Modern Historians about ancient Epirus

“Speakers of these various Greek dialects settled different parts of Greece at different times during the Middle Bronze Age, with one group, the “northwest” Greeks, developing their own dialect and peopling central Epirus. This was the origin of the Molossian or Epirotic tribes.”

E.N.Borza “In the shadow of Olympus; The emergence of Macedon” (revised edition, 1992), page 62

We have seen that the “Makedones” or “highlanders” of mountainous western Macedonia may have been derived from northwest Greek stock. That is, northwest Greece provided a pool of Indo-European speakers of proto-Greek from which emerged the tribes who were later known by different names as they established their regional identities in separate parts of the country. Thus the Macedonians may have been related to those peoples who at an earlier time migrated south to become the historical Dorians, and to other Pindus tribes who were the ancestors of the Epirotes or Molossians. If it were known that Macedonian was a proper dialect of Greek, like the dialects spoken by Dorians and Molossians, we would be on much firmer ground in this hypothesis.”

E.N.Borza “In the shadow of Olympus; The emergence of Macedon” (revised edition, 1992), page 78

“When Amyntas became king of the Macedonians sometime during the latter third of the sixth century, he controlled a territory that included the central Macedonian plain and its peripheral foothills, the Pierian coastal plain beneath Mt. Olympus, and perhaps the fertile, mountain-encircled plain of Almopia. To the south lay the Greeks of Thessaly. The western mountains were peopled by the Molossians (the western Greeks of Epirus), tribes of non-Argead Macedonians, and other populations.

E.N.Borza “In the shadow of Olympus; The emergence of Macedon” (revised edition, 1992), page 98

“As subjects of the king the Upper Macedonians were henceforth on the same footing as the original Macedonians, in that they could qualify for service in the King’s Forces and thereby obtain the elite citizenship. At one bound the territory, the population and wealth of the kingdom were doubled. Moreover since the great majority of the new subjects were speakers of the West Greek dialect, the enlarged army was Greek-speaking throughout.”

NGL Hammond, “Philip of Macedon”, Gerald Duckword & Ltd, London, 1994

“Certainly the Thracians and the Illyrians were non-Greek speakers, but in the northwest, the peoples of Molossis {Epirot province}, Orestis and Lynkestis spoke West Greek. It is also accepted that the Macedonians spoke a dialect of Greek and although they absorbed other groups into their territory, they were essentially Greeks.”

Robert Morkot, “The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece”,
Penguin Publ., 1996

“Still, Olympias, a Greek from Epirus married to a king of Macedon”

Paul Catledge “The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization 2000″.Chapter 14, page 213

Olympias, it seems, though Greek by birth…”

Paul Catledge “The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization 2000″. Chapter 14, page 216

The Molossians were the strongest and, decisive for Macedonia, most easterly of the three most important Epeirot tribes, which, like Macedonia but unlike the Thesprotians and the Chaonians, still retained their monarchy. They were Greeks, spoke a similar dialect to that of Macedonia, suffered just as much from the depredations of the Illyrians and were in principle the natural partners of the Macedonian king who wished to tackle the Illyrian problem at its roots.”

Malcolm Errington, “A History of Macedonia”, California University Press,

The West Greek dialect group denotes the dialects spoken in: (i) the northwest Greek regions of Epeiros, Akarnania, Pthiotid Akhaia….

Johnathan M. Hall, “Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity”, Cambridge University Press, 1997

Alexander was King Philip’s eldest legitimate child. His mother, Olympias,came from the ruling clan of the northwestern Greek region of Epirus.

David Sacks, “A Dictionary of the Ancient Greek World”, Oxford, 1995

Epirus was a land of milk and animal products…The social unit was a small tribe, consisting of several nomadic or semi-nomadic groups, and these tribes, of which more than seventy names are known, coalesced into large tribal coalitions, three in number: Thesprotians, Molossians and Chaonians…We know from the discovery of inscriptions that these tribes were speaking the Greek language (in a West-Greek dialect).

