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Megali Rachi is separated from the Mt. Tsamanta to the N by the Xanthos river, which flows to the W in Albania.

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The Rivers of Epirus

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The city of Ioannina

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It is a rocky massif, of which the 4/5 of the total belong to the Albanian territory. Its highest peak (2.495m.) is Nemerska or Politsa of Dembeli


From this village one can have access from the W to the shelters and to the ski center of the Mt. Vasilitsa.


Its sources are to the northern side of Ioannina prefecture. The river flows through the mountains Tymfi and Kasidiaris and, ca. 20km. to the W of Ioannina, it turns towards the W and, flowing through Thesprotia prefecture, empties into the Ionian Sea, into the Strait of Corfu, S of Sagiada. Its length is 115km.


It is located near Michalitsi.


Aoos ravine - Geographical position

  The Aoos ravine is part of the Vikos-Aoos National Park and it is located in the northwest of the Pindos range and in the southeast of Konitsa in the Prefecture of Ioannina.
  The ravine lies to the southeastern and western slopes of Mounts Trapezitsa-Roidovouni, which are the branches of Mount Smolikas. Its direction is from northwest to southeast.
  The Aoos river, famous for its natural beauty, flows down the ravine. The maze-like river attracts many tourists who can enjoy the sports of canoeing-kayaking, as well as the unique beauty of the landscape. Access to the ravine is possible by the single-arched stone-bridge of the Aoos river, which is built at the lower end of the town of Konitsa. Konitsa lies to the north of the Perfecture of Ioannina and it is built at the foot of Mount Trapezitsa, at the altitude of 650m. The town is accessible by the Ioannina-Kozani national road and it is 65km far from Ioannina.
This text (extract) is cited June 2003 from the Municipality of Konitsa tourist pamphlet (2nd edition 1997).

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Arachthos River

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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Acheron (Acheron), the name of several rivers, all of which were, at least at one time, believed to be connected with the lower world. The Acheron as a river of the lower world, is described in the Diet. of Biogr. and Myth.
  A river of Epeirus in Thesprotia, which passed through the lake Acherusia (Acherousia limne), and after receiving the river Cocytus (Kokutos), flowed into the Ionian sea, S. of the promontory Cheimerium. Pliny (iv. 1) erroneously states that the river flowed into the Ambraciot gulf. The bay of the sea into which it flowed was usually called Glycys Limen (Glukus limen) or Sweet-Harbour, because the water was fresh on account of the quantity poured into it from the lake and river. Scylax and Ptolemy call the harbour Elaea (Elaia), and the surrounding district bore according to Thucydides the name of Elaeatis (Elaiatis). The Acheron is the modern Gurla or river of Suli, the Cocytus is the Vuvo, and the great marsh or lake below Kastri the Acherusia. The water of the Vuvo is reported to be bad, which agrees with the account of Pausanias (i. 17. § 5) in relation to the water of the Cocytus (ndor aterpestaton). The Glycys Limen is called Port Fanari, and its water is still fresh; and in the lower part of the plain the river is commonly called the river of Fandri. The upper part of the plain is called Glyky; and thus the ancient name of the harbour has been transferred from the coast into the interior. On the Acheron Aidoneus, the king of the lower world, is said to have reigned, and to have detained here Theseus as a prisoner; and on its banks was an oracle called nekuomanteion (Herod. v. 92. § 7), which was consulted by evoking the spirits of the dead. (Thuc. i. 46; Liv. viii. 24; Strab. p. 324; Steph. B. s. v.; Paus. i. 17.> § 5; Dion Cass. l. 12; Scylax, p. 11; Ptolem. iii. 14. § 5; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. i. p. 232, seq. iv. p. 53.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Acherousia lake

Acherusia Palus (Acherousia limne), the name of several lakes, which, like the various rivers of the name of Acheron, were at some time believed to be connected with the lower world, until at last the Acherusia came to be considered in the lower world itself. The most important of these was the lake in Thesprotia, through which the Acheron flowed. There was a small lake of this name near Hermione in Argolis. (Paus. ii. 35. § 10.)


AMVRAKIA (Ancient city) EPIRUS
  Amprakia, Thuc.; Ambrakia, Xen. and subsequent writers; Amprakiotes, Herod. viii. 45, Thuc. ii. 80; Ionic Amprakietes, Herod. ix. 28; Ambrakieus, Xen. Anab. i. 7. § 18, et alii; Aubrakieus, Apoll. Rhod. iv. 1228; Ambrakios, Ambrakinos, Steph. B. s. v.: Ambraciensis, Liv. xxxviii. 43; Ambraciota, Cic. Tusc. i. 34: Arta.
  An important city to the north of the Ambraciot gulf, which derived its name from this place. It was situated on the eastern bank of the river Arachthus or Arethon, at the distance of 80 stadia from the gulf, according to ancient authorities, or 7 English miles, according to a modern traveller. It stood on the western side of a rugged hill called Perranthes, and the acropolis occupied one of the summits of this hill towards the east. It was rather more than three miles in circumference, and, in addition to its strong walls, it was well protected by the river and the heights which surrounded it. It is generally described as a town of Epirus, of which it was the capital under Pyrrhus and the subsequent monarchs; but in earlier times it was an independent state, with a considerable territory, which extended along the coast for 120 stadia. How far the territory extended northward we are not informed; but that portion of it between the city itself and the coast was an extremely fertile plain, traversed by the Arachthus, and producing excellent corn in abundance. Ambracia is called by Dicaearchus and Scylax the first town in Hellas proper. (Strab. p. 325; Dicaearch. 31, p. 460, ed. Fuhr; Scyl. p. 12; Polyb. xxii. 9; Liv. xxxviii. 4.)
  According to tradition, Ambracia was originally a Thesprotian town, founded by Ambrax, son of Thesprotus, or by Ambracia, daughter of Augeas; but it was made a Greek city by a colony of Corinthians, who settled here in the time of Cypselus, about B.C. 635. The colony is said tom have been led by Gorgus (also called Torgus or Tolgus), the son or brother of Cypselus. Gorgus was succeeded in the tyranny by his son Periander, who was deposed by the people, probably after the death of the Corinthian tyrant of the same name. (Strab. pp. 325, 452; Scymn. 454; Anton. Lib. 4; Aristot. Pol. v. 3. § 6, v. 8. § 9; Ael. V. H. xii. 35; Diog. Laert. i. 98.) Ambracia soon became a flourishing city, and the most important of all the Corinthian colonies on the Ambraciot gulf. It contributed seven ships to the Greek navy in the war against Xerxes, B.C. 480, and twenty-seven to the Corinthians in their war against Corcyra, B.C. 432. (Herod. viii. 45; Thuc. i. 46,) The Ambraciots, as colonists and allies of Corinth, espoused the Lacedaemonian cause in the Peloponnesian war. It was about this time that they reached the maximum of their power. They had extended their dominions over the whole of Amphilochia, and had taken possession of the important town of Argos in this district, from which they had driven out the original inhabitants. The expelled Amphilochians, supported by the Acarnanians, applied for aid to Athens. The Athenians accordingly sent a force under Phormion, who took Argos, sold the Ambraciots as slaves, and restored the town to the Amphilochians and Acarnanians, B.C. 432. Anxious to recover the lost town, the Ambraciots, two years afterwards (430), marched against Argos, but were unable to take it, and retired after laying waste its territory. Not disheartened by this repulse, they concerted a plan in the following year (429), with the Peloponnesians, for the complete subjugation of Acarnania. They had extensive relations with the Chaonians and other tribes in the interior of Epirus, and were thus enabled to collect a formidable army of Epirots, with which they joined the Lacedaemonian commander, Cnemus. The united forces advanced into Acarnania as far as Stratus, but under the walls of this city the Epirots were defeated by the Acarnanians, and the expedition came to an end. Notwithstanding this second misfortune, the Ambraciots marched against Argos again in B.C. 426. The history of this expedition, and of their two terrible defeats by Demosthenes and the Acarnanians, is related elsewhere. It appears that nearly the whole adult military population of the city was destroyed, and Thucydides considers their calamity to have been the greatest that befel any Grecian city during the earlier part of the war. Demosthenes was anxious to march straightway against Ambracia, which would have surrendered without a blow; but the Acarnanians refused to undertake the enterprize, fearing that the Athenians at Ambracia would be more troublesome neighbours to them than the Ambraciots. The Acarnanians and Amphilochians now concluded a peace and alliance with the Ambraciots for 100 years. Ambracia had become so helpless that the Corinthians shortly afterwards sent 300 hoplites to the city for its defence. (Thuc. ii. 68, 80, iii. 105--114.)
  The severe blow which Ambracia had received prevented it from taking any active part in the remainder of the war. It sent, however, some troops to the assistance of Syracuse, when besieged by the Athenians. (Thuc. vii. 58.) Ambracia was subsequently conquered by Philip II., king of Macedonia. On the accession of Alexander the Great (B.C. 336) it expelled the Macedonian garrison, but soon after-wards submitted to Alexander. (Diod. xvii. 3, 4.) At a later time it became subject to Pyrrhus, who made it the capital of his dominions, and his usual place of residence, and who also adorned it with numerous works of art. (Pol. xxii. 13; Liv. xxxviii. 9; Strab. p. 325.) Pyrrhus built here a strongly fortified palace, which was called after him Pyrrheum Hpurrheion). (Pol. xxii. 10; Liv. xxxviii. 5.) Ambracia afterwards fell into the hands of the Aetolians, and the possession of this powerful city was one of the chief sources of the Aetolian power in this part of Greece. When the Romans declared war against the Aetolians, Ambracia was besieged by the Roman consul M. Fulvius Nobilior, B.C. 189. This siege is one of the most memorable in ancient warfare for the bravery displayed in the defence of the town. In the course of the siege the Aetolians concluded a peace with Fulvius, whereupon Ambracia opened its gates to the besiegers. The consul, however, stripped it of its valuable works of art, and removed them to Rome. (Pol. xxii. 9-13; Liv. xxxviii. 3-9.) From this time Ambracia rapidly declined, and its ruin was completed by Augustus, who removed its inhabitants to Nicopolis, which he founded in commemoration of his victory at Actium. (Strab. p. 325; Pans. v. 23. § 3.)
  There is no longer any doubt that Arta is the site of Ambracia, the position of which was for a long time a subject of dispute. The remains of the walls of Ambracia confirm the statements of the ancient writers respecting the strength of its fortifications. The walls were built of immense quadrangular blocks of stone. Wolfe measured one 18 ft. by 5. The foundations of the acropolis may still be traced, but there are no other remains of Hellenic date.
  How long Ambracia continued deserted after the removal of its inhabitants to Nicopolis, we do not know; but it was re-occupied under the Byzantine Empire, and became again a place of importance. Its modern name of Arta is evidently a corruption of the river Arachthus, upon which it stood; and we find this name in the Byzantine writers as early as the eleventh century. In the fourteenth century Arta was reckoned the chief town in Acarnania, whence it was frequently called by the name of Acarnania simply. Cyriacus calls it sometimes Arechthea Acarnana. (Bockh, Corpus Inscr. No. 1797.) It is still the principal town in this part of Greece, and, like the ancient city, has given its name to the neighbouring gulf. The population of Arta was reckoned to be about 7000 in the year 1830.

