Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FYROM and Greece: Preconditions for an agreement of lasting peace and good neighborly relations.

Mιλτιάδης Η. Μπόλαρης
Το παρών άρθρο δημοσιεύθηκε ταυτόχρονα και στο Αμέρικαν Κρόνικλ:

Todor Petrov (pictured above between a medieval Bulgarian lion and an ancient Greek sun) is the self-proclaimed "President of the World (Slavo-)macedonian Congress. He wants us all to believe that he is a reasonable man, a man of Peace and reconciliation.
In an article in the Skopje daily Vreme (1)we read that he is asking for nothing less than for the presidents of Greece Carolos Papoulias and the president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Makedonija (FYROM) Georgi Ivanov to sign a statement of reconciliation. Not just a statement, in fact, but "a joint presidential declaration between (Slavo-)makedonija and Greece on the (Slavo-)makedonijan-Greek historical reconciliation". This will have to be followed by a proposed suggestion that "both governments must conclude an agreement on a lasting peace and good neighborly relations between (Slavo-)makedonija and Greece, which will replace the Interim Agreement".
Greece and FYROM have been butting heads ever since the Former Yugoslav People´s Republic split off its mother country Yugoslavia and declared independence, back in 1991. The problem, as Greeks saw it, was the Slavomacedonians´ ultra-nationalism and unbridled irredentism, typical of most nationalities that cut themselves off Yugoslavia at some point or another during the 1990's. The Skopje ultra-nationalists gleefully and in all seriousness demanded annexation of large chunks of Greek territory, including Greece´s second largest city, Thessaloniki. Maps of United Makedonija were widely distributed and propagated, from Melbourne and Toronto to Skopje and the internet:

These attitudes were expressed most vividly in the name and the symbols of the new country: Makedonija, a Slavic rendition of Macedonia, which happens to be the northernmost and largest province of Greece, home of Aristotle and Alexander the Great, among other Greek notables. By 1995, an interim agreement, to which Mr. Petrov makes mention was reached, and some changes were agreed, like dropping the most offensive of FYROM´s constitutional articles that were seemed directed against Greece, and the changing of both the flag and the name. The name for international use was accepted to be FYROM, and it was seen as a transitional name to be replaced later on by a permanent one to be agreed in negotiations between the two countries.
Todor Petkov´s proposals, in other words, sound too good to be true! Finally, someone would think, the most extreme Slavomakedonci groups seem to be putting water in their deleteriously ultra-nationalist positions. It is these expatriate organizations, centered in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto, Canada that ever since the 1940´s seem to be the carriers of the most uncompromising anti-Hellenism. These are the ones who have poisoned the political agenda inside Skopje itself, forcing the "Antiquization" campaign, also known sarcastically as "Bucephalism" from Bucephalas, the name of the horse of Alexander the Great into the political arena. They have forced the revision of this multi-ethnic state´s history, making a two prong attack. First they try to deny the Hellenic nature of the ancient Macedonians, whose name they wish to assume. Secondly, they want to convince the Slavonic inhabitants of FYROM feel that they are not Slavs, and that the Slavic invasion of the 7th and 8th century AD never happened. That these Slavonic people are supposedly indigenous to the area since time immemorial and they are, therefore, the true descendants of the ancient Macedonians. A new official version of a so-called "History of the Macedonian Nation" has been published in 2009, making all these un-historical and outlandish claims official national dogma, something for which a Joseph Goebbels or a Lavrenti Beria would be proud of.
Hearing the president of this group, which started it all, proclaiming reconciliation with "the enemy" is a thunder in sunshine…we rightfully wonder: what happened?
Vreme´s article is thankfully not keeping us in tension for too long. Todor Petrov is forthcoming with a few minor preconditions:

A. "Great Britain must apologize for her agreement with Russia to assist the Greek government defeat the (Communist Party-led) partisan movement during the (1946-1949)Greek Civil War, in which the (Slavo-)macedonians, took active part".

It is true that the Churchill and Stalin made an agreement during the famous Yalta conference, by which Stalin relinquished any interest in Greece, being content with control of Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia, and practical as he was, left Greece and Turkey to the British (later, after 1946, American) sphere of interest. The British, he was heard saying, will not let Greece go, and we have no navy…

B. "Greece must recognize the associations of the child refugees from Greek Macedonia".

These are the now grown up Greek children, over 30,000 of whom had been taken from their own villages by the retreating Democratic Army partisans and most were raised in orphanages in Tito´s Yugoslavia. Greece at the time raised hell internationally and several United Nations resolutions were passed against Yugoslavia for this crime against humanity, but of the 30,000 who left, less than 1000 were ever returned. The rest of them grew up in a system that taught them a new, recently formed language, teaching them that they are not Greeks but (Slavo-)Macedonians, effectively making rabidly anti-Greek Janissaries out of them.

The Yugoslav propaganda painted this tragedy in totally different colors: They named it the EXODUS of the "Macedonian" children, giving it biblical overtones, as if the children made their own decision about where they were being led. More on them later.

C. "Macedonians from "Aegean Macedonia" (originally a Bulgarian but later also Slavomacedonian misnomer for Historic Macedonia of Northern Greece) individually and united must act to exercise their rights of citizenship and property rights and inheritance rights and to claims their seized property".

At the end of the civil war, there were winners and there were losers. The ones who lost had to filter into Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, and they were then spread, being divided between the Warsaw pact countries, many staying in Yugoslavia´s southernmost province, the so called Socialist People´s Republica Makedonija, while others were relocated everywhere from Hungary´s Beloyiannis village to Poland, and from Uzbekistan´s Tashkent to Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania; anywhere, in other words, as long as they were far from Stalin´s Moscow who wanted to have nothing to do with them. Many who were caught inside Greece, or trying to cross the frontiers, were executed or thrown into prisons and exile in deserted islands. Thousands of ex-partisans lingered in prison and exile for anywhere from 1 to 15 years or more, most of them with death or life sentences on their head. The ones who left Greece lost all their civil and political rights. Their homes and property were passed to their closest in kin. Although almost everyone built a new life in their respective host countries, some married and made new families, many having left another wife and children back in Greece, but as years went by, they started lobbying their host governments to ask the Greek state to allow their repatriation. Some, especially the ones living in Yugoslavia eventually emigrated and some, very few, ended up in the USA; having to sign the US immigration petition that "you are not now or have not in the past been affiliated with the Communist Party", did not help. Most of them found a new home in Canada or Australia.
More than twenty five years later, post 1975, some of the old partisans of the "Democratic Army" started trickling back into Greece. Then in 1981 Andreas Papandreou´s Socialist PASOK government came to power on a platform of civil war reconciliation and he allowed anyone who had taken up arms in the 1940´s on the side of the partisans but wished to return to do so. There was only one condition to repatriation: Even if you or your children and been born abroad, you had to declare that you are a Greek national. If you were naïve enough to write in your petition: Sovietski, Bulgarski, Makedonski, Slavomakedonski, etc, etc, your petition was summarily dismissed. The road to Greece was open only to the ones who felt and declared themselves to be Greek. Anyone who had collaborated with the occupation of the Nazi-allied Bulgarians (part of Greek Macedonia and most of Greek Thrace had been ceded by Hitler to Bulgaria) or participated in the civil war under Nikos Zachariades´ catastrophic leadership which (in exchange for diplomatic and military support from Tito) advocated that historic Macedonia of Greece be ceded to Tito´s Yugoslavia, and continued to harbor such notions was simply not welcome back, blocking their chances of return to Greece.
No state organizations accepts its voluntary dismemberment without a fight. The Americans fought a bitter civil war to avoid just that in the 19th century and they succeeded, and so did the Yugoslavs unsuccessfully in the 1990's. Speaking of the Americans, to the best of my knowledge, once you take up arms against the American state, like some American born Islamic activists have done so lately, American citizen or not, you are considered an enemy combatant and if caught, in Pakistan, Afghanistan or in New York, you are brought in front of a judge to face death sentence or life imprisonment without parole. I would never equate the Islamic fundamentalists with the Greek partisans of the 1940´s, and I am not advocating the death penalty or state terror against anyone, far from it, but I am trying to keep things in perspective, and take a view from the side of the State´s self preservation.
Some, of the ones we were refused re-entry included many who had emigrated to Canada and Australia, organized themselves in Slavomacedonian organizations and habitually demonstrated outside Greek consular offices. Many of them were in fact the children of the so called "paidomazoma" / the "child abduction" children of the civil war, grown up and full of hatred against Greece by now. Obviously, their names joined the list of undesirables, and the Greek customs officers refused entry to them, especially when they tried to enter Northern Greece in busloads through Skopje.
Who are these children of abduction, the children of the so called Paidomazoma, or Exodus if you like?
During the fiercest battles, towards the end of the Greek civil war, men and women were being forced from both sides to join either the rebel partisans or the national army. The children were being left behind in bombed out villages to fend for themselves. Both sides took realized the problem and both sides took action, to take these children under their control and protection. The royalists created the Paidoupoleis (Παιδουπόλεις / children's cities) in other parts of Greece, away from the fighting, under the auspices of Queen Frederica who saw them as first class propaganda opportunity, to prop up her royal presence. The partisans did exactly the same, taking the children in areas of their control and shipping them off to friendly Eastern European countries, mostly, but not only, in Yugoslavia. Eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia and others took in many of these Greek children too.

Many of these innocent Greek children that were taken abroad were homeless and orphaned, and many lost their parents either because they were eventually killed or arrested, sent off to prison or exile or finally lost in the confusion of the times and were never re-united. Even in cases when the mother was at home, the pressure to get a child out of a war zone where Greek and American planes were bombing every village suspected of cooperation with the Democratic Army guerrillas, was sufficient to persuade the parent, grandparent or other guardian to let the child be taken away, in safety. Whether the children were taken forcefully (it may have happened, and for sure there are documented cases that it did) or taken out willingly from cooperating relatives, the issue is really secondary as to what happened to them later on. The children that remained in Greece or were sent off to other countries, remained Greek. A different fate awaited those who were settled in Yugoslavia. Makedonski indoctrination set in. You are "Macedonians", "Makedonci", "Ethnic Makedonci", they were told. Greeks are your parents' enemies, Greece is your enemy, Makedonija and Yugoslavia is your new country and Marshal Tito is your savior.
A tag of diplomatic and propaganda flared up between Greece and Yugoslavia. The innocent children of the civil war became a point of contention and Greece fought in the United Nations and in the international fora to take them back, throughout the late 1940´s and early 1950´s.

