Pyrrhus of Epirus

Pyrrhus Ι (/ˈpɪrəs/; Ancient Greek: Πύρρος, Pyrrhos; 319/318–272 BC) was a Greek general and statesman of the Hellenistic period.[1][2][3][4] He was king of the Greek tribe of Molossians,[3][5] of the royal Aeacid house (from c. 297 BC),[6] and later he became king of Epirus (r. 306–302, 297–272 BC). He was one of the strongest opponents of early Rome. Several of his victorious battles caused him unacceptably heavy losses, from which the term Pyrrhic victory was coined. He is the subject of one of Plutarch's Parallel Lives.

Pyrrhus MAN Napoli Inv6150 n03
King of Epirus
Reign297–272 BC
PredecessorNeoptolemus II
SuccessorAlexander II
Reign306–302 BC
PredecessorAlcetas II
SuccessorNeoptolemus II
King of Macedonia
Reign274–272 BC
PredecessorAntigonus II
SuccessorAntigonus II
Reign288–285 BC
PredecessorDemetrius I
SuccessorAntigonus II
Tyrant of Syracuse
Reign278–276 BC
PredecessorThinion & Sosistratus
SuccessorHiero II
Bornc. 319 BC
Epirus, Ancient Greece
Died272 BC (aged about 46)
Argos, Peloponnese, Ancient Greece
ReligionGreek Paganism

Early life

Pyrrhus was the son of Aeacides and Phthia, a Thessalian woman, and a second cousin of Alexander the Great (via Alexander's mother, Olympias). He had two sisters: Deidamia and Troias. In 317 BC, when Pyrrhus was only two, his father was dethroned (for supporting Olympias against Cassander). Pyrrhus' family took refuge with Glaukias of the Taulantians, one of the largest Illyrian tribes.[4] Pyrrhus was raised by Beroea, Glaukias's wife and a Molossian of the Aeacidae dynasty.[2][7]

Glaukias restored Pyrrhus to the throne in 306 BC until the latter was banished again, four years later, by his enemy, Cassander. Thus, he went on to serve as an officer, in the wars of the Diadochi, under his brother-in-law Demetrius Poliorcetes who had married Deidamia. In 298 BC, Pyrrhus was taken hostage to Alexandria, under the terms of a peace treaty made between Demetrius and Ptolemy I Soter. There, he married Ptolemy I's stepdaughter Antigone (a daughter of Berenice I of Egypt from her first husband Philip—respectively, Ptolemy I's wife and a Macedonian noble) and restored his kingdom in Epirus in 297 BC with financial and military aid from Ptolemy I. Pyrrhus had his co-ruler Neoptolemus II of Epirus murdered. In 295 BC, Pyrrhus transferred the capital of his kingdom to Ambrakia (modern Arta). Next, he went to war against his former ally and brother-in-law Demetrius and in 292 BC he invaded Thessaly while Demetrius was besieging Thebes but was repulsed. In 288 BC, Pyrrhus and Lysimachus shared rulership over the kingdom of Macedon until 284 BC when Lysimachus drove Pyrrhus out of the region back into Epirus.[8]

Struggle with Rome

Pyrrhic War Italy en
Routes taken against Rome in the Pyrrhic War (280–275 BC).
Map of ancient Epirus and environs (English)
Tribes of Epirus in antiquity.

The Greek city of Tarentum, in southern Italy, fell out with Rome due to a violation of an old treaty that specified Rome was not to send warships into the Tarentine Gulf.[9] In 282 BC, the Romans installed garrisons in the Greek cities of Thurii (on the western end of the Tarentine Gulf), Locri, and Rhegium, and sent warships to Thurii. Although this was designed as a measure against the Italian peoples of Lucania, the Tarentines grew nervous and attacked the Romans in Thurii, driving the Roman garrison from the city and sinking several Roman warships. Tarentum was now faced with a Roman attack and certain defeat, unless they could enlist the aid of greater powers. Rome had already made itself into a major power, and was poised to subdue all the Greek cities in Magna Graecia. The Tarentines asked Pyrrhus to lead their war against the Romans.[4][10] Pyrrhus was encouraged to aid the Tarentines by the Oracle of Delphi. He recognized the possibility of carving out an empire for himself in Italy. He made an alliance with Ptolemy Keraunos, King of Macedon and his most powerful neighbor, and arrived in Italy in 280 BCE.

