Ancient writers about greekness of Epirus

 

“Zeus Archon, Dodonean, Pelasgian, who dwells afar, ruling on rough wintered Dodona, surrounded by the Selloi, the interpreters of your divine will, whose feet are unwashed and sleep on the ground”.


Homer, Iliad 16:127 (Achilles prayer)

XI.

“War was at the same time proclaimed against the Tarentines (who are still a people at the extremity of Italy), because they had offered violence to some Roman ambassadors. These people asked aid against the Romans of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, who derived his origin from the family of Achilles

XIII.

“…Thus the ambassador of Pyrrhus returned; and, when Pyrrhus asked him “what kind of a place he had found Rome to be,” Cineas replied, that “he had seen a country of kings, for that all there were such, as Pyrrhus alone was thought to be in Epirus and the rest of Greece.”

Eutropius (Abridgment of Roman History) Historiae Romanae Breviarium

“Arha Ellas apo Oricias kai arhegonos Ellas Epiros

“Greece starts at Oricus and the most ancient part of Greece is Epirus.”

Claudius Ptolemy, The Geographer

“Peleus is the forefather of the kings of Epiros”

Pausanias, II (Corinth).

Peleus being the son of King Aeacus (the dynasty’s name) and the father of Achilles.

but we know of no Greek before Pyrros who fought against Rome

Pausanias, 1.11

“So Pyrros was the first to cross over against Rome from mainland Greece, and even so he went over only because he was called in by Tarentum”

Pausanias, 1.12

[6] Being apprized of Alcmaeon’s untimely end and courted by Zeus, Callirrhoe requested that the sons she had by Alcmaeon might be full grown in order to avenge their father’s murder. And being suddenly full-grown, the sons went forth to right their father’s wrong. Now Pronous and Agenor, the sons of Phegeus, carrying the necklace and robe to Delphi to dedicate them, turned in at the house of Agapenor at the same time as Amphoterus and Acarnan, the sons of Alcmaeon; and the sons of Alcmaeon killed their father’s murderers, and going to Psophis and entering the palace they slew both Phegeus and his wife. They were pursued as far as Tegea, but saved by the intervention of the Tegeans and some Argives, and the Psophidians took to flight.

[7] Having acquainted their mother with these things, they went to Delphi and dedicated the necklace and robe according to the injunction of Achelous. Then they journeyed to Epirus, collected settlers, and colonized Acarnania..

Apollodorus, 3.76-3.77.

[12] After remaining in Tenedos two days at the advice of Thetis, Neoptolemus set out for the country of the Molossians by land with Helenus, and on the way Phoenix died, and Neoptolemus buried him; and having vanquished the Molossians in battle he reigned as king and begat Molossus on Andromache. And Helenus founded a city in Molossia and inhabited it, and Neoptolemus gave him his mother Deidamia to wife. And when Peleus was expelled from Phthia by the sons of Acastus and died, Neoptolemus succeeded to his father’s kingdom.”

Apollodorus, 6.12

“It was for this reason that Pyrrhus was defeated by the Romans also in a battle to the finish. For it was no mean or untrained army that he had, but the mightiest of those then in existence among the Greeks and one that had fought a great many wars; nor was it a small body of men that was then arrayed under him, but even three times as large as his adversary’s, nor was its general any chance leader, but rather the man whom all admit to have been the greatest of all the generals who flourish at that same period;”

Dionysius of Halicarnnasus, Roman Antiquities, 19.11

“Theopompus says, that there are fourteen Epirotic nations. Of these, the most celebrated are the Chaones and Molotti, because the whole of Epirus was at one time subject, first to Chaones, afterwards to Molotti. Their power was greatly strengthened by the family of their kings being descended from the Æacidæ, and because the ancient and famous oracle of Dodona was in their country. Chaones, Thesproti, and next after these Cassopæi, (who are Thesproti,) occupy the coast, a fertile tract reaching from the Ceraunian mountains to the Ambracian Gulf.”

“The Molotti also were Epirotæ, and were subjects of Pyrrhus Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, and of his descendants, who were Thessalians. The rest were governed by native princes. Some tribes were continually endeavouring to obtain the mastery over the others, but all were finally subdued by the Macedonians, except a few situated above the Ionian Gulf.”

Strabo, 7.7.1

“Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, had a particularly high opinion of his powers because he was deemed by foreign nations a match for the Romans; and he believed that it would be opportune to assist the fugitives who had taken refuge with him, especially as they were Greeks, and at the same time so forestall the Romans with some plausible excuse before he should suffer injury at their hands. For so careful was he about his good reputation that though he had long had his eye on Sicily and had been considering how he could overthrow the power of the Romans, he shrank from taking the initiative in hostilities against them, when no wrong had been done him.”

Cassius Dio, Book 9.4

19. When Harrybas, king of the Molossians, was attacked in war by Bardylis, the Illyrian, who commanded a considerably larger army, he dispatched the non-combatant portion of his subjects to the neighbouring district of Aetolia, and spread the report that he was yielding up his towns and possessions to the Aetolians. He himself, with those who could bear arms, placed ambuscades here and there on the mountains and in other inaccessible places. The Illyrians, fearful lest the possessions of the Molossians should be seized by the Aetolians, began to race along in disorder, in their eagerness for plunder. As soon as they became scattered, Harrybas, emerging from his concealment and taking them unawares, routed them and put them to flight.

Frontinus, Strategemata, 13

Alexander, the Epirote, when waging war against the Illyrians, first placed a force in ambush, and then dressed up some of his own men in Illyrian garb, ordering them to lay waste his own, that is to say, Epirote territory. When the Illyrians saw that this was being done, they themselves began to pillage right and left — the more confidently since they thought that those who led the way were scouts. But when they had been designedly brought by the latter into a disadvantageous position, they were routed and killed.”

Frontinus, Strategemata, On Ambushes, 10

http://historyofepirus.wordpress.com/2006/12/31/ancient-writers-about-epirus/

Want more of this? See these Posts:

  1. Ancient writers about Epirus
  2. Ancient writers about Macedonia – Dionysius of Halicarnassus
  3. Ancient writers about Macedonia – Pausanias
  4. Ancient writers about Macedonia – Dionysius Halicarnasus
  5. Modern historians about ancient Epirus – Ethnicity of ancient Epirotes
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