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Epirus

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This page describes the toponyms of the two ancient regions known as Epirus, namely, the Epirus nova (or Illyria Graeca) and the Epirus vetus. The former strecthed from the mouth of the Drin river on the north to the Karaburun peninsula on the south, thus encompassing the larger part of today Albania and bordering Illyricum to the north. The latter stretched from the Karaburun peninsula to the Gulf of Ambracia, in today's Albania and Greece, and was further subdivided into Chaonia (north of the Thyamis river), Thesprotia (south of the Thyamis) including Cassopaea (south of the Acheron), Molossis (in the interior), Athamania and Amphilochia (east of the Achelous river). On the east, both regions were bordered by the watershed between Adriatic sea and the Aegean sea, including the Pindus range. Isles near Epirus are considered here as well.

Common remarks: the place-names have been put in the nominative case, an asterisk * means not attested, reconstructed form. The late place-names of probable Latin origin have not been included. The IE roots are in the form given by Pokorny's Indogermanische Wörterbuch. The links will be active when the single pages will be published, see the main page. For any comment, suggestion, email me.

Epirus nova or Illyria Graeca

Acrocerauni m.
  • Place: Llogara pass and Karaburun peninsula, district Vlorė, county Vlorė, Albania
  • Name: Acrocerauni m. (Ptol.) Cerauni m. (Strab.) Acroceraunia (Plin., Not. Episc.) Acrocenaurium (Peut.)
  • Etymology: A Greek compound name from akros 'the highest, pointed' and keraunos 'thunder'.

Albanopolis
  • Place: usually identified with Zgėrdhesh of Krujė, district Krujė, county Durrės, Albania
  • Name: Albanopolis (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: A Greek name, meaning 'the city of the Albani', a tribe mentioned by Ptolemy who are thought to re-emerge in the Middle Ages as the Arbanites, the inhabitants of the Arbanon district.

Amantia

Aous fl.

Apollonia
  • Place: Pojani of Fier, district Fier, county Fier, Albania
  • Name: Apollonia (Ptol., Plin., Strab., Peut., It. Ant., Burd., Synec., Scyl.)
  • Etymology: A Greek (Corcyrians and Corinthians) foundation, its name was chosen to honor the god Apollo.

Apsus fl.

Argus

Aulon
  • Place: Vlorė, district Vlorė, county Vlorė, Albania
  • Name: Aulon (Ptol., Burd., Synec., Not. Episc.) Aulona (Peut.) Aona? (Proc.)
  • Etymology: A Greek foundation, it was given a Greek name aulon (*au-lo-n), variously meaning 'mountain valley, canyon, ditch' but also 'channel, strait', that was used to designate many place-names in Greece proper. In this case, the designation alludes to the sea strait between Italy and Illyria (Vlorė is the closest harbor to Italy).

Bacusta

Brebate

Byllis

Candaviae m.
  • Place: Rrafjet-e-Spatharit of Qender, district Librazhd, county Elbasan, Albania
  • Name: Candaviae m. (Plin., Strab., Senec., Cic., Lucan.) Candabia (Peut.) Grandavia (Burd.)
  • Etymology: The toponym likely reflects an ethnonym *Candavi, which has been interpreted as a compounded name Can-davi, where the former element is from the IE root *k'won- 'dog' and the latter element is from the IE root *dhau- 'to press'. So the overall meaning is 'the dog-stranglers', similarly to those of Kandaon 'a title of Ares' and Kandaules, a Lydian king's name (Pokorny). The phonetics of the name Candavi is thus that of a centum language.

Celidnus fl.

Daulia

Denda
  • Place: not identified
  • Name: Denda (Plin.)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Deuphracus
  • Place: not identified
  • Name: Deuphracus (Proc.)
  • Etymology: It could be an Proto-Greek name featuring the shift *bh>ph and thus reflecting the IE root *dheubh 'spike, wedge' with reference to wooden construction, e.g., a palisade. The derivation of the name assumes a dissimilation of the original aspirated stops.

