previous next


MACEDO´NIA ( Μακεδονία), the name applied to the country occupied by the tribes dwelling northward of Thessaly, and Mt. Olympus, eastward of the chain by which Pindus is continued, and westward of the river Axius. The extent of country, indeed, to which the name is generally given, embraces later enlargements, but, in its narrowest sense, it was a very small country, with a peculiar population.

I. Name, race, and original seats.

The Macedonians (Eth. Μακεδών, Eth. Μακεδόνες or Eth. Μακηδών, Eth. Μακηδόνες), as they are called by all the ancient poets, and in the fragments of epic poetry, owed their name, as it was said, to an eponymous ancestor; according to some, this was Macednus, son of Lycaon, from whom the Arcadians were descended (Apollod. 3.8.1), or Macedon, the brother of Magnes, or a son of Aeolus, according to Hesiod and Hellanicus (ap. Const. Porph. de Them. 2.2; comp. Ael. NA 10.48; Eustath. ad Dion. P. 247; Steph. B. sub voce. Eth. Macedo. These, as well as the otherwise unsupported statement of Herodotus (1.56), of the original identity of the Doric and Macednian (Macedonian) peoples, are merely various attempts to form a genealogical connection between this semi-barbarous people and the rest of the Hellenic race. In the later poets, they appear, sometimes, under the name of MACETAE (Sil. Ital. 13.878, 14.5, xvii, 414, 632; Stat. Sil. 4.6. 106; Auson. de Clar. Urb. 2.9; Gell, 10.3). And their country is called MACETIA (Μακετία, Hesych. sub voce Eustath. ad Dion. P. l.c.).

In the fashion of wearing the mantle and arranging their hair, the Macedonians bore a great resemblance to the Illyrians (Strab. vii. p.327), but the fact that their language was different (Plb. 28.8) contradicts the supposition of their Illyrian descent. It was also different from Greek, but in the Macedonian dialect there occur many grammatical forms which are commonly called Aeolic, together with many Arcadian and Thessalian words; and what perhaps is still more decisive, several words which, though not found in the Greek, have been preserved in the Latin language. (Comp. Müller, Dorians, vol. i. p. 3, trans.) The ancients were unanimous in rejecting them from the true Hellenic family, but they must not be confounded with the armed plunderers--Illyrians, Thracians, and Epirots, by whom they were surrounded, as they resemble more nearly the Thessalians, and other ruder members of the Grecian name.

These tribes, which differed as much in ancient [p. 2.234]times as they do now, accordingly as they dwelt in mountain or plain, or in soil or climate more or less kindly, though distinguished from each other, by having substantive names of their own, acknowledged one common nationality. Finally, the various sections, such as the Elymiotae, Orestae, Lyncestae, and. others, were swallowed up by those who were pre-eminently known as the Macedonians, who had their original centre at Aegae or Edessa. (Comp. Grote, Hist. of Greece, c. xxv.)

