Macedonians were Greeks

Historical truth on the ancient Macedonians

"Your ancestors came to Macedonia and the rest of Greece and did us great harm, though we had done them no prior injury. I have been appointed leader of the Greeks, and wanting to punish the Persians I have come to Asia, which I took from you..." (Alexander's letter to Persian king Darius in response to a truce plea, as quoted in "Anabasis Alexandri" by Arrian, Book II, 14, 4) "
Alexander the Great
King of Macedonia (356 – 323 BC)

The plethora of evidence from Arrian pointing to the fact that ancient Macedonians were Greeks is irrefutable. Any suggestions to the opposite is just preposterous and far right laughable. Below we present a number of texts proving that Arrian thought the ancient Macedonians as Greek.

With Thebes on the contrary it was a different matter: the lack of planning, the rapid movement of events which led to the revolt, the suddenness and ease with which the city fell, the slaughter, so appalling and so inevitable where men of kindred stock are paying off old scores,

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1

At Troy his sailing-master, Menoetius, crowned him with gold, as did  Chares the Athenian, who came from Sigeium with a number of others, either Greeks or natives. One account says that Hephaestion laid a wreath on the tomb of Patroclus; another that Alexander laid one on the tomb of Achilles, calling him a lucky man, in that he had Homer to proclaim his deeds and preserve his memory.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1

But as many of them as he took prisoners he bound in fetters and sent them away to Macedonia to till the soil, because, though they were Greeks, they were fighting against Greece on behalf of the foreigners in opposition to the decrees which the Greeks had made in their federal council. To Athens also he sent 300 suits of Persian armour to be hung up in the Acropolis as a votive offering to Athena, and ordered this inscription to be fixed over them, “Alexander, son of Philip, and ALL the Greeks except the Lacedaemonians, present this offering from the spoils taken from the foreigners inhabiting Asia.”

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 16.  We can’t add much. The case is clear. The Greek mercenaries fought “on behalf of the foreigners against Greece” and in the inscription Macedonians are placed with the rest of Greeks.

To the people of Zeleia he gave a free pardon, because he knew that they had fought with the Persians only under pressure.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1

The mercenaries who formed the garrison of the town seized two warships and made their escape, accompanied by Amyntas, son of Antiochus, who had left Macedonia in order to avoid Alexander. He had not, to be sure, anything to complain of in Alexander’s treatment; he merely disliked him and was disinclined to be made uncomfortable by his presence.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 17. It’s clear that also eminent Macedonians had joined Persian army.

Neoptolemus, the brother of Arrhabaeus, son of Amyntas, one of those who had deserted to Darius, was killed, with about 170 others of the enemy. Of Alexander’s soldiers sixteen were killed and 300 wounded, for the sally being made in the night, they were less able to guard themselves from being wounded.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 20. Another eminent Macedonian joining the Persians.

All dues previously paid to Persia he transferred to the temple of Artemis.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1. Just one of many texts showing that Macedonians believed in Greek gods.

For Alexander felt that, with the war against Persia still on his hands it would be dangerous to relax his severity towards anyone of Greek nationality who had considered to fight for Asia against his own country.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1

Then they sent a demand to the islanders for the abrogation of their agreements with Alexander and the Greeks, and the observance of the terms of the Peace of Antalkidas, which they had concluded with Persia.
The people of Tenedos would have liked nothing better than to remain on good terms with Alexander and the Greeks;

Arrian, Anavasis, book 2. Another undoubted proof that Macedonians were Greeks.

To celebrate this success Alexander offered sacrifice to Asclepius and held a ceremonial parade of all his troops..

Arrian, Anavasis, book 2. Just like with Artemis, Macedonians showed their belief in Greek gods.

With the infantry and the Royal Squadron of horse he then went to Magarsus, whence after offering sacrifice to the local Athene, he proceeded to Mallus, where he performed all proper ceremonies in honour of the demi-god Amphilochus. In this latter place he found political troubles in progress, and settled them, remitting the tribute which the town paid to Darius on the ground that Mallus was a colony of Argos and he himself claimed to be descended from the Argive Heracleide.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 2. Just another text where Alexander the Great claims being Greek.