Pyrrhus entered Italy with an army consisting of 20,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry, 2,000 archers, 500 slingers, and 20 war elephants in a bid to subdue the Romans.[4] The elephants had been loaned to him by Ptolemy II, who had also promised 9,000 soldiers and a further 50 elephants to defend Epirus while Pyrrhus and his army were away.

Due to his superior cavalry, his elephants and his deadly phalanx infantry, he defeated the Romans, led by Consul Publius Valerius Laevinus, in the Battle of Heraclea in 280 BC,[11] in the Roman province of Lucania. There are conflicting sources about casualties. Hieronymus of Cardia reports the Romans lost about 7,000 while Pyrrhus lost 3,000 soldiers, including many of his best; Dionysius gives a bloodier view of 15,000 Roman dead and 13,000 Epirot.[12] Several tribes, including the Lucanians, Bruttii, Messapians, and the Greek cities of Croton and Locri, joined Pyrrhus. He then offered the Romans a peace treaty which was eventually rejected. Pyrrhus spent the winter in Campania.[4]

Pyrrhus and his Elephants
Pyrrhus and his elephants.

When Pyrrhus invaded Apulia (279 BC), the two armies met in the Battle of Asculum, where Pyrrhus won a costly victory.[10] The consul Publius Decius Mus was the Roman commander, and while his able force was ultimately defeated, they managed to almost break the back of Pyrrhus' Epirot army, which guaranteed the security of the city itself. In the end, the Romans had lost 6,000 men and Pyrrhus 3,500 including many officers.[4] Pyrrhus later famously commented on his victory at Asculum, stating, "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined".[13] It is from reports of this semi-legendary event that the term Pyrrhic victory originates.

Ruler of Sicily

Coin of Pyrrhus minted at Syracuse, 278 BC. Obverse: Veiled head of Phtia with oak wreath, "of Phtia". Reverse: Thunderbolt, "of King Pyrrhus".

In 278 BC, Pyrrhus received two offers simultaneously. The Greek cities in Sicily asked him to come and drive out Carthage, which along with Rome was one of the two great powers of the Western Mediterranean. At the same time, the Macedonians, whose King Ptolemy Keraunos had been killed by invading Gauls, asked Pyrrhus to ascend the throne of Macedon. Pyrrhus decided that Sicily offered him a greater opportunity, and transferred his army there.[4]

Soon after landing in Sicily, he lifted the Carthaginian siege of Syracuse in the same year. Pyrrhus was proclaimed king of Sicily. He was already making plans for his son Helenus to inherit the kingdom of Sicily and his other son Alexander to be given Italy. In 277 BC, Pyrrhus captured Eryx, the strongest Carthaginian fortress in Sicily. This prompted the rest of the Carthaginian-controlled cities to defect to Pyrrhus.

Pyrrhos KING of EPEIROS 297 272 BC
Pyrrhos, King of Epeiros, 297-72 BC.

In 276 BC, Pyrrhus negotiated with the Carthaginians. Although they were inclined to come to terms with Pyrrhus, supply him money and send him ships once friendly relations were established, he demanded that Carthage abandon all of Sicily and make the Libyan Sea a boundary between themselves and the Greeks. The Greek cities of Sicily opposed making peace with Carthage because the Carthaginians still controlled the powerful fortress of Lilybaeum, on the western end of the island. Pyrrhus eventually gave in to their proposals and broke off the peace negotiations. Pyrrhus' army then began besieging Lilybaeum. For two months he launched unsuccessful assaults on the city, until finally he realized he could not mount an effective siege without blockading it from the sea as well. Pyrrhus then requested manpower and money from the Sicilians in order to construct a powerful fleet. When the Sicilians became unhappy about these contributions he had to resort to compulsory contributions and force to keep them in line. These measures culminated in him proclaiming a military dictatorship of Sicily and installing military garrisons in Sicilian cities.[14]

These actions were deeply unpopular and soon Sicilian opinion became inflamed against him. Pyrrhus had so alienated the Sicilian Greeks that they were willing to make common cause with the Carthaginians. The Carthaginians took heart from this and sent another army against him. This army was promptly defeated. In spite of this victory, Sicily continued to grow increasingly hostile to Pyrrhus, who began to consider abandoning Sicily. At this point, Samnite and Tarentine envoys reached Pyrrhus and informed him that of all the Greek cities in Italy, only Tarentum had not been conquered by Rome. Pyrrhus made his decision and departed from Sicily. As his ship left the island, he turned and, foreshadowing the Punic Wars, said to his companions: "What a wrestling ground we are leaving, my friends, for the Carthaginians and the Romans."[15][16] While his army was being transported by ship to mainland Italy, Pyrrhus' navy was destroyed by the Carthaginians at the Battle of the Strait of Messina, with 98 warships sunk or disabled out of 110.

