Episode 33 (Pausanias, Part II)


Here we shall continue presenting parts of works from the ancient Hellenic geographer and historian Pausanias.

In the First book Pausanias writes about an inscription in the temple dedicated to the Dodonian Zeus, which was near the city of Athens.He writes about the bucklers of the Macedonians that were taken from them in a battle and were put in this temple as a war trophy. There was an inscription about them in the temple:

‘These once ravaged golden Asia, and brought
slavery upon the Greeks. Now ownerless
they lie by the pillars of the temple of Zeus,
spoils of boastful Macedonia.’”

(SOURCE: Pausanias, “Description of Greece”, 1,13,2).

This happened in the time when the Molossian king Pyrrhus allied with the Greeks against the Macedonians. In this inscription the Macedonians are described as a people who once reigned in Asia and enslaved the Greeks, but now their bucklers lay helplessly as proof of the defeat of Macedonia.

Pausanias also talks about the condition in Athens and the rest of the Greek regions during and after the reign of Philip and Alexander the Great of Macedon (IV c. BC). It is known that the Greeks were occupied by Philip after the battle of Chaeronea, and after the death of Alexander they started a rebellion to get rid of the Macedonian slavery, but the rebellion was stopped. About these events, Pausanias writes:

“For the disaster at Chaeronea was the beginning of misfortune for all the Greeks, and especially did it enslave those who had been blind to the danger and such as had sided with Macedon. Most of their cities Philip captured; with Athens he nominally came to terms, but really imposed the severest penalties upon her, taking away the islands and putting an end to her maritime empire. For a time the Athenians remained passive, during the reign of Philip and subsequently of Alexan­der. But when on the death of Alexander the Mace­do­nians chose Ari­daeus to be their king, though the whole empire had been entrusted to Anti­pater, the Athenians now thought it intolerable if Greece should be for ever under the Macedonians, and themselves embarked on war besi­des inciting others to join them.(SOURCE: Pausanias, “Description of Greece”, 1,25,3).

In the Second book, Pausanias writes about the events of the Hellenic Achaean League. Writing about the relations of this League and the influence of the Macedonians in her internal affairs, Pausanias says:

“Moreover, as all the Greeks were afraid of the Macedo­nians and of Antigonus, the guardian of Philip, the son of De­met­rius, he induced the Sicyonians, who were Dorians, to join the Achaean League.”(SOURCE: Pausanias, “Description of Greece, 2, 8,4).

This means that the Macedonian king Antigonus had his people in the Greek Achaean League, because he was aware that the Greeks were afraid of him and the Macedonians.

In the Fourth book, Pausaniasleft another decisive testimony about the differences between the Macedonians and the Greek when he wrote about the territory Messenia and the Greeks that lived in it (Messenians). Apparently, the Messenians had big misunderstandings with the rest of the Greeks (which was seen often in the Greek cities), and in one moment they allied with Philip II of Macedon. But, when he was supposed to war against the rest of the Greeks in the battle of Chaeronea, the Messenians refused to participate on the Macedonian side, explaining that they didnot want to war against their compatriots. This really is a proof that the Greeks were completely aware that the Macedonians are a nation different to theirs. About this, Pausanias writes:

“Finally the Messenians formed an alliance with Philip the son of Amyntas and the Macedonians; it was this, they say, that pre­vented them from taking part in the battle which the Greeks fought at Chaeroneia. They refused, however, to bear arms against the Greeks.”(Pausanias, “Description of Greece”,4,28, 2).

But, the Messenians fought against the Macedonians later anyway, on the Greek side. Pausanias writes:

“After the death of Alexander, when the Greeks had raised a second war against the Macedonians, the Messenians took part, as I have shown earlier in my account of Attica.”(SOURCE: Pausanias, “Description of Greece”, 4,28,3).

Pausanias gives details of the Messanian attack on the Macedonian garrison in their area, which happened during the Greek rebellion against the Macedonian reign.

In the Sixth book, Pausanias offers evidence of how high the Macedonian ethnic awareness was among the Macedonians. Let’s take a look at this quote:

          “Nearest to Damiscus stands a statue of somebody; they do not give his name, but it was Ptolemy son of Lagus who set up the offering. In the inscription Ptolemy calls himself a Macedonian, though he was king of Egypt.” (Pausanias, “Description of Greece”, 6,3,1).

There are other testimonies about the Macedonian ethnical awareness in the Macedonian dynasties which ruled parts of Asia and Africa.