Friday, December 10, 2004

Bush reiterates US recognition of Macedonia's constitutional name

Bush reiterates US recognition of Macedonia's constitutional name 2004-12-11 02:31:31

TIRANA, Dec. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George Bush reiterated US recognition of Macedonia's constitutional name in a letter sent Friday to his Macedonian counterpart Branko Crvenkovski, the MIA news agency reported.

"By recognizing Macedonia's constitutional name I wished to emphasize the US commitment to multiethnic and democratic Macedonia within the existing borders," Bush said.

After Macedonia gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece refused to recognize it under that name, arguing that a northern Greek province had exclusive right to the term.

Macedonia joined the United Nations in 1993 under the name of "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)" to sidestep Greek objections.

The United States announced its recognition of Macedonia's constitutional name as "Republic of Macedonia" one month ago, which disappointed Greece.

Macedonian and Greek representatives met Monday in New York to resume talks about the dispute over Macedonia's name under the UN auspices, but without resolution. Both parties scheduled another meeting for Jan. 12 next year.

At present, a total of 24 countries have recognized Macedonia under its constitutional name, including three of the five UN Security Council permanent members, China, Russia and the United States.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Interesting Article With An Eastern Point of View On the Macedonians

Interestingly, the Azerbaijani author clearly separates the Macedonian people and language from the Greek people and language. Even ancient histories written in Iran, another world away from Macedonia, and meant solely for Persian consumption, identify Alexander as a Macedonian.

Remembering Zulqarneyn: On the Occasion of Oliver Stone’s “Alexander”

By Alireza Asgharzadeh

O my son, seek out a kingdom worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee.
(Alexander’s Father, General Philip of Macedonia)

Oliver Stone’s latest movie, “Alexander” has all the glitz and glamour of a topnotch Hollywood motion picture: triumph, tragedy, sex, betrayal, and blood--lots and lots of it. The film has generated fresh debates around issues of historical representations, linguistic/cultural appropriations, political relevancies, as well as other technical issues such as accents, sceneries, the acting, etc. As always, the bulk of criticism falls in the area of personal taste and individual preference. Take the issue of “accents,” for instance. Some critics regard it faulty to have a number of differently “faked accents” in “Alexander”: Colin Farrell’s (Alexander) Irish accent, Rosario Dawson’s (Roxana, Alexander’s first wife), East Asian accent; Angelina Jolie’s (Olympias, Alexander’s mother) East European accent, and so on. Is having these diverse accents in a movie like “Alexander” a negative thing, or is it a positive thing?

In my view, having actors with diverse accents is one of the strongest aspects of “Alexander.” In a film of this magnitude, probably it is not possible to have the Greeks, Macedonians, Persians, Jews, Arabs, Hindus, and others converse in their original tongues. In such a situation, the least an objective producer can do is to present English in various local accents, if only to attest to the presence of varied linguistic communities in the movie. Would not the use of various Englishes be more objective than using a uniform, standard Queen’s English to represent each and every linguistic community from Europe to Central Asia to the Middle East? Moreover, now that English has virtually become the lingua franca of our increasingly globalizing world, rather than contesting the use of various Englishes, one ought to encourage such an act as a fact of contemporaneous life.

For those of us who spend most of our time reading old books about ancient figures and events, movies like ‘Alexander’ offer a breath of fresh air by taking us away from the dusty pages of books and into thrilling theaters. Historical sagas like “Alexander” make us reflect on how and why certain figures continue to intrigue our imagination and pique our curiosity. Alexander the Great of Macedonia (356-323 BC) is certainly one such figure. His mythical and factual persona has entered into oral narratives and written literatures of peoples of Central Asia and the Middle East ever since his arrival to the region in the spring of 334 BC, provoking thoughtful historical, literary, intellectual, and linguistic debates. Take the name of our homeland, ‘Azerbaijan,’ for instance. Does this astounding name originate from the name of our ancestors, the Azerler, or is it derived from the name of Atropathena, a general of Alexander’s who became the governor of Azerbaijan after Alexander’s death? Our historians and linguists are still debating this issue.

