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The word barbarian in the Ancient Greek L

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  Quote akritas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The word barbarian in the Ancient Greek L
    Posted: 01-Oct-2005 at 11:53

I have heard many Greeks and not Greeks that the word barbarian (in Greek varvaros) called the people that :

1-Were not Greeks

2-They didnt speak the Hellenic language or the Greek dialects.

 

Many ancient writers (specially Greeks) used this term  in them work to describe other nation (usually the Persians and Pelasgians).

But some others Greeks used to insult other Greeks (e.g. Athenian Demosthenes against Spartans, Macedonians e.t.c.)

What from the above is true?

I think Strabo has gave the correct etymological meaning of the barbarian in the ancient period.

 

[14,II,28]I suppose that the word "barbarian" was at first uttered onomatopoetically in reference to people who enunciated words only with difficulty and talked harshly and raucously, like our words "battarizein," "traulizein," and "psellizein";for we are by nature very much inclined to denote sounds by words that sound like them, on account of their homogeneity. Wherefore onomatopoetic words abound in our language, as, for example, "celaryzein," and also "clange," "psophos," "boe," and "crotos," most of which are by now used in their proper sense.

Accordingly, when all who pronounced words thickly were being called barbarians onomatopoetically, it appeared that the pronunciations of all alien races were likewise thick, I mean of those that were not Hellenic.

Those, therefore, they called barbarians in the special sense of the term, at first derisively, meaning that they pronounced words thickly or harshly; and then we misused the word as a general ethnic term, thus making a logical distinction between the Greeks and all other races.

The fact is, however, that through our long acquaintance and intercourse with the barbarians this effect was at last seen to be the result, not of a thick pronunciation or any natural defect in the vocal organs, but of the peculiarities of their several languages.

And there appeared another faulty and barbarian-like pronunciation in our language, whenever any person speaking Hellenic did not pronounce it correctly, but pronounced the words like barbarians who are only beginning to learn Hellenic and are unable to speak it accurately, as is also the case with us in speaking their languages. This was particularly the case with the Carians, for, although the other peoples were not yet having very much intercourse with the Greeks nor even trying to live in Hellenic fashion or to learn our language--with the exception, perhaps, of rare persons who by chance, and singly, mingled with a few of the Greeks --yet the Carians roamed throughout the whole of Greece serving on expeditions for pay. Already, therefore, the barbarous element in their Hellenic was strong, as a result of their expeditions in Greece; and after this it spread much more, from the time they took up their abode with the Greeks in the islands; and when they were driven thence into  Asia, even here they were unable to live apart from the Greeks, I mean when the Ionians and Dorians later crossed over to Asia.

The term "barbarize," also, has the same origin; for we are wont to use this too in reference to those who speak Hellenic badly, not to those who talk Carian. So, therefore, we must interpret the terms "speak barbarously" and "barbarously-speaking" as applying to those who speak Hellenic badly. And it was from the term "Carise" that the term "barbarize" was used in a different sense in works on the art of speaking Hellenic; and so was the term "soloecise," whether derived from Soli, or made up in some other way.

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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Oct-2005 at 05:49

Good topic! Here is a copy- paste of an older post i wrote about the term.

Ancient Greeks called with the term Barbarian:

1. Non-Greeks (Ethnological meaning)
2. Uncivilized Greek tribes (Cultural meaning)

It's easy to understand who falls into the first category. Second category comprises of greek tribes like Macedonians, Boeotians etc. In this category the term barbarian is used in a disparaging cultural meaning who indicates these tribes were believed to have an inferior culture compared with the general national hellenic civilization and a little better culture compared with Non-Greeks.

A mathematician is a person who thinks that if there are supposed to be three people in a room, but five come out, then two more must enter the room in order for it to be empty.
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  Quote dorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Oct-2005 at 06:49
Athenians, specially, used to call the Spartans, Macedonians etc  "barbarians". In the case of Spartans, because they were fighters and they had not reached the educational and cultural level of Athens. About the Macedonians, the reason was that they were uncultivated peasants and they spoke the doric dialect which was not as refined as the attic.
"We are Macedonians but we are Slav Macedonians.That's who we are!We have no connection to Alexander the Greek and his Macedonia�Our ancestors came here in the 5th and 6th century" Kiro Gligorov FYROM
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  Quote akritas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Oct-2005 at 10:32

Wilcken (Ancient Greek History) and Hammond (Macedonian State) mentioned that the biggest differences between the Athenians and Dorians (Spartans and Macedonians) were two:

-Political regime. Athenians believed in the democracy thus the Dorians in the monarchy.

-Education. Athenians believed that only its city was the centre of the civilization and education specially in philosophy and oratory. And the best schools were in Athens. Actually Phillip had hired the Aristotle (biggest student of Plato) to teach in the young Alexander the Hellenic education such as the Homer poet  and the relative of them Achilles. 



Edited by akritas
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