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Paionia

From Academic Kids

For the flower genus, see: Peony

Paionia (Romanized as Paeonia) was, in ancient geography, the land of the Paionians (or Paiones, Paeonians), the exact boundaries of which, like the early history of its inhabitants, are very obscure. In the time of king Philip II of Macedon, Paionia was located immediately north of ancient Macedon and south of Dardania (Dardania is modern-day Kosovo).

The Paionians are often regarded as descendants of the Phrygians of Asia Minor, large numbers of whom in early times are believed to have crossed over to Europe. Yet according to the national legend (Herodotus v. 16), they were Teucrian colonists from Troy. Homer (Iliad, book II, line 848) speaks of Paionians from the Axios fighting on the side of the Trojans, but the Iliad does not mention whether the Paionians were kin to the Trojans.

Before the reign of Darius Hystaspes, they had made their way as far east as Perinthus in Thrace on the Propontis. At one time all Mygdonia, together with Crestonia, was subject to them. When Xerxes crossed Chalcidice on his way to Therma (later renamed Thessalonica) he is said to have marched through Paionian territory. They occupied the entire valley of the Axios (Vardar) as far inland as Stobi, the valleys to the east of it as far as the Strymon (Struma), and the country round Astibus and the river of the same name, with the water of which they anointed their kings.

Emathia, roughly the district between the Haliacmon and Axios, was once called Paionia; and Pieria and Pelagonia were inhabited by Paionians. In consequence of the growth of Macedonian power, and under pressure from their Thracian neighbors, their territory was considerably diminished, and in historical times was limited to the north of Macedonia from Illyria to the Strymon.

In early times, the chief town and seat of the Paionian kings was Bylazora (now Veles in the Republic of Macedonia) on the Axios; later the seat of the kings was moved to Stobi (now Pusto Gradsko).

The Paionians included several independent tribes, all later united under the rule of a single king. Little is known of their manners and customs. They adopted the cult of Dionysus, known amongst them as Dyalus or Dryalus, and Herodotus mentions that the Thracian and Paionian women offered sacrifice to Queen Artemis (probably Bendis).

They worshipped the sun in the form of a small round disk fixed on the top of a pole. A passage in Athenaeus (ix. p. 398) seems to indicate the affinity of their language with Mysian. They drank barley beer and various decoctions made from plants and herbs.

The country was rich in gold and a bituminous kind of wood (or stone, which burst into a blaze when in contact with water) called t-nrivoc (or ts,rivos).

The women were famous for their industry. In this connection Herodotus (v. I 2) tells the story that Darius, having seen at Sardis a beautiful Paionian woman carrying a pitcher on her head, leading a horse to drink, and spinning flax, all at the same time, inquired who she was. Having been informed that she was a Paionian, he sent instructions to Megabyzus, commander in Thrace, to deport two tribes of the nation without delay to Asia.

At the time of the Persian invasion, the Paionians on the lower Strymon had lost, while those in the north maintained, their independence. They frequently made inroads into Macedonian territory, until they were finally subdued by Philip, who permitted them to retain their government by kings. The daughter of Audoleon, one of these kings, was the wife of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, and Alexander the Great wished to bestow the hand of his sister Cynane upon Langarus, who had shown himself loyal to Philip.

An inscription, discovered in 1877 at Olympia on the base of a statue, states that it was set up by the community of the Paionians in honor of their king and founder Dropion. Another king, whose name appears as Lyppeius on a fragment of an inscription found at Athens relating to a treaty of alliance is no doubt identical with the Lycceius or Lycpeius of Paionian coins (see B. V. Head, Historia numorum, 1887, p. 207).

In 280 the Gallic invaders under Brennus ravaged the land of the Paionians, who, being further hard pressed by the Dardani, had no alternative but to join the Macedonians, whose downfall they shared. After the Roman conquest, Paionia east and west of the Axios formed the second and third districts respectively of Macedonia (Livy xiv. 29). Under Diocletian Paionia and Pelagonia formed a province called Macedonia secunda or salutaris, belonging to the prefecture of Illyricum.


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