June 18, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama June 16, 2009
President, United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
I, J. S. G. Gandeto and the rest of my students of Ancient History, find Professor Miller´s assertions rather highly questionable and contradictory. Moreover, his circulated letter contains statements that are clearly inaccurate, perpetuate falsehood and contradict the preserved and recorded statements left to us by the ancient chroniclers.
Consider the following assertion by Professor Miller that ´Macedonia and Macedonian Greeks have been located for at least 2,500 years just where the modern Greek province of Macedonia is.´
While, certainly, he is partially correct on the first part-the location of Macedonia (part of it became Greek in 1912), he is totally out of touch with reality on the second part, namely, with the name „Macedonian Greeks“. This name was invented and came into existence only very recently as a result of the artificially Greek created name dispute between modern Republic of Macedonia and Greece.
Let it be known that ancient chroniclers like Diodorus, Herodotus, Polybius, Livy, Plutarch, Justin, Thucydides, Pausanias, Arrian, Rufus and all the rest have never grouped the ancient Macedonians and the ancient Greeks together, nor have they ever referred to, or remotely alluded to, such terminology as suggested by Professor Miller.
The designation „Macedonian Greeks“ has no historical roots, it is politically motivated and is invented to subvert, confuse and distort the real ethnicity of the present-day modern Macedonians. As an ethnic identifier it has no relevant value, carries no measurable weight and it must be promptly discarded. Such a fake entity did not, and does not exist. There is no such thing as „Macedonian Greek“; the ethnic/racial separation between Greeks and Macedonians is well documented. Ancient biographers-whose work represents the only dependable source for today´s scholars-as well as all modern-day classicists have, in a very unambiguous way, described the ancient Macedonians as a separate people from the ancient Greeks. Simply, from their persuasive writings one cannot come up with any different conclusion (Arr. 2.11, Isocrates in Phil. 108, Borza 1996, Wilcken 1967, Badian 1982, Bosworth 1988, Jouguet 1928, Green 1991, Jaeger 1938, Hogarth 1897).
Instead of proceeding to rebuff Professor Miller´s assertions one by one (aside from posing an interesting challenge, the current of the debate would follow a predictable outcome, for no other reason but for the mere fact that other, more knowledgeable scholars before me, have paved the foundation with incontrovertible documented evidence), I would like to pose several questions of interest. If I were a Professor Miller´s student or in the lecture hall of any of his colleagues signatories of his letter, the following requests for elaborations would be in order:
(1) If ancient Macedonians were Greeks and Alexander the Great, per Professor Miller´s assertions, were a Greek king, I would like to know why would the Greek city states send envoys to the Persian King Darius asking for gold to finance their preparation for rebellion against their own king Alexander the Great? (Diod. 17.62.2).
(2) If ancient Macedonians were Greeks, why did the Spartans snub the King at Corinth referring to his conditions for peace as terms not agreed upon by the city states but dictated by a conqueror and that what Alexander the Great offered to the Greeks at Corinth was not peace agreed upon, but imposed servitude. The operative word here is servitude. (Justin 9.5.1-3).
(3) If ancient Macedonians were Greeks why would Alexander dismiss „his own“ Greek allied troops at Ecbetana in 330? (Arr. III.19.6-7; Plut. Al. 42.5; Diod. XVII.74.3-4; Curt. VI.2.17).
(4) If ancient Macedonians were considered Greeks, how come Justin, when reporting on the Greek embassy´s visit to Philip´s court in 346 BC, described the visit as „waiting at a foreign court to beg for peace?“ (Justin 8.4.7-8).
(5) If ancient Macedonians were Greeks, the Athenian popular assembly, as reported by Livy, would not carry a proposal that whenever possible the Athenian people should on every occasion heap curses and execrations on Philip, his family and his realm , his forces on land and sea, and the whole race and name of the Macedonians. It needs to be stressed that the operative word here is the race and the name of the Macedonians. In no uncertain terms the Athenian, the Greek people, have explicitly excluded the Macedonians from their own race. (Livy XXXI. 44).
(6) If there was such a designation, entity, people called „Macedonian Greeks“ as Professor Miller asserts, then, Justin´s reporting would be inaccurate and misleading. The alliance struck between Thebes and Athens (two mortal enemies) out of fear from Philip, rested on mutual benefit: „there common enemy should be repelled by their common forces.“ There reasoning went as follows: „If Philip met with success at the start he would not stop short of bringing all Greece under his yoke.“ Would a king, in this case Philip, put his own people and his own country under his yoke? (Justin 9.3.6-7).
(7) Diodorus reports on Greeks wanting to throw off the Macedonian yoke. Would Professor Miller or his like-minded signatories offer any explanations for this „apparent“ contradiction? Is Diodorus confused as to who had conquered whom or if these two peoples were regarded as one? (Diod. 17.3.3-5).
