|Items from Macedonian tomb |
Archaeological Museum, Thessaloniki
Photo by M.E.B
Miltiades Elia Bolaris
The following article is being published simultaneously by the
Following a brief elegy to the greatness of Plutarch, an ancient Greek writer best known for his "Moralia" and the "Parallel lives", the Slavomacedonian propagandist going by the Italian sounding pseudonym Gandeto proceeded to develop his main theme:
"...to revisit some of (Plutarch's) references about the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Macedonians...", whereby "...from Plutarch´s phrases we can deduce that he neither saw the Ancient Macedonians as Greeks nor did he, even remotely, ever suggest that the Ancient Macedonians were connected to the Hellenes".
Gandeto, in fact, assures us, that Plutarch's "...phrases abound with frank distinction between Macedonians and Greeks and, at no time, do we find ambiguous references used in distinguishing or in describing these two ancient peoples. The ethnic separation is not an issue; the roles are quite divergent and the clarity of purpose is evident. The boundary lines are precise and the positions taken are straightforward and meaningful. In other words, Plutarch makes it abundantly clear that ancient Macedonians were not Greeks.
Furthermore, it must be stressed that neither from Plutarch´s passages nor from any of the other ancient chroniclers can one find references where the ancient Macedonians were regarded as Greeks. While this notion of "greekness" for the ancient Macedonians is a newly hatched political idea with ominous designs and frightening connotations, for the ancients, the ethnic separation of these two peoples was a non factor; there were no urgent needs, there were no specific reasons nor were there heartfelt desires by anyone to see these two peoples as one and the same."
We have, in other words, "a newly hatched political idea with ominous designs and frightening connotations", the notion, namely of ancient Macedonians being regarded as Greeks.
Waldemar Heckel and J.C. Jardley are unwillingly then drafted to the pseudo-Makedonist cause, and an isolated quote is lifted off their book "Alexander the Great – Historical Sources in Translation". "It was from this passage," Gandeto reveals to us "that I knew my position on this issue was, once again, validated anew:
It is clear from the extant Alexander historians that the lost sources made a clear distinction between Greeks and Macedonians – ethnically, culturally and linguistically – and this must be an accurate reflection of contemporary attitudes." (p.7). "
I also happen to have another book by Waldemar Heckel, in which we read a similar passage, which will help us understand what professor Heckel had in mind, when he spoke of the "...perceived differences between Macedonians and Greeks":
"Certainly there were cultural and linguistic similarities, and Macedonian society and the names of the aristocracy conjure up the world of Homer. But the differences were sufficient to cause the Greeks to view them as foreign well into the Hellenistic age".
In other words, far from "validating anew" anybody's misconceptions on the ethnic, cultural and linguistic nature of the Macedonians, what professor Waldemar Hechel is telling us is that while the ancient Greeks made a clear distinction between themselves and the Macedonians, this was on perceived differences. Perception is as different from reality as poetry is from history, as Aristotle tells us, a Greek Macedonian, himself.
Culturally and linguistically, the Macedonians were Greek, despite marked differences in dialect, their pastoral way of life (versus the city-state dwelling Greeks of elsewhere) and antiquated (Homeric age) institutions when compared to their brethren in southern Greece (Hellas), Asia Minor (Aeolia and Ionia) or southern Italy (Magna Graecia).
These "differences were sufficient to cause the Greeks to view them as foreign well into the Hellenistic age", tells us Waldemar Heckel, in "The conquests of Alexander the Great", Cambridge University Press, 2008, on page14.
In other words, the PERCEPTION of some of the other Greeks especially the ones politically inclined against them, not all of them, as we shall see, was that the Macedonians were some sort of brutes, dressed in animal hides, tending goats and sheep on the mountains, who spoke a dialect that was as incompressible to Attic ears, as that dialects spoken in Aetolia and Acarnania, or Epirus, for that matter. This view, lasted well into the Hellenistic age, as we are told, or until the dialectical differences of the Greeks, The Doric spoken in the Peloponnese and Southern Italy, the Aeolian spoken in Thessaly and Aeolia, the Ionian spoken in Asia Minor, Attica and the islands, mixed with the NW Greek spoken by the Macedonians (also Epirotes and Aetolians), to form the glorious Coene Greek, the common Greek speech of the Hellenistic and Roman eras, the language in which the Christian Bible was written. By then, of course, nobody was speaking any longer of the Macedonians as anything but Greeks, obviously.
