Lucius Annaeus Florus leaved us an important testimony in the constant discussion if the ancient Macedonians were actually supposed to have been Greeks. Already in the second century he differentiated the Macedonians and Greeks – understandably, the Macedonians were Graecized in modern times and this process is still ongoing. That is why authors from ancient times are important, who, like Florus, have given us testimony on this issue.
Who was Lucius Annaeus Florus?
Florus was a Roman historian at the time of the emperors Trajan (98-117) and Hadrian (117-138). He is identified by some sources with the poet Publius Annius Florus.
Around the year 120 AD he wrote a short sketch of the history of Rome in two volumes (four books in other numbers) from the foundation of the city to the Varus Battle in 9 AD, focusing primarily on the views of Livius, Sallust, Lucan, Seneca and Tacitus. The work, the Epitoma de Tito Livio bellorum omnium annorum DCC libri duo, is written in a bombastic and rhetorical style, and more a praise to the greatness of Rome, whose life is divided into the four stages of childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. It often shows geographical and chronological errors, but was still widely used in the Middle Ages.
Macedonia raised its head again
In Book 1 of the Epitome, Lucius Annaeus Florus described the first Macedonian war when Rome and Macedonia were at war. In Chapter 23 we read:
After the conquest of Carthage, no nation felt ashamed of being conquered. The peoples of Macedonia, Greece, Syria and all the other countries immediately followed in the wake of Africa, as if borne along by the flood and torrent of fortune.
We see that Florus enumerates the peoples of Macedonia and Greece separately and clearly differentiates them. Further in the next passage it says:
Of all these the first were the Macedonians, a people who had once aimed at imperial power; and so, though at the time King Philip occupied the throne, the Romans nevertheless felt as if they were fighting against King Alexander.
Lucius Annaeus Florus repeatedly refers to the Macedonians as a people of their own.
In chapter 28 the topic is the second Macedonian war, there too we read that Florus declares the Macedonians as an independent people:
While nation after nation was involved in the disaster of the Syrian war, Macedonia again raised her head. The memory and recollection of its former greatness spurred that valiant people to action. Also Philip had been succeeded by his son Perses, who thought that it ill accorded with the high repute of the nation that Macedonia, once conquered, should remain for ever conquered. Under his leadership, therefore, the Macedonians rose with much more vigour than under his father.
Here Florus seems to have fallen in love with the Macedonians, but this is irrelevant to our question. Obviously, and of primary importance to us, are the clear classifications of the Macedonians as an independent people and nation.
Based on this evidence from the 2nd century it is difficult to understand how one can still have the courage to describe the Macedonians as Greeks!
Following are excerpts of the epitomes with the above-cited sections by Lucius Annaeus Florus from the website of the University of Chicago:
Lucius Annaeus Florus
THE TWO BOOKS OF THE EPITOME, EXTRACTED FROM TITUS LIVIUS, OF ALL THE WARS OF SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS
XXIII. The First Macedonian War
II, 7 After the conquest of Carthage, no nation felt ashamed of being conquered. The peoples of Macedonia, Greece, Syria and all the other countries immediately followed in the wake of Africa, as if borne along by the flood and torrent of fortune.
2 Of all these the first were the Macedonians, a people who had once aimed at imperial power; and so, though at the time King Philip occupied the throne, the Romans nevertheless felt as if they were fighting against King Alexander.
3 The Macedonian War gained importance rather from its name than from any consideration of the nation with whom it was waged.
4 The original cause of the war was a treaty by which Philip had joined himself in alliance with Hannibal at a time when he had long been dominating Italy. Subsequently an additional pretext was afforded when the Athenians implored help against the injuries of the king, who was venting his fury, beyond any rights which victory conferred, on their temples, altars and even sepulchres.
5 The senate resolved to grant help to such important suppliants; for by this time kings and leaders, peoples and nations of the world were beginning to seek protection from this city.
6 In the consulship of Laevinus, therefore, the Roman people first entered the Ionian Sea and coasted along all the shores of Greece with their fleet in a kind of triumphal procession;
7 for they bore in the front of their vessels the trophies of Sicily, Sardinia, Spain and Africa, and the bay tree which sprouted on the prow of the flagship promised certain victory.
8 Attalus, king of Pergamon, was there of his own accord to help us; the Rhodians were there, a naval people who spread consternation everywhere at sea with their ships, as did the consul on land with his horsemen and foot-soldiers.