Retreat from Italy

While Pyrrhus had been campaigning against the Carthaginians, the Romans had rebuilt their army by calling up thousands of fresh recruits. When Pyrrhus returned from Sicily, he found himself vastly outnumbered against a superior Roman army under Manius Curius Dentatus. After the inconclusive Battle of Beneventum in 275 BC, Pyrrhus decided to end his campaign in Italy and return to Epirus which resulted in the loss of essentially all the gains he had made in Italy. The city of Tarentum remained under the dominion of the Epirotes.

Last wars and death

Though his western campaign had taken a heavy toll on his army as well as his treasury, Pyrrhus went to war yet again. Attacking King Antigonus II Gonatas (r. 277–239 BC), he won an easy victory at the Battle of the Aous and seized the Macedonian throne.

In 272 BC, Cleonymus, a Spartan of royal blood who was hated among fellow Spartans, asked Pyrrhus to attack Sparta and place him in power. Pyrrhus agreed to the plan, intending to win control of the Peloponnese for himself, but unexpectedly strong resistance thwarted his assault on Sparta. On the retreat he lost his firstborn son Ptolemy, who had been in command of the rearguard.

Pyrrhus Kingdom of Epirus
Coin of Pyrrhus, Kingdom of Epirus (inscription in Greek: "(of) King Pyrrhus").

Pyrrhus had little time to mourn, as he was immediately offered an opportunity to intervene in a civic dispute in Argos. Since Antigonus Gonatas was approaching too, he hastened to enter the city with his army by stealth, only to find the place crowded with hostile troops. During the confused battle in the narrow city streets, Pyrrhus was trapped. While he was fighting an Argive soldier, the soldier's old mother, who was watching from a rooftop, threw a tile which knocked him from his horse and broke part of his spine, paralyzing him. Whether he was alive or not after the blow is unknown, but his death was assured when a Macedonian soldier named Zopyrus, though frightened by the look on the face of the unconscious king, hesitantly and ineptly beheaded his motionless body.

Antigonus had him cremated with all honours and sent his surviving son Helenus back to Epirus. That same year, upon hearing the news of Pyrrhus's death, the Tarentinians surrendered to Rome.


20140415 ioannina524
A statue of Pyrrhus in Ioannina, Greece.

While he was a mercurial and often restless leader, and not always a wise king, he was considered one of the greatest military commanders of his time. In his Life of Pyrrhus, Plutarch records that Hannibal ranked him as the greatest commander the world had ever seen,[2] though in the life of Titus Quinctius Flamininus, Plutarch writes that Hannibal placed him second after Alexander the Great. This latter account is also given by Appian.[17]

Pyrrhus was known for his benevolence. As a general, Pyrrhus's greatest political weaknesses were his failures to maintain focus and to maintain a strong treasury at home (many of his soldiers were costly mercenaries). His name is famous for the term "Pyrrhic victory" which refers to an exchange at the Battle of Asculum. In response to congratulations for winning a costly victory over the Romans, he is reported to have said: "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined".[13]

Pyrrhus and his campaign in Italy was effectively the only chance for Greece to check the advance of Rome towards domination of the Mediterranean world. Rather than banding together, the various Hellenistic powers continued to quarrel among themselves, sapping the financial and military strength of Greece and to a lesser extent, Macedon and the greater Hellenistic world. By 197 BC, Macedonia and many southern Greek city-states became Roman client states; in 188 BC, the Seleucid Empire was forced to cede most of Asia Minor to Rome's ally Pergamon (Pergamum). Rome inherited that state, and most of Asia Minor in 133 BC. Total Roman domination over Greece proper was marked by the destruction of Corinth in 146 BC; Greece then formed an integral part of the Roman world leading into the Byzantine period.