Once they grew up though, they became the unwanted ones, having grown into Yugoslav Jenissaries. The Greek state reacted by rejecting them, not allowing their return, as long as they proclaimed another ethnicity. It is as if someone removes several cells from your body, treats them with poison and then attempts to infuse them back into you: No sane person would accept such transfusion.
The most famous -or infamous- of these expatriate Janissaries is the current prime minister of FYROM, Nikola Gruevski whose grandfather Νικόλαος Γρούιος / Nikolaos Grouios(1911-1940) was a hero of the Greek army, who joined the Greek army and died during the 1940 Greco-Italian war, resisting the Italian invasion of Greece. He died in the Florina military hospital on November 19, 1940 having been mortally wounded by an Italian shrapnel days earlier, and his name is prominently scribed on a marble Heroon in his native village, Αχλάδα/Achlada of the Φλώρινα/Florina district. His son, Gruevski's father himself is one of the so called "Deca Belgaci" children. Gruevski, whose own mother is a Greek Vlach-turned fanatical Makedonka, has become the most virulent enemy of anything and everything Greek.
Now, Todor Petrov is proposing that all of the expatriates "individually and united must act to exercise their rights of citizenship and property rights and inheritance rights and to claims their seized property." (3)
The Greek government has recently declared that it is open to discuss repatriation, and even restitution. Restitution from whom though? Who is tilling their parents´ or grandparents´ land? It is obvious that they will have to sue their own cousins.
If you abandon your land in Greece for over twenty years, anyone who has used it for that time without paying you rent has acquired property rights over it, according to the law. Assuming that Todor Perov´s mates return, a can of worms will be opened, attorneys will be happy, and old family ties will now break up and flare into intra-familial hatred.
But this is not all of it. Todor Petrov has more aces up his sleeve. The civil war issues are only the beginning. The main course come immediately after:

D. For what Mr. Petrov calls "persecutions of the (Slavo-)macedonians during the Balkan wars" of 1912-1913, which today, according to Mr. Petrov, are "defined" (by whom?) as "genocide" there "must be a request for reparation of war damages from the occupation and the division of Macedonia and the genocide against the Macedonian people" - said Petrov.

Where can we start from, now? It is a fact that there were no Slavomakedonci during the 1912 war of liberation against the Ottoman empire. Tito´s so called "Makedonci" nation had to wait until 1944 to be invented. At that time the Bulgarophile Slavs of Macedonia were still Bulgarians. They were calling themselves "Bugari". Todor Petrov is speaking of persecutions but somehow he is forgetting about Serres. My hometown is Serres, which the Bulgarian army burned down completely ninety sever years ago to the date, on June 29, 1913, during its hasty retreat, because its population, Greek and Muslim with a few Jewish and Armenian families, was not deemed friendly to Bulgarian occupation. Is this burning down of a major Macedonian city (Doxato in Drama province was the next town to suffer the same fate), plus the summary executions of Greek notables also considered genocide?

Can I and my family sue the Bulgarian state, almost a hundred years later for reparations? But wait, Petrov, is not saying anything about Bulgarians, he almost forgot all about his Bugari / Bulgarski grandparents. True enough, he is a Makedonski now! So, now, it is definitely getting definitely a bit confusing here. Whom should I have to sue? Should I forget about the original Bulgarians and direct my lawsuit against the FYROMian government in Skopje instead, and demand reparations for their "genocide against the Macedonian Greeks of Serres" and the "war damages" inflicted upon my own family´s property, for the Bulgarian occupation of Serres?
No division between the two existed at the time, and the grandparents of today's Slavomacedonians were proud Bugari being separated by the Bulgarians by a mere "l" (BuLgari) not Makedonci. Therefore, I suppose that I have every right to sue either of them or better yet, both of them! I will find an attorney in Sofia and sue the descendants of both the Bulgari who burned down my hometown, and another attorney in Skopje and sue the descendants of the Bugari – the Slavomacedonians who did the same and whomever wins (I think both will) I will be happy. Me and my brother, and all of our children will now be rich! Victims of Genocide that we are, we will win so much money for the war reparations of our torched down city of Serres that the next step will be to hire yet two more attorneys and send them off to the next mission: Reparations for war damages from the Bulgarian (must I call it "Bugarian/(Slavo-)macedonski"?) occupation and division of Macedonia during the first world war. Speaking of genocide, should we maybe remember the 70,000 Eastern Macedonian Greeks that were taken by the Bulgarian army as "hostages" during the 1916-1917 years of WWI, and only 12,000 of them returned alive? But we are not done yet! What about the second world war? The same week that the Nazi Germans broke through the Thessaloniki – Central Macedonian front, the Bulgarian army followed suit and occupied our province FOR A THIRD TIME IN AS MANY DECADES! Our province was split in half, and the western pat remained with Nazi – occupied Greece, while the Eastern part, including my hometown Serres, and further east the rest of Eastern Macedonia and Western Thrace were given by Hitler to Bulgaria. Talk about "the occupation and the division of Macedonia", indeed!
Hitler also gave Skopje and Vardarska, to the Bulgarians of Sofia. Vardarska, you guessed it, is southern Yugoslavia, which post 1991 is an independent country that now calls itself "Makedonija" but the rest of the world FYROM. Skopje´s Bulgarophile population went frantic and joyous out in the streets to welcome Hitler´s troops and the Bulgarian King they brought along with them.
The Greek Macedonians were now openly persecuted. All the Greek priests had to leave their churches on a day´s notice and all the Greek teachers were thrown out of the schools. Both were replaced by Bulgarians who were brought in from Bulgaria that same week. Greek doctors and attorneys had to sign off their property and were expelled, and so was the case with any and all elected officials. The best homes were all confiscated and given to Bulgarians who were brought in by the thousands to stay.

Within a week´s notice, all the Greek street and commercial signs everywhere had to be with Cyrillic and no Greek sign could stay up anywhere. Food became scarce; the economy collapsed and food coupons became the only means of acquiring foodstuffs. Opportunities opened up for the occupational authorities. If you declared yourself a Bulgarian, you were given twice the coupons, twice the rations. New words were invented and entered the Greek language, words immediately forgotten after WWII:
Ντουρντουβάκια / Dourdouvakia: the Greek youth of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace that were summarily rounded up and taken into Bulgaria to work as unpaid slave laborers for the benefit of the Bulgarian state.
Βουλγαρογραμμένος / Boulgarogrammenos was someone who had become "written down" / declared as a Bulgarian".
Λαδοβούλγαρος / Ladoboulgaros: literally an "oily-Bulgarian", someone that became a Bulgarian in order to get olive oil rations in return and avoid starvation.
I know this is not "genocide" in the literal meaning of the word, but it is a hell of a lot harsher than any bogus "genocide" the Greeks are being accused of by the likes of Todor Petrov and his group. But using hunger to change someone´s ethnic identity, really hits the borderline, if you ask me. On another note, the word Genocide has a very particular meaning: Killing off the genes, killing off the procreated future of a nation. Is this what happened to the Bulgarians / Slavomacedonians after Macedonia´s liberation from the Ottomans? Some, several thousand actually, left, especially from the Kilkis area and relocated to Bulgaria. But so did several thousand Greeks who felt trapped into Serbia and Bulgaria, especially from the Monastir district, Stromnista or Philippoupolis. Was that a Genocide too? We need to remain serious. The Greeks from Bulgaria and south Serbia (later renamed Vardarska and now calls itself Makedonija, or FYROM) left because they felt unwelcome, and so did the Bulgarians of Kilkis, but nobody was massacred or suffered the fate of the Pontian and Asia Minor Greeks, Christian Assyrians and Armenians in the hands of the Turks during and after WWI. THAT was genocide.

So, now we return to Todor Petrov´s proposal in Vreme. The article is titled:
"Aegeans require a signature for reconciliation". By "Aegeans" the article means the descendants of the defeated Slavomacedonian partisans who left Greece and relocated to Skopje after the Greek civil war, as if Florina has anything to do with Aegean (it is like saying the "Pacifics", as in the Pacific Ocean, speaking of the people who live in Colorado).
"The presidents of (Slavo-)macedonia and Greece, George Ivanov and Carlos Papoulias, must sign a statement of reconciliation of the two countries". Indeed, the President of the World (Slavo-)macedonian Congress / Светскиот македонски конгрес, Todor Petrov / Тодор Петров, announces that he will encourage the process of reconciliation and unity…!

So, then, where do we start from? I propose that we start from "A":
"Great Britain must apologize for her agreement with Russia to assist the Greek government defeat the (Communist Party-led) partisan movement during the 1946-1949 Greek Civil War, in which the (Slavo-)macedonians, took active part."
But, i wonder, why only the British? The British after all gave up on their presence in Greece by the time the civil war got serious, in 1946, ceding their position of dominance in the Greek political and military events to the Americans.
I propose that Todor Petrov and the World Congress of the (Slavo-)macedonians take steps to amend this slight oversight and immediately send a forceful demand to president Barack Obama insisting that the "US must apologize for her agreement with Great Britain and Russia to assist the Greek government to defeat the (Communist Party-led) partisan movement during the 1946-1949 Greek Civil War, in which the (Slavo-)macedonians took active part!"
I just want to see Obama's face when Светскиот македонски конгрес / Svetsiot Makedonski Kongres president Тодор Петров / Todor Petrov presents him with his group's demands for the expected US apology!

Now, since "reconciliation precondition" A and B are already assigned, we can call this one: "Todor Petrov's reconciliation precondition A-1".

Once this is done, and Great Britain and the USA move expediently to conform with Todor Petrov's and Svetsiot Makedonski Kongres' very reasonable demands for British and American apologies, I am sure that presidents Carolos Papoulias and Georgi Ivanov can then hastily move to the next step and tackle "reconciliation precondition B"...

What else can I say...Good Luck!

PS1: The damage that the Slavomacedonian expatriate community has done, comfortably sitting in their Toronto, Indiana or Melbourne suburbs, to their home country, FYROM over the years, idiotically demanding an ever harder position against Greece is beyond measure. Skopje's body politic has for years been hijacked by the kinds of Nikola Gruevski and Todor Petrov who have been imposing their criminally self-defeating ultra-nationalist policies on the young nation, leading it from one blind alley to another and from one humiliating defeat to another.
Todor Petrov's latest proposal, as published in Vreme and exposed here for what it's worth it, is indicative of the narrow corner into which they have squeezed themselves.
Lasting Peace, good neighborly relations and reconciliation are indeed needed, but it takes two to tango and they obviously cannot be achieved by people who make ludicrously unsupported claims of "genocide" or "exodus" and demand "apology" and "war reparations" for the war of the Greeks against the Turks and Bulgarians during the first and second Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913. Every nation, even the Turks, at some point or another like to pretend that they have been the victim of everyone else. The problem with Nikola Gruevski, Todor Petrov and VMRO-DPMN is that they have overstretched the net of their ultra-nationalist mythology and ethnic hatred against the Greeks just a little bit too far and they are now trapped in it!

