Kingdom of Epiros

Epiros was a small kingdom in the extreme north-west of Greece, on the coast of the Ionian sea. Today the area belongs in part to modern Greece, and in part to Albania. At the beginning of the third century B.C.E. Epiros suddenly appeared on the political Landscape of the Hellenistic world. The king Pyrrhos of Epiros took his army on multiple expeditions into the territory of neighbouring states, and was able to greatly extend his territory, thanks to his impressive military genius. His most famous campaign led him to Italy, where he came to the aid of the Greek city of Tarent over a dispute with the emerging republic of Rome. He fought and won multiple battles against the Romans, including the battle of Asculum, where he is rumored to have said: “One other such victory will utterly undo us.” Despite his victories, he could not stop the Roman expansion in southern Italy.

After his campaign against the Romans, he shifted his attention to Sicily. The Greek cities there had called upon him for help, because they were under duress by the Carthaginians. As soon as he arrive, he was celebrated as a liberator and named king of Sicily. However, the public opinion of him would soon turn against him, after he started to demand tributes for his campaign from the Sicilian cities. Consequently Pyrrhos decided to abandon his plans in Italy, and moved his army back home to Greece. His unsuccessful campaign in Italy did not stop him from further endeavours. He defeated the Macedonian king Antigonus II Gonatas, and was himself named king of Macedonia. Shortly afterwards he seized an opportunity to strengthen his position on the Peloponnes by intervening in a civil dispute in Sparta. His assault on the city failed however, and Pyrrhos lost his son Ptolemy, who was fighting in the rearguard, on the retreat. He died after being hit by a roof-tile while attempting to conquer the city of Argos

In his short reign, Pyrrhos the eagle controlled large part of southern Italy, Sicily, Macedonia, and parts of southern Greece. However, he failed to conquer any permanent territories for Epiros. With him the kingdom of Epiros vanished from the political landscape as well.

Epirote Cavalry Officer

Kingdom of Epiros 290 to 270 BCE

Wie in jeder hellenistischen Armee seit Alexander dem Großen, nahm die Kavallerie in der Armee von Pyrrhos eine besondere Rolle ein. Ihr gebührte üblicherweise die Aufgabe die Schlacht zu entscheiden, weshalb hellenistische Könige auch oft selbst an der Spitze ihrer Reiterei in die Schlacht ritten.

Diese Darstellung basiert auf einem Fund aus dem Dorf Prodromi in Thesprotia, das auf dem Gebiet des damaligen Epiros liegt. Es handelt sich um ein Schachtgrab, das Ende der 1970er Jahre von einem Bauern entdeckt wurde. In dem Grab befanden sich unter Anderem ein eiserner Torsopanzer, zwei eiserne Helme, einer davon versilbert, ein eisernes Schwert, so wie eine dazugehörige Schwertscheide ebenfalls aus Eisen. Die Länge des Schwertes und die Beschaffenheit des Panzers lassen darauf schließen, dass es sich dabei um die Ausrüstung eines Reiters handelt.