A recent story published by Fox News opens like this:
Macedonia gave the world Alexander the Great, who, legend has it, wept because he could find no more lands to conquer.
There’s nothing wrong with that sentence. Macedonia did give us Alexander the Great. But the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (to which Fox News was referring) did not.
Alexander the Great was the king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia. He was born in Pella.
The ancient city of Pella is now home to an archaeological museum. It is located in Central Macedonia, Greece.
And it’s really that simple. Alexander the Great was Macedonian. But the ancient kingdom of Macedonia was Greek.
He spoke an ancient dialect of Greek, his name is Greek and he was born in what is now Greece.
The European Union refers to Skopje as FYR Macedonia and the UN calls the country FYROM as a result of the naming dispute between Greece and Skopje.
Skopje’s attempts to claim some Greek history as its own is outrageous and the Greeks are right to refuse to recognise the name ‘Macedonia’ for FYROM.
FYROM has also tried to claim the Vergina Sun as its own. An earlier version of the country’s flag in the 1990’s was not accepted by Greece as it featured the Sun of Vergina, an ancient Greek symbol. FYROM’s current flag is a variation of this, but much less provocative to their southern neighbours.
It’s really quite simple.
Alexander the Great was Greek. Sure, it’s correct to say Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia. And it’s even accurate to say he was a Macedonian.
Just make sure you don’t mistakenly say that he was from FYROM.