As it is obvious from anybody reading the sources, from Herodotus and Plutarch to Diodorus of Sicily, the Macedonians themselves never doubted their own Hellenism, a Hellenism that was loudly declared by Alexander A', and was accepted henceforth by all. To Gandeto's great disappointment, Waldemar Heckel informs us also that those Macedonians who could afford an education "were educated in Greek" and that Philip II "...acquired offices, such as the archonship of Thessaly, and exercised power by controlling the votes of the Amphictyonic League..." both of which he could not do unless he was a Greek by ethnicity and religion.
In the book "Alexander the Great" by Ulrich Wilcken (heralded by professor Eugene Borza in his preface to the text as "the best balanced, most sensible modern biography of Alexander") we read that:
"The beginnings of Macedonian history are shrouded in complete darkness. There is keen controversy on the ethnological problem, whether the Macedonians were Greeks or not. Linguistic science has at its disposal a very limited quantity of Macedonian words, and the archaeological exploration of Macedonia has hardly begun (this book was published in English in 1967, fully 10 years before the 1977 magnificent discoveries of the royal tumulus by professor Andronikos at Aegai). And yet, when we take into account the political conditions, religion and morals of the Macedonians, our conviction is strengthened that they were a Greek race and akin to the Dorians. Having stayed behind in the extreme north, they were unable to participate in the progressive civilization of the tribes which went further south, and so, when in the time of the Persian Wars they emerged on the horizon of the other Greeks, they appeared to them as non-Greeks, as barbarians."
"It was from this passage, that I knew my position on this issue was, once again, thrashed in the garbage bin anew", someone of Gandeto's convictions could exclaim, had that someone had the intellectual courage and honesty to face historical truth.
Since we encountered some inexcusable confusion on such an elementary philosophical concept as perception and its relation to reality, it is better to dig a little deeper.
We urgently need to seek the help of our great Macedonian, Aristotle. A discussion cannot simply be the lining up of quotations, so that whomever brings forth the finest quotation may win the argument. The validity of an argument, Aristotle taught us, can be determined by its internal structure even more than by the strength of its content. Let us then follow his classic syllogism:
All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal. There is a set structure to this argument, which predetermines that the conclusion is guaranteed to be true as long as the premises are true.
We start with Gandeto's "first point", taken from Plutarch´s Alexander 53, where Alexander springs a trap for Callisthenes: "Why don´t you prove your eloquence", Alexander asked him, "by giving a speech criticizing the Macedonians, to teach them their faults so that they can improve?"
"And so the man set about his palinode and turned to outspoken and detailed criticism of the Macedonians. After showing that Greek feuding was the cause of Philip´s rise to power, he said:
"But in times of civil strife even criminals become respectable."
In the original:
"ἐν δὲ διχοστασίῃ καὶ ὁ πάγκακος ἔλλαχε τιμῆς",
which, translated word by word would give us:
"and in time of sedition, even the worst man won honor"
"a clear gibe (or so his hearers assumed) at Philip.", tells us Professor Peter Green. "The old-guard barons, who could not distinguish between an exercise in eristics and a speech from the heart, were mortally offended, while Alexander (who could) made matters worse by saying that what Callisthenes had demonstrated was not eloquence so much but personal malice"
"Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C., a historical biography", Peter Green, U. of California, 1991
"This, Plutarch tells us, "made the Macedonians hate him with a deep and bitter hatred, and Alexander said that Callisthenes had not proven his ingenuity so much as his ill will towards the Macedonians."
Enter Gandeto now:
"What does this passage reveal? What can we infer from it? Does it make a clear distinction between ancient Macedonians and the ancient Greeks?"
The answer to this is a conditional yes, it does. The ancients were very much aware of certain distinctions between Ionians and Dorians, Athenians and Spartans, Macedonians and southern Greeks, i.e. those living in Hellas proper. Geographic Hellas, for the less informed, was originally Phthia, the land of Achilles, in southern Thessaly, and then over the centuries most of southern Greece was named so, but not Macedonia, Epirus or Ionia. These had to wait for the Hellenistic and Roman age to be included in geographic Hellas. (see Strabo, and his famous quote on Hellas being Macedonia). Anyone can describe the distinctive characteristics between a German Shepard and a Bulldog...they are distinct, but they are still dogs, their distinctions do not make one of them a cat.
"Callisthenes, Gandeto continues, "...criticized the Macedonians to such a degree that he, inadvertently, revealed his own inner feelings, how he, as a Greek, perceived and felt about the supposed "greatness" of the Macedonians. His line:
"But in time of civil strife even scoundrels/criminals become respectable", is as frank an admission as they come.