Macedonia in its proper sense, it will be seen, did not touch upon the sea, and must be distinguished into two parts,--UPPER MACEDONIA, inhabited by people about the W. range of mountains extending from the N. as far as Pindus, and LOWER MACEDONIA about. the rivers which flow into the Axius, in the earlier times, not, however, extending as far as the Axius, but only to Pella. From this district, the Macedonians extended themselves, and partly repressed the original inhabitants. The whole of the sea-coast was occupied by other tribes who are mentioned by Thucydides (2.99) in his episode on the expedition of the Thracians against Macedonia. There is some little difficulty in harmonising his statements with those of Herodotus (8.138), as to the original series of occupants on the Thermaic gulf, anterior to the Macedonian conquests. So far as it can be made out, it would seem that in the seventh century B.C., the narrow strip between the Peneius and Haliacmon, was the original abode of the Pierian Thracians; N. of the Pierians, from the mouth, of the Haliacmon to that of the Axius, dwelt the Bottiaeai, who, when they were expelled by the Macedonians, went to Chalcidice. Next followed the Paeonians, who occupied both banks of the Strymon, from its source down to the lake near its mouth, but were pushed away from the coast towards the interior. Mygdonia, the lower country E. of the Axius, about the Thermaic gulf, was, previously to the extension of the Macedonians, inhabited by Thracian Edonians. While Upper Macedonia never attained to any importance, Lower Macedonia has been famous in the history of the world. This was owing to the energy of the royal dynasty of Edessa, who called themselves Heracleids, and traced their descent to the Temenidae of Argos. Respecting this family there were two legends; according to the one,the kings were descended from Caranus, and according to the other from Perdiccas: the latter tale which is given by Herodotus (8.137-139), bears much more the marks of a genuine local tradition, than the other which cannot be traced higher than Theopompus. (Dexippus ap. Syncell. p. 262.) After the legend of the foundation of the Macedonian kingdom, there is nothing but a long blank, until the reign of king Amyntas (about 520--500 B.C.), and his son Alexander (about 480 B.C.). Herodotus (l.c.; comp. Thuc. 2.100) gives a list of five successive kings between the founder Perdiccas and Alexander--Perdiccas, Argaeus, Philippus, Aëropas, Alcetas, Amyntas, and Alexander, the contemporary, and to a certain extent ally, of Xerxes. During :the reign of these two last princes, who were on friendly terms with the Peisistratidae, and afterwards with the emancipated Athenians, Macedonia becomes implicated in the affairs of Greece. (Hdt. 1.59, 5.94, 7.136.)

Many barbarous customs, such as that of tattooing, which prevailed among the Thracians and Illyrians, must have fallen into disuse at a very early period. Even the usage of the ancient Macedonians, that every person who had not killed an enemy, should wear some disgraceful badge, had been discontinued in the time of Aristotle. (Pol. 7.2.6.) Yet at a very late date no one was permitted to lie down at table who had not slain a wild boar without the nets. (Hegesander, ap. Athen. 2.18.) On the other hand, a military disposition, personal valour, and a certain freedom of spirit, were the national characteristics of this people. Long before Philip organised his phalanx, the cavalry of Macedon was greatly celebrated, especially that of the highlands, as is shown by the tetradrachms of Alexander I. In smaller numbers they attacked the close array of the Thracians of Sitalces, relying on their skill in horsemanship, and on their defensive armour. (Thuc. 2.100.) Teleutias the Spartan also admired the cavalry of Elimea (Xen. Hell. 5.2. 41, 5.3.1); and in the days of the conquests of Asia, the custom remained that the king could not condemn any person without having first taken the voice of the people or of the army. (Plb. 5.27; Q. Curt. 6.8.25, 6.9.34.)

