Hellenism of south Illyria:
On elements of political organization of illyrian communities
THE Translation: On elements of political organization of illyrian communities
(Important Note by the Translator(Zetaman): Under the signs (ex. 'xxx')
are untranslated parts that refer to either the
Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian version of names of ancient authors or today's
geographical locations written in Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian language.
Regarding the names of the ancients and taking into consideration
tendencies of Serbian language to alter foreign names and the pattern
in which it does it I will propose also next to certain name the way it
might have originally sounded (ex. 'Likej' = 'Likeas'?). Also ('in
addition') is also added by me in an guided attempt to make the text
easier to understand)
'Prilozi', 30, Sarajevo, 2001., pages. 25-41
On elements of political organization of illyrian communities
Development of political organization of Illyrians represents an
important and complex question. Still, in scientific literature it was
never taken with enough interest, which represents a significant hard
task when regarding full history of Illyrians. Reason for that is
increase in the lack of source materials that relate to this problem.
Greek writers did not show some large scale interest in their northern
neighbors (Illyrians), nor for their societal organization. Existing
material, primarily, relates on periodic news that do not give scholars
Aside from literature news important facts on this question is also
given by epigraphy with nusmatics, and to some extent also
archaeological artifacts. Such data is still relatively modest so
regarding political organization of illyrian communities we can have
some basic idea.
Existing source material shows that the first political organization of
illyrian communities appeared in the south of their region, roughly in
an area of today's Republic of Macedonia, Montenegrin coastline and
Albania. In their forming its crucial the geographic closeness of the
Greek world. From Greece there were cultural and political influences
which represented solid basis for societal transformation, rather
building on top of it, that was above the degree of tribal
organization, in which lived most of Balkan tribes in the middle of I
Political establishments of higher degree in other regions of the
Illyrian world from this time-frame are not recorded. As a result it
can be rightfully stated that the oldest political organization of
illyrian communities in Balkan environment occurred under the Greek
influence, and that among those communities that were bordering Greeks.
In the source material there is a mention about several communities
whose socio-political developmental progression lead to creation of
state. Among those there was a kingdoms of Encheleans (Encheleae),
Taulantians, Peonians, Dardanians and Ardideans(Ardiaei). The time
frame for their beginning and existence is connected to I millennium
B.C. In their political organization there are clearly visible elements
that characterize them as progressive communities with complex state
apparatus and developed economical base. As a result of this they were
far ahead of other illyrian communities that lived further away from
the Greek world, that is in the depth of illyrian land.
Southern Hellenistic Illyrians:
Encheleans (Encheleae), Taulantians, Peonians, Dardanians,Ardideans(Ardiaei) and Daorson
Literature sources lead us to say that Encheleans were among the first
among Illyrians whose political development lead to creation of their
state. They are mentioned in Greek myths, and then by Greek historians.
'Hekatej'('Xekateas'?) from 'Mileta' (=Miletus?) was among the first of
logo-graphs who wrote of them. Describing Adriatic coast he noted that
Encheleans were neighbors of 'Deksars'(?), 'Haon' (=Chaoni?) nation.
Some of the writers designate them as Illyrians, and others as separate
people. There is no consensus neither in regarding the question about
the territories they resided in. Once they are mentioned as inhabitants
of Adriatic coast, another time they are mentioned as inhabitants of
illyrian mountains, or as neighbors of Peonians (south Illyria), or
even as neighbors of Greek Thebans, in whose earlier history the played
an important part.1
According to 'Pseudo Skylak' (IV century B.C.)('Pseudo-Skylakas'?)
Encheleans would be inhabitants of the part of the coast that is
situated between 'Boka Kotorska'('in addition:N Montenegrin Coast') and
Durres. 2 Another source from the same time frame tells us that
Macedonian king Philip II fought wars with Encheleans around 'Ohrid'
('in addition:in vicinity of borders between today's Albania, R.M. and
Greece') lake. It is expected to think that in the second time-frame
there was a moving change of their borders, and this is probably the
reason why sources are not in consensus in determining of their border
Regarding the socio-political establishment of Encheleans we finds some
info from Greek myths. In one them it is stated how Phoenician Kadmos
came among Encheleans and as directed by an oracle's vision helped them
in their fight with neighboring tribes (Illyrians), after what those
chose him as their king. 3 From this we can conclude that among them
there was an institution of a kingdom, without any doubt on the same
level that existed among Greeks of that time.
There is indications that Encheleans in earlier times represented
relatively strong community, and as such it represented a thread for
southern Greek neighbors, especially Thebans and Delphi. The pinnacle
of their power was reached during VIII and VII centuries B.C., after
what their importance diminishes, and from VI century B.C. they almost
fully disappear from sources. Their state still survived all up to
beginning of III century B.C. when it stops existing in events related
to coming of Celts in Balkans.
Although there is a lack of more detailed data about the character of
the state organization among Encheleans, it can be suggested that in
many forms it corresponds to the type of Greek kingdoms of the Homeric
era. The wars they fought with Greeks suggests a strong political and
military government, on whose leader positions there were authoritarian
rulers. Precondition for this was a strong economic base. It is
expected to assume that it was pretty strong since it is known that
many Greeks for pay served enchelean kings. This had long reaching
cultural and political ramifications. With this in focus we should
connect the appearance of urbanization among Encheleans, in which they
were first among Illyrians.
Another illyrian community that in its political development reached a
higher degree of political organization, were the Peonians. They
inhabited the region of today's southern (In addition: Rep.)Macedonia
(upper 'Vardar', Stobi and 'Crna Rijeka'), but its borders were
changing through a longer period of time. On the east towards the
Thracians the border went with the river 'Mesta' from its mouth to its
source 'Arda', and from there towards 'Krdjolsko' lake and further
towards north. Accoring to sources from some writers (Strabon, VI, 331,
11; 'Plinije'(=Plinius?), IV, 35; 'Livije'(=Livius?), XL, 33, 14), it
can be concluded that in its earlier era that their area covered much
wider area, including here the parts of northern Greece, on the expense
of some of the local communities there. They resided in also Halkidiki.