This extract is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited May 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Ambracius Sinus

  Ambracius Sinus (ho Amprakikos kolpos, Thuc. i. 55; ho Ambrakikos kolpos, Pol. iv. 63, Strab. p. 325, et al.; he thalassa he Amprakike, Dion Cass. I. 12: Sinus Ambracius, Liv. xxxviii. 4; Mel. ii. 3: Gulf of Arta), an arm of the Ionian sea, lying between Epirus and Acarnania, so called from the town of Ambracia. Polybius (l. c.) describes the bay as 300 stadia in length, and 100 stadia in breadth: Strabo gives 300 stadia as its circumference, which is absurdly too small. Its real length is 25 miles, and its breadth 10. The entrance of the gulf, one side of which was formed by the promontory of Actium, is described under Actium. In consequence of the victory which Augustus gained over Antony at the entrance to this gulf, Statius (Silv. ii. 2. 8) gives the name of Ambraciae frondes to the crowns of laurel bestowed upon the victors in the Actian games. The Ambracius Sinus is also frequently mentioned in Greek history. On it were the towns of Argos Amphilochicum, and Anactorium, and the sea-port of Ambracia. The rivers Charadra and Arachthus flowed into it from the N. It was celebrated in antiquity for its excellent fish, and particularly for a species called kapros. (Ath. iii. p. 92, d., vii. pp. 305, e., 311, a., 326, d.) The modern gulf still maintains its character in this respect. The red and grey mullet are most abundant, and there are also plenty of soles and eels. (Wolfe, Observations on the Gulf of Arta, in Journal of Geographical Society, vol. iii.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


AMVRAKOS (Ancient port) EPIRUS
Ambracus (Ambrakos) is described by Polybius as a place well fortified by ramparts and outworks, and as surrounded by marshes, through which there was only one narrow causeway leading to the place. It was taken by Philip V., king of Macedonia, in B.C. 219, as a preliminary to an attack upon Ambracia. (Pol. iv. 61, 63.) Scylax probably alludes to this place, when he says that Ambracia had a fortress near its harbour; for near the western shore of the old mouth of the river Arachthus (Arta) some ruins have been discovered, whose topographical situation accords with the description of Polybius. They are situated on a swampy island, in a marshy lake near the sea. They inclosed an area of about a quarter of a mile in extent, and appeared to be merely a military post, which was all that the swampy nature of the ground would admit of. (Wolfe, Ibid. p. 84.) This fortress commanded the harbour, which is described by Scylax and Dicaearchus (ll. cc.) as a kleistos limen, or a port with a narrow entrance, which might be shut with a chain. The harbour must have been an artificial one; for the present mouth of the Arta is so obstructed by swamps and shoals as scarcely to be accessible even to boats. In ancient times its navigation was also esteemed dangerous, whence Lucan (v. 651) speaks of orae malignos Ambraciae portus.

This extract is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited May 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Aous. More rarely Aeas (Aoos, Aoos, Aoios, Pol. Strab. Liv.: Aias, Hecat. ap. Strab. p. 316; Scylax, s. v. Illurioi; Steph. B. s. v. Lakmon; Val. Max. i. 5. ext. 2; erroneously called Anius, Anios by Plut. Caes. 38, and ANAS Anas, by Dion Cass. xli. 45: Viosa, Vuissa, Vovussa), the chief river of Illyria, or Epirus Nova, rises in Mount Lacmon, the northern part of the range of Mount Pindus, flows in a north-westerly direction, then suddenly turns a little to the southward of west; and having pursued this course for 12 miles, between two mountains of extreme steepness, then recovers its north-western direction, which it pursues to the sea, into which it falls a little S. of Apollonia. (Herod. ix. 93; Strab., Steph. B., ll. cc.; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iv. p. 384.) The two mountains mentioned above approach very near each other, and form the celebrated pass, now called the Stena of the Viosa, and known in antiquity by the name of the Fauces Antigonenses, from its vicinity to the city of Antigoneia. (Fauces ad Antigoneam, Liv. xxxii. 5; ta par' Antigoneian stena, Pol. ii. 5.) Antigoneia (Tepeleni) was situated near the northern entrance of the pass at the junction of the Aous with a river, now called Dhryno, Drino, or Druno. At the termination of the pass on the south is the modern village of Klisura, a name which it has obviously received from its situation. It was in this pass that Philip V., king of Macedonia, in vain attempted to arrest the progress of the Roman consul, T. Quinctius Flamininus, into Epirus. Philip was encamped with the main body of his forces on Mount Aeropus, and his general, Athenagoras, with the light troops on Mount Asnaus. (Liv. l. c.) If Philip was encamped on the right bank of the river, as there seems every reason for believing, Aeropus corresponds to Mount Trebusin, and Asnaus to Mount Nemertzika. The pass is well described by Plutarch (Flamin. 3) in a passage which he probably borrowed from Polybius. He compares it to the defile of the Peneius at Tempe, adding that it is deficient in the beautiful groves, the verdant forests, the pleasant retreats and meadows which border the Peneius; but in the lofty and precipitous mountains, in the profundity of the narrow fissure between them, in the rapidity and magnitude of the river, in the single narrow path along the bank, the two places are exactly alike. Hence it is difficult for an army to pass under any circumstances, and impossible when the place is defended by an enemy. (Quoted by Leake, vol. i. p. 389.) It is true that Plutarch in this passage calls the river Apsus, but the Aous is evidently meant. (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. i. pp. 31, seq., 383, seq. vol. iv. p. 116.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Arachthus (Arachthos, Pol. xxii. 9; Ptol. iii. 13; Liv. xliii. 22; Plin. iv. 1; Aratthos, Strab. pp. 325, 327; Atatthos, Dicaearch. 42, p. 460, ed. Fuhr; Araithos, Lycophr. 409 ; Tzetz. ad loc.; Arethon, Liv. xxxviii. 3; respecting the orthography, see Kramer, ad Strab. p. 325: Arta), a river of Epirus, rising in Mount Tymphe and the district Paroraea, and flowing southwards first through the mountains, and then through the plain of Ambracia into the Ambraciot gulf. The town of Ambracia was situated on its left or eastern bank, at the distance of 7 miles from the sea, in a direct line.
  The Arachthus formed the boundary between Hellas proper and Epirus, whence Ambracia was reckoned the first town in Hellas. The country near the mouth of the river is full of marshes. The entrance to the present mouth of the Arta, which lies to the E. of the ancient mouth, is so obstructed by swamps and shoals as scarcely to be accessible even to boats; but on crossing this bar there are 16 or 17 feet of water, and rarely less than 10 in the channel, for a distance of 6 miles up the river. Three miles higher up the river altogether ceases to be navigable, not having more than 5 feet in the deepest part, and greatly obstructed by shoals. The course of the river is very tortuous; and the 9 miles up the river are only about 2 from the gulf in a direct line. At the entrance, its width is about 60 yards, but it soon becomes much narrower; and 9 miles up its width is not more than 20 yards. At Ambracia, however, its bed is about 200 yards across; but the stream in summer is divided by sand-banks into small rivulets, shallow, but rapid, running at least 4 miles an hour. Above the town, it appears comparatively diminutive, and 5 or 6 miles higher up, is lost among the hills. This is the present condition of the river, as described by Lieutenant Wolfe, who visited it in 1830. (Journal of the Geographical Society, vol. iii. p. 81.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


ARGOTHEA (Ancient city) EPIRUS
The capital of Athamania, a district of Epirus, situated betwixt rocky mountains and deep valleys. Leake supposes that it was situated above the bridge of Koraku, to the left of the main stream of the Achelous, and that the ruins found at a small village called Knisovo are those of Argithea.


Athamania (Eth. Athaman,--anos; in Diod. xviii. 11, Athamantes), a district in the SE. of Epeirus, between Mount Pindus and the river Arachthus. The river Achelous flowed through this narrow district. Its chief towns were Argithea, Tetraphylia, Heracleia, and Theudoria; and of these Argithea was the capital. The Athamanes were a rude people. Strabo classes them among the Thessalians, but doubts whether they are to be regarded as Hellenes. (Strab. ix. p. 434, x. p. 449.) They are rarely mentioned in Grecian history, but on the decay of the Molossian kingdom, they appear as an independent people. They were the last of the Epirot tribes, which obtained political power. The Athamanes and the Aetolians destroyed the Aenianes, and the former extended their dominions as far as Mt. Oeta. (Strab. p. 427.) The Athamanes were most powerful under their king Amynander (about B.C. 200), who took a prominent part in the wars of the Romans with Philip and Antiochus. (Diet. of Biogr. art. Amynander.) They were subsequently subdued by the Macedonians, and in the time of Strabo had ceased to exist as a separate people (ix. p. 429). Pliny (iv. 2) erroneously reckons Athamania as part of Aetolia.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


ATINTANES (Ancient country) EPIRUS
  Atintania (Atintania : Eth. Atintan-anos), a mountainous district in Illyria, north of Molossis and east of Parauaea, through which the Aous flows, in the upper part of its course. It is described by Livy (xlv. 30) as poor in soil and rude in climate. The Atintanes are first mentioned in B.C. 429, among the barbarians who assisted the Ambraciots in their invasion of Peloponnesus, upon which occasion the Atintanes and Molossi were commanded by the same leader. (Thuc. ii. 80.) On the conclusion of the first war between Philip and the Romans, Atintania was assigned to Macedonia, B.C. 204; and after the conquest of Perseus in B.C. 168, it was included in one of the four districts into which the Romans divided Macedonia. (Liv. xxvii. 30, xlv. 30.) It is not mentioned by Ptolemy, as it formed part of Chaonia. (Comp. Strab. vii. p. 326; Pol. ii. 5; Scylax, s. v. Illurioi; Lycophr. 1043; Steph. B. s. v.; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iv. p. 118.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


