Posted by: History Of Macedonia | August 18, 2007

Tribes of Epirus


The Chaones according to Strabo were once the most powerful and warlike people of Epirus until the Molossians, in their  turn, acquired a preponderating ascendancy over the other clans of that country. In the time of the Peloponnesia war the Chaones differed from their neihbours, in being subject to an aristocratical and not a monarchical government,  their annual magistrates being always chosen from a particular family (thuc. II, 80). Tradition ascribed the origin of their names to Chaonas, the brother of Helenus, who married Andromache after the death of Pyrrhus. Cities of Chaonia are:

Cities of Chaones: Palaeste, Chimera, Maeandria (fortress), Panormus, Onchesmus, Antigonea, Phanote


Dexari was a tribe of Chaones. They lived ‘next to the Encheleae’ as Hecataeus wrote (FGrH1f103) and held the area which was later called Dassaretis, namely the southern part of the lakeland and the hilly country to the south west of it. Chaones were a group of Greek-speaking tribes and the Dexari or as they were called later the Dassaretae were the most northernly member of this group.


Suliones were another Chaonian tribe, named by the poet Rhyanus who is quoted by Steph. Byzantinus (v. Συλίονες). Their name recall to mind the famous Suliotes during the wars for Greek independence.

Thesprotians (Thesproti)

Thesprotia extended along the coast from the Thyamis beyond the Acheron to the confines of the Cassopaei and in the interior to the boundaries of the territory of Dodona which in ancient times was regarded as a part of Thesprotia.

They were considerd the most ancient from all Epirotic tribes since they are the only one mentioned by Homer (Odys. Ξ.315). Herodotus also affirms that they were the parent stock from whence descended the Thessalians who expelled the Aeolians from the country afterwards know by the name of Thessaly. (VII.176) Thesprotians were governed at first by monarchical system but later according to Thucydides (II.80) neither they nor Chaones were subject to kings.


Cassopaei were a Thesprotian tribe. Cassopaei reached along the coast as far as the Ambracian gulf. According to Strabo (7.7.5) the Kassopaians were Thesprotians and between 330 – 325 BCE they became members of the Epeirote Federation . The region Kassopeia (Κασσωπία) (Dem. 7.32; Theopom frr 206-7; Ps. Slylax 31-32) or Kassiopaia (Plut. More. 297B) or Kassiopi (Ptol. Geog. 3.14.) was part of Thesprotia.