That the Peonians were belonging to a community of older and more
important Balkan peoples that were politically and culturally were much
more advanced from other Balkan communities , it can be witnessed by
the fact that they are mentioned by Homer as participants of the Trojan
war, were they were fighting on the side of Trojans ( ILL. XVII , 350).
During Philip II , Peonians recognized Macedonian rule ('Diod.' XVI ,
4). After his death they incited rebellion and Alexander had to stop it.
Peonians being direct neighbour of the Greeks maintained close trade
religions and as a result fell early under their cultural influence.
Thanks to that they were among the first Illyrian communities to have
stepped towards civilisational events. Close relations with Greece is
confirmed by data that states that certain Peonian rulers were granted
honored citizenship rights ('proksenija'='proxenia'?) by some Greek
states. That was given in order to thank them for certain services
(assistance in wheat, monetarily, military aid and similar). Such
relations were especially strong with Athens, which in its own foreign
politics and relations with Macedonia was frequently relying on
connections with Illyrian and Thracian kings.
Original sources tell us of names of three peonian kings. At the year
of 357. B.C. the throne was occupied by 'Agis'. His heir was 'Likpej'
(='Likipeas'?) , and at the year of 306. B.C. on the throne was king
'Audoleont' (='Autoleantos'). His son was 'Ariston' , while 'Dropion'
was contemporary of Macedonian king 'Demetrije'(='Demetrius'?) II. 4
High economical and cultural development of Peonia is showed through
minting of monetary coins. It is known that the Peonian rulers were
minting coins as far back as during the era of Greek - Persian wars.
This is a witness that the economy of Peonia was based on
trade-monetary relations, with all the accompanying institutions.
Minting of monetary coins occurred in continuity across long period of
time. At the year of 306. B.C. king ' Audoleont' (= 'Autoleontos' ?)
minted coins that stated the title 'basileus' (='vasileus'?) , in a
likewise manner that Hellenistic monarchs did. The title of 'Basileus'
points that the Peonia represented state organization, for if we were
talking about tribal organization with tribal leader as a ruler such
title ('Basileus') would not be present.
That there was a high level of political organization in Peonia also
points advanced urbanisation of the country. Peonian towns were
mentioned also by Herodotus ('Doberos' and 'Bymazos' ), and from
younger era there were 'Stuberra', 'Astraion', 'Argos', 'Bryanion',
'Bylazora', 'Stobi', 'Idomene' and others. Since for the development of
urbanisation precondition is to have strong economic base, in this case
there were all the required conjectures. The country had at its
disposal large surplus of products, primarily in wheat and metals,
which in the trade with Greeks represented strategic goods. Bringing
(or coming) of means had increased the wealth of the country, which,
and had conditioned peonian society into early class differentiation.
This during the course of development has resulted in establishing
strong political organization, that in the finishing stage has growned
to state organization. 5
Heirs of king 'Audoleont' ruled over Peonia up until middle of II
century B.C. From the political standpoint, from those heirs important
one was 'Dropion' , contemporary of Macedonian king 'Demetrije' II and
'Dozon' (='Doson'?). During his rule Peonia in the sources is called
'koinon ton Paionon' (state-political community of Peonians). 6 Greeks
with the legal expression 'koinon' had marked statehood ,
characteristic for their own (Greek) communities. Peonian 'koinon'
varied from Greek one to a degree that it included villagers, while
with Greeks it was based on 'simpoliteja' (='simpoliteria'?) , among
whom societal base was a polis, and among Poenians it was a village.
State of the Taulantians for some time also existed as the state of
Encheleans. Carriers of statehood was the tribe of 'Taulanti' , which
was placed in vicinity of Greek colony of 'Epidamnos'. During the era
of their full power their state extended in the regions of central and
This state is mentioned for the first time in VII century B.C. , when
its ruler 'Gaularos' was fighting against Macedonian king 'Argeios'.
Two hundred years later Taulanti played important role in the conflict
of the inhabitants of Greek colony of 'Epodamnos' , that were
introduction into a long term Peloponnesian war that brought into
conflict entire Greek world. Taulanti , namely , imparted harbor for
oligarchs from 'Epidamnos' that were in a conflict with democrats, and
by doing so they become involved in the events that were of the first
grade important for Greek history. During the course of these events
Taulanti, as for being in alliance with 'Korkira' (='Kerkyra') ,
received (or created) extensive political power , and after this more
and more often they are in conflict with Greek colonists, and after
that with also Macedonia. The zenith of their power was reached at the
beginning of 4. century B.C.
When Alexander was on Danube, to the rebelling Illyrian king 'Klit'
(='Klitus'?) assistance was given by Taulantian king 'Glaukije'
(='Glaukus'?). On his return Alexander waged war against both kings,
but the taulantians managed to win retain their independence. After
Alexander's death from the same side there was no more of a threat, and
during the era of 'diadoh(s)' (='diadoxi'?) Taulantian kingdom
witnessed its best days. King Glaukus was assisting Epirotic king
Phyrrus to come back on (Epirotic) throne. He even managed to stop
Macedonians from establishing military bases on the Adriatic. In the
conflict with 'Kasandro' during the year of 314. B.C. he witnessed
defeat, but as soon as the other one pulled back, Glaukus attacked
Appolonia. He managed, however, to hold on to 'Epidamnos' ('Diador'
(='Diodorus'?) XIX , 67, 5-7; 70, 7, and 78, 1). Glaukus is last time
mentioned during the year of 302. B.C. Advances of Celts and increase
of Macedonian power have erased Taulantians from the political scene,
after what they are falling into oblivion.