Narrated through the voice of Anthony Hopkins (as Greek historian Ptolemy), the film takes us on a journey through Alexander’s childhood, teens, youth and adulthood by way of some sporadic episodes, reaching its climax when Alexander defeats the Akhaemanian king Darius III in a long bloody battle in 331 BC. Having beaten the army of what the Greeks referred to as Persia, Alexander and his generals march into Babylonia. With all its splendor and grandeur, even Babylonia cannot contain the wild spirit of this restless figure. He keeps on marching and marching.

It is through Alexander’s encounters with local peoples that we come to witness a phenomenon in the movie that has captured the imagination of generations of historians for centuries: Why is this young conqueror greeted by local peoples throughout the vast Achaemenid Empire as a liberator? Why do we not find any semblance of revolt and revulsion against this man on the part of local peoples and communities? After all, who would want to be conquered and dominated by an outside force? These questions take us back not so much to Alexander’s tolerance and respect for other cultures (which he possessed to an admirable degree) but to the nature of the enemy that he defeats: the warlike tribe of Achaemenians.

Intruders to the Iranian Plateau, the Achaemenians had terrorized the region’s diverse populations for 228 years, from 559 to 331 BCE. The recorded Orientalist historiography tells us very little about this aggressive tribe. The Old Testament describes them as cruel warriors who would emerge from the North and destroy Babylonia:

“For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast. They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not show mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon.” (Jeremiah, 50: 41, 42).

And the Qur’an refers to these ruthless northern tribes as Ya'jooj va Ma'jooj (Gog and Magog). It is from these tribes that the cruel warriors mentioned in the Old Testament emerge and form the killing machine of a dynasty that becomes known in history as the Achaemenians. According to Herodotus, when Cyrus, the founder of this dynasty, intends to capture the lands of Massagetai north of the Araz River, Tomyris, the Queen of Massagetai advises him to reconsider such decision and return back to his lands without any bloodshed. She also warns Cyrus that if he refuses her offer, “I swear by the sun, the sovereign lord of the Massagetai, bloodthirsty as you are, I will give you your fill of blood." (Herodotus, Histories. I.214). Cyrus pays no heed to Queen Tomyris’s message and wages a losing battle that costs him his life:

“The greater part of the army of the Persians was destroyed and Cyrus himself fell, after reigning nine and twenty years. Search was made among the slain by order of the queen for the body of Cyrus, and when it was found she took a skin, and, filling it full of human blood, she dipped the head of Cyrus in the gore, saying, as she thus insulted the corpse, "I live and have conquered you in fight, and yet by you am I ruined, for you took my son with guile; but thus I make good my threat, and give you your fill of blood." (Herodotus, Histories, I.214).

The Orientalist historiography of the region paints a positive image of the cruel Achaemenid rulers, regarding them amongst the earliest forefathers of a supposedly ‘superior’ Aryan race. It is this Orientalist reconstruction and misrepresentation of these brutal warmongers that gets taken up during the rule of Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1978) in Iran. The Pahlavis take the Orientalist misrepresentations to an exaggerated level and use them to justify their own brutal suppression and repression of non-Persian ethnic groups and languages in the country. Just as the Orientalist historiography accords no space to the region’s rich and diverse cultures and languages in the Pre and post-Achaemenid era; so too the Pahlavi regime uses the Aryanist mumbo-jumbo surrounding this supposedly ‘superior’ Aryan race to deny the existence of difference and diversity in modern Iran. This denial becomes the official policy throughout the Pahlavi era and even after its downfall.

Oliver Stone’s depiction of the Achaemenian kings in “Alexander” is a faithful replica of the Orientalist misrepresentation of these destroyers of other cultures and civilizations. The image of a dignified, distinguished-looking King Darius III and his noble entourage bear no resemblance to the vicious images that historical evidence shows of the Achaemenians. Conversely, Stone’s depiction of Alexander as a humanitarian cosmopolitanist respectful of diverse cultures, ethnicities, and languages seems to confirm the image that both the historical record as well as the collective memory of peoples of the region have of Alexander the Great. However, one must be careful not to glorify and romanticize any act of aggression, conquest, and occupation, including those of Alexander the Great.

