then Attic Greek, and later Koine Greek
The Macedonians (Greek: Μακεδόνες, Makedónes) were an ancient tribe that lived on the alluvial plain around the rivers Haliacmon and lower Axios in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula. Essentially an ancient Greek people, they gradually expanded from their homeland along the Haliacmon valley on the northern edge of the Greek world, absorbing or driving out neighbouring tribes, primarily Thracian and Illyrian.
Although composed of various clans, the Kingdom of Macedon established around the 8th century BC is mostly associated with the Argead dynasty, and the tribe named after it. Traditionally ruled by independent families, the Macedonians seem to have accepted Argead rule by the time of King Alexander I (r. 498–454 BC). Under King Philip II (r. 359–336 BC), they are credited with numerous military innovations, which enlarged their territory and increased their control over other areas, leading to the exploits of Alexander the Great, the establishment of several realms from the Diadochi, and the inauguration of the Hellenistic civilization.
Early history 1
- Prehistoric homeland 1.1
- Temenids and Argeads 1.2
- Expansion from the core 1.3
- Ethnogenesis scenario 1.4
- Economy 2.1
- Society 2.2
- Religion 2.3
- Language 3
- Nature of sources 4.1
- Ancient sources on the Argeads 4.2
- Ancient sources on the Macedonian people 4.3
- Modern discourse 4.4
- Notes 5
- References 6
- External links 7
The expansion of the Macedonian kingdom has been described as a three-stage process. As a frontier kingdom on the border of the Greek world with Barbarian Europe, the Macedonians first subjugated their immediate northern neighbours—various Illyrian and Thracian tribes—before turning against the states of southern and central Greece. Macedonia then led a pan-Hellenic military force against their primary objective—the conquest of Persia—which they achieved with remarkable ease.
In Greek mythology, Makedon is the eponymous hero of Macedonia and is mentioned in Hesiod's Catalogue of Women. The first historical attestation of the Macedonians occurs in the works of Herodotus during the mid-5th century BC. The Macedonians are absent in Homer's Catalogue of Ships. The term "Macedonia" itself appears late. The Iliad states that upon leaving Olympus, Hera journeyed via Pieria and Emathia before reaching Athos. This is re-iterated by Strabo in his Geography. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence indicates that Mycenaean contact with or penetration into the Macedonian interior possibly started from the early 14th century BC.
In his A History of Macedonia, Nicholas G. L. Hammond reconstructed the earliest phases of Macedonian history based on his interpretation of later literary accounts and archaeological excavations in the region of Macedonia. According to Hammond, the Macedonians are missing from early Macedonian historical accounts because they had been living in the Orestian highlands since before the Dark Ages, possibly having originated from the same (proto-Greek) population pool that produced other Greek peoples. The Macedonian tribes subsequently moved down from Orestis in the upper Haliacmon to the Pierian highlands in the lower Haliacmon because of pressure from the Orestae, a related tribe who had migrated to Orestis from Pelagonia. In their new Pierian home north of Olympus, the Macedonian tribes mingled with the "Dorians-to-be". This might account for traditions which placed the eponymous founder, Makedon, "round Pieria and Olympus". Some traditions placed the Dorian homeland in the Pindus mountain range in western Thessaly, whilst Herodotus pushed this further north to the Macedonian Pindus and "were called, as an ethnos, Mακεδνόν".
A different, southern homeland theory also exists in traditional historiography. Arnold Joseph Toynbee said that the Makedones migrated north to Macedonia from central Greece, placing the Dorian homeland in Phthiotis and citing the traditions of fraternity between Makedon and Magnes.
Temenids and Argeads
The Macedonian expansion is said to have been led by the ruling Temenid dynasty, known as "Argeads" or "Argives". Herodotus said that Perdiccas, the dynasty's founder, was descended from the Heraclid Temenus. He left Argos with his two older brothers Aeropus and Gayanes, and travelled via Illyria to Lebaea, a city in Upper Macedonia which certain scholars have tried to connect with the villages Alebea or Velvedos. Here, the brothers served as shepherds for a local ruler. After a vision, the brothers fled to another region in Macedonia near the Midas Gardens by the foot of Mount Bermion, and then set about subjugating the rest of Macedonia. Thucydides's account is similar to that of Herodotus, making it probable that the story was disseminated by the Macedonian court, i.e. it accounts for the belief the Macedonians had about the origin of their kingdom, if not an actual memory of this beginning. Later historians modified the dynastic traditions by introducing variously Caranus or Archelaus, the son of Temenus, as the founding Temenid kings—although there is no doubt that Euripides transformed Caranus to Archelaus meaning "leader of the people" in his play Archelaus, in an attempt to please Archelaus I of Macedon.
The earliest sources, Herodotus and Thucydides, called the royal family "Temenidae". In later sources (Strabo, Appian, Pausanias) the term "Argeadae" was introduced . However, Appian said that the term Argeadae referred to a leading Macedonian tribe rather than the name of the ruling dynasty. The connection of the name "Argeads" to the royal family is uncertain. The words "Argead" and "Argive" derive via Latin Argīvus from the Greek Ἀργεῖος (Argeios), meaning "of or from Argos", and is first attested in Homer, where it was also used as a collective designation for the Greeks ("Ἀργείων Δαναῶν", Argive Danaans). The most common connection to the royal family, as written by Herodotus, is with Peloponnesian Argos. Appian connects it with Orestian Argos. According to another tradition, the name was adopted after Caranus moved Macedonia's capital from Edessa to Agea, thus appropriating the name of the city for its citizens. A figure, Argeas, is mentioned in the Iliad (16.417), therefore it is possible that there may have been an even earlier tradition deriving the genealogy of the Macedonian kings from the heroes of the Trojan Cycle, which was popular in neighbouring Epirus.
Taking Herodotus's lineage account as the most trustworthy, Appian said that after Perdiccas, six successive heirs ruled: Argeus, Philip, Aeropus, Alcetas, Amyntas and Alexander. Amyntas I ruled at the time of the Persian invasion of Paeonia and when Macedon became a vassal state of the latter. However, Alexander I is the first truly historic figure. Based on this line of succession and an estimated average rule of 25 to 30 years, the beginnings of the Macedonian dynasty have thus been traditionally dated to 750 BC. Hammond supports the traditional view that the Temenidae did arrive from the Peloponnese and took charge of Macedonian leadership, possibly usurping rule from a native "Argead" dynasty with Illyrian help. However, other scholars doubt the veracity of their Peloponnesian origins. For example, Hatzopoulos takes Appian's testimony to mean that the royal lineage imposed itself onto the tribes of the Middle Heliacmon from Argos Orestikon, whilst Borza said that the Argeads were a family of notables hailing from Vergina.
