Episode 22 (Thucydides)

THUCYDIDES (V and IV c. BC)

Thucydides was an ancient Greek writer and his most popular work is “The History of the Peloponnesian War”. He was born in Athens around 460 BC, and passed away around 395 BC. He was a commander in the Athenian army in the Peloponnesian war, which was the largest war in the Balkans in the V c. BC between Sparta and Athens.

From the aspect of the subject we are covering, it is without doubt that this ancient author also considered the Macedonians as a separate nation to the Greeks. While writing about the borders in which the Hellenes lived, Thucydides writes:

“For instance, it is evident that the country now called Hellas had in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary, migrations were of frequent occurrence, the several tribes readily abandoning their homes under the pressure of superior numbers (…). The richest soils were always most subject to this change of masters; such as the district now called Thessaly, Boeotia, most of the Peloponnese, Arcadia excepted, and the most fertile parts of the rest of Hellas.”(SOURCE: Thucydides, “The History of the Peloponnesian War”, Book 1).

We can see that Macedonia was not even mentioned in the list of “Hellenic countries”.

In the same work, Thucydides treated the Macedonians as “barbarians”, which meant people that didnot speak the Greek language. While describing the Athenian army in a battle of the Peloponnesian war, Thucydides writes that it consisted of “Hellenes” and “barbarians” (non-Greeks that were on Athens’ side). He lists which people gave their military aid the Athenians. Here we read:

          “Of Hellenes he had in his army Ambraciots, Leucadians, Anactorians, and the thousand Peloponnesians whom he brought with him, – of Barbarians a thousand Chaonians, who, having no king, were led by Photyus and Nicanor… With the Chaonians came the Thesprotians, who, like them, have no king. A Molossian and Atintanian force was led by Sabylinthus, the guardian of Tharypas the king, who was still a minor; the Paravaeans were led by their king Oroedus, and were accompanied by a thousand Orestians placed at the disposal of Oroedus by their king Antiochus. Perdiccas also, unknown to the Athenians, sent a thousand Macedonians, who arrived too late.” (SOURCE: Thucydides, “The Peloponnesian War”, Book 1).

This is strong evidence that the Greeks at that time (including Thucydides) did not consider the Macedonians as their fellow countrymen, which is opposite of what the present-day Greek propaganda claims.

SUDA

The work “Suda” represents a combination of a lexicon and an encyclopedia which was created in the X century by a Byzantine literate, whose identity remains unknown. In “Suda”, around 30.000 words are presented with detailed biographical, historical and linguistic information, mainly about the ancient authors.

It is known that in the ancient times there was a historian called Suidas, who is mentioned in the works of Strabo, Apollonium of Rhodos and Stephan of Byzantium, but it is unknown if he is the author of the lexicon.

The words in the “Suda” lexicon are classified alphabetically. Many words that were written in the works of many ancient authors are presented, as well as a large number of personal names and toponyms. We will comment on some of the presented words. Most of them are extracts from ancient texts, but their source is rarely given.

In “Suda” there is also proof for the non-Greek Macedonian character.

In the interpretation of the word “kausia” (a type of Macedonian hat) in “Suda”, the unknown ancient Greek author writes that it was (quote) “a kind of barbarian covering for the head”. (SOURCE: Suda, Kappa, 1139). Since it is well known that this hat was made and used by the Macedonians, it becomes clear that this Greek author considered the Macedonians as “barbarians” (non-Greek speaking people).