Episode 3 (Arrian, Part 3)

We are continuing to present the works of the ancient authors that contain clear claims that the ancient Macedonians were not Greeks.


In the first parts about the ancient historian Arrian we presented his testimonies about the battle at Issus between the Macedonian and the Persian army in which over 30.000 Greeks fought in the Persian army against the Macedonians. Arrian wrote that there was an old racial rivalry between the Greeks and the Mace­donians.

Then came the battle at Gaugamela between the Macedonian army, led by Alexander the Great and Persia, led by Darius III. It was the last hard defeat on Darius. About the formation of the armies at the battle of Gaugamela, Arrian writes:

          “The brigade of Craterus, son of Alexander, held the left end of the Macedonian phalanx, and this general commanded the left wing of the infantry. Next to him was the allied Grecian cavalry under the command of Erigyius, son of Larichus.”(SOURCE: Arrian,Ana­basis, 3a, 3, 11).

It is quite clear from this extract that the Macedonians were treated separately from the Greeks, even though they fought in the same army.

After Darius was completely defeated, Arrian, analysing his fate, concludes:

          “For it happened that he was involved in a war with the Macedonians and Greeks at the very time he succeeded to the regal power… (SOURCE: Arrian, Ana­basis, 3b, 21).

Again, we have a clear distinction between the Macedonians and the Greeks as two separate nations who Darius campaigned against.

We also see this distinction in Arrian’s description of Alexander’s feat against the Mardians (a nation in middle Asia). The Macedonians, while conquering Mardians’s land, enslaved a Greek delegacy which was in service of Persia. At first, all members were arrested, but later, the Greeks who worked for the Persians and were citizens of Persia were released. The others remained imprisoned because they worked against Macedonia at the time when an “alliance” was made between the Macedonians and the Greeks against Persia. Arrian writes:

He also released the rest of the Greeks who were serving for pay with the Persians before the peace and alliance which had been made by the Greeks with the Macedonians.”(SOURCE: Arrian, Ana­basis, 3b, 24).

Arrian points out the differences between the Macedonians and the Greeks when he writes about the murder of the Macedonian general Parmenio, who was accused of conspiracy against Alexander. Arrian mentions that towards this general existed:„…such great respect as he was both by Alexander himself and by all the army, not only the Macedonian, but also that of the Grecian auxiliaries as well..” (SOURCE: Arrian, Ana­basis, 26).

When he writes about the defeat over Scythians behind the river Tanais in Asia, Arrian again points out the differences between the Macedonians and the Greeks:

          “In twenty days he fortified the city which he was projecting, and settled in it some of the Grecian mercenaries and those of the neighbouring barbarians who volunteered to take part in the settlement, as well as some of the Macedonians from his army who were now unfit for military service.” (SOURCE: Arrian, Book 4a,).

While conquering Persia in Asia and Africa, Alexander left general Antipater to rule over Macedonia and the conquered Greek territories. However, Antipater began to act like a single ruler over Macedonia and the Greeks, so Alexanders’ mother Olympia wrote a letter to Alexander to complain about this behaviour. Arrian writes:

The queen wrote that Antipater was over weeningly insolent in his pretensions to sovereignty as well as in the service of his court, no longer remembering the one who had appointed him, but claiming to win and hold the first rank among the Greeks and even the Macedonians.” (SOURCE: Arrian, Anabasis, 7a, 12).

The Macedonians and the Greeks are mentioned separately in the description of the event that happened in Asia after Alexander came back from the feat in India. After they heard about Alexander’s invincibility, various nations sent their representatives to see him. Arrian writes:

The Carthaginians are said to have sent an embassy to him at this time; and it is also asserted that envoys came to request his friendship from the Ethiopians, the Scythians of Europe, the Gauls, and Iberians – nations whose names were heard and their accoutrements seen then for the first time by Greeks and Macedonians.” (SOURCE: Arrian, Anabasis, 7b, 15).

At the end of his book, Arrian, regarding Alexander’s work and persona, concludes the following:

“For my own part, I think there was at that time no race of men, no city, nor even a single individual to whom Alexander’s name and fame had not penetrated. For this reason it seems to me that a hero totally unlike any other human being could not have been born without the agency of the deity… Even at the present time, after so long an interval, other oracular responses in his honour have been given to the nation of the Mace­donians.” (SOURCE: Arrian, Anabasis, 7b, 30).         

            As a conclusion to all these extracts, we will say that the work of the ancient historian Arrian (mainly based on the works of the ancient Macedonian historians Ptolemy and Aristobulus) presents a strong weapon against the current Greek propaganda.