(d) He equates and measures Philip´s and thus Macedonians´ power, strength and success not on his merits but on the Greek feuding which Callisthenes claims was the cause of Philip´s rise to power.
Thus, so far (Gandeto continues) we have the following precipitate in clear: the Macedonians on one side, who are not as great as their position reflects and the Greeks on the other, who make the Macedonians look powerful because of the Greek feuding. The description rests on the cusps of two contrastingly derived attributes of two different entities – Greeks and Macedonians."
Here we see words being put into Calisthenes' mouth, and liberty is taken with the text. Calisthenes "turned to outspoken and detailed criticism of the Macedonians"
πολλὰ παρρησιάσασθαι κατὰ τῶν Μακεδόνων,
but we are not told by Plutarch the details of his criticism . What we hear in the text is Calisthenes' last two points:
"and after showing that faction among the Greeks was the cause of the increase of Philip's power, "καὶ τὴν Ἑλληνικὴν στάσιν αἰτίαν ἀποφήναντα τῆς γενομένης περὶ Φίλιππον αὐξήσεως καὶ δυνάμεως"
and immediately after:
"But in times of civil strife even criminals become respectable"
"ἐν δὲ διχοστασίῃ καὶ ὁ πάγκακος ἔλλαχε τιμῆς", or, in my translation:
"and during sedition, even the worst man won honor"
Both of these, if I am to understand either English or the Greek original, make one thing clear: That Calisthenes makes a personal attack on Philip II, essentially calling him basically lucky for having had his enemies divided, thus winning easy victories, and also for being the worst person ever, whom luck blessed to be king of Macedonia at a time when the other Greeks were at each others throats, i.e. in dissension. This, is after all what infuriated the old guard and gave Alexander the chance to generalize Calisthenes' hatred for Philip II to an obviously false accusation for hatred towards the Macedonians.
"Alexander...made matters worse by saying that what Callisthenes had demonstrated was not eloquence so much but personal malice", says Peter Green, or in the words Plutarch puts in Alexander: "Callisthenes had not proven his ingenuity so much as his ill will towards the Macedonians."
I repeat: the text does not mention anything of Calisthenes' criticism of the Macedonians, which after all was meant "to make them better", but first he makes a personal attack on Philip, the aggressive king of the Macedonians, the man who ordered destroyed his own home city, Olynthos, the man who sold his fellow citizens of Olynthos to slavery. Calisthenes had axes to grind against Philip the person, not the Macedonians, otherwise why should he stay in Macedonia and not go, for example to Athens, once his home was destroyed? Alexander, on the other hand, has axes to grind against Calisthenes personally, too, for he was the leading man in the palace revolt against the "proskynysis" and the deification. Hence, Alexander took Calisthenes's personal attack on Philip and presented it to the already infuriated Philip's old guard as an attack, generally on Macedonians.
I understand Alexander's motives, as I also understand Calisthenes' motives to belittle the destroyer of his home. I even understand Gandeto and his fellow propagandists when they try to desperately turn what was basically an intra-Hellenic ancient feud into proof , somehow, that the ancient Macedonians were Bulgarian-speaking Slavs.
"Plutarch", Gandeto continues, "...should have known the difference between Greeks and Macedonians. If Plutarch felt that ancient Macedonians and the ancient Greeks were simply Hellenes, one and the same people, he would have not indulged the readers in episodes that abound in inherent contradictions. That, surely, did not happen. Plutarch´s position on the ethnicity of the ancient Macedonians is clear: they were not Greeks."
That was a good try, but would such inferences win someone a case in a court of law with a jury listening?
Consider Child A and Child B and let us analyze a Skopjan propagandist's "logic":
Fact: Child A hit child B
Skopjan inference (a travesty of Aristoteleian sylogismos): Child A and child B are not brothers
Skopjan conclusion: Child B is of another parent than Child A (although it is known than Child B's alleged "parents" moved to the area years later, long after both children had died.
In other words:
Fact: Many Hellenes resisted the Makedones Though not all, i.e. The Thessalians voluntarily made Philip and later Alexander, both Macedonian kings their Tagos/Ταγός, their leader, a post of political and religious significance, bestowed only to a Thessalian Greek, proving that they viewd the Macedonians as brethren people.
Skopjan inference (anti-sylogismos in reality): Macedonians were not Greeks
Skopjan conclusion: Macedonians were Slavic, though it is known that Slavs did not appear in the Balkans till at least the late 6th cAD, and did not start settling in the lower Balkans till the 7th century AD at the erarliest!