9 King Philip was twice defeated, twice driven into flight, twice despoiled of his camp; but nothing caused the Macedonians greater fear than the sight of their wounds, which, having been dealt not with darts or arrows or any Greek weapon but by huge javelins and no less huge swords, gaped wider than was necessary to cause death.
10 Indeed under the leadership of Flamininus we penetrated into the mountains of the Chaonians, hitherto impassable, and the river Aous which flows through deep gorges, the very gates of Macedonia.
11 To have effected an entrance into this country meant victory; for afterwards the king, who had never ventured to meet us in the field, was overwhelmed, near the hills which they call Cynoscephalae, in a single engagement which could hardly be called a regular battle.
12 To Philip, then, the consul granted peace and restored to him his kingdom, and afterwards, that no foe might remain, subdued Thebes and Euboea and Lacedaemon, which attempted resistance under its tyrant Nabis.
13 To Greece Flamininus restored its ancient constitution, that it might live under its old laws and enjoy its ancestral liberty.
14 What joy there was, what cries of delight there were, when this proclamation was made, as it happened, at the quinquennial games in the theatre at Nemea! How they vied with one another in their applause! What flowers they showered upon the consul!
15 Again and again they bade the herald repeat the declaration by which the liberty of Achaea was proclaimed; and they took as much delight in the consul’s decision as in the most harmonious concert of pipes and strings.
XXVIII. The Second Macedonian War
II, 12 While nation after nation was involved in the disaster of the Syrian war, Macedonia again raised her head.
2 The memory and recollection of its former greatness spurred that valiant people to action. Also Philip had been succeeded by his son Perses, who thought that it ill accorded with the high repute of the nation that Macedonia, once conquered, should remain for ever conquered.
3 Under his leadership, therefore, the Macedonians rose with much more vigour than under his father. They had induced the Thracians to support their efforts and had thus tempered the Macedonian persistence with Thracian energy, and Thracian savagery with Macedonian discipline.
4 A further advantage was the skill of their leader, who, having surveyed the topography of his territory from the summit of Mount Haemus, pitched his camp in an inaccessible spot, and so fortified his realm with arms and the sword that he seemed to have left no means of access except to an enemy who should descend from the sky.
5 But the Roman people, under the consul Marcius Philippus, having entered the province and having carefully explored the approaches by the Lake of Ascuris and the Perrhaebian Mountains, effected an entrance over heights which seemed inaccessible even to birds, and by a sudden inroad surprised the king, who thought himself safe and feared no such attack.
6 Such was his alarm that he ordered all his money to be thrown into the sea, lest it should be lost,5 and his fleet to be burned, lest it should be set on fire.
7 Under the consul Paulus, after larger and more frequent garrisons had been established, other methods were used to take Macedonia by surprise through the remarkable skill and perseverance of the general, who threatened an attack at one point and broke through at another.
8 His mere approach so alarmed the king that he did not dare to take an active part in the war, but committed the management of it to his generals.
9 Being defeated, therefore, in his absence he fled to the sea, and to the island of Samothrace, relying on the well-known sanctity of the place, as though temples and altars could protect one whom his own mountains and arms had been unable to save.
10 No king ever clung more tenaciously to the memory of the great position which he had lost. When he wrote to the Roman general as a suppliant from the temple in which he had taken refuge and signed the letter with his name, he added the title of king. On the other hand, no one ever showed more respect than Paulus for captured majesty.
11 When his enemy came into his presence, he received him upon his tribunal, invited him to his own table, and warned his own children to respect Fortune whose power was so great.
12 The triumph in honour of the conquest of Macedonia was among the most splendid which the Roman people ever held and witnessed. The spectacle occupied three days;
13 on the first day the statues and pictures were displayed in procession, on the next day the arms and treasure, on the third day the captives, including the king himself, who seemed still to be dazed and stupefied by the suddenness of the disaster.
14 But the Roman people had already received the glad news of the victory long before it was announced by the victorious general’s despatches. For it was known in Rome on the very day on which Perses was defeated
15 through the presence of two young men with white horses washing off dust and gore at the pool of Juturna. These brought the news, and were popularly believed to have been Castor and Pollux because they were twins, and to have taken part in battle because they were dripping with blood, and to come from Macedonia because they were still out of breath.
Source used: University of Chicago