The Thesprotians (Gk. Θεσπρωτοι, Thesprôtoi) were an ancient tribe of Thesprotis, akin to the Molossians. The poet Homer frequently mentions Thesprotia which had friendly relations with Ithaca and Doulichi. The first inhabitants were from the early Bronze Age. Scholars are in dispute whether the early Thesprotians were Hellenes but some claim them as an ancient proto-tribe who had pelasgian roots. It is not known for certain whether they were a Greek tribe or not but the Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax does not include them among the Illyrian tribes or any other. On their northeast frontier they had the Chaonians and to their central frontier the kingdom of the Molossians, to their north were the Illyrians. The Thesprotians were part of the League of Epirus until they were annexed into the Roman Empire.


Strabo puts their region in southwest Epirus called Thesprotis. They lived in Epirus between the Amvrakikos Bay and the Kalamas River and between the Pindos mountains and the Ionian Sea. According to legend the nation got its name from Pelasgian leader and the first governor Thesprotos who built Kichyro (Cichorus), which was later was called Ephyra, the capital of Thesprotia. Other important cities of Thesprotia include Titani, Chimerion, Torine, Fanoti and Fotiki.

Ancient tribe

Strabo tells us that the Thesprotians, along with the Chaonians and the Molossians, were the most famous among the fourteen tribes of Epirus, who once ruled over the whole Region - the Chaones earlier and later the Thesprotians and Molossians. Plutarch [1] tells us that the Thesprotians, the Chaonians and the Molossians were the three principal clusters of Greek-speaking tribes that had emerged in Epirus, and all three were the most powerful among all other tribes.

Strabo records that the Thesprotians, Molossians, and Macedonians referred to old men as pelioi and old women as peliai (<PIE *pel-, 'gray'). Cf. Ancient Greek peleia, "pigeon", so-called because of its dusky gray color. Ancient Greek pelos meant "gray".

Thesprotian tribes

The Thesprotians were divided into many sub-tribes. During the middle part of antiquity period the region had been inhabited by the many of them, such as:

The Elopes, Greacians, Kassopaeoi, Dryopes and Dononians-Dodonians, (Gk. Δωδωναίος), Aegestaeoi, Eleaeoi, Elinoi, Ephyroi, Ikadotoi, Kartatoi, Kestrinoi, Klauthrioi, Kropioi, Larissaeoi, Onopernoi, Opatoi, Tiaeoi, Torydaeoi, Fanoteis, Farganaeoi, Fylates and the Chimerioi.

Some of these tribes in later times moved and colonized Ithaca, Leucas, Acarnania, parts of South Greece, Thessaly and Italy.

In Myth

According to the Telegony (Epic Cycle), Odysseus came upon the land of Thesprotia where he stayed for a number of years. He married Thesprotia's queen, Kallidike-(Callidice, Kallidice) and had a son with her Polypoetes. Odysseus led the Thesprotians in the war against the Brygoi (Brygi), but lost the battle because Ares was on the Brygoi side. Athena went to support Odysseus by engaging the war god in another confrontation until Apollo separates them. When Callidice died, Odysseus returned home to Ithaca, leaving their son, Polypoetes, to rule Thesprotia.

Ares Blessings - The Brygoi:

"Odysseus then goes to Thesprotis where he marries Kallidike, queen of the Thesprotians. A war then breaks out between the Thesprotians, led by Odysseus, and the Brygoi. Ares routs the army of Odysseus and Athena engages with Ares, until Apollon separates them." -The Telegony Frag 1 (from Proclus Chrestomathia 2)


  • Allied with Corinth in the 5th century BC
  • Allied with Athens and Molossis, 415 BC - 404 BC
  • Occupation of Kassopaea, Dodoni, East Thesprotia by Molossis 400 BC
  • The Thesprotian League middle 4th century BC
  • Allied with Macedonia 343 BC - 300 BC
  • Part of the League of Molossis 300 BC
  • Part of the Epirote League, included Chaonians & Molossis 220 BC -167 BC
  • Assigned as a district of Macedonia within Rome 148 BC - 27 BC
  • Assigned as a district of Achaea within the Roman Empire from 27 BC

See also


Map of Thesprotia

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