The ancient Greek[1] city of Epidamnos or Epidamnus (Greek: Ἐπίδαμνος),[2] later the Roman Dyrrachium (modern Durrës, Albania, c. 30 km W of Tirana) was founded in 627 BC[3] in Illyria by a group of colonists from Corinth and Corcyra (modern Corfu).[4] Aristotle's Politics several times draws for examples on the internal government of Epidamnos, which was run as a tight oligarchy that appointed a ruling magistrate; tradesmen and craftsmen were excluded from power, until internal strife produced a more democratic government. The exiled oligarchs appealed to Corcyra while the democrats enlisted the help of Corinth, initiating a struggle between the two mother cities described by Thucydides as a cause of the Peloponnesian War. Individual trading with the local Illyrians was forbidden at Epidamnos: all traffic was through the authorized city agent or poletes. In the fourth century BC the city-state was part of the kingdoms of Cassander and Pyrrhus. The general vicinity of Epidamnus was called Epidamnia.[5]

Map of ancient Epirus and environs (English)
Map of Epidamnos in antiquity.


In 229 BC, when the Romans seized the city the "-damnos" part of the name was inauspicious to Latin ears, and its name, as it was refounded, became Dyrrhachium. Pausanias (6.x.8) says "the modern Roman city is not the ancient one, being at a short distance from it. The modern city is called Dyrrhachium from its founder." The name Dyrrachion is found on coins of the fifth century BC; in the Roman period Dyrrachium was more common. However, the city maintained a semi-autonomy and was turned into a Roman colony.

Dyrrachium was the landing place for Roman passengers crossing the Ionian Sea from Brundisium, which made it a fairly busy way-station. Here commenced the Via Egnatia, the Roman military road to Thessalonica that connected Roman Illyria with Macedonia and Thrace. The city itself was part of Macedonia, more specifically Epirus Nova. In 48 BC Pompey was based at Dyrrachium and beat off an attack by Julius Caesar (see Battle of Dyrrhachium). In AD 345 the city was levelled by an earthquake and rebuilt on its old foundations.

In the 4th century AD, Dyrrachium was made the capital of the Roman province of Epirus nova. Thus its Archbishopric became the Metropolitan of all dioceses in the province.

The name "Epidamnos" was still used by the Byzantines, as for example in the 13th-century Synopsis Chronike, referring to contemporary events.[6]

Roman remains

The modern city of Durrës is built directly over the ancient site, so it is primarily on the basis of inscriptions and serendipitous finds that some idea of its monuments has been formed. Inscriptions offer evidence on the following Roman monuments: an aqueduct constructed by Hadrian and restored by Alexander Severus bears a dedicatory inscription at Arapaj, a short distance from Durazzo: (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum III, 1-709); the Roman temple of Minerva; the Temple of Diana (CIL III, 1-602), which is perhaps the one mentioned by Appian (BCiv. 2.60); the equestrian statue of L. Titinius Sulpicianus (CIL III, 1-605); the library (CIL m, 1-67). The last inscription mentions that for the dedication of the library 24 gladiators fought in pairs. The conjecture that there was an amphitheater in the city is confirmed by a passage from the fifteenth-century Vita di Skanderbeg by Marin Barleti: "amphitheatrum mira arte ingenioque constructum".

As a result of occasional discoveries, the following data are available: a 3rd-century mosaic pavement with a female head surrounded by garlands of vegetables and flowers, which brings to mind those painted on Apulian vases; remains of houses covered by other layers, the lowest of which, of the Greek era, was found at a depth of 5 m.

Columns with Corinthian capitals and sections of finished marble revetment, discovered on the nearby hillside at Stani, belong probably to the Temple of Minerva or to the Capitolium. In the necropolis east of the hills that stand above the city have been found a stele of Lepidia Salvia, a sarcophagus with a scene of the Calydonian Boar hunt (now at Istanbul), and numerous Roman tombs.[7]

Classical sources not mentioned in the text: Strabo 5.283; 6.316,323,327; Ptolemy 3.12; Dio Cassius. 41.49; Pomponius Mela 2.56; Pliny Natural History 3.145; 4.36; 6.217; 14.30; 19.144; 32.18. CIL refers to the series of published inscriptions Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.

