Dept. of Greek & Roman Classics
July 15, 2009
Responding to Professor Miller
[Note: in what follows, I follow the lead of 125 nations, including four of the five permanent UN Security Council members, and use “Macedonian” as the appropriate adjective for the Republic of Macedonia. Note that it was the usage of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies as early as 1996. Use of a “politically correct” term would have required, as Chase and Phillips put it, “laborious periphrasis.”]
[I'm updating this letter regularly, redating it each time, partly because I've received interesting and important criticisms.]
Stephen Miller, an American archaeologist, has circulated a number of versions of a statement about Balkan politics, with the expressed intent of influencing the Obama administration. I append the version to which I respond below. It differs somewhat from the online versions posted May 20, 2009 at:
and updated to May 26 at:
Although the ostensive topic is Alexander the Great, the statement commits the author and the many scholars who’ve co-signed to two extreme positions: that President Bush’s 2004 recognition of the Republic of Macedonia by that name “was clearly the catalyst for the fantasies of a Slavic Alexander" or “unleashed a dangerous epidemic of historical revisionism,” and that the inhabitants of the Republic have no right to call themselves “Macedonians.” The first of these claims is easily disproved: the Republic of Macedonia had sought to appropriate, or share, Alexander long before 2004. As to the second, the Republic occupies land that has long been called “Macedonia,” and is, to boot, a sovereign state.
In other words, Prof. Miller takes extreme positions that are not required in a scholarly discussion of ancient ethnicity, and in the process converts the thicket of Balkan politics into a lawn. His challenge to the sovereignty and name of the neighboring state puts himself and his co-signers to the right of the Greek government. That’s quite an achievement.
The form of the letter –its seemingly dispassionate appeal to scholars, its assurance in one draft that “many of us would prefer to avoid politics” – should not blind readers to its tendentious and inaccurate historical claims, or to its extreme conclusions.
Let’s start at the beginning. This spring, Professor Miller circulated a draft ( dated January 22, 2009) of the letter we now have. He criticized an article in the January / February 2009 Archaeology Magazine by Matthew Brunwasser: “Letter from Macedonia. Modern Macedonia Lays its Claim to the Ancient Conqueror's Legacy.” Professor Miller complains that the magazine would not print his response (which ran to 1500 words, almost as long as Brunwasser's original). Professor Miller has not shared his correspondence with the magazine. In his short piece, Brunwasser interviews some archaeologists and visits some sites, and says, "Greece insists that Macedonia should change its name, claiming that it implies ambitions over Greek territory -- the northern province of Greece is also called Macedonia -- and opposes the name as an appropriation of Alexander III of Macedon (Alexander the Great), whom the country claims as Greek." A bit later he adds: "But the subtle relations between the ancient Macedonians and Greeks are sometimes lost in today's acrimonious debate over who has the exclusive claim to Alexander's homeland."
If I, or I think most of the co-signers, were intent on ridiculing Greek claims, we’d be somewhat more assertive and vicious. Brunwasser does mention a Macedonian kitchen utility salesman who likes Alexander as a countryman, but then quotes workmen with the opposite opinion:
"If we had to choose between Alexander and joining the EU and NATO, we’d choose Europe," says Goran Nikolovski. "History is in the past," says his colleague Zlatko Petreski. "We want the name of the country to remain Macedonia because we are Macedonians," says Nikolovski. "But we want to move forward."
“Sick of Alexander”? “History is in the past”? That is not the way people talk when they’re out to undermine “the scientific basis for our professional lives,” as Prof. Miller puts it, perhaps a tad portentously.
In the body of his letter, Professor Miller comments problematically on both ancient and modern history:
a) The ancients: Professor Miller recites literalist claims about early Macedonia, of the sort found on many Greek disapora websites. The general goal is to demonstrate a linear and unbroken sequence of Greekness from antiquity to today, relying partly on Herodotus' presentation of Alexander I of Macedon.
Linearity, however, is the stuff of propaganda, not of history. Discussing the Macedonia issue a decade ago, some very prominent Greek social scientists mentioned “the strategic manipulation of nationalist ideology by the Greek government” in its presentation “of political and cultural myths.” They noted that “The historical trajectory of the nation has been traced in a linear form and without ruptures or discontinuities from antiquity to modernity…. Thus, any questioning of the 'Hellenicity' of Alexander the Great is perceived as a threat to the very essence of the nation because it casts doubt on the continuity of the national community through history. The nationalist feelings of the population have … been manipulated by political parties as a campaigning device….” (Triandafyllidou, Calloni & Mikrakis )
Any country seeking to map itself onto ancient history confronts a host of problems. Herodotus illustrates these clearly in his portrayal of Alexander I, who is sometimes a satrap engaged in lucrative dynastic marriage-relations with Persian royalty, and sometimes a "Hellene." He is one of only two people in Herodotus accused of committing or advising athemista, “lawlessness.” Other Greeks challenge his standing as a “Hellene.” Much of this is well discussed by David Fearn, in a fine recent essay, "Narrating Ambiguity: Murder and Macedonian Allegiance (5.17-22)," which I recommended to Professor Miller two months ago, when he floated his letter. There is no sign that he has read Fearn or is disturbed by the paradox of this nearly unique “Greek” satrap (Lycaretus is another: 5.27).
The claim to be a “Hellene” is one, but only one, of several cards this Alexander plays. He protects himself and his people by cannily playing the odds (and using the talent of silver his mines produced daily). That’s why Spartans and Athenians treat him with such contempt at the end of Book 8. Scholars of ethnicity and acculturation in antiquity won’t be surprised at his ambiguous status, especially given Jonathan Hall's warning against a "transhistorically static definition of Greekness." (Hall, p. 166) Prof. Miller's letter shows no awareness of the anthropologically sophisticated work on ancient ethnicity now being produced in our field.
Now, it is true that both the Greek and Macedonian governments, as well as their diaspora supporters, have gone to absurd lengths to claim ancient ties. The list of examples is endless. A textbook claims that Alexander I, far from being a wily and self-serving border king, "is the founder of the unbroken unity and acme of the Macedonian state. Having full consciousness of his Hellenicity, he tried, where possible, to help the southern Greeks i the fight against the Persians." (Hamilakis, "Learn History," 55) Classicists seeking the ancient “Via Egnatia” may be surprised to observe that it now begins in Igoumenitsa not Durres, and lies wholly within Greek borders. The Greek-American Pan Macedonian Union urged not only denial of its northern neighbor's right to name itself and the return of the Marbles, but US intervention on behalf of the "Kalash of the northern Himalayan region of the Hindu Kush Mountains of Pakistan [who] are Hellenic descendants of the armies of Alexander the Great." Skopje claims its own Nepalese "relations" – an initiative the supposed propagandist Mathew Brunwasser has reported many Macedonians find “funny or pathetic.” (International Herald Tribune, October 2, 2008)
For an even-handed comment on the “name” issue, consider Roudometof in the Journal of Modern Greek Studies:
In the case of the controversy between Greece and FYROM, two identifications have been developed with respect to one homeland (that of Macedonia). Consequently, two narratives have formed, each of which seeks to establish a genealogical tie between a people and the land which that people inhabits…. The affirmation of minorities is interpreted, according to the nineteenth-century Balkan mentality, as representing the first step toward irredentist activity.
