Bryges or Briges (Greek: Βρύγοι or Βρίγες) is the historical name given to a people of the ancient Balkans. They are generally considered to have been related to the Phrygians, who during classical antiquity lived in western Anatolia. Both names, Bryges and Phrygians, are assumed to be variants of the same root. Based on archaeological evidence, some scholars (e.g., Nicholas Hammond, Eugene N. Borza et al.) argue that the Bryges/Phrygians were members of the Lausitz culture that migrated into the southern Balkans during the Late Bronze Age.
The earliest mentions of the Bryges are contained in the historical writings of Herodotus, who relates them to Phrygians, stating that according to the Macedonians, the Bryges "changed their name" to Phryges after migrating into Anatolia, a movement which is thought to have happened between 1200 BC and 800 BC perhaps due to the Bronze Age collapse, particularly the fall of the Hittite Empire and the power vacuum that was created. In the Balkans, the Bryges occupied central Albania and northern Epirus, as well as Macedonia, mainly west of the Axios river, but also Mygdonia, which was conquered by the kingdom of Macedon in the early 5th century BC. They seem to have lived peacefully next to the inhabitants of Macedonia, however, Eugammon in his Telegony, drawing upon earlier epic traditions, mentions that Odysseus commanded the Epirotian Thesprotians against the Bryges. Small groups of Bryges, after the migration to Anatolia and the expansion of the kingdom of Macedon, were still left in northern Pelagonia and around Epidamnus.
Herodotus also mentions that in 492 BC, some Thracian Brygoi or Brygians (Greek: Βρύγοι Θρήικες) fell upon the Persian camp by night, wounding Mardonius himself, though he went on with the campaign until he subdued them. These Brygoi were later mentioned in Plutarch's Parallel Lives, in the Battle of Philippi, as camp servants of Brutus. However, modern scholars state that a historical link between them and the original Bryges cannot be established.
There is no certain derivation for the name and tribal origin of the Bryges. In 1844, Hermann Müller suggested the name might be related to the same Indo-European root as that of to German Berg (mountain) and Serbian breg (hill, slope, mountain), i.e. IE *bʰerǵʰ. It would then be cognate with Western European tribal names such as the Celtic Brigantes and the Germanic Burgundians, and semantically motivated by some aspect of the word meanings "high, elevated, noble, illustrious".
Some personal or geographic names mentioned in ancient authors may be etymologically related to "Bryges":
- Borza, Eugene N. In the Shadow of Olympus: the Emergence of Macedon. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-691-00880-9, p. 65. "What can be established, despite an extremely slight archaeological record (especially along the slopes of Mt. Vermion), is that two streams of Lausitz peoples moved south in the later Bronze Age, one to settle in Hellespontine Phrygia, the other to occupy parts of western and central Macedonia."
- The Gordion Excavations 1950-1973: Final Reports Volume 4, Rodney Stuart Young, Ellen L. Kohler, Gilbert Kenneth, p. 53.
- Herodotus. Histories, 7.73. "The Phrygian equipment was very similar to the Paphlagonian, with only a small difference. As the Macedonians say, these Phrygians were called Briges as long as they dwelt in Europe, where they were neighbors of the Macedonians; but when they changed their home to Asia, they changed their name also and were called Phrygians. The Armenians, who are settlers from Phrygia, were armed like the Phrygians. Both these together had as their commander Artochmes, who had married a daughter of Darius."
- Borza, Eugene N. In the Shadow of Olympus: the Emergence of Macedon. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-691-00880-9, p. 65.
- Edwards, Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen (1973). The Cambridge Ancient History, Part 2, The Middle East and the Aegean Region c.1380-1000 BC. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
- Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War, 2.99.
- Borza, Eugene N. In the Shadow of Olympus: the Emergence of Macedon. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-691-00880-9, p. 65. "There is no record of conflict between the Bryges and the local population; they are described as synoikoi ("fellow inhabitant" or neighbors) of the Macedonians."
- Herodotus. Histories, 6.45
- Plutarch. The Parallel Lives (Brutus).
- Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians. Blackwell Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0-631-19807-5, p. 111. "The presence of Bryges at Epidamnus in the account of Appian seems to be confirmed by other sources, including the Coastal Voyage attributed to Scymnus of Chios and Stabo's Geography. No later record of their presence in the area survives nor can any link be established with the Bryges of Thrace..."
- Müller, Hermann. Das nordische Griechenthum und die urgeschichtliche Bedeutung des Nordwestlichen Europas, p. 228.
- Kluge, Etymologisches Wörterbuch, Berlin: de Gruyter 1995, v. Berg.
- Pokorny, Julius. "Indogermanisches Etymologisches Woerterbuch". University of Leiden. pp. 140–141.
- Apollonios Rhodios (translated by Peter Green). The Argonautika. University of California Press, 1997, ISBN 0-520-07687-7, p. 223. [Glossary] "Brygean Isles: A group of islands occupying the (supposed) Adriatic delta of the Istros R. (Danube) and sacred to Artemis."
- Hazlitt, William. The Classical Gazetteer: A Dictionary of Ancient Geography, Sacred and Profane. Whittaker, 1851, p. 81. "Brygias (Brygium, Brucida), capital of the Brygi, Illyria, E. of Lychnitis palus on the Via Egnatia, bet. Lychnidus (13) and Scirtiana (4). Presba."
- Epigraphical Database - Epitaph of Brugos, son of Aphrodisios. White limestone cippus. Βρῦγος Ἀ[φ]ροδισίου χαῖρε.
- Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, 1854 (Original from Harvard University), p. 452. "Some of the Brygi were settled in Illyricum, where they dwelt apparently north of Epidamnos. Strabo assigns to them a town Cydriae."
- Craik, Elizabeth M. The Dorian Aegean. Routledge, 1980, ISBN 0-7100-0378-1, pp. 47-48. "The Greeks were aware that some such names had a foreign ring: it was said that the dried figs of the Brigindara region were 'barbarian' in name, though 'Attic' in the enjoyment they gave."
- Torr, Cecil. Rhodes in Ancient Times. Kessinger Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1-4179-2188-9, p. 5. "The places whose ethnics were Amios, Amnistios, Astypalaeeus, Brycuntios, Brygindarios, Casareus, Diacrios, Dryites, Erinaeus, Istanios, Neopolites, Pontoreus, Rynchidas and Sybithios were probably not in the territory of Lindos; but there is nothing to shew the position of any of these, except that Rynchidas may be the ethnic of Roncyos."