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The Theft of a King – Who Stole Alexander April 24, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia.
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The aim of this work is to present to my readers the other side of the story, the one that 19th century European intellectuals have forgotten to tell, or purposefully neglected to mention in their portrayal of the Macedonians. I have attempted, with no heed to political correctness, to simply tell our view of the events that have taken place in the last few centuries and to show how these events affected the Macedonian people in general and their existence in particular. The various topics that I have covered and discussed with my opponents represent my views only; my heartfelt feelings and frustrations about the Macedonian plight that to many of you, was, and still is, terra incognita.

I find 19th century European power brokers responsible for our continued sufferings in the hands of our neighbors who, even today, continue to deny our existence as people. I find today’s European parliamentarians responsible for their tacit approval of Greece ‘s treatment of Macedonian minority living in Greece . Condoning such an intolerant behavior from members of EU, illustrates lack of respect for their own constitution, lapse in judicial prudence and moral degradation of their own charter on Human Rights.

I am disappointed and frankly disillusioned, by the number of offenses committed against the Macedonian identity and language within EU and even in the UN itself. European parliamentarians can no longer deny that Greece ‘s fight with the Republic of Macedonia is not about the name, but about our existence as ethnic Macedonians. The disappearance of the Macedonian language from the Macedonian ID card in UN cannot be attributed to unintentional oversight or a typographical error. Someone had to go there and erase it and, I am sure, it wasn’t a person from Madegascar that did it. To keep silent, when a crime of this magnitude occurs, is nothing else but guilt by association. In my opinion, it is high noon for all interested in justice and humanity to come together to review, analyze and to correct past historical misconceptions. As countries evolve and mature, so should their political and social thinking.

If modern day Greeks succeed in their diplomatic offensive to convince the world that Alexander the Great and his Macedonians were actually Greeks, then such a verdict may accomplish two things: (a) prove that historical evidence can be ignored (and in this case it would be), that records can be manipulated and subverted, and (b) inflict irreparable damage to the confidence and the faith entrusted in the hands of scholars and academic institutions world wide. Such a verdict will amount to nothing less than the theft of a king. On the other hand, if justice prevails, as it should, then we may safely conclude that Alexander and his legacy would continue to rest among his Macedonians whom he considered his natural kinsmen and with whom he shared his troubles, setbacks, sufferings and pain as well as jubilation in his victories.

While one can sympathize with the plight of today’s Greeks to hold on to the stolen legacy of the ancient Macedonians (the financial revenues obtained from Alexander’s glorious exploits and fame is more than substantial), one cannot, and should not, sacrifice the intellectual integrity of the historical scholarship because of it.

That is why, it is incumbent upon today’s historiographers and scholars not to succumb to nationalistically driven political agendas, nor to surrender their integrity to the lure of patriotically motivated self aggrandizements, but instead, uphold the reliability and the honor bestowed in academic scholarship. Their personal convictions should rest strictly and solely on the strength and the quality of the evidentiary documents at hand.

Facts should not be allowed to fall under subjective scrutiny nor should they be exposed to rhetorical manipulations and undue dilution of validity. Comparative analysis, the backbone of any evaluation, and a strict adherence to academic principals and guidelines must be the vanguard of every scholarly research. (l) Science and scientific principals ought not to be placed in the services of politicians nor should they become instruments of nationalistic propaganda.

I am saddened and quite disappointed by the EU scholars and parliamentarians for their frequent insensitivities shown towards Macedonia and the Macedonian citizens. It must be born in mind that historical data is not the sole property of a selected few self-appointed jurors and arbitrators. We must not forget that the less fortunate are not also less deserving, and that human rights and justice is not an inherited commodity reserved for a chosen few. Justice should not trail behind our deeds, but our deeds should pave the way to justice. A passage from Plutarch (Lives) comes to mind:

“Exploits do not always reveal clearly the virtue or vice in men; sometimes a phrase or jest informs us better of their character than the most famous sieges.” True indeed, sometimes just a phrase, or even a tacit nod of approval may reveal more about the person’s virtue than the whole speech on trivial, bureaucratic matters. Conversely, implicit silence displayed in a public forum may speak much louder then a roar in an empty stadium.

