N. G. L. Hammond

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Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond (November 15, 1907 – March 24, 2001) was a British historian.


  • At the end of the bronze age a residue of Greek tribes stayed behind in Southern Macedonia[...] one of these, the "Makedones" occupied Aegae and expanded into the coastal plain of lower Macedonia which became the Kingdom of Macedon; their descendants were the Macedonians proper of the classical period and they worshipped Greek gods. The other Greek tribes became intermingled in upper Macedonia with Illyrians, Paeonians and Thracians[...] in the early 5th century the royal house of Macedon, the Temenidae was recognised as Greek by the Presidents of the Olympic Games. Their verdict was and is decisive. It is certain that the Kings considered themselves to be of Greek descent from Heracles son of Zeus. "Macedonian" was a strong dialect of very early Greek which was not intelligible to contemporary Greeks.
    • "A History of Greece to 323 BC", Cambridge University, 1986 (p 516)
  • What language did these Macedones speak? The name itself is Greek in root and in ethnic termination. It probably means highlanders, and it is comparable to Greek tribal names such as `Orestai' and `Oreitai', meaning 'mountain-men'. A reputedly earlier variant, `Maketai', has the same root, which means `high', as in the Greek adjective makednos or the noun mekos. The genealogy of eponymous ancestors which Hesiod recorded […] has a bearing on the question of Greek speech. First, Hesiod made Macedon a brother of Magnes; as we know from inscriptions that the Magnetes spoke the Aeolic dialect of the Greek language, we have a predisposition to suppose that the Macedones spoke the Aeolic dialect. Secondly, Hesiod made Macedon and Magnes first cousins of Hellen's three sons - Dorus, Xouthus, and Aeolus-who were the founders of three dialects of Greek speech, namely Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic. Hesiod would not have recorded this relationship, unless he had believed, probably in the seventh century, that the Macedones were a Greek speaking people. The next evidence comes from Persia. At the turn of the sixth century the Persians described the tribute-paying peoples of their province in Europe, and one of them was the `yauna takabara', which meant `Greeks wearing the hat'. There were Greeks in Greek city-states here and there in the province, but they were of various origins and not distinguished by a common hat. However, the Macedonians wore a distinctive hat, the kausia. We conclude that the Persians believed the Macedonians to be speakers of Greek. Finally, in the latter part of the fifth century a Greek historian, Hellanicus, visited Macedonia and modified Hesiod's genealogy by making Macedon not a cousin, but a son of Aeolus, thus bringing Macedon and his descendants firmly into the Aeolic branch of the Greek-speaking family. Hesiod, Persia, and Hellanicus had no motive for making a false statement about the language of the Macedonians, who were then an obscure and not a powerful people. Their independent testimonies should be accepted as conclusive.
    • "The Macedonian State" p.12-13)
  • The toponyms of the Macedonian homeland are the most significant. Nearly all of them are Greek.
    • "The Macedonian State" (1989)
  • Hesiod first mentioned 'Makedon', the eponym of the people and the country, as a son of Zeus, a grandson of Deukalion, and so a first cousin of Aeolus, Dorus, and Xuthus; in other words he considered the 'Makedones' to be an outlying branch of the Greek-speaking tribes, with a distinctive dialect of their own, 'Macedonian'.
    • "Oxford Classical Dictionary", 3rd ed. (1996), pp.904,905
  • All in all, the language of the Macedones was a distinct and particular form of Greek, resistant to outside influnces and conservative in pronunciation. It remained so until the fourth century when it was almost totally submerged by the flood tide of standardized Greek.
    • "A History of Macedonia" Vol ii, 550-336 BC
  • Philip was born a Greek of the most aristocratic, indeed of divine, descent... Philip was both a Greek and a Macedonian, even as Demosthenes was a Greek and an Athenian...The Macedonians over whom Philip was to rule were an outlying family member of the Greek-speaking peoples.
    • "Philip of Macedon" Duckworth Publishing, February 1998
  • As subjects of the king the Upper Macedonians were henceforth on the same footing as the original Macedonians, in that they could qualify for service in the King's Forces and thereby obtain the elite citizenship. At one bound the territory, the population and wealth of the kingdom were doubled. Moreover since the great majority of the new subjects were speakers of the West Greek dialect, the enlarged army was Greek-speaking throughout.
    • "Philip of Macedon" Duckworth Publishing, February 1998