The positive image of Alexander is so deep-rooted in languages and cultures of the Middle East that Iskandar (Alexander) has become a common name throughout the region. Anyone traveling to remote villages in Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Azerbaijan, and other places, would certainly encounter individuals bearing the name Iskandar. The same cannot be said of Achaemenian kings and their generals. That is to say, we never encounter in the literatures of the region names such as Kambujya, Khshayârshâ, Vishtâspa, and the rest. Even today we do not come across such names in major Iranian towns and cities, and this despite the fact that the short period of Pahlavi rule (1925-1978) in Iran was the heyday of Aryanist racism and aggressive chauvinism. On the other hand, the name of the Macedonian hero who put an end to the rule of the Achaemenian kings has been commonly used by all cultures and communities ever since the arrival of Iskandar the Great to the region.

Referring to Alexander as Zulqarneyn (Zulqarnain), even the Qur’an projects a positive image of Iskandar and his good name in the region; whereas there is no mention of the Achaemenian kings in the Qur’an:

“And they ask you about Zulqarnain. Say: I will recite to you an account of him.
Surely We established him in the land and granted him means of access to every thing. So he followed a course.” (The Qur’an, Kahf, 18:83-85).

Even the Shahnameh of Abulqasim Ferdowsi, a book written around1000 AD to tell the ancient tales of Iran, is completely oblivious to the existence of Achaemenian kings, whereas there are positive references to Iskandar of Macedon in it. The Achaemenians terrorized the region’s diverse populations for 228 years, destroying their cultures, appropriating their arts, and plundering their wealth. Perhaps that was reason enough for the peoples of the Middle East, Eastern and Central Asia to glorify a young hero who put an end to those intolerable appropriations and pillages. Perhaps, too, this is a good time for us to deconstruct the Orientalist/Aryanist fabrication of the histories and stories of Iran’s diverse nationalities and ethnic groups.

A critical interrogation of the Aryanist/Orientalist constructed image of the Achaemenians would be a great starting point to this end. The Iranian historian Naser Poorpirar has already dropped the bombshell by way of his seminal “Investigations into the Foundation of Iran’s History.” The onus now is on younger generations of scholars and historians to follow in the footsteps of Naser Poorpirar and expose the Aryanist historiography of Iran for the lies, deceptions, and misrepresentations that it is. Oliver Stone deserves best of credits for bringing the undying memory of Zulqarneyn to the attention of contemporary generations. He has done a great job in rekindling the old debates and discussions. It is up to us now to carry the discourse to a more humane terrain.

They said: O Zulqarnain! surely Gog and Magog make mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute on condition that you should raise a barrier between us and them? He said: That in which my Lord has established me is better, therefore you only help me with workers, I will make a fortified barrier between you and them… (the Qur’an, Kahf, 18: 95-96).

Alexander the Great died of acute pancreatis, Greek doctor says

Alexander the Great died of acute pancreatis, Greek doctor says
Agence France-Presse

Athens, December 9

A Greek doctor has come up with a new theory to explain the mysterious death of the ancient world conqueror Alexander the Great, long a subject of scientific debate.

The president of the Greek union of experts on pancreatic illnesses believes the likely cause of death was acute pancreatis, he told a press conference here.

The doctor, Georges Nikos, based his hypothesis on accounts by the ancient classic writers Plutarch and Athineos, who described the death of the king of Macedonia in Babylon in 323 BC at the age of only 32.

According to them, Alexander felt a strong pain in the back, then was struck down by high fever, after drinking a huge goblet of wine at the end of a feast. All these symptoms are consistent with acute pancreatis, that is the inflammation of the pancreas, Nikos said.

While noting that alcoholism is one of the possible causes of the illness, he emphasised that it could also be triggered by other factors. British historians a few years ago aroused the wrath of Greeks by attributing the death of their hero to cirrhosis of the liver, caused by his penchant for alcohol.