Pyrrhus wrote memoirs and several books on the art of war. These have since been lost, although, according to Plutarch, Hannibal was influenced by them,[2] and they received praise from Cicero.[18]

Pyrrhus was married five times: his first wife Antigone bore him a daughter called Olympias and a son named Ptolemy in honour of her stepfather. She died in 295 BC, possibly in childbirth, since that was the same year her son was born.[19] His second wife was Lanassa, daughter of King Agathocles of Syracuse (r. 317–289 BC), whom he married in about 295 BC; the couple had two sons, Alexander[19] and Helenus; Lanassa left Pyrrhus. His third wife was the daughter of Audoleon, King of Paeonia; his fourth wife was the Illyrian princess Bircenna, who was the daughter of King Bardylis II (r. c. 295–290 BC); and his fifth wife was the daughter of Ptolemy Keraunos, whom he married in 281/280 BC. Portraits of Pyrrhus as have come down to us do not necessarily reflect his likeness.[20]



  1. ^ Hackens 1992, p. 239; Grant 2010, p. 17; Anglin & Hamblin 1993, p. 121; Richard 2003, p. 139; Sekunda, Northwood & Hook 1995, p. 6; Daly 2003, p. 4; Greene 2008, p. 98; Kishlansky, Geary & O'Brien 2005, p. 113; Saylor 2007, p. 332.
  2. ^ a b c d Plutarch. Parallel Lives, "Pyrrhus".
  3. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica ("Epirus") 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Encyclopædia Britannica ("Pyrrhus") 2013.
  5. ^ Borza 1992, p. 62.
  6. ^ Jones 1999, p. 45; Chamoux 2003, p. 62; American Numismatic Society 1960, p. 196.
  7. ^ Wilkes 1992, p. 124.
  8. ^ Greenwalt 2010, p. 298: "From 288 until 284, Pyrrhus and Lysimachus shared the rule of Macedonia until the latter drove the former back to Epirus (Plut., Pyrrhus 7–12)."
  9. ^ Hackens 1992, pp. 20-21: "When, however, a Roman fleet sailed into the Tarentine Gulf (perhaps in order to place a garrison in Thurii) and thereby violated the terms of a treaty probably made at the time of Cleomynus, Tarentum responded swiftly … "
  10. ^ a b "Pyrrhus". Encarta. Microsoft Corporation. 2008.
  11. ^ "History of Liberty: The Ancient Romans" (1853), p. 6.
  12. ^ Plutarch, Parallel Lives: Pyrrhus, 17.4.
  13. ^ a b Plutarch, Parallel Lives: Pyrrhus, 21.9.
  14. ^ Garouphalias 1979, pp. 97–108.
  15. ^ Garouphalias 1979, pp. 109–112.
  16. ^ Plutarch. Parallel Lives: Pyrrhus, 23.6.
  17. ^ Appian. History of the Syrian Wars, §10 and §11.
  18. ^ Tinsley 2006, p. 211.
  19. ^ a b Bennett 2010.
  20. ^ Winkes 1995, pp. 175–188.


Further reading

External links

Preceded by
Alcetas II
King of Epirus
307–302 BC
Succeeded by
Neoptolemus II
Preceded by
Neoptolemus II
King of Epirus
297–272 BC
Succeeded by
Alexander II
Preceded by
Demetrius I Poliorcetes
King of Macedon
288–285 BC
With: Lysimachus
Succeeded by
Antigonus II Gonatas
Preceded by
Antigonus II Gonatas
King of Macedon
274–272 BC
Acrotatus II

Acrotatus (Greek: Ἀκρότατος; died 262 BC) was an Agiad King of Sparta from 265 to 262 BC. He was the son of Areus I, and grandson of Acrotatus I.

He had unlawful intercourse with Chilonis, the young wife of Cleonymus, uncle of his father Areus. It was this, together with the disappointment of not obtaining the throne, which led Cleonymus to invite Pyrrhus to Sparta in 272. Areus was then absent in Crete, and the safety of Sparta was mainly owing to the valor of Acrotatus who successfully held off the Siege of Sparta. He succeeded his father in 265, but was killed shortly thereafter (possibly in the same year) in battle against Aristodemus the Good, the tyrant of Megalopolis. Pausanias, in speaking of his death, calls him the son of Cleonymus, but he has mistaken him for his grandfather, mentioned above. Areus and Acrotatus are accused by Phylarchus of having corrupted the simplicity of Spartan manners. He was succeeded by his son Areus II.

