The Fight For Our Macedonia!

The most usual ideological abuse of history is based on anachronism rather than lies. Greek nationalism refused Macedonia even the right to its name on the grounds that all Macedonia is essentially Greek and part of a Greek nation-state, presumably ever since the father of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, became the ruler of the Greek lands on the Balkan peninsula. Like everything about Macedonia, this is a far from purely academic matter, but it takes a lot of courage for a Greek intellectual to say that, historically speaking, it is nonsense. There was no Greek nation-state or any other single political entity for the Greeks in the fourth century BC, the Macedonian Empire was nothing like a Greek or any other modern nation-state, and in any case it is highly probable that the ancient Greeks regarded the Macedonian rulers, as they did their later Roman rulers, as barbarians and not as Greeks, though they were doubtless too polite or cautious to say so.

 

Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm (born 1917) is a British historian and author. This is an excerpt from a paper given as a lecture opening the academic year 1993-4 at the Central European University in Budapest. It was addressed to a body of students essentially drawn from the formerly communist countries in Europe and the former USSR