Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today's' Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)
Excerpt from the book Ancient Macedonian Heritage in Today's Macedonian Nation
by Historian Alexander Donski in Macedonia
The Ancient Macedonians are among the most famous nations in the history. Probably the most famous of all in the row of renown ancient Macedonians is Alexander The Great of Macedon, who was driven by his idea of a World State where all the people will live together in equality. His father, Philip II of Macedon is also very well known. Aristotle1), one of the greatest philosophers of all times was also a Macedonian (by father), and so was the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII (she was a distant grand-daughter of the Macedonian general Ptolemy, friend of Alexander The Great since their childhood)2). The members of the Seleucides and Ptolemais dynasties were also Macedonians, and a few of them are mentioned in the Bible3). There are views within the scientific community that The Holy Evangelist Luke4), as well as a number of Byzantine tzars5) all carried the Macedonian genes. The contribution of ancient Macedonians to the world civilization is large and of great importance6).
What was the ethnic origin of the ancient Macedonians?
Despite the views in some parts of the scientific community today that the ancient Macedonians were part of the Hellenes, the idea that ancient Macedonians were a separate nation is becoming increasingly accepted among the scientific circles around the world7). The ancient Greek historians clearly stated that the Macedonians were a separate people from the Hellenes. The Greek historian Arrian (I AD) wrote that there was a "racial rivalry" between the ancient Macedonians and the Greeks8).
There are a certain number of arguments and strong indications in support of the existence of (at least partial) ethno-cultural links between the ancient Macedonians and Veneti.
Before presenting some of these arguments, it is required to affirm that the Veneti were among the oldest nations in Europe. Narratively the Veneti were initially mentioned as people from Asia Minor, and later on as Balkan people as well. Furthermore, there are number of testimonials and evidences that the ancient people Veneti were the ancestors of the so called "Slavs"10). This practically means that the ancient Macedonians and the so called "Slavs" should have (at least partial) common ethno-cultural background. Following are only some of the arguments in support of this as a wider elaboration is required to fully cover this topic and the space on this occasion is limited.
The ancient Macedonians used their own vernacular, Macedonian language. There are number of testimonials from the ancient historians in support of this fact. For instance, the Greek historian Plutarch (I AD), describing a quarrel between Alexander The Great and one of his friends wrote that Alexander "jumped on his feet and in Macedonian called on his shield-bearers"11).
In his biography of Marc Anthony, Plutarch mentioned that Macedonian was the mother tongue of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII and of her ancestors from the Macedonian dynasty Ptolemais12).
The Latin historian Quintus Curtius Rufus (I AD) also testified that the ancient Macedonians spoke a separate, Macedonian language. He described the trial of the Macedonian Philotas for contriving a plot to murder Alexander The Great. The plot was discovered and Philotas was publicly interrogated by Alexander. Describing this event, Quintus Curtius Rufus clearly stated that the Macedonians spoke separate, Macedonian language13).
An evidence about the distinction of the Macedonian language was found on fragment of a papyrus which was thought to be a part of the lost work "History of the successors" by the ancient Greek historian Arrian. In this papyrus (PSI XII.1284) an episode from the history of ancient Macedonia has been described where the distinction of Macedonian language has been clearly emphasized. It has been described in this text how the secretary of Philip and Alexander of Macedon, Eumenes was: "…sending forth a man called Xennias who was Macedonian in speech…" to negotiate with the Macedonian army of Neoptolemeus. This event took place around 321 BC.14)
That the Macedonian was a distinct vernacular characteristic to the Macedonians confirm the anti-Macedonian speeches given by the great orator from Athens, Demosthenes. In his work "Philippic" Demosthenes gave the following insulting remark about the Macedonian King Philip II of Macedon:
"That man Philip, not only he is not a Greek, but also he does not have anything in common with the Greeks. If only he would have been a barbarian from a decent country - but he is not even that. He is a scabby creature from Macedonia - a land that one can not even bring a slave that is worth something from".15)
The question why Demosthenes named Philip as a barbarian becomes imminent. Majority of the scientists believe that the term "barbarians" in the ancient period was used to refer mainly to people that spoke language that Greeks could not understand, usually accompanied by a dose of disregard towards the culture of the people speaking that language. It is well known that all the people that did not speak Greek were named "barbarians", whereas the Greeks from the city-states used the word "xenoi" when referring to one-another.16)
Demosthenes was not alone in naming the Macedonians "barbarians". Ancient Greek historian Isocrates also called the Macedonians "barbarians".17)
The Greek Trasymachus, in his speech before the Larisians in V BC named the Macedonian king Archelaos "barbarian" in relation to the Greeks Larisians.18)
However, it stands for a fact that the elites in power in ancient Macedonia at a certain stage of the development of Macedonia took up the Greek literary language and some elements of the Greek culture (religion, onomastics etc). It needs to be emphasized that this does not mean at all that the Macedonians were Hellenes. First thing to be said in relation to this is that the Greek literary language at the time was also used by many other nations that were not Hellenes: Thracians, Jews, Ilyrians, even the Romans, all these people at some stage in the ancient period wrote in old Greek language. Such examples can be witnessed even today: the Irish speak and write in English and are not English; Brazilians speak and write in Portugese and are not Portugese etc.