II. Macedonia in the historic period till the death of Alexander.

This kingdom had acquired considerable power even before the outbreak of the Persian War, and Grecian refinement and civilisation must have gained considerable ground, when Alexander the Philhellene offered himself as a combatant at the Olympic games (Hdt. 5.22; Just. 7.12), and honoured the poetry of Pindar (Solin. 9.16). After that war Alexander and his son Perdiccas appear gradually to have extended their dominions, in consequence of the fall of the Persian power in Thrace, as far as the Strymon. Perdiccas from being the ally of Athens became her active enemy, and it was from his intrigues that all the difficulties of Athens on the Thracian coast arose. The faithless Perdiccas, was succeeded by his son Archelaus, who first established fortresses and roads in his dominions, and formed a Macedonian army (Thuc. 2.100), and even intended to procure a navy (Solin. 9.17), and had tragedies of Euripides acted at his court under the direction of that poet (Ael. VH 2.21, 13.4), while his palace was adorned with paintings by Zeuxis (Ael. VH 14.17). In B.C. 399, Archelaus perished by a violent death (Diod. 14.37; Arist. Pol. 5.8, 10--13; Plat. Alcibiad. ii. p. 141, D.). A list of kings follows of whom we know little but the names. Orestes, son of Archelaus, a child, was placed upon the throne, under the guardianship of Aëropus. The latter, however, after about four years, made away with his ward, and reigned in his stead for two years; he then died of sickness, and was succeeded by his son Pausanias, who, after a reign of only one year, was assassinated and succeeded by Amyntas. (Diod. 14.84-89.) The power of Macedonia so declined with these frequent dethronements and assassinations of its kings, that Amyntas had to cede to Olynthus all the country about the Thermaic gulf. (Diod. 14.92, 15.19). Amyntas, who was dependant on, if not tributary to, Jason, the “tagus” of Thessaly, died nearly about the same time as that prince (Diod. 15.60), and was succeeded by his youthful son Alexander. After a short reign of two years, B.C. 368, Alexander perished by assassination, the fate that so frequently befell the Macedonian kings. Eurydice, the widow of Amyntas, was left with her two younger children, Perdiccas, now a young man, and Philip, yet a youth; Ptolemaeus of [p. 2.235]Alorus, one of the murderers of Alexander, was regent, and administered the affairs of the widowed queen, and those of her children, against Pausanias, a man of the royal lineage and a pretender to the throne. (Diod. 16.2; Aeschin. Fals. Legat. pp. 249, 250; Just. 7.6.) Iphicrates declared in favour of Eurydice, who would have been forced to yield the country to Pausanias, and acted so vigorously against him as to expel him from Macedonia and secure the sceptre to the family of Amyntas. (Corn. Nep. Iphicrat. 3.) When Philip succeeded his brother Perdiccas, slain in battle with the Illyrians, B.C. 360--359, no one could have foreseen the future conqueror of Chaeroneia, and the destroyer of Grecian liberties. In the very first year of his reign, though only 24 years old, he laid the foundations of the future greatness of a state which was then almost annihilated. His history, together with that of the other Macedonian kings, is given in the Dictionary of Biography. At his death Macedonia had already become a compact empire; its boundaries had been extended into Thrace as far as Perinthus; and the Greek coast and towns belonged to it, while Macedonian ascendancy was established from the coasts of the Propontis to those of the Ionian sea, and the Ambracian, Messenian, and Saronic gulfs. The empire of Alexander became a world-dominion. Macedonian settlements were planted almost everywhere, and Grecian manners diffused over the immense region extending from the Temple of Ammon in the Libyan Oasis, and from Alexandria on the western Delta of the Nile to the northern Alexandria on the Jaxartes.

III. Later History till the Fall of the Empire.

At the death of Alexander a new Macedonian kingdom arose with the dynasty of Antipater; after the murder of the king Philippus III. (Arrhidaeus) and Eurydice by the queen Olympias, Cassander the son of Antipater, after having murdered the king Alexander Aegus, and his mother, ascended the throne of Macedon; at his death his three sons, Philip, Antipater, and Alexander, successively occupied the throne, but their reigns were of short duration. Philip was carried off by sickness, Alexander was put to death by Demetrius Poliorcetes, and Antipater, who had fled for refuge to Lysimachus, was murdered by that prince. When the line of Cassander became extinct, the crown of Macedon was the prize for which the neighbouring sovereigns struggled, Lysimachus and Pyrrhus, kings of Thrace and Epeirus, with Demetrius, who still retained Athens and Thessaly, in turns, dispossessed each other of this disputed throne. Demetrius, however, at last over-came the other competitors; and at his death transmitted the kingdom to his son Antigonus, and the dynasty of the Antigonidae, after many vicissitudes, finally established their power. The three great irruptions of the Gauls, who made themselves masters of the N. parts, and were established in Thrace and Upper Macedonia, fell within this period. Antigonus Gonatas recovered the throne of desolated Macedonia; and now secured from the irruptions of the Gauls, and from foreign rivals, directed his policy against Greece, when the formation of the Aetolian, and yet more important Achaean league, gave rise to entirely new relations. Antigonus, in the latter part of his reign, had recourse to various means, and more especially to an alliance with the Aetolians, for the purpose of counterpoising the Achaeans. He died in his eightieth year, and was succeeded by his son Demetrius II., who waged war upon the Aetolians, now, however, supported by the Achaeans; and tried to suppress the growth of the latter, by favouring the tyrants of particular cities. The remainder of the reign of this prince is little more than a gap in history. Demetrius' son, Philip, was passed over, and his brother's son, Antigonus II. surnamed Doson, was raised to the throne. This king was occupied most of his time by the events in Greece, when a very remarkable revolution in Sparta, raised up a formidable enemy against the Achaeans; and so completely altered the relative position of affairs, that the Macedonians from having been opponents became allies of the Achaeans. Philippus V., a young, warlike, and popular prince, was the first to come into collision with Rome,--the war with. the imperial city (B.C. 200--197), suddenly hurled the Macedonian power from its lofty pitch, and by laying the foundation of Roman dominion in the East, worked a change in almost all the political relations there. T. Quinctius Flaminius, by offering the magic spell of freedom, stripped Philip of his allies, and the battle of Cynoscephalae decided everything. Soon after, the freedom of Greece was solemnly proclaimed at the Isthmian games; but loud as the Greeks were in their triumph, this measure served only to transfer the supremacy of their country from Macedonia to Rome. On the 22nd of June, B.C. 168, the fate of Macedon was decided on the field of Pydna by her last king Perseus.

