Battle of Phoenice

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Battle of Phoenice
Part of Illyrian Wars
Date Spring 230 BC
Location Phoenice, Chaonia, Epirus (modern day Albania)
Result Illyrian victory, followed by retreat
Ardiaean Kingdom[1][2] Epirote League[1]
Commanders and leaders
Queen Teuta[1]
Casualties and losses
'A large number' are killed
'Still more' are captured[1]
As a result the Epirotes and Acarnanians entered an alliance with the Illyrians

The Battle of Phoenice was a battle that took place in 230 BC between the forces of the Epirote League and the Ardiaean Kingdom.

Illyrian Invasion of Epirus and Battle[edit]

Phoenice had been previously taken by a coalition of Illyrian tribes under Queen Teuta, in 230 BC,[3] after a Gaulish garrison of 800 men surrendered to the larger Illyrian force. In reaction, the Epirote League sent in an army to retake Phoenice. They took up positions at a river outside of Phoenice. Meanwhile, 5,000 Illyrians under Scerdilaidas had advanced inland into Epirus from Southern Illyria and reached a pass just outside of Antigoneia. The Epirotes reacted by dividing their army, sending a small detachment to protect Antigoneia whilst keeping their main body outside of Phoenice. The Illyrians at Phoenice, seeing the Epirote army was divided, advanced towards their camp and crossed the river. The next day, the forces engaged each other in battle. The Greek forces were routed and badly defeated,[3] with many being killed or captured, and the remnants of the army fled to Atinania.[1]

Further advances, preparation for a second battle, and truce[edit]

Following the battle, the Epirote league had failed to take control of Phoenice, the most powerful city of Epirus. Scerdilaidas forces had also occupied areas of northern Epirus up until Antigoneia. The Epirotes requested assistance from the Aetolian and Achaean Leagues, with the former having been defeated previously by Illyrians under Agron at Medion in 232 BC.[4] Both leagues sent a combined relief army to the Epirotes which arrived at Helicranum, nearby modern Ioannina, in 230 BC. The Illyrians at Phoenice and those outside Antigoneia under Scerdilaidas joined forces in Epirus and advanced towards Helicranum at the heart of Epirus, preparing to engage the new Greek force in battle. However, they were called back to Illyria by Teuta before the battle begun, following an Illyrian revolt in support of Dardania.[3][5][6][7][8] The Dardanian ruler, Longarus, had invaded Illyria, sparking an insurrection.[9] Thus, after briefly plundering the Epirote coast, the Illyrians made a truce with the Epirotes and retreated. They also gave up the freemen they had captured at the battle along with the city of Phoenice for a ransom. Afterwards, taking slaves and booty the Illyrians returned to Illyria by sea, whilst the 5,000 under Scerdilaidas retreated northwards to the pass of Antigoneia.[10]


Following the battle and eventual withdrawal of Illyrian forces, the Epirotes saw that the Greek leagues could not protect them. They sent ambassadors to Teuta and entered into an alliance with Illyria against the Achaean and Aetolian leagues.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e Polybius. Histories, Plb. 2.5. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Polybius, Scott-Kilvert & Walbank 1979, pp. 114–122; Wilkes 1995, pp. 80, 129, 167.
  3. ^ a b c Erich S. Gruen. The Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome, Volume 1. p. 363. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Polybius. Histories, Plb. 2.3. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Wilkes 1995, pp. 157–159.
  6. ^ Ormerod 1997, p. 171.
  7. ^ Gruen 1986, p. 363.
  8. ^ Craige Brian Champion. Cultural Politics in Polybius's Histories. p. 112. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  9. ^ The Illyrians, J. J. Wilkes, 1992, ISBN 0-631-19807-5, p. 86, "...including the names of Dardanian rulers, Longarus, Bato, Monunius and Etuta, and those on later epitaphs, Epicadus, Scerviaedus, Tuta, Times and Cinna. Other Dardanian names are linked with..."
  10. ^ a b Polybius. Histories, Plb. 2.6. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Erich S. Gruen. The Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome, Volume 1. pp. 363, 364. Retrieved 18 April 2014.