Episode 21 (Pseudo Scylax)


In the IV or III century BC, a manuscript entitled “Periplus” appeared. Even though there is no evidence about the identity of the author of this work, some believe it was a certain Scylax, who lived in the VI c. BC and was a sailor and an explorer in service of Persia. The only data for Scylax is given by Herodotus. In lack of authentic information about the author of the work “Periplus”, the ordinance “Pseudo Scylax” became accepted. In his work,the borders of the Greek territories in ancient times are described. We read:

From Ambracia Greece is continuous (along the coast) as far as the river Peneus.” (“Memorandum on the Ancient Boundaries of Greece”,British documents of foreign affairs, Part I, Series F, Europe 1848 – 1914, Vol. 14 „Greece, 1847 – 1914“, University publications of America).

          We see that this author also undoubtedly believed that the Greek borders and territories in ancient times were only around Peloponnesus and somewhat further north (south of Olympus). The Ambracian Gulf is located south of Epirus, while the river Peneus passes through Larissa. This automatically means that not only the Macedonians and Macedonia, but Epirus and the Epirots were NOT treated as Greek.

STRABO (I c. BC – year 23 AD)

Strabo was born in the first half of the I century BC in the region Pontus (present-day Turkey) and passed away in 23 AD. He is a famous ancient geographer and historian. However, his work “History” is almost completely lost with an exception of a fragment on papyrus, which today is kept in Milan. Still, Strabo himself wrote about this work in his other well-known work, titled “Geography”. This work written in 17 books, represents a geographic-historical description of a great number of nations and areas from the world at that time.

In his work “Geography”, Strabo mentions the Macedonians over twenty times, very clearly distinguishing them from the Greeks and the Greek territories. We will list a few examples.

In the Second book, while writing about the islands in the Aegean Sea, Strabo clearly points out that Macedonia is a separate part to Greece:

“In the Aegean are the Cyclades, the Sporades, and the islands that lie off Caria, Ionia, and Aeolis up to the Troad — I mean Cos, Samos, Chios, Lesbos, and Tenedos; so also those that lie off Greece as far as Macedonia and Thrace the next country beyond Macedonia.” (SOURCE: Strabo, “Geography” 5,21).

In the same book Strabo writes about the history of Europe, decisively separating the Macedonians from the Greeks, mentioning them as different nations:

       “…So that throughout its entire extent the agricultural and civilized element dwells side by side with the warlike element; but of the two elements the one that is peace-loving is more numerous and therefore keeps control over the whole body; and the leading nations, too — formerly the Greeks and later the Macedonians and the Romans — have taken hold and helped.”(SOURCE: Strabo, “Geography” 5,26).

In the Eighth book, Strabo describes the Greek ethno-cultural territories at that time in which Macedonia is not included. Here we read:

          “I began my description by going over all the western parts of Europe comprised between the inner and the outer sea; and now that I have encompassed in my survey all the barbarian tribes in Europe as far as the Tanaïs and also a small part of Greece, Macedonia, I now shall give an account of the remainder of the geography of Greece… My account ended, on the west and the north, with the tribes of the Epeirotes and of the Illyrians, and, on the east, with those of the Macedonians as far as Byzantium. After the Epeirotes and the Illyrians, then, come the following peoples of the Greeks: the Acarnanians, the Aetolians, and the Ozolian Locrians; and, next, the Phocians and Boeotians; and opposite these, across the arm of the sea, is the Peloponnesus, which with these encloses the Corinthian Gulf, and not only shapes the gulf but also is shaped by it; and after Macedonia, the Thessalians (extending as far as the Malians) and the countries of the rest of the peoples outside the Isthmus, as also of those inside. ” (SOURCE: Strabo, “Geography” 8,1).

          Further on, Strabo writes that Greece at the time had many tribes, but Greek were just the ones that spoke in “the Greek dialects”, so he gives the names of these tribes in details (Ionians, Dorians, Aeolians, Athenians and Arcadians). Of course, the Macedonians arenot mentioned anywhere among them.

In the Thirteenth book, Strabo writes that the mountain Olympus was Macedonian and he calls it “the Macedonian Olympus”.

In fact, even the greatest ancient geographer Strabo with his famous book “Geography” presents a strong opponent to the present-day Greek propaganda.