European intellectuals cannot continue to blame the ancient Macedonians for the demise of Athens , and whence, the rest of the classical Greece because of Chaeronea . Philip and his Macedonians were not too far behind the development of the more pedantic and ethnocentric Greeks in the 4th century B.C…

Athens and Greek cities, as a whole, had reached their zenith of development and were, like it or not, on their way down. Macedonians provided the knockout punch only to an already exhausted and demoralized opponent. Western intellectuals should leave their in- grained prejudices behind and distance themselves from Droysen’s inverted obsession with “glorious” Greece and reflect upon the legacy and the greatness of the ancient Macedonians. They, the Macedonians, whose exploits have been railroaded by Droysen’s “Hellenism” , ought to be given their rightful place in the history of the world and thus, should be seen not through the western colored glass of Hellenism, but through their own Macedonian valor and credibility.

Western philhellenes, eventually, must come to the realization that ancient Macedonians were, indeed, capable and competent enough to envision, plan and execute such a lofty dream and become masters of the ancient world. They did not need the Greeks for this ambitious adventure. Truth is that from the conquered Greeks they got nothing but continuous trouble on the way. One can successfully argue the point that they were an impediment to them. More than 50,000 Greeks were employed in the services of the Persian king and fought Alexander’s Macedonians to the bitter end.

The ancient world did not revolve around Athens as you wish to convince us. Things did not originate with the ancient Greeks and, no, Greece was not the center of the universe. The splendor of Babylon , Persopolis, Memphis and the rest of Asia were far superior to anything found in the Aegean . It was Macedon with its disciplined army that opened the gates toward the eastern civilization and wealth, not Greece .

Because of these Macedonians, Western Europe enjoyed an era of enlightenment and economic and spiritual prosperity. It was through the sacrifices that Europe enjoyed financial upheaval and artistic enrichments. Because of Philip’s designs and Alexander’s energetic exploratory nature, Europeans found them- selves traversing the silk roads to China . Indeed, it was the Macedonian soldiers who opened the markets to Persepolis , Babylon , Alexandria , Antioch and Kandahar . These people, these soldiers, were Alexander’s kinsmen; they were his Macedonians, not Greeks. They fought for their king Alexander whom they revered as primus inter pares. There was nothing Greek about them. “The defeat at Chaeronea was a disaster for all the Greeks,” wrote Pausanias (9.6.5), true enough, but that must not be taken in its literal sense. Philip neither was the cause for the Greek demise, nor the culprit for the European philhellenes’ dissatisfaction.

Similarly, the battle at Thermopylae cannot be equated with the preservation of democracy, rationalism, and the philosophy. (2) Tom Holland’s passage in his book Persian Fire, that reads ‘Plato would not have existed if the Persians had not been expelled from Europe’, is as valid a paradigm as saying that Europeans would have never enjoyed silk and spices if it wasn’t for Alexander’s conquest of Asia and the eastern influx of luxuries towards the west. Indeed, much has been said about Aristotle’s influence on Alexander but not much is recalled what Alexander did for Aristotle. (3) It is equally dangerous to associate and attach sinister connotations to anything coming down from Persia . Persian art and culture, in many respects and concepts, had much surpassed that of which was known and found in Greece . Science, like astrology and mathematics, is one such example.

Western historians, for obvious reasons, I may add, have left the impression that Alexander spread Hellenic culture in Asia and established his empire upon the Greek concepts or model of state; that is certainly not the case. The truth is that his new Eurasian state was fashioned out of Macedonian leadership upon Persian concepts. (4) Alexander and his Macedonians could not have spread Hellenic culture in Asia because (a) Macedonians were not in possession of such culture and (b) Asiatics were no less cultured than the Greeks.

We came to understand that Asiatics’ culture and Asiatics’ art and philosophy were not only influential in Alexander’s governing of the empire, but were significantly instrumental in shaping his global outlook on things in general. Fact is that he was greatly touched by the philosophy of the Magi, the wealth of Persia and the wisdom of Egypt . Even though, the intermingling of European and Asian cultures benefited both peoples, we may safely conclude that Europeans were influenced more by the Asiatics than the other way around; the traffic moved eastward by troves and much less in the opposite direction. “The tide of migration to the east started by Alexander was running too strong to be checked,” writes Harold Lamb. “The discoveries in the east drew the more adventurous souls from the shores and islands of the Mediterranean toward the gold and the vast farmlands of Asia .” (5)

And thus, we must come to grips with the realization that Hellenism, as promoted by Droysen, did not enlighten the east. Ancient Greeks may have been in possession of a lit candle but the fire, certainly came from the east. Surely, Asiatics were not what western writers conveniently described them as: effeminate, religious devotees with negroidal features and lowly cowards languishing in dark mysticism.