PS2: I may or may not agree with everything said on the videos above but I think that they are well-researched and very informative. M.E.B.

(1) http://www.vreme.com.mk/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=5&tabid=1&EditionID=2055&ArticleID=143490

Monday, June 28, 2010

Macedonian names and makeDonski pseudo-linguistics: The case of the name Heracles Arotos

Το παρών άρθρο πρωτοεμφανίστηκε στο περιοδικό Αμέρικαν Κρόνικλ, στις 2 Ιουνίου του 1009.
Μιλτιάδης Ηλία Μπόλαρης

Balkan Illusion - phantasia archaica:

"...it is very interesting to note that many of the authentic ancient Macedonian words, according to their etymology and pronunciation, have a striking resemblance to the appropriate words used in the modern Macedonian language (and other so called "Slav"[sic] languages)." "A very good example is the word "Arotos" which ancient Macedonians used as an epithet to the god Heracles). Its etymology is undetermined to-date, however if the suffix "s" is deleted this word is practically identical with the adjective "aroto" - "the old one" (archaism to a degree) from the present Macedonian language. According to a legend Heracles was considered to be the oldest ascendant of the Macedonians. Can the answer for the etymology of the word "arotos" be located in this legend, by referring to Heracles as "the old one" or "aroto(s)"? "
From: "Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today's Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)" by Aleksandar Donski, celebrity folk "historian" from FYROM.

Heracles Arotos / Ηρακλής Άροτος

When I first entered the gates of the "Center", just outside the picturesque town of Nauplion/Ναύπλιον, I had no idea what was in store for me. The "Basic Training Center"/Κέντρον Βασικής Εκπαιδεύσεως is the main training camp for the Hellenic Army Engineering Corps. What followed was a forty day training in the basics of military drilling. Forty days where you are not allowed to get out of the base, where everyone around you is in their late teens and early twenties, and you see no women, children or older people, you only see people dressed in army fatigues and the predominant colors are army gray, khaki and army green.

Two or four months later the newly trained soldiers are sent to the Tagmata, the frontier battalions by the Turkish border. I also took the train, crossed the Peloponnese, changed train in Athens then crossed central Greece, Thessaly, Macedonia and finally the Thracian town of Xanthe/Ξάνθη was awaiting for me. When you enter the barracks, in my case the Fourth Army Corps headquarters, you bring along a huge army carry-on bag with your uniforms and private items in, and you are immediately identifiable from a mile as the "New one" the "Neos"! You present your papers and you report to an officer who then shows you to your company's building. It is there that you first hear of your new position in life: You may have thought that you are a University educated person, with a degree from an American University...sorry, but here you are just a "psari"! Psari/ψάρι in Greek is a fish! Ok, you put one and one together, you eventually get it: a new soldier is a fish out of water, quite vulnerable: He has to follow the orders of the palioi, the old ones in the company, till other, fresh Neoi show up in two months. But then, college educated and all, you are not ready for the next word describing your new order in society:

Eh, Arouri!, someone calls you. Pause and puzzlement:

Eh...what was it exactly that you called me?

I said "Arouri!" comes the reply.

And...what is an "Arouri"?

Man, you really ARE an Arouri! You have no clue...do you? Don't you have arouria in your village?! Listen: arouri is a field rat!

It took a couple seconds, being a town boy and all, but at last I made the connection...arouri is the neuter form of arouraios/αρουραίος. This is how I knew it being called, anyway. The realization finally struck me: he had just called me a field rat!

It was all clear now: my new position in army life as the Newbie, "o Neous", in 40ME, where I was to stay for the next eight months, before my next transfer, was that of the little abominable creature, the field rat, which any older/palios soldier could sort of step on...pretty graphic!

Let us talk about rats: there is a word in Greek describing all rats: mus/μύς. It is derived from the PIE word *mus. In Greek, Latin and Sanskrit the mouse remains the same: mus. The modern English "mouse" is also derived from that same PIE word: *mus.

Modern Greeks have two more words for the diminutive mammal: one for the urban mouse: pontiki/ποντίκι or pontikos/ποντικός, and a more specific to the field mouse: arouraios/αρουραίος.

Pontikos/ ποντικός in ancient Greek means marine, someone of the sea. Greece being a marine country, always sent and received and exchanged things with other places. One unwelcome product that eventually found its way to Greece was the ship rat (ratus ratus) originally a pest from India. The ship rat in Greek is not surprisingly called a marine rat: mus pontikos/ μύς ποντικός. Οver time the noun mus/μύς=the mouse was dropped and the adjective pontikos/ποντικός=the marine, the one of the sea took its position. The mouse was now called the marine! Writing this, I finally realize that I myself was once among the few, the not so proud, the marines...and I am not talking here of the ones who cross the valleys of modern Bactria/Afganistan or the fertile land of Mesopotamia/Iraq either...you know which "marines/pontikoi" I mean!

Let us now look at our Liddel & Scott Greek English Lexicon under arouraios:

Ἀρουραίος, α, ον, of or from the country, rural, rustic, μύς α. field vole, etc

And in the abridged Liddell & Scott, we read:

Ἀρουραίος, α, ον, belonging to corn land, rustic; μύς Ἀρουραίος a field-mouse.

As we can see, arouraios, the field mouse, had a similar story, linguistically speaking, to the marine mouse: the noun was dropped, becoming irrelevant through constant usage and the adjective took over its meaning. Mus arouraios, the mouse of the fields, became simply arouraios, the fieldmouse.

A related to Ἀρουραίος/arouraios word is arosmos/αροσμός, also written in the female as arosis/ἄροσις, and it means "arable land" but also "ploughing/plowing". Another word for arable land in Greek is Aroura/Ἀρουρα. Τhe original common Indo-European word is *h2e'rh3wr, according to "The Oxford Instroduction to Proro-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World", J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, Oxford University Press, 2006 and 2007. In the same book we read that related words are arbor for "seed" in Old Irish, arvum for "ploughed field" in Latin, aroura/άρουρα meaning "field" in Greek, haravunk in Armenian for "field"and probably urva'ra for "fertile soil" in Sanskrit.

The word arosis is still used in modern Greek and with the same meaning, and on a quick internet someone can find a company producing and packaging organic beans of Western Macedonia (not FYROM), by the town of Kastoria/Καστοριά, in Greece named Arosis/Αροσις:

The word arotron/ἄροτρον meaning the plough/plow (it is derived from the PIE word *h2e'rh3w- for "plow") is the tool the arotes/αρότης uses to do the plowing. It is one of those Greek words that appear in Homer and Hesiod, Plato and Aristophanes, among others, and are still in daily usage today. In one of the the Aesop fables, coming to us from Hellenic antiquity we find all three words, arotes/αρότης, aroura/άρουρα and


Ἀρότης καὶ λύκος

Ἀρότης [arotes] λύσας τὸ ζεῦγος ἐπὶ ποτὸν ἀπῆγε· λύκος δὲ λιμώττων καὶ τροφὴν ζητῶν, ὡς περιέτυχε τῷ ἀρότρῳ, τὸ μὲν πρῶτον τὰς τῶν ταύρων ζεύγλας περιέλειχε, λαθὼν δὲ κατὰ μικρόν, ἐπειδὴ καθῆκε τὸν αὐχένα, ἀνασπᾶν μὴ δυνάμενος, ἐπὶ τὴν ἄρουραν τὸ ἄροτρον [to arotron] ἔσυρεν. Ὁ δὲ ἀρότης ἐπανελθὼν καὶ θεασάμενος αὐτὸν ἔλεγεν· Εἴθε γὰρ, ὦ κακὴ κεφαλή, καταλιπὼν τὰς ἁρπαγὰς καὶ τὸ ἀδικεῖν ἐπὶ τὸ γεωπονεῖν τραπείης.

Οὕτως οἱ πονηροὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, κἂν χρηστότητα ἐπαγγέλλωνται, διὰ τὸν τρόπον οὐ πιστεύονται.

The plowman, and the wolf

A plowman loosed his oxen from the yoke and led them away to be watered. Meanwhile, a hungry wolf, who was looking for something to eat, discovered the plow and started to lick the yoke straps where the oxen had been tied. The unsuspecting wolf slowly but surely slipped his neck beneath the yoke, until he was not able to pull it back out. He then started dragging the plow along the furrow. When the plowman came back and saw what had happened, he said, 'O you wicked creature, if only you would give up your life of theft and crime in order to devote yourself entirely to farming!'

The same is true of wicked people: even when they promise to be on their good behavior, no one believes them because of their bad habits.

Although Aesop/Αίσωπος could never have imagined this in his time, it so happens that his tale fits like a glove some people in Skopje who try to steal the history and culture of others, further south. What instead they achieve is to simply lick off some traces of the taste of that culture, escaping the true essence of it. What started as a simple lie, for internal consumption, to help bring some pride to their people in the attempt to redirect their "false" ethnic identity (Serb, Bulgarian, Greek, Vlach, etc) they ended up like Aesop's wolf, traped in the yoke of their own lies, trying to defend the usurption of a culture that belongs to the Greek Macedonians, in Historic Macedonia. What would the world think is some Caucasian Turkmen would claim Dostojevski and Tolstoy and Alexander Nevski as being their countrymen, and not being Russian? This is precisely the case with the so called "makedonski Macedonians of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Makedonija, FYROM: they are fast achieving world wide ridicule by claiming that Alexander the Great and Aristotle and Homer were Makedonski Slavs. They end up with "empty" names, words whose meaning is alien to them, words like Arotos that have absolutely zero connection to their Slavic dialect, no matter how much tongue twisting professor Donski applies to them trying to make Staro/Старo=old to fit into a pseudolinguistic mold of Arotos/Ἀρoτoς.

Let us keep these two words from Aesop for now:

Ἀρότης / Arotes = the plowman τὸ ἄροτρον / to arotron = the plow

The word arotes, the plowman, was also used as a first name in ancient Greece. Here is an example from an incription from some PanHellenic games held in the Thessalian city of Larissa:

Regions : Central Greece (IG VII-IX) : Thessaly (IG IX,2)

IG IX,2 526 IG IX,2 525 IG IX,2 526a

Pelasgiotis — Larisa — after 196 BC

Ἀ]ρότης Ἀρότου Θάσιος.


Ἰσίδικος Μνασικλέους Κυμαῖος.



Διονύσιος Ἡροφίλου Μάγνης ἀπὸ Μαιάνδρου.

παῖδας πανκρατίου·

Δημήτριος Δημητρίου Συρακόσιος.


Ἀριστόδημος Νικομένους Θ{ι}ηβαῖος {²⁶Θηβαῖος}²⁶.




Arotes son of Arotos, from Thassos


isidikos son of Mnasikles, from Cyme.