There are Greek troops, to be sure, in Persian service –but how different is theirs cause from ours! They will be fighting for pay— and not much of it at that; we on the contrary shall fight for  Greece, and our hearts will be in it.  As for our FOREIGN troops —Thracians, Paeonians, Illyrians,  Agrianes — they are the best and stouder soldiers of Europe, and they  will find as their opponents the slackest and softest of the tribes of  Asia.

Arrian, Anavasis, book 2. It couldn’t be clearer than this: ancient Macedonians were Greeks.

Hephaestion stepped back, and one of the Queen’s attendant’s rectified her mistake by pointing to Alexander; the Queen withdrew in profound embarassment, but Alexander merely remarked that her error was of no account, for Hephaestion too, was an Alexander – a “protector of men”

Arrian, Anavasis, book 2. Oh look… the Greek meaning of the name ‘Alexander’. Not some Slavic interpretation based on fantasy and conjecture.

Alexander’s answer was that he wished to punish the Persians for their invasion of Greece; his present act was retribution for the destruction of Athens, the burning of the temples, and all the other crimes hey had committed against the Greeks.

Arrian, Anavasis, book 3.

The Greek delegates asked for terms for all Greek mercenaries now prisoners of war; this, however Alexander categorically refused: Greek soldiers, he maintained, who fought for Persia against their own country were little better than criminals and had acted contrary to the resolution of the Greeks.

Arrian, Anavasis, book 3.

“Alexander, I demand you remember Hellas,   for the sake of  which you embarked on this expedition,   with the intention  to add Asia to Greece. …so that by the Hellas and Macedonians  you  are  treated as a man  in  the way  FIT  FOR HELLENES  to honour,  and  only  by  the  barbarians  in the barbarian  way…’   …And  the  Macedonians APPROVED  his speech.”

Arrian, Anavasis, 4.11.7-12.1

“And the Macedonians  were truly DISAPPOINTED BECAUSE  they believed that HE [Alexander] CHOSE TO  FOLLOW  THE BARBARIAN ways OVER THE MACEDONIAN customs and the Macedonians.” 

 Arrian, Anavasis, 7.6.5. Ancient Macedonians aren’t barbarians. How could they be, since they were Greeks?

There he assembled all the Greeks who were within the limits of Peloponnesus, and asked from them the supreme command of the expedition against the Persians, an office which they had already conferred upon Philip. He received the honour which he asked from all except the Lacedaemonians, who replied that it was an hereditary custom of theirs, not to follow others but to lead them.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 1. The question here is why Lacedaemonians didn’t reply they won’t follow foreigners if Macedonians supposedly were non-Greeks. Simply because they knew Macedonians were Greek.

He also ordered the archers and slingers to run forward and discharge arrows and stones at the barbarians, hoping to provoke them by this to come out of the woody glen into the ground unencumbered with trees.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 2. If the Macedonians were barbarians themselves, this quote wouldn’t have any meaning. We have a clear distinction between Macedonians and Barbarian Thracians.

Alexander found some ships of war which had come to him from Byzantium, through the Euxine Sea and up the river. Filling these with archers and heavy-armed troops, he sailed to the island to which the Triballians and Thracians had fled for refuge. He tried to force a landing; but the barbarians came to meet him at the brink of the river, wherever the ships made an assault.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 3. As above, if the Macedonians were barbarians themselves, this quote wouldn’t have any meaning. We have a clear distinction between Macedonians and Barbarian Thracians.

On the following day Alexander set out from Onchestus, and advanced towards the city along the territory consecrated to Iolaus; where indeed he encamped, in order to give the Thebans further time to repent of their evil resolutions and to send an embassy to him. But Alexander remained encamped near the Cadmea, for he still wished rather to come to friendly terms with the Thebans than to come to a contest with them. Then those of the Thebans who knew what was for the best interest of the commonwealth were eager to go out to Alexander and obtain pardon for the commonalty of Thebes for their revolt; but the exiles and those who had summoned them home kept on inciting the populace to war by every means in their power, since they despaired of obtaining for themselves any indulgence from Alexander, especially as some of them were also Boeotarchs. However not even for this did Alexander assault the city.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 7. From a skeptic’s point of view the question coming is..why Alexander didn’t just attacked Thebans as he did earlier with Thracians and Illyrians respectively. Alexander found it so easy without the slightest doubt to destroy the city of Triballians but here we can see not only he doesn’t do what he did to the barbarians but he gives twice to Thebans a chance to come in friendly terms with him. From the other side Theban populace seems split. They are instigated from a few exiles spreading lies into fighting him. However abolishing proof is the quote “those of the Thebans who knew what was for the best interest of the commonwealth were eager to go out to Alexander and obtain pardon for the commonalty of Thebes for their revolt”. Let’s see the following passage:

