Episode 6 (Appian)

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

APPIAN (around 95 – 165)

Appian was from Alexandria. He was born around the year 95. Around the year 120, he left for Rome, where he studied as a lawyer. He is the author of several historical works, from which only “History of Rome” is fully preserved. One of his other works was the “Macedonian Wars”. From this book, a chapter named “Illyrian Wars” has been preserved. In this text, Appian clearly separates the Macedonians from the Greeks.

Describing the war between the Romans and the Illyrians, he writes: “The Romans… made war against the Illyrians, on account of this temple robbery, as the Ro­mans now held sway over the Greeks and the Macedonians.” (Appian, “Illyrian Wars”, 5).

Here we can clearly see that Appian considers Macedonians and Greeks as different nations.

In the chapter “Syrian Wars” from the book “History of Rome”, Appian makes an even clearer example of Macedonia being different nation from Greece. While writing about the beginning of the hostility between the Romans and Antiochus III (a king from the Macedonian dynasty of Seleucides, which reigned over a part of Asia after Alexander the Great died), Appian writes:

“… The inhabitants of Smyrna and Lampsacus, and some others who still resisted, sent ambassadors to Flamininus, the Roman general, who had lately overthrown Philip[V] the Macedonian in a great battle in Thessaly; for the affairs of the Macedonians and of the Greeks were closely linked together at certain times and places, as I have shown in my ‘Greek history’.”

          We will not get into a detailed explanation of the complex political processes at the time (when the Macedonian king Antiochus went to conquer Greek cities, but some of them asked for help from the Romans), but we will keep on discussing the subject of our interest.

In the “Syrian Wars”, Appian even calls the Macedonians a separate “race” (no matter the meaning this word had in the ancient times). Describing the events after the death of Alexander the Great of Macedon, Appian writes:

          “…After the Persians, Alexander became the sovereign of Syria as well as of all other peoples whom he found. He died leaving one son very small and another yet unborn. The Mace-donians, who were loyal to the race of Philip, chose Arridaeus, the brother of Alexander, as king…”(SOURCE: Appian, “Syrian Wars“, 52).

In the same work, Appian writes about the activities of Seleucus (a Macedonian general and later king of some parts of the remains of Alexander’s empire) in founding cities. Here, again Appian clearly separates the Macedonians from the Greeks. He even writes that the Macedonians and the Greeks had their own toponymy for their cities, which the Macedonian king Seleucus used in naming the newly founded cities. Here we read:

“He built cities throughout the entire length of his dominions and named sixteen of them Antioch after his father… To others he gave names from Greece or Macedonia, or from his own exploits, or in honour of Alexander; whence it comes to pass that in Syria and among the barbarous regions of upper Asia many of the towns bear Greek and Macedonian names…”(SOURCE: Appian, “Syrian Wars“, 57).

Further in the “Syrian Wars”, Appian offers very important data, which destroys another base of the Greek historiography and propaganda related to the ethnical origin of the Macedonian dynasty Argeadae (from which Philip II and Alexander the Great descended). The information that the descendants of this dynasty originated from Argos in Peloponnesus (not far from Athens) is widely spread today. But, Appian writes something completely different. In this article, he says:

“There is an Argos in Peloponnese, another in Amphilochia, another in Orestea (whence come the Macedonian Argeadae), and the one on the Ionian sea…”(Appian, “Syrian Wars“, 63).

          Orestea is a region in Macedonia. So, according to Appian, Macedonia too had a city called Argos and this is where the Macedonian dynasty Argeadae comes from, not from the Argos in Peloponnesus! If someone notes that there are ancient testimonies according to which this Macedonian dynasty is descending from Argos in Peloponnesus, we will reply that Appain’s testimony is an ancient testimony as well, no more or less relevant than those that claim otherwise. If we consider some of the other facts (like the Macedonians being called “barbarians” which means non-Greeks by the Greeks, as well as other testimonies that we are presenting in these clips), then there is a probability that the Macedonian dynasty was founded by Macedonian non-Greeks, and even if they did come from the city Argos, then it was probably Argos in Macedonia – a city where Macedonian was spoken in.

But even in the ancient times when the beginnings of the Macedonian dynasty were formed, a nation lived in Peloponnesus called Pelasgians. The ancient historian Herodotus wrote that the Pelasgians and the Greeks spoke different languages and that they couldnot understand each other.

Let’s conclude that Appian with his work is included in the numerous ancient authors who stressed out the ethno-cultural uniqueness of the ancient Macedonians.