Dionysios son of Herophilos a Magnetan from Maiandros

children, pangration (boxing)

Demetrios son of Demetrios, from Syracuse


Aristodemos son of Nikodemos from Thebes.




We see two different forms of essentially the same name: Arotes/Ἀρότης and his patronym (in genitive form) Arotou/Ἀρότου=Arotos.

The very same name appears inscribed on a handle of an amphora jug, from the Greek city of Histria/Ιστρίη, in today's Romania. The amphora's owner made sure nobody steals it from him, so he scratched his name on the handle: Ἀρ|ότεω/Aroteou (Belonging to Arotos)

Regions : Thrace and the Lower Danube (IG X) : Scythia Minor

Histria VIII,1 558

Stamp of the eponym Arotes. Thasian amphora handle.

Scythia Minor [Thasos] — Istros-Histria — Histria Pod — ca. 329-326 BC

Ἀρότεω. Aroteou.

The word arotron for plow is also encountered in the original text of the Christian bible. When a man told Christ in Luke (9.61-62) that he is ready to follow him, Jesus replied that he should be looking ahead, not back: a complete and immediate break with his past what was expected of him:

Εἶπε δὲ καὶ ἕτερος· Ἀκολουθήσω σοι, Κύριε· πρῶτον δὲ ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀποτάξασθαι τοῖς εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου. 62 εἶπε δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς αὐτόν· Οὐδεὶς ἐπιβαλὼν τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἐπ´ ἄροτρον [arotron] καὶ βλέπων εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω εὔθετός ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.
Κατἀ Λουκάν 9.61-62

And another also said, Lord, I will follow you; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 9.61-62

ἄροτρον/arotron=plough, plow

If anyone is wondering how why the New Testament was written in Greek and how Greek ended up being the lingua Franca of the ancient world, especially in the near and middle East, it is the Macedonians that made it so. They exported their Greek language and culture and made them part of the Asian and African cultural landscape, starting from the European river shores of the Danube to the river shores of the Indus and the Nile. This is how the Christian religion ended up adopting Greek as its language of propagation, since most Jews had already adopted it in the Hellenistic times, becoming deficient by then in their native Aramaic or Hebrew. Palestine, Judea, Syria, Egypt and Asia Minor became Greek speaking territories after Alexander conquered them, in the same way Gallia/France and Hispania/Espana/Spain became Latin speaking territories after the Latin-speaking Romans conquered them.
The Slavs had to wait for another 950 years before two Greek monks Constantinos-Cyrillos and Methodios from Thessalonike, on an official mission from Byzantium had to be sent to Moravia (now the Czech republic) and translate the bible from Koine Greek/Κοινή Ελληνική into Old Church Slavonic/Cтарославянский Язык.
Aρόω/arroo is a verb (future tense αρόσω/aroso, spelled also as: αρώσω and αρόσσω, aor. ἤροσα and it means to plough, to till, occasionally also: to sow. Metaphorically it can also be used of a man, meaning the impregnator, as in the example given in our dictionary: ten tekousan erosen/τήν τεκούσαν ἤροσεν:

τί γὰρ κακῶν ἄπεστι; τὸν πατέρα πατὴρ
ὑμῶν ἔπεφνε: τὴν τεκοῦσαν ἤροσεν[erosen],
ὅθεν περ αὐτὸς ἐσπάρη,
Σοφοκλέους, Οιδίπους Τύραννος 1485
Is any evil missing? Your father his father
killed: he tilled the one who gave birth
where he himself was sown.
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1485

Oedipus, as we remember was a man who unknowingly had killed his father and married his own mother.

From Aroo/Aρόω to plow, we have the word Αroter/Ἀρoτήρ meaning the plowman, whose synonym we encountered earlier as Ἀρότης/Arotes. The same word is also found as:


This is the word which professor Aleksandar Donski reminds us the "ancient Macedonians used as an epithet to the god Heracles". So far so good. He then continues: "Its etymology is undetermined to-date...": here now we must disagree, since what might be unintelligible to a Serb and/or Bulgarian speaking professor from FYROM who has no training in the classics, is fairly easily understood by even an untrained in the Classics average Greek Macedonian farmer who goes to the market to buy an arotron/άροτρον to pull behind his tractor. For a locally produced arotron/plow, this same farmer can go to a dealer of the largest company in Greece producing them whose factory is located right there in historic Macedonia, in northern Greece; more specifically at the village Lakoma, in Chalkidice, very close to Thessalonike:
Biomechania Αrotron Afoi Sarapanoi O.E. is the (transliterated into Latin) name of the arotra producing company in Greek:
Plaughs IndustrySarapanis Bros, S.A. http://www.sarapanis.gr/

But professor Donski is not aware of this, all he wants to "prove" is that the Slavs and the Albanians, the Turks and the Bulgarians and Serbs who live in FYROM are actually direct descendants of the ancient Macedonians, and that the Greek Macedonians do not belong in Macedonia. To him, as to all the apologists of the pseudo-makedonist regime in Skopje, the Macedonian Greeks are the "intruders" that need to be pushed out of northern Greece, the historic land of the ancient Macedonians.

So he continues: "however if the suffix "s" [He means the ending "s" in Arotos] is deleted this word is practically identical with the adjective "aroto" - "the old one" (archaism to a degree) from the present Macedonian language."
We need make note of the contents in parenthesis: "(archaism to a degree)", tells us Aleksandar Donski. This is the falsifier's disclaimer: He cannot prove it, therefore he tells us that it is an "archaism"..."to a degree".
I will not even argue to what degree. All I want to know is, IF it is an archaism, I need to see the proof: where is it written on a Slavonic text, not just on a Slavomacedonian text, a language or a dialect which has only been codified into a language in 1945, but in ANY Slavonic text, of ANY Slavonic language, in ANY area, ANY historic era, ANY text where "aroto", in Slavonic, EVEN as an archaism, means "old".
It is getting very tiring for us to hear all sorts of outrageous and outlandish claims coming out of Skopian falsifiers of legitimate Macedonian history who casually make these pronouncements without any grain of documentation to back them up.

We are not expecting professor Donski or any Skopjan propagandist to come up with the documentation, for if they had it they would have produced it. We need to find the truth or falacity of his claims ourselves. Let us look briefly for what is the word for "old" in the modern Slavic languages:

Belarusian: стары (stari) and as старо (staro) within a larger word, such as: старобелорусскими/starobeloruskimi: Old Belorussian.

Bosnian: star

Bulgarian: стар (star) but also старо- (staro-) within a larger word.

Czech: starý and staro- within a larger word.

Croatian: star and staro- within a larger word.

Polish: stary, and staro- within a larger word.

Russian: старый (starie) and старо (staro) within a larger word.

Serbian: стар (star)

Slavomacedonian: стар (star) but also старо- (staro-) within a larger word.

Slovak: starý and also (staro-) within a larger word

Slovene: star and also(staro-) within a larger word

Ukrainian: старий (Starie) but also старо (staro)within a larger word.

This is strange: the word for "old" in ALL the Slavic languages is everywhere старо/staro or a close derivative of it. It changes only slightly from one language to another. So, then, where does professor Donski find his "aroto"? While many Slavic languages do not use an article, the Slavomacedonians do, and it is the same as in Greek: "to", the difference being that while Greeks use the article in the beginning of the word, and it is a separate word, in Slavomacedonian it is attached at the end of the noun:

Where a Greek would say:

palaio: old

to palaio: the old

a Slavomacedonians will say:

staro: old,

staroto: old the (meaning: "the old")

Staro-to, is not Arotos though. How can we be so sure? Because if professor Donski was right, and "aroto" - "the old one"" was simply an "(archaism to a degree)", then it would have appeared as such in one or more other Slavic languages. As we saw though, they all use "staro" for old, without changes. Words do not usually drop from the sky: they develop, or sometimes they are borrowed. None of above is true with "staro", as we see: it has remained unchanged from Old Church Slavonic (OCL) to today, in ALL the Slavic languages.

When A.Donski tells us that "this word is practically identical with the adjective "aroto" - "the old one" (archaism to a degree) from the present Macedonian language" he has to explain how and why it is an "archaism", what was the original form from which the later developed and how this "archaism" relates to what he calls "the present Macedonian language". We hear none of that. Yet he wrote a whole book trying to convince his receptive readers of the alleged "Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today's Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)". He even had willing accomplices who gleefully translated the professors pronouncements into English for the American, Canadian and Australian Slavomacedonian expatriate community's second generation.

Unfortunately for them, absolutely no connection can be made between "staroto" and Arotos: the nut does not match the bolt, as even professor Dosnki agrees with us: "According to a legend Heracles was considered to be the oldest ascendant of the Macedonians. Can the answer for the etymology of the word "arotos" be located in this legend, by referring to Heracles as "the old one" or "aroto(s)?"". When you are certain of something you do not put a question mark at the end of such a statement. But when you know that you are treading on very thin ice, and your task is to simply create a nationalistic mythology, for your Balkan nation in search of a new identity, then you use a question mark, to salvage some of your professorial self worth.

Ἀροτήρ besides plougher/plower and husbandman has a second, metaphorical meaning as "begeter, father" according to Liddell & Scott Greek English Lexicon.

We remember Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus, 1485:

ten tekousan erosen/τήν τεκούσαν ἤροσεν/he tilled the one who gave birth

Now Sophocles' poetry makes a lot more sense: In a less poetic way, Sophocles could have also said more plainly: He fathered children from the one whom he got pregnant.

Let us now take a closer look at the word "arotos". We open the Liddell & Scott Greek English Lexicon and we read:

Ἀρoτoς [ᾶ], o, corn field,... 2. crop,...3. tillage, ploughing,... 4. metaph., procreation of children, ὀ ἀροτος ο εν γυναικί Pl. cra.406b;παίδων ἐπ΄ἀρότωι γνησίων, in Athen. marriage-contracts, etc.

Explanation number four is what catches our attention: Arotos, metaphorically means "the one who procreates children", who impregnates the woman, who fathers his own genuine children (παίδων ἐπ΄ἀρότωι γνησίων/paidon ep' arotoi gnesion, i.e. the woman has not slept with another man that same time, these are his own children, carrying his seed and genes).

On a funerary inscription from Rome of the 3rd c AD, we read the dedication the children of a man named Eutonios wrote in honor of their father:

Regions : Sicily, Italy, and the West (IG XIV) :

Italy, incl. Magna Graecia IGUR III 1218

Italia — Roma — 3rd c. AD — IG XIV 1615 — GVI 2054

τὸν σοφίης προὔχοντα

καὶ εὐτεκνίης ἀροτῆρα,

τὸν πατέρ´ ἡμέτερον

πολλοῖσι χρόνοις γεγαῶτα,


τὸν τρὶς ἀριστεύσαντα

σὺν ἐντείμοισι φίλοισι

Εὐτόνιοι παῖδες πατέρ´

Εὐτόνιον τεθνεῶτα

πολλάκις ὑμνήσωμεν


ἐναὶ στήλαισι γραφέντα.