See also


  1. ^ Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992, ISBN 0-631-19807-5, page 96, "From Bouthoe to Epidamnus, a Greek city, the ..."
  2. ^ Strabo Geography vi.316
  3. ^ Mogens Herman Hansen, An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis: An Investigation Conducted by The Copenhagen Polis Centre for the Danish National Research Foundationy ,2005,page 330: "Epidamnos was founded in either 627 or 625 (Hieron. Chron.)"
  4. ^ Rhodes, P.J. A History of the Classical Greek World 478-323 BC. 2nd edition. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, p. 88.
  5. ^ James Augustus St. John, The History of the Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece, 1842 Volume 3, page 275 (reprint 2003, ISBN 1-4021-5441-0)
  6. ^ Synopsis Chronike, published by K. Sathas, Paris, 1894, p. 344 (pdf 594), line 31, and pdf pages 617, 684
  7. ^ P.C. Sestieri, The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites. Stillwell, Richard. MacDonald, William L. McAlister, Marian Holland. Princeton, N.J. Princeton University Press. 1976.

External links

  • Perseus site: several sources, including William Smith, ed., Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854)

Coordinates: 41°19′00″N 19°27′00″E / 41.3167°N 19.4500°E

Amphitheatre of Durrës

The Amphitheatre of Durrës (Albanian: Amfiteatri i Durrësit; Latin: Amphitheatrum Dyrrhachium) is an amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Durrës, Albania. Construction began under the emperor Trajan in the 2nd century AD and it was destroyed twice by earthquakes in the 6th and 10th centuries. It is the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Balkan Peninsula with once having a capacity of 20,000 people.The amphitheatre is included on the tentative list of Albania for inscribing it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was discovered in late 1966 and has become a popular tourist attraction.

Battle of Paxos

The Battle of Paxos was a naval battle between a coalition of Illyrian tribes with their Acarnanian allies, against the allies of Corcyra (modern Corfu), the Achaean League and Aetolian League. The battle took place in the spring of 229 BC and was a direct consequence to the siege of Corcyra by the forces of queen Teuta.

Polybius describes a cunning maritime stratagem mastered by the Illyrian fleet. The Illyrians took four triremes and sank a quinquereme, while the rest of the Greeks managed to escape. This resulted in the Illyrian forces establishing a garrison in Corcyra, under one of the queen’s commanders.


Bryges or Briges (Greek: Βρύγοι or Βρίγες) is the historical name given to a people of the ancient Balkans. They are generally considered to have been related to the Phrygians, who during classical antiquity lived in western Anatolia. Both names, Bryges and Phrygians, are assumed to be variants of the same root. Based on archaeological evidence, some scholars such as Nicholas Hammond and Eugene N. Borza argue that the Bryges/Phrygians were members of the Lusatian culture that migrated into the southern Balkans during the Late Bronze Age.

Bulgarians in Albania

Ethnic Bulgarians in present-day Albania live mostly in the areas of Mala Prespa, Golo Brdo and Gora. According to the Bulgarian State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, 40,000 to 50,000 persons of Bulgarian origin are living in Albania, but other sources have estimated Albania's Bulgarians to number as many as 100,000. Most speakers of Slavic languages in Albania converted to Islam during the period of Ottoman rule in the Balkans. Ethnic identity can be fluid among the Albania's Slavophonic population, who might identify as Albanian, Bulgarian or Macedonian, depending on the circumstances. Between 2001 and 2016, around 4,470 Albanian nationals applied for a Bulgarian citizenship and over 2,600 of them were granted one. The Bulgarian minority was finally recognized by the Albanian government in October 2017.