The cause of the fever which struck down Alexander continues to fuel debate. Other theories have been put forward in support of typhoid or an infection with the West Nile virus, also based on the texts of antiquity.

Macedonia Begins Issuing Bilingual Passports

Macedonia Begins Issuing Bilingual Passports


Macedonia's Interior Ministry has started issuing new bilingual travel documents. More than 1,000 applications were submitted between 2 December -- the first day citizens could apply for new documents -- and Monday (6 December), when the issuance process officially began.

Out of about 600 applications submitted in Skopje, Tetovo, Gostivar, Kumanovo and Debar, 220 were for bilingual Macedonian-Albanian passports, the ministry said.

"Only Macedonian-Albanian bilingual passports are available so far," said Interior Ministry State Secretary Sali Ramadani. "We have technical difficulties with the scripts of other ethnic communities in the country, and we are working busily on overcoming them so that they can get their bilingual travel documents."

Information on citizens belonging to the ethnic Macedonian community will be printed both in Macedonian and in the basic Latin alphabet, Ramadani said. "For the citizens who speak an official language other than Macedonian, information will also be printed in the official language and the script the respective citizens use."

Changes in the bilingual passports are of a technical nature. "The first page of the passport now has the coat of arms imprinted on it," says Deputy Minister of Administration Affairs at the Interior Ministry Erol Salih. "There is a special place left for putting down the current dwelling place of a person who lives outside the country for more than three months and has registered his/her stay."

There is one more innovation: children under 14 who were formerly put on their parents' passports are now getting their own passports. "For children under 4, the passport is valid for two years, for persons between 4 and 27 it is valid for five years, and the validity of the passports for those older than 27 is ten years," Salih says.

The issuance of bilingual passports is a part of the Ohrid Framework Agreement and derives from the constitutional changes and amendments to the Law on Travel Documents. This is the second document, besides ID cards, that is being issued in the languages of the members of ethnic communities. Other personal documents, including driving and traffic licenses and all record book certificates, will also be bilingual.

The application forms for bilingual passports have been delivered to every section of the interior ministry in the country, as well as to Macedonia's diplomatic and consular branch offices around the world.

Some North American Major League Athletes Of Macedonian Origin

I thought it would be fun to list the Macedonian-heritage athletes who play, or have played, professional sports in North America. This list is by no means complete so please feel free to post the names of any others in the comments link on this post. You're also welcome to post the names of any other important athletes of Macedonian origin playing their sport outside of Macedonia.

Jose Theodore, Montreal Canadiens, National Hockey League; Team Canada, World Cup of Hockey, 2004 Champs

Ed Jovanovski, Vancouver Canucks, National Hockey League; Team Canada, World Cup of Hockey 2004 Champs, 2002 Olympics Hockey Gold Medal

Steve Staios, Edmonton Oilers, National Hockey League; Team Canada, World Championships

George Servinis, Minnesota North Stars, National Hockey League, 1987-88
(Photo Not Available)

Chris Kotsopoulos, National Hockey League, 1980-1990
(Photo Not Available)

Alek Stojanov, National Hockey League, mid-1990s

Steve Gatzos, National Hockey League, early-1980s

Pete Stoyanovich, National Football League, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams. Record holder: Longest playoff field goal, 58 yards. Led NFL in scoring 1992; led AFC in scoring 1991, 1992

Billy Stoyanovich, Arena Football League

Daniel Nestor, 2004 US Open Tennis Men's Doubles Champ; Team Canada, 2000 Olympics Tennis Men's Doubles Gold Medal

And of course, we should include these extremely successful Macedonian businessmen who've owned major league franchises.

Steve Stavro, past owner and Chairman of the Board, Toronto Maple Leafs, National Hockey League; Toronto Raptors, National Basketball Association; current owner of race horses
(Center, with wife Sally and opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Left: Harold Ballard)

John Bitove, past owner and president, Toronto Raptors, National Basketball Association

Mike Ilitch, owner Detroit Tigers, Major League Baseball; Detroit Red Wings, National Hockey League (Stanley Cup Champs 2002, 1998, 1997)
(Waving to a million people: Cup Parade 2002)

Classical Mythology Explained With The Use of Macedonian Vocabulary

Classical Mythology Explained
With The Use of Macedonian Vocabulary
A Series of Studies in European Mythology

Part 1 - Is There a Practical Meaning to Mythology?

by Odisej Belchevsky

November, 2003

The information contained in this article is not of mythical or imagined content but is very real, which the reader should find exciting and interesting.