To the one who always offered wisdom

and begeter of a multitude of children

(καὶ εὐτεκνίης ἀροτῆρα / kai euteknies arotera)

our father

who lived many years

who thrice won the highest price

among honorable friends

we, Eutonios' children to our father

Eutonios whom we will

praise multiple times

inscribing his image on the stela

The Macedonian dynasty descended from Argos. The first Macedonian king was Caranos the son of the king of Argos Temenos. Temenos in turn was the son of Aristomachos, Herakles´ great-grandson. Aristomachos was the one who led the Heraclidae and the Dorians (Herodotus tells us that the Dorians were originally part of the Macedonian tribes) when the Dorians invaded the Peloponnese. This is the reasons the Macedonian kings claimed to be Temenidae, and Argaeadae, but also Heraclidae. Alexander the Great named his firstborn son, by the beautiful Persian Barsine, Heracles.

It has been said that one of Alexander's great motives and one of the driving forces behind all his actions, was the attempt to surpass the deeds and the glory of his two divine progenitors: Achilles from his mother's side and Heracles from his father's side. The capture of Aornos Petra, an impossibly strong fortified position on a mountaintop now called Pir-Sar, in northern Pakistan, was a case in point, where Alexander surpasses his own progenitor for this was a rock that even Heracles did not succeed in capturing:

ἀπολιπόντες τὰς πόλεις ξύμπαντες ἔφευγον ἐς τὴν πέτραν τὴν ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τὴν Ἄορνον καλουμένην. Μέγα γάρ τι τοῦτο χρῆμα πέτρας ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ ταύτῃ ἐστί, καὶ λόγος ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς κατέχει οὐδὲ Ἡρακλεῖ τῷ Διὸς ἁλωτὸν γενέσθαι τὴν πέτραν.

For all the inhabitants deserted the cities and began to flee to the rock which is in their land, and is called Aornus. For stupendous is this rock in this land, about which the current report is, that it was found impregnable even by Heracles, the son of Zeus.

Arrian, Alexander Anabasis,

As it turns out, Aornus was associated in local tradition with Krishna, and the Greeks immediately made the identification with his Greek counterpart, Heracles. As it was proven in Aornus, what was impossible to Heracles was now possible to Alexandros:

εἴχετό τε Ἀλεξάνδρῳ ἡ πέτρα ἡ τῷ Ἡρακλεῖ ἄπορος γενομένη

and thus the rock which had been inexpugnable to Heracles was occupied by Alexander.

Arrian, Alexander Anabasis, XXVIII

The coin decorating the begining of this article is a Macedonian Hemiobolos/Ημιόβολος, issued by Alexandros III/Αλέξανδρος Γ', Alexander the Great. He is portrayed as a young Heracles, wearing the characteristic lion skin cup, made of the hide of the lion of Nemea, as worn by Heracles. On the reverse side we see Heracles' weapons: his club and his bow and quiver of arrows, as well as Zeus's thunderbolt. Between Heracles' club and his quiver we see the inscription in Greek: ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ-ALEXANDROY (Alexander's name in genitive form): belonging to Alexandros. This imagery of Alexander as another Heracles was part of an orchestrated deification propaganda on the part of Alexander. Alexander's attempt at deification, while he was still alive (Greeks had no qualms about deifying someone after his death) had already started by the grateful Greek cities of Ionia, whom Alexander had liberated from the Persians. On the other hand, it truly irritated some other descendants of Heracles, the Dorian cousins of the Macedonians, the Spartans. When in 324 BC word from Babylon got to the Spartans that Alexander was asking of the Greek city states to pass a formal decree on the deification of king Alexandros, son of Zeus, the Spartans were not amused. Damis, a Spartan , spitefully declared:

"Συγχωρώμεν Αλεξάνδρω, εάν θέλει, Θεός καλείσθαι!" Πλουτάρχου, Ηθικά

"We grand to Alexandros, if he so wishes, to call himself a God." Plutarch, Moralia

Whether the Spartans liked it or not, they knew they shared the common descent from Heracles with all other Dorians and the Macedonians. Heracles, was considered to be the divine progenitor of Dorians and Macedonians and this was accepted in the common mythology of all the all other Greeks too.

To the Greek speaking Macedonians Heracles was the Tiller-Begeter, Heracles the Founding Father, Heracles the γενάρχης/Genarch of their Makedne tribe. He was Heracles the Progenitor-Father-Procreator of the Macedonians.
He was: Ἠρακλής Ἀροτος - Heracles Arotos!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Macedonian names and makeDonski pseudo-linguistics: The case of the names Mantas and Manta

Miltiades Elia Bolaris

To παρών άρθρο είχε πρωτοεμφανιστεί στο Αμέρικαν Κρόνικλ, στις 06 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2009

Balkan Illusion - phantasia archaica:
"Manta. The noun "mantija", that exists in the present day Macedonian language represents a type of long garment. In 19th century Macedonia one finds the same female name Manta." Quote was taken from: "Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today´s´ Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)" by Aleksandar Donski, celebrity "historian" and propagandist of pseudo-Makedonism from FYROM.

Manta/Μάντα - Mantas/Μάντας

The name Manta / Μαντα for female and Mantas / Μαντας for male is not very well known. We were not able to find any mention of this name in any literary or historical document and not a single known person in ancient history is known to have it. But when we search the ancient Greek epigraphic record it comes up as a rather well attested name, in certain areas.

The first inscription we located is from Thessalonike:

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia : Mygdonia

IG X,2 1 846, Makedonia (Mygdonia) — Thessalonike — 1st c. AD

Ἀγάθων ∙ Διοσκουρίδου ∙ ἥρως ∙ Διοσκουρίδης ∙ Δρυλεους

καὶ Μαντα ∙ Ἀγάθωνος ∙ τῶι τέκνωι.

Agathon son of Dioskourides hero. Dioskourides son of Dryalos

and Manta daughter of Agathon to their children.

The mention of Hero, of the well established Thracian hero cult, especially in the part of Macedonia that used to be Thrace, makes us immediately aware of the fact that the persons of the inscription have a Thracian set or religious beliefs on the afterlife. Let us keep this in mind. The rest of the names are Greek, except Manta, whose etymology at the moment escapes us.

The next inscription is also from Thessalonike:

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia : Mygdonia

IG X,2 1 307, Makedonia (Mygdonia) — Thessalonike — 3rd c. AD — Grabdenkmäler mit Porträts (1998) 81, 90

Αὐρήλιος Διονύσις ὁ κὲ Στυνδηρας καὶ Αὐρηλία Μαντα

ἡ σύμβιος τῷ εἰδίῳ τέκνῳ μνείας χάριν.

Aurelius Dionysis also known as Stynderas and Aurelia Manta

his wife to their own child in memory's grace.

Here the situation is a bit complicated but explainable: The Latin names Aurelios / Aurelia means that we have a husband, Stynderas and his wife,Manta, both obviously of Thracian descent, who are Roman citizens. The husband uses also a Greek name by which he contacts himself in the Greek speaking Thessalonican society: Dionysis. Small details like this speak volumes about what was the dominant culture and language of ancient Macedon, even among the ethnic minorities of the era, like the Thracians and Paeonians.

The next inscription is from Berrhoia, a city in Northern Greece, known from the New Testament as on of the Macedonian cities that St. Paul visited:

EKM 1. Beroia 142, Macedonia : Bottiaia: Beroia

Πόντιος Ῥεκέπτου̣

Ἀπολλόδωρος Μάντας

Φίλιππος Φιλίππου

Pontios son of Rekeptos

Apollodoros son of Mantas

Philippos son of Philippos.

Pontios, Apollodoros and Philippos are Greek names. The patronyms Rekeptas and Mantas are not.

From Edonis, by the Pangaion mountain, in the modern prefecture of Serres, Macedonia, Greece, come the next two tombstones with the ages of the deceased and their names. The first one is Mantas son of Mestes and the person in the second inscription is Mantas son of Dionysios.

Dodone 18 159

Macedonia : Edonis: Philippoi: Rodolivos

ἔτους σιϛʹ, μηνὸς Ἀρτ-

εμεσίου κηʹ. Μαντας Με-

στου ἐτῶν με·


Dodone 18 160

Macedonia : Edonis: Philippoi: Rodolivos

ἔτ]ους ενσʹ, [Δεί]-

ο]υ ζʹ. Μαντα[ς Διο]-

νυσίου ἐτῶν

West of Thessaloniki is the recently excavated Thrako-Macedonian city of Kalindoia/Καλίνδοια:

Meletemata 11 K9, Macedonia : Mygdonia: Kalindoia


Σύρος Μάντας,

Κότυς Καρβερένθου,


Syros Mantas

Kotys son of Karberenthos

Except for Dioskourides (the son of Zeus) and Syros (the Syrian), the other two are Thracian names. Kotys is a name of several famous Thracians with at least five known Thracian kings bearing the name Kotys. It is also part of the name of the Roman emperor Hadrian/Adrianus/Ανδριανος, who was a Thracian by descent. Karberenthos has a very Thracian ending: "-kenthos", "the child of". Karberenthes simply means "the child of Karberes".

From ancient Paionia, in today's FYROM, comes the next inscription:

Spomenik 71 (1931) 68,151

Macedonia : Paionia: Kavadarci

Ἀ]λέξανδρος Μάντας

ἀ]νέθηκεν ἡαυτο̑ ζ[ῶν]

Alexandros son of Mantas

dedicated while still alive (meaning that he had his funerary monument done and erected before he had died)

Finally in the island of Samothrace in the North Aegean, we find a thanks-giving inscription dedicated to the sanctuary of the Great Gods Kaveiroi by a group of liberated ex-slaves:

IG XII,8 195, Northern Aegean (IG XII,8): Samothrace

Γλαυκίας Γλαυκίου· Διο-

νύσιος, Μαντᾶς, ἀπελεύθε-

ρ]οι· Βῖθυς Γλαυκίου, Κότυς

Glaukias son of Glaukias Dio-

nysios, Mantas, emancipated

freemen. Bithys son of Glaukias, Kotys

The names, as expected for names of emancipated slaves, are mixed: either Greek (Dionysios, Glaukias) or Thracian (Bithys, Kotys).

Searching through the epigraphic record for the name Mantas we notice that in this format it is concentrated in a fairly compact land, that used to be either Thrace or Paeonia, and but later was incorporated into the Macedonia state. Obviously many of the Thracians and Paeonians who remained living there, whether free men, slaves or emancipated freemen (apeleutheroi) still used their Thracian names or patronyms along with Greek and later Roman names too (Roman names only if were granted the Roman citizenship).