Highly developed political organization with elements of statehood was
created by also Dardanians. Center of their state was placed in regions
of to days Kosovo. In certain time-frames their power extended up to
Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea. Dardania in the sources is mentioned first
time in 344. year B.C., when Macedonian king Philip II attacked that
country. 7 At the start of III century B.C. it represented a strong
kingdom and regional power. 'Justin' informs us that in 280. year B.C.
dardanian king (Dardanus rex), was offering to Macedonian king 'Ptolemy
Ceraun' ('Ptolomeas Keraun'?) help in battles against Celts that have
attacked Macedonia. Convinced in his power he refused this help. Celts
have defeated him and killed him in a battlefield. 8
This data form 'Justin' is important since it is the first time
dardanian king is mentioned, although it does not mention his name.
'Polion' gives a bit more info, and states that Dardanians were united
under one king (Polion, IV, 12, 3). From 'Livije' ('Livius'?), we find
out that in the middle of III century B.C. Dardania was lead by the
king called 'Baton', who was son of 'Longar' ('Longaron'/'Longaros'?)
(Liv. XXXI, 28, 2). This data is important since it shows us that
Dardania was inherently ruled by a royal dynasty, which suggests
longstanding tradition. Sources show us three kings, of whom we can
name two: 'Baton' and 'Longar'. Dardania as a kingdom surely existed
also during the rule of king Philip II, since Dardanians are appearing
in sources always separate from Illyrians.
Gathering of Dardanians in a strong state community started, without
doubt, much earlier then it is mentioned in the sources. 9 This
conclusion is forced by the fact that there was a high degree of
military organization and actions that were performed towards their
neighbors, and preconditions for such would be strong and well
Dardania was traditional enemy of Macedonia. Its military frequently
attacked its northern regions. One such attack was registered at 359.
year B.C., when they were stopped by Philip II. Danger from dardanians
increased even more when they were free from Celtic military pressure
at 280. year B.C. It was in their benefit that Macedonia was drained
from the wars with Celts.
First macedonian city that was attacked by Dardanians was 'Bilazora',
that was protecting the pass through river 'Vardar' and contact with
Macedonia from the North. Dardanians took it at the end and held it
almost hundred years. Phillip V took it back in 217. year B.C. Although
in this occasion he managed to enter deep in dardanian territory, this
didn't significatly endanger the power of dardanian kings. 10
Wars between Dardania and Macedonia didn't stop even later on. During a
year of 200. B.C. dardanian king Baton together with illyrian tribal
leaders named 'Pleurat' ('Pleuratos'?) and 'Aminandro' (Aminandros'?)
arrived in 'Dirahij' (today's Durres?) to meet roman council 'Sulpicius
Galbi?' and suggested to him to attack together Macedonia. 11 This is
the first documented contact between Dardanians and Romans. From this
point for many years to come they are allies in wars against Macedonia.
Politics of Rome was such, however, that its aim was to take all of
Balkans, so wars between these allies also had to occur. When Rome
during a year 168. B.C. finally conquered Macedonia, relations with
Dardania changed. Hopes of dardanians that Rome will give them some of
the conquered territories, did not materialize. Soon after wars
occurred that lasted for many years. Dardania definitely fell under
roman control during a year of 28. B.C., after what it was declared
into a roman province. 12
Ardideans(Ardiaei) - The Original 'Illyrians'
Within illyrian state entities we have far more larger, far more stable
and with far more longevity state that was represented by illyrian
kingdom. The borders of this state extended from todays
middle-dalmatian islands all the way towards river 'Vijusa' and
epirotic border in the south. In continental regions it bordered
Macedonia around 'Ohrid' lake, and with Dardania around where rivers of
White and Black 'Drim' connect. 13
History of Illyrian kingdom can be continuously followed from end of V
up to II century B.C. 14 Sources show that it was a compact political
society with strong central government. It represented a combination of
cities (among which there were also Greek colonies), and bigger and
smaller tribal communities. It collected taxes from the conquered, for
which it is known to have been two times bigger from taxes that were
forced on them later on by Rome. This was the biggest and strongest
state entity that was created by Illyrians during their history. Since
for a long period of time it was an active participant in political
developments in Balkans and that its time frame corresponds with the
timing of roman advance in Balkans, ancient writers left much data and
as a result we are more familiar with its history in comparison with
other illyrian communities.
There are several important questions regarding this important kingdom
around which there is still no consensus. It is questionable most of
all the identity of the tribe that is the carrier of its statehood, or
one that created this state. Even the name of the state is disputed
since various ancient sources mention it under different names (under
'Ardiaeian kingdom' and under 'Illyrian kingdom').
The oldest and basically widely accepted opinion that was initially
presented by 'Zippel', explains that the carriers of creators of
illyrian state were Ardiaeians, illyrian tribe, about which sources
state that they lived deep in the Adriatic background, somewhere
between rivers Neretva and Bosna (which would be roughly between
today's cities of Sarajevo and Konjic). From there at the start of IV
century B.C., pressed by Celts, they went down Neretva river and
reached Adriatic Sea. The placed themselves at the delta of Neretva.
According to 'Zippel' from there in the middle of III century B.C. they
attacked regions towards the south and as a result forced their rule on
many south illyrian tribes, and united them in under one state. 15
'Gitti', however, rejects 'Zippel' theory about 'Ardiaei' being the
creators of illyrian state. To him creators are tribe named 'Labeati',
who lived in around the Scodra lake (between now Montenegro and
Albania). The argument for that opinion is that exactly there, in
ancient Scodra, the region of the tribe 'Labeati', was situated the
capital of the last kind Gentius of the illyrian state. 16 For this
thesis, however, there is no confirmation in the sources, because
Labeati are first mentioned only in the middle of II century B.C., when
Illyrian kingdom did not exist any more.
