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Old 02-12-2019, 10:21 PM   #1
nushevski77
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Default Religion in the Balkans before Christianity

Concerning the history of the balkans regarding religion; after doing some research on wikipedia I couldn't find what religions were adopted in the balkans specifically Macedonia before Christianity came.

In the pre history it consisted of the neolithic and coper age, was there a religion then?

In Antiquity there were the Iron Age, Achaemenid Persian empire, and the pre roman states; was there any religion then? was religion carried over from the pre history to antiquity? during the Persian conquest was religion of the Persians adopted? during the pre roman states was the Argead dynasty did the Argead's keep the Persian's religion if it was adopted, did they bring back the religion from the Iron Age or pre history if there was one, or did they create/or adopt a new religion?

Also another question, I remember watching the movie "Alexander" a couple years ago, I know movies arn't usually 100% factually accurate but they depicted Alexander and Philip worshiping the greek gods, was that accurate, and did the Macedonian's worship the greek gods? If this is accurate why is this?

Thanks,
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Old 02-12-2019, 10:40 PM   #2
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Olympianism was the predominant religion in Macedonia prior to the introduction of Christianity in the 1st Century CE. There isn't actually an agreed upon name for this religion so if anyone has any alternative names that better describes it I'm all ears.
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Old 02-12-2019, 10:52 PM   #3
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okay, googling olympianism it seems like a Hellenistic religious practice, and there was a religious sanctuary of Aphrodite in Pella; would this mean that the Macedonians only worshiped Aphrodite? Did all Macedonians fallow Olympianism or was it just the noble family's that did?
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Old 02-12-2019, 11:23 PM   #4
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I'm not that well-versed with this topic so other members may be able to provide more accurate responses.

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Originally Posted by nushevski77 View Post
okay, googling olympianism it seems like a Hellenistic religious practice, and there was a religious sanctuary of Aphrodite in Pella; would this mean that the Macedonians only worshiped Aphrodite?
I believe Macedonians worshipped almost all the same gods as the Hellenes but with some exceptions, I think we also had 2 gods they didn't which we may have shared with the Thracians.

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Did all Macedonians fallow Olympianism or was it just the noble family's that did?
That's the age-old question there, most of our knowledge of the Ancient Macedonians is centred on the royal family and ruling class, we know little of the general populace. I really have no idea if the average Macedonian of the time worshipped the gods of Olympus. If I had to guess I would say Olympianism would have been common in Lower Macedonia but likely not so much in Upper Macedonia. This is just a guess though, I am not basing that off any historical fact.
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
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That's the age-old question there, most of our knowledge of the Ancient Macedonians is centred on the royal family and ruling class, we know little of the general populace. I really have no idea if the average Macedonian of the time worshipped the gods of Olympus. If I had to guess I would say Olympianism would have been common in Lower Macedonia but likely not so much in Upper Macedonia. This is just a guess though, I am not basing that off any historical fact.
thanks, this is very interesting; I wonder if we will ever know, maybe a breakthrough in archaeology would lead us to a conclusion. But your guess with the lower vs upper Macedonia theory does seem plausible although where would you determine where the cutoff would be? If we were to use the modern borders to divide between upper and lower it would open a flaw in your theory with the city of Heraclea Lyncestis being in the upper Macedonia, I have very little knowledge of this city so its hard to say but wouldn't you agree that it would of had a factor of spreading Olympianism since it was founded by Phillip II?

Also a fallow up question, why did the Ancient Macedonians adopt hellenistic practices into there culture as well as hellenism? Or was this always apart of the ancient Macedonians?
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:56 AM   #6
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thanks, this is very interesting; I wonder if we will ever know, maybe a breakthrough in archaeology would lead us to a conclusion. But your guess with the lower vs upper Macedonia theory does seem plausible although where would you determine where the cutoff would be? If we were to use the modern borders to divide between upper and lower it would open a flaw in your theory with the city of Heraclea Lyncestis being in the upper Macedonia, I have very little knowledge of this city so its hard to say but wouldn't you agree that it would of had a factor of spreading Olympianism since it was founded by Phillip II?
There is no definite border between Upper and Lower Macedonia, it was a vague division based on cultural and social differences between the two ill-defined regions. Cities like Heraclea Lyncestis were frontier oasis's for Macedonian culture against the backdrop of the Illyrian tribal lands.

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Also a fallow up question, why did the Ancient Macedonians adopt hellenistic practices into there culture as well as hellenism? Or was this always apart of the ancient Macedonians?
There are threads dedicated to those kind of questions so I would implore you to read through them. But to summarise briefly: The Macedonian ruling class/royal family became increasingly Hellenistic over the centuries, particulary during and after the rule of Philip II.
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:52 AM   #7
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Those ‘in the north’ were nature worshippers. Water and the sun were divine elements. The moon also had mystical power. A key difference was they never reached the anthropomorphic stage (Olympian like LoM outlined above) in the same way the Greeks did until the Greek influence started to spread further north. This is important to note when considering if northerners such as Macedonians were ‘Greek’.
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Old 02-13-2019, 02:54 AM   #8
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Those ‘in the north’ were nature worshippers. Water and the sun were divine elements. The moon also had mystical power. A key difference was they never reached the anthropomorphic stage (Olympian like LoM outlined above) in the same way the Greeks did until the Greek influence started to spread further north. This is important to note when considering if northerners such as Macedonians were ‘Greek’.
Yes I forgot to mention it is believed the Ancient Macedonians (or even their ancestors) were sun worshipers, as many ancient people were.
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:39 AM   #9
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Okay this is some pretty interesting stuff, I'll make sure to take a look into it further.
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:36 PM   #10
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Perhaps one of you has done the literature review and knows about this: Could it be that the Olympian religion is just the flavor of an ancestral (P.I.E.) and perhaps shared religion? The ancient Greeks just documented it first and then influenced their neighbors (and apparently old kin) towards the Greek version?

There are similarities among ancient Indo-European languages in their gods. Greek, Latin and Sanskrit are prime examples, they all have Zeus one way or another.
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