The Info List - Molossians

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The Molossians
(Ancient Greek: Μολοσσοί, translit. Molossoi) were an ancient Greek tribe and kingdom that inhabited the region of Epirus
since the Mycenaean era.[1][2] On their north frontier, they had the Chaonians
and on their southern frontier the kingdom of the Thesprotians. The Molossians
were part of the League of Epirus
until they sided against Rome in the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC). The result was disastrous, and the vengeful Romans enslaved 150,000 of its inhabitants and annexed the region into the Roman Republic.


1 Mythology 2 Ancient sources 3 Molossian royalty 4 War 5 List of Molossians 6 See also 7 References

7.1 Citations 7.2 Sources

Mythology[edit] According to Greek mythology, the Molossians
were the descendants of Molossus, one of the three sons of Neoptolemus, son of Achilles
and Deidamia. Following the sack of Troy, Neoptolemus
and his armies settled in Epirus
where they joined with the local population. Molossus inherited the kingdom of Epirus
after the death of Helenus, son of Priam
and Hecuba
of Troy, who had married his erstwhile sister-in-law Andromache
after Neoptolemus's death. According to some historians, their first king was Phaethon, one of those who came into Epirus
with Pelasgus. According to Plutarch, Deucalion
and Pyrrha, having set up the worship of Zeus
at Dodona, settled there among the Molossians.[3] Ancient sources[edit]

Coin of Molossi, 360–330/25 BC. Obverse: Vertical thunderbolt on shield, ΜΟΛΟΣΣΩΝ (of Molossians) around shield. Reverse: Thunderbolt
within wreath.

According to Strabo, the Molossians, along with the Chaonians
and Thesprotians, were the most famous among the fourteen tribes of Epirus, who once ruled over the whole region. The Chaonians
ruled Epirus
at an earlier time, and afterwards the Thesprotians
and Molossians
controlled the region. The Thesprotians, the Chaonians, and the Molossians
were the three principal clusters of Greek tribes that had emerged from Epirus
and were the most powerful among all other tribes.[3] The Molossians
were also renowned for their vicious hounds, which were used by shepherds to guard their flocks. This is where the canine breed Molossoid, native to Greece, got its name. Virgil
tells us that in ancient Greece the heavier Molossian dogs were often used by the Greeks
and Romans for hunting (canis venaticus) and to watch over the house and livestock (canis pastoralis). "Never, with them on guard," says Virgil, "need you fear for your stalls a midnight thief, or onslaught of wolves, or Iberian brigands at your back." Strabo
records that the Thesprotians, Molossians, and Macedonians referred to old men as πελιοί pelioi and old women as πελιαί peliai (<PIE *pel-, "grey"). Cf. Ancient Greek πέλεια peleia, "pigeon", so-called because of its dusky grey color. Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
πελός pelos meant "grey".[4] Their senators were called Peligones (Πελιγόνες), similar to Macedonian Peliganes (Πελιγᾶνες).[5] Molossian royalty[edit] The most famed member of the Molossian dynasty was Pyrrhus, who became famous for his Pyrrhic victory
Pyrrhic victory
over the Romans. According to Plutarch, Pyrrhus was the son of Aeacides of Epirus
and a Greek woman from Thessaly
named Phthia, the daughter of a war hero in the Lamian War. Pyrrhus was a second cousin of Alexander the Great. In the 4th century BC, they had adopted the term for office of prostatai (Greek: προστάται)[6] literally meaning "protectors" like most Greek tribal states at the time. Other terms for office were grammateus (Greek: γραμματεύς) meaning "secretary", demiourgoi (Greek: δημιουργοί) literally meaning "creators", hieromnemones (Greek: ἱερομνήμονες) literally meaning "of the sacred memory" and synarchontes (Greek: συνάρχοντες) literally meaning "co-rulers"[7] An inscription from the 4th century stated (referring to Alexander I of Epirus):[8]

“ When King was Alexandros when of Molossoi prostatas was Aristomachos Omphalas secretary was Menedamos Omphalas resolved by the assembly of the Molossoi; Kreston is benefactor hence to give citizenship to Kteson and descent line ”

The shrine of Dodona
was used for the display of public decisions.[9] Despite having a monarchy, the Molossians
sent princes to Athens to learn of democracy, and they did not consider certain aspects of democracy incompatible with their form of government.[10][11] Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, was a member of this celebrated sovereign house. War[edit] In 385 BC, the Illyrians, aided by Dionysius of Syracuse, attacked the Molossians, attempting to place the exile Alcetas on the throne.[12] Dionysius planned to control all the Ionian Sea. Sparta
intervened and expelled the Illyrians
who were led by Bardyllis.[13][14][15] Even with the aid of 2,000 Greek hoplites and 500 suits of Greek armour, the Illyrians
were defeated by the Spartans (led by Agesilaus) but not before ravaging the region and killing 15,000 Molossians.[15] In another Illyrian attack in 360 BC, the Molossian king Arymbas (or Arybbas) evacuated his non-combatant population to Aetolia
and let the Illyrians
loot freely. The stratagem worked, and the Molossians
fell upon the Illyrians, who were encumbered with booty, and defeated them.[15][16] List of Molossians[edit]

