A Greek Name in Modern Usage

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Ottoman Macedonia and the Greeks

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From the establishment of the Greek state in 1830, Macedonia was integrated into the wider plan of Greek irredentism, as an inseparable part of historical Hellenic geography. It was only natural. Macedonians had also taken part in the Greek War of Independence from 1821 to 1828, but remained outside the initial borders of the small independent Greek state, just as other subject Greeks (Cretans, Thessalians, Epirots and Thracians) who lived in other Ottoman areas with dense Greek populations. Yet, whether they continued to live in their homelands or had migrated to the Greek kingdom, they contributed to the development and consolidation of the modern Greek nation. As a result, throughout the 19th and up to the early 20th century, Macedonia never ceased to be a focus for revolutionary Greek movements aimed at bringing about union with the independent Greek kingdom. Such revolutionary activities were supported by numerous associations of Macedonians, which had spread to every Greek town within the Greek state and in still unredeemed Macedonia. The driving force behind these movements was a dual symbolism—the revival of the Byzantine medieval state, and, in the case of the Macedonians, the glory of the illustrious Ancient Macedonian past.

It is a fact that the history of Ancient Macedonia was an essential chapter in every Greek school textbook at the time, as well as a major reference point in Greek academic history discourse. Use of the epithet ?Macedonian? called forth renowned and highly powerful Greek symbols, such as Alexander the Great, Phillip and their trophy-bearing generals, as well as Aristotle and Dimitrios, patron saint of Thessaloniki.

This symbolism became particularly popular in the early 20th century, when a substantial part of Hellenism, within and beyond the kingdom, took up arms or the pen to defend Macedonia against the Bulgarian threat. Studies on Macedonia proliferated, and the word ‘Makedhonomachos’, i.e. one who fights for Macedonia, became a title of honour.


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