Both sides operate with the assumption that nationhood provides the essential component for nation-building. Both view national narratives as providing an essential ingredient for their national identity. The two national narratives, however, encroach upon one another, tending to claim Macedonia … exclusively for their particular side. For Greeks, Macedonia is a name and a territory that is an indispensable part of the modern Greek identity. For Macedonians, it provides the single most important component that has historically differentiated them from Bulgarians.
Elsewhere, Roudometof says, “Greeks rallied to defend their national narrative--in effect, denying the claim of the Macedonians to stand for an independent nation.” (1999: 459)
b) Turning to the modern world, what is noticeable is Prof. Miller’s insistence that the Republic of Macedonia has shown deplorable manners: "Why would a poor land-locked new state attempt such historical nonsense? Why would it brazenly mock and provoke its neighbor?"
Prof. Miller treats the question as a rhetorical one. But it’s not rhetorical. State-building often relies on archaeology and history, especially if there is pressure from neighbors. Greek scholars have noticed that archaeology and history have been abused for propagandistic purposes within Greece, and similar patterns have emerged elsewhere, especially in new states. Zahariadis and Sutton shown that the international community was not won over by Greek historical claims in the 1990s, with Zahariadis mentioning the "opaqueness and incoherence" of these claims (1996). Former Ambassador Monteagle Stearns and Susan Woodward in 1997 stressed the danger that the Greek blockade and other acts would bring. As Woodward said, these actions "not only made it more difficult for Macedonian leaders to accept a compromise, but also created a more serious threat to the long-term stability of the region." The question, "why the Republic of Macedonia" has taken the steps it has brings many possible answers, then. It may be that, like the pagan foe of Julian the Apostate in Cavafy, the Macedonian government has noticed what irritates the other side: "to ousiodes ine pou eschase," "the important thing is, he blew up."
Like Julian, the Greek government certainly responded oppressively. Along with Serbia in the early 90s it may fleetingly have weighed carving up the new Republic.. Milosevic seems to have proposed the idea. See the discussion of this topic, of the “Samaras Pincer,” and of Virginia Tsouderou’s convenient 1992 discovery of Hellenized Vlachs in need of rescue in Macedonia, in Michas, pp. 53ff. Michas provides some testimony about initial Greek willingness to invade, though he has no documentary proof. (Roudometof 1996: 259 citing Zahariadis 1994: 663 adds important detail.) Prof. Miller’s little joke (“Greece should annex Paionia”) may betray unawareness that annexation was seriously considered. Macedonians don’t see the humor.
Then came the "economic blockades" (as Le Monde, the Wall St. Journal, and BBC among others called them) from the Greek side. I use the plural because Michas mentions “unofficial” blockades as well as the official one. For 20 months in 1994-95, Greece imposed a crippling embargo. One Greek official proclaimed, "We will choke Skopje into submission." Export earnings for the Republic of Macedonia fell by 85%, imports of food by 40%, of crude oil by two thirds. Inflation soared. (As Michas points out, Foreign Minister Antonis Samaras was a key initiator of these and other destabilizing measures, sometimes in partnership with Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic. Coincidentally, Samaras is now Minister of Culture, in charge of Greek antiquities.)
How many classicists co-signed complaints about that?
Unembarrassed by such cruelty and seemingly blind to irony, Prof. Miller pours on the self-pity: “The USA can effect just about anything it wants with smaller countries,” he complains, ignoring the fact that Greece, not the USA, tried to “choke” its far smaller and weaker neighbor into submission -- and boasted about it. Short of gunfire, blockades are the closest a state can come to an act of war.
Officially sanctioned indignities have continued, on a smaller scale, up to the present day. And all Macedonians are conscious that by keeping Macedonia out of NATO and the European Union, Greece is keeping Macedonia poor. Macedonians I met in January marveled at the reports of Athenian youth rioting because they earned “only” 750 euros / month.
The brutal 1994-95 blockade backfired, cementing a sense of national unity in much of the Republic. As Mark Mazower, a real historian, remarked in the Journal of Modern Greek Studies:
[T]he development of modern Macedonian nationalism, and its extension from small groups of intellectuals to a more popular base, depended upon the combined idiocies of three nation-states--Greece, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia / Serbia….
Mazower, p. 233
Macedonians call their neighbors "the wolves." (Pettifer : 476) This term is said to date from the Treaty of Bucharest (1913), one of several treaties in which what is now a state was divided anew; but it retains its currency.
The serious problems to be settled in this region trump the name-calling about Alexander. These include the personal and property rights of those who were forced out of the country in the civil war of the '40s. Since the 1980s some former fighters were allowed to return in 1982 -- but only those who were “Greeks by genos” or who renounced a more complex ethnic identity. (The precise meaning of "Greek by genos" is a topic of discussion: the law has recently been interpreted to refer not to "ethnic identity" but "national consciousness." Konstantinos Tsitselikis, after reviewing the complexities of all this as regards citizenship, states that the law singles out: "persons coming from a different nation and who, by their actions and general behaviour have expressed sentiments testifying to the lack of a Greek national consciousness, in a way that [shows that] they cannot be considered as having assimilated into the Greek nation.” After commenting on older laws that denied a "right to regain or acquire Greek citizenship" to Muslims and Jews after World War II, he mentions the commission established to determine the "evidence of ... Greek national consciousness" of Civil War veterans who lived in the USSR after 1948. "Greek law," Tsitselikis concludes, "has invented exclusive categories for those who accept the respective norms on the basis of an objective racial relationship, a concept, which is a priori incompatible with the fundamental principal of non-discrimination, as it has been established in the Constitution and in the international conventions for the protection of human rights.")
Cases are pending in the European Court of Human Rights and The Hague about some of these issues. Greece also faces a blizzard of negative human rights reports, including one from the US State Department; Athenian human rights expert Alexis Heraclides has been quoted as warning that current court cases may blow up in Greece’s face, but he appears to be in a minority.