Fact is also that many of the modern western European historians blundered excessively when they describe the Macedonian conquest of Persia as a Greek conquest. It must be stressed that we have no records left to us from the ancient chronographers to support that kind of thinking. If not from the ancient chronographers, we must ask, where would the evidence come from? Why disseminate falsehoods? Where were the Greek troops? (6) Weren’t they dismissed from service with Alexander only a few short years in the campaign? (7) Are we going to overlook this profound fact in favor of perpetuating falsehood and allow the Greeks to put a claim on Alexander? Ask yourselves this question: Could Alexander fit in this role as a Greek King? Does he have the credentials for it? Or let us reverse the roles and entertain these questions: Did the ancient Greeks think of him as their king? Were behaviors and attitudes of the ancient Greeks towards Alexander befitting a king?

Before we attempt to answer the questions, we need to compare and contrast both: (a) the Asiatics perception of him in the eastern provinces of the empire and (b) the attitude and the perception of the mainland Greeks toward Alexander.

(a) While in Egypt he was adapted as the son of Ammon Re, accepted as the Pharaoh of Egypt and the inheritor of Nectatanebus kingdom.8 In Persia he had become (in their legendry) the true son of the last of the royal line of Kurush the Achaemenian. In Ethiopian fables he was a miraculous healer. The Armenians and the Syrians followed suit. In India he was a friend of the rajahs of the Punjab and in Judea , a protector of the high priest. Even the Byzantines regarded him as a hero-king who opened the silk roads to China . Next, a very important and revealing point must be stressed and taken under consideration: for the duration of his reign, the eastern part of the empire was at peace.

(b) In Greece Alexander was met with discontent, rebellions and hate. Greeks did not regard him as their king and that his success in Asia was not a cause for joy and celebration but a reason for concern. While he was fighting Darius, Greeks sent envoys to the Persian King asking for gold to hire mercenary armies to fight the Macedonian conquerors. “Freedom for the Greeks” was their unifying cry and Demosthenes never stopped to rally the Greeks to overthrow the Macedonian yoke.

Remember Plutarch’s line, above, about the importance of things that: “exploits do not always reveal clearly the virtue or vice in men; sometimes a phrase or jest informs us better of their character?” How true and how revealing is this Demades’ line upon hearing the news that Alexander had died in Asia . “If Alexander were really dead,” he declared, “the stench of the corpse would have filled the world long before.” (9)

Thus, just one line, one simple gesture, one sentence uttered by, not anyone in Greece, but Demades himself, who is credited for saving Athens from the enraged Alexander after Thebes, and then, called up again to save her for the second time from Antipater’s wrath later.

While Asiatic nations accepted Alexander as their king and bestowed honors upon him, in Greece he was despised and hated as a conqueror. It was certainly, their fervent hope that he would perish in Asia . If Alexander was indeed a Greek king, would the Greeks celebrate dancing on the street adorned with garlands, upon the news that their king has died? (10)

Furthermore, if in retrospect, we dare to compare the general situation in the eastern provinces of Alexander’s Empire with that in Greece proper, we will come away convinced that, throughout the eastern provinces during the reign of Alexander, relative peace prevailed everywhere except in Greece ; there were no uprisings of any kind ever recorded, except in Greece . Common logic dictates that we ask ourselves the obvious question: If Alexander was a Greek king and he supposedly went to Asia to avenge the wrongs done to Greece by the Persians, then, how is it possible that these same Greeks rebel against their own king? Isn’t it a fact that Greeks corroborated with the Persian King while Alexander was at war with him? (11) Didn’t Agis III, the King of Sparta start an uprising against King Alexander and his Macedonians in 331? (12) Is there any sublime logic that I have failed to understand here? Do I need to remind you that some historians consider the battle at Megalopolis between the Greeks and the Macedonians to have been the biggest battle in Greek history? (Diodorus, World History, 17.62.1-63.4; tr. C.B. Welles).

How is it conceivable that none of the conquered nations rebelled against Alexander except “his own subjects”, the Greeks? Do European parliamentarians see this Greek behavior as normal? Should we mention the Greek mercenaries in Bactria who rebelled against the Macedonians at the moment they learned about Alexander’s death? (13)

Last, but not least, in the light of such preponderance of examples that explicitly testify to the inadmissibility of the Greek claims, isn’t it quite ironic that most of the European parliamentarians have remained silent? If nothing else, and even if we elect to ignore the words of the Macedonian kings and side with today’s Greeks that Alexander was a Greek king, do you not find the fact that he spent no more than a month out of his whole life on Greek soil, odd and slightly curious? Furthermore, do you not find the fact that while in Greece , even though for a very short time, he was always accompanied by his army, a bit suspicious?