Neither to 'Drojzen', the writer of known history of Hellenism, it was
not exactly clear the situation in regards to the carrier of the
illyrian state. Although he brought several names of the kings of this
dynasty, from so called older generation of rulers, he was not sure
whether it was even a continental state (around 'Ohrid' lake and upper
reaches of the rivers ' Vojusa' and 'Devol'), or coastal (Montenegrin
and northern albanian coast), although coastal was the one he
Some more recent research appears to be moving in favor of 'Drojzen'
theory (about the southern origins of the state). This is also
supported by 'Fanula Papazoglu', who with many convincing arguments
states her opinion that the nucleus of the state is in far southern
reaches of Illyria and that this state was actually moving from south
towards north, or towards the river 'Neretva' (In today's
Papazoglu separates two time frames in the development of this state.
First, older time frame, according to her lasted from V century B.C. up
to sixty-something year of the III century B.C. From this time frame
epigraphically and literary there are 9 kings: 'Sirrhas', 'Bardylis',
'Grabos', 'Pleuratos', 'Kleitos', 'Glaukias', 'Bardylis II',
'Monnounios' and 'Mytilios'. 19
After this follows younger time frame that lasted between 260. and 168.
year B.C. It continues towards the first dynasty. In this time frame
there were six kings: 'Pleurat', 'Agron', 'Teuta', 'Skerdilaida',
'Pleurat' and 'Gentius'. According to opinion of 'Fanula Papazoglu',
this is so called 'Ardiaeian' dynasty. This one is better known thanks
to existence of more sources, as a result of the fact that it its time
corresponds with the Roman military advance on Balkans. 20
Non-consensus between ancient writers when it comes to the question of
who are the state carriers of this state has introduced confusion among
modern historians, and because of this they are calling it with
different names (under 'Ardiaeian kingdom' and under 'Illyrian
kingdom'). For 'Dion Kasija' (III century B.C.) 'Agron' was 'Ardiaeian
king', while 'Polibije' (Polibius?), who is much closer to the time
frame of which he writes (II century B.C.), for him and his successor
uses term "king of Illyrians". 21
Accoring to 'Fanula Papazoglu', 'Agron's dynasty represents the last
event in the development of one and the same political ('Ardiaeian')
political community that lasted two and a half centuries. According to
her the best term that would suit it would be to be called 'Illyrian
It is important to mention the fact that the ancient writers are
calling this kingdom literary by the name of 'illyrian'. When we are
talking about other kingdoms among Illyrians the sources are clear in
calling them by the name of their tribal carriers (or creators), and as
a result we have 'Kingdom of Encheleans', 'Kingdom of Peonians',
'Kingdom of Taulantians' or 'Kingdom of Dardanians'. Which community is
the one that the Greeks were literary calling 'illyrian', and related
to that their state 'illyrian', it is not clear from their sources. 23
As a result of the fact that some Roman writers are calling 'Agron' as
'Ardidean king', and others as with a more common name 'illyrian', has
resulted to have some researchers call such kingdom as 'Ardidean
kingdom', which would correspond with the term 'Illyrian kingdom'.
This kingdom through a time frame of two and a half centuries, which is
the time frame that sources allows us to be aware of, was passing
through different societal, political and cultural developments. During
its best time it was a community of numerous bigger and smaller tribes,
of which some were forcefully included in this state. Within its state
there were cities, among which some Greek colonies in the Adriatic
coast, as well as the cities that belonged to Macedonian and Epirotic
dynasties. The nucleus's of the other cities were old illyrian centers
of which some were fully or partly hellenized. This shows that the
illyrian kingdom was a carrier of urban civilization, from which it
follows that from this side also existed preconditions for its complete
societal-legal development. This fact places this kingdom into a group
of more advanced states of the ancient world.
Illyrian kings were already in IV century B.C. minting coin, which
represents one of more important elements that characterize statehood,
since this represents commodity-monetary manner for economy to function
in behind which there must exist a well organized government. 24 This
is accompanied with political power. Illyrian kingdom during IV and III
centuries B.C. represented unavoidable factor in relations between
communities of southern Balkans. King 'Grabos' during the year 357.
B.C. forged an alliance with 'Halkidiki league' against Macedonia, and
during the year of 356. similar alliance was forged with Athens
('Diodor', XVI, 22,). Illyrian kingdom represented also a naval power.
The full development occurred during the reign of king 'Agron', who is
mentioned by sources in the years of 230/229. B.C. His successors were
able to keep the kingdom into existence for another six decades. This
is the time of intensive Roman attempts to cement its presence on the
eastern shores of the Adriatic as well as on Balkans. Ardidean kingdom
as important political factor in these regions was bound to face a
conflict with Rome. There were in totality three illyrian-roman wars
(229, 218, 171. years B.C.) Rome conquered this state during the Third
war (167. year B.C.), and during this event last ruler king (Gentius)
was caught and killed.
First illyrian-roman war from the political standpoint had such
importance that during this event roman army for the first time entered
eastern Adriatic coast. This had unforeseen consequences also for the
Greeks, since the intervenstion in Illyria would prepare for Romans for
their conquest of Greece. With this starts roman conquest of lands all
the way to Euphrates River (in Mesopotamia). As a result greek
historian 'Polibius' with full right in his writing of General
History's initial texts gives central place to the war with Queen Teuta
and events that followed after that. 25
Illyrian kingdom contained all attributes that characterize old-age
states. There is, before anything else, inherited rule of the royal
(King) dynasty, existence of royal palace (or Kings Palace) and the
existence of royal palace services or departments, diplomacy, emission
or printing of of monetary coins, strong army etc. About all of this
important data is given by Polibius. The most noticed royal palace
employee he terms by the title 'filoi' (kings friends), just like it
was in royal palaces of hellenistic rulers of the time. 'Livius' also
knows about these royal palace employees, with the difference that he
translates it in latin - 'amici'.
These 'kings friends'(filoi, amici) are sharply differentiated of the
category of tribal leaders. The difference between them is such that
the tribal leaders are elected on tribal deliberation or conference,
while the selection of king's 'friend' was done by the king. Their
influence solely depended on their personal connection with a given
king. This means that these royal employees were hired and fired at the
kings request. The sources state that among those there were also
foreigners, primarily Greeks.