Dimallum

Dolebis

Dyrrachium, Epidamnus

Elyma
  • Place: possibly Kanina of Vlorė, district Vlorė, county Vlorė, Albania
  • Name: Elyma (Ptol.) Elymea (Liv., Steph. Byz.)
  • Etymology: Tentatively derived as a -mon formation from the IE root *eleu- 'to drive; to move, go'. Compare with the name of the Elymi in Sicily.

Epidunta

Episterba

Evia
  • Place: not identified
  • Name: Evia (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: Tentatively explained as 'desert (land)', from an IE root *eu- 'to lack, empty'. Thus from a cognate of Latin vastus and Old High German wuosti 'desert', which have many descendants in toponymy.

Gemenus

Genusus fl.

Lychnidus

Marusium

Oricum

Palamnus fl.

Patapa
  • Place: not identified
  • Name: Patapa (Proc.)
  • Etymology: Possibly a compound name *pa-tapas with the first element reflecting the IE root *pa- 'to feed, graze' and the second element derived from the IE root *top- 'to stay, place' (from whence Greek topos 'place'). Thus the meaning would have been 'pasture land' in an A-language.

Patrae
  • Place: close to Struga, region Southwestern, Macedonia
  • Name: Patrae (Burd.)
  • Etymology: To be compared with Patrae (Achaia).

Pelium

Pistum

Pupsalus
  • Place: not identified
  • Name: Pupsalus (Proc.)
  • Etymology: Tentatively explained from a designation meaning 'breast' alluding to the shape of a hill. Thus from the IE root *pu- 'to blow' and a cognate to Latvian pups 'feminine breast'. The ending points to an A-language.

Saso i.

Scampis

Streden

Thronium
  • Place: not identified
  • Name: Thronium (inscr., Paus.)
  • Etymology: A colony of the Locrians, named after Thronium in Locris that in turn reflects the Greek apellative thronion 'elevated seat, throne'.

Tyrcanus
  • Place: traditionally identified with Tiranė, district Tiranė, county Tiranė, Albania
  • Name: Tyrcanus (Proc.)
  • Etymology: Unclear.

Chaonia

Antigonia
  • Place: Saraqinisht of Antigonė, district Gjirokastėr, county Gijrokastėr, Albania
  • Name: Antigonia (Ptol., Plin., Steph. Byz., Polyb.)
  • Etymology: A city founded by Pyrrhus after his wife Antigone.

Buthrotum

Chimaera

Elaeus
  • Place: not identified, prefecture Ioannina, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Elaeus (Ptol.) Campus Elaeon (Liv.)
  • Etymology: Explained (Georgiev) by Greek elaios 'olive' and elaion 'olive grove'.

Gitanae
  • Place: close to Filiates, prefecture Thesprotia, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Gitanae (Polyb.) Gitana (Liv.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev from a form *geitania of the Greek geitaina 'neighbour (town)'.

Hecatompedum
  • Place: possibly Lekėl, district Tepelenė, county Gijrokastėr, Albania
  • Name: Hecatompedum (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: A common Greek name, meaning 'a hundred-footer', referring to the circumference of a wall.

Omphalium
  • Place: traditionally identified with ruins close to Delvinaki, prefecture Ioannina, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Omphalium (Ptol., Steph. Byz.)
  • Etymology: From the Greek word omphalos 'navel', having a solid IE etymology. It was probably the site of an oracle.

Onchesmus
  • Place: Sarandė, district Sarandė, county Vlorė, Albania
  • Name: Onchesmus (Ptol., Strab., Cic.) Anchiasmus (Synec.)
  • Etymology: Traditionally interpreted with Dion. Hal. as a corruption of an original name 'harbour of Anchises', due to the Aeneas' legend. If true, the classical name requires a language where at least a > o. Alternatively, the name could be explained from a form *Wonkhes-mo-s related to the IE root *uengh- 'to be bent', alluding to the arc-shaped form of the harbour (similar designations are common for harbours). The consonant shift *gh > kh is typically Greek, as well as the O-grade (with respect to neighbouring languages). In that case, the equation with Anchises' harbour would only be a later legend due to the assonance of the names. A third hypothesis is that of Georgiev, who interpretes the initial O as an Aeolian trait in contrast to an Attic a. Thus he points to a Greek compound ana-khesmos explained with ana-kheo 'to pour around'.