As far as adopting the Old Greek language by the Macedonian royalty is concerned, it is a fact that this occurred at a certain stage of development of the Macedonian state. Supporting this fact is the non-existence of not even a single inscription in Greek on the territory of Macedonia to be dated from and before V BC, which matches with the period prior to the partial adoption of the Greek culture in Macedonia. The fact that many of the inscriptions in Greek found (from a later date though) contain many grammatical errors, is by itself a proof in support of the truth, that is the Old Greek language was foreign to the Macedonians.
What was like the ancient Macedonian language?
There are only a certain number of preserved words, and from the current knowledge the structure of the ancient Macedonian can not be fully synthesised. Most of the ancient Macedonian words are different to the ancient Greek language words, however there are a few that are similar. For the words from the ancient Macedonian language that are similar to the ancient Greek language words are believed to be taken on from Greek.19) In fact, this occurrence was and still is characteristic for all languages in the world. In the Macedonian language today terms are adopted from foreign languages mainly where there is no authentic terminology or analogy. For instance: antena (antenna); satelit (satellite); mobilen telefon (mobile/cellular phone); kompjuter (computer) etc. These foreign words are being adapted in accordance with the modern Macedonian phonetic system. This needs to be taken into account when analysing the ancient Macedonian language. The authenticity and the nature of a language can not be possibly determined only by the words that language adopted from another language.
One needs to bear in mind that almost all the preserved ancient Macedonian words reached modern age through their Greek transcript which makes it more difficult to identify their true meaning. It is important that the phenomenon "Interpretato Graeca" is mentioned here, that is greekifying of all the foreign words: nouns, verbs, and especially names. A specific characteristic of this process is adding the suffix "os" or "s" to the foreign words, and this will be discussed later in this paper.
Despite all this, 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" languages).
For instance, the word "tshelniku" which translated in English means foremost is a very interesting case. The British historian Hammond mentioned its etymology and said that the word "tshelniku" in the ancient Macedonian language had a meaning of "leader of a group". Hammond says that this word was translated into Greek only in the 14th century as "phylarchos".20)
The word "tshelnik" with completely identical etymology and pronunciation has been registered in the so called "old Slavic language" in Macedonia as early as 11th century! Proof of this is the entry of Byzantine chronicle writer Kekavmen where he described the events surrounding the anti-Byzantine uprising of Petar Deljan in 11th century. He said that in the language of the rebels "the strategist is called tshelnik"!21) It is known that Kekavmen was fluent in the "language of the Slavs" in Macedonia therefore he could translate the Greek word "strategist" as "tshelnik" (the strategist was a high military rank in Byzantine). It is even more interesting that the word "tshelnik" with identical etymology and pronunciation is being used in todays' Macedonian language and in other "Slav" languages, as well! This can not be a coincidence, especially considering the fact that there could be hundreds of thousands etymological meanings that a single word can represent, and in this instance there is an identical etymological meaning for a word that has also an identical pronunciation.
The remark that the middle age Macedonians simply borrowed this word from the language of ancient Macedonians and used it in 11th century is not valid. Assuming that it is so, becomes impossible to explain the fact that this word is present in the contemporary Croatian literary language. Have they inherited this word from the ancient Macedonians as well? It is the same with the contemporary Serbian and Bulgarian literary languages where this word is also present with the same pronunciation and etymology.
It is highly likely that through analysis of the word "tshelniku" some other characteristics of the ancient Macedonian language could be identified, considering the fact that in the contemporary Macedonian language this word is deducted from the noun "tshelo" - forehead.
As mentioned previously, the non-Greek words were recorded by the ancient Greeks on as-heard basis without analysing the form of the word. Due to the fact the word "tshelniku" had been recorded inclusive of the vowel "u" at the end, it is anticipated that "tshelniku" was recorded by the ancient Greeks in its vocative form. The vocative form of the noun "tshelnik" in the contemporary Macedonian language is precisely "tshelniku". Is it maybe that the Greeks used to hear the word "tshelniku" every time a Macedonian addressed the leader, therefore recorded this word without realising that they were recording its vocative form?
Another word that is also very interesting in this regard is the word "phoinikos", which is related to the warfare22). Indubitable this word is very much alike the contemporary Macedonian word "voinik" meaning "soldier". There could be a little doubt that these words have a common origin. Why is this so? In the ancient Greek language the consonant "v" did not exist23). The conclusion is imminent that the true pronunciation of the word "phoinikos" would be "voinikos" ("ph" replaced with "v"). In addition to this, as established earlier in this text, ancient Greeks added the suffix "os" to a lot of non-Greek words they recorded. If the word "phoinikos" had been subjected to the "Interpretato Graeca" phenomenon i.e. if the suffix "os" had been added to this non-Greek word, by taking out the Greek suffix we arrive at the contemporary Macedonian word "voinik" (soldier). Not only the pronunciation, but also the etymology of the word "voinik" is very similar to that of the word "phoinikos" and is located in the domain of warfare.
