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Areas of mainland Greece in antiquity.

The Chaonians (Ancient Greek: Χάονες, romanized: Cháones) were an ancient Greek tribe that lived in the region of Epirus that is today part of northwestern Greece and southern Albania.[1][2] It was part of the northwestern group of Greek tribes together with the Molossians and the Thesprotians.[1]

Name[change | change source]

The Greek names "Chaonia" (Χαονία) and "Chaones/Chaonians" (Χάονες) both come from "Chaon" (Χάων, *χαϝ-ών) meaning "place with gorges".[3]

History[change | change source]

The Chaonians are first mentioned by the Greek historian Thucydides in the 5th century BC.[4]

The Greek historian Strabo says that the Chaonians and the Molossians were the most famous tribes of Epirus, because they once ruled all of Epirus.[5]

The Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax refers to the Chaonians as separate from the Illyrians.[6]

The Greek historian Polybius says that the Illyrians raided the Chaonian city of Phoenice in 230 BC.[7] Many Italian traders who were at the city when the raid happened were killed or enslaved resulting in the Roman Republic starting the Illyrian Wars the next year.[7]

Politics and culture[change | change source]

Ruins of ancient Phoenice, the main city of the Chaones.

The Chaonians were settled Kata Komas (Ancient Greek: Κατά Κώμας), meaning in a group of villages, and established a tribal state in the 5th century BC.[8]

The Greek historian Thucydides says that their leaders were chosen yearly and names two such leaders: Photius and Nikanor.[9]

They were connected to other Greek tribes in Epirus (Ancient Greek: φυλαί, romanized: phylae) such as the Thesprotians and Molossians.[10] The Chaonians joined the Epirote League, a federation of Greek tribes founded in 325/320 BC that ruled Epirus until the Romans conquered the region in 170 BC.[11]

The Chaonians participated in the ancient Olympic games and festivals where only Greeks were allowed to attend.[2][12][13]

List of Chaonians[change | change source]

  • Photius and Nicanor, leaders of the Chaonians in the Peloponnesian War (circa 431–421 BC).
  • Doropsos Δόροψος, theorodokos in Epidauros (circa 365 BC).[14]
  • Antanor (son of Euthymides), proxenos in Delphi (325–275 BC).[15]
  • Peukestos, proxenos in Thyrrheion, Acarnania (3rd century BC) -πητοῦ Χάονα Πευκεστόν, Σωτι-.[16]
  • Myrtilos, officer who gave proxeny decree to Boeotian Kallimelos (late 3rd century BC).[17]
  • Boiskos (son of Messaneos), prostates (late 3rd century BC)[18] (the Greek word prostates means "ruler"[19]).
  • Lykidas (son of Hellinos), prostates (circa 232–168 BC).[20]
  • -tos (son of Lysias), winner in Pale (wrestling) Panathenaic Games (194/193 BC).[21]
  • Charops, father of Machatas, father of Charops the Younger - philoroman politicians (2nd century BC).[22]

References[change | change source]

Citations[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Encyclopædia Britannica ("Epirus") 2013; Hammond 1998, p. 75; Hammond 1994, pp. 430, 434; Hammond 1982, p. 284; Wilkes 1995, p. 104; Hadeli 2020, pp. 11, 41.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hatzopoulos 2007, "Since only Hellenes participated in the Panhellenic sacrifices and contests, it is obvious that the theoroi visited only communities which considered themselves and were considered by the others as Greek. [...] Similarly the [theorodokoi] section Epirus lists the states of Pandosia, Kassopa, Thesprotoi, Poionos, Korkyra, Chaonia, Artichia, Molossoi, Ambrakia, Argos (of Amphilochia). Of these the Elean colony of Pandosia and the Corinthian colonies of Korkyra and Ambrakia represent the southern Greek element, while Kassopa, the Thesprotoi, the Molossoi, Chaonia and Argos the "native" Epirote one. (Nothing is known of Poionos and Artichia). The important point is that colonial cities, Epirote cities and Epirote ethne, republican and monarchical alike, are considered equally Greek and invited to the great panhellenic sacrifices at Epidauros."
  3. Georgiev 1981, p. 156.
  4. Stocker 2009, p. 209.
  5. Strabo. The Geography, 7.7.5.
  6. Hammond 1994, p. 433.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Errington 1989, pp. 81–106.
  8. Nielsen 1997, p. 14.
  9. Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War, 2.80.5.
  10. Hammond 1982, p. 266.
  11. Franke 1989, p. 459.
  12. Davies 2002, p. 247.
  13. Hansen 2004, p. 106.
  14. IG IV2,1 95 col I.1 Line 29.
  15. FD III 4:409 II.7
  16. IG IX,12 2:243.
  17. Cabanes 1976, p. 547: Appendice Epigraphique, 16.
  18. SEG 38:468.
  19. Liddell & Scott 1940, προστάτης.
  20. SEG 48:683 (Manumission Record).
  21. IG II2 2313 col II.8 Line 34.
  22. Toynbee 1965, p. 472.

Sources[change | change source]

Further reading[change | change source]