Expansion from the core
Both Strabo and Thucydides said that Emathia and Pieria were mostly occupied by Thracians (Pierians, Paeonians) and Bottiaeans, as well as some Illyrian and Epirote tribes. Herodotus states that the Bryges were cohabitants with the Macedonians before the latter's mass migrating to Asia Minor. If a group of ethnically definable Macedonian tribes were living in the Pierian highlands prior to their expansion, the first conquest was of the Pierian piedmont and coastal plain, including Vergina. The tribes may have launched their expansion from a base near Mount Bermion, according to Herodotus. Thucydides describes the Macedonian expansion specifically as a process of conquest led by the Argeadae:
But the country along the sea which is now called Macedonia, was first acquired and made a kingdom by Alexander [I], father of Perdiccas [II] and his forefathers, who were originally Temenidae from Argos. They defeated and expelled from Pieria the Pierians ... and also expelled the Bottiaeans from Bottiaea ... they acquired as well a narrow strip of Paeonia extending along the Axios river from the interior to Pella and the sea. Beyond the Axios they possess the territory as far as the Strymon called Mygdonia, having driven out the Edoni. Moreover, they expelled from the district now called Eordaea the Eordi ... The Macedonians also made themselves rulers of certain places ... namely Anthemus, Grestonia, and a large part of Macedonia proper.
Thucydides's account gives a geographical overview of Macedonian possessions at the time of Alexander I's rule. To reconstruct a chronology of the expansion by Alexander I's predecessors is more difficult, but generally, three stages have been proposed from Thucydides' reading. The initial and most important conquest was of Pieria and the Bottiaei, including the locations of Pydna and Dium. The second stage consolidated rule in Pieria and Bottiaea, captured Methone and Pella, and extended rule over Eordaea and Almopia. According to Hammond, the third stage occurred after 550 BC, when the Macedonians gained control over Mygdonia, Edonia, lower Paeonia, Bisaltia and Crestonia. However, the second stage might have occurred as late as 520 BC; and the third stage probably did not occur until after 479 BC, when the Macedonians capitalized on the weakened Paeonian state after the Persian withdrawal from Macedon and the rest of their mainland European territories. Whatever the case, Thucydides' account of the Macedonian state describes its accumulated territorial extent by the rule of Perdiccas II, Alexander I's son. Hammond has said that the early stages of Macedonian expansion were militaristic, subduing or expunging populations from a large and varied area. It has been hypothesized that the cause of Macedonian expansion was demographic pressure. Because pastoralism and highland living could not support a very concentrated settlement density, pastoralist tribes often searched for more arable lowlands suitable for agriculture.
Present-day scholars have highlighted several inconsistencies in the traditionalist perspective first set in place by Hammond. An alternative model of state and ethnos formation, promulgated by an alliance of regional elites, which redates the creation of the Macedonian kingdom to the 6th century BC was proposed in 2010. According to these scholars, direct literary, archaeological, and linguistic evidence to support Hammond's contention that a distinct Macedonian ethnos had existed in the Haliacmon valley since the Bronze Age is lacking. Hammond's interpretation has been criticized as a "conjectural reconstruction" from what appears during later, historical times.
Similarly, the historicity of migration, conquest and population expulsion have also been questioned. Thucydides's account of the forced expulsion of the Pierians and Bottiaeans could have been formed on the basis of his perceived similarity of names of the Pierians and Bottiaeans living in the Strymon valley with the names of regions in Macedonia; whereas his account of Eordean extermination was formulated because such toponymic correspondences are absent. Likewise, the Argead conquest of Macedonia may be viewed as a commonly used literary topos in classical Macedonian rhetoric. Tales of migration served to create complex genealogical connections between trans-regional ruling elites, while at the same time were used by the ruling dynasty to legitimize their rule, heroicize mythical ancestors and distance themselves from their subjects.
Conflict was a historical reality in the early Macedonian kingdom and pastoralist traditions allowed the potential for population mobility. Greek archaeologists have found that some of the passes linking the Macedonian highlands with the valley regions have been used for thousands of years. However, the archaeological evidence does not point to any significant disruptions between the Iron Age and Hellenistic periods in Macedonia. The general continuity of material culture, settlement sites, and pre-Greek onomasticon contradict the traditional "ethnic cleansing" account of early Macedonian expansion.
The process of state formation in Macedonia was similar to that of its neighbours in Epirus, Illyria, poleis because they were not self-ruled but under the rule of a "king". From the mid-6th century, there appears a series of exceptionally rich burials throughout the region—in Trebenista, Vergina, Sindos, Agia Paraskevi, Pella-Archontiko, Aiani, Gevgelija, Amphipolis—sharing a similar burial rite and grave accompaniments, interpreted to represent the rise of a new regional ruling class sharing a common ideology, customs and religious beliefs. A common geography, mode of existence, and defensive interests might have necessitated the creation of a political confederacy among otherwise ethno-linguistically diverse communities, which led to the consolidation of a new Macedonian ethnic identity.
The traditional view that Macedonia was populated by rural ethnic groups in constant conflict is slowly changing, bridging the cultural gap between southern Epirus and the north Aegean region. Hatzopoulos's studies on Macedonian institutions have lent support to the hypothesis that Macedonian state formation occurred via an integration of regional elites, which were based in city-like centres, including the Argeadae at Vergina, the Paeonian/Edonian peoples in Sindos, Ichnai and Pella, and the mixed Macedonian-Barbarian colonies in the Thermaic Gulf and western Chalkidike. The Temenidae became overall leaders of a new Macedonian state because of the diplomatic proficiency of Alexander I and the logistic centrality of Vergina itself. It has been suggested that a breakdown in traditional Balkan tribal traditions associated with adaptation of Aegean socio-political institutions created a climate of institutional flexibility in a vast, resource-rich land. Non-Argead centres increasingly became dependent allies, allowing the Argeads to gradually assert and secure their control over the lower and eastern territories of Macedonia. This control was fully consolidated by Phillip II.
Macedonia had a distinct material culture by the Early Iron Age. Typically Balkan burial, ornamental, and ceramic forms were used for most of the Iron Age. These features suggest broad cultural affinities and organizational structures analogous with Thracian, Epirote, and Illyrian regions. This did not necessarily symbolize a sharing of identity or political allegiance between these regions. In the late 6th century BC, Macedonia became open to Greek influences from the south, although a small but detectable amount of interaction with the south had been present since late Mycenaean times. By the 5th century BC, Macedonia was a part of the "Greek cultural milieu", possessing many cultural traits typical of the southern Greek city-states. Classical Greek objects and customs were appropriated selectively and used in peculiarly Macedonian ways.
Although the Achaemenid Persians were forced to withdraw from the Balkans following the failure of Xerxes' invasion, after having had a presence in the region since the late 6th century BC, the Macedonians borrowed heavily from the Achaemenid Empire's tradition in culture and economy in the fifth to mid fourth centuries BC.
The way of life of the inhabitants of Upper Macedonia differed little from that of their neighbours in Epirus and Illyria, engaging in seasonal
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- Gagarin 2010, "Argeads", p. 229.
- Appian. Roman History, 11.63.333.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 7: Slawomir Sprawski, "The Early Temenid Kings to Alexander I", p. 130.
- Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary, Argīvus.
- Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon, Ἀργεῖος.
- Argive, Oxford Dictionaries.
- Homer. Iliad, 2.155-175, 4.8; Odyssey, 8.578, 4.6.
- Herodotus. Histories, 5.22.
- Justin. Historiarum Philippicarum, 7.1.10.
- Herodotus. Histories, 8.139.
- Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A companion to Ancient Macedonia" John Wiley & Sons, 2011. ISBN 144435163X pp 343-345
- Herodotus. Histories, 5.17.1-2.