An abundance of water is described with the word "vodi" in contemporary Macedonian language. The corresponding ancient Macedonian word for this is the word "vedy". The Greek archaeologist Aliki Stuyanaki in the periodical "Edesaika Hronika" (Edessa, may-august, 1972) advised that the Macedonian city of Voden, to which the Greeks gave the name "Edessa", was originally a Brygian city and its old name was Vedy which means abundance of water24). Furthermore, St. Clement of Alexandria wrote that ancient Macedonians had a great respect towards the water (springs, wells, rivers) and they worshiped the Macedonian divinity they called Vedy25). In this instance as well, the similarity between pronunciation of a contemporary Macedonian and an ancient Macedonian word is undeniable, and again their etymology is identical.
The contemporary Macedonian verb "pesh" (walk) in ancient Macedonian would have been pronounced "pez"26).
"Pella"27) is another ancient Macedonian word. The etymology of this word is "a stone". The corresponding word in contemporary Macedonian language is "spila", which is similar in pronunciation with the ancient Macedonian word "pella".
The ancient Macedonian word recorded through its Greek interpretation
as "skoidos" bears the meaning of judges. In contemporary
Macedonian this meaning is conveyed using the word "sudii"28).
A very good example is the word "arotos" which ancient Macedonians used as an epithet to the god Heracles29). Its etymology is undetermined to-date, however if the suffix "s" is deleted this word is practically identical with the adjective "aroto" - "the old one" (archaism to a degree) from the present Macedonian language. According to a legend Heracles was considered to be the oldest ascendant of the Macedonians. Can the answer for the etymology of the word "arotos" be located in this legend, by referring to Heracles as "the old one" or "aroto(s)"?
It is inevitable that the Macedonian Phalanx is mentioned in this discussion. The strongest weapon of the phalanx was the long spear called "sarissa". It is very interesting to analyse the etymology of the word "sarissa". The first and obvious question is whether the first letter of this word, the letter "s", is authentic or perhaps there should be the letter "z" instead? It is well known that the name of the Brygian (ancient Macedonian) goddess was recorded as both "Semela" and "Zemela". If this is applied to the word "sarissa" i.e. the letter "s" is replaced with the letter "z" it will transform into the word "zarissa". An exciting assumption emerges regarding the etymology of this word. The reflexive verb in its dialectical form "zari se" in the contemporary Macedonian is identical in pronunciation with the word "zarisa" (thrust itself in, pierce itself into). This is of course an assumption, which nevertheless has a solid base in the information presented in relation to the pronunciation and etymology of the words discussed previously.
By analysing ancient Macedonian words that have a determined etymology, it is possible to make some assumptions and even draw some conclusions regarding certain grammatical forms of the ancient Macedonian language. This forms are identical with the forms of the contemporary Macedonian language.
It is worth to mention that there were words in the ancient Macedonian language that (at least without performing a deeper analysis) appear to have a little in common with the contemporary Macedonian language. However, the presence of these words does not deny the existence of words from the contemporary Macedonian language in the ancient Macedonian language. In fact, for some of these words it is more than obvious that they had existed in the ancient Macedonian vocabulary.
We should also turn attention to a portion of the ancient Macedonian onomastics. At the same time it is necessary to keep in mind two things. First, there is no doubt that the ancient Macedonians (mainly those from the highest circles) accepted part of the Hellenic onomastics. But in fact a large number of Macedonian names were different than those in the Hellenic onomasticon, while a considerable number of these are reminiscent of the later Macedonian onomasticon, or are derived from words of Macedonian or from so called "Slavic" (Venetic) origin.
A second thing that needs to be kept in mind is the fact that ancient Macedonian personal names up to our own time mainly achieved written form through their Greek (and in a smaller number Latin as well) transcription. We can surmise that a considerable number of these names were given the added Greek suffixes "os" and "s", and more rarely "us". There are a lot of proofs for this, but here for lack of space we shall only mention that, in our research we have noted over 350 personal names written by ancient Greek authors, which names belonged to various non-Greek peoples. The overwhelming number of these Persian, Thracian, Illyrian, Egyptian, Scythian, Brygian, Libyan, Indian, and other personal names (but also toponyms and other words) were artificially Hellenized by the old Greek authors, adding the Greek suffix "os", and where appropriate "s". Sometimes the old Greek authors went to such lengths that the foreign name was totally changed in the process. Thus, for example, the Egyptian Pharaoh Khu-fu in Greek sources became written as CheopS (with the attached Greek suffix "s"). Later the Indian King Chandragupta was written by Greeks as SandroticOS, and so forth. Sometimes the only change to the name would be the Greek ending "os" or "s". Thus, for example, the name of the Egyptian King Psamtic was written by Greeks as PsametihOS. The Macedonian name Ata, as well, became written as both Ata and AtaS (Hellenized by addition of the suffix "s"), etc.
We've said that we have identified hundreds of such examples of artificially Hellenized non-Greek names (but also other non-Greek words) by old Greek writers, which for lack of space here, will not be mentioned. According to such practices of that time it happened that peoples from quite disparate cultures, ethnic origins (and even races) such as the Persians, Egyptians, Illyrians, Arabians, Libyans, Thracians, Ethiopians, Scythians, Indians, Macedonians, and others, all had identical (Greek) endings on their names. This is so unlikely as to be unbelievable. Therefore, in the following discussion particular attention will be paid to the roots of personal names, given the extensive artificial use of the Greek suffixes "os" and "s" (as well as "us").