Doric Greek

Doric, or Dorian, was an Ancient Greek dialect. Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern Peloponnese as well as in Sicily, Epirus, Southern Italy, Crete, Rhodes, some islands in the southern Aegean Sea and some cities on the south east coast of Anatolia. Together with Northwest Greek, it forms the "Western group" of classical Greek dialects. By Hellenistic times, under the Achaean League, an Achaean-Doric koiné language appeared, exhibiting many peculiarities common to all Doric dialects, which delayed the spread of the Attic-based Koine Greek to the Peloponnese until the 2nd century BC.It is widely accepted that Doric originated in the mountains of Epirus in northwestern Greece, the original seat of the Dorians. It was expanded to all other regions during the Dorian invasion (c. 1150 BC) and the colonisations that followed. The presence of a Doric state (Doris) in central Greece, north of the Gulf of Corinth, led to the theory that Doric had originated in northwest Greece or maybe beyond in the Balkans. The dialect's distribution towards the north extends to the Megarian colony of Byzantium and the Corinthian colonies of Potidaea, Epidamnos, Apollonia and Ambracia; there, it further added words to what would become the Albanian language, probably via traders from a now-extinct Illyrian intermediary. Local epigraphical evidence is restricted to the decrees of the Epirote League and the Pella curse tablet (both in the early 4th century BC) as well to the Doric eponym Machatas, first attested in Macedonia (early 5th century BC).


Durrës (Albanian pronunciation: [ˈdu:rəs]; Italian: Durazzo, Italian pronunciation: [duˈrattso]), historically known as Epidamnos and Dyrrachium, is the second most populous city of the Republic of Albania. The city is the capital of the surrounding Durrës County, one of 12 constituent counties of the country. By air, it is 165 kilometres (103 miles) northwest of Sarandë, 31 kilometres (19 miles) west of Tirana, 83 kilometres (52 miles) south of Shkodër and 579 kilometres (360 miles) east of Rome. Located on the Adriatic Sea, it is the country's most ancient and economic and historic center.

Founded by Greek colonists from Corinth and Corfu under the name of Epidamnos (Greek: Επίδαμνος) around the 7th century BC, the city essentially developed to become significant as it became an integral part of the Roman Empire and its successor the Byzantine Empire. The Via Egnatia, the continuation of the Via Appia, started in the city and led across the interior of the Balkan Peninsula to Constantinople in the east. In the Middle Ages, it was contested between Bulgarian, Venetian and Ottoman dominions.

Following the Albanian Declaration of Independence, the city served as the capital of the Principality of Albania for a short period of time. Subsequently, it was annexed by the Kingdom of Italy and Nazi Germany in the interwar period. Moreover, the city experienced a strong expansion in its demography and economic activity during the Communism in Albania.

Durrës is served by the Port of Durrës, one of the largest on the Adriatic Sea, which connects the city to Italy and other neighbouring countries. Its most considerable attraction is the Amphitheatre of Durrës that is included on the tentative list of Albania for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once having a capacity for 20,000 people, it is the largest amphitheatre in the Balkan Peninsula.


Gentius (Ancient Greek: Γένθιος, "Génthios"; fl. 181–168 BC) was a king of the Ardiaei, a powerful tribe in Illyria. He ruled in 181–168 BC, being the last Ardiaei ruler.

His name appears to derive from PIE *g'en- "to beget", cognate to Latin gens, gentis "kin, clan, race". He was the son of Pleuratus III, a king who kept firm relations with Rome. Gentius' principal city was Shkodra.