Aeacides of Epirus

Aeacides may also refer to Peleus, son of Aeacus, or Achilles, grandson of Aeacus.

Aeacides (Greek: Aἰακίδης; died 313 BC), king of Epirus (331–316, 313), was a son of king Arybbas and grandson of king Alcetas I.

Alexander II of Epirus

Alexander II was a king of Epirus, and the son of Pyrrhus and Lanassa, the daughter of the Sicilian tyrant Agathocles.


Ambracia (; Greek: Ἀμβρακία, occasionally Ἀμπρακία, Ampracia), was a city of ancient Greece on the site of modern Arta. It was captured by the Corinthians in 625 BC and was situated about 11 km (7 mi) from the Ambracian Gulf, on a bend of the navigable river Arachthos (or Aratthus), in the midst of a fertile wooded plain.

Antigone of Epirus

Antigone (Greek: Ἀντιγόνη, born before 317 BC-295 BC) was a Greek Macedonian noblewoman. Through her mother's second marriage she was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty and through her marriage to Pyrrhus she was queen of Epirus.

Antigone was the daughter and the second child of Berenice, a noblewoman from Eordeaea, and her first husband Philip. She had an elder brother called Magas and a younger sister called Theoxena.Antigone's father, Philip was the son of Amyntas by an unnamed mother. Based on Plutarch (Pyrrhus 4.4), her father was previously married and had children, including daughters. He served as a military officer in the service of the Macedonian King Alexander the Great and commanded one of the Phalanx divisions in Alexander's wars.Berenice's mother was the niece of the powerful regent Antipater and was related to members of the Argead dynasty.About 318 BC, Antigone's father died of natural causes. After Philip's death, Antigone's mother took her and her siblings to Egypt where they were a part of the entourage of her mother's cousin Eurydice. Eurydice was then the wife of Ptolemy I Soter, the first ruler and founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

By 317 BC, Ptolemy I had fallen in love with Berenice and divorced Eurydice to marry her. Through her mother's marriage to Ptolemy I, Antigone was a stepdaughter to Ptolemy I and lived in her stepfather's court. Her mother bore Ptolemy I three children: two daughters, Arsinoe II, Philotera and the future Pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus.In 300 BC or 299 BC, Pyrrhus of Epirus was sent as a hostage to Egypt by Demetrius I of Macedon as part of a short-lived rapprochement between Demetrius I and Ptolemy I. In 299 BC/298 BC, Ptolemy I arranged for Pyrrhus to marry Antigone.Pyrrhus obtained a fleet of ships and funding from Ptolemy I and set sail with Antigone for his kingdom in Epirus. Pyrrhus came into an agreement with his relative Neoptolemus II of Epirus, who had usurped the kingdom, to jointly rule Epirus.Antigone bore Pyrrhus two children: a daughter called Olympias and a son called Ptolemy. Antigone possibly died in childbirth, as she seems to have died the same year as her son was born.As a posthumous honour to his first wife, Pyrrhus founded a colony called Antigonia, which he named after her.

Antigonia (Chaonia)

Antigonea (Ancient Greek: Ἀντιγόνεια or Ἀνριγονία), also transliterated as Antigonia and Antigoneia, was an ancient Greek city in Chaonia, Epirus, and the chief inland city of the ancient Chaonians. It was founded in the 3rd century BC by Pyrrhus of Epirus, who named it after one of his wives, Antigone, daughter of Berenice I and step-daughter of Ptolemy I of Egypt.