(8) Professor Miller and the rest of the signatories of his petition, by implication, are guilty of inaccurate reporting, namely of denying the existence of Macedonian tongue. The following episodes confirm just the opposite: Plut. Alex. 51.4; Curt. 6.9.35; Plut. Eum. 14.5; Ath. 3.122A.
(9) Contrary to his 2500 years of Greeks in Macedonia, we have Polybius reporting on Greek demands that Philip should evacuate from the whole of Greece (Pol. XVIII. 9, XVIII. 3,4). As long as Corinth, Chalcis and Demetrias remained under the Macedonian yoke, it was impossible for the Greeks to entertain any thoughts of liberty. (Pol. XVIII. 11).
(10) If ancient Macedonians were Greeks, then the Greeks would not send embassies to Rome to plead with the Roman Senate to liberate the Greeks from Philip. (Just. 30.3.3-9; Pol. 16 and 18; Diod. 28 5ff; Livy 31-33).
(11) When the Romans liberated the Greeks, they, at the same time, defeated Philip and his Macedonians. If there was an entity called „Macedonian Greeks“ as Professor Miller states, then, this animal, surely, got confused and lost in the shuffle. (Pol. XVIII. 46).
(12) Upon hearing the news that Alexander died in Asia, the Greeks cease the opportunity to, once again, rebel against the Macedonian yoke and regain their liberty. At Lamia the combined Hellenic forces met the Macedonians under Antipater´s command. The Lamian war was known by its protagonists as Hellenic War. If the ancient Macedonians were Greeks and thus, Hellenes, whom were the Greeks fighting against at Lamia? Second, why will they call it a Hellenic war?(Plut. Phoc. 23ff; Paus. 1.25.4-5).
(13) Interesting encounter between Greeks and King Philip reported by Polybius. Greeks plead with Philip to protect them and not to make them easy prey for the invader.
„To protect every province of Greece as you would if it were a part of your own dominion.“ It cannot get any clearer than this; ancient Greeks, unlike Professor Miller and his friends who teach college course history, did not see „Macedonian Greeks“ in Philip´s brethren, nor did they consider 2500 years of Greeks in Macedonia. If you follow this policy, said the ancient Greeks, we will be your faithful allies and friends. (Pol. 5.104).
(14) Philip V speaks about his ancestors Philip II and his son Alexander the Great, conquering the Greeks and sending them under Macedonian yoke (Justin 30.3.7).
(15) In book VIII. 2 Polybius criticizes Theopompus for abandoning his history of Greece to write about King Philip. Here, Philip is not considered as being a part of Greek history. (Pol. VIII. II).
(16) It is a fitting tribute to Professor Miller´s contradictory assertions to complete this short rebuttal with a quote from Plutarch, a Greek born at Chaeronea: Upon hearing the news that Philip was killed, the Athenians, adorned with garlands and offering sacrifices to celebrate the death of a king-their Greek king, according to Professor Miller-went into a wild celebration being beside themselves with joy, trampled on his body and sang paeans of victory. One has no other option but to wonder, how Professor Miller and his like-minded educators of higher learning would pass this episode to their students. (This episode is analogous to the celebrations in some parts of the world after the 9/11 terrorist attacks an America.) Will some students summon enough courage to ask the professors, how it is possible for these Greeks to celebrate the death of „their own beloved“ king? (Plut. Dem. 22).
At the end we have no recourse but to rely heavily upon the text left to us from those who knew history the most-the ancient chroniclers. Here, the evidence presented will not allow us the liberty to experiment with the heartfelt emotions of the ancients. Those of us in education who teach have a moral obligation to present the facts to our students unaltered; we cannot, nor should we get ourselves involved in teaching conclusions.
We call upon you, Mr. President, to help – in whatever ways you deem appropriate – the government in Athens to understand that it cannot bully its neighbor into submission. It cannot appropriate the greatness of the ancient Macedonians nor can it change other people´s identity. It can no longer deny the existence of the ethnic Macedonians living in Greece.
The government in Athens should come to realization that the feared Metaxa´s days are long gone and dead. Gone are the days when the Greek government sponsored marauders would desecrate Macedonian churches and tombstones. Gone are the days when the Greek clergy would burn the Macedonian books in the monasteries and destroy any visible artifact connected to the ethnic Macedonians´ past. Gone, also, are the days when ethnic Macedonians will take and endure the Greek tortures and abuse in silence and bowed-headed.
Mr. President what we really hope you do, is not to act like the rest of the politicians, but stay true to your God given wisdom and tell these Greeks to take a hike. Tell them to stop oppressing other people; tell them to stop their discriminations against other ethnic groups living in Greece. Ask them why they have forbidden their ethnic Macedonians living in Greece from using their own mother´s tongue. Ask them why they persecute people for identifying themselves as ethnic Macedonians? Ask them how come there are no ethnic minorities in Greece? And finally, Mr. President, ask them to stop their racist assimilatory policies against the ethnic Macedonians.
P.S. As you can see, I did not solicit signatures from my colleagues for I felt confident enough that what I have with me-the ancient chroniclers themselves-are sufficient proof to convince anybody.