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Macedonia – From ‘land of Barbarians’ to home of Hellenism

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Macedonia map

We discovered a screenshot in our archive, with an excerpt from an article. Unfortunately without reference to the origin of the source. “From ‘barbarian land’ to the home of Hellenism” (Vom ‘Barbarenland’ zur Heimat des Hellenismus) is the (sub) heading of the article or section, which unfortunately cannot be fully presented here.

But, the picture that we dug out of our archive is definitely worth a contribution, and translation, as the original is of German origin. It can be assumed that the article was originally intended to serve for tourist purposes, where the history of Macedonia was also addressed. The following is a translation of the short excerpt.

From the ‘land of barbarians’ to the home of Hellenism

If you drive further west from Thessaloniki, you will soon find yourself in the middle of a plain framed by chains of hills between the rivers Axios and Aliakmonas. This terrain formation looks like it is divided, and one involuntarily gets the impression of a small, clearly arranged cultural area, especially when one realizes that most of the famous sights of ancient Macedonia are within this plain and on the gently sloping slopes of the hills.

In fact, however, Macedonia was much larger in antiquity: in the east it bordered Thrace, in the north it reached beyond Skopje to the land of the Illyrians and in the west it reached as far as the Pindus massif. The extent of Macedonia fluctuated over the centuries and has not yet been determined with certainty. What is certain, however, is that today’s Greek province of ‘Macedonia’ only made up about half of ancient Macedonia.

While the south bordering Thessaly, according to mythology, was an undoubted part of the Greek world, the exact opposite was true for Macedonia: From the perspective of the Greeks, Macedonia was a foreign country, ‘land of barbarians’, settlement area of a foreign culture that was even perceived as a threat. The corner posts of the Greek world were high mountains: Mount Etna in Sicily with the forge of Hephaestus, Mount Ida in Crete with its gods’ apartments and Olympus.

Here, on the edge of the area understood as Greek, the gods sat in their heights and kept a watchful eye on the world of mortals. Macedonia was outside of this line of sight of the gods, beyond Olympus – just as Egypt, for example, was beyond the Ida. Macedonia was also not an issue in mythology: Neither the ‘cross-border’ adventures of Heracles nor those of the Argonauts roamed this stretch of land. From Gibraltar to Thrace and even to the most remote shores of the Black Sea, these heroes penetrated in Greek tales, but never to Macedonia.

Read also: The relationship between ancient Macedonians and Greeks

Source: Unknown – From the ‘land of barbarians’ to the home of Hellenism

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