These examples amply demonstrate the attitude and the feelings of the “liberty loving Greeks” towards Alexander. Even a ‘blind person’ can see that these two pictures, these two contrasting scenarios, are not compatible with the vehement portrayal of Alexander as a Greek King by today’s Greeks. Literary evidence, if anybody cares to consult, would simply- not allow such a hijacking to occur. Prominent scholars have explicitly stated that ancient Macedonians linguistically, culturally and ethnically were not Greeks and ‘this must be an accurate reflection of contemporary attitudes’. (14) Do European parliamentarians and bureaucrats comprehend the scope, the magnitude and the meaning of these few lines? Eugene Borza’s summation is also compellingly convincing: “Over five-centuries span of writings in two languages representing a variety of historiographical and philosophical positions the ancient writers regarded the Greeks and Macedonians as two separate and distinct peoples.” (15)

Equally preposterous and historically inadmissible is the term “Greek Empire” used instead of Macedonian Empire. There are no records available whether be it from Roman, Greek or Asiatic source where such terminology has ever been used and applied. This is another unpleasant residue from Droysen’s Hellenismus.

Consequently, and with added discomfort, one is tempted to ask: where are your sources? Where is the evidence? I am quite curious, and frankly, much disturbed by the audacity and the silence displayed by the European intellectuals who, in my opinion, know the truth but because of political constrains are afraid to speak out. Why allow falsehood to be perpetuated? Why pretend that it does not affect you or it is not within your domain of interest? If you gentlemen represent democratic Europe and claim that you follow and adhere to the guidelines of the European constitution, then, it is certainly your responsibility as a human being, and as a member of a democratic union of Europe , to intervene and stop, or at least attempt to modify, the abusive behavior of one of your constitutive member nations. Thus, every scholar, every intellectual who knows the facts, knows that a member state of the union propagates deceitful evidence, distorts the truth and is allowed unimpeded to continue spreading falsehood, has a part in that falsehood himself or herself.

How many times do Macedonians need to pay for your benevolent attitude towards Greece ? You know quite well what had transpired after the Balkan Wars. I do not intend to remind you but was secretly hoping that you would react to the Greek slogan of ” Macedonia was always Greek”. But not even a whisper came from you!

Was Macedonia always Greek, gentlemen? When was it Greek? Was it Greek during Philip’s time? Was it Greek after Alexander’s death? Perhaps, it was Greek during the Roman times? How about during the Ottoman Era? Was it Greek then? This is a falsehood and you allow falsehood to prevail. Silence is a sign of approval.

Greeks would not be acting with this much recklessness, impunity and bravado without your support. Now, emboldened by your explicit and implicit sup- port, they have moved forward and want to take, not just our Macedonian name, but also our identity, our language and our cultural heritage. And yet, you still remain silent as if we do not exist as people, as human beings with feelings and integrity. You gentlemen in the European parliament are disgusting hypocrites. On paper you roar like lions; in action you tuck tail and run like the cowards that you are.

I will leave you with the words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “You can crush all the roses you want, but you will not stop the spring from coming!”

NOTES:

1 Charles Bryant Abraham, PhD Fellow remarks regarding Anna Panagiotou’s study (pp. 187 -188), “He Glossa ton Archaion Epigraphon tes Makedonias,” (“The language of the Ancient Inscriptions of Macedonia.”

2 Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West. Tom Holland. ISBN 0-316-72664-8.

3 Harold Lamb, Alexander of Macedon, (p. 185)

4 Ibid (p. 185)

5 Ibid (p.275).

6 Peter Green in Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C., A Historical Biography p.157.

7 [Arr. 111.19.6-7; Plut. AI. 42.5; Diod. XYII.74.3-4; Curt. VI.2.17]

8 See my reference on p. 253.

9 Demades in Plut. Phoc. 22.

10 The life of Greece “, by Will Durant, pp.552-53.)

11 See Hogarth Philip and Alexander of Macedon (1897: 185)

12 See Bosworth (1988a: 187-228); Heckel (1997); McQueen (1978); Cawkwell (1969); Borza (J 971); Curt. 6.1.1-21; Just. 12.1.4- 11; Arr. Anob.2.15.2-5).

