Empire of the Macedonians – map from 1872

AncientsEmpire of the Macedonians - map from 1872

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Mary Elsie Thalheimer’s Manual of Ancient History dates from 1872. Thalheimer was a former history teacher at the Packer Collegiate Institute of Brooklyn in New York. As the title of the work suggests, this is a handbook on ancient history. There we find a map titled Empire of the Macedonians.

First American textbook based on well-known researchers

“The present work aims merely to afford a brief though accurate outline of the results of the labors of Niebuhr, Bunsen, Arnold, Mommsen, Rawlinson, and others—results which have never, so far as we know, been embraced in any American school-book, but which within a few years have greatly increased the treasures of historical literature.” Thalheimer wrote in the foreword of his book.

And this, in a way, tells us what Thalheimer wanted to create with his work: A textbook on ancient history for American students. It was also the first American textbook to adopt the research of the above-mentioned academics, who were outstanding and well-known at the time.

Thalheimer almost puts the seriousness of the work into his lap, because at the end of his foreword we read: “The writer is more confident of justice of aim than of completeness of attainment. No one can so acutely feel the imperfections of a work like this, as the one who has labored at every point to avoid or to remove them; to compress the greatest amount of truth into the fewest words, and while reducing the scale, to preserve a just proportion in the details.”

And of course, as a Macedonia blog, we look at details Thalheimer wrote about Macedonian history.

Macedonians and Greeks

It is inevitably recognizable that Thalheimer clearly differentiated and separated Macedonians and Greeks. The title of the section “Macedonia and Greece” alone in the fourth book, third period starting from page 222, reveals this direction.

However, let’s start with an entry in Thalheimer’s work on page 189, under the title “Superpower Thebes” the author briefly describes the Olynthian War.

Olynthian War. The war in Macedonia was now prosecuted with the aid of Thebes. Olynthus, in the Chalcidian peninsula, had become the head of a powerful confederacy of Grecian cities; but Acanthus and Apollonia refused to join it, and applied to Sparta for help. Amyntas, king of Macedonia, took their part, and joined his troops with those of Eudamidas. Olynthus, by means of its excellent cavalry, held out bravely for four years; but at last it fell, and the league was dissolved. The Macedonian ports returned into subjection to Amyntas, while the Greek cities joined the Spartan alliance. Sparta was now leagued on all sides with the enemies of Greece: with the Persians, with Dionysius of Syracuse, and with Macedon. By the destruction of the Olynthian League, she had removed the chief obstacle to the Macedonian power, which was soon to overthrow the freedom of the Greeks.

Let us note that in 382 BC Sparta was allied with all of Greece’s enemies, including the Macedonians. These were later to “overthrow the freedom of the Greeks”.

Macedonian Empire, map

On page 201, Thalheimer starts a history of the Macedonian Empire and the newly emerging empires that followed.

1. The Kingdom of Macedon, lying north of Thessaly and east of Illyricum, was of little importance before the reign of Philip II., whose aggressions ended the independent history of Greece. In 507 BC., Amyntas I. submitted to Darius Hystaspes; and fifteen years later, in the first expedition of Mardonius, the country became a mere province of the Persian empire, the native kings governing as tributaries. After Xerxes’ retreat, BC. 480, Macedonia became free again, and began to push eastward along the northern coast of the Aegean. Here it met two rivals: the new Thracian kingdom of Sitalces upon its eastern frontier, and the Athenian power in the Greek cities of the Chalcidian peninsulas.

Thus, already in the first point of the history of Macedonia, it is explained that the later King Phillip II of Macedonia “overthrew the independent history of Greece”.

Thalheimer then writes in more detail about Phillip II, father of Alexander the Great, in point/or chapter 4.

4. Philip, in his youth, had spent three years in Thebes, where he had studied the tactics of Epaminondas, as well as the language, character, and politics of the Greeks. On coming to power, he devoted unwearied attention to the drilling of his army, until it far surpassed that of any Hellenic state. No less skilled in diplomacy than in military science, he knew how to take advantage of the rivalries in Greece, and the corruptibility of all parties, to play off one against the other, and so render himself supreme. His rapid movements made him seem to be in many places at the same moment, and no circumstance which either threatened or favored his interests escaped his eye.

This passage is quite interesting, it tells us that the future king of the Macedonians Phillip II only learned the Greek language in his youth as a hostage in Thebes. In modern Greek historiography on the other hand (propaganda would suit better), it is claimed that the Macedonians were Greek-speaking!

One may recall here that before Phillip II (according to current official historiography) there were already 26 Macedonian kings known…

Furthermore, Thalheimer differentiates in this section, the armies of the Macedonians and the “Hellenic States”.

In the seventh section, Thalheimer writes about Phillip II’s son. The young Alexander III. of Macedon – or better known as Alexander the Great.

7. At the age of sixteen, Alexander was left regent of the kingdom during his father’s campaign against Byzantium. At CHAIroNEIa, two years later, he led a corps of Macedonian youth against the Sacred Band of Thebes, and the victory was mainly due to his courage and impetuosity. Upon the death of his father, Alexander, at twenty years of age, ascended a throne beset with many dangers. He expelled or killed his nearest rivals, marched into Greece and convened at Corinth a new congress, which conferred upon him the same dignities and powers previously granted to his father; then instantly returning to Macedon, he signally defeated his enemies on the west and north, some of whom he pursued even beyond the Danube. During these campaigns a false report of his death reached Greece, and Thebes seized the occasion to revolt. But Alexander appeared suddenly before her gates, stormed and took the city, which, by way of warning to others, he completely destroyed—saving only the house of Pindar, the poet—and either enslaved or massacred the inhabitants.

In this seventh section it is more than clear that Macedonia was seen as a separate state. “Alexander marched into Greece,” writes Thalheimer, and should thus invalidate modern propaganda made in Athens.

The Empire of the Macedonians

The work of the American was not only a pure text, no, there are also pictures and illustrations in his work.

MAP VI. Macedonian Empire

Among other things, we find a wonderful map from Mary Elsie Thalheimer’s book Manual of Ancient History. According to the description, the map shows the Empire of the Macedonians and the march of Alexander. This refers to the Persian campaign of the Macedonian king.

Interestingly, the map from Thalheimer’s book is also often copied. A number of copies of the map can be found online, such as the copy by Adolph von Steinwehr from 1885.

Baron Adolph Wilhelm August Friedrich von Steinwehr (1822-1877) was a German-Brunswick army officer who emigrated to the United States. There he worked as a geographer, cartographer and author and served as a Union general in the American Civil War.

Actually almost exactly the same card as the original, but with different wording. In the map published in 1885, the author wrote “Macedonian Empire” instead of “Empire of the Macedonians”. In the description we also see that Thalheimer’s work is given as the source of the map.

You can read A Manual of Ancient History, by M. E. Thalheimer for free @ Project Gutenberg

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