Inštitut za arheologijo  ZRC SAZU



“Shrieking like Illyrians”
Historical geography and the Greek perspective of the Illyrian world in the 5th century BC


Modern historiography on the ancient world has focused in the last few decades on the problems of Greek identity and self-awareness, as well as Greek relations to the non-Greek populations. In the light of the reassessment of the most ancient historical sources, this paper investigates the representation of the Illyrian tribes in the Greek literary tradition. Roman Illyricum was entirely different from Illyria in Hecataeus of Miletus, when it was confined to a small portion of South-East Adriatic coast; Pliny the Elder and Pomponius Mela were probably well aware of this difference. Herodotus offers some interesting historical information, but his text is not so illuminating for the Greek perspective as Thucydides. He speaks of the “great cries” of the Illyrian tribes facing the Spartan army, just like Aristophanes in the Birds compares the hungry barbarian gods to the “shrieking Illyrians”. However, this is only one side of the Greek perspective; it appears from these same authors that the role played by the Illyrian populations in Greek politics was not to be neglected.

Keywords:Illyrians, Greek identity, Hecataeus of Miletus, Greek geographical tradition, Herodotus, Thucydides

Full text (pdf)

Arheološki vestnik |  Editorial board |  Ordering, price list and other information |  Search |  Issues online |  Guidelines for contributors |  Author declaration form |  Reviewer form
Home | Top