DODONI (Ancient city) IOANNINA
  Dodone (sometimes Dodon, Soph. Trach. 172: Eth. Dodonaios). A town in Epeirus, celebrated for its oracle of Zeus, the most ancient in Hellas. It was one of the seats of the Pelasgians, and the Dodonaean Zeus was a Pelasgic divinity. The oracle at Dodona enjoyed most celebrity in the earlier times. In consequence of its distance from the leading Grecian states, it was subsequently supplanted to a great extent by that at Delphi; but it continued to enjoy a high reputation, and was regarded in later times as one of the three greatest oracles, the other two being those of Delphi and of Zeus Ammon in Libya. (Strab. xvi. p. 762; Cic. de Div. i. 1, 43; Corn. Nep. Lys. 3.)
  The antiquity of Dodona is attested by several passages of Homer, which it is necessary to quote as they have given rise to considerable discussion:
(1) Gouneus d ek Kuphou e_ge duo kai eikosi neas: toi d Enienes heponto, meneptolemoi te Peraiboi, hoi peri Dodonen duscheimeron oiki ethento hoi t amph himerton Titaresion erg enemonto. (Il. ii. 748.)
(2) Zeu ana, Dodonaie, Pelasgike, telothi naion, Dodones medeon duscheimerou amphi de Selloi soi naious hupophetai aniptopodes chamieunai. (Il. xvi. 233.)
(3) Ton d es Dodonen phato bemenai, ophra theoio ek druos hupsikomoio Dios boulen epakousai, hoppos nostesei Ithakes es piona demon. (Od. xiv. 327, xix. 296).
  The ancient critics believed that there were two places of the name of Dodona, one in Thessaly, in the district of Perrhaebia near Mount Olympus, and the other in Epeirus in the district of Thesprotia; that the Enienes mentioned (No. 1) along with the Perrhaebi of the river Titaresius came from the Thessalian town; and that the Dodona, which Ulysses visited in order to consult the oracular oak of Zeus, after leaving the king of the Thesproti, was the place in Epeirus (No. 3). With respect to the second passage above quoted there was a difference of opinion; some supposing posing that Achilles prayed to Zeus in the Thessalian Dodona as the patron god of his native country; but others maintaining that the mention of Selli, whose name elsewhere occurs in connection with the Thesprotian Dodona, points to the place in Epeirns. (Strab. vii. p. 327, ix. p. 441; Steph. B. s. v. Dodone.) There can be no doubt, that the first-quoted passage in Homer refers to a Dodona in Thessaly; but as there is no evidence of the existence of an oracle at this place, it is probable that the prayer of Achilles was directed to the god in Epeirus, whose oracle had already acquired great celebrity, as we see from the passage in the Odyssey. The Thessalian Dodona is said to have been also called Bodona; and from this place the Thesprotian Dodona is said to have received a colony and its name.
  The Selli, whom Homer describes as the interpreters of Zeus, men of unwashed feet, who slept on the ground, appear to have been a tribe. They are called by Pindar the Helli; and the surrounding country, named after them Hellopia (Hellopie), is described by Hesiod as a fertile land with rich pastures, wherein Dodona was situated. (Strab. vii. p. 328; Schol. ad Soph. Trach. 1167.) Aristotle places the most ancient Hellas in the parts about Dodona and the Achelous, adding that the Achelous has frequently changed its course, - a necessary addition, since the Achelous does not flow near Dodona. He likewise states that the flood of Deucalion took place in this district, which was inhabited at that time by the Selli, and by the people then called Graeci, but now Hellenes. (Aristot. Meteor. i. 14.) We do not know the authority which Aristotle had for this statement, which is in opposition to the commonly received opinion of the Greeks, who connected Deucalion, Hellen, and the Hellenes, with the district in Thessaly between Mounts Othrys and Oeta. (Grote, Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 355.)
  It is impossible to penetrate any further back into the origin of the oracle; and we may safely dismiss the tales related by Herodotus of its Egyptian origin, and of its connection with the temple of Thebes in Egypt, and of Zeus Ammon in Libya. (Herod. ii. 54, seq.) The god at Dodona was said to dwell in the stem of an oak (phegos, the oak bearing an esculent acorn, not the Latin fagus, our beech), in the hollow of which his statue was probably placed in the most ancient times, and which was at first his only temple (naion d en puthmeni phegou, Hes. ap. Soph. Track. 1167; Dodonen phegon te, Pelasgon hedranon, heken, Hes. ap. Strab. vii. p. 327; comp. Muller, Archaol. § 52, 2). The god revealed his will from the branches of the tree, probably by the rustling of the wind, which sounds the priests had to interpret. Hence we frequently read of the speaking oak or oaks of Dodona. (Hom. Od. xiv. 327, xix. 296; hai prosegoroi drues, Aesch. Prom. 832; poluglossou druos, Soph. Trach. 1168.) In the time of Herodotus and Sophocles the oracles were interpreted by three (Sophocles says two) aged women, called Peleiades or Pelaiai, because pigeons were said to have brought the command to found the oracle:
hos ten palaian phegon audesai note
Dodoni disson ek peleiadon ephe.

(Soph. Track. 171.)
  Herodotus (ii. 55) mentions the name of three priestesses. (Comp. Strab. vii. Fragm, 2; Paus. x. 12. § 10.) These female priestesses were probably introduced instead of the Selli at the time when the worship of Dione was connected with that of Zeus at Dodona; and the Boeotians were the only people who continued to receive the oracles from male priests. (Strab. ix. p. 402.)
  As Delphi grew in importance, Dodona was chiefly consulted by the neighbouring tribes, the Aetolians, Acarnanians, and Epeirots (Paus. viii. 21. § 2); but, as we have already remarked, it continued to enjoy great celebrity even down to the later times. Croesus sent to inquire of the oracle (Herod. i. 46); Pindar composed a Paean in honour of the Dodonaean god, since there was a close connection between Thebes and Dodona (Pind. Fragm. p. 571, ed. Bolckh; Strab. ix. p. 402); Aeschylus and Sophocles speak of the oracle in terms of the highest reverence (Aesch. Prom. 829, seq.; Soph. Track. 1164, seq.); and Cicero relates that the Spartans, in important matters, were accustomed to ask the advice of the oracles either of Delphi, or Dodona, or Zeus Ammon (Cic. de Div. i. 4. 3). The Athenians also seem not unfrequently to have consulted the oracle, which they did probably through their suspicion of the Pythia at Delphi in the Peloponnesian War. Thus, they are said to have been commanded by the Dodonaean god to found a colony in Sicily (Paus. viii. 11. § 12); Demosthenes quotes several oracles from Dodona (de Fals. Leg. p. 436, in Mid. p. 531, ed. Reiske); and Xenophon recommends the Athenians to send to Dodona for advice (de Vect. 6. § 2). Under the Molossian kings, who gradually extended their dominion over the whole of Epeirus, Dodona probably rose again in importance. The coins of the Molossian kings frequently bear the heads of Zeus and Dione, or of Zeus alone, within a garland of oak.
  In B.C. 219, Dodona received a blow from which it never recovered. In that year the Aetolians under Dorimachus, who were at war with Philip, king of Macedonia, ravaged Aetolia, and razed to the ground the temple of the god. (Polyb. iv. 67.) Strabo, in describing the ruined condition of the towns of Epeirus in his time, says that the oracle also had almost failed (vii. p. 327); but it subsequently recovered, and Pausanias mentions the temple and sacred oaktree as objects worthy of the traveller's notice. (Paus. i. 17. § 6.) He elsewhere speaks of the oak of Dodona as the oldest tree in all Hellas, next to the Lugos of Hera in Samos. (Paus. viii. 23. § 5.) The town continued to exist long afterwards. The names of several bishops of Dodona occur in the Acts of the Councils: according to Leake, the latest was in the year 516. Dodona is mentioned by Hierocles in the sixth century (p. 651, ed. Wessel.).
  Of the temple of Dodona we have no description notwithstanding the celebrity of the oracle. Indeed the building itself is first mentioned by Polybius, in his account of its destruction by the Aetolians in B.C. 219. He says that when Dorimachus arrived at the hieron near Dodona, he burnt the Stoae or Colonnades, destroyed many of the dedicatory offerings, and razed the sacred house to its foundations. (Paragenomenos de pros to peri Dodonen hieron, tas te stoas eneprese, kai polla ton anathematon diephtheire, kateskapse de kai ten hieran oikian, Pol. iv. 67.) From the words peri Dodonen we may conclude that the hieron was not within the walls of Dodona. It appears to have occupied a considerable space, and to have contained several other buildings besides the sacred house or temple proper of the god. It was stated by a writer of the name of Demon; that the temple was surrounded with tripods bearing caldrons, and that these were placed so closely together, that when one was struck the noise vibrated through all. (Steph. B. s. v. Dodone; Schol. ad Hom. Il.. xvi. 233.) It appears that the greater part of these had been contributed by the Boeotians, who were accustomed to send presents of tripods every year. (Strab. x. p. 402.) Among the remarkable objects at Dodona were two pillars, on one of which was a brazen caldron, and on the other a statue of a boy holding in his hand a brazen whip, dedicated by the Corcyraeans: when the wind blew, the whip struck the caldron, and produced a loud noise. As Dodona was in an exposed situation, this constantly happened, and hence arose the proverb of the Dodonaean caldron and the Corcyraean whip. (Polemon, ap. Steph. B. s. v. Dodone; Suid. s. v. Dodonaion chalkeion; Strab. vii. p. 329.) This appears to have been one of the means of consulting the god; and hence Gregory Nazianzen, in describing the silence of the oracle in his time, says, ouketi lebes manteuetai (Or. iv. p. 127, c.). Respecting the way in which the oracles were given, there are different accounts; and they probably differed at different times. The most ancient mode was by means of sounds from the trees, of which we have already spoken. Servius relates that at the foot of the sacred oak there gushed forth a fountain, the noise of whose waters was prophetic and was interpreted by the priestesses (ad Virg. Aen. iii. 466). On some occasions the will of the god appears to have been ascertained by means of lots. (Cic. de Div. i. 3. 4)
  The site of Dodona cannot be fixed with certainty. No remains of the temple have been discovered; and no inscriptions have been found to determine its locality. It is the only place of great celebrity in Greece, of which the situation is not exactly known. Leake, who has examined the subject with his usual acuteness and learning, comes to the conclusion, with great probability, that the fertile valley of Ioainnina is the territory of Dodona, and that the ruins upon the hill of Kastritza at the southern end of the lake of Ioannina are those of the ancient city. Leake remarks that it can hardly be doubted by any person who has seen the country around Ioannina, and has examined the extensive remains at Kastritza, that the city which stood in that centrical and commanding position was the capital of the district dnring a long succession of ages. The town not only covered all the summit, but had a secondary inclosure or fortified suburb on the southern side of the hill, so as to make the whole circumference between two and three miles. Of the suburb the remains consist chiefly of detached fragments, and of remains of buildings strewn upon the land, which is here cultivated. But the entire circuit of the town walls is traceable on the heights, as well as those of the acropolis on the summit. These, in some places, are extant to the height of 8 or 10 feet. The masonry is of the second order, or composed of trapezoidal or polyhedral masses, which are exactly fitted to one another without cement, and form a casing for an interior mass of rough stones and mortar. . . . A monastery, which stands in the middle of the Hellenic inclosure, bears the same name as the hill, but although built in great part of ancient materials, it does not preserve a single inscribed or sculptured marble, nor could I find any such relics on any part of the ancient site. (Leake.)
  Our space allows us to mention only briefly the chief arguments of Leake iii favour of placing Dodona at Kastritza. It was the opinion of the ancient writers that Dodona first belonged to Thesprotia, and afterwards to Molossis. Stephanus B. calls it a town of Molossis, and Strabo (vii. p. 328) places it in the same district, but observes that it was called a Thesprotian town by the tragic poets and by Pindar. But even Aeschylus, through calling the oracle that of the Thesprotian Zeus, places Dodona on the Molossian plain (Prom. 829):
epei gar elthes pros Molossa dapeda,
ten aipunoton t amphi Dodonen, hina
manteia thokos t esti Thesprotou Dios.

