Considered to be the greatest ruler of all times, the battle for being the place of Alexander III’s birth continues between the countries. A major figure in Greek history, Alexander the Great conquered much of the world, spreading Greek culture from India to Egypt, but the question of whether Alexander the Great was actually Greek remains.
Though it is an established fact that he belonged to Macedonia, Macedonia belonging to Greece is debated. Several historians have had their say in this matter.
Historian E. Borza says in a blog: “It is clear that over a five-century span of writing in two languages representing a variety of historiographical and philosophical positions the ancient writers regarded the Greeks and Macedonians as two separate and distinct people…”
Historian NGL Hammond: “Macedonians considered themselves to be, and were treated by Alexander the Great as being, separate from the Greeks. They were proud to be so.”
Greek Historian M.B. Sakellariou: “Isokrates [father of ‘Hellenism’] places Macedonia outside the boundaries of Greece and describes the Macedonians as ‘an unrelated race’…”
These historians lead one to believe that Alexander did not belong to Greece. As can be seen from the quotes above, when Alexander and his father conquered Greece, many Greeks weren’t eager to welcome the Macedonians as their brothers. The political borders and ethnic composition of Alexander’s homeland, Macedonia, are not the same now as they were at the time of Alexander’s Empire.
Slavic people, a group to which Alexander the Great did not belong, migrated to Macedonia in 7th century A.D., making the genetic composition of the modern Macedonians different from those of the 4th century B.C.
His parentage needs to be taken into account on this front. Olympia, his mother, was an Epirote and Philip was Macedonian, but they may also have been considered Greek. The appropriate term isn’t “Greek,” but “Hellenic,” as Olympia and Philip may have been considered Hellenes or barbarians. Olympia came from a Molossian royal family that traced its origins to Neoptolemus, the son of the greatest hero of the Trojan War, Achilles. She was considered an outsider at the Macedonian court. Philip came from a Macedonian family that traced its origins to the Peloponnesian Greek city of Argos and Hercules/Heracles.
Another issue in this scenario relates to the statement that Alexander took translators with him on his Greek travels. This receives an answer from the fact that there are several dialects and a person from one part of Greek cannot be expected to know the other existing dialects.
Another argument in favour of Alexander being a Greek comes from the notion of Greece as a separate state not existing in his time. Rather, all the small city states united to form Greece later on, but, nonetheless, all the states, including Macedon, were Hellenic states, which seem to make them Greek.
Macedonia has anointed Alexander its national hero. The government has renamed the international airport here in his honor, as well as the main highway to Greece. Greeks complain that the Republic of Macedonia is challenging their national identity and stealing their history.
Alexander, the ruler of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia, was born in the city of Pella, located in present-day Greece. The Athens government says there is no question that he was Greek. The Republic of Macedonia, it says, consists of Slavs and other outsiders who invaded the region a millennium after Alexander died.
Through all these facts, the basic issue of whether Alexander the Great was Greek or not remains unresolved.