macedonian, half of them from Crete. The Cretans had a reputation for being the best bowmen of their era.


A number of small mercenary horsemen played an important role in the field army cavalry. Mercenary troops were also hired among the population of the conquered territories of the Persian empire and India. Some of these indiginous forces consisted of mounted javelineers and horse archers, others served as light infantry skirmishers. At the end of Alexander's reign Asiatic troops were levied and equipped and trained on the Macedonian model. After the campaigns in north-eastern Persia units of Sacae, Dahae, Paropamisadae and Sogdians (and Bactrians) were included.


The battle tactics of the army of Alexander were generally aimed to force a rapid decision. The attack of the Macedonian forces was generally made in an oblique battle formation with an advanced right flank and a refused left wing. A fierce charge of the heavy horse on a small portion of the enemy's forces was intended to break the morale of the enemy and create panic among units not yet engaged in combat. Success depended to a large extent on sapping the morale of an opponent.

The use of surprise was an important means to undermine the confidence of the enemy. Unexpected manoeuvres were employed to surprise the opposing forces at the Granicus, Issus and the Hydaspes. It was also important to engage the enemy when his forces were fatigued by long marches or lack of sleep.

Hellene allies (oplites) were in the back front because the Macedonian pezetairos was trained well in the phalanx system. How Alexander put a soldier in the front line when he doesn’t know to use or trained the sarissa? It will be break up imminently.

How a Macedonian pezetairos keep safe the supply lines with the use of the big sarissa? He doesn’t have any chance. The hoplites had more a heavy shield protection and were more agile to make this jop.

One from the reliable sources that used and the today’s writers as about the Alexander and the Macedonians was the Diodoros Sikelianos ( 60 B.C.). In the 17th book and in the 17 quote mentioned a detailing information as about the numbers.

Territorial(infantry) Army12000 Macedonians, 7000 Allies and 5000 mercenaries.
Commnder of those was the Parmenion.
Also we have:
7000 soldiers from Odryses,Trivallous and Illirians.
1000 archers from the Agrian.
Total number:32000

1800 Macedonians with commander Filotas.
1800 Thessalinas with commander the Kallas.
600 rest of the Greeks with commander Erigios

Also 900 Thracians and Paionians scouts with commander Kassandros.
Total number: 4500

Those are the military forces that composed of the Alexander army in the beginning of the Persian campaign.Also the military forces that remained in the Europe as the writer said were 12000 pezous and 1500 cavalries under the Antipatros command. He doesn’t say their origin.The given numbers as also and the description of those that composed of are exactly as written from Diodoros

  2. Diodoros Sikeliotis