According to the system then pursued at Rome, the conquered kingdom of Macedonia, was not immediately converted into a province, but, by the famous edicts of Amphipolis issued by the authority of the Roman senate, the year after the conquest, was divided into four districts. By this decree (Liv. 45.29), the Macedonians were called free,--each city was to govern itself by magistrates annually chosen, and the Romans were to receive half the amount of tribute formerly paid to the kings, the distribution and collection of which was probably the principal business of the councils of the four regions. None but the people of the extreme frontiers towards the barbarians were allowed to defend themselves by arms, so that the military power was entirely Roman. In order to break up more effectually the national union, no person was allowed to contract marriage, or to purchase land or buildings but within his own region. They were permitted to smelt copper and iron, on paying half the tax which the kings had received; but the Romans reserved to themselves the right of working the mines of gold and silver, and of felling naval timber, as well as the importation of salt, which, as the Third Region only was to have the right of selling it to the Dardani, was probably made for the profits of the conquerors on the Thermaic gulf. No wonder, that after such a division, which tore the race in pieces, the Macedonians should compare their severance to the laceration and disjointing of an animal. (Liv. 45.30.)

This division into four districts did not last longer than eighteen years, but many tetradrachms of the first division of the tetrarchy coined at its capital, Amphipolis, are still extant. B.C. 149 Andriscus, calling himself Philip son of Perseus, reconquered. all Macedonia (Liv. Epit. xlix), but was defeated and taken in the following year, by Q. Caecilius Metellus; after which the Macedonians were made tributary (Porphyr. ap. Euseb. Chron. p. 178), and the country was probably governed by a “praetor,” [p. 2.236]like Achaia, after the destruction of Corinth, which occurred two years afterwards, B.C. 146. From that time to the reign of Augustus the Romans had the troublesome duty of defending Macedonia, against the people of Illyricum and Thrace; during that period, they established colonies at Philippi, Pella, Stobi, and Dium.

