Quotes Describing the Ancient Macedonian Culture!


Ulrich Wilcken – “Alexander the Great”

"Alexander built twelve great tower-like altars on the nearer side of the river. We have been informed by those who refer everything to Babylonia, that this was for the twelve signs of the zodiac. In reality it was the twelve gods of Macedonia to whom these altars were raised."

p. 170, line 31 we find: (Referring to the conspiracy involving the royal pages, the sons of Macedonian nobles. These royal pages who "waited on the king's person", were brought, and tried, in front of the Macedonian army, and consequently executed by stoning. By the way, these royal pages were tutored by Callisthenes.)

"As Callisthenes was a Greek, there was no question of trying him by the Macedonian army."

[He, Callisthenes, a Greek, cannot be tried by the Macedonian army. Is this not a political differentiation based on ethnic classification or national separation?]

for on p.171, line 33, we see the following reference:

"On the march and in battle he was just the same as ever, he (Alexander) was the king of the Macedonian nation, who shared with them the unspeakable fatigues, and the hunger and thirst of this guerrilla warfare."


This must be the weakest link of the three. As it was indicated above, people who inhabit same geographical area, share common borders and fight common enemies, and most of all, trade with each other, sooner or later, they are not only going to borrow from one another, imitate each other's styles (to a certain extent), but even steal ideas from each other. That is, surely, inevitable. Nevertheless, the morals of the ancient Macedonians were quite different from those of the ancient Greeks. They were not branded "barbarians" for nothing.

Line 20, p. 22. Referring to the episode of Alexander I who desired to take part in the Olympic Games, to which only Hellenes had access to:

"He was at first refused as a barbarian, and it was only when by a bold fiction he traced back the pedigree of his house, the Argead, to the Herald Temenids of Argos, that he was admitted as a competitor."

Line 28, p. 22 and cont. on p. 23.

"Even in Philip's day the Greeks saw in the Macedonians a non-Greek foreign people, and we must remember this if we are to understand the history of Philip and Alexander, and especially the resistance and obstacles which met them from the Greeks. The point is much more important than our modern conviction that Greeks and Macedonians were brethren, this was equally unknown to both, and therefore could have no political effect."

This is same Wilcken who previously stated that:
"When we take into account the political conditions, religion and morals of the Macedonians our convictions are strengthened..."

Now, after further consideration of the existing conditions in the fifth and fourth century BC, he, Wilken, states:
"The point is much more important than our modern conviction that Greeks and Macedonians were brethren, this was equally unknown to both, and therefore could have no political effect."

[so much for consistency...]


Line 37, p.23 "A strong Illyrian and Thracian can thus be recognised in Macedonian speech and manners. These however are only trifles compared with the Greek character of the Macedonian nationality; for example, the names of the true full-blooded Macedonians, especially of the princes and nobles, are purely Greek in their formation and sounds".

[But how do we know how the Macedonians themselves referred to each other. This assumption is based on Greek sources for the names...but I'm being fair.]

Line 4 on p. 26 we find the following statement:
"The Macedonians were thoroughly healthy people, trained not by Greek athletics, but, like the Romans, by military service."

Line 9, p. 26 reads:
"The dislike was reciprocal, for the Macedonians have grown into a proud masterful nation, which with highly developed national consciousness looked down upon the Hellenes with contempt. This fact too is of prime importance for the understanding of later history."

[Note: If in fact the ancient Macedonians were regarded as Greeks, like the Thebans, Athenians, Spartans and the other city-states of Greece, why do not find any Greek city-state elevated as a nation. Is the usage of "Macedonian nation" by Wilcken and others accidental? He uses the terms "Macedonians and Greeks" repeatedly throughout his book. Obviously, he finds a strong need to differentiate between these two peoples.




"There is a report that, after the king had completed the Macedonian custom of marking out the circular boundary for the future city-walls with barley-meal, flocks of birds flew down and fed on the barley. Many regarded this as an unfavorable omen, but the verdict of the seers was that the city would have a large immigrant population and would provide the means of livelihood to many countries." [p.69]

"As it happened, Alexander had been sent from Macedonia a present of Macedonian clothes and a large quantity of purple material." [p.97]

Points of interest:
Macedonian clothes, and purple material. (Macedonian customs 2) Macedonians dressed differently than the Greeks. One very peculiar feature being the kautsia, the well known Macedonian hat.

"...but the king's conscience would not permit him to leave his men unburied, for by Macedonian convention there is hardly any duty in military life as binding as burial of one's dead." [p.100]

"In capital cases it was a long-established Macedonian practice for the king to conduct the trial while the army (or the commons in peace-time) acted as jury, and the position of the king counted for nothing unless his influence had been substantial prior to the trial." [p.135]


"The general feeling was that Philotas should be stoned to death according to Macedonian customs, but Hephaestion, Craterus, and Coenus declared that torture should be employed to force the truth out of him, and those who had advocated other punishment went over to their view." [p.142]


"What they feared was the Macedonian law which provided the death penalty also for relatives of people who had plotted against the king." [p.143]


"Roxane's father was transported with unexpected delight when he heard Alexander's words, and the king, in the heat of passion, ordered bread to be brought, in accordance with their traditions, for this was the most sacred symbol of betrothal among the Macedonians." [p.187]


"Starting with Macedonia, I now have power over Greece; I have brought Thrace and the Illyrians under my control; rule the Triballi and the Maedi. I have Asia in my possession from the Hellespont to the Red Sea." [p.227]

Points of interest:
Simply, Alexander does not say that he united Greece. He shows no distinction between Thrace, Maedi, or Greece. He has control over all of them. They are all conquered lands.


"The customary purification of the soldiers by the Macedonian kings involved cutting a bitch in two and throwing down her entrails on the left and right at the far end of the plain into which the army was to be led. Then all the soldiers would stand within that area, cavalry in one spot, phalanx in another." [p.255]

The difference between ancient Macedonians and the ancient Greeks is obvious. It is not a matter for debate. Language, customs, traditions and the every-day soldier's behavior, all point to two distinct and separate ethnicities. In short, the ancient Macedonians were, simply Macedonians and the Greeks, to them, were a foreign people.<< New Text >>