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Was Alexander the Great Illyrian?

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Published on May 24, 2008

The song is 'We don't speak the same language' (Δεν μιλάμε ίδια γλώσσα) by the voice of Macedonia himself, Vasilis Karras.

Albanians like to quote empty statements that Alexander and his mother were Illyrians. These statements do not give insight into the context of Alexander the Great, and are as meaningless as if we would say Alexander was Persian.

Here is what we know of his context:

'Perhaps more telling in favour of their non-Illyrian character is that well-born Molossians were admitted to the major athletic festivals of Greeks, an invitation never extended to Illyrians.'

(John Wilkes, The Illyrians, p 104)

'Alexander's belief that he was a descendant of Achilles, through his mother had a profound effect on his attitude.'

"It was part of the defensive pact against the Illyrians that Olympias came to Philip in 357 BC"

(John Edwin, George Whitehorne, CLEOPATRAS, p33)
(John Maxwell O'Brien, Alexander the Great the invisible enemy p13)

'Strabo also says he (Alexander) was driven by 'a love of glory' to emulate his ancestors Heracles and Perseus'

(Michael Wood, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great: A Journey from Greece to Asia, pp71-72)

'In antiquity, northern Greece comprised Epirus, Amphilocia and Acarnania in the west, and Macedonia, the Chalcidice and Thessaly in the east' (Peter N. Stearns,The Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, p 56)

"...he (Alexander) inflicted punishment on the Persians for their outrages on all the Greeks, and how he delivered us all from the greatest evils by enslaving the barbarians and depriving them of the resources they used for the destruction of the Greeks, pitting now the Athenians and now the Thebans against the ancestors of these Spartans, how in a word he made Asia subject to Greece." (Polybius, Book IX, 34, 3)

'According to the common tradition, Neoptolemus or Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, settled in Epirus after his return from Troy (...)He transmited the dominions to his son Molossus, from whom the Molossians trace their descent' (William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, p . 832)

'Olympias and her son and daughter believed themselves to be descendants of both Andromache and Achilles.'
(Elizabeth Donnelly Carney, Women and Monarchy in Macedonia, p 11)

'the newly formed empire must be brought under the influence of the Greek mind. The people must be taught the Greek language, they must live in cities built after a Greek model.'

(Hendrik Willem Van Loon,The Story of Mankind, section: Alexander the Great, p 85)

This last quote shows that Alexander not only considered himself to be Greek, but was very proud of his culture, which he spread to the known world.

What exactly did he do to show that he was Illyrian?

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