Eugene N. Borza

American historian

Eugene N. Borza (3 March 1935 – 5 September 2021) was an American historian who was professor emeritus of ancient history at Pennsylvania State University. He has written many works on the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. In the introductory chapter of Makedonika by Carol G. Thomas, Borza is characterized as a Macedonian specialist.

Eugene N. Borza


  • Thus, six years before the First Balkan War in which the region of Macedonia was detached from the Ottoman Empire by Serb, Greek, and Bulgarian armies, the reality of Macedonia/Macedonian already existed among Macedonian immigrants in central Pennsylvania.
    • As quoted in The Eye Expanded, by Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton
  • By 1875, however, the first tracts appeared favoring a Macedonian nationality and language separate from standard Bulgarian, and the conflict had been transformed from an anti-Hellenization movement into a Bulgarian-Macedonian confrontation.
    • As quoted in The Eye Expanded, by Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton
  • Thus it is clear that Tito did not invent either a Macedonian ethnicity or a Macedonian language—as has been alleged—when he created a Macedonian Republic as a part of the postwar Yugoslav federal state...Tito's policy, was the culmination of a process that had been under way for the better part of a century; he provided legitimacy, for Macedonia and accelerated a natural passage of nation-building already well under way.
    • As quoted in The Eye Expanded, by Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton
  • For contemporaty Greeks, however, it is a different matter, as it is an article of faith among most of them that the Ancient Macedonians were Greek, and that noone but modern Greeks may claim right to the name and culture of the Ancient Macedonians. No matter that genetic purity in the Balkans is a fantasy, or that there is no such thing as a cultural continuity in the Macedonian region from antiquity to the present. Politics in the Balkans transcends historical and biological truths.
    • As quoted in The Eye Expanded, by Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton
  • The propaganda campaign in Greece has been forceful. And one need not look to Greek governments as the source of the propaganda; the feelings are widespread and deeply felt. There are sufficient private political, cultural, and academic societies to formulate and maintain anti-Macedonian sentiments.
    • As quoted in The Eye Expanded, by Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton
  • Telephone cards now widely used throughout Greece bear the inscription "Macedonia is one and only and it is Greek," in Greek and English, despite the fact that for most of the 2,600 years since the genesis of the ancient Macedonian kingdom ethnic Greeks have been a minority of the population. The overwhelming Hellenic impact on Greek Macedonia is largely the result of the settlements and population exchanges of the early 1920s. Even Thessaloniki, with its rich Byzantine architectural heritage, counted far fewer Greeks than either Sephardic Jews or Turks until after the Balkan Wars of 1912-13.
    • As quoted in The Eye Expanded, by Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton
  • It is difficult to know whether an independent Macedonian state would have come into existence had Tito not recognised and supported the development of Macedonian ethnicity as oart of his ethnically organised Yugoslavia. He did this as a counter to Bulgaria, which for centuries had a historical claim on the area as far west as Lake Ohrid and the present border of Albania.
    • As quoted in The Eye Expanded, by Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton
  • The Macedonians are a newly emergent people in search of a past to help legitimize their precarious present as they attempt to establish their singular identity in a Slavic world dominated historically by Serbs and Bulgarians. One need understand only a single geopolitical fact: As one measures conflicting Serb and Bulgarian claims over the past nine centuries, they intersect in Macedonia. Macedonia is where the historical Serb thrust to the south and the historical thrust to the west meet. This is not to say that present Serb and Bulgarian ambitions, where the past has precedence over the present and future.
    • As quoted in The Eye Expanded, by Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton


  • Our understanding of the Macedonians' emergence into history is confounded by two events: the establishment of the Macedonians as an identifiable ethnic group, and the foundation of their ruling house. The "highlanders" or "Makedones" of the mountainous regions of western Macedonia are derived from northwest Greek stock; they were akin both to those who at an earlier time may have migrated south to become the historical "Dorians", and to other Pindus tribes who were the ancestors of the Epirotes or Molossians. That is, we may suggest that northwest Greece provided a pool of Indo-European speakers of Proto-Greek from which were drawn the tribes who later were known by different names as they established their regional identities in separate parts of the country... First, the matter of the Hellenic origins of the Macedonians: Nicholas Hammond's general conclusion (though not the details of his arguments) that the origin of the Macedonians lies in the pool of proto-Greek speakers who migrated out of the Pindus mountains during the Iron Age, is acceptable.
    • Makedonika (1995), Claremont: Regina Books
  • Modern Slavs, both Bulgarians and Macedonians, cannot establish a link with antiquity, as the Slavs entered the Balkans centuries after the demise of the ancient Macedonian kingdom. Only the most radical Slavic factions—mostly émigrés in the United States, Canada, and Australia—even attempt to establish a connection to antiquity [...] The twentieth-century development of a Macedonian ethnicity, and its recent evolution into independent statehood following the collapse of the Yugoslav state in 1991, has followed a rocky road. In order to survive the vicissitudes of Balkan history and politics, the Macedonians, who have had no history, need one. They reside in a territory once part of a famous ancient kingdom, which has borne the Macedonian name as a region ever since and was called ”Macedonia” for nearly half a century as part of Yugoslavia. And they speak a language now recognized by most linguists outside Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece as a south Slavic language separate from Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, and Bulgarian. Their own so-called Macedonian ethnicity had evolved for more than a century, and thus it seemed natural and appropriate for them to call the new nation “Macedonia” and to attempt to provide some cultural references to bolster ethnic survival.
    • "Macedonia Redux", in The Eye Expanded: life and the arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity, ed. Frances B Tichener & Richard F. Moorton, University of California Press, 1999
  • Some of the Macedonian émigré community in North America have adopted Ernst Badian, Peter Green, and me as “their” scholarly authorities, believing (without basis) that we possess a pro-Macedonian bias in this conflict. While it is true we share certain similarities in our views about the ancient Macedonians, none of us has, to the best of my knowledge, publicly expressed any political opinions on the modern Macedonian Question. Thus, in a recent telephone conversation initiated by a fervent Macedonian nationalist from Toronto who saw in me a potential ally, the caller expressed astonishment when I said that I thought his views on the languages of ancient and modern Macedonia were without scholarly merit and bordered on the absurd. He never called back.
    • "Macedonia Redux", in The Eye Expanded: life and the arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity, ed. Frances B Tichener & Richard F. Moorton, University of California Press, 1999, pp.264-265

In the Shadow of Olympus: The Emergence of Macedon (1990)

Princeton University Press
  • Only recently have we begun to clarify these muddy waters by revealing the Demosthenean corpus for what it is: oratory designed to sway public opinion and thereby to formulate public policy. That elusive creature, Truth, is everywhere subordinate to Rhetoric; Demosthenes' pronouncements are no more the true history of the period than are the public statements of politicians in any age.
    • pp. 5–6
  • There is no doubt that this tradition of a superimposed Greek house was widely believed by the Macedonians[...] There was a persistent, well attested tradition in antiquity that told of a group of Greeks from Argos -descendants of Temenus, kinsman of Heracles- who came to Macedonia and established their rule over the Makedones, unifying them and providing a royal house.
    • p. 80
  • There is no reason to deny the Macedonians' own traditions about their early kings and the migration of the Macedones[..] The basic story as provided by Herodotus and Thucydides, minus the interpolation of the Temenid connections, undoubtedly reflects the Macedonians' own traditions about their early history.
    • p. 84
  • Both Herodotus and Thycidides describe the Macedonians as foreigners, a distinct people lying outside the frontiers of the Greek-city states.
    • p. 92
  • Who were the Macedonians? As an ethnic question it is the best avoided, since the mainly modern political overtones tend to obscure the fact that it really is not a very important issue. That they may or may not have been Greek in whole or in a part--while an interesting anthropological sidelight--is really not crucial to our understanding of their history. They made their mark not as a tribe of Greeks or other Balkan peoples, but as Macedonians. This was understood by foreign protagonists from the time of Darius and Xerxes to the age of Roman generals.
    • p. 97
  • Their daughter, who would be the half-sister of Alexander the Great and, later the wife of Cassander, was appropriately named Thessalonike, to commemorate Philip's victory in Thessaly. In 315 Cassander founded at or near the site of ancient Therme the great city that still bears her name.
    • p.220
  • Here we have seen that their early history is still largely an open question. They may have had Greek origins: Whatever process produced the Greek-speakers (of that is how one defines "Greek") who lived south of Olympus may have also produced the Makedones who wandered out of the western mountains to establish a home and a kingdom in Pieria.
    • pp. 277–278

Who Were (and Are) the Macedonians? (1996)

"Who Were (and Are) the Macedonians?" (December 1996), American Philological Association
  • While the 1971 OED may regard the use of the word "ethnicity" as obsolete, no adequate substitute for the word exists.
  • It is clear that over a five-century span of writing in two languages representing a variety of historiographical and philosophical positions the ancient writers regarded the Greeks and Macedonians as two separate and distinct peoples whose relationship was marked by considerable antipathy, if not outright hostility.
  • Clearly the Macedonians were in many respects Hellenized, especially on the upper levels of their society, as demonstrated by the excavations of Greek archaeologists over the past two decades. Yet there is much that is different, e. g., their political institutions, burial practices, and religious monuments.

    I will argue that, whoever the Macedonians were, they emerged as a people distinct from the Greeks who lived to the south and east. In time their royal court--which probably did not have Greek origins (the tradition in Herodotus that the Macedonian kings were descended from Argos is probably a piece of Macedonian royal propaganda)--became Hellenized in many respects, and I shall review the influence of mainstream Greek culture on architecture, art, and literary preferences.


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