Macedonia – what’s in a name, or a culture?

So for those of you who didn’t know there are two “Macedonias”.  One, a new state made from a region of the mainly Slavic former Yugoslavia and the other the area of Northern Greece South of that! Modern Greece began after the War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire ending in 1829. Greeks proudly trace their ancestry to Classical Greece and the Hellenistic Period.

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But! Both the former Yugoslavs and Modern Greeks claim as predecessor the Ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, which led to an Empire at its time the greatest the world had ever seen – extending to the Indus River in the East.  The sites of the Ancient Empire of Alexander do indeed extend over both Countries.

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia speaks a Southern Lavonic vernacular, and has a Muslim population in addition to its Orthodox one. It is hard to see them as descendants of the Macedonians who marched with Alexander across the known world.

The Greeks are a mixture of the descendants of ancient Greeks (who returned from Smirne, Trebisond, Synope and the Mani etc.), Slavonic peoples, Albanians and Turks (whoever they are!)  They are Orthodox for the most part, and while having a larger Ancient Greek lineage, are a mixed bunch like most nation states.

Recently, Macedonia (or rather FYROM) has been commissioning ambitious and expensive public works in city centres to associate the nation with Philip II of Macedonia, which has been understandably controversial in Modern Greece, who most would assume to be more likely inheritors of the mantle of Macedonia and Alexandria!

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There is a great deal to say about this, in relation to the Nation State and what it is.  What is the truth that underlies Nationalism and Patriotism?  How far can a Nation go in inventing a past and a legend for itself?  Is there anything to to be feared from the truth of our origins?

More of this as we go towards the Levant, where the issues are similar and more destructive.

Ian and GC

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2 Responses to Macedonia – what’s in a name, or a culture?

  1. Louise Sibley says:

    Wonderful reading Ian and GC – wish I was joining you!

  2. …but you really should. Either in Turkey or Jordan?

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