Panormus
  • Place: Porto Palermo of Himarė, district Vlorė, county Vlorė, Albania
  • Name: Panormus (Ptol., Strab.)
  • Etymology: A Greek name, meaning 'all- (i.e., large) harbour'.

Pelodes pal.

Phoenice
  • Place: Finiq, district Delvinė, county Vlorė, Albania
  • Name: Phoenice or Phenice (Ptol., Strab., Peut., Synec.)
  • Etymology: Formally equal to the Greek ethnonym Phoinikes 'Phoenician' usually explained as 'the reds' fromthe Greek phoinos '(blood-)red'. This is also the viewpoint of Georgiev. According to an old conjecture of Bonfante, the origin of the Greek word was rather from an "Illyrian" stem, as evidenced from the placename in question.

Thesprotia

Acheron fl., Acherusia lac.

Almene
  • Place: a promontory and town close to Syvota, prefecture Thesprotia, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Almene (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev from Greek alma 'wood'.

Ambracia
  • Place: Arta, prefecture Arta, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Ambracia (Ptol., Strab., Plin.)
  • Etymology: The city was a 7th-century Corinthian colony. Likely the name was given by the colonists and later explained from an eponym Ambrax or Ambracia.

Arachthus fl.
  • Place: river Arachthos, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Arachthus fl. (Ptol.) Aratthus fl. (Plin., Strab.) Aretho fl. (Liv.)
  • Etymology: Tentatively related to the Greek verb erekhtho 'to drag', which in turn reflects an IE root *rek'h- 'to harm'. The meaning was thus '(river) that drags (along with him)'. A different etymology is given by Georgiev, pointing to Greek araxis 'noise'.

Batia
  • Place: Stefani of Louros, prefecture Preveza, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Batia (Strab.) Bitia (Harpocrat.)
  • Etymology: Formally identical to Greek batos 'praticable' (*gwme-to-s), which is from the IE root *gwem- 'to go, come'. Also explained (Georgiev) with Greek batos 'a thorn or bramble bush'.

Buchetium

Cassope
  • Place: close to Zalongo, prefecture Preveza, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Cassiope (Ptol.) *Cassopia (Strab.) Cassope (Steph. Byz.)
  • Etymology: A late place-name derived from the ethnonym Cassopi, which shows the characteristic ending -op- that is considered typically Dorian (Pisani). According to Georgiev, the ethnic name meant 'blue-eyed (people)'.

Cestria, Ilium

Charadra
  • Place: Palaia Filippiada, prefecture Preveza, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Charadros (Polyb.) Charadra (Polyb., Enn.)
  • Etymology: It reflects the Greek common apellative kharadra or kharadros 'mountain stream'. The stream in question should be the upper Louros.

Chimerium, Chimerium pr.

Cichyrus, Ephyra

Cocytus fl.

Comarus sin.

Crania
  • Place: not proveably Kranea, prefecture Preveza, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Crania (Theop.) Coronia (Steph. Byz.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev from Greek kranos 'cornel tree', thus a phytonym.

Elaea

Elatria

Euroea
  • Place: traditionally identified with Paramithia, prefecture Thesprotia, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Euroea (Synec.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev from a Greek compound eu-roia 'easy (*abundant) stream'.

Glycys p.
  • Place: Port of Fanari, prefecture Preveza, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Glycys p. (Strab.) Ciclis limen (Peut.)
  • Etymology: A Greek apellative meaning 'sweet harbour'.

Ilium
  • Place: tentatively identified with Thesprotiko, prefecture Preveza, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Ilium (Peut.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev with a proto-Greek form *ilW-io, derived from ilus 'mud'.

Oropus fl., Oropus

Pandosia

Photice
  • Place: close to Paramythia, prefecture Thesprotia, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Photice (Synec., Proc.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev with Greek phos, -otos 'high-ranked man' or 'light'.