Leaving antiquity for a moment, we take a forward journey into the 20th century and read about a legendary modern Greek poet: Costas Varnalis/Κωστας Βαρναλης was born in Burgas (Pyrgos/Πυργος in Greek) of Bulgaria, in 1884. His family's roots were from Varna as his last name implies. He studied in the Greek community schools of Bulgaria, in Pyrgos/Burgas and in Philipoupolis/Plovdiv, before continuing his studies in Athens and in Paris. In Paris he became a Marxist and joined the communist movement, which, along with poems like the one below, cost him his professorship in 1926. He received the Lenin prize of USSR for literature in 1959, after being awarded three years earlier the highest price of the Company of Hellenic Writers. He died in 1974.

We read parts of one of his poems, "The balad of sir-Mentios / Ἡ μπαλάντα τοῦ κυρ-Μέντιου". Kyr- / Κυρ- acts as a short version of Kyrios/Κυριος, meaning a Lord, a Sir. "The ballad of sir-Mentios" is a poem about a donkey named Kyr-Mentios. This donkey is suffering all his life, toiling, beaten to submission, exploited by his boss, praying to the higher powers, being told to hope for a better tomorrow in afterlife, always working and following orders: Kyr-Mentios is the "eternal Symbol", as Varnalis calls him, of the toiling and exploited masses of the working class:

Kyr-Mentios complains:

"Daily work, toiling for others while

everyone is beating me: bosses and slaves..."

and then:

"Up the village, down the village

going up and coming down

during heat and during rain

till no strength is left in me..."

Praying to God:

"Save sir-Mentios, the old fellow,

from the injustice of his boss..."

But the poet urges Kyr-Mentios to revolt:

"If you want justice my dear

through the right of war's might

you will find it. Who desires

freedom takes a sword!"

And Varnalis continues:

"Come on you victim, you big fool,

come on, eternal Symbol you!

Once you wake up, at once the

world will turn upside-down..."

Kyr-Mentios/Κυρ-Μεντιος/Sir-Mentios or Lord Mentios is the generic name that Greeks lovingly use when referring to a particular donkey, any specific donkey, in the same way that Americans use "Fido" as the generic name for a dog. What most modern Greeks do not seem to realize is how ancient the colloquial "Kyr-Mentios" donkey name is and how intricately woven it is into our ancient Greek and indeed our prehistoric Indo-European roots.

When a visitor to Olympia goes into the Museum, he is awestruck by the raw expressive power of one of the lightest-footed sculptures ever created in marble. It is a statue of Victory: Nike of Paionios/Νίκη του Παιονίου, as it is known, was created between 425-421 b.C. It was a votive offering to Olympian Zeus by the grateful Messenians and Naupactians after their victory over the Spartans at Sphacteria in 425 b.C. (It is shown above, in the beginning of this article).

Nike, her drapes sensuously revealing the contours of her divine body are flowing behind her as she seems ready to step out and fly into thin air, away from her pedestal. Her pedestal has the votive inscription and the name of the creator: ΠΑΙΩΝΙΟΣ ΕΠΟΙΗΣΕ ΜΕΝΔΑΙΟΣ/PAIONIOS EPOIESE MENDAIOS: Paionios created this, the Mendaian.
["ΜΕΣΣΑΝΙΟΙ ΚΑΙ ΝΑΥΠΑΚΤΙΟΙ ΑΝΕΘΕΝ ΔΙΙ ΟΛΥΜΠΙΩ ΔΕΚΑΤΑΝ ΑΠΟ ΤΩΝ ΠΟΛΕΜΙΩΝ (...) ΠΑΙΩΝΙΟΣ ΕΠΟΙΗΣΕ ΜΕΝΔΑΙΟΣ ΚΑΙ Τ΄ΑΚΡΩΤΗΡΙΑ ΠΟΙΩΝ ΕΠΙ ΤΟΝ ΝΑΟΝ ΕΝΙΚΑ" - This work was dedicated by the Messenians and the Naupactians to Olympian Zeus as tithe for the spoils of war (...) It was made by Paeoniοs from Mende who was distinguished as the contest winner for the making of the akroteria for the temple)]

We know the name of the sculptor, Paeonios/Παιόνιος, and the city where he was from: Mende/Μενδη, a town in Chalcidice/Χαλκιδικη, in the north part of Greece: Macedonia/Μακεδονια.

On an inscription from Torone, a city in the Sithonia peninsula of Chalkidike, we read the plight of a merchant-less merchant who sent a letter to his commercial associate:

SEG 43:488 Macedonia : Chalkidike: Torone

․․․․]τος Τεγέαι χαίρειν· [ξύ]λα οὐκ ἔχω ἐμ Μ̣[ένδηι(?)][ὠνε]ῖσθαι· σὺ δὴ ἀπόστειλον ἡμῖν εὐ̣[θέως] εἰ πλο[ῖον ἔχεις],

tos to Tegaia rejoicing. Wood

I do not have in Mende

to sell. And you therefore must send to us

immediately, if you have a boat,

On another inscription from the middle of the fifth century, this time from Athens, which enumerates a number of allied Greek city states, and among other cities, we also find:

Regions : Attica (IG I-III) : Attica

IG I³ 264, Att. — stoich. — 448/7

Σκαβλαῖοι / Skavlaioi

Μεδαῖοι / Mendaioi

Κύθνιοι / Cythnioi

Καρύστιοι / Carystioi

This, in adittion to such other cities as the cities of the

Μυκόνιοι / Myconioi, Θάσιοι / Thassioi, Ἀθεναῖοι / Athenaioi, Βυζάντιοι / Byzantioi, Χαλκιδε̑ς / Chalkides, Νεοπολῖται / Neapolitai...

Mende, as we mentioned earlier, was a city in Chalkidike. In ancient times, Chalcidice was part of Thrace until Philip II's Macedonians moved in and took over it. But before the Macedonians, other Greeks mostly from Euboia and especially from Chalkis (hence the name Chalcidice) begun around the 8th century BC to settle in the area. They slowly established themselves and founded cities such as Mende, Torone, Scione, and Stageira the birthplace of Aristotle. Some sources mention Aristotle's father, Nicomachos / Νικομαχος although a Stageiran by descent was actually said to have been born in Mende.

The main export of Mende was wine, and not just any wine: white wine. It is difficult for us today to believe it, but in ancient times, there was no such a thing as anything but red wine. White wine was first produced and sold by the citizens of Mende, and wine lovers around the world sipping their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling or Pinot Gris, have none other than the Mendaioi to thank for it.

The coins of Mende proudly displayed their vines and the God of wine and drunkenness, Dionyssos himself. Traditionally, when Dionyssos was shown in the presence of an animal he was usually siting on a panther. Curiously, and exceptionally on Mende's coins Dionyssos is always portrayed laying on the back of a donkey. And this is Mende's second claim to fame: Her donkeys. Mende was known for her special race of Mendian donkeys, famous around the ancient world, and always displayed on her coins, even when no Dionyssos or vines were to be seen on them. The donkey as it is apparent, was the symbol of Mende. In fact the identification of the city of Mende with her symbol, the donkey was so strong to the other Greeks, that as we saw earlier in Varnalis's poem, every donkey in now modern Greece is called the Lord from Mende, a Kyr-Mentios (Kyr-Mendios)/Sir-Mendios/Κυρ-Μεντιος.

Going back now to Byzantium, find Procopius of Caesaria / Προκόπιος ο Καισαριας. He was a 6th cAD historian who wrote extensively on the reign of Justinian, emperor of Byzantium, the Eastern Roman empire. Procopius (Procopii opera omnia VI. De aedificiis / Περι Κτισματων, VI) mentions a place in Mysoia called Mούνδεπα or Μάνδεπα where Justinian had built a castle. The etymology is a combination of the word that created the toponym Mende in Chalcidice and the ending "-apa".

The original form of the name is *Μένδαπα : Μένδη + -απα. Apa means "river" in Thracian "Apa, aphus ´water, river; a spring´ [Old-Pruss. ape ´river´, apus ´spring´, Old-Ind. p- ´water´]". And also:

"upa ´river´ [Lith. ùp ´river´, Latv. upe ´river, stream´]. And we see this word also as an ending of hydronyms like apa, aphus ´water, river; a spring´ [Old-Pruss. ape ´river´, apus ´spring´, Old-Ind. p- ´water´]" and also: upa ´river´ [Lith. ùp ´river´, Latv. upe ´river, stream´]", according to Ivan Duridanov ("The Language of the Thracians"). He mentions as examples *M sypa/Μόσυπα (´mossy river´), Rhodópe/Rhodopa/Ροδόπη/(Θρακιστί Ροδόπα, which is now a name for a mountain range but it started as a hydronym for a river, a tributary of Ebros) and further north, in Upper Mysia we locate Zaldapa/Ζάλδαπα.

(http://www.xanthi.ilsp.gr/thraki/history/afm.asp?afm=BK6064 and V.Besevliev "Zur Deutung der Kastellnamen in Prokops Werk De aedificiis ´´, Amsterdam, 1970

So, now we know that Mandepa or Mendapa means river of something, of "mende". Yet we still do not know what Mende the name of the city or mende of Mendapa means, to explain both of them. We need to dig even further.

It is well known that the Thracian language is an extinct language surviving only in hydronyms, toponyms and scattered words and names, mostly from Greek inscriptions and Greek literary references. Hardly any Thracian inscriptions have survived, and of the three or four worthy of the name one is of interest to us. It is the inscription in the Thracian language on a golden ring found close to Philippoupolis / Plovdiv, at the village of Duvanli. It dates to the 5th century BC. The inscription is not complete, since only 16 of the original 21 letters are legible. In the middle of the ring there is an image of a Thracian horseman. The inscription reads:


The famous Bulgarian linguist and philologist Vladimir I. Georgiev interpreted the Duvanli inscription as follows:

eys, ie ....dele, mezenai.

"(You) powerful, help … protect, (you) horseman!"

Ivan Duridanov tells us that: "The image of the horseman clarifies the word mezena as meaning ´a horseman´. The Thracian mezena (mezenai in the text) is almost identical to the name (the epithet) of the Messapian deity of (Iuppiter) Menzana, the "horse deity" to which were sacrificed horses. It also corresponds to the Albanian mes, mezi (´a stallion´) and the Romanian menz (´a stallion´). The latter is Dacian in origin from the IE *mend(i)- ´a horse´. The Thracian mezena and the Messapian Menzana – from the IE *mendiana mean ´a horseman´."