- Hammond & Griffith 1972, p. 433.
- Borza 1992, p. 82.
- Hammond & Griffith 1979, p. 434.
- Herodotus. Histories, 7.73, 8.138.
- Hammond & Griffith 1972, p. 434; Borza 1992, p. 78
- Hammond & Griffith 1972, p. 434.
- Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War, 2.99
- Hammond & Griffith 1972, pp. 437–438
- Borza 1992, p. 87.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 7: Slawomir Sprawski, "The Early Temenid Kings to Alexander I", p. 133.
- Hammond & Griffith 1979, p. 438.
- Borza 1992, pp. 79–80.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 16: Zosia Archibald, "Macedonia and Thrace", p. 329
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 7: Slawomir Sprawski, "The Early Temenid Kings to Alexander I", p. 134.
- Borza 1992, p. 70.
- Hall 2002, pp. 70–73.
- Snodgrass 2000, p. 163: "Altogether, the graves of Macedonia, like their contents, are best explained by the durability of the non-Greek cultural element here, in which the phenomena of Greek influence—the Protogeometric pottery, and perhaps the rare cremations at Vergina—are fleeting."
- Brock & Hodkinson 2000, Chapter 12: Zosia Halina Archibald, "Space, Hierarchy, and Community in Archaic and Classical Macedonia, Thessaly, and Thrace", pp. 222–224.
- Hornblower, Matthews & Fraser 2000, Miltiade Hatzopoulos, ""L'histoire par les noms" in Macedonia", p. 112.
- Brock & Hodkinson 2000, Chapter 12: Zosia Halina Archibald, "Space, Hierarchy, and Community in Archaic and Classical Macedonia, Thessaly, and Thrace", p. 215.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 4: Carol G. Thomas, "The Physical Kingdom", p. 74.
- Hatzopoulos 1999, p. 464.
- Butler 2008, pp. 222–223.
- Butler 2008, p. 223.
- Whitley 2007, p. 253: "Ethnicity and culture are not the same, and however the ancient Macedonians viewed themselves, Macedonian material culture had little in common with that of central Greece. Differences are apparent from a very early date."
- Whitley 2007, p. 253: "The inhabitants at these sites continued to use a style of 'Balkan' pottery that has little in common with Greek painted wares throughout the Archaic period ..."
- Brock & Hodkinson 2000, Chapter 13: J. K. Davies, "A Wholly Non-Aristotelian Universe: The Molossians as Ethnos, State, and Monarchy", p. 251.
- Brock & Hodkinson 2000, Chapter 12: Zosia Halina Archibald, "Space, Hierarchy, and Community in Archaic and Classical Macedonia, Thessaly, and Thrace", p. 213.
- Whitley 2007, p. 233.
- Lemos 2002, p. 207.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 1: Edward M. Anson, "Why Study Ancient Macedonia and What this Companion is About", p. 19.
- Whitley 2007, p. 254: "But, if Macedonians were beginning to make use of some central Greek objects, they were otherwise sticking to their peculiar Macedonian ways."
- Roisman & Worthington 2011, p. 345.
- Boardman 1982, [Part III: The Balkans and the Aegean] Chapter 15: N. G. L. Hammond, "Illyris, Epirus and Macedonia in the Early Iron Age", pp. 621–624.
- "Encyclopædia Britannica - Hellenism in Macedonia".
- Iordanidis, Garcia-Guinea & Karamitrou-Mentessidi 2007, pp. 1796–1807.
- Karamitrou-Mentessidi 2007.
- Brock & Hodkinson 2000, Chapter 12: Zosia Halina Archibald, "Space, Hierarchy, and Community in Archaic and Classical Macedonia, Thessaly, and Thrace", p. 212.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 1: Edward M. Anson, "Why Study Ancient Macedonia and What this Companion is About", p. 8.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 92.
- Horejs 2007.
- Hammond & Griffith 1972, pp. 420–426; Snodgrass 2000, p. 257
- Snodgrass 2000, p. 253: "The early Iron Age period of use of the Vergina cemetery must have lasted, on any view, for three centuries at the very least. Yet over this period it shows a quite astonishing consistency in metalwork."
- Boardman 1982, [Part III: The Balkans and the Aegean] Chapter 15: N.G.L. Hammond, "Illyris, Epirus and Macedonia in the Early Iron Age", pp. 644–650.
- Brock & Hodkinson 2000, Chapter 12: Zosia Halina Archibald, "Space, Hierarchy, and Community in Archaic and Classical Macedonia, Thessaly, and Thrace", p. 217.
- Wilkes 1995, pp. 104–107.
- Whitley 2007, p. 243.
- Brock & Hodkinson 2000, Chapter 12: Zosia Halina Archibald, "Space, Hierarchy, and Community in Archaic and Classical Macedonia, Thessaly, and Thrace", pp. 223–224.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 18: Carol J. King, "Macedonian Kingship and Other Political Institutions", pp. 374–375.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 19: Noriko Sawada, "Social Customs and Institutions: Aspects of Macedonian Elite Society", pp. 392–408.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 19: Noriko Sawada, "Social Customs and Institutions: Aspects of Macedonian Elite Society", p. 403.
- Euripides, Iphigenia.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 96.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 21: Paul Christesen and Sarah C. Murray, "Macedonian Religion", p. 430.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 21: Paul Christesen and Sarah C. Murray, "Macedonian Religion", p. 431.
- Cook, Adcock & Charlesworth 1928, pp. 197–198; Sakellariou 1992, p. 60.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 15: Denver Graninger, "Macedonia and Thessaly", pp. 323–324.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 97.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 21: Paul Christesen and Sarah C. Murray, "Macedonian Religion", p. 434.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 21: Paul Christesen and Sarah C. Murray, "Macedonian Religion", p. 429.
- Whitley 2007, p. 254.
- Fisher & Wees 1998, p. 51; Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 16: Zosia Archibald, "Macedonia and Thrace", p. 340.
- Whitley 2007, pp. 254–255.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 21: Paul Christesen and Sarah C. Murray, "Macedonian Religion", pp. 439–440.
- There were Dorian and Euboean colonies, as well as tribal ethne speaking Greek, Illyrian, Thracian, Paeonian, Brygian, etc.
- Borza 1992, p. 92.
- Christidēs, Arapopoulou & Chritē 2007, Chapter 6: A. Panayotou, "The Position of the Macedonian Dialect", p. 433.
- Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", p. 161.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 94.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 1: Edward Anson, "Why study the Ancient Macedonians", p. 20.
- Borza 1992, p. 93.
- Voutiras 1998, p. 25.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 95: "This has been judged to be the most important ancient testimony to substantiate that Macedonian was a north-western Greek and mainly a Doric dialect".
- Masson & Dubois 2000, p. 292: "... "Macedonian Language" de l'Oxford Classical Dictionary, 1996, p. 906: "Macedonian may be seen as a Greek dialect, characterized by its marginal position and by local pronunciation (like Βερενίκα for Φερενίκα etc.)"
- Masson 1996, "Macedonian Language", pp. 905–906.
- Worthington 2003, p. 20.
- Hall 2002, p. 116. Jonathan Hall warns against reaching overarching conclusions based on a single inscription. Either way, the limitations of the graphic system conceal a far greater diversity of oral idioms.