In this article I will take the reader through a fresh new look at classical mythology and bring out alternative meanings of the identities of Demeter, Saturn, Pluto/Hades and Zemele.

An inquiring mind may ask the following questions:

How is it that for the last 200 years European scholars have been able to attribute mathematics, physics, astronomy, government, military strategies, natural principles and even the understanding of human behavior to the ancient people of southern Europe and the Mediterranean yet when it comes to interpreting mythological figures they could only manage to provide imaginary, unrealistic, impractical, hard to understand and confusing explanations?

Is it possible that modern scholars and scholars of the “Romantic Era” in particular, did not have a clear understanding of the true meaning of the names of deities in relation to the deities’ roles and functions in nature?

I will begin my interpretation by providing the reader with a foundation for understanding the process by which the ancient Europeans created what we today call Classical Mythology. I will then show how the ancient Europeans used practical methods for naming their deities and each name such as Demeter, Pluto, Hades, Zemele, etc., had a special meaning for them which, when interpreted properly, makes sense even today.

To conduct our interpretations properly we must seek the oldest name of each deity and have a good knowledge of the deity’s attributes and characteristics. It is also essential that we have a good knowledge of the old Macedonian languages, Koine and Slavonic.

It is particularly important to know the oldest name of the gods and goddesses because many deities have been borrowed by various cultures and over time their names have been changed.

Over the years I have studied many details of these deities both from linguistic and historical sources and, although many books have been written on this subject, none can provide a simple and logical explanation. Most often the average person searching for meaning is left with a confusing, complicated, long, stretched out and generally difficult explanation.

By applying my knowledge of the Macedonian language, some of its older dialects and Old Slavonic I have been able to find simpler and more practical meanings for the names of the deities which not only identify the deities with nature but also put them in harmony with their characteristics and attributes.

In this article I would like to offer a practical meaning for the four deities: Demeter, Pluto, Hades and Zemele.

After establishing the meaning of the names of these four we can use the same method to explain the meaning and role of almost all known classical deities. We must also keep in mind that some names and their meanings have evolved over the years.

If we were to study the ancient societies from about 1500 to 500 B.C. we would find that their world was a world of agriculture. Most people in this period made their living from farming, so it is reasonable to assume that their survival depended on their ability to successfully work the land. More specifically, farmers had to have extensive knowledge of soil and weather conditions. They had to know the seasons, when to plant and when to harvest. They also had to know the importance of rain and its unpredictability. In the old days, as it is today, after planting farmers had to literally “pray” for the rain to fall. In all practicality, if the rain did not fall when it was needed, crops would suffer and yield poorly. The quality of soil was also an important factor in farming. If the soil was infertile the crop yield would be poor. The ancient farmers had to know that.

When comparing today’s societies with those of 3000 years ago we find that ancient people did not have the technology or the means to transport food over great distances so a failed crop meant suffering and starvation. In ancient times all the necessary work was done manually by humans and animals (in some regions of the world farming is still done this way). Today we have technology to till the land, plant seeds and harvest crops. We have fertilizing to enrich the soil and water delivery systems to water it. We also have better methods (although sometimes questionable) of predicting the weather.

Now that we have established that the ancient societies of 3000 years ago heavily depended on farming the land for their survival, we need to establish a rationale for their gods. First we need to establish the origin of these deities.

It was Plato (500-600 BC) that said “most gods and their traditions we have received from the Barbarians.” A few hundred years later Herodotus confirms Plato’s statement.

If these Barbarians, who according to Homer, were “as numerous as the leaves in the forest” had the capacity to create these gods and pass them on to the ancient Europeans, is it not possible that their other characteristics have also descended and remain with us today?