BUT Ptolemy, son of Lagus, tells us that Perdiccas, who had been posted in the advanced guard of the camp with his own brigade, and was not far from the enemy’s stockade, did not wait for the signal from Alexander to commence the battle; but of his own accord was the first to assault the stockade, and, having made a breach in it, fell upon the advanced guard of the Thebans. Amyntas, son of Andromenes, followed Perdiccas, because he had been stationed with him. This general also of his own accord led on his brigade when he saw that Perdiccas had advanced within the stockade. When Alexander saw this, he led on the rest of his army, fearing that unsupported they might be intercepted by the Thebans and be in danger of destruction. He gave instructions to the archers and Agrianians to rush within the stockade, but he still retained the guards and shield-bearing troops outside. Then indeed Perdiccas, after forcing his way within the second stockade, fell there wounded with a dart, and was carried back grievously injured to the camp, where he was with difficulty cured of his wound

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 8. So the assault against Thebes had as culprit a Macedonian commander Ptolemy who defied Alexander’s orders.

Then indeed the Thebans, no longer defending themselves, were slain, NOT SO MUCH by the Macedonians as by the Phocians, Plataeans and other Boeotians, who by indiscriminate slaughter vented their rage against them. Some were even attacked in the houses (a few of whom turned to defend themselves), and others as they were supplicating the protection of the gods in the temples; not even the women and children being spared.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 8. Another interesting point is that the slaughter was done mainly by Phocians, Plataeans and other Boeotians.

This was felt by the Greeks to be a general calamity for it struck the rest of the Greeks with no less consternation than it did those who had themselves taken part in the struggle, both on account of the magnitude of the captured city and the celerity of the action, the result of which was in the highest degree contrary to the expectation both of the sufferers and the perpetrators.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 9. So as we are being informed here Macedonians and the rest of their Greek allies weren’t happy at all about the result of destroying a Greek city like Thebes. 

But the Thebans having effected their revolt suddenly and without any previous consideration, the capture of the city being brought about in so short a time and without difficulty on the part of the captors, the slaughter, being great, as was natural, from its being made by men of the SAME RACE who were glutting their revenge on them for ancient injuries, the complete enslavement of a city which excelled among those in Greece at that time both in power and warlike reputation, all this was attributed not without probability to the avenging wrath of the deity.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 9. It’s quite interesting the fact that Arrian uses as similar examples disasters due to Greek civil wars. He doesn’t use even one example about disasters coming from non-Greeks as Persians. Therefore Arrian considers the destruction of Thebes as an act of Greek civil wars and its more clear from his use of the phrase “same race”.

When he came to Elaeus he offered sacrifice to Protesilaus upon the tomb of that hero, both for other reasons and because Protesilaus seemed to have been the first of the Greeks who took part with Agamemnon in the expedition to Ilium to disembark in Asia. The design of this sacrifice was that disembarking in Asia might be more fortunate to himself than that it had been to Protesilaus.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 11.  No reason to do this unless Alexander was himself a Greek.

And, indeed, there is NO other single individual AMONG GREEKS OR BARBARIANS who achieved exploits so great or important either in regard to number or magnitude as he did. This was the reason which induced me to undertake this history, not thinking myself incompetent to make Alexander’s deeds known to men.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 12. It is clear from earlier that Arrian doesn’t consider Macedonians as Barbarians but as we see without doubt here Alexander and Macedonians are Greeks.

He also sent Calas and Alexander, son of Aëropus, into the country of Memnon, in command of the Peloponnesians and most of the other Grecian allies, except the Argives, who had been left behind to guard the citadel of Sardis.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 17. If he didn’t trust Greeks he obviously wouldn’t leave behind Argives to guard the citadel of Sardis.

After doing this, he set forth into Caria, because it was reported that a considerable force, both of foreigners and of Grecian auxiliaries, had collected in Halicarnassus. Having taken all the cities between Miletus and Halicarnassus as soon as he approached them, he encamped near the latter city, at a distance from it of about five stades, as if he expected a long siege.

Arrian, Anavasis, Book 1, chapter 20. Foreigners in contrast to Greeks.