- Christidēs, Arapopoulou & Chritē 2007, Chapter 6: A. Panayotou, "The Position of the Macedonian Dialect", pp. 431–433.
- Hornblower, Matthews & Fraser 2000, Miltiade Hatzopoulos, ""L'histoire par les noms" in Macedonia", p. 111.
- It is difficult to distinguish between words which are truly common between Macedonian and Greek from cognates and loanwords.
- Boardman 1982, Chapter 20c: R. A. Crossland, "Linguistic Problems of the Balkan Areya in Late Prehistoric and Early Classical Periods", p. 846.
- Woodard 2008b, p. 11: "If such sets are rightly analyzed as cognates, the Macedonian language departs conspicuously from Greek in showing voiced unaspirated rather than voiceless aspirated reflexes of the earlier Indo-European voiced aspirated stops."
- Boardman 1982, Chapter 20c: R. A. Crossland, "Linguistic Problems of the Balkan Area in Late Prehistoric and Early Classical Periods", pp. 846–847.
- Personal names, names of gods and months, and phonological features. Refer to: Christidēs, Arapopoulou & Chritē 2007, Chapter 6: A. Panayotou, "The Position of the Macedonian Dialect", pp. 438–439.
- Finkelberg 2005, p. 121: "Thus Macedonian, for example, does not share with Greek at least one of the features identifying the unique idiom of the latter, namely, the devoicing of the IE voiced aspirates."
- Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", pp. 163–165.
- Hornblower, Matthews & Fraser 2000, Miltiade Hatzopoulos, ""L'histoire par les noms" in Macedonia", p. 115.
- Christidēs, Arapopoulou & Chritē 2007, Chapter 6: A. Panayotou, "The Position of the Macedonian Dialect", p. 439: "It might be simpler to assume that the names manifesting this feature are substratum relics of a tribe which was linguistically assimilated by the Macedonians ..."
- Specifically, a hybridized language incorporating Brygian, Northwest Greek and Thessalian.
- Papazoglou 1977, pp. 65–83.
- Woodard 2008a, Chapter 8: Claude Brixhe, "Phrygian", p. 72.
- Georgiev 1981, pp. 170, 360.
- Garrett 1999, pp. 146–156.
- Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", pp. 161–163.
- Borza 1999, pp. 42–43: "Macedonian and Greek were sufficiently different as late as the time of Alexander the Great as to require interpreters and cause ancient writers to note differences."
- Barr-Sharrar & Borza 1982, E. Badian, "Greeks and Macedonians", p. 41: "The suggestion is surely that Macedonian was the language of the infantry and that Greek was a difficult, indeed a foreign, tongue to them."
- Papazoglou 2000, pp. 771–777.
- Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War, 3.94.
- Plato. Protagoras, 341c.
- Aeschines. Against Ctesiphon, 3.72.
- Worthington 2014, Chapter Two: Alexander's Inheritance, p. 10.
- Livy. The History of Rome, 45.29.3.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 2: P. J. Rhodes, "The Literary and Epigraphic Evidence to the Roman Conquest", p. 23.
- Borza 1992, p. 5.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 1: Edward M. Anson, "Why Study Ancient Macedonia and What this Companion is About", p. 7.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 85.
- Cartledge 2011, Chapter 4: Argos, p. 23: "The Late Bronze Age in Greece is also called conventionally 'Mycenaean', as we saw in the last chapter. But it might in principle have been called 'Argive', 'Achaean', or 'Danaan', since the three names that Homer does in fact apply to Greeks collectively were 'Argives', 'Achaeans', and 'Danaans'."
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 84.
- Herodotus. Histories, 5.22; Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", pp. 92–93.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 6: Sulochana R. Asirvatham, "Perspectives on the Macedonians from Greece, Rome, and Beyond", p. 101.
- Barr-Sharrar & Borza 1982, E. Badian, "Greeks and Macedonians", p. 34.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 93.
- Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon, φιλέλλην.
- cf. Plato. Republic, 5.470e; Xenophon. Agesilaus, 7.4 (in Greek).
- Hall 2002, p. 156.
- Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", p. 169; Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 91.
- Malkin 1998, p. 140.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 6: Sulochana R. Asirvatham, "Perspectives on the Macedonians from Greece, Rome, and Beyond", p. 103.
- Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", p. 160.
- Baracchi 2014, p. 292: "It is worth noting that the term "barbaric" referred primarily to the Greek's incomprehension of non-Greek tongues. Greeks, particularly the Athenians, would also use it to deride other Greeks."
- Demosthenes. Third Philippic, 9.31.
- Hammond 1991.
- Barr-Sharrar & Borza 1982, E. Badian, "Greeks and Macedonians", p. 42.
- Errington 1993, p. 4.
- MacDowell 2009, 13: War and Defeat.
- Isocrates. Philippus, 32–34 and 76–77; Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", pp. 159–160.
- Isocrates. To Philip, 5.127: "Therefore, since the others are so lacking in spirit, I think it is opportune for you to head the war against the King; and, while it is only natural for the other descendants of Heracles, and for men who are under the bonds of their polities and laws, to cleave fondly to that state in which they happen to dwell, it is your privilege, as one who has been blessed with untrammelled freedom, to consider all Hellas your fatherland, as did the founder of your race, and to be as ready to brave perils for her sake as for the things about which you are personally most concerned."
- Worthington 2003, Chapter 2: N.G.L. Hammond, "The Language of the Macedonians", p. 20.
- Hall 2002, p. 165; Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", p. 169.
- Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", p. 169.
- Daskalakis 1965, pp. 12–13: "Aelian and Apollodorus, both later writers, but working on the basis of very ancient Greek traditions surviving in sources lost to us, identified Makedon or Makednon as a son of Lycaon and grandson of the Arcadian Pelasgus. Of these two, Apollodorus regards Lycaon king of the Arcadians and names his fifty sons, rulers of the Greek Peoples, and among them Makednon, thus putting Macedonia within the orbit of the most ancient Greek myths."
- Hall 2002, p. 165.
- Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", p. 170.
- Herodotus. The Histories, 5.20.4.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 7: Slawomir Sprawski, "The Early Temenid Kings to Alexander I", p. 138.
- Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", p. 171.
- Buckley 2010, p. 12.
- Herodotus. Histories, 1.56.2–3.
- Herodotus. Histories, 8.43.
- Hammond & Griffith 1972, pp. 429–430. Hammond states that Pelagonia might have been initially called Argestia.
- Pan-Montojo & Pedersen 2007, Ioannis Xydopoulos, "The Concept and Representation of Northern Communities in Ancient Greek Historiography: The Case of Thucydides", p. 8.
- Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", pp. 171–172.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 85.
- Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War, 4.124.1.
- Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War, 4.125.1.
- Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War, 4.126.3; Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", p. 160.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 88.
- Strabo. Geography, Book 7, Fragment 9.
- Strabo. Geography, 10.2.23.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece, 10.8.2–4.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece, 9.40.8–9.
- Isocrates. Philippos, 107-108; Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", p. 169.
- Barr-Sharrar & Borza 1982, E. Badian, "Greeks and Macedonians", p. 34.
- Aeschines. On the Embassy, 2.32.