It is important to note here that the original meaning of the word barbarian was “misunderstood”. Today we know that barbarian does not mean ignorant but rather a non-speaker of the languages of the ancient Greek city states.

Many authors, I believe, have tried to interpret the rationale behind the ancient deities but did not go deep enough. In my opinion, their scope was too narrow and they could not find a rational and logical explanation. One of those authors was Edith Hamilton, a great scholar and world-renowned classicist who wrote a book about Greek and Norse Mythology. In her book, published in 1940, she talks about mythological fairy tales and stories of the imagination, pure fiction with little meaning or practicality that would connect the deities to every day life. Others too have hinged on the imagination of the ancients as the source for the creation of mythology.

I do have to admit that over time mythological stories most probably have been embellished by the storytellers and as a result have somewhat changed. But still we must not underestimate the ability of the ancient Europeans to apply reason and logic. We also have to maintain the notion that at the time of the “mythological creation,” which most likely was over a long period of time, all the gods were created by necessity and were an integral part of peoples’ lives. I have been carrying this notion for many years and as a result have searched for more rational and practical meanings in mythology.

Influenced by numerous literary sources connecting classical mythology to the ancient Greeks and Romans, most writers over the last hundred years or so have failed to widen their search and consider one of the largest linguistic groups, the Slavonic languages. Myself, I have discovered that the Slavonic languages offer an immense source of knowledge in many fields including mythology.

For example, consider the following excerpt;

... The daughter of Doimater (Demeter), Prosorpina – (Persephone) is “snatched” by Hades the god of the underworld and is taken underneath the earth for four months of the year. In the beginning, Demeter is furious as she frantically looks for her daughter. Her absence causes the earth to freeze and become barren of all fruits and gifts to the mortals. After some time Demeter accepts Persephone’s fate and allows her to become Hades’ bride and spend the winters beneath the surface of the earth…

In the spring, when Hades changes to Pluto (his brother), Persephone comes back to the surface bringing with her Pluto’s wealth of the agriculture and all Demeter’s gifts of nature back to the mortals …

Looking at the excerpt from a farmer’s point of view we find that the changing of the seasons is perpetual and universal. As daylight increases and the sun warms the earth, the earth comes back to life. The soil is plowed, seeded and bears the fruits that sustain life. This is an annual transformation that goes beyond the control of mere mortals (humans). As farmers, the ancient people paid careful attention to the seasons.

It is important at this point to note that the ancient creators of the gods modeled their deities after their own images and their relationships to one another. For example there were mother and father gods, children and sibling gods. These gods were part of their lives and daily existence.

It is also important to note that the various “myths” come to us from the well known “Homeric Hymns”.

For many thousands of years the ancient Europeans observed natural phenomena around them, phenomena such as the movement of the sun, lightning and thunder descending from the sky, the birth of new life, death, the falling of rain, the perpetual changing of day and night, the changing of the moon, the stars, the changing of the seasons, the enormous power of the uncontrollable seas, the phenomenon of fire, the fruitfulness of mother earth and many more.

People could not explain or control these powerful natural phenomena but accepted them as forces of nature. In their minds these powerful forces were responsible for the existence of all life on earth so naturally the early Europeans greatly respected, feared, honoured and accepted them as gods.

Today we are not much different. Even though our religions have greatly evolved, we still attribute things we don’t understand or wish for to our God. All religions basically teach us to be good, to love and respect one another, to be generous and to be honest and humble.

Unlike our ancestors, today we understand most of the natural phenomena like how clouds and rain are formed, what causes the changing of the seasons, etc. and no longer have the need to attribute them to the gods.

Also, in spite of what some modern scholars tell us, Ancient Europeans did not imagine or create their gods purely for fictional purposes but rather they modeled them after the powerful “natural phenomena” which they observed over long periods of time. The gods were created from the basic need to explain the natural forces that controlled their lives.

This becomes apparent when we use the Macedonian language to explain the role of the gods from the meaning of their names.

