Greece’s Macedonian Legacy

Photos by Petros Giannakouris

They were the ancient world’s ultimate social climbers.

In one generation, the Macedonians emerged from Greece’s rustic northern fringes to rule most of the world they knew, funded by the loot of the Persian Empire.

In the process, and particularly in the bloodbath that followed Alexander the Great’s death at age 33 in 323 B.C., they set new standards for ambition, bloody intrigue and excess that remained unrivaled until the more colorful periods of Imperial Rome.

The recent discovery of a cavernous underground tomb in Amphipolis in northern Greece, dating to the twilight of Alexander’s reign, has revived interest in the Macedonians.

In the late 1970s, a lavishly-furnished tomb in northern Greece belonging to Alexander’s father, Philip II — under whom Macedonian expansion began — was discovered. And in recent decades, archaeologists in northern Greece have also excavated the old Macedonian royal seat of Aigai, with its palace and cemeteries, and the later capital at Pella, where Alexander was born.

Alexander’s Greek armies, which combined heavy infantry formations armed with the formidable Sarissa pike and elite cavalry units, won him an empire stretching from modern Greece to India, where he only stopped because his exhausted veterans decided enough was enough.

But historians also highlight the charismatic youth’s political skills and vision, which sought to establish social cohesion in the conquered lands through cultural, ethnic and religious tolerance — the last, remarkably, by a man who shocked his fellow Greeks by demanding honors hitherto reserved for the gods.


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Opening text from the AP news story, AP PHOTOS: A look at Greece’s Macedonian legacy.


Lead Image Caption: Battle scenes appear in a detail from a golden bow-case, believed to have belonged to a Scythian princess, that was found in a richly furnished tomb believed to belong to ancient Greek King Philip II of Macedon, is displayed at Vergina museum, northern Greece, on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Philip II reigned from 359 to 336 B.C. expanding his kingdom to include Greece’s perennially squabbling city states. His son and successor, Alexander the Great, who distinguished himself in Philip’s Greek campaigns, expanded Macedonian rule at the head of a Greek army, reaching as far as the borders of India. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris) 

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2 thoughts on “Greece’s Macedonian Legacy

  1. Macedonia the extended geographic region is not exclusively Greek…just Macedon is. The ancient-Greek kingdom kept a Greek presence there continuously, for >3 Millenniums. Macedonians from Macedon deserve respect for preserving historical cohesion and keeping continuity. FYRoM contesting Macedons Hellenic credentials is the main obstacle keeping this newly established minor Slavic country from realizing it’s stated objectives to join the western worlds most prestigious economic and security structures of the EU and NATO.

    Macedon and Macedonians deserve respect for contributing massively towards early development of western civilizational principles. Macedonians from Macedon are responsible for Western civil societies common understandings of shared common heritage. FYRoM touting for recognition under the name ‘Republic of Macedonia’ blurs the distinction between Macedonians and Yugoslavians, between Macedon and Paeonia…Hellenes from South-Slavs.

    Greeks understand that new emerging countries have right to name themselves by any name they like, but FYRoM chose a name that belongs to an ancient-Greek Kingdom, which Greeks hold dear, kick-starting off a name dispute with Greece that is now in the early years of it’s third decade.

    But the idea that newly emerging countries can name themselves by any name they like is not strictly entirely true, there are encumbrances, constraints and limitations…cultural-concerns for example, historical-considerations for another example, intellectual-property ownership for final example.

    FYRoM tested the Western worlds legal systems on all of those important identity-factors, bringing to the fore some noticeable operational weaknesses, flaws that are looked upon like undesirable features which question the integrity of Western legal frameworks ability to cope with challenges. Slavic claimants to Macedonian legacy is one example. Rewriting Western-worlds cultural-historical narrative is another example. Illegitimate use of another
    persons intellectual-property, for final example.

    The idea that a newly emergent country can use the name of an ancient-Greek Kingdom for country-name…sovereign state-name, nationality, language and ethnicity poses very real important questions for the West which demand answers, (i) philosophical questions, (ii) moral ethical questions, (iii) cultural-historical questions, (iv) intellectual-property questions, (v) cultural-inheritance questions. The name dispute between FYRoM and Greece used up so much diplomatic time, so many political resources, covered so many academic disciplines, tested so many legalities, that it threatens to stay unresolved for indefinite period of time.

    FYRoM recognized like ‘Republic of Macedonia’ if legitimized, would put the Western worlds cultural-historical narrative into disrepute…hence, FYRoM cannot exist like ‘Republic of Macedonia’ on that basis.


  2. The laws governing people-dynamics dictate, that nation develops from people-group(s) sharing common ethno-linguistic history. Population-groups that share (i) ancestry, (ii) common territory, (iii) collective memory rooted to one same ethnogenesis myth, (iv) same belief system, (v) same customs and traditions – solidifies peoples to nation. Solidarity between members of same ethnos boasting cultural-linguistic continuation over long period of time, in one specific geographic place, builds strong common identity with history and heritage. Identity that travels from primordial homeland to far away places, and which retains exact same identity-characteristics as those from host destination, is what the Greeks boast from since Alexander the Great united the fractious Greeks into one unified nation of Hellenes. Greek National identity is based on historical achievement of Macedonians spreading Greek identity-characteristics eastwards, to the farthest easternmost reaches of the then known ancient world.

    National identity that takes from historical achievements of people-group not your own, is what FYRoM boasts from since 1991, when this newest Slavic country declared it’s independence from Serbia and Montenegro. FYRoM scripted itself a national-historical narrative that took directly, from the cultural-historical narrative of Greece. National identity cannot exist on the back of other peoples ancestral historical achievements. FYRoM took from Hellenism, things which never belonged to Slavdom. Macedon in their history books became a Slavic-speaking Kingdom. Alexander the Great became Aleksandar Veliki, the first Czar of the Slavs. Ancient-Macedonians became proto-Slavs. The rules governing People-Dynamics dictate that one ethnic-racial, cultural-linguistic population-group cannot usurp the history and heritage of a different ethnic-racial, cultural-linguistic population-group.

    Building national-identity that has allure to unite rather than to fragment, was procedure very common at turn of 20th Century AD, during the age of decline of long established empires. The concept of Nation State is political construct born from the ashes of defunct disintegrating empires. FYRoM as nation state in it’s own right was late arrival to this concept. The procedures which allowed for the natural development of national-identity were not followed correctly in the FYRoM case. The idea that newly emergent Nation-States could build their national-identity on the backs of other peoples ancestral and cultural-historical achievements was an idea cultivated in FYRoM only. The materialization of a Slavic-speaking people-group, boasting ancestry and historical connections to ancient-Macedon is testament to ideological crowd control policies utilized there, directives rooted in social-engineering, manipulation and brainwashing. How else, can a South-Slavic population profess to have developed ethnic-feelings and national-pride for all things Macedonian. FYRoM now, is an outcast, kept at arms-length, at a distance, from the West, from NATO, and from the EU, not least the European family of Nations FYRoM has always said it aspires to join one day!


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