"The straits near Antigoneia" were mentioned in 230 BC, when a force of Illyrians under Scerdilaidas passed the city to join an invading army further south. In 198 BC, during the Second Macedonian War, the Romans marched against the Macedonian armies of Philip V. His general, Athenagoras, was able to occupy one of the nearby passes, leading to the Romans being held back. Initially the Romans were going to negotiate peace, however, several treasonous sheperds led the Romans to be able to surround and destroy the Macedonian army of 2000 men.The inhabitants of Antigoneia had sided with the Macedonians and so when the Romans were victorious over the Macedonians in 167BC. Thus, the Romans decided to punish those who had fought against them. Consul Aemilius Paullus ordered for 70 towns in Epirus to be lit on fire. This included Antigoneia, which was never rebuilt. Antigonia is mentioned by the ancient authors Polybius, Livy,, Pliny the Elder, and Ptolemy.A newly discovered church, on the floor of which there is a mosaic of Saint Christopher and a Greek emblem, testifying to the city’s existence in the palaeo-Christian period. However it seemed to be the last building constructed in ancient Antigonea, the church was destroyed during Slav assaults in the 6th century AD.Finds such as a bronze sphinx and a statue of Poseidon, which are exhibited in Tirana. There has also been evidence of pottery found across the hill in which the city was built, attesting to the size of the city at its peak.

Its ruins are located just south of the village of Saraqinisht in the Antigonë municipal unit, Gjirokastër County, Albania. Now that area has been declared a National Archaeological Park by the Albanian Government. The ruins are accessible from Gjirokastër by car or by nature trail. The Archaeological Park is also known for having organized since 2007 a yearly Festival of the Pagan Rites and the Popular Games (Albanian: Festivali i Riteve Pagane dhe Lojrave Popullore). Recently, the village has hosted an annual culinary exhibition showcasing the best of local organic production and traditional specialties.

The ancient town was identified and excavated by the Albanian archaeologist Dhimosten Budina. More recently an Albanian-Greek team of archaeologists has been working on the site.

Areus I

Areus I (Greek: Ἀρεύς Α΄) (died 265 BC) was Agiad King of Sparta from 309 to 265 BC, who died in battle near Corinth during the Chremonidean War. He was the grandson of Cleomenes II and was succeeded by his son Acrotatus II.


Audoleon (Greek: Αὐδολέων or Αὐδωλέων; gen.: Αὐδολέοντος/Αὐδωλέωντος; 315–285 BC) was an ancient Paeonian king son of Patraus or Agis. He was the father of Ariston, and of a daughter who married Pyrrhus of Epirus. In a war with the Illyrian tribe Autariatae he was reduced to great straits, but was succoured by Cassander.

Berenice (Epirus)

Berenice or Berenike (Ancient Greek: Βερενίκη) was a Greek city in the region of ancient Epirus, near current Preveza. It was founded by Pyrrhus II of Epirus (r. 255-238 ВСE).

Beroea of Epirus

Beroea of Epirus (Ancient Greek Βέροια) was an ancient Greek princess of the tribe of the Molossians, that was married to the Illyrian king Glaukias. She raised Pyrrhus of Epirus.


Bircenna (Ancient Greek: Βιρκέννα; ruled c. 292 – 272 BC) was an Illyrian princess and later an Epirote queen.

Bircenna was the daughter of Bardylis II of the Dardanian Kingdom. Bircenna was one of the five wives of Pyrrhus of Epirus; she married him around 292 BC. Pyrrhus married Bircenna for diplomatic reasons and to increase his power in southern Illyria as he was an ally of Bircenna's father. Bircenna had a son named Helenus, who at an early age accompanied his father in his ambitious campaigns conducted in the Italian peninsula. Lanassa, one of the wives of Pyrrhus, left him because she claimed that he took better care of his 'barbarian' wives.

Hiero II of Syracuse

Hiero II (Greek: Ἱέρων Β΄; c. 308 BC – 215 BC) was the Greek Sicilian Tyrant of Syracuse from 270 to 215 BC, and the illegitimate son of a Syracusan noble, Hierocles, who claimed descent from Gelon. He was a former general of Pyrrhus of Epirus and an important figure of the First Punic War.

Lanassa (wife of Pyrrhus)

Lanassa was a daughter of king Agathocles of Syracuse, Sicily, perhaps by his second wife Alcia. In 295 BC Agathocles married Lanassa to King Pyrrhus of Epirus. Agathocles himself escorted his daughter with his fleet to Epirus to her groom. Lanassa brought the island of Corcyra as dowry into the marriage. The couple had two sons: Alexander and Helenus. However, Lanassa could not accept her husband's polygamous lifestyle, and so she left Pyrrhus in 291 BC, went to Corcyra, and offered this island as dowry to Demetrius I Poliorcetes, then king of Macedonia, if he would become her new husband. The courted diadoch came to Corcyra, married Lanassa and occupied the island. After the death of Agathocles (289 BC) Pyrrhus, as former husband of Lanassa, asserted hereditary claims to Sicily. On the basis of these claims the inhabitants of Syracuse asked Pyrrhus in 279 BC for assistance against Carthage.