The area the Republic occupies has been called "Macedonia" on maps for many years, though the borders have long been disputed or “unrectified.” Livanios, while showing that the Great Powers and surrounding nations have been more opportunistic than dispassionate in defining Macedonian ethnicity, says that it is “widely accepted” that Macedonia comprised the Ottoman vilayets of Salonica, Monastir and Kosovo. (4, 46, 67, 77; note his reference to the “monumental paternalism” of the British, 113.) Greek sources sometimes claim that the name of the Republic will spark “irredentism,” but irredentism requires not pictures on t-shirts but military or political action, and Greece, with a military budget 50x that of the Republic and a per capita GDP of $32,000 versus Macedonia’s $9,000, has experienced difficulty making the case for looming danger. The behaviors Greece brands “irredentist” barely merit mention in Myron Weiner’s scholarly analysis of irredentism in the Balkans and elsewhere. Pettifer observed in 1992 that Macedonia seemed likelier to suffer from its neighbors' irredentism than to initiate an attack on any of them.
The effort to prove Macedonian "irredentism" makes frequent use of maps and documents from the north. Prof. Miller, for instance, provides a map and a "bank note":
These have appeared on multiple anti-Macedonian websites. Though Professor Miller titles the page "Documentation," documentation is precisely what is lacking. The "bank note" with the White Tower is dated to 1991, but we need to know where and when it circulated, and why. Kiro Velkovski tells us (in a comment at http://archaeoastronomy.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/macedonia-from-bad-to-worse/ ) that this was "a mockup by some individuals while we still had the Yugoslav dinars. It is in no way connected to the government or National Bank." A political scientist in Macedonia adds, "It was made as a proposal by a nationalist group and printed on normal paper ... it was never accepted." (Personal communication.) Velkovski does the great service of showing that the "bank note" is wholly missing from the current inventory of Macedonian bank notes.
Prof. Miller provides no translation of the language surrounding the map he parades. What does the text say? Macedonians certainly are entitled to recall the days -- before the Treaty of Bucharest in 1913 and the demographic changes consequent upon the Asia Minor disaster in 1922, and Civil War in the 1940s -- when they were more numerous in the area around Thessalonki. To show that this automatically implies a current territorial claim requires more argument.
So, what Prof. Miller gives the reader here is the rawest kind of raw data, like some unexamined find from the earth. The data may be meaningful, but it does not speak for itself. It is important to add that despite the rhetorical noise, Greece and Macedonia now have important trade relations.
In short, it is hard not to be dismayed at this letter, which rejects modern scholarship on ethnic formation, reads the text of Herodotus as if it was a newspaper, complains about imagined verbal slights in a bland magazine article – and ignores the immense material damage Greece has done to its neighbor.
There remains ample room to argue about Alexander the Great, and about the supposed “linear trajectory … without ruptures or discontinuities from Alexander to the present.” We ought to be able to do this without endorsing violation of sovereignty or applauding or ignoring efforts to impoverish others.
Prof. Miller hopes to influence the Obama administration, which has acted with cool realism in the Balkans. He says he prefers the goal of right-wing Greek nationalism: a blanket prohibition on use of “the name Macedonia.” But he acknowledges that that is unachievable. (Two Greek diplomats have publicly recommended dropping the name issue.) He doesn’t mention NATO or the European Union, though they are an important part of the picture. Should Obama, then, force Macedonia to drop its claims to “Alexander”? It is hard to see why, and even harder to see how this issue can be separated from other matters, including NATO, the EU, and the rights of ethnic Macedonians in Greece.
Interestingly, many of the sources I’ve cited above are Greek. There are plenty of fine academics, human rights attorneys, and others in Greece who do not follow the company line (one Athenian friend who does not found a swastika painted on his house). I’ve not consulted with anyone I’ve quoted, but hope I’ve represented them fairly. I also recognize that I’ve passed over some issues.
I’ve worked on Greek causes since 1969. But I happen to believe that the current nationalist policy toward Macedonia is disastrous and has brought no gain.
Department of Greek and Roman Classics
Graham T. Allison, editor. The Greek Paradox. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press 1997.
Mary Beard, "A don's life. Was Alexander the Great a Slav?" TLS Online, June 3, 2009:
K. S. Brown, and Yannis Hamilakis, editors. The Usable Past. Greek Metahistories. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2003.
Mathew Brunwasser, “Macedonia Dispute has Asia Flavor; Claiming Alexander's Heritage, Pakistanis Enter the Fray.” International Herald Tribune (October 2, 2008).
Richard Clogg, editor. Ethnic Minorities in Greece. London: Hurst&Company. 2002.
Kristin Fabbe. "Defining Minorities and Identities. Religious Categorization and State-Making Strategies in Greece and Turkey." Paper for Graduate Student Pre-Conference in Turkish and Turkic Studies, University of Washington. October 18, 2007:
David Fearn. "Narrating Ambiguity: Murder and Macedonian Allegiance (5.17-22)." In Elizabeth Irwin and Emily Greenwood, editors, Reading Herodotus. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007.
Jonathan Hall. "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity." In Irad Malkin, ed., Ancient Perceptions of Ethnicity, Washington DC: Center for Hellenic Studies, 2001.
Yannis Hamilakis . "Learn History! Antiquity, National Narrative and History in Greek Educational Textbooks". In Brown and Hamilakis, 39-68.
D. Kalekin-Fishman and P. Pitkanen, editors. Multiple Citizenship as a Challenge to European Nation-States. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. 2006
Dimitris Livanios. The Macedonian Question: Britain and the Southern Balkans 1939-1949. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Anastasia Karakasidou. “Cultural illegitimacy in Greece: the Slavo-Macedonian 'non-minority.'” In Clogg, 122-164.
Gay McDougall. Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. Report of the independent expert on minority issues, Addendum. Mission to Greece. (8-16 September 2008)
Greek government responses:
a) UN Ambassador Verros undated but apparently March 13, 2009)
b) Prime Minister Karamanlis: “There is no 'Macedonian' minority in Greece. There never has been.” July 10, 2008:
United States Department of State. 2008 Human Rights Report: Greece.
Council of Europe. Report by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, following his visit to Greece on 8-10 December 2008. Original version.
Strasbourg, 19 February 2009
Human rights of minorities
Mark Mazower, “Introduction to the Study of Macedonia.” Journal of Modern Greek Studies 14.2 (1996), 229-235.
Takis Michas. Unholy Alliance: Greece and Milosevic's Serbia in the Nineties. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2002.