Ludicrous as it is, anti-historical and counter logical, this is, striped to its essence, the line of argument presented by the pseudo-Makedonists.
Does Gandeto make that last step? Not openly and not in this article, since Mr. Gri...ovski is still trying to keep a fig leaf of respectability, a semblance of serious authorship that the Toronto and Skopje-based pseudo-makedonist clowns have shamelessly shed long ago, but he is still a propagandist, partaking in the same Skopjan circus of history falsification as the likes of Stefou and Donski, to name just two, not a scholar.
The second arrow in Gandeto's quiver is from Plutarch's Alexander, 50 and 51, where
"Alexander speaks with Xenodochus of Cardia and Artemius of Colophon and asked them:
"When you see the Greeks walking about among the Macedonians, do they not look to you like demi-gods among so many wild beasts?"
...Here, is it difficult to infer the difference between Macedonians and Greeks? Does Alexander the Great from Macedon have a clear separation between these two peoples?
"Greeks walking about among Macedonians" deserves no further elaboration. I wonder how those university professors who signed Miller´s petition feel about these kinds of passages."
No wonder Gandeto is wondering. When someone bases their case on carefully isolated quotes, taken out of context, they are bound to end up with absurdities.
To judge the quote, we need to go back and bring the whole case into context. Plutarch is describing a drunken brawl between Alexander and Cleitos. Alexander has a banquet and he invites Cleitos the Black, among others, to attend. They get quite drunk and loud:
"[50.4] ...After boisterous drinking was under way, verses were sung which had been composed by a certain Pranichus, or, as some say, Pierio, to shame and ridicule the generals who had lately been defeated by the Barbarians.
[50.5] The older guests were annoyed at this and railed at both the poet and the singer, but Alexander and those about him listened with delight and bade the singer go on. Then Cleitus, who was already drunk and naturally of a harsh temper and wilful, was more than ever vexed, and insisted that it was not well done, when among Barbarians and enemies, to insult Macedonians who were far better men than those who laughed at them, even though they had met with misfortune
(οὐ καλῶς ἐν βαρβάροις καὶ πολεμίοις ὑβρίζεσθαι Μακεδόνας πολὺ βελτίονας τῶν γελώντων, εἰ καὶ δυστυχίᾳ κέχρηνται)."
Here we can finally understand what is happening: Alexander is provoking his own cadre and he is mercilessly encouraging the singer to insult them because some of his officers had suffered a defeat at the hands of the enemy. They take his bait and are enraged. Cleitos finds an excuse for them: it was just misfortune!
(Incidentaly, we also hear Cleitos infering that the Macedonians are Greek-speaking by differentiating them from non-Greek speaking "barbarians". This is a Macedonian himself describing his own linguistic affinity.)
"[50.6] And when Alexander declared that Cleitus was pleading his own cause when he gave cowardice the name of misfortune, Cleitus sprang to his feet and said: ´It was this cowardice of mine, however, that saved your life, god-born as you are, when you were already turning your back upon the spear of Spithridates; and it is by the blood of Macedonians (τῷ Μακεδόνων αἵματι), and by these wounds, that you have become so great as to disown Philip (ἀπειπάμενος Φίλιππον) and make yourself son to Ammon.´
So, now it becomes personal: Cleitos tells Alexander that he turned his back (i.e. being a coward!), reminding him that he, Cleitos, saved him (at the Granikos battle) by killing Spithridates. It was through the blood of the Macedonian soldiers and it was by Philip's army (since Philip II, his father, had organizer the Macedonian army, whom Alexander disowned) that he owed everything!
[51.1] Thoroughly incensed, then, Alexander said: ´Base fellow, do you think to speak thus of me at all times, and to raise faction among Macedonians (διαστασιάζων Μακεδόνας), with impunity?´ ´Nay,´ said Cleitus, ´not even now do we enjoy impunity, since such are the rewards we get for our toils; and we pronounce those happy who are already dead, and did not live to see us Macedonians thrashed with Median rods (Μηδικαῖς ῥάβδοις ξαινομένους Μακεδόνας), or begging Persians in order to get audience with our king.
[51.2] So spoke Cleitus in all boldness, and those about Alexander sprang up to confront him and reviled him, while the elder men tried to quell the tumult."