1. Pandosia, not far removed from the Acheron and the Acherusian Lake, and answering now, according to Leake, to Kastri. It was a colony of Elis, and gave name to another Pandosia, in Italy, in the country of the Brutth. Alex­ander, king of Epirus, was warned by the oracle of Dodona to avoid Pandosia and the Acherusian water, and erroneously applied it to this his own Pandosia, instead of that of Italy, where he received his fatal wound.  2. Buckatium, Bucheta, or Bucenta, close to the Acherusian Lake, and the remains of which are now to be found at the harbor of St. John. 3. Nicopolis, situate on an isthmus, on the coast, and answering now to Prevesa Vccchia. This place was founded by Augustus in commemoration of the victory obtained by him at Actium, and may be said to have arisen out of the ruins of all the surrounding cities in Epi­rus and Acarnania, and even as far as /Ktolia, which were compelled to con­tribute to its prosperity. So anxious, indeed, was Augustus lo raise his new colony to the highest rank among the cities of Greece, that he caused it to be admitted among those states which sent deputies to the Amphictyonic assembly. He also ordered games to be celebrated with great pomp every five years. Having afterward fallen into decay, it was restored by the Emperor Julian.The Molossi must have possessed several towns in the interior, since we are told by Polybius that, out of the seventy Epirotic cities destroyed by Paulus Aemilius, the greater number belonged to,this people. Few of these, however, are named in history. The most celebrated was Passaron, which may be con­sidered as their capital, since Plutarch, in the life of Pyrrhus, reports that the kings of Epirus convened here the solemn assembly of the whole nation, when, after having performed the customary sacrifices, they took an oath that they would govern according to the established laws; and the people, in return, swore to maintain the constitution and defend the kingdom. Cramer seeks to identify it with some ruins near Joanina, in a south-southwest direction, and about four hours from that city.   Leake leaves trie site uncertain.Modern travellers have expressed some surprise that no mention is made in history of the Lake of Joanina, and have even been led to suppose that this considerable expanse of water could not have existed in ancient times. But the truth is, that the present Lake of Joanina is the ancient Pains Pambotis (Παμβώτις Λίμνην) mentioned by Eustathius. He describes it as a lake having an island in the middle, containing a remarkable hill, which was fortified by Jus­tinian, and to which he removed the inhabitants of the adjacent city of Euroea, which was in a defenceless state. The fortress of Joanina now occupies the site of Justinian’s castle, and the city of Joanina that of the ancient Euroea, in all probability.We must now close this description of Epirus with some account of the city and republic of Ambracia. This celebrated city was situated on the banks of the Arachthus or Arethon, a short distance from the waters of the Sinus Ambracius, to which it gave name. It is said to have been founded by some Corinthians headed by Tolgus or Torgus, who was either the brother or the son of Cypselus, chief of Corinth. It early acquired maritime celebrity by reason of its advan­tageous position, and was a powerful and independent city toward the com­mencement of the Peloponnesian war, in which it espoused the cause of Co­rinth and Sparta.   At a later period we find its independence threatened by Philip, who seems to have entertained the project of annexing it to the do­minions of his brother-in-law, Alexander, king of the Molossians. Whether it actually fell into the power of that monarch is uncertain, but there can be no doubt of its having been in the occupation of Philip, since the Ambraciots, ac­cording to Diodorus Siculus, on the accession of Alexander the Great to the throne, ejected the Macedonian garrison stationed in their city. Ambracia, how­ever, did not long enjoy the freedom which it thus regained, for, having fallen into the hands of Pyrrhus, we arc told that it was selected by that prince as his usaal place of residence. Many years after, being under the dominion of the iEtolians, who were at that time involved in hostilities with the Romans, it sus­tained a siege against the latter, almost unequalled in tho annals of ancient war­fare for the gallantry and perseverance displayed in the defence of the place. Ambracia at last opened its gates to the foe, and was stripped of all the statues and pictures with which it had been so richly adorned by Pyrrhus. From this time it sank into a state of insignificance, and Augustus, by transferring its inhabitants to Nicopolis, completed its desolation. It stood near the modern Arta, which town also gives its modern name to the Ambracian Gulf. 







A Dictionary of Greek and Roman geography, ed. by W. Smith By Greek geography

A Geographical and Historical Description of Ancient Greece: With a Map, and a Plan of Athens By John Anthony Cramer

Posted by: History Of Macedonia | July 8, 2007

Epirus – Turkish occupation


In order to secure their possession of Epirus, the Turks fought fiercely against the Venetians, who held certain forts on the western shore, and were constantly inciting the Epirots to revolt. These rebellions, aided by the Venetians and the Pope, extended as far as northern Albania. The famous George Castriota, better known under the name Skanderbeg (alternatively Skender Bey), operating out of Kroia, succeeded in checking the Ottoman thrust until the period of his death. Skanderbeg thus became the champion of the Balkan Christians against Turkish domination.

After the death of Skanderbeg, the Turks were able to extend their dominion over the entire region. In order to secure their hold they initiated certain fundamental measures that aimed to strip the Christians of all power, and to increase the Muslim population of the region. Christian toparchs (kephalades or sipahis) were forbidden from exercising any authority (raising taxes on behalf of the Turks, maintaining armed retainers, etc.) and privileges (administrative positions, estates to cultivate and others) were granted to those who turned Muslim. As a consequence of these measures, most of the 12000 sipahis (regular cavalry), who were usually large landholders, were islamized in order not to lose their fortunes. These new converts became the harshest persecutors and oppressors of their own people.

Islamization took on greater proportions in the province of “new” Epirus, modern Albania. In fact, the Albanians, lacking a developed ethnic identity until that time, would readily join foreign rulers and invaders. They took advantage of the new Ottoman policy to gain great estates, to the detriment of the Epirots, who remained faithful to their ancestral religion and their national tradition. Initially, the Ottoman yoke had not been particularly heavy. Besides levying taxes (a responsibility assigned to the local notables), the Turks were mainly interested in ensuring their absolute control of the region, and in the territories they conquered, they mostly left the Byzantine administrative system in place. There were, in fact, certain cities and mountain regions which had gained special privileges. Ioannina, for example, was exempt from the “devshirme” (the child tribute, or the seizure of children from the Christian subject peoples). In addition, Turks were forbidden to stay in the city, which was protected by the fortress. Cheimarra, as well as certain other mountainous regions, was also exempt from the head tax and the inhabitants had the right to bear arms.l Before long, conditions began to worsen. The islamization of the Albanians transformed the situation in Epirus and especially in its northern regions. The islamized Albanians, the so-called “Turk-Albanians,” became terrible persecutors of the Christian Greeks. Many were forced to abandon their ancestral homes in the countryside, and to move in groups towards the southern areas of Epirus, and other regions of Greece, such as Attica, Boeotia, the Peloponnese, and the Aegean islands. Those who remained in the countryside began to withdraw from the valleys to the mountains and in many regions the phenomenon of “crypto-Christians” appeared.