In 180 BC, during his early reign, the Dalmatae and Daorsi declared themselves independent from his rule and the city of Rhizon abandoned him prior to his defeat, receiving immunity from the Romans. He married Etuta, the daughter of the Dardanian king Monunius II.In 171 BC, Gentius was allied with the Romans against the Macedonians, but in 169 BC he changed sides and allied himself with Perseus of Macedon. The southernmost city of the Ardiaei state was Lissos (now Lezhë, Albania), a situation established since the First Illyrian War. He arrested two Roman legati, accusing them of not coming as emissaries but as spies. Gentius destroyed the cities of Apollonia and Epidamnos (Roman Dyrrachium, now Durrës, Albania), which were allied with Rome. In 168 BC, he was defeated at Scodra by a Roman force under L. Anicius Gallus, in only twenty or thirty days, and in 167 brought to Rome as a captive to participate in Gallus's triumph, after which he was interned in Iguvium. The date of his death is unknown. After his defeat, the Romans split the region into three administrative divisions, called meris. The extent of the first meris is not known, while the second was Labeates, and the third was Acruvium, Rhizon, Olcinium and their environs.

Glaucias of Taulantii

Glaucias (Ancient Greek: Γλαυκίας; ruled 335 – c. 302 BC) was an Illyrian king of the Taulantii state which dominated Illyrian affairs in the second half of the 4th century BC. Glaucias is first mentioned as bringing a considerable force to the assistance of Cleitus of Dardania, another Illyrian prince, against Alexander the Great, in the battle of Pelium 335 BC. They were, however, both defeated, and Cleitus was forced to take refuge within the Taulantian territories, whither Alexander did not pursue him, his attention being called elsewhere by the news of the revolt of Thebes.

We next hear of Glaucias, nearly 20 years later, as affording an asylum to the infant Pyrrhus, when his father Aeacides was driven out of Epirus; Glaucias' wife Beroea belonged to the Molossian Aeacidae. By this measure he gave offence to Cassander, who sought to gain possession of Epirus for himself, and who in vain offered Glaucias 200 talents to give up the child.

Not long after, the Macedonian king invaded his territories, and defeated him in battle; but though Glaucias bound himself by the treaty which ensued to refrain from hostilities against the allies of Cassander, he still retained Pyrrhus at his court, and, after the death of Alcetas II of Epirus, in 307 BC, he took the opportunity to invade Epirus with an army, and establish the young prince, then 12 years old, upon the throne. The territories of Glaucias bordered upon those of Apollonia and Epidamnos, and this proximity involved him in frequent hostilities with those states. In 312 BC he gained control of Epidamnus. The date of his death is not mentioned, but it appears that he was still reigning in 302 BC, when Pyrrhus repaired to his court, to be present at the marriage of one of his sons.

Greek colonisation

The Greek colonisation was an organised colonial expansion by the Archaic Greeks into the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea in the period of the 8th–6th centuries B.C (750 and 550 B.C)

This colonisation differed from the migrations of the Greek Dark Ages in that it consisted of organised direction by the originating metropolis instead of the simple movement of tribes which characterized the earlier migrations. Many colonies (Ancient Greek: ἀποικία, romanized: apoikia, lit. 'home away from home') that were founded in this period evolved into strong city-states and became independent of their metropoleis.