So, now Alexander has had enough of all this Alexander bashing...he is being told that he is a nothing, just Philip's son, a coward indeed, who inherited Philip's army and all his achievements are to be credited to the brave Macedonian soldiers: they made him, he would be nothing without the Macedonians, so now he snaps back. He wants to insult and belittle his own royal subjects, the Macedonians, and he does it with vitriolic venom in his words:
"Then Alexander, turning to Xenodochus of Cardia and Artemius of Colophon, said: ´Do not the Greeks appear to you to walk about among Macedonians like demi-gods among wild beasts ?´ (´ὑμῖν οἱ Ἕλληνες ἐν τοῖς Μακεδόσιν ὥσπερ ἐν θηρίοις ἡμίθεοι περιπατεῖν;´)!
In other words, Alexander could have said:
MY subjects account for NOTHING! I, THEIR KING, AM THE ONE who MADE THEM who they are!
While the free Greeks of city states are culturally elegant and sophisticated, I am fated to be the king of brutish, uncultured and ungrateful subjects whom I brought down from the mountains where they were tending goats and I made them lords of Asia! This is the meaning of what Alexander said, and we find the same sentiments expressed at Opis, the only difference being that at that time he actually gave credit to Philip for this transformation of the Macedonians from animal skin-clad goat herders to elegantly-dressed and law abiding citizens and masters of their fate. Reading Arrian's anabasis 7.9 will help further clarify Alexander's true feelings on the issue.
By cutting off the rich context of these dramatic events, Gandeto has been left wondering:
"Does Alexander the Great from Macedon have a clear separation between these two peoples?
"Greeks walking about among Macedonians" deserves no further elaboration", he exclaims, though now his proclamation has lost drama, approaching comical heights:
"I wonder how those university professors who signed Miller´s petition feel about these kinds of passages."
We can let professor Griz...ovski keep wondering, for as long as he avoids seeing the Hellenic forest behind the Macedonian tree. Truth can only be reached by the ones we seek it, not not by those who try to twist it, like the ones who start with preposterous assumptions, such as that the homeland of the Proto-Slavs was in ancient Macedonia.
I am not saying this, professor Eugene Borza of the University of Pensylvania said it most elegantly:
"Modern Slavs, both Bulgarians and Macedonians, cannot establish a link with antiquity, as the Slavs entered the Balkans centuries after the demise of the ancient Macedonian kingdom. Only the most radical Slavic factions—mostly émigrés in the United States, Canada, and Australia—even attempt to establish a connection to antiquity."
Whose picture fits in this frame is not for me, but for the reader to decide; but I know that Borza was not talking about Pinocchio's Geppetto...
The only problem is that professor Borza wrote this in the early 1990's, long before Skopje's government elevated precisely radical pseudo-Makedonism into official national dogma and long before Bronze statues to Philip and Alexander were erected in down town Skopje "to solidify the national identity" of the south Slavs of FYROM.
As for Plutarch's passages, I am sure that "those university professors who signed Miller´s petition" spent a lifetime studying them. They know what they signed.
Here is what professor J.R.Hamilton of the University of Auckland wrote in his "Alexander the Great" book (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973):
"Demosthenes, the implacable enemy of Macedon, was fond of describing Philip as a "barbarian" and once at least referred to his marshals as "slaves". Vulgar abuse, of course, was the stock-in-trade of the Athenian politician; yet such abuse would have been pointless had there been no differences between Greeks and Macedonians, and important cultural differences did, in fact, divide them." but, professor Hamilton continues: "That the Macedonians were of Greek stock seems certain."
We need to keep in mind that this was written 40 years ago, before even the spectacular archaeological excavations of the late 1970's which fully confirmed the Hellenic nature of the Macedonian culture, art, religion and language.
"The claim made by the Argead dynasty to be of Argos descent may be no more than a generally accepted myth", professor Hamilton insists, "but Macedonian proper names, and the names of the Macedonian months, although they differed from those in use in 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..." (page 23, in the same book as above).
We made our point, but let us continue with Plutarch for two more paragraphs, because some important point awaits us:
"[51.3] Cleitus, however, would not yield, but called on Alexander to speak out freely what he wished to say, or else not to invite to supper men who were free and spoke their minds, but to live with Barbarians and slaves (ἀλλὰ μετὰ βαρβάρων ζῆν καὶ ἀνδραπόδων ), who would do obeisance to his white tunic and Persian girdle. Then Alexander, no longer able to restrain his anger, threw one of the apples that lay on the table at Cleitus and hit him, and began looking about for his sword."
