Pyrrhus of Epirus and the contradicting claims over his Ethnicity – Greek or Illyrian?


One of the many ancient historical personas who are being claimed as their own by different ethnicities is Pyrrhus of Epirus. We wil attempt to analyze facts about his life which will shed some light to the answer of modern claims mostly among Balkanian Nations.

pyrrhustheepirotanking  Pyrrhus of Epirus and the contradicting claims over his Ethnicity   Greek or Illyrian?

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

Lets have a close look to Pyrrhus genealogy by both his parents.

The 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 [Strabo, 7.7.1], Neoptolemus and Andromache [Eutropius (Abridgment of Roman History) Historiae Romanae Breviarium XI, XIII]. They both took refuge in the area in the aftermath of Troy’s fall. Their son was Molossus, the founder of Molossians [Apollodorus, 6.12]. 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. [Herodotus vi. 127]

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 propaganda coming mostly  byAlbanian Nationalists 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.

Conclusion of all the above is that by both his parents Pyrrhus is considered a Greek. The members of the Molossian royal house considered themselves as Greeks and were viewed as such by the Greeks and the non-Greek historians, similarly to the house of Menon in Thessaly.

See also: Modern Historians about ancient Epirus

Related posts:

Want more of this? See these Posts:

  1. Pyrrhus of Epirus
  2. Is Alexander the Great Greek?
  3. Greek origins of Ancient Epirus
  4. Alexander the Great and his Greek Origins
  5. Modern historians about ancient Epirus – Ethnicity of ancient Epirotes

By the way,on the occasion of pulverizing the shqiptare propaganda which is useful only and just for monkeys,especially those so-called ”macacas”(see some here:,w h e r e is exactly your ”Shqipëria” on the map by following the link given of Wikipedia in y o u r constructed,artificial ”language” just below?

The funny thing of the case,of the whole matter,of this subject,finally,is multiple!Firstly,his title(for God’s sake it’s amazing and quite…alluring!),”according to croatian archives ” and,secondly,the holy icon as ”Arti mesjetar(?!)” as well as this magnificent,gorgeous map,showing geographical parts of…ancient Hellenes/Greeks,of…hellene/greek Antiquity!


It’s all yours*:
””Gjergj Kastrioti e (/Ε) p i r o t a s………””.

*About the real origin of ”your national hero”,called by your ineffaceable tendency to hate Hellas/Greece because of your jealousy and join the ranks even of the Ottomans,”Skënderbeu”.



Τα φραζόμενά σας (ενν. των flora57 και Rilind) φυλλορροούν χωρίς την καταβολή και ιδιαίτερου κόπου ιστορικής εντρύφησης ‘στις πρωτογενείς ιστορικές πηγές μας και με την αρμόζουσα,απαιτούμενη,σήμερα,όσο ποτέ άλλοτε,επιστημονική και διεπιστημονική επάρκεια τόσο για την εύρεση,διερεύνηση και διαλεύκανση του (σύνθετου/δύσκολου) σκιπεταρικού εθνογενετικού μίτου όσο και για τη συνακόλουθη διάλυση της ανεξάλειπτης σύγχυσής σας και αχλύος περί του σχηματισμού των διαφόρων λαών και φυλών του Αίμου μας.Προς αυτή,δε,μετά λύπης μου παρατηρώ,συνέτειναν ακάθεκτοι και πολλοί ελλαδέμπορες και ελλαδεμπορευόμενοι,ψευδομη-συμβατικοί,οι οποίοι ‘σε κάθε ευκαιρία ευχερούς κέρδους και πλουτισμού και εκμεταλλευόμενοι ‘στο έπακρο το διάχυτο αλλά ‘σε λανθάνουσα και πρώιμη,πρωτόγονη μορφή πατριωτικό αίσθημα των Ελλήνων,ήσαν κ α ι εκείνοι με τη σειρά των που κατά την ομιχλώδη διάρκεια και πορεία αυτής της ψευδομεταπολίτευσής μας επέφεραν αυτόν τον πρωτοφανή εθνικό αποπροσανατολισμό όσο και αμοραλισμό καθώς και την ακηδία ‘στην κοινωνία μας που θυμίζει και υπενθυμίζει υστεροβυζαντινούς αιώνες και ελληνιστικά και μεταλεξανδρινά κόσμο και εποχή συνολικής,όζουσας πολιτικής παρακμής και σήψης και ολοκληρωτικής,προ’ι’ούσας κοινωνικής αποσύνθεσης..