Pantauchus (Greek: Πάνταυχος) (late 4th century BC - 3rd century BC),(son of Nicolaus,from Aloros) was a Macedonian trierarch of Nearchus's fleet and general during the short reign of Demetrius Poliorcetes (294 - 288 BC).

He was considered to be the bravest as well as physically the strongest among Demetrius' army commanders. When Demetrius decided to invade Aetolia, king Pyrrhus of Epirus set out to meet him with his army. However, the two armies marched following different directions and did not encounter each other. As a result, Demetrius started pillaging Epirote territory. He had stationed a large proportion of his forces in Aetolia under Pantauchus' orders.

Consequently, Pyrrhus led his troops into battle against Pantauchus. The conflict was remarkable for its intensity and harsh nature, since commanders from both sides displayed great courage and dare. Pantauchus challenged king Pyrrhus himself and soon enough a hard duel began between them. Initially, they used their spears but after a while they engaged in hand to hand combat with swords. The two men were skillful fighters and Pantauchus struck the Epirote king once but Pyrrhus wounded his opponent in the thigh and along the neck. The Macedonian general was forced to flee and his companions managed to rescue him.Pyrrhus' legendary personal valor and fighting ability proved crucial for the battle's result, since the Epirotes were greatly inspired by their ruler's example and crushed the enemy phalanx. Several retreating Macedonians were killed and 5,000 were captured.

Phthia of Epirus

Phthia (in Greek Φθία; lived 4th century BC), was a Greek queen, daughter of Menon of Pharsalus, the Thessalian hipparch, and wife of Aeacides, king of Epirus, by whom she became the mother of the celebrated Pyrrhus, as well as of two daughters: Deidamia, the wife of Demetrius Poliorcetes, and Troias, of whom nothing more is known.Her portrait is found on some of the coins of her son Pyrrhus.

Another bearer of the name was her great-granddaughter, Phthia of Macedon.

Ptolemy (son of Pyrrhus)

Ptolemy (295–272 BC) was the oldest son of king Pyrrhus of Epirus and his first wife Antigone, who probably died in childbirth. He was named in honour of his mother's stepfather, king Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt, who was a benefactor to Pyrrhus in his youth.

When Pyrrhus returned from Italy in 274 BC Ptolemy captured the island of Corcyra for his father in an audacious attack with only 60 men. He also distinguished himself in a naval battle, and during the following invasion of Macedonia he dislodged king Antigonus II Gonatas from Thessalonike.In 272 BC Ptolemy accompanied his father on a military campaign in the Peloponnese, where he commanded his personal guard. During the retreat from Sparta he was attacked by a Lacedaemonian force under Eualcus and slain by the Cretan Oroissus of Aptera. His father avenged his death killing Eualcus, but fell a few days later in the streets of Argos.

Ptolemy had an older sister called Olympias and two younger half-brothers, Alexander and Helenus.

Publius Valerius Laevinus

Publius Valerius Laevinus was commander of the Roman forces at the Battle of Heraclea in 280 BC, in which he was defeated by Pyrrhus of Epirus. In his Life of Pyrrhus, Plutarch wrote that Gaius Fabricius Luscinus said of this battle that it was not the Epirots who had beaten the Romans, but only Pyrrhus who had beaten Laevinus.

Laevinus was consul, along with Tiberius Coruncanius, in 280 BC.

Tiberius Coruncanius

Tiberius Coruncanius (died 241 BC) was a consul of the Roman Republic in 280 BC. As a military commander in that year and the following, he was known for the battles against Pyrrhus of Epirus that led to the expression "Pyrrhic victory". He was the first plebeian Pontifex Maximus, and possibly the first teacher of Roman law to offer public instruction.

Timaeus (historian)

Timaeus (Ancient Greek: Τιμαῖος; c. 345 BC – c. 250 BC) was an ancient Greek historian.

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Kings of the
Cimmerian Bosporus
The works of Plutarch
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