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"There is no ancient Macedonian Language but a Greek dialect"
Greek claim 6


If the modern Greeks want to deny the ancient Macedonians their spoken language, then, they need to rewrite the history to suit their version.

[1] Quintus Curtius Rufus "The History of Alexander"

"Alexander the Great speaks in front of the Macedones of his army: "The Macedonians are going to judge your case," he said. "Please state whether you will use your native language before them."

Philotas: "Besides the Macedonians, there are many present who, I think, will find what I am going to say easier to understand if I use the language you yourself have been using, your purpose, I believe, being only to enable more people to understand you."

Then the king said: "Do you see how offensive Philotas find even his native language? He alone feels an aversion to learning it. But let him speak as he pleases - only remember he as contemptuous of our way of life as he is of our language". [p.138]

This is Alexander himself talking about "our way of life" and "our language" "Macedonians are going to judge your case" There is no need for any explanation.

[2] Eugene Borza. "The lesson is clear: the use of the Greek language as a form of written expression does not by itself identify the ethnicity of a culture". ("In the Shadow of Olympus -The Emergence of Macedon", p. 94.)

"As the Macedonians settled the region following the expulsion of existing peoples, they probably introduced their own customs and language(s); there is no evidence that they adapted any existing language, even though they were now in contact with neighboring populations who spoke a variety of Greek and non-Greek tongues."

"Hammond's firm conclusion that the Macedonian spoke a distinctive dialect of Aeolic Greek is unconvincing to me, resting as it does on an interpretation of a bit of myth quoted by Hellanicus, who made Aeolus the father of the legendary progenitor Macedon". ("In the Shadow of Olympus" p.92.)

"The handful of surviving genuine Macedonian words - not loan words from a Greek - do not show the changes expected from a Greek dialect. And even had they changed at some point it is unlikely that they would have reverted to their original form". ("In the Shadow of Olympus" p.93.)

"As a question of method: why would an area three hundred miles north of Athens - not colonized by Athens - used an Attic dialect, unless it were imported? That is, the Attic dialect could hardly be native, and its use is likely part of the process of Hellenization. To put the question differently: if the native language of the Macedonians is Greek, what is its Macedonian dialect?"

"On the matter of language, and despite attempts to make Macedonian a dialect of Greek, one must accept the conclusion of linguist R.A.Crossland in the recent CAH, that an insufficient amount of Macedonian has survived to know what language it was".

[3] Earnst Badian "Stadies in the History of Art vol. 10: Macedonia and Greece In Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Times"

Regarding the Cleitus' episode, Ernst Badian writes: "He used the only language in which his guards could be addressed".. [Note: The guards could be addressed in Macedonian language.]

Episode #2. Eumenes of Cardia. In 321 B.C., Greek commander Ambiance, with cavalry and light arms only, faced the Macedonian noble, Neoptholemus, with the Macedonian phalanx. To avoid battle Xennias, a man whose speech was Macedonian, was sent by Eumenes to negotiate with the commander of the phalanx. Badian analyzes:

"Now, Xennias' name at once shows him to be a Macedonian. Since he was in Ambiance entourage he was presumably a Macedonian of superior status, who spoke both standard Greek and his native language. He was the man who could be trusted to transmit Ambiance' message. This clearly shows that the phalanx had to be addressed in Macedonian, if one wanted to be sure (as Ambiance certainly did) that they would understand. And almost equally interesting - he did not address them himself, as he and other commanders normally address soldiers who understood them, nor did he sent a Greek. The suggestion is surely that Macedonian was the language of the infantry and that Greek was a difficult, indeed a foreign language to them. We may thus take it as certain that, when Alexander used Macedonian in addressing his guards, that too was because it was their normal language, and because (like Ambiance) he had to be sure he would be understood".

[4] Ulrich Wilcken in his book 'Alexander the Great' on p.22 notes that "linguistic science has at its disposal a very limited quantity of Macedonian words" [Wilken mentions Macedonian and not Greek words]

[5] "The Tumult and the Shouting: Two Interpretations of the Cleitus Episode", (published by APA in The Ancient History Bulletin, Vol. 10, number 1, 1996) [I will not endeavor myself with "their" Hammond-Bosworth fight, for obvious reasons. What I will do, however, is lift certain references where these giants, specifically, deal/address the ancient Macedonian language in question.]