Despite ongoing persecution, the Epirots continued to maintain their fervent commitment to their culture and their belief in their national regeneration. Rebellions and insurrections continued and, whenever Venice, the Habsburg Empire, or Russia were at war with the Ottoman Empire, the
Epirots were always ready to accept promises for support and to rebel. However, time and again they were abandoned and forced to pay the heavy price of the betrayal of their hopes for liberty. An almost unbelievable number of rebellions took place in Epirus during the wars between the Venetians-Austrians and the Ottoman Empire.

Among the more noteworthy revolts was that led in central Epirus by Dionysios 11, metropolitan bishop of Trikke (modern Trikala), called “Skylosophos.” He arrived in Epirus in 1611, and incited the local peasants into a revolt. Having defeated certain Turkish provincial garrison troops in the countryside, as well as the inhabitants of certain islamized villages, he succeeded in reaching the Ioannina lake on the night of 10 to 11 September 1611, at the head of approximately one thousand, mostly unarmed, peasants, and to occupy the city. On the following day, the Turks, realizing the weakness of the rebel force and enlisting the sipahi cavalry, crushed the rebellion. Dionysius was captured and flayed a1ive.

The Treaty of Passarowitz (21 July 1718) marked the end of the wars between the Ottoman Empire and the Venetian Republic, that drained their strength and ushered in a period of decline for both. Austria and later Russia continued the struggle against the Turks. The collaboration between the Venetians and the Epirot armatoles ceased, and a long and unusual reign of peace followed in the region. In any case, the resulting conditions in Epirus did not permit the continuation of rebellious movements. The Turks increasingly used the Turk-Albanians to suppress outbreaks of rebellions, not only by the Greeks, but by the other Christian peoples of the Balkans. Thus, the unruly Turk-Albanians evolved into the scourge of all Balkan nations, including the Turks themselves.

The Epirots’ possessions, life, and honor at this time, fell into the hands of armed Turk-Albanian gangs. They were punished even in cases of outbreaks of rebellion in other Balkan areas in which they had taken no part. Under the pretext of disarming the Christians or punishing them for secretly financing insurrections, even in remote areas of the Balkans, such as Romania or the Peloponnese, the Turk-Albanians plundered cities and villages of Epirus. The Epirots also felt the vengeful lust of the Turk-Albanians for defeats or losses the latter had suffered at the hands of Christian armies in various wars. They also paid for victories of the rejoicing Albanians against the “infidel.” Thus when a new rebellion took place in the Peloponnese in 1769-1770 (the so-called Orlov Revolt), the Turk-Albanians destroyed Moschopolis. Vithkuqi, Nikolitsa, Emporia (Mborje), Linotopi and other cities and towns of Epirus.

The destruction the Turk-Albanians wrought during this period finally forced the Ottoman authorities to intervene by force, in order to curtail them, both in the Peloponnese (1774), as well as in Epirus (1779). The depredations had reached such a level that the Ottomans realized that there Intelwas danger of annihilation of the Christian reayas (subjugated populations), who formed the tax base of the empire, by their payment of the head tax.

It was during this period of upheaval that the terrible Turk-Albanian Tepelenli Ali Pasha arose in Epirus. He became the despot of Epirus for almost 40 years (1778-1821). Ali Pasha turned vengefully against centers of resistance to central authority in Epirus. He succeeded in wiping out the best-known armatoles and klephts of the period, after a prolonged struggle. His wars against the brave Souliots are well-known. He sought finally to establish an autonomous entity and for that purpose tried to coopt his Greek subjects, appointing them to high offices and rank. He never succeeded in gaining their complete trust. The Philihe Hetairia considered his break with the sultan and the concentration of loyalist troops in Epirus an opportunity for a Greek rebellion. Consequently it declared the revolution to achieve Greek independence in 1821.

