Agron of Illyria

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King Agron
Reign 250–231 BC
Illyrian Agron
Died 231 BC
Place of death Illyria
Predecessor Pleuratus II
Successor Teuta (de facto), as regent of Pinnes (de jure)
Consort Teuta, Triteuta
Issue Pinnes

Agron (/ˈæɡrən/ or /ˈæɡˌrɒn/; Greek: Ἄγρων; ruled c. 250 – 231 BC[1]) was the greatest king of the Ardiaean Kingdom. The son of Pleuratus II, Agron brought about a great revival among the Illyrians; during his reign, the Ardiaean State was not only the most powerful Illyrian state of the time, but also one of the greatest in the Balkans. He succeeded in extending Illyrian rule over many peoples and cities in the Adriatic and Ionian regions. He is most famed for his decisive victory over the Aetolians, who at the time were considered the strongest power in Greece. Agron was mentioned by two Greek historians, Appian (95–165 AD) in his Foreign Wars and Polybius (203–120 BC) in his Histories.

Around 231 BC, Agron suddenly died after his triumph over the Aetolians. Pinnes, his son with his first wife Triteuta, officially succeeded his father as king in 231 BC, but the kingdom was ruled by Agron's second wife, Queen Teuta.

A new power in the Adriatic[edit]

Ardiaean Kingdom under King Agron

Agron came to power as king and commander-in-chief when Ardia was declining and lacking a strong leader. After the decline of Epirus following the death of Pyrrhus, Agron took great strides in improving the lot of his subjects. Cities quickly flourished because he reduced the local autonomy of different tribes.

Agron extended his rule over other neighboring tribes as well.[2] He annexed part of Epirus, Epidamnus, and the islands of Corcyra and Pharos, and garrisoned in them. His state stretched from Narona in Dalmatia south to the river Aoos and Corcyra. During his reign, the Ardiaean Kingdom reached the height of its power. The Ardiaean army and fleet made it a major regional power in the Balkans and the southern Adriatic. The king regained control of the Adriatic with his warships (lembi), a domination once enjoyed by the Liburnians Liburnians. None of his neighbors were nearly as powerful. Agron gave the city of Pharos to Demetrius of Pharos to rule as its governor.

The Greek cities (poleis) on the coast of Illyria were systematically attacked and perhaps already conquered[clarification needed] by Agron's forces.[3] Rome answered an appeal from the island of Issa, threatened by Agron, by sending envoys. They never got there. They were attacked en route by Illyrian vessels, and one of them was killed, together with an Issaean ambassador. Rome thereupon undertook military action against Agron's wife, Teuta, Agron having died in the interim.[4] Polybius wrote of Agron:

"Agron, king of the Illyrians, was the son of Pleuratus, and possessed the most powerful force, both by land and sea, of any of the kings who had reigned in Illyria before him."

Famous victory[edit]

In 234 BC, the royal succession in Epirus came to an end, and a federal republic was instituted. In the south, the western part of Acarnania seceded from this arrangement. Their[clarification needed] independence was soon threatened by the Aetolians, who began to occupy territory around the Gulf of Ambracia, including Pyrrhus' old capital, Ambracia, which forced the Epirotes to establish a new center at Pheonice. Besieged at Medion, the Acarnanians sought assistance from Demetrius II of Macedonia, who for the most of his reign had been at war with the Aetolian and Achaean Leagues. In response, the king brought Agron into the conflict. The Illyrian attack under Agron, mounted in either 232 or 231 BC, is described by Polybius.

[clarification needed] One hundred lembi with 500 men on board sailed up to land at Medion. Dropping anchor at daybreak, they disembarked speedily and in secret. They then formed up in the order that was usual in their own country, and advanced in their several companies against the Aetolian lines. The latter were overwhelmed with astonishment at the unexpected nature and boldness of the move; but they had long been inspired with overweening self-confidence, and having full reliance on their own forces were far from being dismayed. They drew up the greater part of their hoplites and cavalry in front of their own lines on the level ground, and with a portion of their cavalry and their light infantry they hastened to occupy some rising ground in front of their camp, which nature had made easily defensible.

A single charge, however, of the Illyrians, whose numbers and close order gave them irresistible weight, served to dislodge the light-armed troops, and forced the cavalry who were on the ground with them to retire to the hoplites. But the Illyrians, being on higher ground, and charging down on from it upon the Aetolian trrops formed up on the plain, routed them without difficulty. The Medionians joined the action by sallying out of the town and charging the Aetolians, thus, after killing a great number, and taking a still greater number prisoners, and becoming masters also of their arms and baggage, the Illyrians, having carried out the orders of Agron, conveyed their baggage and the rest of their booty to their boats and immediately set sail for their own country.[5]

Sudden death[edit]

The defeat of the Aetolians, famed for their victory over the invading Gauls a generation before, caused a sensation in Greece. Agron was beside himself with delight when his ships returned and he learned of the victory from his commanders. Agron then drank so much by way of celebration, it was reported, that this and other similar indulgences, brought on an attack of pleurisy which killed him within a few days.[6] Agron died in the winter of 231 BC.

His son, Pinnes, succeeded him and ruled de jure (though never de facto) for thirteen years. Tritueta was Agron's first wife and the mother of Pinnes. Agron divorced her. Agron's second wife was Queen Teuta, who acted as regent after Agron's death.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hammond 1993, p. 105.
  2. ^ Hammond 1993, p. 104
  3. ^ Wilkes, John (1995). The Illyrians. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19807-5.
  4. ^ The Hellenistic world and the coming of Rome, Volume 1 by Erich S. Gruen
  5. ^ Polybius 2.3
  6. ^ Hammond 1967, pp. 591 and 595


Further reading[edit]

Agron of Illyria
Born: Unknown Died: 231 BC
King of the Ardiaei
250–231 BC
Succeeded by
Pinnes, though regent Teuta ruled