While the tribal leaders ('principes gentis', 'principes Illyriorum')
in the oldest era were only tribal chiefs as their title suggests, in
developed era of the illyrian state this title were, also, carrying
individuals that on the royal palace were performing specific duties,
which means that by this time the title lost its initial meaning. The
title was carried even by urban functionaries or officials, small
'dynasts', chiefs of municipalities and others. In this case, we are
talking about category of elevated state employees or clerks that were
subservient to royal rule. On contrary, they would have represented
tribal deliberation or conference that could have limited the royal
rule, or kings function in domestic or international relations.
Existing 'epigraphic' structure and literary sources solely mention
king when the question is forging of an agreement about an alliance
(example is alliance with Athens from 356. year B.C.). While the title
'basileus' next to the names of some illyrian rulers ('basileus
Monnounios', 'basileus Bardylis' etc.) in essence doesn't say much, the
title 'basileus ton Illyrion', or 'rex Illyriorum' (Latin translation),
means character of the government that is above tribal nature. This,
primarily, refers to the kings from the older dynasty. 26
In this case ruler with the title doesn't not represent the chief of
some tribe but instead we are talking about a ruler of a given state
that incorporated a number of united related tribes, and a result the
title 'basileus ton Illyrion', (king of Illyrians). This above-tribal
title is in closest relation with attributes of the statehood since on
contrary, if it was in question king ('basileus') of one specific tribe
the meaning would be completely different.
Illyrian rulers enjoyed all the privileges and rights that were
reserved for individuals of such rank. They collected taxes, newly
conquered cities were subordinate to them, in such cities they placed
regents that they selected. Kings were the supreme military commanders,
they minted monetary coins, and were also supreme judges.
Of special importance is that the illyrian state had developed
diplomatic department fashioned or modeled after hellenistic states of
the time. We must suppose that written communication was the one in
use. With that the diplomacy used greek language and script.
Considering that we are talking about a state of ancient (antique) era,
its social relations were based on the principles of advanced
slave-ownership relations. This also assumes class differentiation,
about which 'Polibius' and 'Livius' give us a lot of information.
According to them, there were two categories of people: oppressed and
free. Both of them in the relation to the king were subservient. The
sources for them mention terms such as 'hipekooi' and 'oikeoi'. The
sources state that among Illyrians there was also category of real
slaves. 'Polibius' tells us that the illyrian kings also created slaves
through piracy. 27 Roman historian 'Livius' writes, that the macedonian
king Philip V after conquering the illyrian city 'Pelion' in year 200
B.C. left free people there free, while slaves and other booty was
taken from there to Macedonia.
'Teopomp' writes that Ardideans kept whole 300.000 slaves, that he
calls by the term 'prospelatoi'. 28 In temporal literature the opinion
is presented that here we are not talking about actual slaves, but
about category of semi-free members of the community. 'Varon' states,
again (or only), some 'oberate', for whom he says were all over Illyria
(or rather that Illyria was full of them). When Romans during the year
179. B.C. conquered 'penestian' city 'Uskani', they also encountered
multitude of slaves ('turba servilis'). This all states that among
Ardideans, as well as among other ancient states of this time, existed
class differentiation, where the lowest category was represented by
slaves. This is supported by the fact that Ardidean kingdom also
regarding the question of social relations was created by the
principles of ancient slave-owning institutional societies.
As rulers of well organized and strong state, Ardidean kings had at
their disposal great material resources. Although they started minting
coins only in IV century B.C., there is no doubt that they were using
it even earlier. It is known, that illyrian rulers frequently forged
military agreements with other states or communities for money. Also
they had offered their military services for money. At one point
macedonian kings were paying tribute to Illyrians, and also in such
manner did money finds its way in their economic activities.
Illyrian rulers held in their hands rich silver mines in 'Damastion'.
29 This together with war booty represented solid basis for obtaining
great wealth. Regarding this we are finding out some from also reports
of roman writers. When Romans during the year 167. B.C. conquered
Ardidean kingdom, they managed to get a hold of such a large booty that
this created unseen level of astonishment and admiration in Rome. In
victorious triumph, among other things, there were 27 shipment loads of
gold, 19 shipment loads of silver, 13.000 'denar(s)', 120.000 illyrian
silver coins etc. 30 This shows that from also material side there were
preconditions for functionality of complex state organization.
Daorson - Hellenistic Central(or southern) Illyrian Coastal City
In the context of these assessments one more tribe should be noted
which is in many respects specific. The focus here is on Daorson. They
lived regions of left banks of lower river Neretva and its delta, also
around today's Stolac in Hercegovina, with tribal center where it would
be today 'Ošaniæi'. That they represented in earlier history an
important people can be seen on their commemoration at 'Hekatei' (VI
cent. BCE), that calls them 'Daorsioi'. Polibius calls them 'Daorsoi',
while on their coins their is the name 'Daorson'.38
It appears that in earlier history that Daorsi lived in much wider
area. In last centuries of BCE they controlled regions between today's
river Neretva, mountain Velez and peninsula Peljesac, while pocessing
access to sea. Previously they might have controlled also the right
bank of river Neretva, all the way to ' Duvanjsko' field. At the end of
I century BCE their power has decreased significantly and afterwards
they are mainly grouping around today's Stolac. They created a tighter
political relations with Romans during Third Illyrian (versus Romans)
War (171-168. years of BCE), in which they fought on the roman side.
The research has showed that Daorsi were under intense Greek influence.
Their center at Osanici near Stolac contains many elements of
Hellenistic cities (cyclopean walls, specific urban architecture, agora
and related), and also mobile material shows that life was lived in
Greek fashion. Special attention deserves the fact that Daorsi minted
coin whose iconography fully coincides with Greek coins. On the face is
the picture of a head of God Hermes and on the back boat written in
Minting coins in either way shows advanced political organization and
strong economical community. Although we do not have data that confirms
that Daorsi had a state organization, the fact that coins were minted
and urban life leads us to conclude that they were on their way towards
such goal. Here also was the case that such process was interrupted as
a result of roman intervention, whose politics didn't create
compromise, whether the subject is about barbarian communities, as it
was the case among most Balkan tribes, or about culturally advanced
Greek and eastern communities.
