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N.G.L. Hammond
Professor of Greek University of Cambridge


Hammond is one of the modern writers representing the ‘Greek’ position. It’s interesting to note that Hammond had changed his position. His earlier position was that the Macedonians spoke a "patois which was not recognizable as a normal Doric Greek but may have been a north-west-Greek dialect of a primitive kind" (in other words he couldn’t say for sure). Later however, he changed this position and launched his "firm conclusion" that the Macedonians now spoke a dialect of Aeolic Greek, i.e. the ancient Macedonians were Greek, despite of the overwhelming and extensive research done by Badian and Borza which proved the opposite. Interestingly, he had done this ‘transformation’ towards firm Greek origin of the ancient Macedonians, during the period when the modern Greek propaganda intensified in spreading their "Macedonians are Greek" position, a position which was later used against the part of the modern Macedonian nation that was in a process of getting independence (today’s Republic of Macedonia). It may look like Hammond is a ‘Greek agent’ whose writings reflect the wishes of modern Greece and it’s propaganda, however, in that process he proved that he was obviously ignorant to many of the ancient sources that do not conclude what he concludes. He is also ignorant to many modern sources as well, particularly the ones of Borza, Green, and Badian which have proven in-depth that the Macedonians could not have been Greek. It should be pointed out that Hammond had been proven incorrect in many matters (not just the ethnicity of the ancient Macedonians) regarding the history of Macedonia, specifically by the Macedonian specialist Borza. His views are nowadays corrected and regarded as outdated.

Although Hammond believes that the Ancient Macedonians had a Greek origin, he however, contradicts himself in few passages where he clearly separates the ancient Macedonians from the ancient Greeks:

"We have already inferred from the incident at the Olympic Games c.500 that the Macedonians themselves, as opposed to their kings, were considered not to be Greeks. Herodotus said this clearly in four words, introducing Amyntas, who was king c.500, as 'a Greek ruling over Macedonians' (5.20. 4), and Thucydides described the Macedonians and other northern tribes as 'barbarians' in the sense of 'non-Greeks', despite the fact that they were Greek-speaking. (Thuc. 2. 80. 5-7; 2. 81. 6; 4. 124.1) When it comes to political controversy, it was naturally good invective to call the king a barbarian too. Thus a Greek speesh-writer called the Thessalians 'Greeks' and Archelaus, the contemporary Macedonian king, 'a barbarian'. Demosthenes spoke of Philip II as 'the barbarian from Pella'."

Point of Interest: I will stop Hammond here and analyze his last words. He begins by saying that the Macedonians were considered non-Greek. At the end he says that the Macedonians, including their kings were called barbarians i.e. non-Greeks, but he implies that they were really Greek, and were called non-Greek only due to "political controversy". This is not convincing at all. If the ancient Greeks referred to the Macedonians as barbarians only because of political conflict, then why other Greek tribes are not called barbarian or non-Greek by the ancient Greeks. That never happened, during any of the so many political conflicts, "controversies", and wars among the Greek city-states, not involving the Macedonians. Furthermore, the ancient Greeks referred to the Persians as barbarians too. According to Hammond’s logic the Persians are therefore Greek too, but were called non-Greek only because ancient Greece was in "political controversy" with Persia. Hammond’s words obviously make no sense. The ancient Greeks called very clearly all non-Greeks barbarians (Macedonians and Persians included), and any try to change the meaning of that word only in the case of the Macedonians, is ridiculous and can be ascribed as siding with the modern Greek propaganda. Now let’s examine the rest of Hammond’s words:

"Writing in 346 and eager to win Philip's approval, Isocrates paid tribute to Philip as a blue-blooded Greek and made it clear at the same time that Macedonians were not Greeks. (Isoc. 5. 108 and 154) Aristotle, born at Stageira on the Macedonian border and the son of a Greek doctor at the Macedonian court, classed the Macedonians and their institution of Monarchy as not Greek, as we shall see shortly. It is thus not surprising that the Macedonians considered themselves to be, and were treated by Alexander the Great as being, separate from the Greeks. They were proud to be so."

Interesting (inadvertent) reversals in Hammond narrative: "Philip and Alexander attracted many able foreigners, especially Greeks, to their service, and many of these were made Companions (e.g. Nearchus a Cretan, Eumenes a citizen of Cardia, and Sitalces a member of the Odrysian royal family). Some of them, if they served in the King's Army, were given Macedonian citizenship, which apparently was in the gift of the king." The Macedonian State p.141

Points of interest: These phrase alone claims that:

(a)   Macedonia was a not a Greek land, and

(b)   that Macedonians were not Greeks

One does not attract foreigners from his own country, and second, one cannot be called a foreigner in his own country.

"These instances show us that even Philip II and Alexander III introduced very few Greeks into the Assembly of Macedones. They wanted the 'Macedones' to have their own esprit the corps; and those of them who came from Lower Macedonia continued to speak the Macedonian dialect among themselves and to address the king or a commander in that dialect as a sign of affection."

[53-an ordinary soldier is represented as speaking in the Macedonian dialect to the dying Alexander in Ps-Callisthenes B 32. 14 (ed. Kroll), and the Macedonian soldiers greeted Eumenes in the Macedonian dialect when he came to command them (Plu. Eum. 14. 11). [p.64]

"The name of the ancient Macedonians is derived from Macedon, who was the grandchild of Deukalion, the father of all Greeks. This we may infer from Hesiod's genealogy. It may be proven that Macedonians spoke Greek since Macedon, the ancestor of Macedonians, was a brother of Magnes, the ancestor of Thessalians, who spoke Greek."

Response to Hammond's conclusion that the Macedonians were Greek:

[1] There were many tribes in Macedonia. If we accept Macedon to be the progenitor of his tribe, where is the connection for the rest of the Macedonian tribes? What about the Lynchestians, Elimiotes, Eordians, Orestians etc., etc.. Besides; In the 'Catalogue of Women', the eponymous founder of Makedonia, Makedon, was the son of Zeus and Deukalion's daughter Thuia. This line of descent excludes him from the Hellenic geneology - and hence, by implication, the Makedonians from the ranks of Hellenism." (Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity, by J.Hall, p.64)

[2] Professor Borza who is credited as Macedonian specialist and who had completed an extensive research on the ethnicity of the ancient Macedonians, had proven that Hammond's conclusions that the Macedonians were Greek are inaccurate:

"Hammond's firm conclusion that the Macedonians 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 [Macedonia] 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?"

The above passage showed us clearly that Hammond, no mater how firm he stands on his ‘Greek’ position, still contradicts himself by saying that the Macedonians and the Greeks are two separate ethnic groups. The lines of Professor Eugene Borza, had put an end to the Hammond’s speculations of the supposed Greek origin of the ancient Macedonians, and proven on many instances (not just on the ethnicity issue) in In the Shadow of Olympus and Makedonika, that Hammond’s work on the Macedonian history is inaccurate and as such should be rejected.


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