In the ancient Macedonian onomasticon we will include several Brygian names (most of them found in Macedonia) as well. This is for the simple reason that Brygians played a major role in the ethnogenesis of the ancient Macedonians30). But to pass on to concrete instances. We will mention a portion of the ancient Macedonian names which are the same or very similar to later Macedonian names or words, as well as names and words of the other so called "Slavic languages". Most of these names are present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon 31) .
Ata(s). The root of this name contains the noun "at",
which in the so called "Old Slavic language" meant "a
horse". We note that the ancient Macedonians were great horsemen
and horses were very importaint for them. Such names allready exsists
in onomasticons of other peoples (for example Bulgarians have their
popular name Asparuh, which means "speed horse" in Old
Bulgarian language). The same name "Ata" is present in
todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Apell(es). The root of this name contains the noun "apel"
(a call) which we have in the present day Macedonian language.
Bere(s). The root of this name contains the verb "bere"
(to pick up) that exists today in the Macedonian language and in
other "Slavic" languages. Also in the present day Macedonian
onomasticon there are names derived from verbs. The name "Bere"
is present In todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Crater(us)32). The root of this name contains the word "krater"
(crater) which exsists in the present day Macedonian and other "Slavic"
languages. In todays' Macedonian onomasticon is present the name
Caran(us)33). This name might be connected to the present
day Macedonian noun "kruna" (a crown). The name "Karanche"
is present In todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Dada. The noun "dada" in the present day Macedonian
language means "older sister". The name "Dada"
is present In todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Daron. This is a name for the ancient Macedonian god of
healing. Its etymology is known, and it means "he that gives
health." This means that the name of this god contains the
Macedonian noun "dar" (a gift). The names Darun, Dare,
Dara and others are present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Del(us). The verb "dela" (to work) exists in the
so called "Old Slavic language", as well as in several
present day "Slavic languages". The name "Dele"
is present In todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Dimno(s). The adjective "dimno" exists in the
present day Macedonian language and still means "steamy The
names Dimna, Dimon, Dimnak and others are present in todays' Macedonian
Diplai(os)34). A name of an upper Macedonian (Payonian)
ruler. In his name is the noun "dipla" that in dialectal
form in the present day Macedonian language means a bouquet of flowers.
The noun "dipla" is also used as a designation for a type
of old Macedonian instrument.
Dita. The noun exists in Slavic languages as "dite"
or "dete", which means "a child". In 19th century
Macedonian onomasticon was recordered the same name "Dita".
Dita(s). This is an obvious form of the preceding name Dita,
but it has been Hellenized with the suffix "s".
Dud(es). The noun "dud" (a type of wood) exists
in several "Slavic" languages. The names Dude and Duda
are present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Glaukia(s)35). Could this name be derived from the noun
"glava" (a head)? In 19th century Macedonia one finds
the male name Glavko.36)
Gauan(us). This is an old originally ancient Macedonian
name, first mentioned by Herodotus. It has obvious similarities
to the noun "gaval", that represents an archaism for the
"kaval" (a short Macedonian wind instrument). In 15th
century Macedonia one finds the male names: Gavale and Gavala.
Kopria. This name has possible connections to the noun "kopra"
(a dill). It is a well-known practice to derive personal names from
those of the plant world. In 16th century Macedonia one finds the
female name Kopra.
Lasten. This name may be connected to the noun "lastovica"
(in Serbian: "lasta"), which means "a swallow".
The name Laste is present in today's Macedonian onomasticon.
Lyka. This female Macedonian name, which exists in the present
day language, is possibly derived from the noun "lika"
(a face, pretty face). The name Lika is present in today's Macedonian
Milo. This name was mentioned by Plutarch as a name of a
Macedonian military leader in the Macedonian-Roman conflicts. This
name exists to the present day in the Macedonian onomasticon. It
has an obvious identification with the present day Macedonian adjective
"milo" (dear), from which a number of names are (Milosh,
Mesti(us). The root of this name contains the noun (archaism)
"mesti" (small childrens' shoes made from wool). In later
Macedonian onomasticon there were also names derived from pieces
Mamina. This name fully corresponds to the present day Macedonian
adjective "mamina" (the one who belongs to her mother).
In 18th and 19th century Macedonia one finds the female name Maminka.
Mama. This is identical to the present day Macedonian noun
"mama", which in any case, exists in other languages.
In 15th century Macedonia one finds the female name Mamica (deminutive
Mama(s). It is obvious that this is a Hellenized variant
on the previous name.
Mantyes. This is probably a variant of the previous name.
The spoken form of this word (without the suffix "s")
is still closer to the noun "mantija".
Med(es). The root of this name contains the noun "med"
(honey), which exists in todays' Macedonian language as well in
most other "Slavic" languages. The name Mede is present
in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Myrcin(us). Name of a king of an ancient Macedonian tribe
Edoni, mentioned by Herodotus. If we remove the Greek "us",
we get the name Myrcin (Mirkin). To the present day in the Macedonian
language there is the female name "Mirka" (derived from
the noun "mir", which means peace), while "Mirkin"
is an adjective which means "The one who belongs to Mirka".