At the division of the provinces, Macedonia fell to the senate (D. C. 53.12 ; Strab. xvii. p.840). Tiberius, united the provinces of Achaia and Macedonia to the imperial government of Moesia, in order to deliver them from the weight of the proconsular administration (Tac. Ann. 176-80, 5.10), and this continued till the time of Claudius (Suet. Cl. 25; D. C. 60.24). Afterwards it was again under a “propraetor,” with the title “proconsul” (Orelli, Inscr. n. 1170 (Vespasian); n. 3851 (Caracalla), while mention often occurs of “legate” (Orelli, n. 3658) and “quaestores” (Orelli, nn. 822, 3144). Thessalonica, the most populous city in Macedonia, was the seat of government, and virtually the capital of Greece and Illyricum, as well as of Macedonia. Under Constantine, Macedonia, was one of the two governments of the praefecture of Illyricum, and consisted of six provinces, Achaea, Macedonia, Crete, Thessaly, Old Epirus, and New Epirus (Marquardt, in Becker, Röm. Alterthüm, vol. iii. pt. i. pp. 115--119). The ravages inflicted by the northern nations on the frontier provinces were so continual that the inhabitants of Thrace and Macedonia were greatly diminished, the uncultivated plains were traversed by armed bands of Sclavonians, who gradually settled in great numbers in Macedonia, while many mountainous districts, and most of the fortified places still remained in the possession of the Greeks, who were driven into the Chalcidic peninsula, or into the low grounds near the sea, where the marshes and rivers which intersect them, offered means of resistance; but the existence of the ancient race may be said to terminate with the reign of Heraclius. (Comp. Schafarik, Slav. Alt. vol. ii. pp. 153--164.) The emperors of Constantinople attempted to remedy the depopulation of their empire by transporting Asiatic colonies. Thus a colony of Persians was established on the banks of the Axius (Vardar) as early as the reign of Theophilus, A.D. 829--842, and it long continued to furnish recruits for a cohort of the imperial guard, which bore the name of Vardariots. In A.D. 1065 a colony of Uzes was settled in Macedonia, whose chiefs rose to the rank of senators, and filled high official situations at Constantinople (Scylitz. ad calc. Cedreni, p. 868; Zonar. vol. ii. p. 273; Ann. Comn. p. 195). Anna Comnena (pp. 109, 315) mentions colonies of Turks established near Achrida before the reign of her father (A.D. 1081). These and other nations were often included under the general name of Turks, and indeed most of them were descended from Turkish tribes. (Finlay, Mediaeval Greece, p. 31.)

IV. Physical and Comparative Geography.

The large space of country, which lies to the N. of the Cambunian chain, is in great part mountainous, occupied by lateral ridges or elevations, which connect themselves with the main line of Scardus. It also comprises three wide alluvial basins, or plains which are of great extent, and well adapted to cultivation; the northernmost of the three, contains the sources and early course of the Axius, now the plain of Tettovo or Kalkandele: the second is that of Bitolia, coinciding to a great extent, with that of ancient Pelagonia, wherein the Erigon flows towards the Axius; and the larger and more undulating basin of Grevená and Anaseltíza, containing the Upper Haliacmon with its confluent streams. These plains, though of high level above the sea, are yet very fertile, each generally bounded by mountains, which rise precipitously to an alpine height, and each leaving only one cleft for drainage by a single river, the Axius, the Erigon, and the Haliacmon respectively. The fat rich land to the E. of Pindus and Scardus is described as forming a marked contrast with the light calcareous soil of the Albanian plains and valleys on the W. side (comp. Grote, Hist. of Greece, cxxv.).

Upper Macedonia was divided into ELIMEIA, EORDAEA, ORESTIS and LYNCESTIS; of these subdivisions, Elimeia comprehended the modern districts of Grevená, Verija, and Tjersembá; Eordaea those of Budjá, Sarighiul, and ‘Ostrovo; Orestis those of Grámista, Anaselitza, and Kastoría; and Lyncestis Filúrina, and all the S. part of the basin of the Erigon. These seem to have been all the districts which properly belonged to Upper Macedonia, the country to the N. as far as Illyricum to the W. and Thrace to the E. constituting PAEONIA a part of which (probably on the Upper Axius) was a separate kingdom as late as the reign of Cassander (Diod. 20.19), but which in its widest sense was the great belt of interior country which covered on the N. and NE. both Upper and Lower Macedonia; the latter containing the maritime and central provinces, which were the earliest acquisition of the kings, namely, PIERIA, BOTTIAEIS, EMATHIA and MYGDONIA

Pieria, or the district of Katerína, forms the slope of the range of mountains of which Olympus is the highest peak, and is separated from Magnesia on the S. by the Peneius (Salamavría). The real Emathia is in the interior of Macedonia, and did not in its proper sense extend towards the sea, from which it is separated by Pieria and part of the ancient Bottiaeis. Mygdonia comprehended the plains around Saloníki, together with the valleys of Klisalí and Besikía, extending westward to the Axius, and including the lake Balbe to the E. The name CHALCIDICE is applied to the whole of the great peninsula lying to the S. of the ridge of Mt. Khortiátzi.

