The Museum of the Macedonian Struggle Foundation is pleased to present to the international public its latest publication, Μακεδονία (Macedonia): A Greek Name in Modern Usage.
It is not the aim of this publication to analyse the political controversy between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the name of the latter. For a detailed study of this issue please see our recent publication Athens-Skopje: An Uneasy Symbiosis (1995–2002), edited by Evangelos Kofos and Vlasis Vlasidis, KEMIT/MMSF (Thessaloniki) and ELIAMEP (Athens), 2005.
The present publication is a unique effort prepared by scholars and graduate students of our research department (KEMIT). By means of visual and documentary material they seek to present the powerful impact of the Macedonian name on Greek society, administration, social life, culture and economy since the integration of Greek Macedonia with the Modern Greek State in 1912.
This is by no means a surprise for the Greeks. The use of the term ‘Macedonia’ and its derivatives is commonplace in the Greek language since antiquity. It has been used extensively and uninterruptedly not only as a geographical term but also as a powerful symbol of Hellenism in Classical and Hellenistic antiquity, the middle ages and in modern times.
The present research study simply demonstrates the extensive—indeed impressive—presence of the term ‘Macedonia’ in modern Greek usage, both as a regional and as cultural appellation. It has been and is still considered as a regional token of Hellenism; a token beyond challenge.
If the ample evidence presented by this publication cannot contribute to a sober dialogue about the proper identification of the diverse Macedonian variants, at least it can explain why Greeks—especially Greek Macedonians—cannot consent to the monopolistic use of their own name and culture by another state and a Slavonic people.
When in 1821 Greeks started their revolt against the Ottoman Empire and fought for an independent state they had two major ideological issues to deal with: the identity of the new state and its future borders. If Hellas (Ελλάς) was the appropriate name for Modern Greece and ancient glory the most valuable argument for Greek independence, then how could Macedonia been kept apart? After all it was an integral part of Greek ancient history, which had nourished every single generation of educated people—not only Greeks—even before the war of Greek independence. The legendary figure of Alexander the Great had surfed smoothly over centuries of ignorance escorted by powerful myths and tales to find its appropriate position in the last part of 19th century, ancient history textbooks. They were the chapters of the Macedonian Hegemony and the Hellenistic period (4th and 3rd centuries B.C.), which had brought Greek culture to the frontiers of the then known world.
Ancient History proved a very solid and enduring foundation for the modern Greek state. In this context, in the last quarter of the 19th century the case of Macedonia, this ill-defined region, was regarded as the final frontier of Hellenism, which Greece had to defend against the Slavs, if it was to survive as a state and not to end up as a sad caricature of Ancient Hellas.