Greek And Macedonian Empires Of Ancient Times


The two most influential empires that helped to shape the ancient world on European land were Greece and Makedonia. The expansion of these civilizations has had a lasting and considerable impact on the formation of modern cultures and nationalities in Europe. Though the two empires were historically closely interrelated, each of them had distinctive features which made their coexistence problematic and, to some extent, painful. Greece was a democratic state that believed a person and personal freedom to be the main value, while Macedonia was a monarchy that heavily relied on the ideas of its leaders’ preeminence over slaves and servants.


Before they were conquered by Macedonia, Greek policies developed as democratic entities where, despite the existence of a slave-owning system, the ideas of a person as a shaper of his or her fate were established. Being a rather closed community due to the state’s remoteness from other civilizations, Greek society “emphasized male political equality and modest display, the importance of the domestic economy, and self-sufficiency” (Cole & Symes, p. 263). These ideas ran in stark contrast to Macedonian militaristic and ambitious traditions. Initially seen as barbarians by more cultured and refined Greeks, Macedonians excelled in military arts. While Greece developed as a collection of relatively independent city policies, Macedonia was a monarchy where all people acted as one under the king’s command. Much due to this fact, Macedonians managed to defeat Greek policies.

However, precisely this conquest made two people closer to each other since Greek culture and language had a great impact on Macedonian society. Indeed, Greek soon became the main language in Macedonia, so even the nobility used it in their speech. Greek literature and art penetrated Macedonia, which was initially considered by the Greeks a backward country. The conquests of Alexander the Great, who forged the two civilizations into his Greco-Macedonian Empire, promoted further cooperation between the two people. While this cooperation was a result of the two people’s geographical proximity and bore an imprint of deep distrust, Greek culture, and language was adopted in Macedonia, devoid of its own defined cultural traditions. With the death of Alexander, however, the two people grew apart, which can be explained by the change of leadership in the two countries. Macedonian king kept his status as an overload of Greece; his policy was to «maintain a strong, standing army and keep the divided Greeks at arm’s length” (Cole & Symes, p. 422). Two Greek policies, however, in this later period managed to constitute a true political entity that became the prototype of a further united Greek state.


Greek and Macedonian empires of ancient times have similarities as well as differences. The similarities are brought about by the common fate of peoples who have lived in the proximity for centuries and were parts of Alexander’s Greco-Macedonian Empire. The two entities were united by a common language and elements of culture but grew apart after Alexander’s death. The differences lie in the state systems of Greece and Macedonia, where the first was a democracy and the second a monarchy. While the Greeks cherished the ideas of freedom and male equality, the Macedonians developed primarily as a military state with an emphasis on the power and might of the country.


Cole, J., & Symes, C. L. (2020). Western Civilizations. Their History & Their Culture (5th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.