Exhibitions Museums Controversies FYR Macedonia

War over Alexander the Great to rumble on

Skopje museum plans sculpture of the Macedonian king and other famous ancient figures

Greeks and Bulgarians have bitterly contested the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s claim to figures such as Alexander the Great

The director of an archaeological museum opening later this year in Skopje, the capital of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, says it will have 15 wax sculptures of historical figures, including Alexander the Great (below), his father Philip II and the philosopher Aristotle, which will do little to improve relations with Greece or Bulgaria.

Greeks and Bulgarians have bitterly contested Macedonia’s claim to figures such as Alexander. Greece has also been involved in a 22-year naming dispute with Macedonia, the name adopted by the Balkan state in 1991 after the break up of Yugoslavia. The Greek government fears that Macedonia may stake a territorial claim to a northern area of Greece, which is also called Macedonia.

Ian Worthington, a professor at the University of Missouri, says the display is controversial—“clearly emphasising to all and sundry their claim to Alexander and Philip II”. He says, however, that Skopje is in the heart of the ancient Macedonian kingdom and having a statue of Alexander is “rather like putting up a statue of a famous son in his home town”.

Paul Cartledge, the professor of Greek culture at the University of Cambridge, is sceptical. “The so-called Republic of ‘Macedonia’ is located in what was ancient Paeonia, and the ancient Paeonians were non-Greeks whom the (Greek) Macedonians conquered and incorporated in their European empire,” he says. The Greek Embassy in London declined to comment.

More from The Art Newspaper


9 Dec 13
16:37 CET


Marcus Junianus Justinus (3rd cent.) MACEDONIA was formerly caned Emathia, from the name of king Emathion, of whose prowess the earliest proofs are extant in those parts. As the origin of this kingdom was but humble, so its limits were at first extremely narrow. The inhabitants were called Pelasgi,1 the country Paeonia. But in process of time, when, through the ability of their princes and the exertions of their subjects, they had conquered, first of all, the neighbouring tribes, and afterwards other nations and peoples, their dominions extended to the utmost boundaries of the east.2 In the region of Paeonia, which is now a portion of Macedonia, is said to have reigned Pelegonus

2 Dec 13
17:1 CET


You don't have to go back that far in history to understand what this disagreement is about by the two Balkan nations. After the ottomans were expelled from the Balkans, the Macedonian land was divided by four nations, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania in what we know as The Treaty of Bucharest 1912-13. So where are the Macedonians!!! How can somebody determine what name you have!!! Wheres the freedom of democracy in which the E.U outlines clearly in its constitution!!! I can sit here for hours and post facts that prove the identity of the Macedonian identity but that wont matter, what matters is how much money I have and which world leaders are my closest friends!!! Why does Greece deny a debate about Macedonia and the identity of the Macedonians when put forward but the Macedonians!!!!! All I can say is Macedonia for the Macedonians, don't hide the truth or injustice!!! BUCHAREST TREATY 1912-13 FACT no one can deny!!!!!!!!!

22 Nov 13
15:51 CET


Dear Tom, The former Yugoslavians have a right to their own identity but not the right to take the idenitty of Macedonians (aka the Macedonians of Greece) David Cameron wouldn't recognize western France as "England" if they were claiming to be the english. Furthermore, you might care to notice the former Yugoslavians have no problem not recognizing countries when it suits them. "The Macedonian side stated once again that it will not establish official ties of any form or conduct official exchanges with Taiwan, and that it opposes Taiwan's accession to any international organization whose membership requires statehood" http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/90883/6315770.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/1394486.stm

20 Nov 13
15:19 CET


We slavs want also to have history and famous men. It is not easy to stay in the shadow of a cultural giant like Greece with endless history. We will accept every gift and present from there for building up our own identity from Slavs to Macedons, however the name Macedon and Macedonia is more than 3000 years a part of the greek people. (Vardarovic)

19 Nov 13
21:15 CET


I just want to mention that the name Macedonia was not adopted after 1991, it was existed before in ex-yougoslavia as Socialistic Republic of Macedonia and after 1991 was changed in Republic of Macedonia. The name Republic of Macedonia is enough to make a difference with Greek Macedonia. Today there is difference between Macedonians and Ancient Macedonians, same difference as Greeks and Ancient Greeks. To resolve this issue the Greeks should understood that there is a people who called themselves Macedonians and no one can denied to someone else to call how they want especially if they live in Macedonia.

