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The heirs of Alexander

11 Jul 09 | Re: Balkan naming controversy

You’re probably aware of the dispute between Greece and (the Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia: briefly, Greece doesn’t want Macedonia to call itself just ‘Macedonia’ because it says it has no historical basis for doing so. Macedonia says that it does. The main reason the name is so hotly contested is that both countries are keen to have the legacy of Alexander the Great as part of their own national heritage.

I’m not going to say the dispute is petty, because Alexander is one of the great figures of European history, and we would be pretty cheesed off if some other country started calling itself the Republic of Shakespearia and claiming that William S was from there. But it strikes me that the issue is not being contested in the right way.

Alexander is rightly revered for his prodigious success in battling and conquering other nations, NOT for being able to get the UN to approve a resolution telling some bunch of people to change their flag slightly. So if one of these countries really wants to make a convincing case that they are the heirs of the mighty conqueror, the opportunity’s right in front of them. Let’s see Macedonia send a phalanx of unstoppable warriors across the border, lay waste to Greece and become their overlords by power of the sword (or vice versa) - then we’ll have an outcome that everyone can agree on.

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