James Pettifer, "The New Macedonian Question." International Affairs 68 ( 1992), pp. 475-485
Victor Roudometof. “Nationalism and Identity Politics in the Balkans: Greece and the Macedonian Question.” Journal of Modern Greek Studies 14.2 (1996) 253-301.
Victor Roudometof. “Invented Traditions, Symbolic Boundaries, and National Identity in Southeastern Europe: Greece and Serbia in Comparative Historical Perspective (1830-1880).” East European Quarterly 32.4 (1999) 429 – 468.
Roland Schmieger. "The Situation of the Macedonian Language in Greece: Sociolinguistic Analysis," International Journal of the Sociology of Language 131 (1998) 125-155.
Stearns, Monteagle. “Greek Security Issues,” in Allison, 61-72.
David E. Sutton. “Local Names, Foreign Claims: Family Inheritance and National Heritage on a Greek Island.” American Ethnologist 24 (1997) 415-437.
Anna Triandafyllidou and Andonis Mikrakis, “Greece. ‘A Ghost Wanders Through the Capital."’ In The New Xenophobia in Europe edited by Bernd Baumgartl and Adrian Favell (Leiden: Brill, 1995)
Anna Triandafyllidou, Marina Calloni & Andonis Mikrakis. ”New Greek Nationalism.” Sociological Research Online 2.1 (1997)
Anna Triandafyllidou and Anna Paraskevopoulou. “When is the Greek Nation? The Role of Enemies and Minorities.” Geopolitics 7.2 (2002) 75 – 98.
Konstantinos Tsitselikis, "Citizenship in Greece." In Kalekin-Fishman and Pitkanen, 145-170.
Voutira, Eftihia A. " Post-Soviet Diaspora Politics: The Case of the Soviet Greek." Journal of Modern Greek Studies 24.2(2006), 379-414.
Myron Weiner. “The Macedonian Syndrome: An Historical model of International Relations and Political development“ World Politics 23.4 (1971) 665-683.
Andreas Willi, "Whose is Macedonia, Whose is Alexander?":
Woodward, Susan L. “Rethinking Security in the Post-Yugoslav Era.” In Allison, 113-122.
Zahariadis, Nikolaos. "Is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia a Security Threat to Greece?" Mediterranean Quarterly 5 (1994) 84-105.
________________. "Nationalism and Small State Foreign Policy: The Greek Response to the Contemporary Macedonian Issue." Political Science Quarterly 109 (1994) 647-667.
________________. "Greek Policy toward the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 1991-1995." Journal of Modern Greek Studies 14 (1996) 303-3
Just as Jonathan Hall and others have opened up the study of race in antiquity, scholars like Anna Triandafyllidou have enriched our understanding of ethnicity in modern Greece. This is particularly urgent since the government continues to insist that there are no ethnic minorities there. Though her current scholarship concerns immigration -- a pressing problem in Greece -- she's written well on ethnicity too. Her overall perspective is one that classicists would do well to consider when they try to discuss modern ethnicity.
Triandafyllidou has shown, for instance, the problems of the current policy of treating "Turks" not as an ethnic but as a religious minority, noting "the changing character of civic, ethnic and religious identities of the Muslim minority in relation to the Christian Greek Orthodox majority." This concept of "change" permeates her discourse: history is dynamic not static, Greece has changed and is changing. The "dynamic nature of national identity" led to a moment (around 1922) in which "Greek national identity abandoned its irredentist character and shifted towards an ethnic but also territorial and civic definition of the nation in the early twentieth century, through interaction and conflict with neighbouring countries as well as internal social and political changes." Many of these "conflict dynamics ... developed between the nation and the ... other," and the other, too, must constantly be reinvented.
I would recommend any of the essays listed below, especially the most recent. As long ago as 1998, Triandafyllidou was noting that "the claim of FYROM over the ‘Macedonian’ cultural heritage has led Greeks to incorporate Alexander the Great into the classical Greek tradition and emphasize his centrality to the Greeks.'" This was, she says, a shift from nineteenth-century resistance toward all "foreign (including Macedonian) domination.” It began long before President Bush became president and supposedly "catalyzed" the Alexander craze in Macedonia, as Prof. Miller claims. After the disappointments of Andreas Papandreou's final term, she notes, it was convenient to restore "national pride ... in a political discourse which concentrated on the ‘injustice’ caused by ‘foreigners.'"
Triandafyllidou is bolder than many of her colleagues in asserting that "the Greek government and most Greek intellectuals ... tacitly ignored the fact that the indigenous Slavic speaking population of the Greek region of Macedonia was subjected to forceful Hellenization during the first half of this century." She adds that "National consciousness makes sense only in contrast to some other nation," and that Macedonia's displacement of Turkey in the demonization derby has given new prominence to the perceived or imagined virtues of Alexander and Philip.
Note: Many other good Greek social scientists write about related issues. The Journal of Modern Greek Studies is one worthwhile source.
Anna Triandafyllidou and Andonis Mikrakis. “Greece. ‘A Ghost Wanders Through the Capital.’ In The New Xenophobia in Europe edited by Bernd Baumgartl and Adrian Favell (Leiden: Brill, 1995)
Anna Triandafyllidou, Marina Calloni & Andonis Mikrakis. ”New Greek Nationalism.” Sociological Research Online 2.1 (1997)
Anna Triandafyllidou. “National identity and the `other.’” Ethnic and Racial Studies 21.4 (1998) 593 – 612.
Anna Triandafyllidou and Mariangela Veikou. “Greek immigration policy. The Hierarchy of Greekness: Ethnic and national identity considerations in Greek immigration policy.” Ethnicities 2 (2002); 189-208
Anna Triandafyllidou and Anna Paraskevopoulou. “When is the Greek Nation? The Role of Enemies and Minorities.” Geopolitics 7.2 (2002) 75 – 98.
Professor Miller’s letter
During the past few years we have seen an extraordinary development: Alexander the Great has become Slavic. Not only does his name grace the international airport in Skopje and the PanEuropean highway where it passes through FYROM, but the national sports stadium has been named for his father, Philip. Modern statues of Alexander with Slavic inscriptions are scattered around FYROM, and there is a proposal for a gigantic statue in a central fountain of Skopje that will sing Slavic popular songs.
At one level, these developments are so ridiculous that they defy comment, but at another level they threaten the basis of our discipline. I have always felt, and I think you will agree, that our job is to analyze the factual evidence for the history of ancient Greece, to add to it, and to share our understanding of the significance of that evidence with the next generation. But the very basis of our work – the facts – is being perverted. Can we, as professionals, tolerate the destruction of the basis of our science any more than a chemist could tolerate the theft of basic chemicals from his laboratory, or the mathematician could tolerate the "new" truth that 1+1=3? If the facts are removed/changed/denied, then history surely becomes fantasy. The popular press has been promoting that fantasy without any scholarly brakes.
