The culture and wisdom of Ancient Macedonia
Macedonia is a land of rich culture and great historical heritage which started forming during the ancient kingdom of Emathia, got further developed during the time of the Ancient Macedonian empire and in the times of the Eastern Roman empire. Later the homeland of these ancient peoples were taken over by the Slavs and Bulgars and this is how the modern Macedonian nation formed in one of the most culturally diverse regions in the world. To make things even more exotic, Macedonia in 14th century was conquered by the Ottoman empire and was part of it until the early 20th century; the Ottomans had a mixed Arab and Asian culture.
Pella, the Ancient Capital of macedonia
When we speak about Macedonia, we think of the empire of Philip II and Alexander the Great, their never-ending wars with Persia, how the Macedonians reached Northern India with their army and how the entire world in the antiquity was so fascinated by the stories about the life of Alexander, the novel about him (known as the Alexander romance) became the most widespread book in the world – at some point it maybe even more popular than the bible.
Alexander was not only a mighty and skillful military leader, but during his reign Macedonian culture was spread throughout the ancient world. In all provinces of his empire he established beautiful cities that bared the same name – Alexandria. Some of them today are in ruins, but in others we can still observe the impressive architecture, in the Ionic and Doric styles, adopted from the Greeks.
In one of his Alexandrias, the one in Egypt, he built the largest Library of the Ancient world, the Alexandria Library. Unfortunately, today, only the legends about this enormous library remain, because it was destroyed a fire in the
The Macedonians were ethnically different from the Hellenes, but at some point adopted completely their culture, language, belief system and ultimately got completely assimilated. As I mentioned above, they had a very rich culture. The history of Macedonia could get really complicated for one who is not familiar with it – Today the ancient Macedonians are sometimes referred to as “Greek” Macedonians and the modern Macedonians are sometimes called “Slavic” Macedonians. Check out this History of Macedonia if you are curious to learn more about these people.
Science and philosophy in the Hellenic world were developing rapidly. The ancient philosophers of Greece and Macedonia were observing the world around them trying to understand it and in this way they laid the foundations of modern science. Alexander himself was educated by one of the most famous philosophers – Aristotle – and this can give us a clue about why he had such affection to science.
What truly impressed me is that these ancient philosophers is that they were not focusing on a single aspect of science the way modern scientists do. I myself am a Philologist and have studied the Aesthetic works Aristotle on Poetics and Drama, but if we browse through his other writings, we’ll see that he has studied Biology and Mechanics, Physics, Geology, Psychology and even Politics. Wow!
One funny thing I remember about Aristotle from my university course on Ancient literature: In Ancient Greece and Macedonia it was not common for anyone to right by himself. All scholars and philosophers had their own scriveners to write down their words as they speak, but Aristotle did not find hiring one as necessary and people were making fun of him for that.
The studies of philosophers in these ancient times were not focused only on the topics mentioned above, but also on Anatomy of the Human body and Medicine. I visited some historical museums in Macedonia and I was fascinated to see various medical tools which are over 2000 years old – precise scissors and needles, beautiful glass tubes which were used for medicine and other weird looking tools which I had no idea what have been used for.
When I got back home I researched the topics of ancient Medicine in Macedonia – the Father of Modern Medicine – Hippocrates lived in the times when Macedonia had started expanding into the entire Hellenic world. I have to say that Hippocrates was an ethnic Greek, but we can be sure that as his teachings had spread quickly through the Hellenic world, including Macedonia – the superior health care for the army could have been a key to the military success of Alexander III in Asia and India.
Before Hippocrates the knowledge of diseases in Europe was quite simple – people were associating illness with demons and divine punishment, but after his research medical knowledge started developing really fast. Although the methods of treating diseases did not develop fast, he had started categorizing diseases as acute, chronic, epidemic, was the first to describe in detail the stages of development of a disease, but what I was more than surprised to learn is that he was the first person to define what a tumor is and the first to call it “cancer”, and even described different types of cancer, including lung cancer. Unfortunately, opening the human body to study it was taboo in the ancient world (almost until modern times, actually) and this was stopping medicine from further development.
A lot can be told about Macedonian culture – read more about the Traditions of modern Macedonians, the gods of worship and more from the other posts on our website!