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.


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