Once again, Cleitos makes a reference to Macedonians as free men, contrasting them with the foreign non-Greek speaking Persian "barbarians". Now, Alexander is out of control, he is throwing what he can find in his hands and he is looking for his sword, thinking that there is a conspiracy to kill him. So he starts screaming, calling out the guards:
"[51.4] But one of his body-guards, Aristophanes, conveyed it away before he could lay hands on it, and the rest surrounded him and begged him to desist, whereupon he sprang to his feet and called out in Macedonian speech (ἀνεβόα Μακεδονιστὶ) a summons to his corps of guards (and this was a sign of great disturbance)(τοῦτο δὲ ἦν σύμβολον θορύβου μεγάλου), and ordered the trumpeter to sound, and smote him with his fist because he hesitated and was unwilling to do so."
Alexander calls our the guards, in a most unusual way: Μακεδονιστὶ, Plutarch tells us, in Macedonian dialect, and moreover, he tells us τοῦτο δὲ ἦν σύμβολον θορύβου μεγάλου, this was a sign of great disturbance. In other words, the Macedonian dialect was never used in the Macedonian Palace or in the commands of the army, hence this situation, when Alexander is calling on the trumpeter to sound the alarm, this was ordinary situation, it was σύμβολον θορύβου μεγάλου, a sign of great disturbance, indeed!
There are mindless Skopjan propagandists that have called the "Makedonisti" expression a sign of a different language, not dialect, indeed of a Slavic one. if that were true, then what of the Laconizein Spartans or the Aeolisti speaking Thessalians and the Attikisti speaking Attikizein Athenians? Are they Proto-Slavs too?
Cleitos, then came back to the room, and in perfect...Slavic, or so we are supposed to believe, if some Skopjan propagandist had his way, Plutarch tells us:
"[51.5] He tried to come in again, however, by another door, very boldly and contemptuously reciting these iambics from the ´ Andromache ´ of Euripides:
"οἴμοι, καθ᾽ Ἑλλάδ᾽ ὡς κακῶς νομίζεται."
"Alas! in Hellas what an evil government!"
Which, if anything else, tells us how perfectly these Macedonians knew their Greek tragedy, reciting Homer and Aeschylus, and Euripides by heart from the original...how "barbarian" indeed!
As if Alexander did not suffer enough, Gandeto now goes back in time, some sixty years before Alexander to the Spartan king Agesilaos, the first Greek who went to the East intending to bring the Great King of Persia to war.:
"3. Plutarch, Agesilaus 15.
´Demaratus of Corinth who stated that Greeks have lost a great opportunity of not seeing Alexander sitting on the throne of Darius.´
"I for one cannot agree with Demaratus of Corinth´s assertion that the Greeks who had not seen Alexander sitting on Darius´ throne had missed a rare treat; in fact, I think that in all likelihood they might have wept at the realization that Alexander and his Macedonians were simply the heirs of the Greeks who of the time squandered the lives of their commanders on the battlefields of Leuctra, Coronea, Corinth, and Arcadia."
"God", a Greek expression tells us, "loves the thief, but he also likes the home owner". It is always a pleasure catching history falsification in the making:
´Demaratus of Corinth who stated that Greeks have lost a great opportunity of not seeing Alexander sitting on the throne of Darius.´
This is supposed to be a quote, to which Plutarch supposedly replies: it is in "quotes", after all...!
I knew immediately that something was fishy so I checked it out, and of course it is a made up quote, intended to make a case that "If anybody still entertains any ideas weather(sic) the ancient Greeks considered Alexander the Great as their king and thought of ancient Macedonians as their kinsmen and Hellenes, this episode and Plutarch´s statement itself, should set their mind at peace."
Ah, yes...now here is what Plutarch actually wrote, describing the entry of Alexander into the captured palace of the Persians, in Persepolis:
"[37.4] And it is said that when he took his seat for the first time under the golden canopy on the royal throne, Demaratus the Corinthian, a well-meaning man and a friend of Alexander's, as he had been of Alexander's father, burst into tears, as old men will, and declared that those Hellenes were deprived of great pleasure who had died before seeing Alexander seated on the throne of Dareius.
Plut. Alex. 37.4
Gandeto, once again, exposed to posterity:
"If anybody still entertains any ideas weather the ancient Greeks considered Alexander the Great as their king and thought of ancient Macedonians as their kinsmen and Hellenes, this episode and Plutarch´s statement itself, should set their mind at peace."
It is obvious that whenever a propagandist is using ancient sources, he is not seeking to gain understanding but is trying to find ways to fabricate false message out of the text. The only way Skopjans found to suit their means is the way religious sects operate: using isolated quotes out of context and make the truth stand on its head. Sometimes, when it is more convenient, a cooked up citation fits the bill too.