The contribution of the Epirots to the preparations and the conduct of the Great Uprising (the Greek War of Independence, 1821-1830) is well known. Two of the three founders of the Philihe Hetaireia (Nikolaos Skouphas, Athanasios Tsakaloff) were from Epirus. The Souliots, the Cheimarriots and many other Epirots contributed significantly to the struggles in Mesolongi, Attica, the Peloponnese, and even in Crete. During the first two years of the War of Independence, the Epirots were able to tie down the bulk of the Turkish forces away from the main theater of operations, as a result of continuous and fierce battles in Souli and around Ioannina, in Arta and the region of Makrynoros.Finally, the affluent Epirots of Diaspora communities contributed generous economic support to the struggle.

1-Brittanika, Epirus
2-Konstantinos Vakalopoulos, Epiros
3-The Struggle Of North Epirus, Greek DIS
4-Epirus:4000 years of Greek history and Civilization

Written by Akritas

Posted by: History Of Macedonia | July 8, 2007

Epirus – The Byzantine era

There is not much information available on Epirus in the early centuries of the Byzantine empire. The region was at a distance from the main axes of barbarian raids, as well as the battlefields where these were checked.

However, in brief references, the Byzantine chronographers reveal the fact that the Visigoths, led by Alaric, and the Ostrogoths, led by Theoderic, passed through Epirus on their way to Italy. During the same period (the fifth century)

Epirus was also wracked by great earthquakes and plagues. Gaiseric’s Vandals completed these disasters by occupying Nicopolis and raiding the Epirotan coastline. Later (AD 551), the Goths led by Totila destroyed Dodona and most of the cities in Epirus.

During the 6th century various Slavic tribes began raids that lasted intermittently through the tenth century. According to the opinions of reliable historians, the Slavs were nomadic peoples, and, in time, were absorbed by the local population. As a result, scant evidence remains attesting to their passage, and this includes some place names in the mountain regions where they settled The Bulgarian raids had a greater impact on the region: circa AD 929 they completely leveled Nicopolis and other Epirotan cities. Nevertheless, the Byzantine emperor Basil “the Bulgar-slayer” finally rid Epirus and the rest of the Greek peninsula of the Bulgarian danger.

During all this period, despite the raids and destruction, Epirus didn’t lose its Greek character. In the Synecdemus of Hierocles, an administrative gazetteer of the early Byzantine Empire, the “old Epirus is mentioned as the 12th province and the “new” as the 13th, with a total of 21 cities.”

The testimony of Hierocles is confirmed by the historian Procopius, who further mentions which of the cities, that had been destroyed by the earthquakes and the barbarians, were rebuilt and fortified by Justinian.”

Later, Emperor Constantine Porphyrogennetus, who talked about the new administrative divisions of the state, the themata, repeats what Hierocles writes about the two provinces of Epirus. Οne can deduce from all the sources, that Epirus, both “old and “new,” was a flourishing Greek region that included 21 cities.

Under the Comnenian dynasty, the threat from the west reappeared. The Normans of Southern Italy, led by the notorious Robert Guiscard, landed at Kanina (near Valona), and taking advantage of the internal Byzantine strife, as well as of the Seljuk raids in Asia Minor, attempted to conquer the Byzantine Empire. Thus began, in 1082, an epic struggle in northwestern Epirus, centered around Durazzo, which with many fluctuations lasted until AD 1107. Alexius Comnenus finally managed to turn back the Norman raids in Epirus. However, later on, during the Crusades, his heirs could not withstand the pressure of the Western world. In 1204 the western armies of the Fourth Crusade conquered Constantinople and plundered it. The Byzantine Empire fell apart.

As the two-headed Byzantine eagle fled, heavily injured, to Nicaea in Asia Minor, the Byzantine provinces in Europe, one after the other, fell into the hands of the violent Crusader knights, and were transformed into numerous Frankish petty states. Epirus, however, held on to its independence.

The renowned Despotate of Epirus, which was founded during that time, constitutes the best proof, not only of the Hellenicity of the region during that period, but also of the firm spirit of resistance of the Epirotan people to foreign invaders. Michael Comnenus Ducas (1204-1216), who founded the Despotate, succeeded in stabilizing his hold over the entire area of both provinces of Epirus. His brother, Theodore Comnenus Ducas, who succeeded him, extended the boundaries of the Despotate, liberating Thessaly and Macedonia, and reaching the river Hebrus. Indeed, it appeared that he would also liberate Constantinople. In 1230, however, in the battle of Klokotnitsa, near Adrianople, he was defeated and captured by the Bulgarians.

