Alexander the Great: The Peculiar Case of Macedonia

“Alexander the Great was Macedonian!” – This is a sentence echoing in my head since my childhood. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve heard or read that exact phrase. Greeks grew up having to take on a very rich, complex, and “heavy” heritage. And the zenith of said heritage could arguably be Alexander the Great. You know who this guy is, right? You’ve seen the movies and all the triumphs that made a very small country, Greece, one of the greatest empires ever. Or was it Greek after all? The Former Yugoslavia Republic Of Macedonia, or FYROM, doesn’t think so.

A Dive into Ancient History

I will be brief here. Back then, the idea of a whole country was different than now. Greece had autonomous and sovereign city-states, but they did recognize Greece as all the city-states shared the same language, traditions, and blood.

The kingdom of Macedonia was first and foremost just that, a kingdom, but it was also a part of the more broadly defined Greece. They spoke the same language, they participated in the Greek-only Olympic games, they could seek advice in Delfous, etc… There’s no doubt about that. Even the name “Macedonia” means tall in the Dorian dialect.

So, let’s get to the point: Why FYROM, a Slavic nation, claims the historical heritage of the Kingdom, while seemingly having zero association with it? It’s simple. The confusion derives from the fact that Macedonia is also the name of the geographical area that includes the prefecture of Macedonia (which is in Greece), part of Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, and FYROM.

Alexander the Great: Legitimate Litigation or Propaganda?

FYROM, or the Republic of Macedonia, became independent in 1991 after the break-up of Yugoslavia. They used the Vergina Sun as their flag, built monuments of Alexander the Great and filled their books with claims of being the Illyrian descendant.

Greece immediately tried to dispute all of this and claimed that FYROM was trying to steal the Greek heritage and that the kingdom of ancient Macedonia was Greek. At this point, things got very complex.

Greece insists that they shouldn’t be named after Macedonia, yet all these years the word “Macedonia” was already in there! On the other hand, no one speaks Greek in FYROM and they start to make very strange remarks about Alexander the Great speaking some sort of Slavic dialect, but they’re quickly dismissed by most scholars.

Things intensified when former prime minister Ljubco Georgievski sided with Greece and claimed it was all a political ploy for the country to gain power and that FYROM is largely a country consisting of many Slavic nations.

FYROM didn’t back off. Then Europe joined the party, Greece vetoed FYROM from entering the EU, then FYROM joined the Eurovision and everything got awkward. Then America said hi, the whole world called FYROM Macedonia, Greeks got mad, then everyone got mad and didn’t talk to each other, then something happened again… but not really.

Greece, Macedonia, and FYROM: Political Madness

And here we are again. The situation with FYROM re-emerged. There were both a big dispute and a big rally counting close to 1 million Greeks in Thessaloniki.

Most of the suggestions for a name contain the term “Macedonia” and there’s heat in the political arena. Everyone blames everyone. People are outraged on both sides…

BUT if you’re reading Crowdh regularly, you’d know that this is merely the surface.

It’s not about a name. It’s about claiming territories, irredentism, and devising two nations. Ask yourselves, what any of this has to do with you, the average citizen? Not much I’ll tell you that. Greece has faced these kinds of advances many many times in the past.

I am watching everyone freaking out about a name (and I’ll admit, I am not entirely happy myself), but when politicians pass legislation that butchers our future for decades no one bats an eye One million people march the streets for a corrupt system? Hasn’t happened in Greece yet.

We are divided by invisible lines. I am not saying nations shouldn’t have clear borders, but people shouldn’t.

At this moment, the president is sitting down with every party and briefing them about the situation. Another political stunt. Show the world that “we are looking for a solution”. I want to see the kind of cooperation on minimum wage, healthcare, and education. Won’t happen. So, let’s all scream and shout about things that we were convinced matter, but never fight for our lives and for things that will affect the future of our children.

About Giwrgos Kourakos

Giwrgos is currently a student at the University of Patras in Greece, majoring in mathematics. He has a degree in musical theory and about to take his degree in classical guitar. Giwrgos is also a journalist who writes news articles about current affairs, events and parties around the country. He loves to read books and hopes to write one some day. As a proud Greek, he also loves debates, conversations about politics, religion and so much more!

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