Italic-like coastal northern Illyrians: Histrians, Liburnians
(*No data on Liburnians)
Other illyrian communities in their own social development never had
reached the level of development that would have elevated them to
establish social-political system that would have been above the tribal
organization. The highest level in such regard was creation of
inter-tribal alliance, that represented only a phase towards
establishing state organization. It can only be stated about Histrians
that in their own development they have closely approached (certainly
more then others) towards establishment of a complete state
Regarding social-political establishment among Histrians we are
informed via 'Livius', through descriptions of the war with Romans
during years of 178-177. B.C. ('Liv. Ab Urbe cond., XL, XLI'). Here it
is stated that Histrians were organized in tribal alliance that was
controlled by a hereditary king. 'Livius' knows of two such kings. The
name of the first he doesn't mention, but mentions that he lived in
piece with Romans and with neighbors. He was followed by his son
'Epulo', during his rule the war with Romans occurred. 31
According to this it can be seen that among Histrians existed the
institution of kings government, and this means that Histrians at the
start of II century B.C. already had behind them tribal incorporation,
and that during the era of their wars with Romans they were in the
phase of developing a strong military-democratic state on whose throne
was positioned hereditary king. The process of creation of complete
state organization was disrupted and stopped by Romans as a result of
military expedition, that finished with victory and control over
Although Histrians gave strong resistance, strong and well organized
Romans won. Consul 'Marko Pulher' ('Marcus Pulcerius'=?) during the
year 177 PNE proceeded with definitive advance on their stronghold
'Nezakcij' ('Nesakcinium'=?) (today Vizaèe near Pula). According to
legend, king Epulo killed himself so Romans could not catch him alive.
Fierse resistance of Histrians was stopped in blood and fire, after
what the region was controlled by Rome.32
Describing this war Livius brings many facts that depict social and
political circumastances among Histrians. He mentioned taht Romans were
very unhappy with the amount of war booty that they aquired after the
war and after taking the capital Neksacinium(?). This tells us that
among Histrians there was no material prerequisites (at least not fully
by this point) needed for establishing complete state organization,
which without strong economic basis can not function.
Livius almost idealizes the relationship between Histrians and freedom,
indicating that their females and males would rather choose death then
slavehood. This means that they represented a community that was not
aware of either internal or external slavehood. On the other hand, such
relationship and behavior within war circumstances is caracteristic for
communities of lower cultural and social status.
It can still be stated for Histrians that in political organization
were more advanced from other tribal organizations of western Balkans.
Livius mentions among them two kinds of categories of social
organizing: 'populi' and 'civitates'.33 First category included
numerous tribes that lived in one larger or collection of smaller
fortified locations ('kastelieri'). among them the basic occupation was
working the land and tending to cattle, and the ones who lived in the
vicinity of the coast were also involved in marine life.
Members of second category ('civitates') represented a higher level of
tribal incorporation. Both were ruled by chieftains ('principes').
Tribal incorporation on such basis was based on extended blood
relations and territorial connections. 'Civitatesi' (municipalities)
collected tribes that lived on certain territorial unit whose natural
resources were collectively used. Joint actions were conducted by
tribal chieftains ('principes') who, when a military threat would
occur, would select amongst themselves a main chieftain ('princeps
civitatis'), with many attributes of a king. As a result Livius
mentions 'Epul(ius?)' and his father as kings.
Attributes of Histrian kings still are not comparable to attributes of
peonian, ardidean or dardanian kings. While the last ones were fully
independent in their decision-making process regarding questions
relating to the community, histrian 'princeps' (king) was in
inter-tribal decision making organization limited. All the more
important questions such as defense, division of war booty, emigration
towards new regions and similar, was mutually decided in in
inter-tribal decision making organization that was composed by leaders
of certain tribes ('principes'). This is telling us that among
Histrians it was missing the last level in political development needed
for the institution of 'civitates' to upgrade towards institution of
monarchy. Such change would have likely occurred was it not for Romans
who interrupted the process.
It is not a coincidence that after the already mentioned states in
south Illyria the most socially and politically advanced organization
is recognizable among the Histrians. Just as Greece was culturally and
politically influencing southern Illyrians, this being the reason for
them being far more advanced as a culture in comparison to other
Illyrian regions such as those in mainland, on the other hand Histrians
were also advancing as a result of influences coming from adjacent
Italy. The fact that such analysis is correct can be seen by viewing
the destiny of what occurred to communities that lived more further
apart from ether Greek or Italian cultural influences. Among those one
can include Iapodes, Dalmates and Panones.
Tribal coastal central Illyrians (culturally Celtic-like)
Iapodians and Dalmates
Organisation of Iapodes was similar to one found among Histrians. Also
their tribes ('Moentini', 'Arupini', 'Avendini' and others) were allied
in an alliance whose center was in 'Metulum'. Among them also, like
among Histrians, such manner of organizing was of temporary character.
It was created after an agreement was forged between related tribes
directed against common enemy. After the threat would pass, the
alliance would stop existing, and tribes lived as independent units.
Some segments of Iapodian society resembles a lot Histrian
organization. Strabon mentions of them as ones being known as
plunderers of Italy. Then, mentions their cities 'Metulum', 'Arupium',
'Monetium', 'Terpon', 'Avendo' and 'Segestika', and of tribes 'Moentini', 'Arupini',
'Avendini' etc. They were collected around one center ('Metulum'). Here
also the episode of war with Romans repeats itself. After the hope in
victory is gone, then they proceed to kill women and children and then
themselves so they would not be caught alive by the Roman enemy.