The heirs to the throne of the Despotate clashed with the Greek Empire of Nicaea, with the result that the recapture of Constantinople from the Franks was delayed. The Despotate also lost the prestige it had gained under its first two rulers. Epirus during that period, free from attacks by the Franks and the Slavs, flourished and enjoyed great prosperity, as is attested in the towns of Epirus by the many Byzantine buildings (churches, forts, aqueducts, bridges, etc.) dating from this time of hardship for Hellenism.

The Despotate of Epirus offered inestimable services to Hellenism in the dark period of the Frankish Occupation. As Paparregopoulos epigrammatically states “[Epirus] at that time, saved the Greek nation in Europe.”

When Constantinople was retaken, Epirus was for a short period (ca. 1335) incorporated into the Byzantine Empire, which, however, never succeeded in recovering its previous glory. The Serbs formed a powerful state and began to push southward, reaching as far as the river Genusus and the gates of Thessalonica. In 1349 Stephen Dushan occupied all of western Greece, reaching as far as Acarnania, and proclaimed himself emperor of “the Serbs and the Romans.” Many Albanians, who had helped him in his conquests, came from the areas north and settled in Epirus.

The situation following his demise was chaotic. Charles Thopia, an Albanian tribal chief, who in 1368 proclaimed himself “King of Albania,” prevailed in the northern part of greater Epirus. The Serbs, who retained their hold on central Epirus, with Ioannina as its capital, ceded the territory to the Florentine Esau Buondelmonti (1385). The southern provinces of Epirus were under the control of various Albanian tribal chieftains.

By the end of this period there appeared in Europe for the first time a new wave of raiders from the East, the Ottoman Turks. On 9 October 1431, the Ottomans occupied Ioannina and within a few years they extended their dominion over all of Epirus.

1-Brittanika, Epirus
2-Konstantinos Vakalopoulos, Epiros
3-The Struggle Of North Epirus, Greek DIS
4-Epirus:4000 years of Greek history and Civilization

Written by Akritas

Posted by: History Of Macedonia | June 29, 2007

Pyrrhus of Epirus Ethnicity

Pyrrhus of Epirus was born in 318 BC. He was son of the Molossian king, Aeacides and Phthia, a Thessalian woman.

We will  examine more closely now Pyrrhus genealogy from both his parents.

Molossian Royal House

From his father’s side Pyrrhus belonged to the Molossian royal house. The members of Molossian royal house , the so-called ‘Aeacidae‘ thought of themselves and were viewed by all others as descendants of Achiles’ son, Neoptolemus and Andromache. They both took refuge in the area in the aftermath of Troy’s fall. Their son was Molossus, the founder of Molossians. Aeacides himself, was son of Arrybas, king of Epirus and the Epirotan princess Troas, sister of Alexander I of Epirus. In the early 6th century, the tyrant of Sicyon Cleisthenes wished to find a suitable husband for his daughter Agariste. He invited “the best of the Greeks” in order to decide which one would marry his daughter. Among the Greek contestants was the Molossian king Alkon.

Conclusion of the above is that the members of the Molossian royal house considered themselves as Greeks and were viewed as such by the rest of Greeks.

House of Menon the Thessalian

 His mother Pthia was a daughter of Menon the Thessalian Hipparch from the Greek city of Pharsala.  One of his ancestors was the famous Menon, the Greek commander bearing the same name who served under Cyrus the Younger at Cunaxa [Xen Anab. 2.6.21]. He is said to have been always intimate with Tharyps, the Molossian king and ancestor of Aeacides. [Xen Anab. 2.6.28] hence its not surprising the good relations between the houses of Tharyps and Menon the older were sealed after many years with the marriage between Aeacides and Pthia, daughter of Menon the younger. Menon, the grandfather of Pyrrhus led the Thessalian army during the Lamian war where he was killed in battle [Diod. 18.38.6]

We have seen Pyrrhus was Greek by both his parents.  Modern Albanian propaganda tend to associate the fact that Pyrrhus as an infant after his first exile, spent a few years in the court of the Illyrian Glaukias as evidence of his…Illyrian background.

This claim however constistutes an absurbity since this claim ignores the fact Glaukias of Taulantii had married Berhoea, a Molossian princess and aunt of Pyrrhus [Just. 17.3.19]. As she was also member from the Aecidae royal house Berhoea was the closest relative Pyrrhus had and her house was the most secure place for the infant Pyrrhus to survive.  