13 For the rebellion of the mercenaries in the upper satrapies, please see Diod. XVI 11.7; Curt. 9.7.1-11. Also “A memorable encounter” on p. 84.

14 Historical Sources in Translation Alexander the Great, W. Heckel and J. C. Yardley (2004:7).

15 (Eugene Borza ‘Who Were (and Are) the Macedonians?” (Abstract from a paper presented at the 1996 Annual meeting of the American Philological Association). http://www.apaclassics.org/AnnualMeeting/96program.html)

The Theft of a King – Who Stole Alexander
ISBN: 978-1-4327-6856-0
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.

By Gandeto, J.S.G.

1. What is the book about?

The book centers on Alexander the Great and the Ancient Macedonians’ ethnicity. It elaborates topics related to the differences between the ancient Macedonians and the ancient Greeks and attempts to dispel the modern notion – one originating in the 19th century and thereafter propagated by some western authors – that ancient Macedonians “were” Greeks. Also, in the book the reader will find glimpses of today’s dispute between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece regarding the name of the Republic of Macedonia, in essence, what lies hidden behind this carefully orchestrated Greek problem with the name. Readers will have a chance to get acquainted with modern-day Balkan politics where deep-rooted historical intrigues, stereotyping and ingrained prejudices do justice for tolerance and rational thought.

The book offers glimpses into our continuous struggle to return Alexander to his rightful place – among his Macedonian kinsmen. Yes, it is a feeble voice in the dark, but a voice nevertheless, that isn’t going to die any time soon. Through the topics discussed in the book, the reader will have a chance to see and understand the other side of the story. In the words of Marquez Garcia, “Our enemies have crushed many roses before but they haven’t succeeded in stopping the spring from coming.”

Compelling questions:
..If Alexander the Great was a Greek king, why would he dismiss his own “Greek” troops in the middle of his Asian campaign in 330 B.C.? (Arr. III.19.6-7; Plut. Al. 42.5; Diod. XVII.74.3-4; Curt. VI.2.17).

Why would Greeks in the mainland, supposedly his own people, rebel against him?

Why would the Greeks call the Lamian War a “Hellenic War” if they were fighting the Macedonians?

2. Why did you decide to write it?

My main objective was twofold: to bring to the forefront the differences between the ancient Macedonians and the ancient Greeks and to shed some light on much overlooked and, by some authors largely ignored, facts about the ethnicity of the ancient Macedonians.

I could no longer stay silent in lieu of such incontrovertible evidence left to us from the ancient chronographers that clearly distinguished and separated the ancient Macedonians from the ancient Greeks. I felt compelled to respond to the blatant and dishonest manipulation of historical evidence in order to circumvent and subvert the universally declared human rights covenants and obligations.

3. How did you get your book published?

A friend of mine suggested Outskirts Press as a reputable vehicle to reach my audience; I’m glad I did.

4. What types of readers will be interested in your book?

I would be happy if today’s younger generation gets a “whiff” of the twisted political winds in the Balkan and understand how distortions and manipulations of historical facts can be used for political gains.

5. What is special about your book? What differentiates it from other books in the same category?

What separates this book from other books in the same category is the blunt straight forward – no gloves – attitude. There is no glossing over, no need to look for clues hidden in between the lines or sugar-coating politically correct terms. If I have perceived historical distortions being sold as fact, I have described them as lies; if unsupported of evidence claims are propagated as truths, I called them fabrications; if historical injustice has been committed, I find no acceptable reason to remain silent regardless of socio-political consequences. Conscience compels me to act and stand against all social injustices.

If modern day Greeks succeed in their diplomatic offensive to convince the world that Alexander the Great and his Macedonians were actually Greeks, then such a verdict may accomplish two things: (a) prove that historical evidence can be ignored (and in this case it would be), that records can be manipulated and subverted, and (b) inflict irreparable damage to the confidence and the faith entrusted in the hands of scholars and academic institutions world wide. Such a verdict will amount to nothing less than the theft of a king. On the other hand, if justice prevails, as it should, then we may safely conclude that Alexander and his legacy would continue to rest among his Macedonians whom he considered his natural kinsmen and with whom he shared his troubles, setbacks, sufferings and pain as well as jubilation in his victories.

6. Have you published any other books? Do you plan to publish more?

Yes, I have. In 2002 I published The Ancient Macedonians – Differences between the Ancient Macedonians and the Ancient Greeks, One Golden Ray upon the Rock, a novel in 2005 and The Wolves of Trapper’s Bluff in 2007.

I most certainly will continue to write.

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