Sybota p., Sybotae i.
  • Place: Syvota and Syvota islands, prefecture Thesprotia, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Sybota p. (Ptol., Plin., Thuc.) Sybota i. (Strab.) Sybotae i. (Cic.)
  • Etymology: A Greek compound word meaning 'swine-pastures'. The place was known as such to feed swines. Georgiev reconstructs a different compound su-bosion 'swine flock'.

Thyamis fl.

Torone

Molossis

Aphas fl.

Boium m.
  • Place: a part of Pindus range, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Boium m., Poium m. (Strab.)
  • Etymology: According to Georgiev, the oronym reflects a Greek adjective boeios 'concerning the cattle'. The ethnic name of the Beotii ultimately derives from that.

Bouneima
  • Place: Moni Voutsa of Anatoliko Zagori, prefecture Ioannina, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Bouneima (Steph. Byz.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev as a Greek compound bou-n(e)ima 'where the cattle passes'.

Dodona, Hella

Eurymenae
  • Place: not identified, prefecture Ioannina, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Eurymenae (Diod.)
  • Etymology: Usually (Georgiev, Fick) explained by a proto-Greek form *Weru-menos 'protected', related to (W)eruo 'to saven, protect'.

Horreum
  • Place: Ammotopos of Xirovouni, prefecture Arta, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Horreum (Liv.) Horraum (?)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Inachus fl.
  • Place: upper Acheloos river, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Inachus fl. (Strab.)
  • Etymology: Named after Inachus fl. (Argolis), which is a Pelasgian hydronym.

Lacmus m.
  • Place: Lakmos mountain, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Lacmus m. (Strab., Steph. Byz., Herod., Lycophr.)
  • Etymology: Compared by Georgiev with Greek lakis 'tear' and explained with a form *lak-ma or *lak-mos akin to similar names meaning 'crack, gap'.

Pambotis lac.
  • Place: Lake of Ioannina (Pamvotida), prefecture Ioannina, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Pambotis limne (late antiquity)
  • Etymology: The classical name is unknown, but it could coincide with the 12th-century-attested one. Georgiev explains the name with the Greek compound pam-botis 'all-feeder', also occuring as an epithet of Gea.

Passaron
  • Place: Gardiki of Pasaronas, prefecture Ioannina, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Passaron (Liv., Plut.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev with Greek passarios (Hes.) 'pole, upright stake'. Traditionally (Krahe) attributed to an 'Illyrian' stratum.

Phanota
  • Place: Doliani of Anatoliko Zagori, prefecture Ioannina, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Phanota (Liv., Polyb.)
  • Etymology: It reflects the Greek word phanotes 'clearance' (Georgiev) used as a geographic apellative.

Phylace
  • Place: not identified, prefecture Ioannina or Arta, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Phylace (Liv.)
  • Etymology: A common Greek name phylax, phylake meaning 'guard'.

Pindus m.

Polyanus m.
  • Place: part of the Pindus range, prefecture Ioannina, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Polyanus m. (Strab.)
  • Etymology: It seems to be related with Greek polus 'many, numerous' but the second part is unclear. Alternatively, a "Pelasgian" name showing the shift *b>p from an IE root such as *bel- 'to cut off' or *bel- 'strong' (in the latter case, compare with Greek beltion < *belion 'the best').

Tecmon
  • Place: Kastritsa of Pamvotida, prefecture Ioannina, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Tecmon (Liv., Steph. Byz.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev with Greek tekmar 'sign, mark'.

T(o)marus m.

Tymphe m.
  • Place: heights around Metsovo, part of the Pindus range, prefecture Ioannina, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Tymphe m. (Strab., Steph. Byz.)
  • Etymology: The name has a good "Pelasgian" etymology that could have originated in the Thessalian side of the mountaing range rather than the Epirote side. Actually, it may be derived from the IE root *temp- 'to extend, stretch, span'. The syllabic m vocalized as um and the consonant shift *p>ph both point to the reconstructed Pelasgian language.