Pyrrhus found himself in Glaukias court and was handed to his aunt. Later when Cassander offered 200 talants to Glaukias to hand him over Pyrrhus, Glaukias refused due to his wife. Pyrrhus grew up as an Aeacid noble who was destined to be a king of Epirus.

Posted by: History Of Macedonia | June 24, 2007

Epirus :4000 years of Greek history and civilization

but what language did the Epirotes speak?The answer to this question became apparent, when D. Evangelidis published two inscriptions from Dodona. They showed beyond dispute that the tribes which made up the Molossian state not only recorded decisions in Greek language and with Greek technical terms but also had Greek personal names and ethnic forms in the period 370-368 B.C. Since the personal names of men who were adult then had been given to them c. 420 B.C., the conclusion was unavoidable that these tribes were speaking Greek at the very time when Thucydides was labelling them as barbaroi. This ceases to be a paradox, if one realizes that the contrast in the term barbaros was not linguistic but cultural.


The dialect of the Greek language which these tribal groups spoke was not the Doric of Corinth and her colonies but a form of west Greek, as is becoming clear from the dececipherment of questions asked by local enquirers, which have been preserved on lead strips at Dodona. Their dialect may well have been retarded and therefore not easy for southern Greeks to understand, just as the dialect of the Makedones proper was unfamiliar to the Greeks on their coast.

[Epirus :4000 years of Greek history and civilization, the entry of Epirus into the Greek world, page 60 ]

Posted by: History Of Macedonia | June 10, 2007

Oxford Classical Dictionary about Epirus

Known in the ‘Iliad’ only for the oracle of Dodona, and to Herodotus for the oracle of the dead at Ephyra, Epirus received Hellenic influence from the Elean colonies in Cassopaea and the Corinthian colonies at Ambracia and Corcyra, and the oracle of Dodona drew pilgrims from northern and central Greece especially.

Theopompus knew fourteen Epirote tribes, speakers of a strong west-Greek dialect, of which the Chaones held the plain of Buthrotum, the Thesproti the plain of Acheron, and the Molossi the plain of Dodona, which forms the highland centre of Epirus with an outlet southwards to Ambracia.

A strong Molossian state, which included some Thesprotian tribes, existed in the reign of Neoptolemos c.370-368 (“Arx.Ef”.1956, 1ff). The unification of Epirus in a symmachy led by the Molossian king was finally achieved by Alexander, brother-in-law of Philip II of Macedon. His conquests in southern Italy and his alliance with Rome showed the potentialities of the Epirote Confederacy, but he was killed in 330 BC

Posted by: History Of Macedonia | June 10, 2007

From Inscription to Onomasticon: the Bouthrotos Manumission Texts and LGPN

.From Inscription to Onomasticon: the Bouthrotos Manumission Texts and LGPN
(Elaine Matthews, 26 November, 1996)

Elaine Matthews, Editor of the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names, gave a seminar paper on the Bouthrotos manumission texts and LGPN. The paper had the dual aim of explaining the Lexicon’s approach to documentary (mainly epigraphical) evidence, which is the greatest source of ancient Greek names, and of drawing attention to the very interesting manumission texts from Bouthrotos in ancient Epirus, modern Albania.

The Lexicon approaches documents for the particular information needed to build up the regional onomastic picture which it is the Lexicon’s role to provide: primarily these are names, and the means of placing them in space and in time, though other items such as professions are also taken into account. Sometimes the information needed (a date, an ethnic) is explicitly given in the text, at others it has to be deduced from context; in either case, a knowledge of ancient practice, for example in the use of ethnics, is needed. Finally, the Lexicon must be aware of the publication history of the document, so as to provide the reader with the best route to the text. The Bouthrotos texts have proved challenging in several respects, not least in their complicated publication history. Their immediate historical background was the Third Macedonian War, at the end of which Epirus suffered the destruction of 70 oppida and the enslavement of 150,000 people. The texts are dated by a priest (of Asclepius of Zeus Soter), and by officials of the Koinon of the Prasaiboi. The Prasaiboi are a well-known group, but this Koinon, established around 163 BC, was previously unknown. The texts come mainly from two sites: the hellenistic theatre, where they are inscribed on the parodos wall and the diazoma, and the late Roman wall, where approximately 100 texts were reused to construct a tower. The theatre texts are largely published, and can most conveniently be studied in SEG XXXVIII; the tower texts are largely unpublished. All will appear in the third volume of the Corpus of the Greek inscriptions of Epirus and Southern Illyria, being prepared under the direction of Professor P. Cabanes of Nanterre University, in collaboration with Albanian colleagues. Due to the generosity of Professor Cabanes, the Lexicon has received an advance version of the Corpus, enabling it to include the names in its own Volume IIIA (to be published in September 1997).From these texts, recording over 370 acts of manumission in a mixture of civil and religious formulae, the onomastic pickings are particularly rich: over 1700 individuals, 400 of them women, manumitting over 500 slaves.