There are two modern languages that are directly derived from Dacian (the ancient language of the Dacians, the language most closely related to Thracian): Romanian and Albanian. Romanian is considered to be a fully Latinized Dacian and Albanian is essentially a partially Latinized Dacian language, according to most linguists. Both Romanian and Albanian share a base of residual Dacian words. Our Albanian friends who have been hammered by Enver Hoxha's regime propaganda about the "Illyrian descent" of the Albanian people will of course disagree, but the linguistic and historical evidence is there for anyone to check. The Bulgarian linguist Georgiev has indeed done a splendid work explaining this and so has the noted University of Chicago linguist Eric P. Hamp .

We check what Ivan Duridanov tells us and indeed we find that Albanian mës, mëzi, mëz, mâz means "pony" or "colt" in Albanian and mînz or mânz means "stalion" or "colt" in Rumanian.

As it turns out, there was indeed a Menzana Jupiter, a "horse deity" in Messapian, an Illyrian-derived language spoken on the Adriatic shore of Italy, to whom horses were being sacrificed. Manda meant "pony" in Illyrian, and therte was also a city with a horse-related etymology called "Manduria" in Apulia:
According to the Russian Словари и энциклопедии на Академике (Academic Dictionary and Encyclopaedia - http://dic.academic.ru), the original equastrian-related word was *"mandos", and it was in turn related to the toponym mandela in Latium, close to Rome:
Mandela's original meaning was "small stables". The same meaning appears in the Sanskrit word "mandura" which is describing a "stable for horses" and also in the Greek word for stable : "mandra/μάνδρα", a word still used today for animal enclosure.

On the other side of the Mediterranean, at the area where Spain touches France and both are watered by the Atlantic ocean, the Basques speak the only truly indigenous language of Europe. Their Basque language, although not related to Indo-European, has taken in several words from other languages, including Latin, Celtic and Arabic. From the Celtic language the Basques have taken the word "mando", which became incorporated into their language and to them it means "mule".

"If Alb. mëz really joins Basque mando 'mule', as Bari (Hymje 57) has it, then these go with the -st- suffix above."
Eric P. Hamp, "The Position of Albanian", University of Chigaco (Ancient IE dialects, Proceedings of the Conference on IE linguistics held at the UCLA , April 25-27, 1963)

The "Dictionary of Continental Celtic Place-Names" by A. Falileyev, 2007 informs us that "mandu- has an uncertain meaning that probably means "young animal" (OIr menn, W myn young goat, kid? GPC: 2533;

LEIA: -38; cf. Galo-Lat. mannus "smal pony" (cf. Basque mando "mule") se PNRB: 411-12,

IEW: 729 (root *mend- : suck, suckle; young animal?), cf. W. Meid, Die Terminologie von Pferd."


In Pokorny's monumental Indo-European Lexicon (Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, Bern: Francke, 1959, reprinted in 1989), we see that the original meaning was:

"mend-, mond- (mn•d-?) : English meaning: to suck (breast), to feed; breast"

From this it eventually took the meaning of the small suckling animal and in many instances the small horse, which was arguably the most important animal to the Indo-Europeans, and later on to the Thracians, from whom we started.

The originally Thracian and later Greek city of Mende/Μένδη, had a donkey as her symbol and a name to go along with it : Mende/Μένδη : the donkey place.

The Greek settlers probably had no idea that Mende/Μένδη meant "donkey-place" in the language of its previous inhabitants but they still continued stamping the humble donkey on their city's coins: traditions as always are hard to die.

Now let us look at some other inscriptions and see how the name Manta would appear in the epigraphical record in alternate spellings and phonetic developments. We need to keep in mind that the Greek alphabet was not tailored to the Thracian language and some borderline sounds could go either way. An "ae" sound for example could be written either as either as an "a" or an "e". We have the example above of one toponym called alternatively Mούνδεπα/Moundepa, Μάνδεπα/Mandepa or Μένδαπα/Mendapa.

There are three inscriptions from Thracian Moesia and the name Mantas appears here as Mentes/Μέντης. It is actually very close phonetically to the town's name: Mende/Μένδη ("d" is pronounced as "t" ). The other difference of course is that Mende/Μένδη is feminine while Mentes/Μέντης, being masculine takes an "s" in the end.

IGBulg I² 47(2)

Thrace and Moesia Inferior

Αὐρ(ήλιος) Θιας Ἑστιαίου

Αὐρ(ήλιος) Μέντης Ἀγαθήνορος

Ἰούλιος Ἀντώνιος

Aurelios Thias son of Estiaios

Aurelios Mentes son of Agathenor.

Ioulios Antonios

The names Aurelios and Ioulios are of course Latin, but here we see them Hellenized. In a Greek speaking country such as Macedonia, they are being rendered in a Greek form. Aurelios, in order to stay true to the original Aurelius should have been written, transliterated as Αυρηλιους / Aurelious and Iulios in order to stay true to the Latin Iulius should have been transiterated as Ioulious/Ιουλιους. The same holds true for Antonios/Ἀντώνιος. Moreover they are not even written in the Latin script, but in Greek letters. Details like these, as we mentioned earlier, speak louder than whole volumes of books on Macedonia by learned professors who never sat down to learn its Greek language and study its original sourses. Thias, Estiaios and Agathenor are Greek names.

Now let us step back several centuries to a heroic past, to the epic age of Mycenae. Let us follow the Achaean Greeks, on their return to their native cities, after the sack of Troy, early in the 12th century. Some made it safely some not, some wandered in the sea from place to place, like Odysseus, before their eventual return home. In the first book of Odyssey, Homer speaks of Athena (Αθηνη in the text) disguised as a tin merchant, sailing across the "wine dark sea" to land of the river "Temeses", today's Thames, in Britain (although most scholars locate that in Northern Italy) to barter copper for iron. On his way to what is now England he stops by Ithaca and talks to Menelaos, Odysseus' son. But he is no ordinary merchant, as we already know, he is "Glaucopis [blue-green eyed] Goddess Athene" herself /θεά, γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη, in disguise. This is how Homer tells it:

"τοιγὰρ ἐγώ τοι ταῦτα μάλ᾽ ἀτρεκέως ἀγορεύσω.

Μέντης Ἀγχιάλοιο δαΐφρονος εὔχομαι εἶναι

υἱός, ἀτὰρ Ταφίοισι φιληρέτμοισιν ἀνάσσω.

νῦν δ᾽ ὧδε ξὺν νηὶ κατήλυθον ἠδ᾽ ἑτάροισιν

πλέων ἐπὶ οἴνοπα πόντον ἐπ᾽ ἀλλοθρόους ἀνθρώπους,

ἐς Τεμέσην μετὰ χαλκόν, ἄγω δ᾽ αἴθωνα σίδηρον."

Ομηρου Οδυσεια, Α, 179-184

"To you I will indeed speak openly.

I can tell you that my name is Mentes,

son of the wise Anchialus, and king

of the oar-loving Taphians. I've come,

as you surmise, with comrades on a ship,

sailing across the wine-dark sea to men

whose style of speech is very different,

on my way to Temese for copper,

and carrying a freight of shining iron.

Homer Odyssey, Book I, 179-184

Here now we have Homer, putting down in rhymes in the 8th century or earlier, epic legends sung for four centuries before him, mentioning Mentes. Βut this Mentes is not from Thrace. He is from the island of Taphos/Τάφος in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Acarnania in western Greece. It is the home of the pirates and merchants Taphians/Τάφιοι. The Taphians are also mentioned by Euripides in Iphenigea at Aulis (Eur. IA 277) who tells us that The Taphians live by the Echinades/Εχιναδες islands :

Αἰνιάνων δὲ δωδεκάστολοι

νᾶες ἦσαν, ὧν ἄναξ

Γουνεὺς ἆρχε: τῶνδε δ᾽ αὖ πέλας

280Ἤλιδος δυνάστορες,

οὓς Ἐπειοὺς ὠνόμαζε πᾶς λεώς:

Εὔρυτος δ᾽ ἄνασσε τῶνδε,

λευκήρετμον δ᾽ Ἄρη

Τάφιον ἦγεν, ὧν Μέγης ἄνασσε,

285Φυλέως λόχευμα,

τὰς Ἐχίνας λιπὼν

νήσους ναυβάταις ἀπροσφόρους.

Moreover there was a squadron of Aenianian sail under King and next the lords of Elis, stationed near'-them, whom all the people named Epeians; and Eurytus was lord of these; likewise he led the Taphian warriors with the white oar-blades, the subjects of Meges, son of Phyleus, who had left the isles of the Echinades, where sailors cannot land.

Taphos has been identified as the island of Meganísi/Μεγανήσι just east of the island of Leucas/Λευκας:


This is far from Thrace, and the Taphians are definately not Thracians. They are Greeks in speech, otherwise they would not speak of the ancient Brittons (or North Italians if you prefer) as "men whose style of speech is very different". Therefore, we must assume that the name Mentes as a colt-derived name which must have existed in the Greek language too, as a cognate to the Thracian. The Greek word mantra/μάντρα (with numerous toponyms Mantra/Μαντρα, Mandra/Μάνδρα and Mantraki/Μαντράκι, Mandraki/Μανδράκι) meaning the open animal enclosure, an outdoor stable, which we saw earlier above gives us a solid hint, if not a proof of it. Due to its antiquity and the geographic distance from Thrace, we have to consider it therefore as an old issogloss to the Thracian name Mentes. How can we be sure? Because Homer gives us the answer himself. Homer actually mentions a Thracian Mentes too, a king of the Thracian tribe of the Kikones/Κικονες:

ἔνθά κε ῥεῖα φέροι κλυτὰ τεύχεα Πανθοΐδαο
Ἀτρεΐδης, εἰ μή οἱ ἀγάσσατο Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων,
ὅς ῥά οἱ Ἕκτορ᾽ ἐπῶρσε θοῷ ἀτάλαντον Ἄρηϊ
ἀνέρι εἰσάμενος Κικόνων ἡγήτορι Μέντῃ:
καί μιν φωνήσας ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα:
Oμηρου Ιλιας, ιζ', 70-74

Full easily then would Atreus' son have borne off the glorious armour of the son of Panthous, but that Phoebus Apollo begrudged it him, and in the likeness of a man, even of Mentes, leader of the Cicones, aroused against him Hector, the peer of swift Ares. And he spoke and addressed him in winged words:
Homer, Iliad, Book 17, 70-74

Who were Mentes' Kikones? Homer tells us that they were one of the Thracian tribes:
αὐτὰρ Θρήϊκας ἦγ᾽ Ἀκάμας καὶ Πείροος ἥρως
845ὅσσους Ἑλλήσποντος ἀγάρροος ἐντὸς ἐέργει.
Εὔφημος δ᾽ ἀρχὸς Κικόνων ἦν αἰχμητάων
υἱὸς Τροιζήνοιο διοτρεφέος Κεάδαο.
Oμηρου Ιλιας, β', 845-848