  Hence it would appear that the territory of Dodona bordered on the inland frontiers of Thesprotia and Molossis, and must in that case correspond to the district of Ioannina. Pindar describes Epeirus as beginning at Dodona, and extending from thence to the Ionian sea (Nem. iv. 81); from which it follows that Dodona was on the eastern frontier of Epeirus., That it was near the lofty mountains of Pindus, on the eastern frontier, may be inferred from the manner in which Aeschylus speaks of the Dodonaean mountains (Supp. 258), and from the epithet of aipunotos attached to the place by the same poet (Prom. 830), aud from that of duscheimeros given to it by Homer. (Il. xvi. 234.) The account of the destruction of Dodona by the Aetolians also shows that it was on the eastern frontier of Epeirus. Polybius says that the Aetolians marched into the upper parts' of Epeirus) (eis tous ano topous tes Epeirou), which words appear to be equivalent to Upper Epeirus, or the parts most distant from the sea towards the central range of mountains.
  Hesiod, in a passage already referred to (ap. Schol. ad Soph. Trach. 1167; comp. Strab. vii. p. 328), describes Dodona as situated upon an extremity in, the district called Hellopia, a country of cornfields and meadows, abounding in sheep and oxen, and inhabited by numerous shepherds and keepers of cattle; - a description accurately applicable to the valley of Ioannina, which contains meadows and numerous flocks and herds. Several ancient writers' state that the temple of Dodona stood at the foot of a high mountain called Tomarus or Tmarus (Tomaros, Tmaros), from which the priests of the god are said to have been called Tomuri (Tomouroi, Strab. vii. p. 328; Callim. Hymn. in Cer. 52; Steph. B. s. v. Tomaros; Hesych. s. v. Tmarios; Eustath. ad Od. xiv. 327, p. 1760, R., ad Od. xvi. 403, p. 1806, R.). Theopompus relates that there were a hundred fountains at the foot of Mt. Tomarus. (Plin. iv. 1.) Leake identifies Tomarus with the commanding ridge of Mitzikeli, at the foot of which are numerous sources from which the lake of Ioannina derives its chief supply. He further observes that the name Tomarus, though no longer attached to this mountain, is not quite obsolete, being still preserved in that of the Tomarokhoria, or villages situated on al part of the southern extremity of Dhrysko, which is a continuation of Mitzikeli.
  The chief objection to placing Dodona near Ioannina is the silence of the ancient writers as to a lake at Dodona. But this negative evidence is not sufficient to outweigh the reasons in favour of this' site, more especially when we consider that the only detailed description which we possess of the locality is in a fragment of Hesiod, who may have mentioned the lake in the lines immediately following, which are now lost. Moreover, Apollodorus stated that there were marshes round the temple (ap. Strab. vii. [p. 784] p. 328). The lake of Ioannina was known in antiquity by the name of Pambotis (Pambotis limne), which was placed in Molossis. (Eustath. in Hom. Od. iii. 189.)
  We have already seen that the temple of Dodona was probably outside the city. Leake supposes that the former stood on the peninsula now occupied by the citadel of Ioannina, but there are no remains of the temple on this spot.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


EPIRUS (Ancient country) GREECE
  Epeirus or Epirus (Epeiros: Eth. Epeirotes, Epirotes: Adj. Epeirotikos, Epiroticus), was the name given to the country lying between the Ionian sea and the chain of Pindus, and extending from the Acroceraunian promontory and the boundaries of Illyria and Macedonia on the north to the Ambracian gulf on the south. The word epeiros signified the mainland, and was the name originally given to the whole of the western coast of Greece from the Acroceraunian promontory as far as the entrance of the Corinthian gulf, in contradistinction to Corcyra and the Cephallenian islands. In this sense the word was used not only by Homer (Strab. x. p. 451; Hom. II. ii. 635, Od. xiv. 97), but even as late as the time of the Peloponnesian War. (Thuc. i. 5.) Epirus, in its more limited extent, is a wild and mountainous country. The mountains run in a general direction from north to south, and have in all ages been the resort of semi-civilised and robber tribes. The valleys, though frequent, are not extensive, and do not produce sufficient corn for the support of the inhabitants. The most extensive and fertile plain is that of Joannina, in which the oracle of Dodona was probably situated, but even at the present day Joannina receives a large quantity of its flour from Thessaly, and of its vegetables and fruit from the territory of Arta on the Ambracian gulf. Epirus has been in all times a pastoral and not an agricultural country. Its fine oxen and horses, its shepherds, and its breed of Molossian dogs, were celebrated in antiquity. (Pind. Nem. iv. 82; quanto majores herbida tauros non habet Epirus, Ov. Met. viii. 282; Eliadum palmas Epiros equarum, Virg. Georg. i. 57; domus alta Molossis personuit canibus, Hor. Sat. ii. 6. 114; Virg. Georg. iii. 405.) The Epirots were not collected in towns, as was the case with the population in Greece Proper. It is expressly mentioned by Scylax (p. 28) that the Epirots dwelt in villages, which was more suitable to their mode of life; and it was probably not till the time when the Molossian kings had extended their dominion over the whole country, and had introduced among them Grecian habits and civilisation, that towns began to be built. It is in accordance with this that we find no coins older than those of Pyrrhus.
  Along the coast of Epirus southward, from the Acroceraunian promontory, a lofty and rugged range of mountains extends. Hence the Corinthians founded no colony upon the coast of Epirus at the time when they planted so many settlements upon the coast of Acarnania, and founded Apollonia and Epidamnus farther north. Of the mountains in the interior the names of hardly any are preserved with the exception of Tomarus or Tmarus above Dodona. Of the rivers the most important are: the Arachthus flowing into the Ambracian gulf, and considered to form the boundary between Epirus and Hellas Proper; the Celydnus flowing into the Ionian sea between Oricum and the Acroceraunian, promontory, and forming probably the northern boundary of Epirus; and the Thyamis, Acheron, and Charadrus all flowing into the Ionian sea more to the south.
  Epirus was inhabited by various tribes, which were not regarded by the Greeks' themselves as members of the Hellenic race. Accordingly Epirus was not a part of Hellas, which was supposed to begin at Ambracia. Some of the tribes however were closely related to the Greeks, and may be looked upon as semi-Hellenic. Thucydides, it is true, treats both the Molossians and Thesprotians as barbaric (ii. 80); but these two tribes at all events, were not entirely foreign to the Greeks like the Thracians and Illyrians; and accordingly Herodotus places the Thesprotians in Hellas (ii; 56), and mentions the Molossian Alcon among the Hellenic suitors of Agarista (vi. 127). It would appear that towards the north the Epirots became blended with the Macedonians and Illyrians, and towards the south with the Hellenes.
  The northern Epirots, extending from the Macedonian frontier as far as Corcyra, resembled the Macedonians in their mode of cutting the hair, in their language and dress, and in many other particulars. (Strab. vii. p. 327.) Strabo also relates that some of the tribes spoke two languages, a fact which proves the difference of the races in the country and also their close connection.
  According to Theopompus, who lived in the fourth century B.C., the number of Epirot tribes was fourteen (ap. Strab. vii. pp. 323, 324). Their names, as we gather from Strabo, were the Chaones, Thesproti, Cassopaei, Molossi, Amphilochi, Athamanes, Aethices, Tymphaei, Parauaei, Talares, Atintanes, Orestae, Pelagones, and Elimiotae. (Strab. viii. pp. 324, 326, x. p. 434.) Of these, the Orestae, Pelagones, and Elimiotae were situated east of Mt. Pindus, and were subsequently annexed to Macedonia, to which they properly belonged. In like manner, the Athamanes, Aethices, and Talares, who occupied Pindus, were united to Thessaly in the time of Strabo. The Atintanes and Parauaei, who bordered upon Illyria, were also separated from Epirus.
  The three chief Epirot tribes were the Chaones, Thesproti, and Molossi. The Chaones, who were at one time the most powerful of the three, and who are said to have ruled over the whole country (Strab; vii. p. 324), inhabited in historical times the dis. trict upon the coast from the Acroceraunian country to the river Thyamis, which separated them from the Thesprotians (Thuc. i. 46). The Thesproti extended along the coast from the Thyamis beyond the Acheron to the confines of the Cassopaei, and in the interior to the boundaries of the territory of Dodona, which in ancient times was regarded as a part of Thesprotia. The Cassopaei, whom some writers called a Thesprotian tribe, reached along the coast, as far as the Ambracian gulf. The Molossi, who became subsequently the rulers of Epirus, originally inhabited only a narrow strip of country, extending from the Ambracian gulf between the Cassopaei and Ambraciotae, and subsequently between the Thesprotians and Athamanes, northwards as far as the Dodonaea. (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iv. pp. 178, 179.) The Molossi subsequently obtained possession of the Cassopaea and the Dodonaea, and their country reached from the river Aous on the north to the Ambracian gulf on the south.
  The most ancient inhabitants of Epirus are said to have been Pelasgians. Dodona is represented as an oracle of the Pelasgians. Chaonia is also called Pelasgian; and the Chaones are said, like the Selli at Dodona, to have been interpreters of the oracle of Zeus. (Steph. B. s. v. Chaonia.) There appears to have been an ethnical connection between the ancient inhabitants of Epirus and some of the tribes on the opposite coast of Italy. The Chones, on the gulf of Tarentum, are apparently the same people as the Chaones; and although we find no mention of the Thesprotians in Italy, we have there a town Pandosia, and a river Acheron, as in Epirus. There are good reasons for supposing that the Italian Oenotrians, to whom the Chonians belonged, were of the same race as the Epirots. (Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, vol. i. p. 57.) If we were to accept the statement of Aristotle that Dodona was at one time inhabited by the people then called Graeci, but now Hellenes (Meteor. i. 14), Epirus must be regarded as the original abode of the Hellenes; but this statement is in opposition to the commonly received opinions of the Greeks, who place the original home of the Hellenes in Thessaly. It may be that the Pelasgians in Epirus bore the name of Graeci, and carried the name to the opposite coast of Italy; which would account for the Romans and Italians in general giving the name of Graeci to all the Hellenes, looking upon the Hellenes who subsequently founded colonies in Italy as the same people. (Niebuhr, vol. iii. p. 451.) But, however this may be, the inhabitants of Epirus exercised, at an early period, considerable influence upon Greece. Of this the wide spread reputation of the oracle of Dodona is a proof. The Thessalians, who conquered the country named after them, are represented as a Thesprotian tribe. According to the common tradition, Neoptolemus or Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, settled in Epirus after his return from Troy, accompanied by Helenus, son of Priam. He transmitted his dominions to his son Molossus, from whom the Molossian kings traced their descent. (Dict. of Biogr. s. vv. Neoptolemus and Molossus.)
  The chief Greek settlement in Epirus was the flourishing Corinthian colony of Ambracia, upon the gulf called after it. At a later period, probably between the time of Thucydides and Demosthenes, some Grecian settlers must have found their way into Thesprotia, since Demosthenes mentions Pandosia, Buchetia, and Elaea, as Eleian colonies (de Halonn. p. 84).
  The Epirot tribes were independent of one another, though one tribe sometimes exercised a kind of supremacy over a greater or a smaller number. Such a supremacy may have been exercised in ancient times by the Thesprotians, who possessed the oracle. In the Peloponnesian War the Chaonians enjoyed a higher reputation than the rest (Thuc. ii. 80), and it is probably to this period that Strabo refers when he says that the Chaonians once ruled over all Epirus (vii. p. 323). The importance of the Chaonians at this period is shown by a line of Aristophanes (Equit. 78, with Schol.). It must not, however, be inferred that the Chaonians possessed any firm hold over the other tribes. The power of the Molossian kings, of which we shall speak presently, rested upon a different basis.
  Originally each tribe was governed by a king. In the time of the Persian wars the Molossians were governed by a king called Admetus, who was living with the simplicity of a village chief when Themistocles came to him as a suppliant. (Thuc. i. 136.) Tharyps, also called Tharypas or Arrhybas, the son or grandson of Admetus, was a minor at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, and was educated at Athens: he is said to have been the first to introduce among. his subjects Hellenic civilisation. (Thuc. ii. 80; Paus. i. 11. § 1; Justin, xvii. 3; Plut. Pyrrh. 1.) The kingly government always continued among the Molossians, probably in consequence of their power being very limited; for we are told that the king and people were accustomed to meet at Passaron, the ancient Molossian capital, to swear obedience to the laws. (Aristot. Polit. v. 11; Plut. Pyrrh. 5.) But among the Chaonians and Thesprotians the kingly government had been abolished before the Peloponnesian War: the chief magistrates of the Chaonians were selected from a particular family (ek tou archikou genous, Thuc. ii. 80). After the Peloponnesian War the power of the Molossians increased, till at length Alexander, the brother of Olympias, who married Philip of Macedon, extended his dominion over most of the Epirot tribes, and took the title of king of Epirus. (Diod. xvi. 72, 91; Strab. vi. p. 280.) Alexander, who died B.C. 326, was succeeded by Aeacides, and Aeacides by Alcetas, after whom the celebrated Pyrrhus became king of Epirus, and raised the kingdom to its greatest splendour. He removed the seat of government from Passaron to Ambracia, which was now for the first time annexed to the dominions of the Epirot kings. Pyrrhus was succeeded in B.C. 272 by his son, Alexander II., who was followed in succession by his two sons, Pyrrhus II. and Ptolemy. (For the history of these kings, see the Dict. of Biogr.) With the death of Ptolemy, between B.C. 239 and 229, the family of Pyrrhus became extinct, whereupon a republican form of government was established, which continued till the conquest of Macedonia by the Romans, B.C. 168. Having been accused of favouring Perseus, the Roman man senate determined that all the towns of Epirus should be destroyed, and the inhabitants reduced to slavery. This cruel order was carried into execution by Aemilius Paulus, who, having previously placed garrisons in the 70 towns of Epirus, razed them all to the ground in one day, and carried away 150,000 inhabitants as slaves. (Polyb. ap. Strab. vii. p. 322; Liv. xlv. 34; Plut. Aemil. Paul. 29.) From the effects of this terrible blow Epirus never recovered. In the time of Strabo the country was still a scene of desolation, and the inhabitants had only ruins and villages to dwell in. (Strab. vii. p. 327.) Nicopolis, founded by Augustus in commemoration of his victory off Actium, was the chief city of Epirus under the Roman empire. Both this city and Buthrotum had the dignity of Roman colonies. Epirus formed a province under the Romans, and in the time of Ptolemy was separated from Achaia by the river Achelous. (Ptol. iii. 14.) Epirus now forms part of Albania. The Albanians are probably descendants of the ancient Illyrians, who took possession of the depopulated country under the Roman or the early Byzantine empire. On the conquest of Constantinople by the Latins in 1204, a member of the celebrated Byzantine family of Comnenus established an independent dynasty in Epirus; and the despots of Albania, as they were called, continued for two centuries only second in power to the emperors of Constantinople. The last of these rulers, George Castriot, resisted for more than 20 years the whole forces of the Ottoman empire; and it was not till his death in 1466 that Albania was annexed to the Turkish dominions.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Eth. Phanoteus, (Pol.). A strongly fortified town of Chaonia in Epirus, and a place of military importance. It stood on the site of the modern Gardhiki, which is situated in the midst of a valley surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, through which there are only two narrow passes. It lies about halfway between the sea and the Antigonean passes, and was therefore of importance to the Romans when they were advancing from Illyria in B.C. 169.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited May 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