Most of the original names and characteristics of these deities clearly coincide with basic fundamental words found in the modern Macedonian and Slavonic languages. These words are part of language concepts that have created very large families of words with very deep etymological root connections pointing to a long and continual development. The Slavonic languages provide the most logical explanation and are unparalleled compared to other European and non-European languages. Evidence of this is very strong and is extremely hard to ignore.

The following table provides examples of the relationship between the meaning of the name of the deities and their role in nature:

Deity Name
Greek or Roman
Attributes Macedonian
or Slavonic
English Greek
Semele Thraco- Macedonian
Earth Goddess
Earth Homa
Agricultural God Sadi
Planting Fiton
Doimater (Demeter)
Doi, Dos
Dos, Doi
Doi Dos Nourishing
Pluto Riches of agriculture
later- wealth
Fruitful Karpoforos
Hades Underworld
Ghades Snake Ofis

The names of these Deities are interconnected in a most amazing functional conception. In fact they exist together in harmony in the Macedonian language today just as they always existed in nature. They are inseparable. If we separate them their meaning will be lost.

Zemele - Zemle - Semelhs

Zemele is an ancient root word that exists only in the Slavonic languages.

The following are Macedonian etymological words associated with the root word Zemele:

Zemja, Zemla the Earth
Zemjodelie agriculture
Zemjodelec crop farmer
Zemjak fellow countryman
Zemski earthly
Zemjotres earthquake
Prizemje partly underground
Temeli (Zemeli) foundations (the foundations are always dug into the Earth)
Temni to darken
Temno dark (it darkens as one descends deep into earth)
Temnica darkness
Podzemle underground
Nadzemle aboveground
Zemjani inhabitants of the earth
Zemun, Zemunik place names originally built with earth/ soil around them

Also, the above have close family ties with the following pre-Into-European words:

Zemle, Semle, Sem(l)e, Seme seed that is planted in the earth
Semeto se see the seed is planted in the earth

By losing the letter ’m’ above, we obtain;

Zemele, Semele, Seele, sele inhabiting the earth “living on the Earth”
Sele, na sele to inhabit, dwell
Selo, sela, nasele village (pre Slav– house, habitat)

and so on.

The word Zemele also has a number of “sister words” such as Zmija and zmej a snake or snake like monster, cold-blooded creatures that live below ground or in the underworld.

Now let’s review the characteristics and basic concepts associated with the earth.

The Earth has two main attributes:

1. It is able to bear fruit => Fruitfulness
2. Richness of the Soil => Plod => Pluto

Only a fruitful earth will bear “agricultural riches” associated with the god Pluto.

The word Pluto is closely related to the Macedonian word Plod or Plodo. In older versions of the Slavonic languages the letters and sounds of o and u were interchangeable. This is significant because if we replace the current letter ‘o’ with ‘u‘, we obtain Pludo. By the way, it is important to mention here that Pluto’s original name, or more precisely, one of Pluto’s older names is “Ploto”.

The word Plodo is part of a very large family of words many of which are functionally related in a language concept.

The earth contains all the ingredients and ability to nourish life which is planted into it. This is reflected and expressed in the words “Plodna Zemja” or “fruitful earth” .This only happens when the earth’s two attributes “fruitfulness and richness of soil” come together.

We know that everything that is alive bears fruit. Females (woman, Zhena) must be “fruitful” as well as be impregnated with a seed at the proper time or lunar cycle, in order to bear offspring and perpetuate life.

The seeds of every plant, when planted at the proper time (the spring), will be nourished by the falling rain or Dos / Dosdoi, as we call it in Macedonian. Coincidentally, the original name of Demeter was Doi (Doi) and Dos (Dos)

Also from the Homeric poems we know that Doine (Doine - qoine) means “feeding, nourishing”.

Again according to Homer, when the goddess Demeter came to earth to search for her daughter she used the name Doi.

There is also one important fact that I would like to mention at this point. According to one Macedonian tradition, which by the way is still practiced to this day in remote parts of Macedonia, there is a chant attributed to Doi that goes something like this;

“Doi - dole - Doidule
Dozhdo da zavrne
Da na doi zemlata”

These are actual words chanted to the rain goddess asking her to make it rain (Dos and Dozd) so that the earth can be nourished and the crops will grow and bear fruit.