Among the Macedonians, right up to the 20th century, men frequently
received names derived from their mother's name (Kanin son of Kana;
Mirkin son of Mirka and etc.). Could that be the case with this
name? The names Mirkan, Mirin and so on are present in todays' Macedonian
Mucati. The verb "mucati" exists in a number of
the "Slavic" languages. In the Macedonian language the
verb "mucna" means "to speak". Maybe this name
can be connected to the noun "mucka" (snout). If we read
"c" as "k", then maybe the root of this name
can be connected to the noun "mukach" (which means a cry
baby). The names Mucan Muce, Mucko, Mukan, Muko are present in todays'
Nana. The noun "nana" in the Macedonian language
today is used to signify an older female relative. In dialectal
form "nana" takes the form of the verb, to sleep. The
name Nana is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Pita. The noun "pita" (a type of food), can be
found in a number of "Slavic" languages. In todays' Macedonian
onomasticon is present the name Pito. There are other Macedonian
names derived from the food: Piroshka, Pituluca and others.
Pittak(os). Could this be a variant of the previous name?
The noun "pitach" exists in the present day Macedonian
language, with the meaning, "one who begs". The names
Pito and Pitako are present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Plator. The noun "plat" exists in the present
day Macedonian language as a type of high quality cloth. The suffix
"or" is encountered in other male personal names, which
means that it is independent of the root "plat". The name
Platin is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Pyri(as).The root of this name could be connected to the
noun "pir" (merriment). The name Piri is present in todays'
Pyrh(os). This is probably a variant of the previous name.
Perustae. The noun "perustija" in the present
day Macedonian language means an iron spit for cooking meat over
a fire, an item that had great significance in the preparation of
food in the past. The name Peruska is present in todays' Macedonian
Rumi37). A female name that could possibly be connected
to the adjective "rumena" (ripe red). In todays' Macedonian
onomasticon there is name "Rumi", which is short form
of the name "Rumena" (ripe red).
Sita. A name that is identical to the present day Macedonian
adjective "sita" (eating to satisfaction). The male name
Sitko is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Sopol(is).This ancient Macedonian name is mentioned by the
Greek historian Arrian as the name of a Macedonian officer in the
army of Alexander the Great. It obviously contains the root "sopol"
(a strong spring) from the so called "Old Slavic language".
The name Sopol is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Stasanor. This name contains the present day Macedonian
adjective "stasan" (ripe). We've said that the suffix
"or" can be found in other male names, which means that
it is outside of the root "stasan". The names Stasin,
Stase and Staso are present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Silen(us). Name of a forest demon in Brygian mythology.
The root of this name contains the present day Macedonian adjective
"silen" (that which has spiritual or physical strength).
In middle age Macedonia one finds the names: Silan, Silano and Silane.
Stamen(os)38). The root of this name contains the present
day Macedonian adjective "stamen" (reliable, firm). The
name Stamen is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Sever(os). The root of this word contains the noun "sever"
(north), which exists in in a number of present day "Slavic"
languages. The name Sever is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Sipa. In the Macedonian language there exists the noun "sipa"
(a type of fish), which lives in Macedonian lake waters. It is a
well known practice to derive personal names from the names of animals.
The name Sipe is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Sipa(s). This is obviously a Hellenized variant of the previous
Scritia39). The adjective "skrita" (secret) is
apparent in this name that exists in "Slavic" languages.
Tata, Tato, Tataia. These are obvious variations of a name
derived from the noun "tato" i "tata", which
means "a father" and can be found in several "Slavic"
languages. The name "Tataia" probably is a variant on
these two names. In middle age Macedonia one find the names: Tato,
Tate, Tatko, Tatka, Tatin.
Temen(os). The root of this name contains the present day
Macedonian adjective "temen" (dark).
Traizina. The root of this word may contain the present
day Macedonian adjective "trazena" (expected, sought).
Tip(as). The root of this name contains the noun "tip"
(type), which is a word found in several Slavic languages. The names
Tipa and Tipe are present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Vitel(is). The root of this name contains the noun "vitel",
which is found in the present day Macedonian and still means (whirlpool).
The name Vitol is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Zaika. This is one of the most interesting ancient Macedonian
female names. It may represent a female form of the present day
Macedonian "zajak" (rabbit). In any case, there are numerous
examples of names taken from names of animals. The names Zaia (Zaja)
and Zaiko (Zajko) are present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
Zaimina. The present day Macedonian language contains the adjective "zemjina" (in dialectal form "zemina") which means "the one who belongs to Earth". There is also the adjective "zimna" (the one who belongs to the winter"). The name Zemko is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon.
We would also add to this list the name of the well-known Brygian goddess Zemela, who was goddess of the earth. There is an obvious similarity to the Macedonian noun "zemja" (in dialectal form: "zemla"), which is similar in other "Slavic" languages.
We would also mention the name of a Brygian tribe, the "Mushki",
who lived in the 9th century before Christ. Their name is identical
to the noun "mushki" (men), which exists in other "Slavic"
languages. Their king was called Mita a name which remains
unchanged in a number of "Slavic" languages.
There are other personal names of ancient Macedonians which in their spoken form have associations with present day Macedonian words, but only some of the more obvious examples have been mentioned.
