Episode 5 (Aeschines)

We are continuing to present the works of the ancient authors that contain clear claims that the ancient Macedonians were not Greeks. Here we shall present testimonies from the famous ancient orator Aechines, as well from an anonymous Christian author. Aechines lived in the IV c. BC, while the anonymous Christian author lived in IV century AD. Although more than six hundred years passed between their lives, both of them equally testified that the ancient Macedonians were not Greeks.

AESCHINES (IVc. BC)

          Aeschines was born in 389 and died in 314 BC. He was a well-known Athenian orator and politician, whose career was tightly connected to Macedonia.

One of the first steps that Philip II (the father of Alexander the Great of Macedon) took after the reinforcement of Macedonia was to drive out the Greek colonists from the Macedonian shore. One of these colonies was the city Olynthus, that in 348 BC was taken over by the Macedonians, and most of the Greek population (along with the soldiers) were sold in slavery. After this,Aeschines was sent on a mission from Athens to Peloponnesus to rebel and warn the local Greeks of the danger from Macedonia. Later he was sent on a peace mission in Macedonia where he met Philip II.  Aechines was so impressed by Philip II that he completely stood by his politics. Since then,Aeschines devoted all his activities into convincing the Greeks to not oppose the mighty Macedonians, but to remain in apeaceful relationship.

However, most of the Greeks were against these kinds of ideas because they wanted to keep their independence. The loudest amongst them were Demosthenes and Timarchius. They were the biggest opponents of Aeschines’s pro-Macedonian campaign, and were accusing him of grand betrayal. Aeschines responded with assaults against them with his own written works. Even though Aeschines was a fiery defendant of the pro-Macedonian politics, he clearly treated the Macedonians as a separate nation from the Greeks. In his work “Against Ctestiphon”, he writes:

…After this, the ministers of Philip arrived at Athens; ours were still abroad, labouring to stir up the Greeks against Macedonia.

Here Aeschines practically blames the followers of the anti-Macedonian politics in Athens, who rebelled the Greeks in the region against Macedonia, even when the Macedonians sent their own peace representatives in Athens.

Another proof that Aeschines didn’t consider the Macedonians as Greeks can be seen in his speech “On the Embassy”. The speech is about the Amphictyonic Council. This Council (sometimes described as “League”) was created near the end of the VII c. BC and it was a community of the ancient Greek tribes. In the beginning this was a religious organisation, but later became an all-Greek ethno-cultural community. Aeschines lists the tribes that made the Council. They were the following: “The Tessalians, Boeotians, Dorians, Ionians, Perrhaebi, Magnetes, Dolopians, Locrians, Oetaeans, Phtiotians, Malians, and Phocians”.(SOURCE: Aeshines, “On the Embassy”, 2.116)

As we can see the Macedonians are NOT mentioned as members of this all-Greek council. This is a really strong argument in favor of the fact that Macedonia never had a Greek origin or ethnical character. In reality, neither Macedonians considered themselves Greek, nor did the Greeks of that period consider them as their “kinsmen”.

ANONYMOUS EARLY CHRISTIAN AUTHOR (around IV c.)

This early-Christian author is known just for his short comments on some of the Letters from St. Paul from the New Testament. These introductory comments are presented and reworked in the book “The Gospel History and its trans­mi­ssi­on”, published in 1996.

What is interesting about the topic we’re covering here is that this anonymous author treats the ethnical origin of the people which St. Paul sent the letters to. For example, in the chapter named “To the Galatians” he writes: “Galatians are Greeks“.In the chapter named “To the Corinthians”, he writes:”Corinthians are of Achaia“.

In the chapter named “To the Romans”, he writes: “Romans are in the parts of Italy“.

However, in the chapter named “For the Thessalonians”, he writes: “Thessalonians are Macedonians, who having accepted the word of truth persevered in the faith even in persecution from their fellow-citizens”.

          In the chapter named “To the Philippians”, he writes:

Philippians are Macedonians.  These having accepted the word of truth persevered in the faith, nor did they receive false apostles”.  (SOURCE: “The Gospel History and its trans­mi­ssi­on” F. C. Burkitt, Gorgias Press, 2006,  ISBN: 978-1-59333-529-8).

So, we can see that this was another author who without a doubt said that the Macedonians were a different nation from Greeks.