Alexander I of Macedon, the Olympic Games and his real-mythological origin

AncientsAlexander I of Macedon, the Olympic Games and his real-mythological origin

Related Articles

Alexander I of Macedon was King of Macedonia from 498 to 454 BC. He was the son of Amyntas I of Macedon. He was the first Macedonian king to take part in the Olympic Games. As he is often misused by the modern day Greek propaganda, we shall take a look about the Olympic Games and his “real-mythological origin”…

Greece before the Persian invasion – Macedonia and Alexander I of Macedon between the fronts

During his reign, Macedonia was in a difficult position between the Greek and Persian fronts. Today you can confidently say that Alexander I “probably did everything right”. From his point of view, he acted for the good of the Macedonian Empire. He maintained diplomatic relations with both the Greeks and the Persians and used their dispute to secure his own empire. At the right moment he turned against the Persians, and thus on the side of the Greeks. The Greeks gave him (among other things) the nickname “Philhellene”, this means “friend of the Greeks”.

Moreover, Alexander I had given the Greeks important information about the Persian troop movements and plans that played into the hands of the Greeks and prevented the invasion by the Persians. The Macedonian king seemed to be shrewd and aware that he was “good” with the Greeks. Alexander the First showed himself to be willing to connect Macedonia to the so called “Greek world”.

From a geopolitical point of view at the time, certainly understandable. The only other remaining alternative for an alliance would have been the Persian Empire, but the Macedonian nobility was more inclined to the “Hellenic culture” than to the diverse cultures of the Persian Empire. An alliance with the Persian empire, as a direct neighbor, could also have posed a danger of complete submission. The Greeks certainly could not muster the strength to occupy Macedonia permanently.

Striving for recognition as “Greek”

The next logical step for the Macedonian king was the “official” entry into this cultural community of the Greeks. He was the first Macedonian king to apply to take part in the Olympic Games and went there with a representative and pompous delegation. As is well known, only Greeks were allowed to take part in the games, and a committee first had to decide on the admission of Alexander I of Macedon.

To this end, the Hellanodikai examined the participant’s Greek ancestry. Alexander I claimed his descent was from Argos, located in the Peloponnese, and via Temenos his line was from Heracles. The Greek committee, impressed by Alexander’s rhetoric, seemed convinced, and Alexander I had shown himself to be a worthy ally when Greece feared the Persian invasion.

The decision of the board to confirm Alexander’s Greek descent did not seem to convince the Greek athletes, as the common Greeks, and Alexander I still had to feel the Greek aversion to the “barbarians” from neighboring Macedonia. Also, some Greeks did not compete against Alexander I, who for them was nothing more than a non-Greek who spoke a barbaric dialect.

Also the participation of Alexander I seems to have been a “one-day fly”, no tradition could be revived in which the Macedonian kings showed their regular presence at the Olympics. This fact is also passed down through the traditions of ancient Olympic writings, so Alexander’s direct successor did not take part in the games, it does not always seem to have been in the interests of the Macedonian kings to participate in the Olympics – what in return for Greeks would have been inconceivable to forego the Olympics.

Admission to this Olympic culture sealed the mythological origins of the Macedonian king, Argead from Argos in the Peloponnese. Ancient writers also referred to the line as Temenids, as above we said, the descent was led to the Temenids.

Alexander I of Macedon – A “Baron of Lies”?!

Ancient writers hand us down amazing legacies, so we see Thucydides in complete ignorance of the Macedonian king, who named him as the first Macedonian king. Extreme opinions interpret this as a further differentiation of the Macedonians from the Greeks, others speak of a listing after the day X, after the inclusion in the cultural area and recognition as a “Greek”.

But if we analyze the former opinion, did the Greeks knew nothing about their neighbors from the north? Could it be because of this that Alexander I succeeded in convincing the “Hellenic Judges”, while we see the reflection of ignorance and differentiation in the Greek participants who refused to compete with Alexander?

Recall, Macedonians were first referred to as Temenids, also in written records, due to the mythological descent of Temenos claimed and fabricated lineage by Alexander I. Later, however, the Macedonians or the line of kings were called Argeads, this happened mainly through the writers Strabo, Pausanias and Appian, and that in the 1st – 2nd century AD, half a millennium later!

This should therefore be explained, Strabo, Pausanias, Appian and others are likely to have exposed Alexander’s lie, who claimed a descent from Temenos. The term “Argeads”, that means “originating from Argos”, is likely to denote the real descent of Alexander I and the later writers named the line of Alexander consequently according to the place of his origin.

Attentive readers, however, should cry out at this point, and point to the place Argos in the Peloponnese, which has already been mentioned above, from which the Temenids originated.

But, Alexander’s I place of origin was in southern Macedonia and was also called Argos -the Argos in the Orestikon region near the source of the river Haliacmon, in what was then the south-western part of the Macedonian Empire, this is also reported by Herodotus and Appian, among others.

Macedonia: Warlords & Rebels in the Balkans, John Phillips

79 Olympic Games without a Macedonian king – pretty Greek ugh?

Todays modern Greek propaganda uses the participation of Alexander I of Macedon in the Olympic Games as a sole argument, that Macedonians have been Greeks. Because, only Greeks could compete at the games. But this modern day propaganda has no answer, why 79 Olympic Games passed without a Macedonian King showing up at Olympia!

Alexander I was king of Macedon between 498 to 454 BC. If we check history books, we will se that the first mentioned Macedonian king is Caranus, who reigned in the 8th century. In the list of the Macedonian kings, Alexander I is the tenth king of Macedonia mentioned in a period of approximately of 250 years.

The well known Aristotle, tutor of Alexander the Great, reckoned the date of the first Olympics to be 776 BC, a date largely accepted by most, though not all, subsequent ancient historians.

So, if we take the numbers and dates we mentioned, the only conclusion is that more Macedonian kings did not participated at the Olympic games, in contrary to those Macedonian kings who did take part at the games. As we mentioned, Alexander’s I direct successor, Alcetas I of Macedon, did not take part – even he reigned Macedonia for 29 years, according to Eusebius. This is not pretty Greek, ugh!?

Conclusion – Alexander I of Macedon

This Macedonian king is still a blank slate as far as the historical reality of his person is concerned. Often misused as a plaything of modern Greek propaganda, which with Alexander’s “recognition as Greek by the Hellenic Judges” regards the Greek ancestry of the Macedonians as proven. The argument that the designation “Argeads” indicates a descent from the Peloponnese is still a present one in the Greek conception of history today, note that almost 2000 years have passed since Herodotus and Appian and Co!

Used sources:

  • Alexander der Große: Leben und Legende, Alexander Demandt
  • Die Politische Rolle Der Heraklesgestalt Im Griechischen Herrschertum, Ulrich Huttner
  • Herodotus: Histories, Book 8 of Herodotus, A. M. Bowie
  • Das Antike Olympia: Götter, Spiel und Kunst, Ulrich Sinn
  • Koine Eirene: Untersuchungen Zu Den Befriedungs- und Stabilisierungsbemühungen in Der Griechischen Poliswelt Des 4.Jahrhunderts V.Chr, Martin Jehne
  • Macedonia: Warlords & Rebels in the Balkans,John Phillips
  • Ancient Macedonians are not Greeks, Aleksandar Donski

Browse our Stories

Read more

Popular Stories

Alexander The Great