Olympias, mother of Alexander the Great Pyrrhus of Epirus
(318–272 BC) most prominent Epirote king. Neoptolemus
son of Achilles
and Deidamia (Aeacid dynasty till 231 BC). Molossus son of Neoptolemus
and Andromache. Alcon (6th century BC) suitor of Agariste of Sicyon. Admetus, who gave asylum to Themistocles. Eidymmas prostates, secretary Amphikorios gave citizenship το Philista, wife of Antimachos from Arrhonos, under King Neoptolemos I 370–368 BC.[17] Tharyps theorodokos in Epidauros
365 BC.[18] Myrtale Olympias
mother of Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
circa 376–316 BC. Arybbas winner in Tethrippon
Olympics 344 BC.[19] Aristomachos prostates, secretary Menedamos gave citizenship to Simias of Apollonia, resident at Theptinon, under King Alexander I 342–330/329 BC.[20] Deidamia II of Epirus
(died circa 233 BC) last surviving representative of the royal Aeacid dynasty. Kephalos, Antinoos sided with Perseus against the Romans (Third Macedonian War) circa 170 BC.[21]

See also[edit]

Chaonia Chaonians Olympias Orestis (region) Pyrrhus of Epirus Thesprotians

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ Lewis & Boardman 1994, pp. 430, 433–434; Wilkes 1995, p. 104; Errington 1990, p. 43; Borza 1992, pp. 62, 78, 98; Boardman & Hammond 1982, p. 284; Hammond 1998; Encyclopædia Britannica ("Epirus") 2013. ^ Hornblower, Spawforth & Eidinow 2012, p. 966: "Molossi, common name of tribes forming a tribal state (koinon) in Epirus, which originated in northern Pindus including the Orestae, FGrH 1 F 107) and expanded southwards, reaching the Ambraciote Gulf (see AMBRACIA) c.370 BC." ^ a b Plutarch. Parallel Lives, "Pyrrhus". ^ Liddell & Scott 1889: πελός. ^ Liddell & Scott 1889: πελιγᾶνες. ^ Horsley 1987, p. 243; Hornblower 2002, p. 199. ^ Lewis & Boardman 1994, p. 431. ^ Brock & Hodkinson 2000, p. 250. ^ Brock & Hodkinson 2000, p. 257. ^ Alcock & Osborne 2007, p. 392. ^ Brock & Hodkinson 2000, p. 256. ^ Hammond 1986, p. 479. ^ Diodorus Siculus. Library, 15.13.1. ^ Hammond 1986, p. 470. ^ a b c Lewis & Boardman 1994, p. 428. ^ Diodorus Siculus. Library, 14.92, 15.2, 16.2. ^ Cabanes, L'Épire 534,1. ^ IG IV²,1 95 Line 31. ^ Woodbury 1979, pp. 95–133. ^ Cabanes, L'Épire 540,4. ^ Smith 1844, p. 191: "ANTI'NOUS (Άντίνους), a chief among the Molossians
in Epeirus, who became involved, against his own will, in the war of Perseus, king of Macedonia, against the Romans."


Alcock, Susan E.; Osborne, Robin (2007). Classical Archaeology. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-631-23418-7.  Boardman, John; Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière (1982). The Cambridge Ancient History - The Expansion of the Greek World, Eighth to Sixth Centuries B.C., Part 3: Volume 3 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23447-6.  Borza, Eugene N. (1992). In the Shadow of Olympus: The Emergence of Macedon (Revised Edition). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00880-9.  Brock, Roger; Hodkinson, Stephen (2000). Alternatives to Athens: Varieties of Political Organization. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-815220-5.  Encyclopædia Britannica ("Epirus") (2013). "Epirus". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 1 July 2013.  Errington, Robert Malcolm (1990). A History of Macedonia. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06319-8.  Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière (1986). A History of Greece to 322 B.C. Oxford, United Kingdom: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-873096-9.  Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière (1998). Philip of Macedon. London, United Kingdom: Duckworth. ISBN 0-7156-2829-1.  Hornblower, Simon (2002). The Greek World, 479-323 BC. New York, New York and London, United Kingdom: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-16326-9.  Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony; Eidinow, Esther (2012) [1949]. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-954556-8.  Horsley, G. H. R. (1987). New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity: A Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Published in 1979. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-85837-599-0.  Lewis, David Malcolm; Boardman, John (1994). The Cambridge Ancient History: The Fourth Century B.C. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23348-8.  Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1889). An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford, United Kingdom: Clarendon Press.  Smith, William (1844). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. I. London, United Kingdom: Taylor and Walton, Upper Gower Street.  Wilkes, John (1995) [1992]. The Illyrians. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishers Limited. ISBN 0-631-19807-5.  Woodbury, Leonard (1979). " Neoptolemus
at Delphi: Pindar, "Nem." 7.30 ff". Phoenix. Classical Association of Canada. 33 (2): 95–133. JSTOR&#