The Southern Illyrians: Epirots

The Southern Illyrians: Epirots

Posted in the History Movies Forum



#1 Dec 3, 2011
Epirus and Epirots, who have had an impressive survival history, have not received adequate scholarly attention. Contemporary historians have treated the subject only superficially, most likely in an attempt not to enter into a controversy with the proponents of the Greek claim that Epirus and Epirots were Greek, a claim which is in total contradiction to the historical sources.

In fact, most of Greek and Roman sources attest to a specific non-Greek ethnic identity for the Epirots. Greek and Roman sources convey abundant information for an assumption thatEpiruswas the land of a very ancient people and its people was considered ‘barbarian’(β&#94 0;ρβ&#94 5;ρο&#95 7;). These sources allow us to conclude with a tolerable safety that:

Epirots were ethnically distinct from the Greeks;
Ancient Greeks perceived the Epirots as being distinct and not part of their ethnos;
Higher aristocratic strata adapted aspects of Hellenic culture, but overall the populace preserved its non-Hellenic identity.

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#2 Dec 3, 2011
The Greeks of antiquity had no clear concepts about the peoples north of their territories. If the perception of this variegated barbarian world to the north was imprecise, at the same time, the sources indicate that the Greeks had no difficulty in differentiating themselves from them, finding their language as totally unintelligible, and characterized them as ‘barbarian’(people that speak a non-Greek language). The Greek geographer, Strabo wrote about the line that separated at one time the Greeks from these “barbarians’:

[7. 7. 1]: Moreover, the barbarian origin of some is indicated by their names—Cecrops, Godrus, Aïclus, Cothus, Drymas, and Crinacus. And even to the present day the Thracians, Illyrians, and Epeirotes live on the flanks of the Greeks (though this was still more the case formerly than now); indeed most of the country that at the present time is indisputably Greece is held by the barbarians—Macedonia and certain parts of Thessaly by the Thracians, and the parts above Acarnania and Aetolia by the Thesproti, the Cassopaei, the Amphilochi, the Molossi, and the Athamanes—Epeirotic tribes.

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