They repeatedy show the same individuals, couples, and extended family groups repeatedly manumitting slaves: one family manumits 13 times, one couple free eleven slaves in two days. The repetition offers the opportunity to study naming practices, both within the manumitting families and among the slaves. The names are firmly Greek (not Illyrian), and the slaves rarely have typical slave-names, but instead distinctly Greek names, some of them unique to Bouthrotos. A conspicuous feature is the large representation of women, who may manumit alone but may also appear at the head of a family group. (This is not surprising to those familiar with the documents of the area: a decree of the Kingdom of the Molossoi, dated 370-368 BC, grants a woman and her descendants politeia.) Another striking feature is the occurrence of over 8 ethnics, sub-units of the Prasaiboi; given the limited territory of the Prasaiboi, it is likely that some of these sub-groups were no more than a group of families, perhaps occupying one small hamlet or valley.

Posted by: History Of Macedonia | June 8, 2007

William Mitford about the greek origins of ancient Epirotes

Epirus, though mostly held by people of Grecian speech and lineage, had an intermixture of those called barbarians; Illyrians, and perhaps others. Herodotus however, among earliest, and Plutarch, among late ancient historians, clearly reckon the Molossians a Grecian people. Some expressions of Thucydides and Strabo may perhaps be construed either way. But, as it has been formerly observed, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Strabo concur in showing that all Greece was of mixed population; and how the distinction of Greek and barbarian, unknown to Homer, arose, and what at last it was, always remained uncertain. Strabo however, clearly acknowledging the Macedonian for a Greek nation, assures us that the general language of the Epirots was the Macedonian dialect of the Greek; that where another language, probably the Illyric, was in use, the people commonly spoke both, and that, in habits and manners, most of the Epirots hardly differed from the Macedonians.
The governments of the Epirot states were, some Republican with annual chief magistrates, as at Athens, Thebes, and Rome; others monarchal.   That of Molossis, from earliest tradition, was monarchal; and whether the people may have been more or less allowed the always questionable dignity of pure Grecian blood, yet the claim of the royal family to the oldest and noblest Grecian origin, resting on tradition, but asserted by Straho and Plutarch, with Aristotle’s assent implied, is not found anywhere controverted. They reckoned themselves direct descendants ofNeoptolemus Pyrrhus, son of Achilles; who, it was said, ‘” after the Trojan war, migrating from Thessaly, be¬came king of Molossis, Whatever credit may be due to this lofty pretension, that the Molossian sceptre remained in one Greek family, from times beyond certain history till after Aristotle’s age, appears satisfactorily testified.
By advantage of situation and constitution, exempt from great troubles, Molossis, had it had historians, probably afforded little for general interest. Nevertheless we learn from the father of Grecian history that, some generations before his time, it was esteemed respectable among Grecian states. The tale wherein this appears, like many of that writer, somewhat of a romantic cast, nevertheless may have been true in all its parts; and for the information it affords of an important change of manners and policy among the Greeks, and of the florishing condition of several republics about the age of the Athenian legislator Solon, some destroyed before the historian wrote, others little heard of since, while Molossis apparently remained unshaken, it maybe reckoned of considerable historical value.
Clisthenes, tyrant of Sicyon, under whose rule that little state was eminent among those of Peloponnesus,’ desiring, the historian says, to marry his daughter to a man of the greatest consideration and highest worth of all Greece, opened his house for any who, from personal dignity and the eminence of their countries, might have pretensions; that so he might have oppor¬tunity to estimate their merits. Thirteen guests, rivals for his favor, are thus described. There came from the Greek colonies in Italy, then florishing extraordinarily, Smindyrides of Sybaris and Damas of Siris. The former was remarked for going beyond all of his time in the luxury for which Sybaris was renowned. Damas was son of that Samyris who was distinguished by the epithet of the Wise. Am-phimnestus came from Epidamnus, on the coast of the Ionian gulf. Males was of jjEtolia, brother of Titormus, esteemed the strongest man in Greece, but who had withdrawn from the society of men to reside in the farthest part of yEtolia.3 Lcocedes was son of Phi don, tyrant of Argos; that Phidon, says the historian, who established uniformity of weights and measures throughout Peloponnesus, and, together with his power, (so far, it may seem, bene¬ficially exerted,) was remarked for an arrogance un¬equalled among the Greeks; for, depriving the Eleans of the presidency of the Olympian festival, he assumed it himself. Two came from Arcadia, Amiantus of Trapezus, and Laphanes of Pafos. The father of the latter, Euphorion, was celebrated for his extensive. hospitality, and had the extraordinary fame of having entertained the gods Castor and Pollux. Lysanias came from Eretria in Eubcea, then greatly florishing; Onomastus from Elea: Megacles and Hippoclides were of Athens; the latter esteemed the richest Athenian of his time, and the handsomest: Diac-tondes was of Cranon and Scopada? in Thessaly; Alcon was of Molossis. This simple description of Alcon, combined with what has preceded, enough marks that the Molossians were esteemed a Grecian people, and Molossis then considerable among the Grecian states. One of the Athenians, Megacles, was the successful suitor. 