But the Thracians Acamas led and Peirous, the warrior, even all them that the strong stream of the Hellespont enclosed. And Euphemus was captain of the Ciconian spearmen, the son of Ceas' son Troezenus, nurtured of Zeus.
Homer, Iliad, Book II 845-848

The land of the Thracian Kikones was, according to Herodotus ,in coastal Thrace, between Rhodope mountains and the Aegean sea, now part of Thrace in Greece. Let us hear how Herodotus describes how Xerxes with his huge Persian army passed through these lands:

διαβὰς δὲ τοῦ Λίσου ποταμοῦ τὸ ῥέεθρον ἀπεξηρασμένον πόλιας Ἑλληνίδας τάσδε παραμείβετο, Μαρώνειαν Δίκαιαν Ἄβδηρα. ταύτας τε δὴ παρεξήιε καὶ κατὰ ταύτας λίμνας ὀνομαστὰς τάσδε, Μαρωνείης μὲν μεταξὺ καὶ Στρύμης κειμένην Ἰσμαρίδα, κατὰ δὲ Δίκαιαν Βιστονίδα, ἐς τὴν ποταμοὶ δύο ἐσιεῖσι τὸ ὕδωρ, Τραῦός τε καὶ Κόμψαντος.
Ηροδοτου Ιστοριαι, 7.109.1

After he had crossed the dried-up bed of the river Lisus, he passed by the Greek cities of Maronea, Dicaea, and Abdera. He passed by these, and along certain well-known lakes near them: the Ismarid lake that lies between Maronea and Stryme, and near Dicaea the Bistonian lake, into which the rivers Travus and Compsantus discharge.
Herodotus, The Histories7.109.1

Then Herodotus connects these Greek cities to the land of the Kikones / Cicones:

ταύτας μὲν δὴ τὰς πόλιας τὰς παραθαλασσίας τε καὶ Ἑλληνίδας ἐξ εὐωνύμου χειρὸς ἀπέργων παρεξήιε: ἔθνεα δὲ Θρηίκων δι' ὧν τῆς χώρης ὁδὸν ἐποιέετο τοσάδε, Παῖτοι Κίκονες Βίστονες Σαπαῖοι Δερσαῖοι Ἠδωνοὶ Σάτραι. τούτων οἱ μὲν παρὰ θάλασσαν κατοικημένοι ἐν τῇσι νηυσὶ εἵποντο: οἱ δὲ αὐτῶν τὴν μεσόγαιαν οἰκέοντες καταλεχθέντες τε ὑπ' ἐμεῦ, πλὴν Σατρέων, οἱ ἄλλοι πάντες πεζῇ ἀναγκαζόμενοι εἵποντο.
Ηροδοτου Ιστοριαι, 7.110.1

Xerxes marched past these Greek cities of the coast, keeping them on his left. The Thracian tribes through whose lands he journeyed were the Paeti, Cicones (Kikones), Bistones, Sapaei, Dersaei, Edoni, and Satrae. Of these, the ones who dwelt by the sea followed his army on shipboard; the ones living inland, whose names I have recorded, were forced to join with his land army, all of them except the Satrae.
Herodotus, The Histories7.110.1

Strabo the Geographer is even more specific:

μετα δε την αναμεσον λιμνην Χανθεια Μαρωνεια και Ισμαρος, αι των Kικονων πολεις. καλειται δε νυν Ισμαρα πλησιον της Μαρωνειας.
Στραβων, Γεωγραφικα 7α.7 (fragmenta)
After the lake, which is midway between, come Xantheia, Maroneia, and Ismarus, the cities of the Cicones. Ismarus, however, is now called Ismara; it is near Maroneia. Strabo Geography 7a.7 fragments

Maroneia, it should be noted, was built by Greek settlers in the land of the Kikones. It is not surprising that they adopted some of the Thracian symbols, beloved to their neighbors. This is not unusual. The equastrian and vine similarity of Maronia's coins to those of Mende's coins is striking and noteworthy.

It is indeed from this area of Thrace, close to Maroneia, Xantheia and Ismaros that the next two Mentes / Μέντης inscriptions are from:

IGBulg I² 183Thrace and Moesia Inferior:

Μέντης Νεικίου, γυνὴ

αὐτοῦ Αννι Ξένωνος

Mentes son of Nikeias, his

wife Anni daughter of Xenon.

IGBulg I² 227

Thrace and Moesia Inferior

Μέντης Μέντου

καὶ ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ Αν-

Μέντης, ὦ παροδεῖτα, θανὼν ὅδε κεῖμ´ ἐνὶ τύμβωι

γηραλέου βιότου δόξαν ἀειράμενος.

Mentes son of Mentes

and his wife An-

Mentes, oh passerby, being dead, here I am lying in this tomb

carrying with me the reputation of a long lived life.

We stressed earlier the linguistic connection of Mantas and Mentes to mule, donkey and colt-related words, toponyms and names from Spain to Italy, Greece, Thrace and Sanskrit speaking India. Now let us look at a few inscriptions that are not so ordinary but are probably related. The first one is from Ionia, now at the Aegean part of Turkey, where we find the name Mentes/Μέντης and his phonetically similar sounding patronym Mentoukas/Μέντουκας:

JÖAI 1912:53,24, Ionia: Klaros

— — —]-

οφίλου, Μέντης Μέντουκα[ὶ]

ἱεροκῆρυξ Καλλισθένης Εὐτυ-

— — —]-

ophilou, Mentes son of Mentoukas

hierokyrex* Callisthenes son of Euty-

(*holy preacher)

In Athens we find a most interesting inscription that makes mention of a type of a tax common in Ionia, called Lepsimandes Foros.

IG I³ 100, Attica

Ἰονικὸς φόρος]

Ληψιμανδῆς [∶ — — —]

Ionian tax]


Why should we say that this is interesting? Let us look at the etymology of the word: We break it in its two parts: ληψι and μανδῆς/lepsi and mandes. Lepsis/Ληψις means a taking, a seizing, an accepting a receiving, according to our Liddell and Scott's Greek dictionary. It comes from the verb lambano/λαμβανω which of course means to take, to seize, to accept, to receive. The second part is: mandes/μανδῆς. This means that the person being taxed through the Ληψιμανδῆς/Lepsimandes tax had to pay not in money but had to give something to the state, to pay in kind. The word tells us what kind: mande/μανδῆ.

When Alexander the Great went through Pamphylia/Παμφυλια, the historian Arrian/Αῤῥιανός tells us, he dealt with the tax issue of the city of Perge/Περγη, in the following way. Let us hear Arrian tells us what were the taxes that the citizens of Aspendos/Ἀσπενδος (a city of in Asia Minor, not too far Ionia) were used to pay to the Persian Great King, and what Alexander the Great accepted from them:

ἐκ Πέργης δὲ ὡς προῄει, ἐντυγχάνουσιν αὐτῷ κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν πρέσβεις Ἀσπενδίων αὐτοκράτορες, τὴν μὲν πόλιν ἐνδιδόντες, φρουρὰν δὲ μὴ εἰσάγειν δεόμενοι. καὶ περὶ μὲν τῆς φρουρᾶς πράξαντες ἀπῆλθον, ὅσα ἠξίουν. πεντήκοντα δὲ τάλαντα κελεύει τῇ στρατιᾷ δοῦναι αὐτοῖς ἐς μισθὸν καὶ τοὺς ἵππους, οὓς δασμὸν βασιλεῖ ἔτρεφον. οἱ δὲ ὑπέρ τε τοῦ ἀργυρίου καὶ τοὺς ἵππους παραδώσειν ξυνθέμενοι ἀπῆλθον. Ἀλέξανδρος δὲ ἐπὶ Σίδης ἤει.

Αῤῥιανός, Αλεξάνδρου Αναβάσις, Βιβλίον Πρώτον 26

As he was advancing from Perga, he was met on the road by envoys from the Aspendians with full powers, who offered to surrender their city, but begged him not lead a garrison into it. Having gained their request in regard to the garrison, they went back; but he ordered them to give him fifty talents as pay for his army, as well as the horses which they were rearing as tribute to Darius. Having agreed with him about the money, and having likewise promised to hand over the horses, they departed. Alexander then marched to Side.

Arrian, Anabasis Book 1.26

I believe that this gives us a very clear idea of what the Ληψιμανδῆς/Lepsimandes tax was about. It was a tax paid by the subject city in colts, in horses.

It is obvious that Mantas, Mentes, Mendes are all mule, donkey, colt and horse connected names. It is not surprising at all, therefore, that a philippon (φιλιππον=horse-loving) and hippomachon (ἱππόμαχον=horse riding in battle) nation which bred the kallistous hippous (καλλίστους ἵππους=the best horses), an equestrian nation such as the Thracians would have names that are equestrian in nature, names like Manta/Μαντα and Mantas/Μαντας.

Incidentally, since Rome was built a little after Homer was finishing the last poetic touches on his Iliad and Odyssey, I seriously doubt that he had much of a chance to visit Rome, learn Latin and then use it for his several mentions of the name Mentes. Why is this important? Because those (like professor Donski Skopje) who believe that the Thracian name Manta is derived from the south Slavic "noun "mantija", that exists in the present day" [Slavo-]Macedonian language [and] represents a type of long garment", as he claims, need to be informed that the south-Slavic "mantija" is directly derived from the Greek word mantila/μαντήλα. Mantila is the scarf used by women as head covering. In the neutral form it is called mantili/μαντήλι or mandeli/μανδήλι and it is a handkerchief, a woman's head-scarf or a bandana. In its more archaic form it takes an "n" at the end: mandelion/μανδήλιον, meaning the handcloth. The most famous mandelion is the Agion Mandelion/Ἅγιον Μανδήλιον = the Holy Handcloth, and in the Eastern Orthodox tradition it means to describe an Acheiropoietos/Αχειροποίητος (not created by human hand) icon, the handcloth that was placed on Christ's face and copied his features after he was taken off the cross.


The Agion Mandelion was held as a relic in a church in Edessa of Syria (named after the Macedonian Edessa, but is now called Urfa, and is situated in what is now Turkey). It was eventually taken to Constantinople. It was eventually stolen by the Latins of the fourth crusade during their sack of Constantinople in 1204. It was probably similar to the well known Shroud of Turin. The Greek word mandelion is itself in turn a loanword from the Latin mantilium, a "hand cloth" and the also Latin mantele, meaning a hand towel (manus = hand in Latin).

The noun "mantija", that exists in Slavomacedonian, far from making any linguistic connection of the south-Slavs of Skopje with the ancient Greek Macedonian past, seems to have finally met its true Graeco-Latin origin, which, at any rate, has absolutely nothing in common with the equestrian name "Manta", itself of Thracian, not even Greek-Macedonian origin.

PS: Many thanks to Soteria Tsimoura, a graduate student in Germany, for her tireless assistance in this and many other articles.