- Barr-Sharrar & Borza 1982, E. Badian, "Greeks and Macedonians", p. 43.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 6: Sulochana R. Asirvatham, "Perspectives on the Macedonians from Greece, Rome, and Beyond", p. 104.
- Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library, 17.3.
- IG 2 448.58-50, SIG 317.6-19.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 1: Edward M. Anson, "Why Study Ancient Macedonia and What this Companion is About", p. 18: "By the second century the literary evidence suggests that the Macedonians and their southern neighbours saw themselves and each other as Greeks."
- Polybius. Histories, 9.37.
- Polybius. Histories, 9.35.
- Polybius. Histories, 7.9.
- Polybius. Histories, 18.4.8.
- Livy. History of Rome, 31.29.15.
- Arrian. Anabasis Alexandri, 1.16.7, 2.7.4, 2.14.4.
- Strabo. Geography, 7.7.1.
- Plutarch. Moralia: On the Fortune of Alexander, I, 329b.
- Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 87.
- Kinzl 2010, Robert Rollinger, "The Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond", p. 205.
- Worthington 2008.
- Danforth 1997, p. 169.
- Barr-Sharrar & Borza 1982, E. Badian, "Greeks and Macedonians", p. 47.
- Borza 1992, p. 96.
- Badian, Wallace & Harris 1996, Peter Green, "The Metamorphosis of the Barbarian: Athenian Panhellenism in a Changing World", p. 24.
- Isaac 2004, p. 113: "It is quite likely that Isocrates was interested in also representing the Hellenic community in a broader sense, so that he could include the Macedonians, who were not considered Hellenes by origin, but might claim to share Hellenic culture."
- Sansone 2011, Chapter 11: "The Transformation of the Greek World in the Fourth Century" (Section: "Philip II of Macedon and the Conquest of Greece").
- Malkin 2001, Chapter 6: Jonathan M. Hall, "Contested Ethnicities: Perceptions of Macedonia within Evolving Definitions of Greek Identity", p. 172.
- Borza 1992, p. 306.
Others have adopted both views; according to Sansone, "there is no question that, in the fifth and fourth centuries, there were noticeable difference between the Greeks and the Macedonians"; yet the issue of Macedonian Hellenicity was ultimately a "political one". Hall adds, "to ask whether the Macedonians 'really were' Greek or not in antiquity is ultimately a redundant question given the shifting semantics of Greekness between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. What cannot be denied, however, is that the cultural commodification of Hellenic identity that emerged in the 4th century might have remained a provincial artifact, confined to the Balkan peninsula, had it not been for the Macedonians." Whilst Ernest Borza states that the Macedonians "made their mark in antiquity as Macedonians, not as a tribe of some other people", Worthington concludes that "there is still more than enough evidence and reasoned theory to suggest that the Macedonians were racially Greek."
Another perspective interprets the literary evidence and the archaeological-cultural differences between Macedonia and central-southern Greece before the 6th century and beyond as evidence that the Macedonians were originally non-Greek tribes who underwent a process of Hellenization. Accepting that political factors played a part, they highlight the degree of antipathy between Macedonians and Greeks, which was of a different quality to that seen among other Greek states—even those with a long-term history of mutual animosity (e.g. Sparta and Athens). According to these scholars, the Macedonians came to be regarded as "northern Greeks" only with the ongoing Hellenization of Macedonia and the emergence of Rome as a common enemy in the west. This coincides with the period during which ancient authors such as Polybius and Strabo called the ancient Macedonians "Greeks". By this point, as described by Isocrates, to have been a Greek could have defined a quality of culture and intelligence rather than a racial or ethnic affinity.
Modern scholarly discourse has produced several hypotheses about the Macedonians' place within the Greek world. Considering material remains of Greek-style monuments, buildings, inscriptions dating from the 5th century and the predominance of Greek personal names, one school of thought says that the Macedonians were "truly Greeks" who had retained a more archaic lifestyle than those living in Greece. This cultural discrepancy was used during the political struggles in Athens and Macedonia in the 4th century. Engels said the Greekness of the Epirotes, who led a similarly "archaic" life as the Macedonians, never drew as sharp a discussion than that of the Macedonians—perhaps because the Epirotes, unlike the Macedonians, never tried to achieve hegemony over all of Greece. This has been the predominant viewpoint since the 20th century. Worthington wrote, "... not much need to be said about the Greekness of ancient Macedonia: it is undeniable".
The Persians referred to both Greeks and Macedonians as Yauna ("Ionians", their term for "Greeks"), though they distinguished the "Yauna by the sea and across the sea" from the Yaunã Takabara or "Greeks with hats that look like shields", possibly referring to the Macedonian kausia hat. According to another interpretation, the Persians used such terms in a geographical rather than an ethnic sense. Yauna and its various attributes possibly referred to regions to the north and west of Asia Minor, which could have included Phrygians, Mysians, Aeolians, Thracians, and Paionians in addition to Greeks. In Hellenistic times, most Egyptians and Syrians included the Macedonians among the larger category of Greeks, as the Persians had done earlier.
After the 3rd century BC, and especially in Roman times, the Macedonians were consistently regarded as Greeks. For example, Polybius's Acarnanian character Lyciscus tells the Spartans that they are "of the same tribe" as the Achaeans and the Macedonians, who should be honoured because "throughout nearly their whole lives are ceaselessly engaged in a struggle with the barbarians for the safety of the Greeks". Polybius also used the phrase "Macedonia and the rest of Greece", and says that Philip V of Macedon associates himself with "the rest of the Greeks". In his text History of Rome, Livy states that the Macedonians, Aetolians and Acarnanians were "all men of the same language". Similar opinions are shared by Arrian, Strabo and Plutarch, who wrote of Aristotle advising Alexander "to have regard for the Greeks as for friends and kindred".
With Philip's conquest of Greece, Greeks and Macedonians enjoyed privileges at the royal court, and there was no social distinction among his court hetairoi, although Philip's armies were only ever led by Macedonians. The process of Greek and Macedonian syncretism culminated during the reign of Alexander the Great, and he allowed Greeks to command his armies. There was also some persisting antagonism between Macedonians and Greeks lasting into Antigonid times. Some Greeks continued to rebel against their Macedonian overlords throughout the Hellenistic era. They rejoiced on the death of Phillip II and they revolted against Alexander's Antigonid successors. The Greeks called this conflict the Hellenic War. However, Pan-Hellenic sloganeering was used by Greeks against Antigonid dominance; it was also used by Macedonians to corral popular support throughout Greece.
Isocrates defended Philip's Greek origins but did not think the same of his people. He wrote, "He (Perdiccas I) left the Greek world alone completely, but he desired to hold the kingship in Macedonia; for he understood that Greeks are not accustomed to submit themselves to monarchy whereas others are incapable of living their lives without domination of this sort ... for he alone of the Greeks deemed it fit to rule over an ethnically unrelated population". Nevertheless, Philip named the federation of Greek states he created with Macedon at its head—nowadays referred to as the League of Corinth—as simply "The Hellenes" (i.e. Greeks), and the Macedonians were granted two seats in the exclusively Greek Great Amphictyonic League in 346 BC when the Phocians were expelled. Badian sees it as a personal honour awarded to Phillip and not to the Macedonian people as a whole. Aeschines said that Phillip's father Amyntas III joined other Greeks in the Panhellenic congress of the Lacedaemonian allies, also known as the "Congress of Sparta", in a vote to help Athens recover possession of Amphipolis.
