Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's in a Name

[Originally posted 5/29/09, updated 7/15/09, updated 8/30/09]

A lot apparently.

Steve Miller invites Classical Scholars to endorse a letter to POTUS Barak Obama about the name of the country to the north of Greece. As of today 248 scholars have cosigned the letter.

Daniel Tompkins writes another letter Responding to Professor Miller.

Some background on Macedonia naming dispute.

It reminds me of the dispute over the name of the Persian Gulf, which some call the Arabian Gulf

WHY shall I keep the old name?
What is a name anywhere anyway?
A name is a cheap thing all fathers and mothers leave each child:
A job is a job and I want to live, so
Why does God Almighty or anybody else care whether I take a new name to go by?
Carl Sandburg (1878–1967). Chicago Poems. 19. Blacklisted

And now see Mary Beard, Was Alexander the Great a Slav? [A don's life, July 03, 2009], and
Andreas Willi, Whose Is Macedonia, Whose Is Alexander? [The Classical Journal Online Forum 2009.07.02 (forthcoming in CJ 105.1)]

Steve Miller's Response to Andreas Willi, "Whose is Macedonia, Whose is Alexander?


Michael E. Smith said...

A quick look at your links on the Macedonian controversy leads me to confusion. I don't have the time or inclination to read those long partisan letters. Could someone summarize the scholarly aspects of the debate for non-experts?

cfelix said...

A short summary then:
Fact: Alexander and co were definitely greek. One line iron-cast proof: jews, who fought his successors still celebrate their victory over the greeks, NOT the Macedonians in Channukah. This would be irrelevant to the name dispute EXCEPT that fake Macedonia claims to be 'macedonian as Alexander' despite the fact that they are Slavs and arrive in the area 1000 years later.

Apart from that, the whole idea is incredibly silly: You have a country that IS NOT EVEN IN MACEDONIA(the ancient name of the country is Paeonia) and has as much relation to Macedonia as it has to Alaska, Sicily, Catalunya or Scotland wanting the name of a bigger region, both landwise and populationwise, not to mention the historical connection. In other words, why should "macedonian" refer to some 1,4 million people who proudly called themselves Bulgarian 100 years ago and not the 2,5 million living in real Macedonia who are proud to be greek and macedonian? It is like Iran deciding to call itself Europe and demand that anything 'european' refer to them and not the more numerous true europeans who live in Europe. So much for insanity. In contrast, real Macedonia(Greece) was always Macedonia

International Precedent: After WWI, the Allies denied Austria the use of the name "German Republic of Austria", even though Germany, which is the only part with a possible legitimate interest had no problems.

Additional issues: Fake Macedonia has often invoked an imaginary oppressed "macedonian minority" in greek Macedonia, even though:
-election results show about 5000 votes (out of a population of 10 mil) for a coalition of ultraleftists and slav-speakers, less than 1000 of them in true Macedonia.
-you do not see the greek, italian, irish or african PMs speaking on behalf of greek, italian, irish or african-americans
-in the last 55 years two real Macedonians have served as greek PMs and president for a combined 30 years, presumably oppressing ... themselves.