KASSOPI (Archaeological site) EPIRUS
  Kassope, Kassopia polis, Kassiope. The chief town of the Cassopaei (Kassopaioi), a people of Epirus, occupying the coast between Thesprotia and the Ambracian gulf, and bordering upon Nicopolis. (Scylax, p. 12; Strab. vii. p. 324, seq.) Scylax describes the Cassopaei as living in villages; but they afterwards rose to such power as to obtain possession of Pandosia, Buchaetium, and Elateia. (Dem. de Halon. 33.) We learn from another authority that Batiae was also in their territory. (Theopomp. ap. Harpocr. s. v. Elateia.) Their own city Cassope or Cassopia is mentioned in the war carried on by Cassander against Alcetas, king of Epirus, in B.C. 312. (Diod. xix. 88.)
  Cassope stood at a short distance from the sea, on the road from Pandosia to Nicopolis upon the portion of the mountain of Zalongo, near the village of Kamarina. Its ruins, which are very extensive, are minutely described by Leake. The ruined walls of the Acropolis, which occupied a level about 1000 yards long, may be traced in their entire circuit; and those of the city may also be followed in the greater part of their course. The city was not less than three miles in circumference. At the foot of the cliffs of the Acropolis, towards the western end, there is a theatre in good preservation, of which the interior diameter is 50 feet. Near the theatre is a subterraneous building, called by the peasants Vasilospito, or King's House. A passage, 19 feet in length, and 5 feet in breadth, with a curved roof one foot and a half high, leads to a chamber 9 feet 9 inches square, and having a similar roof 5 feet 7 inches in height. The arches are not constructed on the principles of the Roman arch; but are hollowed out of horizontal courses of stone. Leake found several tombs between the principal gate of the city and the village of Kamarina. The ruins of this city are some of the most extensive in the whole of Greece.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Cestrine (Kestrine, Thuc. Paus.; Kestrinia, Steph. B. s. v. Kammania; Kestria, Steph. B. s. v. Troia), a district of Epeirus in the south of Chaonia, separated from Thesprotia by the river Thyamis. (Thuc. i. 46.) It is said to have received its name from Cestrinus, son of Helenus and Andromache, having been previously called Cammania. (Paus. i. 11. § 1, ii. 23. § 6; Steph. B. s. v. Kammania.) The principal town of this district is called Cestria by Pliny (iv. 1), but its more usual name appears to have been Ilium or Troja, in memory of the Trojan colony of Helenus. (Steph. B. s. v. Troia.) The remains of this town are still visible at the spot called Palea Venetia, near the town of Filiates. In the neighbourhood are those fertile pastures, which were celebrated in ancient times for the Cestrinic oxen. (Hesych. s. v. Kestrinikoi Boes; Schol. ad Aristoph. Pac. 924.) The inhabitants of the district were called Kestrenoi by the poet Rhianus (Steph. B. s. v. Chaunoi). (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iv. pp. 73, 175.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


KICHYROS (Ancient city) EPIRUS
Ephyra, Ephyre (Ephure) Cichyrus. A town of Thesprotia in Epeirus, afterwards called Cichyrus according to Strabo. Thucydides describes it as situated in the district Elaeatis in Thesprotia, away from the sea; and it further appears from his account, compared with that of Strabo, that it stood not far from the discharge of the Acheron and the Acherusian lake into the port called Glycys Limen (Thuc. i. 46; Strab. vii. p. 324). It is placed by Leake and other modern travellers at a church, formerly a monastery of St. John, distant 3 or 4 miles direct from Porto Fanari: the church stands on remains of Hellenic walls of polygonal masonry.
  The Thesprotian Ephyra appears to be the town mentioned in two passages of the Odyssey (i. 259, ii. 328). The Ephyri, mentioned in a passage of the Iliad (xiii. 301), were supposed by Pausanias to be the inhabitants of the Thesprotian town (Paus. ix. 36.3); but Strabo maintained that the poet referred to the Thessalian Ephyra (Strab. ix. p. 442). Some commentators even supposed the Ephyra on the Selleeis (Hom. Il. ii. 659, xv. 531) to be the Thesprotian town, but Strabo expressly maintains that Homer alludes in these passages to the Eleian town (Strab. vii. p. 328,; comp. viii. p. 338). Pausanias represents Cichyrus as the capital of the ancient kings of Thesprotia, where Theseus and Peirithous were thrown into chains by Aidoneus; and its celebrity in the most ancient times may also be inferred from a passage of Pindar. (Paus. i. 17. 4; Pind. Nem. vii. 55.) (Leake, Northern Greece. vol. iii. p. 7, vol. iv. pp. 53, 175.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited April 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


NIKOPOLIS (Archaeological site) EPIRUS
  A city of Epeirus, erected by Augustus, in commemoration of the victory of Actium, B.C. 31. It was situated near the entrance of the Ambraciot gulf, on the promontory of Epeirus, which is immediately opposite that of Actium in Acarnania. The extremity of the Epeirot promontory is now occupied by the town of Prevesa; and Nicopolis lay 3 miles to the N. of this town, on a low isthmus separating the Ionian sea from the Ambraciot gulf. It was upon this isthmus that Augustus was encamped before the battle of Actium. His own tent was pitched upon a height immediately above the isthmus, from whence he could see both the outer sea towards Paxi, and the Ambraciot gulf, as well as the parts towards Nicopolis. He fortified the camp, and connected it by walls with the outer port, called Comarus. (Dion Cass. 1. 12.) After the battle he surrounded with stones the place where his own tent had been pitched, adorned it with naval trophies, and built within the enclosure a sanctuary of Neptune open to the sky. (Dion Cass. li. 12.) But, according to Suetonius (Aug. 18), he dedicated this place to Neptune and Mars. The city was peopled by inhabitants taken from Ambracia, Anactorium, Thyrium, Argos Amphilochicum, and Calydon. (Dion Cass. li. 1; Suet. Aug. 12; Strab. vii. pp. 324, 325; Paus. v. 23. § 3, vii. 18. § 8, x. 38. § 4.) Augustus instituted at Nicopolis a quinquennial festival, called Actia, in commemoration of his victory. This festival was sacred to Apollo, and was celebrated with music and gymnastic games, horse-racing and sea-fights. It was probably the revival of an old festival, since there was an ancient temple of Apollo on the promontory of Actium, which is mentioned by Thucydides (i. 29), and was enlarged by Augustus. The festival was declared by Augustus to be a sacred contest, by which it was made equal to the four great Grecian games; it was placed under the superintendence of the Lacedaemonians. (Dion Cass., Suet., Strab., II. cc.) Augustus caused Nicopolis to be admitted into the Amphictyonic council (Paus. x. 38. § 3), and made it a Roman colony. (Plin. iv. 1. s. 2; Tac. Ann. v. 10.) A Christian church appears to have been founded at Nicopolis by the Apostle Paul, since he dates his letter to Titus from Nicopolis of Macedonia, which was most probably the colony of Augustus, and not the town in Thrace, as some have supposed. Nicopolis continued to be the chief city in Western Greece for a long time, but it had already fallen into decay in the reign of Julian, since we find that this emperor restored both the city and the games. (Mamertin. Julian. 9.) At the beginning of the fifth century it was plundered by the Goths. (Procop. B. Goth. iv. 22.) It was again restored by Justinian (de Aedif. iv. 2), and was still in the sixth century the capital of Epeirus. (Hierocl. p. 651, ed. WesseL) In the middle ages Nicopolis sunk into insignificance, and the town of Prevesa, built at the extremity of the promontory, at length absorbed all its inhabitants, and was doubtless, as in similar cases, chiefly constructed out of the ruins of the ancient city.
  The ruins of Nicopolis are still very considerable. They stretch across the narrowest part of the isthmus already described. Strabo (vii. p. 324) erroneously describes the isthmus as 60 stadia in breadth; but the broadest part, from the southeastern extremity of the lagoon called Mazoma to Mytika, is only three miles; while the narrowest part is less than half that distance, since the eastern half of the isthmus is occupied by the lagoon of Mazoma. This lagoon is separated from the Ambraciot gulf only by a narrow thread of land, which is a mile long, and has openings, where the fish are caught in great numbers, as they enter the lagoon in the winter and quit it in the summer. This illustrates the statement of an ancient geographer, that fish was so plentiful at Nicopolis as to be almost disgusting. (Geogr. Graec. Min. vol. iii. p. 13, ed. Hudson.) Nicopolis had two harbours, of which Strabo (vii. p. 324) says that the nearer and smaller was called Comarus (Komaros), while the further, and larger, and better one, was near the mouth of the gulf, distant about 12 stadia from Nicopolis. It would appear, that Strabo conceived both the ports to have been on the western coast outside the gulf; but it is evident from the nature of the western coast that this cannot have been the case. Moreover, Dion Cassius (1. 12) calls Comarus the outer port; and there can be little doubt that the second harbour, intended by Strabo, was the port of Vaty within the gulf, the distance of which from Nicopolis corresponds to the 12 stadia of Strabo, and where there are some Roman ruins a little within and on the eastern shore of the creek. The port of Comarus was doubtless at Mytika, but the name of Gomaro is now given to the wide bay north of Mytika.
  The ruins of Nicopolis are now called Paleoprevesa. On approaching them from Prevesa, the traveller first comes to some small arched buildings of brick, which were probably sepulchres, beyond which are the remains of a strong wall, probably the southern enclosure of the city. Near the southwestern extremity of the lagoon Mazoma, is the Paleokastron or castle. It is an irregular pentagonal enclosure, surrounded with walls and with square towers at intervals, about 25 feet in height. On the western side, the walls are most perfect, and here too is the principal gate. The extent of the enclosure is about a quarter of a mile. The variety of marble fragments and even the remains of inscriptions of the time of the Roman Empire, inserted in the masonry, prove the whole to have been a repair, though perhaps upon the site of the original acropolis, and restored so as to have been sufficiently large to receive the diminished population of the place. It may have been, as Leake conjectures, the work of Justinian, who restored Nicopolis.
  Three hundred yards westward of the Paleokastron are the remains of a small theatre but little dilapidated. Col. Leake says that it appears to be about 200 feet in diameter; but Lieut, Wolfe describes it as only 60 feet in diameter. Being built upon level ground, the back or highest part is entirely supported upon an arched corridor. Between this theatre and the shore, are the ruins of a quadrangular building of brick, which was perhaps a palace, as it has numerous apartments, with many niches in the walls for statues, and some remains of a stone pavement. It stands just within an aqueduct, supported upon arches, which entered Nicopolis on the north, and was 30 miles in length. Considerable remains of it are met with in different parts of Epeirus.
  Farther north, at the foot of a range of hills, are the remains of the great theatre, which is the most conspicuous object among the ruins. It is one of the best preserved Roman theatres in existence. The total diameter is about 300 feet. The scene is 120 feet long, and 30 in depth. There are 27 rows of seats in three divisions. From the back of the theatre rises the hill of Mikhalitzi, which was undoubtedly the site of the tent of Augustus before the battle of Actium. Close to the theatre are the ruins of the stadium, which was circular at both ends, unlike all the other stadia of Greece, but similar to several in Asia Minor, which have been constructed or repaired by the Romans. Below the stadium are some ruins, which are perhaps those of the gymnasium, since we know from Strabo (vii. p. 325) that the gymnasium was near the stadium.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


ORRAON (Ancient city) EPIRUS
A town of Molossis in Epirus, of uncertain site. (Liv. xlv. 26.)


Eth. Pandosieus. An ancient colony of Elis (Dem. Halonnes. p. 84, Reiske), and a town of the Cassopaei in the district of Thesprotia in Epirus, situated upon the river Acheron. It is probably represented by the rocky height of Kastri, on the summit of which are the walls of an acropolis, while those of the city descend the slopes on either side.


  The ancient capital of the Molossi in Epeirus. where the kings and assembled people were accustomed to take mutual oaths, the one to govern according to the laws, the other to defend the kingdom. (Plut. Pyrrh. 5.) The town was taken by the Roman praetor L. Anicius Gallus in B.C. 167. (Liv. xlv. 26, 33, 34.) Its site is uncertain. but it was apparently on the sea-coast, as Anna Comnena mentions (vi. 5, p. 284, ed. Bonn) a harbour called Passara on the coast of Epeirus. If this place is the same as the older Passaron, the ruins at Dhramisius, which lie inland in a SSW. direction from Ioannina, cannot be those of the ancient capital of the Molossi. Those ruins are very considerable, and contain among other things a theatre in a very fine state of preservation. (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iv.p. 81.)

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THEODORIA (Ancient city) ARTA
One of the chief towns of the Athamanes in Epeirus, is identified by Leake with the modern Thodhoriana, a village situated near Mount Ttzumerka in a pass which leads from the Achelous to the Arachthus. (Liv. xxxviii. 1; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iv. p. 212.)


  Thyamis (Thuamis), a river of Epeirus, flowing into the sea near a promontory of the same name. (Ptol. iii. 14. § § 4, 5.) It formed the northern boundary of Thesprotia, which it separated from Cestrine, a district of Chaonia (Thuc. i. 46; Strab. vii. p. 324; Pans. i. 11. § 2; Cic. ad Att. vii. 2, de Leg. ii. 3; Plin. iv. 1.) It is now called Kalama, apparently from the large reeds and aquatic plants which grow upon one of its principal tributaries. Its ancient name seems to have been derived from the thua or juniper, which, Leake informs us, though not abundant near the sources of the river, is common in the woody hills which border the middle of its course. The historian Phylarchus related (ap. Athen. iii. p. 73) that the Egyptian bean, which grew only in marshy places and nowhere but in Egypt, once grew for a short time upon the banks of the Thyamis. (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. i. p. 103, vol. iv. p. 97.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


A town of Epirus, described by Livy as being near Corcyra, and about 10 miles from the coast. (Liv. xlii. 38.) It is not mentioned by any other ancient writer, and it has therefore been conjectured that the word is a corrupt form of Chyton, which Ephorus spoke of as a place in Epirus colonised by the Clazomenii.


  Stephanus B. mentions a town Tymphaea, which is probably the same place called Trampya (trampua) by others, where Polysperchon, who was a native of this district, murdered Hercules, the son of Alexander the Great.


TYMFEI (Ancient country) EPIRUS
  Stymphalis a district annexed by the Romans, along with Atintania and Elimiotis, to Macedonia upon the conquest of this kingdom, A.D. 168. (Liv. xlv. 30.) From the mention of this district along with Atintania and Elimiotis, which were portions of Epeirus upon the borders of Thessaly, it would appear that Stymphalis is only another form of the more common name Tymphalis or Tymphaea; though, it is true, as Cramer has observed, that Diodorus has mentioned Stymphalia (Diod. xx. 28), and Callimachus speaks of the Stymphalian oxen in that territory (Hymn. in Dian. 179). Ptolemy (iii. 13. § 43) likewise mentions a town Gyrtona in Stymphalia, but in this passage other Mss. read Tymphalia. (Cramer, Ancient Greece, vol. i. p. 198.)

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  Tymphe (Tumphe), a mountain on the confines of Macedonia, Epeirus, and Thessaly, a part of the range of Pindus, which gave its name to the district Tymphaea (Tumphaia), and to the people, the Tymphaei Tumphaioi, Steph. B. s. v.). As it is stated that the river Arachthus rose in Mt. Tymphe, and that Aeginium was a town of the Tymphaei (Strab. vii. pp. 325, 327), Mt. Tymphe may be identified with the summits near Metzovo, and the Tymphaei may be regarded as the inhabitants of the whole of the upper valley of the Peneius from Metzovo or Kalabaka. The name is written in some editions of Strabo, Stymphe and Stymphaei, and the form Stymphaea also occurs in Arrian (i. 7); but the orthography without the s is perhaps to be preferred. The question whether Stymphalis or Stymphalia is the same district as Tymphaea has been discussed elsewhere. Pliny in one passage calls the Tymphaei an Aetolian people (iv. 2. s. 3), and in another a Macedonian (iv. 10. s. 17), while Stephanus B. describes the mountain as Thesprotian, and Strabo (l. c.) the people as an Epirotic race.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


VATIES (Ancient city) PREVEZA
Batiai. A town of Thesprotia in Epeirus, mentioned along with Elateia, and situated in the interior in the neighbourhood of Pandosia.


Bouchaition, Boucheton, Boucheta. A city of the Cassopaei in Thesprotia, a little above the sea. It is placed by Leake at the harbour of St. John, a few miles E. of Parga.

Greek and Roman Antiquities (eds. William Smith)

