The tribes were molded into a state under the hegemony of one of them (the Molossi), whose chiefs became the paramount rulers in the 4th cent. B.C. A Molossian ruler, Neoptolemus, married his daughter to Philip II of Macedon, who placed Neoptolemus' son Alexander on the throne of Molossia (most of Epirus). Alexander died on an invasion of Italy, but the kingdom persisted and grew. It reached its height in the 3d cent. B.C. under Pyrrhus, who achieved great renown. However, Pyrrhus' exploits and the unsuccessful attempts of his successor, Alexander II (d. 240 B.C.), to take Macedon ruined the state.
A republic was set up with its capital at Phoenice. The Epirotes sided with Macedon in the wars against Rome, and Epirus was sacked (167) by Aemilius Paullus, who took away many thousands of captives. The country passed under Roman dominion. Octavian (later Augustus) built (31 B.C.) a new capital at Nicopolis.
Epirus was a more-or-less-neglected portion of the Byzantine Empire. After the Crusaders had conquered Constantinople, the despotate of Epirus, larger than ancient Epirus, was set up. At the end of the 18th cent. Ali Pasha, the pasha of Yannina (see Ioánnina), set up an independent state in Epirus and Albania.
See study by N. G. L. Hammond (1967) of the geography and ancient remains of the area.
See study by D. M. Nicol (1957).
Ancient country, northwestern Greece. It was bounded by Illyria, Macedonia, Thessaly, Aetolia, Acarnania, and the Ionian Sea. In the Neolithic Period Epirus was populated by peoples from the southwestern Balkans, who brought with them the Greek language and who may have been among the founders of Mycenae. Epirus was the launching area of the Dorian invasions (1100–1000 BC) into Greece. A princess from Epirus was married to Philip II of Macedon; their son was Alexander the Great. The area became a Roman province in the 2nd century BC, and later it was part of the Byzantine Empire. An independent state in 1204 AD, Epirus was taken in 1430 by the Ottoman Turks. Greece gained the southern part of the region by 1919; the northern part is now in southern Albania.
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