Eugene N. Borza

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Eugene N. Borza

Eugene N. Borza (3 March 1935 – 5 September 2021)[1] was a professor emeritus of ancient history at Pennsylvania State University, where he taught from 1964 until 1995.

Academic career[edit]

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, Borza came from a family of immigrants from Romania. Borza wrote extensively on the ancient kingdom of Macedonia, his most notable publication In the Shadow of Olympus (1990, Princeton). He was a guest lecturer for the In the introductory chapter of Makedonika by Carol G. Thomas, Borza is characterized as a "Macedonian specialist".[2] He has also been called the dean of US scholars on ancient Macedonia, and served as president of the Association of Ancient Historians for six years, from 1984 to 1989, and was a national lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) for 40 years. He was appointed as visiting professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder; The American School of Classical Studies at Athens; the University of Washington; Trinity University; and Carlton College. He especially enjoyed serving as historical advisor to the National Gallery of Art's groundbreaking exhibition, The Search for Alexander, in 1981.

Eugene Borza at the Acropolis of Athens, Greece (2006)

Like a number of other experts on ancient Macedonia, specifically Ernst Badian and Peter Green, (commonly grouped together as Badian-Green-Borza[3]) doubted that the ancient Macedonians were Greek but that they "may or may not have been" connected with them and he also believed that they became Hellenized in many respects.[4] He stated "I argued that the Macedonians emerged as a people recognized as distinct from their Greek and Balkan neighbors." He also noted that they were not related to the modern ethnic Macedonians.[5] Per Borza, the ethnic Macedonians, are a recently emergent people in search of their past.[6] His “related-but-not-Greek” view of the ancient Macedonians, rejected by the Greek government, led to the Greek refusal to allow him to film with British historian Michael Wood for the 1998 BBC television series In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great inside Greece.[7] Borza was clear about modern Greek claims about the ethnicity of the Macedonians. In the book Before Alexander: Constructing Early Macedonia, he wrote "I have attempted to show that those who claim that the Macedonians were Greek have offered arguments in support of their views that were unconvincing, both because those arguments rest upon flimsy evidence and reasoning and because they oversimplify very complex matters of determining the ethnicity of ancient people."

In 2008, he received a festschrift published in his honor.[8] In 2020, Miltiades Hatzopoulos, a Greek-French historian and Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy criticized Borza for allegedly having a "strong bias". More specifically, Hatzopoulos wrote that both Badian and Borza preferred "immaterial perceptions and sentiments instead of facts", "his method of imperceptible shifts from opinions to certitudes" and "his cursory dismissal of modern Greeks as scientifically unreliable nationalists". He also accuses Borza "of being aware of the existence of the Pella curse tablet, but that he a priori brushed it aside, because it is written in a Greek dialect".[3] He concluded that the Badian-Green-Borza dogma of Macedonia's "ungreekness" was based on ignorance of new data.[3]

Published works[edit]

  • 1962 – The Bacaudae: A Study of Rebellion in Late Roman Gaul (University of Chicago, Department of History)
  • 1974 – The Impact of Alexander the Great (Dryden Press, ISBN 0-03-090000-X)
  • 1972 – "Fire from heaven: Alexander at Persepolis" Classical Philology 67, 233–245.
  • 1982 – "The natural resources of early Macedonia" in W. L. Adams and E. N. Borza, eds. Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Macedonian Heritage. Lanham, MD. 1–20.
  • 1983 – "The symposium at Alexander's court" Archaia Makedonia 3, 45–55
  • 1990 – In the Shadow of Olympus: The Emergence of Macedon (Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-00880-9)
  • 1995 – Makedonika (Regina Books, ISBN 0-941690-65-2)
  • 1999 – "Macedonia Redux" in Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton, eds. The Eye Expanded: Life and Arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity De Gruyter, 249-65.


  1. ^ "Eugene Borza Obituary (1935 - 2021)". Retrieved 2022-08-07.
  2. ^ "Eugene N. Borza". Retrieved August 11, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Hatzopoulos, Miltiades B. (2020-11-23). Ancient Macedonia. De Gruyter. pp. 70–72, 115. doi:10.1515/9783110718683. ISBN 978-3-11-071868-3.
  4. ^ The Macedonians may or may not have been connected with other known ethnic groups, such as the Greeks who lived to the south. It remains clear that, although their monarchs and barons were quite highly hellenized in many respects, they made their mark in antiquity as Macedonians, not as a tribe of some other people. For more see: Eugene N. Borza (1990) In the Shadow of Olympus: the Emergence of Macedon. Princeton University Press, p. 306, ISBN 9780691008806.
  5. ^ Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton (1999). The Eye Expanded: Life and Arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity. De Gruyter. pp. 249ff.
  6. ^ "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...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." For more see: "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, ISBN 0520210298, p. 259.
  7. ^ Joseph Roisman (2002). Brill's Companion to Alexander the Great. BRILL. p. 359. ISBN 978-90-04-21755-3.
  8. ^ Timothy Howe and Jeanne Reames as ed. Macedonian Legacies: Studies in Ancient Macedonian History and Culture in Honor of Eugene N. Borza, Regina books, ISBN 1539365654.

External links[edit]