The Oracle of Dodona in Epirus

DODONI (Ancient city) IOANNINA
The Oracle of Dodona in Epirus. Here Zeus himself, the supreme god, was believed to give messages to men through the rustling of the leaves of a lofty oak. We must suppose something notable in the special tree; but the region round about Dodona, besides being mountainous, is said to be the most stormy in the whole of Europe (Mommsen, Delphika, p. 4), and would be calculated to excite the primitive feelings of the supernatural in a high degree.
  We can trace the oracle of Dodona up to a time of extreme primitiveness, when, it is probable, no other oracle existed in Greece, and before any of the refinements of experimental divination had been systematised. It is first mentioned in one of the most touching passages in Homer, that in which Achilles, before sending out his friend Patroclus to the battle, prays for his safe return. The invocation runs as follows (Hom. Il. xvi. 233-235):
"Zeu ana, Dodonaie, Pelasgike, telothi naion, Dodones medeon duscheimeron. ampsi de Selloi soi naioud hupopsetai aniptopodes, chamaieunai:
O king Zeus, Dodonaean and Pelasgian, thou who dwellest afar off, ruler of Dodona the place of wintry storms; and round about thee the Selli thy interpreters dwell, they of unwashed feet, whose couch is on the bare ground . . . . . Achilles, it is plain, addresses Zeus in these terms because he was believed to stand in a nearer relation to men at Dodona, through his oracle, than elsewhere; but also the passage appears to intimate a difference between the Zeus of Dodona and that more familiar Zeus who quarrelled with Hera on Olympus. And we have other reasons for thinking that the Zeus whom the Pelasgi worshipped in those remote times was something far vaguer than the Zeus of Homer. In the first place, we have the distinct affirmation of Herodotus (ii. 52): In early times the Pelasgi, as I know by information which I got at Dodona, offered sacrifices of all kinds, and prayed to the gods, but had no distinct names or appellations for them, since they had never heard of any. Herodotus goes on to say that the names of the gods were introduced from Egypt, and that the oracle of Dodona sanctioned their use; statements which are open to criticism. In the next place, Zeus at Dodona was worshipped under a peculiar name, Zeus Naius (Naios), the exact meaning of which is uncertain; and with him was worshipped a goddess, Dione, whose name (as Bouche--Leclercq suggests) is probably the feminine of Zeus. When the worship of Dione was introduced, we do not know; the first mention of it appears to be in Demosthenes (c. Meid. p. 531, § 53; de F. L. p. 437, § 299): but Strabo (vii. p. 329) tells us that she had a common temple with Jupiter; the researches of Carapanos at Dodona show that votive tablets were dedicated to her jointly with Zeus; and the meaning of her name and antiquity of her worship are testified by the two quaint verses ascribed by Pausanias (x. 12, § 5) to the early priestesses of Dodona: Zeus en, Zeus esti, Zeus essetai, o megale Zeu. Ga karpous aniei, dio kleizete metera gaian.
  Though Dione is not mentioned here, it is difficult not to think that she is identical with the earth (ga) mentioned in the second line; and if so, Zeus and Dione are symbolical of heaven and earth.
  We may then in all probability look upon the oracle at Dodona, in its original form, as. dedicated to a Zeus who symbolised, simply,. Heaven, and the power that dwells therein; and either from the first, or at all events at a very early date, a goddess symbolising the Earth, Dione, was associated with him. Such a worship must have been very different from the elaborate mythology which afterwards prevailed; and it will be observed that the ceremonial described by Homer is no less simple and primitive. The interpreters of Zeus are the Selli with unwashed feet, whose couch is on the bare ground; and if one is to take the account in the Odyssey as not far removed in time from that in the Iliad, we must suppose that they listened, as they lay, to the rustling of the oak-leaves; for in that poem (xiv. 327-8, xix. 296-7) Ulysses is said (in a feigned story) to have gone to Dodona to hear the counsel of Zeus out of the lofty foliaged oak: Ton d es Dodonen psato bemenai, opsra theoio ek druos hupsikomoio Dios boulen epakousai.
  Further, these Selli appear to have been originally not a caste of priests, but a tribe: Aristotle (Meteor. i. 14) speaks of them as such, and brings them into close connexion with the original Hellenes. It is therefore probable that they are the same as the Helli mentioned by Pindar, and that their district in those early times was called Hellopia; for at the end of Hellopia, says Hesiod (Fragm. ap. Schol. Sophocl. Trach. 1169), is the city of Dodona, which Zeus chose to be his oracular seat, and where he lived in the trunk of an oak-tree (psegou).
  So far the accounts of Dodona testify to a native origin, and to great rudeness of character. But the next step in its history brings it into contact with a foreign country; namely, Egypt. Herodotus, who gives the account referred to (ii. 54-57), professes it to be a narrative of the foundation of the oracle. Few will think this probable: but it may very well mark a period when the oracle received a more systematic form, and, above all, when the institution of priestesses began. These are not mentioned by Homer; and though they might have risen from a native source, there is no improbability in their foreign derivation. The priests at the Egyptian Thebes, then, told Herodotus that two of the sacred women were once carried off from Thebes by the Phoenicians, and they had learnt that one of them had been sold into Libya and the other into Greece; and these women were the first founders of the oracles in the two countries. The Dodonaean story, also told to Herodotus, is the exact counterpart of the above, except that the women are represented as doves. Two black doves, said the priestesses of Dodona, flew away from the Egyptian Thebes, and, while one directed its flight to Libya, the other came hither: she alighted on an oak, and sitting there began to speak with a human voice, and said that on the [p. 279] spot where she was, there should henceforth be an oracle of Zeus . . . . The dove which flew to Libya bade the Libyans to establish there the oracle of Ammon. The correspondence between these narratives, current in localities so distant from one another as the Egyptian Thebes and Dodona, is too great to have come by chance; and when we find from Strabo (vii. Fragm. 1 and 2) that the words for old woman and for dove in the Molossian language are similar, and from Sophocles (Trachin. 171-2) and Pausanias (x. 12, § 5) that the priestesses at Dodona were actually called doves, all objection to the Dodonaean story, on the ground of the seeming miracles, surely vanishes. And it is a further confirmation that Herodotus (ii. 57) tells us that the Dodonaean oracle resembled in character that at Thebes; to which may be added that Strabo (vii. Fragm. 1) tells us that the oracles of Dodona and Ammon were similar. Moreover, the quaint verses of the Dodonaean priestesses, quoted above from Pausanias, must remind us (longo intervallo) of the celebrated inscription on the temple of the veiled Isis.
  It will then appear that at a certain early period of the Dodonaean oracle, an important change took place owing to Egyptian influence; a change which at any rate involved the appointment of priestesses. It is possible that the worship of Dione was introduced at the same period, and so Strabo seems to imply (vii. p. 329): but this is altogether uncertain. When priestesses were once introduced as ministrants of the oracle, the male interpreters of the divine will sank into the background. Sophocles indeed (Trach. 1167) speaks of the Selli: but the passage applies to remote antiquity.
  Herodotus seems to have met with none; and they are ignored by Plato (Phaedr. 244 B). Strabo, however (ix. p. 402), tells us that, owing to a certain tragical occurrence, men and not women communicated the divine messages to Boeotians; though all other nations received them from the priestesses. At the same time the priestesses were under the control of a council of men; and Carapanos has found at Dodona inscriptions bearing the name and title of the president (naiarchos) of this council, and of one of its officers (prostates). (Carapanos, Dodone, pp. 50, 56.) Strabo tells us that the priests referred to by Homer were called tomouroi, and that some affirmed this to be the true reading in Hom. Od. xvi. 403, in place of themistes.
  Certain changes in the method of divination employed by this oracle must now be noted. The original method was by the interpretation of sounds (viz. the rustling of leaves); but in Plato's time we find (Plat. Phaedr. 244 B) that the priestesses, like those at Delphi, prophesied in a state of divine frenzy. This might be a direct imitation of Delphi; but the imitation would probably be disguised by an intermediate stage, dream-inspiration. Lycophron tells us (ap. Eustath. ad Iliad. xvi. 233) that this mode of divination existed at Dodona; and it would be quite natural for the priests or priestesses to listen to their rustling oak-tree by preference at night (and Homer's word chamaieunai suggests this). Again, we learn from Cicero (Divin. i. 43, 76) that divination by lots was practised at Dodona; it was an ill omen, he tells us, for the Spartans before Leuctra, that a monkey overturned the vessel in which were the lots that they had sent to the oracle. In later times brazen vessels were used to produce sounds of prophetic import: a circle of such vessels was suspended, which being moved by the wind struck against one another: for the same purpose a present was made by the Corcyraeans of a metal basin with a statue of a man placed over it, in the hand of which was a brazen scourge of three thongs, from which small bones (astragaloi) were suspended, which being moved by the wind struck against the basin. (Steph. Byz. s. v. Dodone: Suidas, s. v. Dodonaion chalkeion: Philostr. Imag. ii. p. 830; Strabo, vii. Fragm. 3.) This Corcyraean scourge was seen in the early part of the 2nd century B.C. by Polemon the geographer (cf. L. Preller, Polemonis periegetae fragmenta, Lips. 1838). At a still later date we have mention of a marvellous fountain at Dodona, which kindled torches when applied to it, and whose murmurings had also a prophetic quality (Plin. ii. § 228; Serv. ad Aen. iii. 466).
  No mention has been made above of a mode of divination which, in times when Dodona had fallen into decay, was thought to have been formerly practised there; namely, by the observation of the flight of doves. Dionysius of Halicarnassus (i. 15) mentions this; as also Strabo (vii. Fragm. 1), who however regards it as a misinterpretation of the fact that the priestesses were called doves. And a misinterpretation it was, no doubt, and one which would very naturally be caused by the original narrative of the foundation of the oracle in Herodotus; or by the expression disson peleiadon in Soph. Trach. 172. But it had a hold on the imagination of the Roman poets, which was increased by the fact that Dione, spoken of by Homer as the mother of Aphrodite (Il. v. 371), was afterwards identified with Aphrodite herself (Theocr. Idyll. vii. 116; Ovid. Art. Am. iii. 3, 769; Fast. ii. 461, v. 309), to whom doves were particularly sacred, whence Servius (ad Aen. iii. 466) actually speaks of the oracle as dedicated Jovi et Veneri, and in the Clementine Homilies (iv. 16, v. 13) Dodone is used as synonymous with Aphrodite. But all these are late and inaccurate representations, and receive no support whatever from any author contemporary with the period when the oracle was flourishing.
  A curious phrase may here be mentioned, with which Ephorus (ap. Macr. Saturn. v. 18, 8) tells us the oracles emanating from Dodona always terminated--Sacrifice to Achelous: the origin and exact meaning of the injunction is unknown.
  Dodona, though the most ancient of the oracles (as Herod. ii. 52 says, and as everything leads us to believe) was of course very inferior in political importance to Delphi, during the historical period. Croesus consulted it (Herod. i. 46), but was dissatisfied with its answer. The Athenians were unfortunately encouraged by it in their Sicilian expedition (Pausan. viii. 11, § 6; Suidas, s. v. Annibas). On the other hand, it proved itself incorruptible to the bribes of Lysander, when he wished to make himself king of Sparta (Plut. Lysand.); and it may be [p. 280] that Delphi had shown itself less scrupulous (though it also is said to have refused the bribe), for we find that Agesilaus, when meditating his expedition into Asia, gave a most marked preference to Dodona over Delphi (Plut. Apophth. Lacon. Agesil. 10). Demosthenes in the Meidias (l. c.) appeals to the two as equal authorities; in the de Falsa Legatione (l. c.), however, he refers to Zeus and Dione, but not to Apollo. We read of honours paid by the Athenians to the oracle of Dodona at a still later date (Hyperid. pro Euxenippo, § 35). The discoveries of Carapanos prove that the official documents of the Epirotic assembly were kept in the temple of Dodona (Dodone, pp. 48-68). But in B.C. 219, Dorimachus, the Aetolian general, razed the temple to the ground, and in B.C. 167 the Roman general Paulus Aemilius devastated and ruined Epirus. The oracle never recovered these blows. Seneca (Herc. Oet. 1623) speaks of it as deserted. Hadrian appears from the inscriptions to have been a benefactor to Dodona (Carapanos, op. cit. p. 171), and probably even rebuilt the temple; but the restoration, to judge both from probability and from the testimony of Lucian (Icaromen. 24), had little vitality; and the oracle may be said to have died under the destructive invasion of Dorimachus.
  The actual site of Dodona, which long had been unknown, was discovered in the year 1876 by a Greek explorer, Il. Constantin Carapanos, in the valley of the Tcharacovitza, about eleven miles south-west of the town and lake of Janina. Bp. Chr. Wordsworth, however, had already fixed upon the same spot (Greece, p. 249). The foundations of the temple and of the sacred enclosure were laid bare; and numerous inscriptions on leaden tablets render this one of the most important antiquarian discoveries ever made. Out of the mass of the votive tablets one inscription of more than ordinary historical interest may be quoted here: that in which the distracted Corcyraeans beg the oracle to tell them to what god or hero they must pray and sacrifice, in order to agree together for the common good.
  It will suffice just to mention the fact that a line of Homer (Il. ii. 750) mentions another Dodona in Thessaly, which has been by some supposed to be the original of the Epirotic oracle. The supposition, however, is otherwise entirely unsupported, and may be discarded without any great risk of error.

This text is from: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


A river in Thesprotia, in Epirus, which flows through the lake Acherusia into the Ionian Sea.


AMVRAKIA (Ancient city) EPIRUS
   The modern Arta; a town on the left bank of the Arachthus, north of the Ambracian Gulf, and originally included in Acarnania, but afterwards in Epirus. It was colonized by the Corinthiaus about B.C. 660. Pyrrhus made it the capital of his kingdom, and adorned it with public buildings and statues. At a later time it joined the Aetolian League, was taken by the Romans in B.C. 189, and stripped of its works of art. Its inhabitants were trausplanted to the new city of Nicopolis, founded by Augustus after the battle of Actium, B.C. 31.