An account of these subdivisions will be found under their different heads, with a list of the towns belonging to each.

Macedonia was traversed by the great military road--the VIA EGNATIA; this route has been already described [Vol. II. p. 36] as far as Heracleia Lyncestis, the first town on the confines of Illyricum: pursuing it from that point, the following are the stations up to Amphipolis, where it entered Thrace, properly so called:--

Cellae ‘Ostrovo.
Edessa Vodhená.
Pella Aláklisi.
Mutatio Gephyra Bridge of the Vardhári.
Thessalonica Saloníki.
Melissurgis Melissurgús.
Apollonia Pollina.
Amphipolis Neokhóirio.

From the Via Egnatia several roads branched off to the N. and S., the latter leading to the S. provinces of Macedonia and to Thessaly; the former into Paeonia, Dardania, Moesia, and as far as the Danube. [p. 2.237]

The Peutinger Table furnishes the following route from Pella to Larissa in Thessaly:--

Beroea Verria.
Ascordus Verria.
Arulos Verria.
Bada Verria.
Anamo Verria.
Hatera Katerína.
Bium (Dium) Malathría.
Sabatium Malathría.
Stenas (Tempe) Lykóstomo.
Olympum Lykóstomo.

Two roads led to Stobi in Paeonia, the one from Heracleia Lyncestis, the other from Thessalonica. According to the Table, the stations of the former are--



Euristo (Andaristus).


Of the latter--

Gallicum Gallíkó.
Tauriana Doïrán.
Idomenia Doïrán.
Stonas (Stena) Demírkapi.
Antigonia Demírkapi.
Stobi Demírkapi.

From Stobi again two roads struck off to the NW. and NE. to Scopi (Skópia), at the “débouché” from the Illyrian mountains into the plains of Paeonia and the Upper Axius, and to Serdica:--

Astibon Istíb.
Pautalia Ghiustendíl.
Aelea Ghiustendíl.
Serdica Sofía.

(Cousinéry, Voyage dans la Macedoine, 2 vols. Paris, 1831; Leake, Travels in North Greece, 4 vols. London, 1835; Ami Boué, La Turquie d'Europe, 4 vols. Paris, 1840; Griesbach, Reise durch Rumelien und Nach Brusa, 2 vols. Göttingen, 1841; Jos. Müller, Albanien Rumelien, und die Osterreichisch-Montenegrische Grenze, Prag. 1844; Kiepert, General-Karte der Europaischen Turkei, 4 parts, Berlin, 1853; Niebuhr, Lect. on Anc. Ethnog. and Geog. vol. i. pp. 275, 297; Hahn Albanesische Studien, Jena. 1854.)

Though the Macedonians were regarded by the Greeks as a semi-barbarous people, the execution of their coins would not lead to that inference, as they are fine and striking pieces, boldly executed in high, sharp, relief. The coin of Alexander I. of Macedon, B.C. 500, is the first known monarchic coin in the world that can be identified with a written name, and to which, consequently, a positive date can be assigned. It has for “type” a Macedonian warrior leading a horse; he bears two lances, and wears the Macedonian hat. The coins of the princes who followed him exhibit the steps towards perfection very graphically.

With Philip II. a new era in the Macedonian coinage commences. At this period the coins had become perfect on both sides, that is, had a “reverse” equal in execution to the “obverse.” During his reign the gold mines at Mt. Pangaeus were worked. He issued a large gold coinage, the pieces of which went by his name, and were put forth in such abundance as to circulate throughout all Greece. The series of coins, from Philip II. to the extinction of the monarchy, exhibit the finest period of Greek monetary art. (Comp. H. N. Humphrey's Ancient Coins and Medals, London, 1850, pp. 58--65.) During the tetrarchy there are numerous existing coins, evidently struck at Amphipolis, bearing the head of the local deity Artemis Tauropolos, with an “obverse” representing the common Macedonian “type,” the club of Hercules within a garland of oak, and the legend Μακεδόνων πρώτης. (Comp. Eckhel, vol. ii. p. 61, foll.)



hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: