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Mythology

The origins of the Macedonians
The founding of the kingdom
Explanatory myths

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Dionysos
Detail from the Derveni 'krater' (mixing bowl) showing Dionysos, second half of 4th century BC, Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum.

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Dionysos
Derveni, second half
of 4th century BC

Very few native myths of the Macedonians have survived in the work of ancient authors. The two best known are myths that attempt to explain Macedonian customs. Thus Pausanias recounts that the Macedonian kings did not erect trophies to commemorate their victories in perpetuity, because the trophy erected by the first Macedonian king after the country's conquest was trampled by a lion which came down from Mount Olympus, a sign that the gods did not condone the perpetuation of hatred between the victorious and the defeated, conquerors and the conquered.

Another myth, preserved by Kallimachos, explains that the bravery of Macedonian girls who, wreathed with ivy and carrying Bacchic wands, put an Illyrian army to rout was the origin of the cult of Dionysos Pseudanor (the False Man) and of the renaming of the girls from 'klodones' (spinners) to 'mimallones' (they who imitate men). This myth refers to the very ancient custom of disguise at the ceremonies of coming of age, which was widespread in ancient Greece.

See Also
Civilization - Religion in Antiquity


Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.