Episode 40 (The Written Language of the Ancient Macedonians)


 Today’s Greek historiography claims that the Ancient Macedonians were “Greeks” because their written language was Greek.  In addition, they show writings found on the Macedonian territory written in ancient Greek.

Of course, these claims cannot be taken seriously. Here is why.

First, we will mention an undoubted fact that can be verified by anyone, even in Greek sources, and that is that not a single inscription  in Greek language existed on the whole Macedonian territory before the 5th century BC i.e. from the time of the first serious contacts between the Macedonians and the Hellenic culture. We know that old writings (inscriptions) written in Greek dialects were found way before the 5th century BC on other parts of present-day Greece, but such writings did not exist in Macedonia!

The first Macedonian king that initiated closer contacts between the Macedonians and the Hellens was Alexander I, who lived in V century BC. It is known that this king helped the Greeks in their war against Persia, for which he received the nickname “Filhellen” (which meant a foreigner that likes Hellens). Later on, Alexander I invited Hellenic artists and other cultural figures in the Macedonian court.

Some present day historians, (for example Abel), believe that Alexander I the Macedonian was murdered by some notable Macedonians because of his pro-Greek politics, which, according to them, presented a threat to Macedonia.

Nonetheless, it is a fact that writings in Greek language did not exist before the time of Alexander I. This raises a question: How could Macedonia be a country with Greek culture, but not a single writing in Greek language is found from the time when it existed without close cultural relations with the Helens? How can Macedonia be considered as a “Greek land” when it is known that at that time, the Greek language was not even spoken in Macedonia (especially not between the wider masses)?

But, let’s assume that the Ancient-Macedonian language did not exist in his written form and that the first written language used by the Ancient-Macedonians was Greek. This does not mean at all that the Ancient-Macedonians were Greeks. In the previous parts of this series we listed testimonies which claim that Macedonians virtually knew not a single word of the spoken Greek language. Furthermore, only the Greeks and Romans are known to have their own written language in the classical period. Would that mean that all the people that used their language and alphabet were either Romans or Greeks? If so, it would mean that only two nations existed in the whole antiquity, and this consideration is foolish. Even the Mongolian Bulgars who came from Asia on the Balkans in the VII century used the Greek alphabet, and it was the official alphabet of the first Bulgarian khanate for more than a century and a half. Does this mean that they were also Greeks? What about the other nations from that time: Illyrians, Thracians and others, who also used the Greek alphabet? Even the Romans wrote their chronicles in Old-Greek dialects until the II century BC. Were they also Greeks until II century BC, and then suddenly became Romans? Also, numerous Greeks in the antiquity used to write in Latin, and a lot of examples are known where members of a nation used foreign alphabets. In fact, the written language cannot be used as a proof in determining the ethnical background of a nation. Nowadays, millions of Africans use the English written language, but does it mean that they are ethnical Englishmen?

So, the usage of the written form of the Ancient-Greek language by the ancient Macedonians is no evidence that the ancient Macedonians were Greeks. Besides, the Ancient-Greek alphabet is not authentically Greek, but it is known that it is adapted variation of the Phoenician alphabet.

Even later on when some Macedonians accepted the spoken Greek language, that did not mean that they were Greeks. Let us remind ourselves that in the world today there  are nations that, because of different historical reasons,  do not speak their native languages, but some other. For example, the Brazilians speak Portuguese; a good part of Latin America speak Spanish (even though they are not Spanish); the Irish, Scottish and Welsh people speak English, even though they are not English. There are more examples like these.

We will conclude that in these 40 episodes we listed testimonies from over 50 ancient authors who clearly stated that the ancient Macedonians were by no means Greek, which means that Macedonia in the past was never Greek.

Nowadays in Greece, hundreds of thousands of Macedonians live without the basic human rights in the part that Greece occupied from Macedonia in 1913. They are forbid to declare themselves as Macedonians, forbid to be educated in Macedonian language and to openly support their Macedonian culture. And this scenario is not only with the Macedonians. Nowadays in Greece, neither the Albanians, the Romani, the Vlachs, the Turks or members of other ethnic minorities have national rights. Greece needs as quickly as possible to get rid of the state chauvinism that is forced for decades, and to start acting civilized towards their ethnic minorities.