Regarding the above mentioned names, few things require some explanation. Although it is obvious that in their spoken form they are completely or to a great extent analogous to the Macedonian words that we have cited, as well as those from a number of other "Slavic" languages, the question remains: is this merely chance and is the etymology of these names consistent enough to satisfy logic? For example, is it possible that someone really would name their child "Perustija" (an iron tool for a hearth fire)? In order to answer this question we can say that the criteria which was used in earlier times to create personal names is not quite the same as the present day criteria (at least in regard to the Macedonian onomasticon, and certainly in others as well). Concretely, for names derived from household items we can say that in 19th century Macedonia there is evidence of the female name "Masa" (a table) as well a male name "Lambe" (a lamp). This means that even in the near past there existed personal names connected to items for household use that may justify the claim that the female name "Perustae" was derived from the noun "perustija" (an iron tool for a hearth). Concerning the names that we have dealt with that are derived from verbs, we can say that there also exist today Macedonian names connected to specific activities that are names derived from verbs. Thus, for example, there is the name "Gone" (to hunte, to chase). Regarding the names connected to various items (mantija, plat, mesti and etc.) we can say that in the 19th century there is documentation for the name "Vuna" (dialectal form of the wool), which means that names connected to items existed even in the recent past. There is even evidence in the 19th century of the rare female name "Valkana" (Dirty). Although such a name appears quite strange to present generations, that doesn't deny the fact that our ancestors sometimes created personal names based on different criteria than we use today, and that fact must be taken into account when discussing their etymology.
There is plenty of ancient, middle age and modern age narrative evidence concerning the analogy between the culture of the ancient Macedonians and the culture of the Veneti (ancestors of the "Slavs").
The Latin historian Quintus Curtius Rufus in his biography of Alexander The Great wrote that the Veneti from Asia Minor region of Paphlagonia took part in the army of Alexander The Great. Quintus Curtius Rufus mentioned an interesting piece of information. He wrote that Philotas, a Macedonian who was a naturilised Hellen, teased his fellow Macedonians by calling them "Phrygians or Paphlagians"40). He also wrote that the Macedonians were unhappy about this and complained to Alexander The Great. Two very important points to note here: Philotas equated the terms Phrygians and Paphlagonians. It is well known that the Phrygians (in the Balkans were known as Brygians) became the constitutional ethno-cultural core of the ancient Macedonians, whereas the term Paphlagonians represents a geographic name for Veneti, i.e. for the ancestors of the "Slavs". What this means actually is that Philotas equated the ancient Macedonians and the Veneti, and this happened before IV BC.
Even earlier than this, Herodotus wrote that Phrygians (ancient Macedonians) and Paphlagonians (ancestors of the "Slavs") wore very similar clothes41).
There is narrative evidence regarding the analogy between the "Slav" and ancient Macedonian culture from a later period as well. The Byzantine historian and writer Nichephore Gregoras during his visit to the Macedonian town of Strumica in 1326, recorded that there he heard a large number of Macedonian folk songs. He affirms that, although he did not understand the language of the local population, the folk songs from Strumica definitely resembled - the Phrygian folk songs!42)
Also in the later periods a lot of foreign and Macedonian activists declared that the "Slavs" were the same people as the ancient Macedonians!
Mauro Orbini, in his book "The Kingdom of the Slavs" (1601), wrote about the presence of the "Slavs" during the period of Alexander The Great, even as a part of his army. In this book, Orbini published a document, which represents a Charter, that was sent to the "Slavs" by Alexander The Great as a gesture of gratitude for taking part in Alexander's battles43). It is important to note that Alexander's biographer Quintus Curtius Rufus also wrote that the Veneti were a part of the Macedonian army.
The renowned Croatian historian from XVI century Vinko Pribichevich, in his book "About the Origin and the Adventures of Slavs" (Venice, 1532) asserts that ancient Macedonians are "Slavs". Middle-age Croatian reformists H. Lucich, D. Zatarich, I. Gundulich, J. Palmotich and others, also shared this belief and they all considered Alexander The Great a Slav. Matijan Alberti of Split (1561-1623) also supported this theory.
Ancient Macedonians were considered to be "Slavs" (Veneti) by a number of poets from Dubrovnik, and also a number of Russian historians: Butkov, Saveljev, Rostislavich and Chertkov, as well as archimandrites Leonid and Filrot. Mickevich from the Chair at the French College in Paris, in 1844 declared that the "Slavs are the oldest nation in Europe"44).
The German scholar Kuno, as well as the scholars Lelev and Bjeloski, put forward their assertion that not only the Hellenes but also the "Slavs" always lived on the Balkan peninsula, together with the Hellenes. The same was maintained by the highly distinguished Pavle J. Shafranich (who published a few books on this subject), as well as the Russian consul in Bitola, Hitrov. This theory was represented by some Serbian activists at the time45).
Renown Croatian folklorist from Bosnia Stefan Verkovich during his extended visit to Macedonia in the 19th century recorded a large number of Macedonian folklore deeds and in his letter to the newspaper "Dragoljub" in Zagreb published in 1868 wrote: "The Slavs, and not the Greeks, are the forefathers of the civilisation"46).
In his work "Veda Slovena" (1874) Verkovich wrote:"Our Slavs had a lively tradition even in the times of Alexander The Great".
Bulgarian writer Stefan Zahariev claimed that the "Slavs" are the oldest inhabitants of the Balkans and their literacy dates prior to the brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodius47).