  • The first sentence of the actual Life of Alexander lives up to Plutarch's warning words. 'Alexander's descent, as a Heraclid on his father's side from Caranus, and as an Aeacid on his mother's side from Neoptolemus, is one of the matters which have been completely trusted.' While the Heraclid and Aeacid descent went unquestioned by ancient writers, the citation of Caranus as the founding father in Macedonia and so analogous to Neoptolemus in Molossia was not only controversial but must have been known to be controversial by Plutarch. For he was conversant with the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides. which had looked to Perdiccas as the founding father in Macedonia. Caranus was inserted as a forerunner of Perdiccas in Macedonia only at the turn of the fifth century: he appeared as such in the works of fourth-century writers, such as Marsyas the Macedonian historian (FGrH 135/6 i- 14) who on my analysis was used by Pompeius Trogus (Prologue 7 'origines Macedonicae regesque a conditorc gentis Carano'). Thus the dogmatic statement of Plutarch, that Caranus was the forerunner, should have been qualified, if he had been writing scientific history. But because the statement conveyed a belief which Alexander certainly held in his lifetime it was justified in the eyes of a biographer and in the eyes of those who were more concerned with biographical background than with historical facts. If Plutarch had been challenged, he would no doubt have claimed that his belief was based on his own wide reading of authors who had studied the origins of Macedonia and provided 'completely trusted' data.
    • "Sources for Alexander the Great: An Analysis of Plutarch's 'Life' and Arrian's 'Anabasis Alexandrou'", p.5, Cambridge Classical Studies
  • There were two parts of the Greek-speaking world at this time which did not suffer from revolution and did not seek to impose rule over the city states. In Epirus there were three clusters of tribal states, called Molossia, Thesprotia and Chaonia[...]the other part of the Greek-speaking world extended from Pelagonia in the north to Macedonia in the south. It was occupied by several tribal states, which were constantly at war against Illyrians, Paeonians and Thracians.
    • "The Genius of Alexander the Great", p.11, Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (November 26, 2004)
  • The terms for the Phocians were mild by Greek Standards (one Greek state proposed the execution of all the men) disarmament, division into village-settlements, payment of all indemnity to Apollo and expulsion from the Amphictiony. In their place the Macedonians were elected members. The two votes of Phocis on the council were transferred to the Macedonian state.
    • "The Genius of Alexander the Great", p.18, Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (November 26, 2004)
  • The Balkan situation was far from secure, with the Odrysians and Scythians only recently defeated and with the Triballi still defiant. Yet Philip was confident of success in the interest of the Greek-speaking world and of Macedonia in particular.
    • "The Genius of Alexander the Great", p.21, Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (November 26, 2004)
  • "The language spoken by these early Macedonians has become a controversial issue in modern times. It seems not to have been so in antiquity. As we have seen, Hesiod made Magnes and Macedon first cousins of the Hellenes, and he therefore regarded them as speakers of a dialect (or dialects) of the Greek language. That he was correct in the case of the Magnetes has been proved by the discovery of early inscriptions in an Aeolic dialect in their area of eastern Thessaly. Then, late in the fifth century a Greek historian, Hellanicus, who visited the court of Macedonia, made the father of Macedon not Zeus but Aeolus, a thing which he could not have done unless he knew that the Macedonians were speaking an Aeolic dialect of Greek. A remarkable confirmation of their Greek speech comes from the Persians, who occupied Macedonia as part of their conquests in Europe c.510-480. [...] Disagreements over this issue have developed for various reasons. In the second half of the fifth century Thucydides regarded the semi-nomadic, armed northerners of Epirus and western Macedonia as "barbarians", and he called them such in his history of events in 429 and 423. The word was understood by some scholars to mean "non-Greek-speakers" rather than "savages." They were shown to be mistaken in 1956, when inscriptions of 370-68, containing lists of Greek personal names and recording in the Greek language some acts of the Molossians, were found at Dodona in Epirus. This discovery proved beyond dispute that one of Thucydides "barbarian" tribes" of Epirus, the Molossians, was speaking Greek at the time of which he was writing. Demosthenes too called the Macedonians "barbarians" in the 340s. That this was merely a term of abuse has been proved recently by the discovery at Aegae (Vergina) of seventy-four Greek names and one Thracian name on funerary headstones inscribed in Greek letters.
    • "The Miracle That Was Macedonia", Palgrave Macmillan (September 1991)

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