Gandeto shamelessly took one of the best examples of how Philhellenic-minded Greeks, Hellenes who had risen above the city-state petty nationalism and fratricidal intra-hellenic antagonisms to Panhellenic ideals of unity, and tried to twist it into its opposite, into something that Plutarch supposedly opposed.
All we need to do now is bring the arrested quote of Plutarch back into its context and the full extend of this falsification will be exposed.
Agesilaos was a charismatic Spartan king who lived in the early 4th c BC. He convinced the Ephors of Sparta to give him two thousand Helots and six thousand allies and only a handful of free Spartans (40 men) and send him to bring the war to Persian territory. He then proceeded to attack one after another the Persian forces sent against him and to liberate the Greek cities of Asia Minor, causing great anxiety to the Great King. This is how Plutarch describes Agesilaos' goals and expedition:
" For he had great expectations from his expedition, and he thought it would be a disgraceful thing if, whereas Xenophon and his Ten Thousand had penetrated to the sea, and vanquished the King just as often as they themselves desired, he, in command of the Lacedaemonians, who had the supremacy on sea and land, should perform no deed worthy of remembrance in the eyes of the Hellenes."
I need us to note the words about performance of deeds "worthy of remembrance in the eyes of the Hellenes", and we will come back to them.
"[16.4] And perhaps we need not wonder at such conduct in Agesilaüs, since when he learned that a great battle had been fought near Corinth, and that men of the highest repute had suddenly been taken off, and that although few Spartans altogether had been killed, the loss of their enemies was very heavy, he was not seen to be rejoiced or elated, but fetched a deep groan and said:
´Alas for Hellas, which has by her own hands destroyed so many brave men! Had they lived, they could have conquered in battle all the Barbarians in the world.´
If we compare Agesilaos' lament for the tragic waste of Greek blood in fratricidal wars to:
"...they might have wept at the realization that Alexander and his Macedonians were simply the heirs of the Greeks who of the time squandered the lives of their commanders on the battlefields of Leuctra, Coronea, Corinth, and Arcadia",
which Plutarch wrote only a few paragraphs apart, then we can grasp the meaning of what Plutarch intended to explicate. We continue with Plutarch, in an earlier passage:
"[14.2] ...And it was most pleasing to the Greeks who dwelt in Asia to see the Persian viceroys and generals, who had long been insufferably cruel... now fearful and obsequious before a man who went about in a paltry cloak...that many were moved to cite the words of Timotheus:
Ares is Lord; Greece has no fear of gold
...Then he determined to go farther afield, to transfer the war from the Greek sea, to fight for the person of the King and the wealth of Ecbatana and Susa, and above all things to rob that monarch of the power to sit at leisure on his throne, playing the umpire for the Greeks in their wars, and corrupting their popular leaders.
[15.2] But at this point Epicydidas the Spartan came to him with tidings that Sparta was involved in a great war with other Greeks, and that the ephors called upon him and ordered him to come to the aid of his countrymen.
O barbarous ills devised by Greeks!
Ὦ βάρβαρ' ἐξευρόντες Ἕλληνες κακά!
"How else can one speak of that jealousy which now leagued and arrayed the Greeks against one another? They laid violent hands on Fortune in her lofty flight, and turned the weapons which threatened the Barbarians, and War, which had at last been banished from Greece, back again upon themselves.
[15.3] I certainly cannot agree with Demaratus the Corinthian, who said that those Greeks had missed a great pleasure who did not behold Alexander seated on the throne of Dareius, nay, I think that such might well have shed tears when they reflected that this triumph was left for Alexander and Macedonians by those who now squandered the lives of Greek generals on the fields of Leuctra, Coroneia, and Corinth, and in Arcadia."
In other words, Plutarch is joining in this lament on the waste of Greek blood, which, had the city states been working in unison, they could have achieved what Alexander achieved the overthrow of the Persian empire, sixty or a hundred years earlier!
Now let's see what Gandeto get out of this story:
"Alexander is not considered a Greek king. This is Plutarch speaking"
Indeed that was Plutarch speaking but NOWHERE does he mention anything about Alexander being or not being a Greek King. He was, after all King of the Makedones, and Hegemon of the other Greeks. Try to get this out of a Skopjan head though, once it is stuck in there:
"If Plutarch does not consider Alexander a Greek king, what rights, we ask, do today´s Greeks have to claim him as their king?"