[6] p.20, line 23. "Alexander shouted out in Macedonian, and called the hypaspists in Macedonian".

[7] p.25, line 4. "In my view", writes Bosworth, " there is nothing at all surprising in the use of Macedonian. Alexander was calling his hypaspists, who were Macedonians, and he addressed them in their native language/dialect. In Hammond's view, however, the hypaspists would normally have been addressed in standard Greek. Macedonian proper he restricts to the people of the old kingdom, Lower Macedonian, while the tribes of the mountain districts of Pindus (Upper Macedonia) spoke a dialect of West Greek. The evidence for this hypothesis is decidedly tenuous."

[8] p.25 elaboration: Bosworth cont. "I deliberately refrain from adopting any position on the linguistic status of ancient Macedonians. It has little significance outside the nationalistic propaganda of the contemporary Balkan states, in which prejudice and dogma do duty for rational thought. What matters for the present argument is the fact, explicit in Curtius, that Macedonian was largely unintelligible to non-Macedonians. Macedonians might understand Greek, and some Greek (like Eumenes) with experience of Macedon might speak Macedonian. However, even Eumenes took care that a vital message was conveyed to the phalangites of Neoptholemus by a man fluent in Macedonian."

[9] p.30, line 28, we find the final statement by Bosworth: "He used Macedonian because the troops would instantly understand and (he expected) would react immediately. There is no need for more complicated explanation."


It should be no surprise that Alexander introduced the standard koine Greek language for his multi-ethnic empire. For that Greek language was already the only international language on which the people in antiquity communicated prior to the Macedonian conquest (just like English is international language today). The Macedonians were smart enough to keep this international Greek language for the Persians, Egyptians, Jews, and all the nations of his empire to communicate. Forcing all those people to learn now a new foreign Macedonian language (or any other one) would have only provoked an additional hatred and multi-ethnic resistance for the Macedonian occupation of Asia, Egypt, and Greece, which the Macedonians did not wanted to face. Unlike the Roman Empire, there was no single powerful centralized Macedonian Empire, but three main Macedonian kingdoms (Macedonia, Asia, Egypt) which were in conflict occasionally among each other, and the Macedonians needed such language standardization to help them maintain their power. That of course, does not mean that although the Macedonians, Persians, Egyptians, Jews, now communicated in Greek, that they all turned into Greeks, just like the African nations did not turn into French and English because of their usage of those two languages to communicate among themselves.

What is for certain is that Alexander spoke Macedonian with his own Macedonian troops and used Greek in addressing the Asians and Greeks. After all, the Macedonians were his kinsmen (precisely the way he calls them), not the Greeks. All these sources, both ancient and modern, specifically refer to Macedonian as a language and not as a dialect of Greek, and Alexander himself specifically calls the Macedonian - "our native language". During the trial of Philotas, Alexander himself clearly distinguishes his native Macedonian language from the Greek language which as a second language at the Macedonian court alongside with Macedonian, was used in diplomacy, a fact we found in the Philotas trial (Q. Curtius Rufus).

"What did others say about Macedonians? Here there is a relative abundance of information", writes Borza, "from Arrian, Plutarch (Alexander, Eumenes), Diodorus 17-20, Justin, Curtius Rufus, and Nepos (Eumenes), based upon Greek and Greek-derived Latin sources. It is clear that over a five-century span of writing in two languages representing a variety of historiographical and philosophical positions the ancient writers regarded the Greeks and the Macedonians as two separate and distinct peoples whose relationship was marked by considerable antipathy, if not outright hostility."

The conclusion is thus complete ancient Macedonian was a separate Indo-European language, different from ancient Greek, just like the Macedonians were a separate nation different from the ancient Greek nation, and the claim that Macedonian was a "dialect of Greek" and that "Macedonians were Greeks", a claim that today is supported only by the modern Greeks and only out of political reasons, is absurd and ridiculous.



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