Ancient geographers differed in their views on the size of Macedonia and on the ethnicity of the Macedonians. Most ancient geographers did not include the core territories of the Macedonian kingdom in their definition of Greece, the reasons for which are unknown. For example, Strabo says that while "Macedonia is of course part of Greece, yet now, since I am following the nature and shape of the places geographically, I have chosen to classify it apart from the rest of Greece". Strabo supports the Greek ethnicity of the Macedonian people and wrote of the "Macedonians and the other Greeks", as does Pausanias, the latter of which did not include Macedonia in Hellas as indicated in Book 10 of his Description of Greece. Pausanias said that the Macedonians took part in the Amphictyonic League and that Caranus of Macedon—the mythical founder of the Argead dynasty—set up a trophy after the Argive fashion for a victory against Cisseus.
Although Thucydides's views on the Macedonians are inconsistent, it is unlikely that he considered the Macedonians as "barbarians" or even as "intermediates" since the Macedonian royal dynasty had already been recognized as Greek in Herodotus's account, which Thucydides also accepted. In parts of his work, Thucydides placed the Macedonians on his cultural continuum closer to barbarians than Hellenes, or an intermediate category between Greeks and non–Greeks. In other parts, he distinguishes between three groups fighting in the Peloponnesian War: The Greeks (including Peloponnesians), the barbarian Illyrians and the Macedonians. Recounting Brasidas's expedition to Lyncus, Thucydides considers Macedonians separate from the barbarians; he says, "In all there were about three thousand Hellenic heavy infantry, accompanied by all the Macedonian cavalry with the Chalcidians, near one thousand strong, besides an immense crowd of barbarians", and "night coming on, the Macedonians and the barbarian crowd took fright in a moment in one of those mysterious panics to which great armies are liable". More explicit is his recounting of Brasidas's speech where he tells his Peloponnesian troops to dispel fear of fighting against "barbarians: because they had already fought against Macedonians".
Thucydides and Herodotus regarded the Macedonians as either northern Greeks, barbarians or an intermediate group between "pure" Greeks and barbarians. In the Histories (5.20.4) Herodotus calls king Alexander I an anēr Hellēn Makedonōn huparchos, or "a Greek who ruled over Macedonians", which may also indicate that the country was included in the Persian Empire's administrative structure. The term hyparchos ("subordinate governor") could indicate that Alexander submitted to the Persian king, in return keeping his reign over the Macedonians, or could have been used to describe province governors appointed to the Persian king but also to describe officials of lower rank. In 7.130.3 he says that the Thessalians were the "first of the Greeks" to submit to Xerxes, implying that Thessalians medised as soon as Persians reached their borders. In the first book of the Histories, Herodotus recalls a reliable tradition according to which the Greek ethnos, in its wandering, was called "Macedonian" when it settled around Pindus and "Dorian" when it came to the Peloponnese, and in the eighth book he groups several Greek tribes under "Macedonians" and "Dorians", implying that the Macedonians were Greeks.
These early writers and their formulation of genealogical relationships demonstrate that before the 5th century, Greekness was defined on an ethnic basis and was legitimized by tracing descent from eponymous Hellen. Subsequently, cultural considerations assumed greater importance.
The earliest reference about Greek attitudes towards the Macedonian ethnos as a whole comes from Hesiod's Catalogue of Women. The eponymous Makedon and his brother Magnes are made sons of Zeus and Thyia, daughter of Deucalion. The Magnetes, descendants of Magnes, were an Aeolian tribe; according to Hammond this places the Macedonians among the Greeks. Engels also wrote that Hesiod counted the Macedonians as Greeks, while Hall said that "according to strict genealogical logic, [this] excludes the population that bears [Macedon's] name from the ranks of the Hellenes". Two later writers deny Macedon a Hellenic lineage: Apollodorus (3.8.1) makes him a son of Lycaon, son of earth-born Pelasgus, whilst Pseudo–Scymnos (6.22) makes him born directly from the earth; Apollodorus (3.8.1), however, is technically identifying Macedon with the Greek royalty of Arcadia, thus placing Macedonia within the orbit of the most archaic of Greek myths. Hellanicus modified Hesiod's genealogy by making Makedon the son of Aeolus, firmly placing the Macedonians in the Aeolic Greek-speaking family.
Ancient sources on the Macedonian people
This was obvious political slander and is regarded as "an insulting speech", but "the orator clearly could not do this, if his audience was likely to regard his claim as nonsense: it could not be said of a Theban, or even a Thessalian". Demosthenes's allegations were lent an appearance of credibility by the fact that the life-style of the Macedonians, being determined by specific geographical and historical conditions, was different from that of a Greek city-state but was common to western Greeks of Epirus, Acarnania and Aetolia, as well as to the Macedonians, and their fundamental Greek nationality was never doubted. Demosthenes regarded only those who had reached the cultural standards of southern Greece as Greek and he did not take ethnological criteria into consideration, and his corpus is considered an "oratory designed to sway public opinion at Athens and thereby to formulate public policy." Isocrates believed that only Macedonia was capable of leading a war against Persia; he felt compelled to say that Phillip was a "bona fide" Hellene by discussing his Argead and Heraclean heritage.
Although most contemporary Greek writers accepted the Argeads as Greek, they expressed an air of ambiguity about them—specifically their monarchic institutions and their background of Persian alliance—often portraying them as a potential barbarian threat to Greece. For example, the late 5th century sophist Thrasymachus of Chalcedon wrote, "we Greeks are enslaved to the barbarian Archelaus" (Fragment 2), however, the term barbarian was also used by Greeks, especially Athenians, to deride other Greeks. The issue of Macedonian Hellenicity and that of their royal house was particularly pertinent in the 4th century BC regarding the politics of invading Persia. Demosthenes regarded Macedonia's monarchy to be incongruous with an Athenian-led Pan-Hellenic alliance. He castigated Philip II for being "neither Greek nor a remote relative of the Greeks, nor even a respectable barbarian, but one of those cursed Macedonians ..."
The emphasis on the Heraclean ancestry of the Argeads served to heroicize the royal family and to provide a sacred genealogy which established a "divine right to rule" over their subjects. The Macedonian royal family, like those of Epirus, emphasized "blood and kinship in order to construct for themselves a heroic genealogy that sometimes also functioned as a Hellenic genealogy".
In Homer, the term Argead was used as a collective designation for the Greeks ("Ἀργείων Δαναῶν", Argive Danaans). Herodotus provides the mythical story about the Greek roots of the Argead royal house and with the list of the seven earliest Macedonian kings (8.137–138), which is our essential guideline in any attempt to reconstruct early Macedonian history. The earliest version of the Temenid foundation myth was circulated by Alexander I via Herodotus during his apparent appearance at the Olympic Games. Despite protests from some competitors, the Hellanodikai ("Judges of the Greeks") accepted Alexander's Greek genealogy, as did Herodotus and later Thucydides. In accepting his Greek credentials, the judges were either moved by the evidence or did so out of political considerations—as a reward for services to Hellas. The historicity of Alexander I's participation in the Olympics has been doubted by some scholars, who see the story as a piece of propaganda engineered by the Argeads and spread by Herodotus. Alexander's name does not appear in any list of Olympic victors. That there were protests from other competitors suggests that the supposed Argive genealogy of the Argeads "was far from mainstream knowledge". According to some, the appellation "Philhellene" was "surely not an appellation that could be given to an actual Greek", however, the term "philhellene" (fond of the Greeks) has been used as a title for Greek patriots. Whatever the case, according to Hall, "what mattered was that Alexander had played the genealogical game à la grecque and played it well, perhaps even excessively".