In an Albanian history book from the 19th century has been stated that the Macedonians are the indigenous people of the Balkans and that Alexander The Great was a "famous Macedonian-Slav tzar". These views were shared by renown Macedonian intelectuals from the 19th century: Isaija Mazhovski, Gjorgji Pulevski, Nikola D. Chuparov and others, who believed that the ancient Macedonians and the "Slavs" are in fact the same people48).
Although the official Macedonian historiography (especially during the totalitarian regime in the period after the World War II until its indepence) mainly considered such articulations as national-romanticism, the future research will show whether there is any truth to the above claims.
1) Aristotle's mother was born in the Macedonian city of Stagira, however this city at the time was an Athenian colony. This is why it is believed that she was Hellen. However his father, Nicomachus was most probably a Macedonian. He was a personal doctor of the Macedonian tzar Philip II (the father of Alexander The Great). It is known that both Philip and his son Alexander always appointed Macedonians in their immediate vicinity, especially in very sensitive positions such as doctors, trusted generals, bodyguards etc. This fact leads to a conclusion that Aristotle's father was a Macedonian, a view supported by many contemporary historians.
2) There are many historical deeds about the famous Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII describing her pure Macedonian origin. She was a daughter of Ptolemy XII, and a distant granddaughter of Ptolemy I (Ptolemy I was a friend of Alexander The Great since their childhood and a general in the Macedonian army).
3) After the death of Alexander The Great the great Macedonian empire fell apart, but the pieces consequent to the breakdown of the empire were still ruled by Macedonians. Alexander's general Ptolemy set out to rule Egypt, whereas the general Seleucus ruled Siria and southern Asia. These Macedonian dynasties retained a lot of their Macedonian heritage in their tradition. Later on their states were taken over by the Romans. A number of members of these Macedonian dynasties were mentioned in the Bible (especially The Old Testament). For more detail on this subject refer to the book "Jesus Christ and the Macedonians" by A. Donski (Centre for Cultural Initiative, Stip, Macedonia, 2000).
4) For information about the possible Macedonian descent of St. Luke refer to: "The Apostle Paul's Visit to Philippi, History of Philippi", by Dr. Clint Arnold and his class at Talbot Theological Seminary, The Biblelands Project (copyright 1999 by Musterseed Media Inc., website: www.musterseed.net). The likelyhood that St. Luke was from a Macedonian origin is indicated even in the world renown encyclopaedia Microsoft Encarta 98 (Encyclopaedia Deluxe Edition, USA, 1998; "Luke Saint"). More detail on this topic can be found in the book "Jesus Christ and the Macedonians" by A. Donski (Centre for Cultural Initiative, Stip, Macedonia, 2000).
5) Refers to the members of the Macedonian dynasty that ruled Byzantine in the period IX to XI century AD. These tzars exercised a certain number of customs that were practised by the ancient Macedonian tzars, and they even promoted the Phalanx as a distinct component of the Byzantine army. A lot of historians believe these tzars carried the genes of the ancient Macedonians.
6) For extensive detail about the contribution of the ancient Macedonians to the world civilisation refer to "Contribution of the ancient Macedonians to the World Civilisation" by A. Donski, that will become available by December 2001.
7) The fact that the ancient Macedonians were a separate nation has already been widely accepted and indications in this regard can be found in a number of encyclopedias. As an illustration, following infromation has been taken from the encyclopedia Encarta (title: Europe): "Macedonia, to the north of Greece, had not originally been part of the Greek wold". This veracity has been confirmed by a row of international researchers and experts on ancient Macedonia, and the list of names is very long.
8) Arrian: "The Campaigns of Alexander", translated by Aubrey De Selincourt, Penguin Books, USA, 1987, page 119.
9) Homer (VIII BC) identified Veneti as people from Asia Minor, whereas Herodotus (V BC) identified them as Balkan people under the name of Eneti.
10) In support of the fact that Veneti were the same people as the "Slavs" there are number of testimonials. The German historian Jordanes (VI AD) wrote that Veneti and Slavs are the same people. The most convincing arguments regarding the common identity of the Veneti and Slavs were presented in the brilliant book "Veneti - First Builders of the European Community" by Joshko Shavli, Matej Bor and Ivan Tomazich, translation in English by Anton Skrebinc (Editions Veneti; A-1080 Wien, Bennogasse 21, Austria; Co-published by Anton Skrebinc; Boswell, British Columbia, Canada). In this book on over 500 pages are presented indisputable evidences from various fields and it is demonstrated that the Veneti and Slavs had identical cultures, i.e. they were the same people.
11) This is written in chapter 51 in Plutarch's biography of Alexander The Great (Macedonian Translation, Plutarh: "Aleksandar Makedonski", Skopje, 1994, p. 70).
12) Anthony by Plutarch, translated by John Dryden
13) Quintus Curtius Rufus: "Istorija na Aleksandar Makednoski", translation by Dr. Ljubinka Basotova (Skopje, 1998, p. 272)
14) Borza Eugen: "In the Shadow of Olimpus, The Emergence of Macedon" (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, ISBN 0-691-05549-1, USA, 1990, p. 92)
15) The statement of Demosteness can be found in any publication of his speeches called Philippics.