Illyrian Wars

The Illyrian Wars were a set of wars fought in the period 229–168 BC between the Roman Republic and the Ardiaei kingdom. In the First Illyrian War, which lasted from 229 BC to 228 BC, Rome's concern was that the trade across the Adriatic Sea increased after the First Punic War at a time when Ardiaei power increased under queen Teuta. Attacks on trading vessels of Rome's Italic allies by Illyrian pirates and the death of a Roman envoy named Coruncanius on Teuta's orders, prompted the Roman senate to dispatch a Roman army under the command of the consuls Lucius Postumius Albinus and Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus. Rome expelled Illyrian garrisons from a number of Greek cities including Epidamnus, Apollonia, Corcyra, Pharos and established a protectorate over these Greek towns. The Romans also set up Demetrius of Pharos as a power in Illyria to counterbalance the power of Teuta.The Second Illyrian War lasted from 220 BC to 219 BC. In 219 BC, the Roman Republic was at war with the Celts of Cisalpine Gaul, and the Second Punic War with Carthage was beginning. These distractions gave Demetrius the time he needed to build a new Illyrian war fleet. Leading this fleet of 90 ships, Demetrius sailed south of Lissus, violating his earlier treaty and starting the war. Demetrius' fleet first attacked Pylos, where he captured 50 ships after several attempts. From Pylos, the fleet sailed to the Cyclades, quelling any resistance that they found on the way. Demetrius foolishly sent a fleet across the Adriatic, and, with the Illyrian forces divided, the fortified city of Dimale was captured by the Roman fleet under Lucius Aemilius Paulus. From Dimale the navy went towards Pharos. The forces of Rome routed the Illyrians and Demetrius fled to Macedon, where he became a trusted councillor at the court of Philip V of Macedon, and remained there until his death at Messene in 214 BC.In 171 BC, the Illyrian king Gentius was allied with the Romans against the Macedonians. But in 169 BC he changed sides and allied himself with Perseus of Macedon. During the Third Illyrian War, in 168 BC, he arrested two Roman legati and destroyed the cities of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium, which were allied to Rome. He was defeated at Scodra by a Roman force under L. Anicius Gallus, and in 167 BC he was brought to Rome as a captive to participate in Gallus' triumph, after which he was interned at Iguvium.

Jack L. Davis

Jack L. Davis (born August 13, 1950) is Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio and is a former Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

List of Greek place names

This is a list of Greek place names as they exist in the Greek language.

Places involved in the history of Greek culture, including:

Historic Greek regions, including:

Ancient Greece, including colonies and contacted peoples

Hellenistic world, including successor states and contacted peoples

Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire, including successor states

Ottoman Empire, including successor states

Septinsular Republic

Modern Greece and Cyprus, and also what remains of treaty Greek minorities in Turkey

Places that have or had important Greek-speaking or ethnic Greek minorities or exile communities

Places of concern to Greek culture, religion or tradition, including:

Greek mythology

Greek Jews, including Romaniotes and exiled Sephardim


Christianity until the Great Schism, and afterwards the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Rite, etc.

Greek Muslims, and those outside Greece who are Greek-speaking or ethnic Greek

Places whose official names include a Greek form.

Places whose names originate from the Greek language, even if they were never involved in Greek history or culture.Αlthough this list includes toponyms from Roman times, this list does not include later wholly Latin-derived names that have (nor had) no Greek linguistic involvement, involvement with the Greek world, nor significant Greek-speaking communities. (A notable exception may be places such as Australia, which has one of the largest modern Greek-speaking communities outside Greece and Cyprus.) However, much of the Roman Empire did have significant Greek-speaking communities, as Greek had been a popular language among the Roman elite from the beginning.

Both koine and modern forms and transliterations (including polytonic spellings) are listed if available. This list is incomplete, and some items in the list lack academic detail.

As a historical linguistics article, this list is an academic lexicon for the history of Greek place names, and is not a formal dictionary nor gazetteer and should not be relied upon as such.

Indeed, many toponyms in Modern Greek now have different names than were used in by Greek-speaking communities in the past. An example is Malta, which was called Μελίτη (Melítē) and was once home to a Greek-speaking community. However, this community is gone or assimilated, and the common Modern Greek name is Μάλτα (Málta, from Maltese).

However, in other cases, Modern Greek has retained archaic names (sometimes with grammatical modifications).

Distinctly Greek names are also largely retained for places without significant modern Greek populations that had a larger Greek-speaking presence until relatively recent times in history, including many areas in what are now Turkey, Egypt, Russia and Ukraine.

List of ancient Greek cities

This is a small list of ancient Greek cities, including colonies outside Greece proper. Note that there were a great many Greek cities in the ancient world. In this list, a city is defined as a single population center. These were often referred to as poleis in the ancient world, although the list is not limited to "proper" poleis. Also excluded from the list are larger units, such as kingdoms or empires.

A city is defined as ancient Greek if at any time its population or the dominant stratum within it spoke Greek. Many were soon assimilated to some other language. By analogy some cities are included that never spoke Greek and were not Hellenic per se but contributed to Hellenic culture later found in the region.

