Inspired by the past

Inspired by the past... of their neighbours

Since its official birth within Yugoslavia in 1944, Slavs living in Yugoslavia (small portion of Macedonian land) have consistently aimed to cultivate and foment a unique ethnic existence in the region, distinct from the closely related Bulgarian culture. This necessitated bold revisionist historiography which strove to reserve for the Slavs of the region a unique and glorious past of their own, replete with national heroes and their heroic exploits. The process borrowed much at the expense of neighboring peoples particularly the Bulgarians and the Greeks. Thus any great personage from Macedonia, whether Greek or Bulgarian, was conveniently labeled simply and only as "Macedonian" in the sense understood by the Slav Macedonians and consequently became "one of theirs".

This is exemplified by two famous individuals from the wider area: Samuel (see page 102), a tsar of medieval Bulgaria and (ever-increasingly) Alexander the Great, a king of ancient Macedonia (see page ]2). Both these historic figures, the former Bulgarian the latter Greek, thus somehow found themselves within the pantheon of the new nation.

By a curious twisting of historical events the new nation contrived also to weave itself, subtly at first, into classical antiquity and to forge a link with the Macedonians of ancient times whose very name it had recently appropriated. In attempting to define its uniqueness, which it sought to label "Macedonian" (a label hitherto used by all peoples of Macedonia in a regional sense), the new state inevitably played on its imagined link with ancient Macedonia whose name it claimed to have inherited. In reality no such link ever existed.

This last direction, using ancient Macedonia as a source, proved irresistible for the new nation keen on cultivating its newfound identity and intent on further departing from its Bulgarian heritage. The recent misguided adoption of the Sunburst as a national symbol, (which was used as a dynastic emblem by the royal house of ancient Macedon), was the latest and boldest manifestation of this ambitious process. It served the young state in its attempt to distance itself as much as possible from its historic Bulgarian character and to affirm a unique identity.

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