Edessa says:


I dont know where you get your infos but they are totally wrong and certainly they are not reasonable.

Nowhere Plutarch claims he is Illyrian. Plutarch’s work is called “Paralel Lives of ancient GREEK and Roman Nobles”. So if the pair which Plutarch compares is Pyrrhys Vs Gaius Marius, anyone can get that Plutarch identifies Pyrrhus as a Greek and Gaius Marius as a Roman. If Pyrrhus wasnt a Greek, he would simply not be part of the Greek list of Plutarch. Simple as that.

Glaukus wife was a Molossian princess. Thats the only reason he went there. He had nothing to do with Illyrians themselves in fact there is No ancient source at all to call him Illyrian. Spending a few years in his Mollosian’s aunt court certainly doesnt make him one.

The ancient sources identify him as a Greek. If we could also make similar unfounded assumpions based on where he spent some time, should we claim he is an Egyptian for spending years in the Ptolemaic court?

There were Greeks living even in Illyria. Get your facts straight.

You are not aware even who were his wives. He married also Antigone (Greek), Larnasa (Greek) and a daughter of king Audoleon of the Paeonians.

Never in any ancient source Epirotes had been identified as Illyrians. They were two alien and hostile people!

EDEL says:

That Pyrrhu’s of Epirus is Yllirian for this problem would be better to reed and hear the reasonable arguments and no political passions.

1-In historically way the Greek people has lived in the coast part of East Balkan peninsula and no in the internal part continental part of this peninsula. Mainly ,they lived in the Island and East part of Mediterranean and this part by part
2- In the parallel life Plutarch has said that Pyrrhus was Yllirian and no Greek because his childhood go over in the Epirus with Yllirian Parents from father and his mother,both royal family.
3-After the death of his parents he was growing at Glaucus,family in Dyrrachium of Ylliricum was uninhibited from yllirians people and no from Greek people.
He was married with Brikena dochter of Dardanias king and no with greek women.
4-He didn’t conquer ylliria ,but Greeks,and Tarennts in Italy.
He build or rebuild in Ylliria City with the name of his Mother Antigonea very close to Argirokastra.
5 -- In the internal part and west of Balkan Peninsula never has had Greek people.
6-The Greece is developed same as all andere Staten in Ancient, City-State.
All these that I’m writing include the time 7-800 year before Christ or exactly is the time of blossom of
And finally I think that Word Barbar is comming from Yllirians Word Berber Angl Made-made or remade and has the comprehensions that goes over the mass, stubborn





Η π ρ α γ μ α τ ι κ ό τ η τ α περί της εθνοφυλετικής/εθνογενετικής/εθνολογικής καταγωγής των (ενν.αυτοαποκαλουμένων) Σκιππετάρρηδων(συνοπτικότατα με διευθύνσεις κ α ι για άλλα τινά και αποπειρώμενος να καλύψω το θέμα από αυτήν,εδώ,την ανάρτηση,μετά και την πρόκληση του επιπλέοντος φελλού Shqiptari):

Edessa says:


1. Prove it.

2. Ionia was OUT of Greece but still it was inhabited by Greeks. Syracouses was out of Greece but still it was inhabited by Greeks. A place in classical world can be out of Greece but still be inhabited by Greeks.

What should keep you worrying is the fact that Epirus and Epirotans were always distinguished by Illyria and Illyrians. Simply because they were too unrelated peoples and places.

3. Unfounded claims… show us ancient sources where Alexander the Great is depicted to speak “barbarian”. Nothing like that exist.

Ancient sources always distinguish ancient Macedonians from Illyrians and depict them as two alien peoples, being always enemies to eachother. Show us evidence from ancient sources where a Macedonian is called Illyrian. Nowhere anything like that exists.

If Greek language was used “as English language today”, then Illyrians, Thracians, Paeonians, Dardanians would speak also Greek which isnt the case. All your claims are proved false.

Next time when you make a claim as regards as ancient history, kindly provide citations from ancient sources.

Shqiptari says:

Dear Yiorgos

If you want facts about Epir I’ll give you some and then give me your opinion.