Ancient sources on the Argeads
Most ancient sources on the Macedonians come from outside Macedonia. According to Eugene N. Borza, most of these sources are either ill-informed, hostile or both, making the Macedonians one of the "silent" peoples of the ancient Mediterranean. Most of the literary evidence comes from later sources focusing on the campaigns of Alexander the Great rather than on Macedonia itself. Most contemporaneous evidence on Philip is Athenian and hostile. Moreover, most ancient sources focus on the deeds of Macedonian kings in connection with political and military events such as the Peloponnesian War. Evidence about the ethnic identity of Macedonians of lower social status from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period is highly fragmentary and unsatisfactory. For information about Macedonia before Philip, historians must rely on archaeological inscriptions and material remains, a few fragments from historians whose work is now lost, occasional passing mentions in Herodotus and Thucydides, and universal histories from the Roman era.
Nature of sources
Another source of evidence is metalinguistics and the question of mutual intelligibility. The available literary evidence has no details about the exact nature of Macedonian; however it suggests that Macedonian and Greek were sufficiently different that there were communication difficulties between Greek and Macedonian contingents, necessitating the use of interpreters as late as the time of Alexander the Great. Based on this evidence, Papazoglou has written that Macedonian could not have been a Greek dialect, however, evidence for non-intelligibility exists for other ancient Greek dialects such as Aetolian and Aeolic Greek. Moreover, according to the Athenian orator Aeschines, Macedonian ambassadors appeared before the Athenian Assembly, attended by all male citizens over the age of 18, without interpreters and Livy wrote that when Aemilius Paulus called together representatives of the defeated Macedonian communities, his Latin pronouncements were translated for the benefit of the assembled Macedonians into Greek.
Several hypotheses have consequently been proposed as to the position of Macedonian, all of which broadly regard it as either a peripheral Greek dialect, a separate but related language (see Hellenic languages), or a hybridized idiom. Drawing on the similarities between Macedonian, Greek and Brygian, several scholars wrote that they formed an Indo-European macro-dialectical group, which split before circa 14th–13th century BC before the appearance of the main Greek dialects. The same data has been analyzed in an alternative manner, which regards the formation of the main Greek dialects as a later convergence of related but distinct groups. Macedonian did not fully participate in this process, making its ultimate position—other than being a contiguous, related 'minor' language—difficult to define.
Macedonian has a close structural and lexical affinity with other Greek dialects, especially Northwest Greek and Thessalian. Most of the words are Greek, although some of these could represent loans or cognate forms. Alternatively, a number of phonological, lexical and onomastic features set Macedonian apart. These latter features, possibly representing traces of a substrate language, occur in what are considered to be particularly conservative systems of the language.
In Macedonian onomastics, most personal names are recognizably Greek (e.g. Alexandros, Philippos, Dionysios, Apollonios, Demetrios), with some dating back to Homeric (e.g. Ptolemaeos) or Mycenean times, though non-Greek names (e.g. "Bithys") are occasionally found here. Macedonian toponyms and hydronyms are mostly of Greek origin (e.g. Aegae, Dion, Pieria, Haliacmon), as are the names of the months of the Macedonian calendar and the names of most of the deities the Macedonians worshiped; according to Hammond, these are not late borrowings. Nevertheless, the linguistic community has not reached a definitive conclusion.
Attempts to classify Ancient Macedonian are hindered by the lack of surviving Ancient Macedonian texts; it was a mainly oral language and most archaeological inscriptions indicate that in Macedonia there was no dominant written language besides Attic and later Koine Greek. All surviving epigraphical evidence from grave markers and public inscriptions is in Greek. Classification attempts are based on a vocabulary of 150-200 words and 200 personal names assembled mainly from the 5th century lexicon of Hesychius of Alexandria and a few surviving fragmentary inscriptions, coins and occasional passages in ancient sources. Most of the vocabulary is regular Greek, with tendencies toward Doric Greek and Aeolic Greek. There can be found some Illyrian and Thracian elements. The Pella curse tablet, which was found in 1986 at Pella and dates to the mid-4th century BC or slightly earlier, is believed to be the only substantial attested text in Macedonian. The language of the tablet is a harsh but a distinctly recognizable form of Northwest Greek. The tablet has been used to support the argument that ancient Macedonian was a Northwest Greek dialect and mainly a Doric dialect. Hatzopoulos's analysis revealed some tendencies toward the Aeolic Greek dialect.
For administrative and political purposes, Attic Greek seems to have operated as a lingua franca among the ethno-linguistically diverse communities of Macedonia and the north Aegean region, creating a diglossic linguistic area. Attic Greek was standardized as the language of the court, formal discourse and diplomacy from as early as the time of Archelaus at the end of the 5th century BC. Attic was further spread by Macedonia's conquests. Although Macedonian continued to be spoken well into Antigonid times, It became the prevalent oral dialect in Macedonia and throughout the Macedonian-ruled Hellenistic world.
A notable feature of Macedonian culture was the ostentatious burials reserved for its rulers. The Macedonian elite built lavish tombs at the time of death rather than constructing temples during life. Such traditions had been practiced throughout Greece and the central-west Balkans since the Bronze Age. Macedonian burials contain items similar to those at Mycenae, such as burial with weapons, gold death masks etc. From the 6th century, Macedonian burials became particularly lavish, displaying a rich variety of Greek imports reflecting the incorporation of Macedonia into a wider economic and political network centred on the Aegean city-states. Burials contained jewellery and ornaments of unprecedented wealth and artistic style. This zenith of Macedonian "warrior burial" style closely parallels those of sites in south-central Illyria and western Thrace, creating a koinon of elite burials. Lavish warrior burials had been discontinued in southern and central Greece from the 7th century onwards, where offerings at sanctuaries and the erection of temples became the norm. From the 6th century BC, cremation replaced the traditional inhumation rite for elite Macedonians. One of the most lavish tombs dating from the 4th century, believed to be that of Phillip II, is at Vergina. It contains extravagant grave goods, highly sophisticated artwork depicting hunting scenes and Greek cultic figures, and a vast array of weaponry. This demonstrates a continuing tradition of the warrior society rather than a focus on religious piety and technology of the intellect, which had become paramount facets of central Greek society in the classical period.
Other deities worshipped by the ancient Macedonians were part of a local pantheon which included Thaulos (god of war equated with Ares), Gyga (later equated with Athena), Gozoria (goddess of hunting equated with Artemis), Zeirene (goddess of love equated with Aphrodite) and Xandos (god of light). A notable influence on Macedonian religious life and worship was neighbouring Thessaly; the two regions shared many similar cultural institutions. The Macedonians also worshiped non-Greek gods, such as the "Thracian rider", Orpheus and Bendis, and other Balkan cult figures. They were tolerant of, and open to, incorporating foreign religious influences such as the sun-cult worship of the Paeonians. By the 4th century BC, there had been a significant fusion of Macedonian and common Greek religious identity, but Macedonia was nevertheless characterized by an unusually diverse religious life. This diversity extended to the belief in magic, as evidenced by curse tablets. It was a significant but secret aspect of Greek cultural practice.
