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For the modern Greek administrative unit, see Imathia.

Emathia (Greek: Ἠμαθία) is an earliest and poetic name of Macedonia, but foremost it roughly corresponds to the district of Bottiaea around Pella.

Classical sources[edit]

Homer,[1] who makes no mention of Macedonia or Chalcidice, places Emathia as a region next to Pieria.

The Homeric name was renewed mainly in Roman times and Ptolemy even mentions cities of Emathia instead of Bottiaea. In Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48.6 Typhoeus having stript the mountains of Emathia, he cast the rocky missiles at Dionysus. In Ovidius, Metamorphoses 5.313[2] the daughters of Pierus say: we grant Emathia's plains, to where uprise Paeonia's peaks of snow. The Emathian or Emathius dux is a frequently used name by Latin poets for Alexander the Great, as in Milton, the Emathian conqueror . Strabo [3] relates that what is now called Macedonia was in earlier times called Emathia but since Homer, the earliest source considers Emathia only a region next to Pieria, Strabo's reference should be interpreted in the Roman era context of Emathia's name reviving. The same stands for Latin writers[4] who name Thessaly as Emathia ; Macedonia (Roman province) included Thessaly. In 12.462 of Metamorphoses, an Emathian Halesus is killed by the centaur Latreus and in Catullus 64. 324, Peleus is Emathiae tutamen (protector).

Polybius (23.10.4) mentions that Emathia was earliest called Paeonia and Strabo (frg 7.38) that Paeonia was extended to Pieria and Pelagonia. According to Hammond[5] the references are related to Bronze Age period before the Trojan War.


According to Solinus and Justin, Emathia was named after the Samothracian king Emathion and not after the local Emathus. The etymology of the name has been related to Homeric Greek amathos[6] and êmathoessa[7] (< PIE *samadh) 'sandy land', i. e. the coastal, swampy land around Axius river, in contrast to mountainous Macedonia, probably also intended as 'meadow land' (cf. PIE *mē-2, *m-e-t- 'to mow, to reap').[8]


  1. ^ Iliad 14.226
  2. ^ The nine Muses and the nine Magpipes
  3. ^ Strab.Frag.7.11
  4. ^ Lucan (1. 1, 6. 360, 7. 166)
  5. ^ Prehistoy of Macedonia, i. 418 n. 2
  6. ^ Liddell–Scott–Jones amathos
  7. ^ Pulon êmathoentaOdyssey 1.93
  8. ^ Pokorny Pokorny's dictionary