Further, when Archaeology, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, publishes an article entitled “Owning Alexander: Modern Macedonia lays its claim to the ancient conqueror’s legacy” and refuses to publish a factual rebuttal to the “claim”, then I believe that the scientific basis for our professional lives is in serious danger. What is our value to society if history can be fabricated to suit specific ephemeral goals?
If we had the ear of the general public, it might be possible to present the facts. But we do not have such connections and we have to make those connections through the President of the USA. This is because the Bush recognition of FYROM, as the “Republic of Macedonia” was clearly the catalyst for the fantasies of a Slavic Alexander. These fantasies are being accepted by the media, and therefore by the public. Again, what is our value to our society if this ignorance of history is allowed to continue? Would the mess in Iraq have happened if George Bush had ever read Thucydides VII?
Many of us would prefer to avoid politics, but the politicians obviously are not consulting with us and we must, therefore, go to them. We must make history a part of our common experience. For us that means ancient history, and just now Macedonia.
The current problem was not created in the White House, but it was exacerbated there, and that fact alone would justify an appeal to President Obama. There is, moreover, the international notion that the USA can effect just about anything it wants with smaller countries. Again, we can hope that President Obama has been sincere in his declarations of an administration based on science. I do not know what specific steps are available to him. The name Macedonia, in some form, is probably going to continue for the ancient Paionia, but if he can show an adherence to historical fact with regard to Alexander, and let that dictate his policy, then perhaps Alexander can be allowed to read and write Greek.
Please read below the letter to President Obama with the supporting documentation. I hope that you will then join with those of us who think that history is so important that its factual basis must be preserved. If so, please send back to me your NAME, TITLE, and INSTITUTION as you would like them to appear. You will see examples of the format on page 3 of the “letter”.
I would ask that you return that information no later than this Saturday, May 16, so that the letter can go out shortly thereafter to President Obama. It is important that it not be circulated beyond our own discipline before it arrives on his desk.
Stephen G. Miller
May 18, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama
President, United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
We, the undersigned scholars of Graeco-Roman antiquity, respectfully request that you intervene to clean up some of the historical debris left in southeast Europe by the previous U.S. administration.
On November 4, 2004, two days after the re-election of President George W. Bush, his administration unilaterally recognized the “Republic of Macedonia.” This action not only abrogated geographic and historic fact, but it also has unleashed a dangerous epidemic of historical revisionism, of which the most obvious symptom is the misappropriation by the government in Skopje of the most famous of Macedonians, Alexander the Great.
We believe that this silliness has gone too far, and that the U.S.A. has no business in supporting the subversion of history. Let us review facts. (The documentation for these facts (here in boldface) can be found attached and at: http://macedonia-evidence.org/)
The land in question, with its modern capital at Skopje, was called Paionia in antiquity. Mts. Barnous and Orbelos (which form today the northern limits of Greece) provide a natural barrier that separated, and separates, Macedonia from its northern neighbor. The only real connection is along the Axios/Vardar River and even this valley “does not form a line of communication because it is divided by gorges.”
While it is true that the Paionians were subdued by Philip II, father of Alexander, in 358 B.C. they were not Macedonians and did not live in Macedonia. Likewise, for example, the Egyptians, who were subdued by Alexander, may have been ruled by Macedonians, including the famous Cleopatra, but they were never Macedonians themselves, and Egypt was never called Macedonia.
Rather, Macedonia and Macedonian Greeks have been located for at least 2,500 years just where the modern Greek province of Macedonia is. Exactly this same relationship is true for Attica and Athenian Greeks, Argos and Argive Greeks, Corinth and Corinthian Greeks, etc.
We do not understand how the modern inhabitants of ancient Paionia, who speak Slavic – a language introduced into the Balkans about a millennium after the death of Alexander – can claim him as their national hero. Alexander the Great was thoroughly and indisputably Greek. His great-great-great grandfather, Alexander I, competed in the Olympic Games where participation was limited to Greeks.
Even before Alexander I, the Macedonians traced their ancestry to Argos, and many of their kings used the head of Herakles - the quintessential Greek hero - on their coins.
Euripides – who died and was buried in Macedonia– wrote his play Archelaos in honor of the great-uncle of Alexander, and in Greek. While in Macedonia, Euripides also wrote the Bacchai, again in Greek. Presumably the Macedonian audience could understand what he wrote and what they heard.
Alexander’s father, Philip, won several equestrian victories at Olympia and Delphi, the two most Hellenic of all the sanctuaries in ancient Greece where non-Greeks were not allowed to compete. Even more significantly, Philip was appointed to conduct the Pythian Games at Delphi in 346 B.C. In other words, Alexander the Great’s father and his ancestors were thoroughly Greek. Greek was the language used by Demosthenes and his delegation from Athens when they paid visits to Philip, also in 346 B.C. Another northern Greek, Aristotle, went off to study for nearly 20 years in the Academy of Plato. Aristotle subsequently returned to Macedonia and became the tutor of Alexander III. They used Greek in their classroom which can still be seen near Naoussa in Macedonia.
Alexander carried with him throughout his conquests Aristotle’s edition of Homer’s Iliad. Alexander also spread Greek language and culture throughout his empire, founding cities and establishing centers of learning. Hence inscriptions concerning such typical Greek institutions as the gymnasium are found as far away as Afghanistan. They are all written in Greek.
The questions follow: Why was Greek the lingua franca all over Alexander’s empire if he was a “Macedonian”? Why was the New Testament, for example, was written in Greek?
The answers are clear: Alexander the Great was Greek, not Slavic, and Slavs and their language were nowhere near Alexander or his homeland until 1000 years later. This brings us back to the geographic area known in antiquity as Paionia. Why would the people who live there now call themselves Macedonians and their land Macedonia? Why would they abduct a completely Greek figure and make him their national hero?
The ancient Paionians may or may not have been Greek, but they certainly became Greekish, and they were never Slavs. They were also not Macedonians. Ancient Paionia was a part of the Macedonian Empire. So were Ionia and Syria and Palestine and Egypt and Mesopotamia and Babylonia and Bactria and many more. They may thus have become “Macedonian” temporarily, but none was ever “Macedonia”. The theft of Philip and Alexander by a land that was never Macedonia cannot be justified.
The traditions of ancient Paionia could be adopted by the current residents of that geographical area with considerable justification. But the extension of the geographic term “Macedonia” to cover southern Yugoslavia cannot. Even in the late 19th century, this misuse implied unhealthy territorial aspirations.