20 Nov 13
17:3 CET


I can not understand how you focus on a certain part of history and then chose to ignore everything that led to the creation of Macedonia, furthermore u cannot be completely curtain in your statement when u dont know the full history of the Macedonian people.If u are to state such information u need to have facts and inform everyone of the full history from the Ancient Macedonia to today's Macedonia and you will see what is really the truth. And everyone should know that this is so politically involved and is just a greek propaganda.

20 Nov 13
17:4 CET


Guess what NICK GALAXIDIS, WOLLONGONG, Macedonians still live in Pella even after the Greek occupation in 1913. Maybe we need to have CNN come by and interview them, also they started to rebuild a church since you like destroying anything non-Greek.

15 Nov 13
15:51 CET


Hey Ian, Alexander is a famous son (son of Phillip II) & his hometown is Pella in Macedonia Greece!

15 Nov 13
15:52 CET


Skopje in the time of Alexander the Great was part of Dardania which was north of Paeonia which makes up the entire FYROM today in the south. Worthington must know the difference between the bona-fide state of Macedonia and lands CONQUERED by Macedonia. If this were the case then Egypt also has the right to be called Macedonia which would be totally incorrect. In fact I know Worthington knows because he also has explained this very difference. For those that don't understand the issue, the term Macedonia was part of the Comintern goal of annexing Greece Macedonia into Yugoslavia back in 1944 to 1949. Today an ethnically Slavic people from the former Yugoslavia wants the world to believe that they are Macedonians linked to the ancient world. That is historically impossible. For more info on the Macedonian Issue: www.Macedonia-Evidence.org

15 Nov 13
15:53 CET


"The Macedonian people and their kings were of Greek stock, as their traditions and the scanty remains of their language combine to testify." [John Bagnell Bury, "A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great", 2nd ed. (1913)] "That the Macedonians and their kings did in fact speak a dialect of Greek and bore Greek names may be regarded nowadays as certain." [Malcom Errington, "A History of Macedonia"] "Nowadays historians generally agree that the Macedonians form part of the Greek ethnos, hence they also shared in the common religious and cultural features of the Hellenic world." [M.Oppermann, "Oxford Classical Dictionary", 3rd ed. (1996), p.905] "We are not related to the northern Greeks who produced leaders like Philip and Alexander the Great. We are a Slav people and our language is closely related to Bulgarian." "There is some confusion about the identity of the people of this country." [FYROM's Ambassador to Canada, Gyordan Veselinov, 1999]

15 Nov 13
15:53 CET


Ian Worthington may need a history lesson - Skopje was never part of the Macedonian Kingdom, it was part of Paeonia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_Macedonia_336_BC-en.svg), and Paeonia was a dependant territory, but not part of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Macedonia's kingdom lies with the boarders of Greece, same as it always has. The area of the FYROM was introduced into the 'Province of Macedonia' by the Romans, with Thessalonica as the capital of Macedonia Prima (Main Macedonia). Alexander the Great, Philip II, and anyone else that is part of the Hellenic Kingdom of Macedonia has no part to play in the FYROM's history. The FYROM is a Slavic nation, Historians as well as FYROM'S President Mr. Kiro Gligorov, also state this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5Sx_Fov-D0

15 Nov 13
15:53 CET


The professor needs to study history, but also map reading. Can he measure the distance between Pella and Skopje? Skopje was under Dardanian control separated by Paionia. I want to know what course Worthington teaches so that I avoid them. I do not want to be miseducated by irrelevant people.

14 Nov 13
18:2 CET


I agree with the professor that from some aspects such a posting of monuments could be contraversial..but..just look and read statement of other professor..using words"so-called"..he is professor of political activist..you have to see both sides actions and claims then you can make decision who is right or wrong..or who in fact exaggerate in this most funny and shameless political issue known as "name issue"started by greeks 23 years ago..

14 Nov 13
18:2 CET


'Skopje is in the heart of the ancient Macedonian kingdom.' I believe Professor Worthington needs both lessons in history and geography.

Submit a comment

All comments are moderated. If you would like your comment to be approved, please use your real name, not a pseudonym. We ask for your email address in case we wish to contact you - it will not be made public and we do not use it for any other purpose.


Want to write a longer comment to this article? Email letters@theartnewspaper.com


Share this