It is obvious that the person who wrote these lines has never read Professor Eugene Borza's book on "The impact of Alexander the Great", where in the chapter 8, written by professor Ulrich Wilsens we read that Alexander:
"In Macedonia he was and remained like Philip and his predecessors the king of the people and the army, besides whom the nation in arms preserved its old rights in the assembly of the army. To the Greeks of the Corinthian League he was their Hegemon with the rights and duties laid down by the Covenant of the League."
The Greeks of the south never thought of him as their king. They were done with kings centuries ago. What those mini Greek nations, the poleis, the city states wanted was a powerful ally, a Hegemon, who would united their quarreling lot and lead them one way or another to the conquest of Asia. Professor Eugene Borza, in his own words tells us on page 22 of the same book that:
"Macedonian rule did not sit well with Greeks; although they were perfectly willing to support Alexander in Asia where he would be little trouble to them, they did not really like him."
I vividly remember being a child when the modern Greeks by an overwhelming popular plebiscite voted the last "King of the Hellenes" out of his office and booted him out of the country. Being royalist and being democratic is not determinant of ethnic identity, though it can help separate the same people into two different nations, like the British citizens of north America who separated into Americans and Canadians after the American war of Independence. It was a separation originally based solely on the question of independence from Britain and allegiance or opposition to the king.
Gandeto insists though:
"One should keep in mind that the reference in question is "Greeks", not "Athenians", "Spartans" or "Thebans". The usual escape route used by web sites´ propagators on the net that ancient Greek city-states fought with each other is effectively rendered a non factor."
To lay this to rest, we go back to Plutarch, and follow Alexander as the battle of Gaugamela is about to start (Plutarch, Alexander, 33.1). I include the original text as well as the translator's (professor Bernadotte Perrin, Yale University) note below:
"τότε δὲ τοῖς Θετταλοῖς πλεῖστα διαλεχθεὶς καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις Ἕλλησιν, ὡς ἐπέρρωσαν αὐτὸν βοῶντες ἄγειν ἐπὶ τοὺς βαρβάρους, τὸ ξυστὸν εἰς τὴν ἀριστερὰν μεταβαλὼν τῇ δεξιᾷ παρεκάλει τοὺς θεούς, ὡς Καλλισθένης φησίν, ἐπευχόμενος, εἴπερ ὄντως Διόθεν ἐστὶ γεγονώς, ἀμῦναι καὶ συνεπιρρῶσαι τοὺς Ἕλληνας,
On this occasion, he made a very long speech to the Thessalians and the other Greeks, (1) and when he saw that they encouraged him with shouts to lead them against the Barbarians, he shifted his lance into his left hand, and with his right appealed to the gods, as Callisthenes tells us, praying them, if he was really sprung from Zeus, to defend and strengthen the Greeks. "
No mention of any speeches to the majority of the army, his own Macedonians, before the battle of Gaugamela? He only spoke to the Thessalians and to his Greek allies? Does this make any sense?
We go to the translators note and the bottom of the page:
Note:(1) Sometimes the term ´Hellenes´ excludes and sometimes it includes, the Macedonians. The context must decide. Cf. Xlvii.
We also check the other example furnished by the translator in Cf. Xlvii.: [47.5] Moreover, when he saw that among his chiefest friends Hephaestion approved his course and joined him in changing his mode of life, while Craterus clung fast to his native ways, he employed the former in his business with the Barbarians, the latter in that with the Greeks and Macedonians.
The Macedonians are once again grouped with the other Greeks and in opposition to the non-Greek speaking barbarians.
But since this dichotomy of "Greeks" and "Macedonians" in most texts on ancient Macedonia is a fact that fuells the Skopjan ultra-nationalist flames about "Aleksandar Makedonski" being a Slavonic Czar of the Ancient "Makedonci" (and the equally Slavonic Filip Makedonski, the good slayer of the bad Greeks), both, supposedly unrelated to Greeks, let's hear from professor Ian Worthington, whose biography "Philip II of Macedonia" was recently (2008) published by Yale University. It is under the chapter "Ethnicity and Social Snobbery", page 8:
"However, let me say that I believe there is enough evidence and reasoned theory to indicate that the Macedonians were Greek and so Greek-speaking: they simply spoke a local dialect, just as there were different dialects in different parts of Greece. It was the Macedonian dialect that Greeks could not understand. Let me repeat from Chapter 1 that when I refer to "Greeks" in this book, I mean the people who lived south of Mount Olympus, and when I refer to "Macedonians" I mean those living to its north. I do so only for the sake of convenience."
To be continued