The same motivation is to be seen in school maps that show the pseudo-greater Macedonia, stretching from Skopje to Mt. Olympus and labeled in Slavic. The same map and its claims are in calendars, bumper stickers, bank notes, etc., that have been circulating in the new state ever since it declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Why would a poor land-locked new state attempt such historical nonsense? Why would it brazenly mock and provoke its neighbor?
However one might like to characterize such behavior, it is clearly not a force for historical accuracy, nor for stability in the Balkans. It is sad that the United States of America has abetted and encouraged such behavior.
We call upon you, Mr. President, to help - in whatever ways you deem appropriate - the government in Skopje to understand that it cannot build a national identity at the expense of historic truth. Our common international society cannot survive when history is ignored, much less when history is fabricated.
NAME TITLE INSTITUTION
Harry C. Avery, Professor of Classics, University of Pittsburgh (USA) Elizabeth C. Banks, Associate Professor of Classics (ret.), University of Kansas (USA)
Elizabeth Baughan, Assistant Professor of Classics and Archaeology, University of Richmond (USA)
Efrosyni Boutsikas, Lecturer of Classical Archaeology, University of Kent (UK)
Keith Bradley, Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Professor of Classics, Concurrent Professor of History, University of Notre Dame (USA)
Paul Cartledge, A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, University of Cambridge (UK)
Paavo Castrén, Professor of Classical Philology Emeritus, University of Helsinki (Finland)
William Cavanagh, Professor of Aegean Prehistory, University of Nottingham (UK)
Angelos Chaniotis, Professor, Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford (UK)
Paul Christesen, Professor of Ancient Greek History, Dartmouth College (USA)
Ada Cohen, Associate Professor of Art History, Dartmouth College (USA)
Randall M. Colaizzi, Lecturer in Classical Studies, University of Massachusetts-Boston (USA)
Michael B. Cosmopoulos, Ph.D., Professor and Endowed Chair in Greek Archaeology, University of Missouri-St. Louis (USA)
Monessa F. Cummins, Assistant Professor of Classics, Grinnell College (USA)
Kevin F. Daly, Assistant Professor of Classics, Bucknell University (USA)
Wolfgang Decker, Professor emeritus of sport history, Deutsche Sporthochschule, Köln (Germany)
Luc Deitz, Ausserplanmässiger Professor of Mediaeval and Renaissance Latin, University of Trier (Germany), and Curator of manuscripts and rare books, National Library of Luxembourg (Luxembourg)
Michael Dewar, Professor of Classics, University of Toronto (Canada)
John D. Dillery, Associate Professor of Classics, University of Virginia (USA)
Sheila Dillon, Associate Professor, Depts. of Art, Art History & Visual Studies and Classical Studies, Duke University (USA)
Douglas Domingo-Forasté, Professor of Classics, California State University, Long Beach (USA)
Pierre Ducrey, professeur honoraire, Université de Lausanne (Switzerland)
Michael M. Eisman, Associate Professor Ancient History and Classical Archaeology, Department of History, Temple University (USA)
Mostafa El-Abbadi, Professor Emeritus, University of Alexandria (Egypt)
R. Malcolm Errington, Professor für Alte Geschichte (Emeritus) Philipps- Universität, Marburg (Germany)
R. Leon Fitts, Asbury J Clarke Professor of Classical Studies, Emeritus, FSA, Scot., Dickinson Colllege (USA)
Robin Lane Fox, University Reader in Ancient History, New College, Oxford (UK)
Heide Froning, Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of Marburg (Germany)
Peter Funke, Professor of Ancient History, University of Muenster (Germany)
Traianos Gagos, Professor of Greek and Papyrology, University of Michigan (USA)
Robert Garland, Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics,
Colgate University, Hamilton NY (USA)
Douglas E. Gerber, Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies, University of Western Ontario (Canada)
Sander M. Goldberg, Professor of Classics, UCLA (USA)
Christian Habicht, Professor of Ancient History, Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (USA)
Donald C. Haggis, Nicholas A. Cassas Term Professor of Greek Studies,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA)
Judith P. Hallett, Professor of Classics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD (USA)
Eleni Hasaki, Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of
Miltiades B. Hatzopoulos, Director, Research Centre for Greek and Roman Antiquity, National Research Foundation, Athens (Greece)
Wolf-Dieter Heilmeyer, Prof. Dr., Freie Universität Berlin und Antikensammlung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin (Germany)
Steven W. Hirsch, Associate Professor of Classics and History, Tufts University (USA)
Frank L. Holt, Professor of Ancient History, University of Houston (USA)
Dan Hooley, Professor of Classics, University of Missouri (USA)
Meredith C. Hoppin, Gagliardi Professor of Classical Languages, Williams
College, Williamstown, MA (USA)
Caroline M. Houser, Professor of Art History Emerita, Smith College (USA) and Affiliated Professor, University of Washington (USA)
Anthony Kaldellis, Professor of Greek and Latin, The Ohio State University
Andromache Karanika, Assistant Professor of Classics, University of
California, Irvine (USA)
Robert A. Kaster, Professor of Classics and Kennedy Foundation Professor of Latin, Princeton University (USA)
Vassiliki Kekela, Adjunct Professor of Greek Studies, Classics Department, Hunter College, City University of New York (USA)
Karl Kilinski II, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, Southern Methodist University (USA)
Denis Knoepfler, Professor of Greek Epigraphy and History, CollŹge de France (Paris)
Ortwin Knorr, Associate Professor of Classics, Willamette University (USA)
Robert B. Koehl, Professor of Archaeology, Department of Classical and Oriental Studies Hunter College, City University of New York (USA)
Lambrini Koutoussaki, Dr., Lecturer of Classical Archaeology, University of Zürich (Switzerland)
David Kovacs, Hugh H. Obear Professor of Classics, University of Virginia (USA)
Peter Krentz, W. R. Grey Professor of Classics and History, Davidson College
Friedrich Krinzinger, Professor of Classical Archaeology Emeritus, University of Vienna (Austria)
Michael Kumpf, Professor of Classics, Valparaiso University (USA)
Donald G. Kyle, Professor of History, University of Texas at Arlington (USA)
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Helmut Kyrieleis, former president of the German Archaeological Institute, Berlin (Germany)
Steven Lattimore, Professor Emeritus of Classics, University of California, Los Angeles (USA)
Gerald V. Lalonde, Benedict Professor of Classics, Grinnell College (USA)
Mary R. Lefkowitz, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Emerita
Wellesley College (USA)
Daniel B. Levine, Professor of Classical Studies, University of Arkansas (USA) Vayos Liapis, Associate Professor of Greek, Centre d’Études Classiques & Département de Philosophie, Université de Montréal (Canada)
Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Professor of Greek Emeritus, University of Oxford (UK)
Yannis Lolos, Assistant Professor, History, Archaeology, and Anthropology, University of Thessaly (Greece)
Anthony Long, Professor of Classics and Irving G. Stone Professor of Literature, University of California, Berkeley (USA)
Julia Lougovaya, Assistant Professor, Department of Classics, Columbia University (USA)
Hugh J. Mason, Professor of Classics, University of Toronto (Canada)
Maria Mavroudi, Professor of Byzantine History, University of California, Berkeley (U.S.A.)