List of rulers in Illyria

This is a list of rulers in Illyria, a region of the classical antiquity in what is today the Western Balkans. The region was inhabited by loosely related tribes that often were part of larger tribal conglomerations like the Dalmatae. In the late 5th and the early 4th century BC, the first polities of the area would be created as exemplified by Bardylis's Dardanian kingdom. In the course of the 4th century parts of the southernmost and easternmost regions of Illyria fell under the Kingdom of Macedon. The most powerful state of the area, the Ardiaean kingdom, emerged in the 3rd century BC during the rule of Agron and Teuta. It was defeated and conquered by the Roman Republic, which maintained a system of direct rule and client states before the final incorporation of the area to the Roman state after the Third Illyrian War.

Lucius Postumius Albinus (consul 234 BC)

Lucius Postumius Albinus (died 216 BC) was a Roman politician and general of the 3rd century BC who was elected consul three times. Most of our knowledge about his career and his demise comes from Livy's Ab Urbe Condita.

Mytilus (Dardania)

Mytilus (Ancient Greek: Μύτιλος; ruled c. 270 – 231 BC) was an Illyrian king who was based in Epidamnos (Durrës). It is possible that Mytilus was the successor of Monunius I, as king of the Dardani, and not a king of Dyrrachium.

Port of Durrës

The Port of Durrës (Albanian: Porti i Durrësit) is the largest seaport of Albania. The port is situated in the city of Durrës. It is an artificial basin that is formed between two moles, with a west-northwesterly oriented entrance approximately 183 metres (600 ft) wide as it passes between the ends of the moles. The Port is located at the north end of the Bay of Durrës, an extensive body of water between Kalaja e Turrës and Cape Durrës. Cape Durrës is located approximately 1.6 kilometres (0.99 mi) west of the Port of Durrës.As of 2014, the port ranks as the largest passenger port in Albania and one of the largest passenger port in the Adriatic Sea, with annual passenger volume of approximately 1.5 million.

The Port of Durrës has approximately 763 metres (2,503 ft) of alongside pier space on the West Mole and a fishing harbor lies at the north end of the East Mole. Several wrecks are located near the entrance channel to the Port of Durrës. The use of tugboats is compulsory in the Port of Durrës. As of 2011, the port is undergoing major renovation and expansion.

Sharon Stocker

Sharon (Shari) Stocker is an American archaeologist who is best known, along with her husband, archaeologist Jack L. Davis, for leading an international team of researchers who discovered a previously undisturbed tomb of a Bronze Age warrior in southwest Greece. The 3500 year old intact grave was named the Griffin Warrior Tomb by the research team during the initial excavation in May 2015.Stocker is currently a senior research associate and the director of publications for the University of Cincinnati's excavations at the Palace of Nestor in Greece. She was a co-director of archaeological surveys in the ancient cities of Epidamnos and Apollonia, Albania. Her professional expertise "lies in the analysis of ceramics of the Middle Bronze Age and Early Greek colonization in the Western Mediterranean."

Via Egnatia

The Via Egnatia (Greek: Ἐγνατία Ὁδός Egnatía Hodós) was a road constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. It crossed Illyricum, Macedonia, and Thrace, running through territory that is now part of modern Albania, North Macedonia, Greece, and European Turkey as a continuation of Via Appia.

Starting at Dyrrachium (now Durrës) on the Adriatic Sea, the road followed a difficult route along the river Genusus (Shkumbin), over the Candaviae (Jablanica) mountains and thence to the highlands around Lake Ohrid. It then turned south, following several high mountain passes to reach the northern coastline of the Aegean Sea at Thessalonica. From there it ran through Thrace to the city of Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul). It covered a total distance of about 1,120 km (696 miles/746 Roman miles). Like other major Roman roads, it was about six metres (19.6 ft) wide, paved with large polygonal stone slabs or covered with a hard layer of sand.

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