It remains unknown who was the head of the community of Iapodes during
the time of their independence. Was it the king ('rex'), or chosen
tribal leader ('princeps'). After falling under roman rule, tribal
leaders of iapodian districts were carrying the title 'praepositus'
('praepositus et princeps'). 34 It is possible that the leaders with
such title were heads of tribal alliance while 'principes', or leaders
of certain tribes, were part of council that was positioned on the side
Romans in majority of cases left to conquered people their previous
institutions which in whatever way had to harmonize themselves with
roman legal system. As a result it can be assumed that the title
'praepositus', which appears on several Iapodian monuments from the
period of early roman empire, reflect the title of intra-tribal leader
from the period of their independence, while the 'principes Iapodum'
would be once tribal leaders that were selecting intra-tribal leader,
It was similar among the Dalmates (Dalmatians). They were also uniting
only when there would be the threat of common enemy. For a more
advanced form of organizing amongst them there was no even material
assumption. Dalmates lived coastal background, greater part in todays
'Duvanjsko', 'Livanjsko', 'Glamoèko' and 'Kupreško' fields. They were
mainly stock farmers. 35
Dalmates didnt have coinage, and workable land was distributed among
themselves every eight years. Subordinated tribes paid trubute in
cereals and in cattle. 36 All in all, those were typical highlanders
and stock farmers amongs whom there were no urban settlements nor was
there other elements that would suggest higher level of social and
cultural level that would represent basis for making more complex
Social system among Dalmates was similar to one found among Iapodes.
The highest level they achieved was a tribal alliance that was created
in extraordinary circumstances caused by outside danger. At such time a
intra-tribal leader would be choosen ('princeps Dalmatarum') whose
competencies would last fo as long as situation because of which he was
choosen would exist.
During the time of roman rule tribal leaders retained their functions
but this time were incorporated in roman legal system. Epigraphical
monuments register several of such leaders among whom only by name do
they resemble the tribal constitution from the time of their
independence. It appears, that in certain areas that such title was
hereditary, because on one writing (CIL III,2776) it was stated
'princeps' and the same is 22 years of age. Such title could not have
been earned by his experience do to his young age but only through
Forest Dwelling Tribal Northern Inland Illyrians (culturally German-like)
Next larger tribal community that deserves to be mentioned are Panones.
As peripheral Balkan people in history they appear relatively late,
only during the middle of II century BCE, when they ae first mentions
with such name by Polibius. Later on they are also mentioned by 'Velej
Paterkul', 'Strabon', 'Flor', 'Apian' etc. According to some, Panoni
are one ethnic unit, while according to others geographic name without
Neither among Panons there was no wider or lasting political community.
They were divided among numerous tribes among which there was no
precondition to establish even a tribal alliance much less for
establishing a organized state. Apian openly states that there was no
central government and that their political functions were still not
separated from societal ones (App. Ill. 22). Considering that they
lived far from Greek or Italian borders, they were unaffected from
their cultural influences, and a result their social-political
development was on a far inferior level in comparison with other tribes
of western Balkans.
Apian mentions that among Panons there was no even cities and that they
lived in fields and villages in primitive clannish communities (App.
Ill. 20). To some extent only the tribes that lived along the road that
connected Danube region with Italy were a bit more culturally advanced
in comparison to other ones. As a result only on this line there were
later built only to Panon cities - 'Siscia' and 'Sirmium'.
Note from Zetaman: Bellow summary is the original
English summary of the text is not translated by me!
S u m m a r y
On Elements of the Political Organizing of the Illyrian Communities
The Illyrians belong to the group of ancient peoples, who already in
the course of the lst millenium of the new era in the political
development achieved the level of the state organization. It concerns,
first of all, the tribes that were in the Southern parts of the
Illyrian world (Peonian, Taulantian, Dardanian and Ardieyanian). They
lived close to the Greek world, where from the pre-historic time the
cultural and political influences reached them. The Illyrians being
very close neighbours of the Greek developed culture took over the
progressive cultural heritage, influenced by them, they abandoned the
tribal organization rather early and established the form of the social
life, which differed little from that of the Greeks.
As early as the old Greek myths mentioned the Enhelian royal
authorities. The Peonians were mentioned by Homer as Troyan allies,
while the later Greek writers spoke in details of the kingdom of
Dardanians, Taulantians and Ardieyans. Based on these data it is
possible to say that the Illyrian political organizing, which brought
to the establishment of the royal state, namely the state organization,
started early in the 1st millenium of the old era (the Enhelian and
Peonian), while the other three tribes in the second half of the 1st
millenium. In the first case, the kingdoms were, doubtless, based on
the example of the Homerian period kingdoms. The Greek influence is
evident also with the kingdoms of the later time (Dardanian,
Taulantian, Ardieyans), that later in time were organized as the
typical Hellenist kingdoms.
The Greek writers and the epigraph documents show that the mentioned
communities had all the characteristics that enabled them to abandon
rather early the tribal organization, to establish the monarchy. First
of all, they had the good economic base and military power. Some Greek
communities, to mention Athens, sometimes, due to the money, won the
alliance of certain Illyrian kingdoms in the mutual clashes or the war
against the Macedonians. As a matter of fact, the Illyrians suffered a
great deal from the neighbouring Macedonians. Their histories, in the
course of centuries, often meet. The contacts had also the far reaching
consequences for the Illyrian cultural and political development.
From the mentioned kingdoms the best known to us is that of the
Ardieyans, because it used to be the erliest state, a contemporary of
the Roman penetration to the Balkan peninsula, it was described by
Roman writers in details.
Those Illyrian communities that were remoted from the Greek world, that
had less or no Greek influece, in their cultural and political
development were considerably lagging behind. This the reason that the
arrival of the Romans found them in the phasis of tribal organization.