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Ambracius Sinus

A gulf of the Ionian Sea between Epirus and Acarnania, twentyfive miles long and ten wide.


The chief river of the Greek part of Illyricum rising in Mount Lacmon, and flowing into the Ionian Sea near Apollonia.


or Aretho. A river of Epirus, rising in Mt. Lacmon, and flowing into the Sinus Ambracius.


A mountainous country in the south of Epirus, on the western side of Pindus, of which Argithea was the chief town. The Athamanes were a Thessalian people, who had been driven out of Thessaly by the Lapithae.


DODONI (Ancient city) IOANNINA
   A celebrated city and oracle of Epirus, whose exact position has only of late been ascertained. We are not assisted here by any accurate ancient traveller like Pausanias, nor have we any itineraries or faithful measurements of distances to guide us; all is vague and indefinite. Dionysius of Halicarnassus placed it four days' journey from Buthrotum and two from Ambracia. It is universally allowed that the temple of Dodona owed its origin to the Pelasgi at a period much anterior to the Trojan War; since many writers represent it as existing in the time of Deucalion, and even of Inachus. Herodotus distinctly states that it was the most ancient oracle of Greece, and represents the Pelasgi as consulting it on various occasions. Hence the title of "Pelasgic" assigned to Zeus, to whom the temple was dedicated. Of the existence, however, of another oracle in Thessaly of the same name no doubt can be entertained; and to this the prayer of Achilles, in Homer, probably had reference. Setting aside the fables which Herodotus has transmitted to us, and to which he evidently attached no belief, his report of the affinity which existed between the service of this temple and that of Thebes in Egypt is deserving of attention. It appears from this author that in his time the service of the temple was performed by women; and he has recorded the names of the three priestesses who officiated when he visited Dodona. Strabo, however, asserts that these duties were originally allotted to men, from the circumstance of Homer's mention of the Selli as being attendant upon the gods. The term Selli was considered by many ancient writers to refer to a people of Pelasgic origin.
    The responses of the oracle were originally delivered from the sacred oak or beech (phegos). The god revealed his message in the rustling of the leaves, and the priests interpreted its meaning. Its reputation was at first confined to the inhabitants of Epirus, Acarnania, Aetolia, and the western parts of Greece, but its fame was afterwards extended over the whole of that country, and even to Asia, as we know that on one occasion the oracle was consulted by Croesus. The Boeotians were the only people who received the prophetic answers from the mouth of men; to all other nations they were always communicated by the priestesses of the temple. The reason of this exception is stated at length by Strabo (401), on the authority of Ephorus. Dodona was the first station in Greece to which the offerings of the Hyperboreans were despatched, according to Herodotus; they arrived there from the Adriatic, and were thence passed on to the Maliac Gulf. Among the several offerings presented to the temple by various na tions, one dedicated by the Corcyreans is particularly noticed. It was a brazen figure placed over a caldron of the same metal; this statue held in its hand a whip, the lash of which consisted of three chains, each having an astragalus fastened to the end of it; these, when agitated by the wind, struck the caldron and produced so continued a sound that 400 vibrations could be counted before it ceased. Hence arose the various proverbs of the Dodonean caldron and the Corcyrean lash. Menander, in one of his plays, compared an old nurse's chatter to the endless sound of this kettle.
    We hear of the oracle of Dodona at the time of the Persian invasion; and again in the reign of Agesilaus, who consulted it previously to his expedition into Asia. It is stated by Diodorus Siculus that Lysander was accused openly of having offered to bribe the priestess. The oracle which warned the Molossian Alexander of his fate is well known from Livy. From Demosthenes we learn that the answers delivered from time to time to the Athenians were laid up in the public archives, and he himself appeals to their testimony on more than one occasion. At length, during the Social War, Dodona was, according to Polybius, almost entirely destroyed in an irruption of the Aetolians, under their leader Dorimachus, then at war with Epirus. It is probable that the temple of Dodona never recovered from this disaster, as in Strabo's time there was scarcely any trace left of the oracle, but the town must still have existed, as it is mentioned by Hierocles among the cities of Epirus in the seventh century, and we hear of a bishop of Dodona in the council of Ephesus. All accounts seem to agree that Dodona stood either on the declivity or at the foot of an elevated mountain called Tomarus or Tamarus. Hence the term Tomuri, supposed to be a contraction for Tomaruri (Tomarouroi), or guardians of Tomarus, which was given to the priests of the temple. The site of Dodona was at one time supposed to be near Janina in Epirus, but recent explorations in the valley of Dramisius at the foot of Mount Olytzika have brought to light many dedicatory inscriptions to Zeus Naios and Dione, with other evidences that make this the probable site of the oracle.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


EPIRUS (Ancient country) GREECE

   (Epeiros). A country to the west of Thessaly, lying along the Adriatic. The Greek term, which answers to the English word mainland, appears to have been applied at a very early period to that northwestern portion of Greece which is situated between the chain of Pindus and the Ionian Gulf and between the Ceraunian Mountains and the river Achelous--this name being probably used to distinguish it from the large, populous, and wealthy island of Corcyra, which lay opposite to the coast. It appears that, in very ancient times, Acarnania was also included in the term, and in that case the name must have been used in opposition to all the islands lying along the coast.
    The inhabitants of Epirus were scarcely considered Hellenic. The population in early times had been Pelasgic. The oracle at Dodona was always called Pelasgic, and many names of places in Epirus were also borne by the Pelasgic cities of the opposite coast of Italy. But irruptions of Illyrians had barbarized the whole nation; and though Herodotus speaks of Thesprotia as a part of Hellas, he refers rather to its old condition, when it was a celebrated seat of the Pelasgians, than to its state at the time when he wrote his history. In their mode of cutting the hair, in their costume, and in their language, the Epirotes resembled the Macedonians, who were an Illyrian race. Theopompus, cited by Strabo, divided the inhabitants of Epirus into fourteen different tribes, of which the most renowned were the Chaonians, Thesprotians, and Molossians. The Molossians claimed descent from Molossus, son of Neoptolemus and Andromache. Tradition reported that the son of Achilles, Neoptolemus or Pyrrhus, as he is also called, having crossed from Thessaly into Epirus on his return from the siege of Troy, was induced, by the advice of an oracle, to settle in the latter country, where, having subjugated a considerable extent of territory, he transmitted his newly formed kingdom to Molossus, his son by Andromache, from whom his subjects derived the name of Molossi.
    The history of Molossia is involved in great obscurity until the period of the Persian invasion, when the name of Admetus, king of the Molossi, occurs from the circumstance of his having generously afforded shelter to Themistocles when in exile and pursued by his enemies, although the influence of that celebrated statesman had previously been exerted against him in some negotiations which he had carried on at Athens. Admetus was succeeded by his son Tharybas or Tharymbas, who appears to have been a minor towards the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, when we find his subjects assisting the Ambraciots in their invasion of Acarnania. Tharybas is represented by Plutarch as a wise and able monarch, and as encouraging science and literature. His successor is not known; but some years after, we hear of a prince called Alcetas, who was dethroned by his subjects but restored by Dionysius of Syracuse. Neoptolemus, his son, reigned but for a short time and left the crown to his brother Arybas, together with the care of his children. Alexander, the eldest of these, succeeded his uncle, and was the first sovereign of Epirus who raised the character and fame of that country among foreign nations by his talents and valour. His sister Olympias had been married to Philip of Macedon before his accession to the throne of Epirus, and the friendship thus cemented between the two monarchs was still further strengthened by the union of Alexander with Cleopatra, the daughter of Philip. It was during the celebration of their nuptials at Edessa that the king of Macedon was assassinated. Alexander of Epirus seems to have been an ambitious prince, desirous of conquest and renown. There is good reason for believing that he united the Chaonians, Thesprotians, and other Epirotic clans, together with the Molossians, under his sway, as we find the title of king of Epirus first assumed by him. Having been applied to by the Tarentines to aid them against the attacks of the Lucani and Bruttii, he eagerly seized this opportunity of adding to his fame and enlarging his dominions. He therefore crossed over into Italy with a considerable force, and, had he been properly seconded by the Tarentines and the other colonies of Magna Graecia, the barbarians, after being defeated in several engagements, must have been conquered. But Alexander, being left to his own resources and exertions, was at length surrounded by the enemy and slain (B.C. 326) near Pandosia in the Bruttian territory. On the death of Alexander the crown devolved on his cousin Aeacides, the son of Arybas, the former king, of whom little is known, except that, having raised an army to assist Olympias against Cassander, his soldiers mutinied and deposed him; not long after, however, he appears to have been reinstated. His brother Alcetas, who succeeded him, was engaged in a war with Cassander, which proved disastrous; for, being defeated, his dominions were overrun by the forces of his victorious enemy, and he himself was put to death by his rebellious subjects. The name of Pyrrhus, who now ascended the throne, gives to the history of Epirus an importance it never would otherwise have possessed. Alexander, the eldest son of Pyrrhus, succeeded his father, whom he sought to emulate by attempting afresh the conquest of Macedon. On this occasion Antigonus Gonatas was again vanquished and driven from his dominions. But Demetrius, his son, having raised another army, attacked Alexander and presently compelled him to evacuate the Macedonian territory. At the expiration of two other insignificant reigns, the royal line of the Aeacidae becoming extinct, the Epirots determined to adopt a republican form of government, which prevailed until the subjugation of Macedon by the Romans. Having been accused of favouring Perseus in the last Macedonian War, they became the objects of the bitterest vengeance of the Romans, who treated them with unusual severity. Aemilius Paullus destroyed seventy of their towns and sold 150,000 of the inhabitants into slavery. Epirus, having lost its independence, was then annexed as a province to the Roman Empire.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Pambotis Lacus

(Pambotis limne). A lake in Epirus not far from Dodona.

Cestrine, Kestrine

A district of Epirus, separated from Thesprotia by the river Thyamis. It was said to have taken its name from Cestrinus, the son of Helenus, having previously borne the appellation of Cammania.


A river in Epirus, a tributary of the Acheron. Like the Acheron, the Cocytus was supposed to be connected with the lower world, and hence came to be described as a river in the lower world.


(Lakmon) or Lacmus (Lakmos). The northern part of Mount Pindus, in which the river Aous takes its origin.


NIKOPOLIS (Archaeological site) EPIRUS
   (Nikopolis). A city at the southwestern extremity of Epirus, on the point of land which forms the north entrance to the Gulf of Ambracia, opposite to Actium. It was built by Augustus in memory of the victory (nike) of Actium, and was peopled from Ambracia, Anactorium, and other neighbouring cities, and also with settlers from Aetolia. There were cities of the same name in Moesia Inferior, Armenia Minor, Cilicia, Lower Egypt (now Kars), and Thrace.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


A town of Epirus, in the district Thesprotia, on the river Acheron.


A town of Epirus in Molossia, and the ancient capital of the Molossian kings.


Now Kalama; a river in Epirus, forming the boundary between Thesprotia and the district of Cestryna.

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Municipality of Ano Pogoni


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ARTA (Prefecture) EPIRUS

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ARTA (Municipality) EPIRUS

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ATHAMANIA (Municipality) ARTA

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