James R. McCredie, Sherman Fairchild Professor emeritus; Director, Excavations in Samothrace Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (USA)
Margaret M. Miles, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Classical Studies, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Stephen G. Miller, Professor of Classical Archaeology Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley (USA)
Margaret S. Mook, Associate Professor of Classical Studies, Iowa State University (USA)
Anatole Mori, Associate Professor of Classical Studies, University of Missouri- Columbia (USA)
Richard Neudecker, PD of Classical Archaeology, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Rom (Italy)
James M.L. Newhard, Associate Professor of Classics, College of Charleston (USA)
Carole E. Newlands, Professor of Classics, University of Wisconsin, Madison (USA)
John Maxwell O'Brien, Professor of History, Queens College, City University of New York (USA)
James J. O'Hara, Paddison Professor of Latin, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (USA)
Olga Palagia, Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of Athens (Greece)
Vassiliki Panoussi, Associate Professor of Classical Studies, The College of William and Mary (USA)
Anthony J. Papalas, Professor of Ancient History, East Carolina University (USA)
Nassos Papalexandrou, Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Austin (USA)
Robert Parker, Wykeham Professor of Ancient History, New College, Oxford (UK)
Karl Reber, Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of Lausanne (Switzerland)
John C. Rouman, Professor Emeritus of Classics, University of New Hampshire, (USA)
Peter Scholz, Professor of Ancient History and Culture, University of Stuttgart (Germany)
Antony Snodgrass, Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology, University of Cambridge (UK)
Andrew Stewart, Nicholas C. Petris Professor of Greek Studies, University of California, Berkeley (USA)
Oliver Stoll, Univ.-Prof. Dr., Alte Geschichte/ Ancient History,Universität Passau (Germany)
Richard Stoneman, Honorary Fellow, University of Exeter (England)
Ronald Stroud, Klio Distinguished Professor of Classical Languages and Literature Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley (USA)
Stephen V. Tracy, Professor of Greek and Latin Emeritus, Ohio State University (USA)
Vasiliki Tsamakda, Professor of Christian Archaeology and Byzantine History
of Art, University of Mainz (Germany)
E. Hector Williams, Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of British Columbia (Canada)
Ian Worthington, Frederick A. Middlebush Professor of History, University of Missouri-Columbia (USA)
Panos Valavanis, Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of Athens (Greece)
Speros Vryonis, Jr., Alexander S. Onassis Professor (Emeritus) of Hellenic Civilization and Culture, New York University (USA)
[and we hope many many others]
Obama letter documentation: [to be posted at http://macedonia-evidence.org/]
misappropriation . . . . of Alexander the Great: More recently even Alexander’s father, Philip, has also been abducted:
“When Macedonia renamed Skopje airport for Alexander the Great in 2007, this seemed a one-off to annoy Greece. More recently, however, the government has broadened a policy the opposition calls “antiquisation”. The main road to Greece has been renamed for Alexander and the national sports stadium named after his father, and plans are afoot to erect a huge statue of Alexander in central Skopje.” The Economist April 2, 2009
Even the popular but supposedly serious periodical Archaeology, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, has recently (January-February 2009) published an article with the name “Owning Alexander: Modern Macedonia lays its claim to the ancient conqueror’s legacy.”
called Paionia in antiquity: The geographic situation is made clear by Livy’s account of the creation of the Roman province of Macedonia in 146 B.C. (Livy 45.29.7 and 45.29.12). The land north of Mt. Barnous and Mt. Orbelos was inhabited by Paionians. The natural barrier formed by these mountains must be acknowledged. Barnous (modern Voras or Kaimaktsalan) reaches a height of 2524 meters, while Orbelos (the whole range extending to east and west of the Strymon; the western ridge is the modern Beles or Kerkini with a height of 1474 meters) has a maximum height toward the east of 2211 meters.
Strabo (7. frag 4), writing a few years before the birth of Christ, is even more succinct in saying that Paionia was north of Macedonia and the only connection from one to the other was (and is today) through the narrow gorge of the Axios (or Vardar) River.
does not form a line of communication: M. Sivignon, in M. Sakellariou (ed) Macedonia (Athens 1982) 15.
subdued by Philip II: Diodorus Siculus 16.4.2 See also Demosthenes (Olynthian 1.23) who tells us that they were “enslaved” by the Macedonian Philip and clearly, therefore, not Macedonians. Isokrates (5.23) makes the same point.
for at least 2,500 years: See, for example, Herodotus 5.17, 7.128, et alibi.
about a millennium after the death of Alexander: For the first appearance of the Slavs in the Balkans in the mid-6th century after Christ, see Walter Pohl, “Justinian and the Barbarian Kingdoms,” in Michael Maas (ed.), Age of Justinian (Cambridge 2005) 469-471; for their devastating path through Greece in the 580’s, see Anna Avramea, Le PéloponnŹse du IVe au VIIIe siŹcle, changements et persistances (Paris 1997) 67-80
thoroughly and indisputably Greek: In the words of the father of history “I happen to know that [the forefathers of Alexander] are Greek” (Herodotus 5.22). The date of when Alexander I competed at Olympia is not sure, but it certainly occurred between 504 and 496 B.C. He established his Hellenic roots by tracing his ancestors back to Argos and, ultimately to Herakles. Hence the coins with the head of Herakles wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion from Archelaos and Amyntas, among others.
Euripides – who died and was buried in Macedonia: Thucydides apud Pal. Anth. 7.45; Pausanias 1.2.2; Diodorus Siculus 13.103.