Only some of them (e.g. the Histri, to some parts, the Dalmati) were on
the verge to have a state organization, which was interrupted by the
Roman expansion. It may be concluded that the most developed political
organizing with the Illyrians was that under the direct cultural and
political influence of the Greeks. Those were the tribes on the South
of the Illyrian world (the present day Macedonia, Albania, Monte Negro
and South Herzegovina).
(Note: bellow are sources)
1 About Enheleans: G. Zippel, Die römische Herrschaft in Illyrien bis
auf Augustus, Leipzig 1877., p. 12-20; K. Schüt, Untersuchungen zur
Geschichte der alten Illyrier, Breslau 1910., p. 24-26; R. Katièiæ,
Enhelejci, Godišnjak, knj. XV, Centar za balkanološka ispitivanja, knj.
13, Akademija nauka i umjetnosti Bosne i Hercegovine, Sarajevo 1977.,
2 C. Mullerus, Geographi Graeci minores, Parisisi 1855., p. 3; sredi:
M. Suiæ, Gdje se nalazilo jezero iz 24. pogl. Pseudo Skilakova
Peripla?, Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja, n. s. VIII, Sarajevo 1953., p. 118
3 Apolod. III, 5, 6.
4 F. Papazoglu, Politièka organizacija Ilira u vreme njihove
samostalnosti, Simpozijum o Ilirima u antièko doba, Centar za
balkanološka istraživanja, knj. 2, pos. izd. knj. V, Akademija nauka i
umjetnosti Bosne i Hercegovine, Sarajevo 1967., p. 18.
5 F. Papazoglu, o. c., p. 16; Sr. N. Vuliæ, Narodnost Peonaca, Glas,
Srpska kraljevska akademija, CXXI, 2. r. 66, Beograd 1926., p. 1 i d.
6 F. Papazoglu, o. c., p. 18.
7 F. Papazoglu, Srednjobalkanska plemena u predrimsko doba, Djela, knj.
XXX, Centar za balkanološka ispitivanja, knj. 1, ANUBiH, Sarajevo
1969., p. 105; E. Èerškov, Rimljani na Kosovu i Metohiji, Beograd 1969,
p. 105 i d.
8 Iust. XXIV, 9-11; F. Papazoglu, o. .c., p. 107.
9 Iust. VIII, 6, 2.
10 F. Papazoglu, Makedonski gradovi u rimsko doba, Skopje 1957., p. 231
i d; Isti autor: Srednjobalkanska plemena u predrimsko doba, p. 116.
11 Liv. XXXI, 28, 1-3.
12 F. Papazoglu, Srednjobalkanska plemena u predrimsko doba, p. 140 i d.
13 O granicama: F. Papazoglu, O teritoriji ilirskog plemena Ardijeja,
Zbornik radova Filozofskog fakulteta u Beogradu, VII, Beograd 1963., p.
71 i d; Isti autor: Poreklo i razvoj ilirske države, Godišnjak, knj. V,
Centar za balkanološka istraživanja, knj. 3, ANBiH, Sarajevo 1967., p.
126 i d.
14 Opæenito: G. Zippel, o. c., p; F. Papazoglu, o. c., p. 124 i d.
15 G. Zippel, o. c., p. 43 i d;
16 A. Gitti, Ricerche di storia illirica. Sulle origine ed i caratteri
della monarchia di Agrone, Historia 1935/XIII, No. 2, p. 183.
17 J. G. Droysen, Geschichte des Hellenismus III/2, Gotha 1877., p. 115.
18 F. Papazoglu, O teritoriji ilirskog plemena Ardijeja, p. 71 i d. Isti autor: Poreklo i razvoj ilirske države, p. 127.
19 F. Papazoglu, Poreklo i razvoj ilirske države, p. 128 i d.
20 F. Papazoglu, o. c., p. 138 i d.
21 Cass. Dio. frg. 9, 2-3; Polib. II, 2, 4.
22 F. Papazoglu, o. c., p. 144.
23 Plin. III, 22; Pomp. Mela II, 3, 56.
24 D. Rendiæ, Prolegomena ilirskoj numografiji, Godišnjak, knj. III,
Centar za balkanološka ispitivanja, knj. 1, Sarajevo 1965., p. 77-93.
25 Polib. II 2-112; M. Garašanin, Istorija Crne Gore, I, Titograd 1967., p. 107 i d.
26 O tome: F. Papazoglu, Politièka organizacija Ilira u vreme njihove samostalnosti, p. 19.
27 Polib. II, 4, 65.
28 Atheneus, VI, 271.
29 Strab. VII, 271.
30 Liv. XLV, 43. Sr. M. Garašanin, o. c., p. 112-113.
31 Liv. XLI, 1; Š. Mlakar, o. c., p. 9 i d.
32 S. Èaèe, o. c., p. 86.
33 O tome: Š. Mlakar, o. c., p. 7-8.
34 K. Patsch, Japodi, Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja, VIII, Sarajevo 1896., p. 133 i d.
35 M. Zaninoviæ, Ilirsko pleme Delmati, Godišnjak, knj. IV, Centar za
balkanološka ispitivanja, knj. 2, ANUBiH, Sarajevo 1966., p. 27 i d.
36 Polib., 32, 18.
37 Z. Mariæ, Problem sjevernog graniènog podruèja Ilira, Simpozijum o
teritorijalnom i hronološkom razgranièenju Ilira u praistorijsko doba,
Nauèno društvo Bosne i Hercegovine, pos. izd. knj. IV, Centar za
balkanološka ispitivanja, knj. 1, Sarajevo 1964., p. 187 i d.
38 Z. Mariæ, Ošaniæi - centar Daorsa - kulturno - historijske znaèajke,
Jadranska obala u protohistoriji, Zagreb 1976., p. 249 i d.
39 Z. Mariæ, Novèiæ drugog i treæeg stoljeæa stare ere sa Gradine u
Ošaniæima kod Stoca, Glasnik Zemaljskog Muzeja, XXVII-XXVIII, Sarajevo
1973. p. 237-258.