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Epirus, in the western Balkans, was bordered by the Aetolian League to the south, Thessaly and Macedonia to the east, and Illyrian tribes to the north. Epirus had a far greater religious significance than might have been expected given its geographical remoteness, due to the shrine and oracle at Dodona - regarded as second only to the more famous oracle at Delphi. For a brief period, 280 - 275 B.C., the Epirote leader Pyrrhus managed to make Epirus the most powerful state in the Greek world, and his armies marched against Rome during an unsuccessful campaign in Italy. In 232 B.C. the tribes formed the Epirote League transforming the kingdom into a Republic. Over the next half century it was caught between the warring powers, Rome and Macedonia. In the Third Macedonian War, the Molossians split with the rest of Epirus and sided with the Macedonians. The outcome was disastrous; Molossia fell to Rome in 167 B.C., 150,000 of its inhabitants were enslaved and the region was so thoroughly plundered that it took 500 years to fully recover. Under Rome, the coastal regions of Epirus grew wealthy from trade routes, and construction of the Via Egnatia provided a further boost to prosperity.
Ambrakia, Epirus, Greece, Late 2nd Century B.C.
During the struggle of the Aetolians against Rome, Ambracia stood a stubborn siege, including the first known use of poison gas against the Romans' siege tunnels. Ambracia was captured and plundered by Marcus Fulvius Nobilior in 189 B.C., after which it was declared by Rome a "free city" and gradually fell into insignificance. The foundation by Augustus of Nicopolis, into which the remaining inhabitants were drafted, left the site desolate. In Byzantine times a new settlement took its place under the name of Arta. Some fragmentary walls of large, well-dressed blocks near this latter town indicate the early prosperity of Ambracia.GB79836. Bronze AE 20, SNG Cop 30; BMC Thessaly p. 95, 16, VF, weight 7.058 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Ambrakia (Arta, Greece) mint, late 2nd century B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse Apollo Aktios seated left on a throne, bow in right hand, A-M/B-P across field; very rare; $80.00 (€70.40)
Kingdom of Epirus, c. 280/270 - 235 B.C.
In 279 B.C., Pyrrhus' forces, supporting the Greek cities of southern Italy, met and defeated the Romans at the battle of Asculum in Apulia. Pyrrhus, however, lost many men, several close associates, and all of his baggage. When one of his soldiers congratulated him on his victory, he famously replied: "Another such victory and we are ruined!" From this we have the term Pyrrhic victory, a victory achieved at ruinous cost.GI87401. Bronze AE 20, Franke, group X, 72 var. (V-/R66); BMC Thessaly p. 88, 5; HGC 3 166 (S); SNG Cop -; SNG München, VF, green patina, soft reverse strike, weight 4.825 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 270o, Epeiros mint, c. 280/270 - 235 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus left; reverse thunderbolt, A/Π (Apeirotes) above and below, all in oak wreath; rare; $70.00 (€61.60)
Epirote League, Epirus, Greece, Under Rome, c. 148 - 50 B.C.
In the Third Macedonian War, the Molossians split with the rest of Epirus and sided with the Macedonians. The outcome was disastrous; Molossia fell to Rome in 167 B.C., 150,000 of its inhabitants were enslaved, and the region was so thoroughly plundered that it took 500 years to fully recover. Epirus was soon made a Roman Province. Under Rome, the coastal regions of Epirus grew wealthy from trade routes, and construction of the Via Egnatia provided a further boost to prosperity. GB90175. Bronze AE 20, Franke p. 226, 1 ff.; SNG Cop 128; BMC Thessaly p. 91, 46; SGCV I 1999, F, weight 8.800 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 90o, Phoenice mint, c. 148 - 50 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus left; reverse thunderbolt, AΠEI/PΩTAN above and below in two lines, all inside oak wreath; $28.00 (€24.64)
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