1. The most part of the Epir Land was inhabited by ethnic Albanians (Illyrians) till 1945 that General Zerva made the genocide in Cameria Land. All albanias were deported in Albanian Republic.
2. 1.Straboni.VII,5;Plin,N.H.IV,1:App.Illyr 1. .
Strabonis an Greek geographer distinguished Epirus From Greece as an Indipendent Nation.
3. The term barbarian language was used by ancient writers because they do not understand it of course it was another language, it doesn’t mean it was barbarian. You say they speak greek but were called ‘barbarians’ because they were not developed. This does not stand as a reason because all illyria was called barbarian at that time by greek historians, Also Alexander the Great has spoken “barbarian” to it’s solders which most of them were Ancient Illyrians which fought very bravely with Hellenic Mercenaries.

And as about the words translate me Pella (in albanian is the female of the Horse)
And the original name of Macedonia was Emathia (The Great Land in Albanian) but let’s not go into MAcedonian issue because you can be very hangry with the facts.

The Greek language was used as today English language for economic purposes only. This doesn’t mean that greek speakers were ethnic greeks.

Etc etc etc

yiorgos says:

Dear Rilind your simplicity is overwhelming :’some greeks called Epirotes ‘barbarians’ ,so Epirotes are Illyrians’………..
Great logic !
If you find out how many Greek groups, Athenians (especially) called ‘barbarians, then most of greeks are Illyrians or something else!!!!!what a way of thinking
This anorthodox use of the term ‘barbarian’ has to be stopped. The greek cities-states were the status that times and even if you know it you have to understand the way this fact worked.
If you are member of a more advanced city-state of greek world , you call the less developed greeks as barbarians ,if you dont like them or whatever,as you call other peoples not greek.This was common.
To say if a group of people were greeks you have to consider 3 factors as sciens says:
1) their language
2) their relegion
3) their sense of belonging to a common bigger group of people that has the same path in history
All 3 factors apply for Epirotes (as for Macedonians too)
So ask the Epirotes if they had any of the 3 factors in common with Illirians and leave the greeks alone to call each other any name they want.
Is very importand to a understand that Hellenism was a ‘floating’ organism of people,especially if we talk about the boundary of the hellenism.
Also its importand to know that the names are essential too.For a greek the name Pyrros (Πυρρος and no Pirros) drives the mind to the root pyr :fire ,so his name means something like the man of fire.For an Illirian its only a sound.
Like ‘Phillip’. This name exists in most languages. But who ,if not greek ,feels what it means?
In modern greek, as in ancient, philos (φιλος) means the friend (the one who likes something also)
and ippos (ιππος) is the horse
So Phillip (Filippos) =phil-(os) + ippos is the one who likes horses
Its great to have the sense of the time passed from ancient Greece and still to feel the same thing when you hear a name or a word. Its great to feel greek. Nobody can take this heritage away.Its in our soul.Who is greek feels it.
Sorry for my nationallistic kind of explosion but its enough with all this try of anyone around to steal anything greek.
As for Flora57 above I have to say nothing ,just she is funny

Rilind says:

In the 5th century Epirus was still on the periphery of the Greek world. To the 5th-century historian Thucydides, the Epirotes were “barbarians.” The only Epirotes regarded as Greek were the Aeacidae, who were members of the Molossian royal house and claimed descent from Achilles. From about 370 BC on, the Aeacidae were able to expand the Molossian state by incorporating tribes from the rival groups in Epirus.

The paragraph quoted above clearly states that Epirus and Epirotes were “barbarians” and not greeks. “Barbarians” were considered from greeks all those peoples who didn’t speak greek or didn’t have greek culture. Who was living north/west of Greece in those times? Illyrians. So the conclusion is very simple: Epirotes were Illyrians.

D-Mak says:

Rubbish! There are numerous ancient literary sources where some Greek tribes are depicted as “Barbarians”. Even Boeotians (Thebans and the rest in Boeotia) are called “Barbarians”. This doesnt mean that they werent Greeks. Both literary and archaeological sources verify they were Greek-Speakers. On the other hand NOWHERE the Epirotans are called Illyrians. Its simply because Epirotans and Illyrians were two distinct, alien people who were always enemies.

flora57 says:

This history is really, but this history isn.t history neither Slavs ,nor greeks.
Olimpia , mother of Aleksander was from family tree of Pirro ( yllirian king).
Pirro, Glaukia Menon Bardhyl, Teuta.Agron Monun are everybody yllirians king. Macedonia , ( ancient name Emathia )
has been one from principal yllirian tribu , together with Dardans and Thrak . ( kosova ) Ancient Macedonia aren.t Slavs and Greek are Albanians descendent of Yllirians.

11194653 says:

Your comment is incomprehensible. Try to write it in simple English and always provide sources to back up your claims.