The ancient Macedonians worshipped the Olympic Pantheon, especially Zeus, Artemis, Heracles, and Dionysus. Ancient Greeks regarded it as an essential element of Hellenic identity to share common religious beliefs and to come together at regular intervals at Panhellenic sanctuaries (Olympia, Delphi, Nemea/Argos, etc.) in order to celebrate Panhellenic festivals. Most of the gods who were worshipped in southern Greece can also be found in the Macedonian pantheon and the names of the most important Macedonian religious festivals are also typically Greek. Evidence of this worship exists from the beginning of the 4th century BC onwards, but little evidence of Macedonian religious practices from earlier times exists. From an early period, Zeus was the single most important deity in the Macedonian pantheon. Makedon, the mythical ancestor of the Macedonians, was held to be a son of Zeus, and Zeus features prominently in Macedonian coinage. The most important centre of worship of Zeus was at Dion in Pieria, the spiritual centre of the Macedonians, where beginning in 400 BC King Archelaus established an annual festival, which in honour of Zeus featured lavish sacrifices and athletic contests. Worship of Zeus's son Heracles was also prominent; coins featuring Heracles appear from the 5th century BC onwards. This was in large part because the Argead kings of Macedon traced their lineage to Heracles, making sacrifices to him in the Macedonian capitals of Vergina and Pella. Numerous votive reliefs and dedications also attest to the importance of the worship of Artemis. Artemis was often depicted as a huntress and served as a tutelary goddess for young girls entering the coming-of-age process, much as Heracles Kynagidas (Hunter) did for young men who had completed it. By contrast, some deities popular elsewhere in the Greek world—notably Poseidon and Hephaistos—were largely ignored by the Macedonians.
Nevertheless, Alexander the Great sponsored athletic contests for his men; along with other facets of cultural life, such as philosophy and theatre, which increasingly incorporated Macedonia into the Greek world. Atticization was seen as early as King Archelaus' reign, who welcomed southern Greek intellectuals into the kingdom. Athenian playwrights such as Euripides and Agathon and the famous painter Zeuxis, all were influential in the early kingdom. Euripides wrote his last two tragedies at Archelaus's court.
An important aspect of Macedonian social life were court symposia, which were characterized by heavy drinking (of apparently unmixed wine), feasting, and general debauchery. Symposia had several functions, amongst which was providing relief from the hardship of battle and marching. Symposia were Greek traditions since Homeric times, providing a venue for interaction amongst Macedonian elites. An ethos of egalitarianism surrounded symposia, allowing all male elites to express ideas and concerns, although built-up rivalries and excessive drinking often led to quarrels, fighting and even murder. The degree of extravagance and propensity for violence set Macedonian symposia apart from classical Greek symposia. Like symposia, hunting was another focus of elite activity, and it remained popular throughout Macedonia's history. Young men participating in symposia were only allowed to recline after having killed their first wild boar. Although the Macedonians created their own athletic games and, after the late 4th century, non-royal Macedonians competed and became victors in the Olympic Games and other athletic events such as the Argive Heraean Games, athletics were a less favored pastime compared to hunting.
Macedonian society was dominated by aristocratic families whose main source of wealth and prestige was their herds of horses and cattle. In this respect, Macedonia was similar to Thessaly and Thrace. However, unlike Thessaly, Macedonia was ruled by a monarchy from its earliest history until the Roman conquest in 167 BC. The nature of the kingship, however, remains debated. One viewpoint sees it as an autocracy, whereby the king held absolute power. Any other position of authority, including the army, was appointed at the whim of the king himself. The other, "constitutionalist", position argues that there was an evolution from a society of many minor "kings" — each of equal authority — to a sovereign military state whereby an army of citizen soldiers supported a central king against a rival class of nobility. Kingship was hereditary along the main male line, however, whether this was of a primogeniture nature remains to be established. The situation was further complicated by the fact that Macedonian kings were notoriously polygamist, sometimes resulting in sibling rivalry and even fratricide.
Macedonian settlements have a strong continuity dating from the Bronze Age, keeping traditionally used house construction techniques. While settlement numbers appeared to drop in central and southern Greece after 1,000 BC, there is a dramatic increase in Macedonia. These settlements seemed to have developed on raised promontories near river flood plains called tells (Greek: τύμβοι). These are particularly focussed in western Macedonia between Florina and Lake Vergiotis, the upper and middle Heliacmon River, and Bottiaea. The other focus is on either side of the Axius and in the Chalcidice in eastern Macedonia. Urbanization was encouraged and controlled by Macedonian kings. A comparatively meager number of Macedonians lived in the few native Macedonian cities such as Aegeae, Pella and Dion, but urbanization increased by the 4th century BC as Greek colonies were conquered and integrated into Macedonia or new towns such as Philippi, Thessalonike and Alexandropolis were founded. These towns had typical Greek urban infrastructural features, such as gymnasia, temples and theaters.
During the Late Bronze Age (circa 15th century BC), the ancient Macedonians developed distinct, matt-painted wares that evolved from Middle Helladic pottery traditions originating in central and southern Greece. The Macedonians continued to use an individualized form of material culture—albeit showing analogies in ceramic, ornamental and burial forms with the so-called Lausitz culture between 1200–900 BC—and that of the Glasinac culture after circa 900 BC. While some of these influences persisted beyond the 6th century BC, a more ubiquitous presence of items of an Aegean-Mediterranean character is seen from the latter 6th century BC, as Greece recovered from its Dark Ages. Southern Greek impulses penetrated Macedonia via trade with north Aegean colonies such as Methone and those in the Chalcidice, neighbouring Thessaly, and from the Ionic colonies of Asia Minor. Ionic influences were later supplanted by those of Athenian provenance. Thus, by the latter 6th century, local elites could acquire exotic Aegean items such as Athenian red figure pottery, fine tablewares, olive oil and wine amphorae, fine ceramic perfume flasks, glass, marble and precious metal ornaments—all of which would serve as status symbols. By the 5th century BC, these items became widespread in Macedonia and in much of the central Balkans.
By contrast, the alluvial plains of Lower Macedonia and Pelagonia, which had a comparative abundance of natural resources such as timber and minerals, favored the development of a native aristocracy with a wealth, which at times surpassed the classical Greek poleis. Exploitation of minerals helped expedite the introduction of coinage in Macedonia from the 5th century BC, developing under southern Greek, Thracian and Persian influences. In contrast with classical Greek poleis, the Macedonians generally possessed very few slaves.
 (Themida). The inscriptions demonstrate that Hellenism in Upper Macedonia was at a high economic, artistic, and cultural level by the 6th century BC—overturning the notion that Upper Macedonia was culturally and socially isolated from the rest of ancient Greece.Θέμιδα The finds also include some of the oldest samples of writing in Macedonia, among them inscriptions bearing Greek names like , they can be dated with certainty to the 14th century BC.Μycenaean sherds Found with