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Eugene N. Borza

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Our understanding of the Macedonians' emergence into history is confounded by two events: the establishment of the Macedonians as an identifiable ethnic group, and the foundation of their ruling house. The "highlanders" or "Makedones" of the mountainous regions of western Macedonia are derived from northwest Greek stock; they were akin both to those who at an earlier time may have migrated south to become the historical "Dorians", and to other Pindus tribes who were the ancestors of the Epirotes or Molossians. That is, we may suggest that northwest Greece provided a pool of Indo-European speakers of Proto-Greek from which were drawn the tribes who later were known by different names as they established their regional identities in separate parts of the country... First, the matter of the Hellenic origins of the Macedonians: Nicholas Hammond's general conclusion (though not the details of his arguments) that the origin of the Macedonians lies in the pool of proto-Greek speakers who migrated out of the Pindus mountains during the Iron Age, is acceptable.
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"Makedonika", Regina Books, Claremont CA

 
Eugene N. Borza

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"The language spoken by these early Macedonians has become a controversial issue in modern times. It seems not to have been so in antiquity. As we have seen, Hesiod made Magnes and Macedon first cousins of the Hellenes, and he therefore regarded them as speakers of a dialect (or dialects) of the Greek language. That he was correct in the case of the Magnetes has been proved by the discovery of early inscriptions in an Aeolic dialect in their area of eastern Thessaly. Then, late in the fifth century a Greek historian, Hellanicus, who visited the court of Macedonia, made the father of Macedon not Zeus but Aeolus, a thing which he could not have done unless he knew that the Macedonians were speaking an Aeolic dialect of Greek. A remarkable confirmation of their Greek speech comes from the Persians, who occupied Macedonia as part of their conquests in Europe c.510-480. [...] Disagreements over this issue have developed for various reasons. In the second half of the fifth century Thucydides regarded the semi-nomadic, armed northerners of Epirus and western Macedonia as "barbarians", and he called them such in his history of events in 429 and 423. The word was understood by some scholars to mean "non-Greek-speakers" rather than "savages." They were shown to be mistaken in 1956, when inscriptions of 370-68, containing lists of Greek personal names and recording in the Greek language some acts of the Molossians, were found at Dodona in Epirus. This discovery proved beyond dispute that one of Thucydides "barbarian" tribes" of Epirus, the Molossians, was speaking Greek at the time of which he was writing. Demosthenes too called the Macedonians "barbarians" in the 340s. That this was merely a term of abuse has been proved recently by the discovery at Aegae (Vergina) of seventy-four Greek names and one Thracian name on funerary headstones inscribed in Greek letters.

 
N.G.L. Hammond
 

Since so little is known about the early Macedonians, it is hardly strange that in both ancient and modern times there has been much disagreement on their ethnic identity. The Greeks in general and Demosthenes in particular looked upon them as barbarians, that is, not Greek. Modern scholarship, after many generations of argument, now almost unanimously recognises them as Greeks, a branch of the Dorians and ‘NorthWest Greeks’ who, after long residence in the north Pindus region, migrated eastwards. The Macedonian language has not survived in any written text, but the names of individuals, places, gods, months, and the like suggest strongly that the language was a Greek dialect. Macedonian institutions, both secular and religious, had marked Hellenic characteristics and legends identify or link the people with the Dorians. During their sojourn in the Pindus complex and the long struggle to found a kingdom, however, the Macedonians fought and mingled constantly with Illyrians, Thracians, Paeonians, and probably various Greek tribes. Their language naturally acquired many Illyrian and Thracian loanwords, and some of their customs were surely influenced by their neighbours[...] To the civilised Greek of the fifth and fourth centuries, the Macedonian way of life must have seemed crude and primitive. This backwardness in culture was mainly the result of geographical factors. The Greeks, who had proceeded south in the second millennium, were affected by the many civilising influences of the Mediterranean world, and ultimately they developed that very civilising institution, the polis. The Macedonians, on the other hand, remained in the north and living for centuries in mountainous areas, fighting with Illyrians, Thracians, and amongst themselves as tribe fought tribe, developed a society that may be termed Homeric. The amenities of city-state life were unknown until they began to take root in Lower Macedonia from the end of the fifth century onwards.

 
John V.A. Fine
 

We are Macedonians but we are Slav Macedonians. That's who we are! We have no connection to Alexander the Greek and his Macedonia. The ancient Macedonians no longer exist, they had disappeared from history long time ago. Our ancestors came here in the 5th and 6th century (AD).

 
Kiro Gligorov
 

Here we have seen that their early history is still largely an open question. They may have had Greek origins: Whatever process produced the Greek-speakers (of that is how one defines "Greek") who lived south of Olympus may have also produced the Makedones who wandered out of the western mountains to establish a home and a kingdom in Pieria.

 
Eugene N. Borza
 

Certainly the Thracians and the Illyrians were non-Greek speakers, but in the northwest, the peoples of Molossis (Epirot province), Orestis and Lynkestis spoke West Greek. It is also accepted that the Macedonians spoke a dialect of Greek and although they absorbed other groups into their territory, they were essentially Greeks.

 
Robert Morkot
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