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Theodor Mommsen

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While the Macedonians proper on the lower course of the Haliacmon (Vistritza) and the Axius (Vardar), as far as the Strymon, were an originally Greek stock, whose diversity from the more southern Hellenes had no further significance for the present epoch, and while the Hellenic colonization embraced within its sphere both coasts -on the west with Apollonia and Dyrrachium, on the east in particular with the townships of the Chalcidian peninsula - the interior of the province, on the other hand, was filled with a confused mass of non-Greek peoples,[...] The Greek cities, which the Romans found existing, retained their organisation and their rights; Thessalonica, the most considerable of them, also freedom and autonomy. There existed a League and a Diet ('koinon') of the Macedonian towns, similar to those in Achaia and Thessaly. It deserves mention, as an evidence of the continued working of the memories of the old and great times, that still in the middle of the third century after Christ the diet of Macedonia and individual Macedonian towns issued coins on which, in place of the head and name of the reigning emperor, came those of Alexander the Great. The pretty numerous colonies of Roman burgesses which Augustus established in Macedonia, Byllis not far from Apollonia, Dyrrachium on the Adriatic, on the other coast Dium, Pella, Cassandreia, in the region of Thrace proper Philippi, were all of them older Greek towns, which obtained merely a number of new burgesses and a different legal position, and were called into life primarily by the need of providing quarters in a civilised and not greatly populous province for Italian soldiers who had served their time, and for whom there was no longer room in Italy itself. The granting of Italian rights certainly took place only to gild for the veterans their settlement abroad. That it was never intended to draw Macedonia into a development of Italian culture is evinced, apart from all else, by the fact that Thessalonica remained Greek and the capital of the country.
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The Provinces of the Roman Empire, vol.1, translated by W.P.Dickson, from the 1909 edition (Chicago, Ares Publishers, 1974), pp. 299–301.

 
Theodor Mommsen

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That the Macedonians were of Greek stock seems certain. The claim made by the Argead dynasty to be of Argive descent may be no more than a generally accepted myth, but Macedonian proper names, such as Ptolemaios or Philippos, are good Greek names, and the names of the Macedonian months, although differed from those of Athens or Sparta, were also Greek. The language spoken by the Macedonians, which Greeks of the classical period found unintelligible, appears to have been a primitive north-west Greek dialect, much influenced by the languages of the neighboring barbarians.

 
J.R. Hamilton
 

"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
 

Philip was born a Greek of the most aristocratic, indeed of divine, descent... Philip was both a Greek and a Macedonian, even as Demosthenes was a Greek and an Athenian...The Macedonians over whom Philip was to rule were an outlying family member of the Greek-speaking peoples.

 
N.G.L. Hammond
 

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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