Philip, won several equestrian victories at Olympia and Delphi: Plutarch, Alexander 3.9 and 4.9; Moralia 105A. Philip advertised his victories, and therefore his Greekness, by minting coins commemorating those victories. Below is a silver coin with the head of Olympian Zeus on the front and Philip’s victorious horse on the reverse, labeled with his name “of Philip” in Greek. A gold coin with the head of Apollo of Delphi on the front, and Philip’s winning two-horse chariot on the reverse, again labeled with his hame “of Philip” in Greek.
conduct the Pythian Games: Diodorus Siculus 16.60.2
delegation from Athens: See, inter alios, Demosthenes, De Falsa Legatione, and Aischines, De Legatione. It is the tirades of Demosthenes against Philip (e.g. 9.30-35 in which he calls Philip not only “not a Greek, nor related to a Greek, nor even a barbarian from someplace that can be called good”) that have given rise to the notion that the Macedonians were not Greek, but Demosthenes tended to call all his enemies barbarian, even fellow Athenians (e.g. 21.150).
Another northern Greek, Aristotle: Because Aristotle’s native city, Stageira, was established in the 7th century B.C. before the Macedonians had developed their kingdom, Aristotle cannot be called a native Macedonian, although his
father, Nikomachos, was the friend and doctor of Amyntas III (393-369) according to Diogenes Laertius 5.1. Philip later, as a part of his conquest of the whole of the Chalkidike in 348 B.C. (Demosthenes, 19.266) , seems to have laid waste to Stageira, but rebuilt it in 342 B.C. at Aristotle’s request (Diogenes Laertius 5.4). Clearly the relationship between him and Macedonia was close.
tutor of Alexander: Diogenes Laertius 5.4; Plutarch, Alexander 7.2-8.1. Aristotle also taught a number of Alexander’s peers and comrades, some of whom later became kings like Ptolemy of Egypt.
classroom which can still be seen: A spacious room cut back into natural bed rock with cuttings for roof supports and a bench for the students is easily repeopled in the visitor’s imagination with Aristotle standing in the middle and Alexander and his pals on the bench.
It was Aristotle who advised Alexander to “treat the Greeks as if he were their leader, other peoples as if he were their master” (Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 329B). In the event, Alexander did not take this advice for his wives were only non-Greek orientals.
Aristotle’s edition of Homer: Plutarch, Alexander 8.2
founding cities and establishing centers of learning: Although cities like Pergamon and Alexandria in Egypt became major cultural centers under the successors of Alexander (the Attalids and the Ptolemies, respectively), it was Alexander who laid their foundations. See Diodorus Siculus 20.20.1 and Justin 13.2, and Arrian 3.1.5, respectively.
as far away as Afghanistan: Excavations at Ai Khanoum on the northern border of modern Afghanistan have produced great quantities of Greek inscriptions and even the remnants of a philosophical treatise originally on papyrus. One of the most interesting is the base of a dedication by one Klearchos, perhaps the known student of Aristotle, that records his bringing to this new Greek city, Alexandria on the Oxus, the traditional maxims from the shrine of Apollo at Delphi concerning the five ages of man:
In childhood, seemliness
In youth, self-control
In middle age, justice
In old age, wise council
In death, painlessness
Klearchos inscription, ca. 300 B.C., now in Kabul Museum
For further information about the Greekness of Ai Khanoum, see Robin Lane Fox, The Search for Alexander (London 1980) 425-433, and figures on pages 390-393, and elsewhere; and Paul Bernard, Les fouilles d’Ai Khanum (Paris 1973).
Slavs and their language were nowhere near Alexander or his homeland until 1000 years later: see above.
The ancient Paionians: The ancient Paionians may have been of Hellenic stock, but relatively little is known about them, partly because “no Paionian Philip ever dominated Greece, and no Paionian Alexander ever conquered the known world” ( Irwin L. Merker, “The Ancient Kingdom of Paionia,” Balkan Studies 6 (1965) 35).
Nonetheless, they appear already in the Trojan War (albeit on the Trojan side; Homer, Iliad 2.848-850, 16.287-291, 17.348-351), they fought against Philip who subdued them and with Alexander against the Persians, especially in the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 B.C. (Quintus Curtius, History of Alexander 4.9.24-25.
They enjoyed, even under the Macedonians, a certain degree of autonomy as is shown by their negotiations with Athens (IG II2 127) and the many coins minted under a series of Paionian kings, whose names are Greek and inscribed in Greek on the coins. See, for example, the following silver issue of Patraos, probably depicting the slaying of a Persian satrap by the Paionian Ariston as told by Quintus Curtius (see above):
Even more significantly for the assimilation of Paionia into the Greek world are the dedications of statues of Paionian kings made at Delphi and Olympia, and especially the bronze head of a Paionian bison, also at Delphi. See BCH 1950:22, Inschriften von Olympia 303; and Pausanias 10.13.1, respectively.
Greekish: No Paionians are recorded as victors in the Olympic or other Panhellenic games. This may, of course, be a reflection of a lack of athletic ability rather than a lack of Greekness.
We would note that in 1929, in an effort to submerge unruly local identities into a unified Yugoslav nation, King Alexander of Yugoslavia named the region the Vardarska province, after the major river that runs through it. See, for example, the Yugoslav stamp of 1939 with the ancient Paionia labeled with the name Vardarska.
This effort to reduce ethnic tensions was rescinded by Tito, who used the “Macedonian” identity as leverage against Yugoslavia’s Greek and Bulgarian neighbors. The (mis)use of the name Macedonia at that time was recognized by the United States State Department in a dispatch of December 26, 1944, by then U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius:
“The Department [of State] has noted with considerable apprehension increasing propaganda rumors and semi-official statements in favor of an autonomous Macedonia, emanating principally from Bulgaria, but also from Yugoslav Partisan and other sources, with the implication that Greek territory would be included in the projected state. This government considers talk of Macedonian ”nation”, Macedonian “Fatherland”, or Macedonian “national consciousness” to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic nor political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece.”
[Source: U.S. State Department, Foreign Relations vol viii, Washington, D.C., Circular Airgram (868.014/26Dec1944)]
The following map shows the “real” Macedonia (in Slavic) which includes ancient Paionia, the Greek province of Macedonia (the historical Macedonia), and a part of southwestern Bulgaria (which was also inhabited by Paionian tribes in ancient times).
Other maps, such as the one below published in an 8th grade history book in 2005, maintain that, as of 1913 and thereafter, “Macedonia” included parts occupied by Albania (yellow), Bulgaria (purple), and Greece (red).
The White Tower of Thessalonike in Greek Macedonia, fronting onto the Aegean Sea, is the central decoration of this note printed in Skopje in 1991.
mock and provoke its neighbor: An apt analogy is at hand if we imagine a certain large island off the southeast coast of the United States re-naming itself Florida, emblazoning its currency with images of Disney World and distributing maps showing the “Greater Florida”.
characterize such behavior: “’It is nuts,’ sighs one diplomat” (The Economist April 2, 2009).