Professor Melville-Jones response to United Macedonian Diaspora article

Professor John Melville-Jones is a Winthrop Professor in Classics & Ancient History at the University of Western Australia.

Australian Macedonian Advisory Council

May 11, 2011

It has been drawn to my attention that in a recent publication by the United Macedonian Diaspora (a lovely Greek word) an attack has been made on what I have written about the erection of a statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje. I have also received a number of e-mails on this subject, some applauding what I have said, some merely abusive, playing the man and not the ball, and some disagreeing with me in a more thoughtful way, which sometimes caused me to modify what I had previously written, as I would always be willing to do if shown that I had said anything that was not correct.

But not a single one of those who disagreed me was willing to address the most important point – that Skopje was not a part of Macedonia in the lifetime of Alexander the Great, or for more than a century after that. The erection of this statue and the naming of airports, a major highway and a sports stadium, after Alexander and his father Philip constitute an attempt to steal a history which does not belong to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The article also quotes some negative remarks made by Professor Peter Hill, who has not investigated this topic with the joyful objectivity and clarity that characterize what I have written (surprisingly, because I believe him to be one of those who deplore excessive and irrational nationalism whenever it appears). Like everyone else who has disagreed with me, Professor Hill avoids mentioning the most important point that I have been trying to make – that in the time of Philip II and Alexander III the territory of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was not (except for a sliver on its southern border) a part of Macedonia. At that time it was called Paeonia, its inhabitants were the Paeonians, and their kings issued coinage in their own names, thus showing their independence from Macedonia.

I have added to this page an image of a coin of Patraus/Patraos, the Paeonian ruler 
during the reign of Alexander III 

(http://www.coinarchives.com/1cd837adc0da4ee3740330eaae2eeb3f/img/hdrauch/088/thumb00114.jpg). The obverse shows a head of Apollo, the reverse a victorious mounted warrior and the king´s name.

When the Romans conquered Greece in the 2nd century B.C. they created a large new administrative area to which they gave the name of Macedonia, because that was its principal component, and Paeonia was added to the enlarged Macedonia at this time. Before this, Skopje was not in Macedonia, but part of a separate kingdom. That is why the claim that is being made by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to be the successor of the kingdom of Philip II and Alexander III is false.

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