Athamania and Amphilochia

Argithea

Argos Amphilochicum

Chalcis
  • Place: Chaliki of Aspropotamos, prefecture Trikala, periphery Thessalia, Greece
  • Name: Chalcis (Lucan., Ovid.)
  • Etymology: Similar to comparable names, it is explained by Greek chalkos 'brass, copper'.

Crenae

Idomene
  • Place: Paliokoulia of Menidi, prefecture Aitoloakarnania, periphery Ditiki Ellada, Greece
  • Name: Idomene (Thuc.)
  • Etymology: From Greek idomenos, participe of eidomai 'I seem, appear'. Thus from a hill used as a watchtower.

Olpae
  • Place: Agrilovouni of Amfilochia, prefecture Aitoloakarnania, periphery Ditiki Ellada, Greece
  • Name: Olpae (Thuc.)
  • Etymology: Compared by Georgiev with Greek olpe 'a type of flask, a vase'. Thus originally alluding to the shape of the soil.

Tetraphylia
  • Place: not identified, prefecture Arta, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Tetraphylia (Liv.)
  • Etymology: A Greek word tetraphylos 'subdivided in four tribes'.

Theudoria
  • Place: Vourgareli of Athamania, prefecture Arta, periphery Ipiros, Greece
  • Name: Theudoria (Liv.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev from Greek personal name Theodoros, with the dialectal form Theu-.

Isles near Epirus

Cassiope pr.

Corcyra i.
  • Place: Kerkira island, prefecture Kerkira, periphery Ionion Neson, Greece
  • Name: Corcyra i. (Ptol.) Corcyraea i. (Strab.) Cercyra i. (Strab., Herod., Thuc.)
  • Etymology: Georgiev relates this name, also found in a Mycenaean tablet as ko-ro-ku-ra-jo, to Greek kroke 'pebble'. The origin of this word is unclear, as Pokorny gives it under the IE root *k'orka with a Sanskrit cognate only.

Elaphusa i.

Ericusa i.
  • Place: Erikoussa island, prefecture Kerkira, periphery Ionion Neson, Greece
  • Name: Ericusa i. (Ptol., Plin.)
  • Etymology: From Greek erike 'heather' with a typical suffix forming islands' names.

Istone m.
  • Place: possibly Pantokrator range, prefecture Kerkira, periphery Ionion Neson, Greece
  • Name: Istone m. (Thuc., Steph. Byz.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev from Greek histos 'anything set upright' (as the masts of a ship, the bar of a loom, etc.)

Leucimma pr.
  • Place: cape Lefkimmi, prefecture Kerkira, periphery Ionion Neson, Greece
  • Name: Leucimma pr. (Ptol., Strab., Plin.) Leucimme pr. (Thuc.)
  • Etymology: It reflects the Greek adjective leukos 'white'. Called Capo Bianco ('white cape') in Italian.

Malthace i.
  • Place: not identified
  • Name: Malthace i. (Plin.)
  • Etymology: It reflects the Greek adjective malthakos 'mild', relatively to the soil.

Phalacrum pr.

Ptychia i.
  • Place: Ptychia (Vido) island, prefecture Kerkira, periphery Ionion Neson, Greece
  • Name: Ptychia i. (Ptol., Plin., Thuc.)
  • Etymology: Explained by Georgiev from Greek ptyx 'fold, crease', alluding to the shape of the soil.

Trachie i.
  • Place: not identified
  • Name: Trachie i. (Plin.)
  • Etymology: It reflects the Greek adjective trachus 'rough, rocky'.

Conclusions

The most prominent stratum found in Epirus nova is clearly an A-language, whose further characteristics, i.e., the centum feature and the vocalization of sonants, point to the Illyrian language.

Only one placename shows a rather apparent satem feature, which could be reminiscent of a Mysian stratum.

Conversely, O-grade traces in Epirus vetus point to a Greek-like language. Georgiev had hypothised that the cradle of the Greek people was actually Epirus, together with neighbouring areas of Macedonia dn Thessaly. The various ethnic names of the Greeks have all originated in Epirus.