“The history of Greece”, by lord Redesdale By William Mitford

Posted by: History Of Macedonia | June 8, 2007

Oracles of Dodona – Ephyra

Dodona, the sanctuary of Zeus in Epirus, boasted of bring the oldest oracle. The Iliad has Achilles pray to the Pelasgian Zeus of Dodona; “about you dwell the Helloi (Selloi?), the interpreters, with unwashed feet, sleeping on the ground.’4 That remarkable body of priests later disappeared, and even their name is discussed only on the basis of this Iliad text. Odysseus alleges he has gone to Dodona, in order to learn the plan of Zeus from the oak of lofty foliage; the Hesiodic Catalogues perhaps already spoke of three doves which dwell in the oak tree;” according to later tradition it is three priestesses who are called the doves; they enter a state of ecstasy, and ‘afterwards they do not know anything about what they have said.’ The excavations have exposed the simple tree sanctuary; not until the fourth century was a small temple added, after the Molossian kings of Epirus had assumed the protectorship of Dodona. From that time onwards, Dodona enjoyed a certain popularity; nevertheless, it is mostly private individuals who on the surviving lead tablets approach the god for advice on everyday problems.

 The Oracle of the Dead at Ephyra must be of ancient repute and the name of the surrounding Thesprotoi clearly points to their divine mission; the association of Odysseus’ journey to Hades with this spot is probably older than our Odysseust The two rivers there were then given the names of the rivers of the underworld, Acheron and Kokytos.” About 600 the tyrant Periandros of Corinth conjured up the soul of his dead wife there,” The installation uncovered through recent excavations dates only from the fourth century; earlier structures were doubtless lost when that monumental new building was erected. The centre is a square complex with walls of polygonal masonry three metres thick giving a Cyclopean appearance. Around this runs the approach corridor, once completely dark, passing a bathroom, incubation and dining chambers, places for purification, for throwing a stone, and for bloody sacrifice, and finally leading through a labyrinth with many doors into the central chamber, beneath which a vaulted crypt represents the world of the dead. Perhaps there was a machine for producing ghostly appearances – iron rollers which have been found are interpreted in this way – or perhaps the eating of certain kinds of beans had a hallucinogenic effect; numinous experience and manipulation may overlap.

 Source: Greek Religion:Archaic and Classical By Walter Burkert

Posted by: History Of Macedonia | June 8, 2007

Alcetas I of Epirus

ALCETAS I. (Greek: Αλκέτας), king of Epirus. He was the son of Tharypus. For some reason or other, which we are not informed of, he was expelled from his kingdom, and took refuge with the elder Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, by whom he was reinstated. After his restoration we find him the ally of the Athenians, and of Ja’son, the Tagus of Thessaly. In b. c. 373, he appeared at Athens with Jason, for the purpose of defending Timotheus, who, through their influence, was acquitted. On his death the kingdom, which till then had been governed by one king, was divided between his two sons, Neoptolemus and Arybbas or Arym- bas. Diodorus (xix. 88) calls him Arybilus. (Paus. i. 11. § 3; Dem. Timoth. pp. 1187, 1190 ; Diod. xv. 13. 36.)

“Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology” by William Smith – 1851

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