It is important at this point to mention that Persephone, Demeter’s daughter was also known by an older name as “Preseffeta” which in Macedonian means “to bloom”. As we know all living plants bloom in the spring when Persephone is released by Hades and returns to the surface.

And now let’s look at Hades, the god of the underworld and his relationship to the natural world.

Ghades - Hades

We all know that during the winter months in the world where the climate is moderate the earth freezes and loses its ability to bear fruit. In other words, Doimater or Demeter “cuts off the fruitfulness, richness and gift of the soil” as Pluto (Plodo), the richness of the soil escapes into the underworld and becomes his brother Hades (Ghades).

Hades renews himself as he again snatches Demeter’s daughter who symbolizes spring and summer, the warm seasons, and takes her below the earth for another cycle. Hades’ renewal brings the end of the warm season and the beginning of the cold one. For the farmers of old, Hades was the “bad attribute” of the earth or the time when the soil lost its Plod or ability to bear fruit. Hades is also associated with decomposition, darkness and fear of the unknown.

Again, Ghades is a unique Slavonic word that does not exist in any other European language. In most Slavonic cultures, the word Ghades is associated with the snake but in Macedonian it could also mean something bad, unpleasant, terrible, undesirable, or slimy.

Se ghadi

To be continued...

Odisej Belchevsky,
Macedonian Language Researcher


You can contact the author at: or Risto Stefov at

All rights in using or propagating this material are strictly reserved by the author, Odyssey Belchevsky.

Oliver Stone’s 'Alexander' to be screened at IFFI India

Oliver Stone’s 'Alexander' to be screened at IFFI Press Trust of India
Panaji, December 8

Oliver Stone's film 'Alexander', which whipped up a controversy in Greece over the portrayal of the Macedonian king as a bisexual, would be screened on Thursday, marking the close of the 35th International Film Festival of India.

The film stars Colin Farell in the role of the Macedonian leader, who forged an eastern empire before his early death, and covers his interesting tale through the continents.

"The film is also slated for release around December 31," said Ajay Gupta, Chief Officer of E-City Films (I) Private Limited, the distributors of the film in India.

"We expect the film to do well in India going by the fact that Alexander is known by almost everybody, including a school child," he said.

"The name Alexander carried a very positive state of mind in India, in fact our very Hindi phrases are revolved around like, 'Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander', 'Muqqadar Ka Sikander.' Alexander has always been associated with victory," Gupta added.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Another Genetic Report Ties Today's Macedonians To A Balkan Origin

High-resolution typing of HLA-DRB1 locus in the Macedonian population.

Petlichkovski A, Efinska-Mladenovska O, Trajkov D, Arsov T, Strezova A, Spiroski M.

Institute of Immunobiology and Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, University Ss. Kiril and Metodij, Skopje, Macedonia.

The Macedonian population is of special interest for HLA anthropological study in the light of unanswered questions regarding its origin and relationship with other populations, especially the neighbouring Balkanians. Two studies have been performed to examine HLA molecular polymorphism in the Macedonian population, so far. The present study is the first to be performed in Macedonia using high-resolution sequence-based method for direct HLA typing. The study included 158 unrelated healthy volunteers of Macedonian origin and nationality, having a Christian Orthodox religion. After the simultaneous amplification of exon-2 on both HLA-DRB1 alleles, DNA sequencing was used for genotype assignment. In the 158 samples analysed, all 316 alleles were typed and a total of 29 different DRB1 alleles were detected, with DRB1*1601 being the most frequent allele (14.9%), followed by DRB1*1104 (13.9%). A phylogenetic tree constructed on the basis of the high-resolution data deriving from other populations revealed the clustering of Macedonians together with other Balkan populations (Greeks, Croats, Turks and Romanians) and Sardinians, close to another "European" cluster consisting of the Italian, French, Danish, Polish and Spanish populations. The included African populations grouped on the opposite side of the tree.

PMID: 15361127 [PubMed - in process]