Kenneth W. Harl: Macedonians spoke a language that the Greeks did not understand

AncientsKenneth W. Harl: Macedonians spoke a language that the Greeks did not...

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In this article we dedicate ourselves to the work “Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Empire” by Kenneth W. Harl. There we find further answers to the constant question(s) of whether the Macedonians spoke a Greek language in antiquity – as claimed by the modern Athenian propaganda.

This and a little more we can read below in a quote from the work of Professor Kenneth W. Harl – but first let’s see who is the author the book.

About Kenneth W. Harl

Kenneth W. Harl is an American scholar, author, and classicist. He received his B.A. in Classics and History from Trinity College (1973) and Yale University (M.A.) 1975 and his PhD in 1978. He is currently Professor of History at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Harl is known for his know-how in ancient numismatics, especially in relation to the provincial and bourgeois coinage of the Roman East. He was visiting professor for the American Numismatic Society summer seminar in 2001 and is currently a fellow and trustee of the society. He teaches and publishes on Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Viking, Crusader and military history.

Harl is best known for his excellent teaching activities, having received numerous awards from the Tulane student body. He also received the National David Cherry Award in Excellence in Teaching from Baylor University and an honorable B.A. He was taught and counseled at Tulane University for forty years. Eleven of his courses were produced by the Great Courses Teaching Company.

Harl worked on the excavations of Metropolis and Gordion in Turkey.

The Macedonians spoke a language that the Greeks did not understand

According to Harl, the Macedonians spoke their own language which the Greeks could not understand. Furthermore, Harl states that the “ordinary Macedonians” tended to interact with their Balkan neighbors, such as the Illyrians, Thracians or Paeonians (also referred as Paionians). Therefore, the Macedonians were oriented more west, east and northward than to the Greek polis in the south below the natural border of Mount Olympus.

Likewise, Harl brings archeology into his argument. According to the author, the Macedonians have never participated in the material culture of the Greek world since the late Bronze Age.

Quotes from the book:

In 359 B.C., Macedon was an unstable barbarian kingdom on the fringes of the Hellenic world. Macedon’s kings, members of the Argead dynasty, claimed Greek descent and ruled over a mix of different peoples including Macedonians, but many others as well, none of whom were regarded as Hellenes, or members of the Greek national race. To Greeks, the Macedonians were regarded as “barbarians.

Archaeology has revealed that the Macedonians never participated in the material culture of the Greek world since the Late Bronze Age. Greek immigrants and goods were welcomed, but Macedonians remained a distinct, speaking a language unintelligible to Greek. King Archelaus adopted Attic Greek as the court language, built roads, and established market towns, but his subjects remained in habits far closer to their Balkan neighbors Illyrians, Paeonians, and Thracians.

Macedonian kings ruled by force over proud lords and vassal kings. Despite natural resources and manpower, the Argead kings of Macedon could never impose effective authority over their unruly vassals. Hence, the leading Greek powers each in turn promoted civil war and rebellion within Macedon. In 359 B.C., King Perdiccas III and 4,000 Macedonians fell fighting the Illyrians, the Macedonians acclaimed as king his brother and successor, Philip, who transformed Macedon into the greatest kingdom in Europe.

You can read the book via Issuu below:

Used source: Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Empire by Kenneth W. Harl

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