16) For detailed explanation regarding the meaning of the term "barbarians" in the ancient world refer to Synthia Syndor Slowikowski: "Sport and Culture in the Ancient Macedonian Society" (The Pennsylvania State University, 1998, p. 30)
17) Synthia Syndor Slowikowski: "Sport and Culture in the Ancient Macedonian Society" (The Pennsylvania State University, 1998, p. 30)
18) Thycidides 2,8,1. Isocrates 5.108 and Clement of Alexandria 6.2.17
19) In relation to the presence of borrowed Greek words in the ancient Macedonian language more information can be found in the article "The Ancient Macedonians And Their Language" (Council for Research into South-Eastern Europe of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Skopje, 1993). Also in Eugen Borza: "The Shadow of Olimpus, The Emergence of Macedon" (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, ISBN 0-691-05549-1, USA, 1990, p. 93)
21) Makedonia - Sbornik ot dokumenti i materiali (BAN, Sofia, 1978, p. 44)
22) This word is supplied by Dr. Nade Proeva in her book: "Studii za Antickite Makednoci" (Skopje, 1997, p. 58). She asserted that the word "phoinikos" was used for the first time in the period of Alexander The Great.
23) Explanation regarding pronunciation of the letter "v" instead of "f" in the ancient Macedonian and Brygian language is available in the book: "Brigi" by Dr. Eleonora Petrova (Muzej na Makedonija, Skopje, 1996, p. 207)
24) Andonovski Hristo: "Juzna Makedonija od antickite do denesnite Makedonci" (Skopje, 1995)
25) Gjorgji Pop-Atnasov: "Biblijata za Makedonija i Makedoncite" (Menora, Skopje, 1995, p. 57)
26) N.G.L. Hammond: "The Macedonian State, Origins, Institutions and History" published in the United States by Oxford University Press Inc, New York, 1989, ISBN 0-19-814927-1, p. 6)
27) This was the name of the capital of ancient Macedonia
28) and 29) These two ancient Macedonian words were supplied by Dr. Nade in her book: "Studii za Antickite Makednoci" (Skopje, 1997)
30) A number of authors have written about the Brygians as the main ingredient in the ethno-genesis of the ancient Macedonians. Results of the research carried out by some of these authors have been conveyed in the study "Brigi" by Dr. Eleonora Petrova (Muzej na Makedonija, Skopje, 1996, on various occasions throughout the book). Detailed elaboration regarding the domination of the Brygian component in the ancient Macedonians is available in the book "Studii za Antickite Makedonci" by Dr. Nade Proeva (Skopje, 1997)
31) All given names presented herewith have been obtained for use from the above mention books by Dr. Nade Proeva and Dr. Eleonora Petrova, unless specified otherwise. That most of these names are present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon see at Dr. Ljubica Stankovska "Rechnik na lichnite iminja na Makedoncite" (Skopje, 1992). In this book more that 30.000 names from Macedonian middle age and modern age onomasticon are presented.
32) The name "Craterus" has been recorded by the ancient biographers of Alexander The Great
33) "Caranus" was the name of a legendary Macedonian sovereign
34) This name has been taken on from the edition "Macedonia acta archeologica", br. 11, 1987-1989 (Skopje, 1990). This was the name of a local Macedonian tribal leader from IV BC.
35) The name "Glaukas" has been recorded by the biographers of Alexander The Great
36) Miladinovci: "Zbornik" (Skopje, 1983, chapter: "Sopstveni narodni iminja", p. 506)
37) The name "Rumi" is taken from Aleksandar Matkovski's "Makednoija vo delata na stranskite patepisci 1778-1826" (Skopje, 1992, p. 54)
38) The name "Stamenos" has been recorded by the biographers of Alexander The Great
39) This name was taken on from the book: "Travels in Northern Greece" by William Martin Leake, London, 1835, vol. III (Nacionalna biblioteka Pariz, signatura J.12345-12348)
40) Quintus Curtius Rufus: "Istorija na Aleksandar Makednoski", translation from Latin in Macedonian by Dr. Ljubinka Basotova (Skopje, 1998, p. 276)
41) The similarity between the apparel of the Phrygians and Paphlagonians was recorded by Herodotus: "The dress of the Phrygians closely resembled the Paphlagonian, only in a very few points differing from it"
42) Nichephore Gregoras: "Corespondance" (Paris, 1927, p. 30)
43) Prof. Angelina Markus; Also "Makedonsko Sonce" (11.07.1997, p.18)
44) For more information refer to: "Veda Slovena" by Gane Todorovski (Makedonska Kniga, Skopje, 1979, p. 17)
45) For more information refer to: "Makedonija i makedonskata nacija" by Dr. Blaze Ristovski (Skopje, 1995, p. 131)
46) For more information refer to: "Zivotni put Stjepana Vjerkovicha (1821-1894)" by Ljubisha Doklestich (Zagreb, 1982, p. 304)
47) For more information refer to: "Zivotni put Stjepana Vjerkovicha (1821-1894)" by Ljubisha Doklestich (Zagreb, 1982, p. 285)
48) For more information in relation to the Albanian history and the work of Mazovski, Pulevski, Chuparov and others refer to: "Makedonija i makedonskata nacija" by Dr. Blaze Ristovski (Skopje, 1995, on various occasions throughout the book)