NGL Hammond, “Philip of Macedon”, Duckworth, London, 1994

The molossians were the most powerfull people of Epirus, whose kings had extended their dominion over the whole country. They traced their descent back to Pyrrhus, son of Acchilles..

the Satyres by Juvenal Page 225

That the molossians, who were immediately adjacent to the Dodonaeans in the time of Hecataeus but engulfed them soon afterwards, spoke Illyrian or another barbaric tongue was nowhere suggested, although Aeschylus and Pindar wrote of Molossian lands. That they in fact spoke greek was implied by Herodotus’ inclusion of Molossi among the greek colonists of Asia minor, but became demonstranable only when D. Evangelides published two long inscriptions of the Molossian State, set up p. 369 B.C at Dodona, in Greek and with Greek names, Greek patronymies and Greek tribal names such as Celaethi, Omphales, Tripolitae, Triphylae, etc. As the Molossian cluster of tribes in the time of Hecataeus included the Orestae, Pelagones, Lyncestae, Tymphaei and Elimeotae,as we have argued above, we may be confindent that they too were Greek-speaking;

Inscriptional evidence of the Chaones is lacking until the Hellinistic period; but Ps-Scylax, describing the situation of c. 380-360 put the Southern limit of the Illyrians just north of the Chaones, which indicates that the Chaones did not speak Illyrian, and the acceptance of the Chaones into the Epirote alliance in the 330s suggest strongly that they were Greek-speaking

“The Cambridge Ancient History - The Expansion of the Greek World, Eighth to Sixth Centuries B.C., Part 3: Volume 3″ by P Mack Crew Page 284

however, in central Epirus the only fortified places were in the plain of Ioannina, the centre of the Molossian state. Thus the North-west Greek-speaking tribes were at a half-way stage economically and politically, retaining the vigour of a tribal society and reaching out in a typically Greek manner towards a larger political organization.

“The Cambridge Ancient History: Volume 6, the Fourth Century BC” by D M Lewis, Martin Ostwald, Simon Hornblower, John Boardman

In 322 B.C when Antipater banished banished the anti-Macedonian leaders of the Greek states to live ‘beyond the Ceraunian Mountains’ (plut. Phoc. 29.3) he regarded Epirus as an integral part of the Greek-speaking mainland.

Page 443

The chaones as we will see were a group of Greek-speaking tribes, and the Dexari, or as they were called later the Dassarete, were the most northernly member of the group.

Page 423

Molossi (Μολοσσοί), a people in Epirus, who inhabited a narrow slip of country, called after them Molossia (Μολοσσία) or Molossis, which extended from the Aous, along the western bank of the Arachthus, as far as the Ambracian Gulf. The Molossi were Greek people, who claimed descent from Molossus, the son of Pyrrhus (Neoptolemus) and Andromache, and are said to have emigrated from Thessaly into Epirus, under the guidance of Pyrrhus himself. In their new abodes they intermingled with the original inhabitants of the land and with the neighbouring illyrian tribes of which they were regarded by the other Greeks as half barbarians. They were, however, by far the most powerful people in Epirus, and their kings gradually extended their dominion over the whole of the country. The first of their kings, who took the title of King of Epirus, was Alexander, who perished in Italy B.C. 326. The ancient capital of the Molossi was Pasaron,but Ambracia afterward became their chief town, and the residence of their kings. The Molossian hounds were celebrated in antiquity, and were much prized for hunting.

A New Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology and Geography” by William Smith

That they [Dorians] were related to the North-West Dialects (of Phocis, Locris, Aetolia, Acarnania and Epirus) was not perceived clearly by the ancients

History of the Language Sciences: I. Approaches to Gender II. Manifestations
By Sylvain Auroux, page 439

the western greek people (with affinities to the Epirotic tribes) in Orestis, Lyncus, and parts of Pelagonia;

“In the shadow of Olympus..” By Eugene Borza, page 74

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