Episode 24 (Justin, Part I)

JUSTIN (II, III or IV c.)

  • PART ONE –

The real name of Justin is Marcus Junianus Justinus. Almost nothing is known about his personal life, except that he lived and worked in the Roman times. His work is “Historiarum Philippicarum Libri” andbased on the language written by Justin, todays historians are placing him between the II and IVc.

What is important for us is that in this previously-mentioned work, Justin mentiones the Macedonians and Macedonia over 200 times, describing in great detail the history of Macedonia and pretty clearly distinguishing them from the Greeks.

Writing about Philip II of Macedon’s reign and the threats made against Greece and Asia, Justin says:

          …The name of the Macedonians, previously mean and obscure, rose into notice; and Philip, who had been kept three years as a hostage at Thebes, and had been imbued with the virtues of Epaminondas and Pelopidas, imposed the power of Macedonia, like a yoke of bondage, upon the necks of Greece and Asia.”(SOURCE: Justin, 6,9).

No further comment is needed.

Justin dedicated the Seventh book from his work to Macedonia. We will give a few interesting extracts from this book:

         “Macedonia was formerly called Emathia, from the name of king Emathion, of whose prowess the earliest proofs are extant in those parts… The inhabitants were called Pelasgi, the country Paeonia. But in process of time, when, through the ability of their princes and the exertions of their subjects, they had conquered, first of all, the neighbouring tribes, and afterwards other nations and peoples, their dominions extended to the utmost boundaries of the east. In the region of Paeonia, which is now a portion of Macedonia, is said to have reigned Pelegonus, the father of Asteropaeus, whose name we find, in the Trojan war, among the most distinguished defenders of the city.

          Furthermore:

          “The states of Greece, while each sought to gain the sovereignty of the country for itself, lost it as a body. Striving intemperately to ruin one another, they did not perceive, till they were oppressed by another power, that what each lost was a common loss to all; for Philip, king of Macedonia, looking, as from a watch-tower, for an opportunity to attack their liberties, and fomenting their contentions by assisting the weaker, obliged victors and vanquished alike to submit to his royal yoke.”(SOURCE: Justin, 8, 1).

In 338 BC the battle at Chaeronea happened between the Macedonians let by Philip II of Macedon, and the united Greek city-states. Regarding this battle, Justin says:

          “But as soon as he recovered from his wound, he (Philip II of Macedon) made war upon the Athenians, of which he had long dissembled his intention. The Thebans espoused their cause, fearing that if the Athenians were conquered, the war, like a fire in the neighbourhood, would spread to them. An alliance being accordingly made between the two cities, which were just before at violent enmity with each other, they wearied Greece with embassies, stating that ‘they thought the common enemy should be repelled by their common strength, for that Philip would not rest, if his first attempts succeeded, until he had subjugated all Greece.’ Some of the cities were moved by these arguments, and joined themselves to the Athenians; but the dread of a war induced some to go over to Philip. A battle being brought on, though the Athenians were far superior in number of soldiers, they were conquered by the valour of the Macedonians, which was invigorated by constant service in the field. They were not, however, in defeat, unmindful of their ancient valour; for, falling with wounds in front, they all covered the places which they had been charged by their leaders to defend, with their dead bodies. This day put an end to the glorious sovereignty and ancient liberty of all Greece.” (SOURCE: Justin 9,3).

This too is a very clear articulation, and no further comment is needed.

Justin also clearly pointed the difference between the Macedonians from the Greeks when he wrote about the preparations of the Macedonian army before the battle of Issus against the Persian army. It is well known that Alexander at the time divided his troops by nationality. He talked about the different reasons of the importance of this battle to the troops of all nationalities, in order to lift their spirits. Here we see that he was a great psychologist as well. We read:

He excited the Illyrians and Thracians by describing the enemy’s wealth and treasures, and the Greeks by putting them in mind of their wars of old, and their deadly hatred towards the Persians. He reminded the Macedonians at one time of their conquests in Europe, and at another of their desire to subdue Asia, boasting that no troops in the world had been found a match for them, and assuring them that this battle would put an end to their labours and crown their glory.”(SOURCE: Justin 11,9).

We can see that all four peoples, the main core of the Macedonian army, are separately mentioned, those being: Illyrians, Thracians, Greeks and Macedonians.