Invasions of Epidamnus (229 BC)

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The Invasion of Epidamnus refers to two events involving Illyrian forces deployed by Queen Teuta attacking the Greek cities of Epirus as part of the Illyrian Wars. The fighting took place in spring 229 BC between the Greeks of Epidamnus and the forces of the Kingdom of Illyria.


In 230 BC, the Illyrians had defeated an Epirote army of Phoenice and prepared to engage a second Greek army, but were called back by Queen Teuta to stop an Illyrian defection to Dardania.[1][2][3][4] Teuta quickly crushed the revolt,[4] and set about taking control of remaining territories in the Adriatic not already under Illyrian control. She began the Siege of Issa the same year and sent a large fleet into the Adriatic, which attacked Epidamnus, Corcyra and Apollonia in spring 229 BC.[5]

First attack: The Battle[edit]

Battle of Epidamnus
Part of the Illyrian Wars
Location Epidamnus, Epidamnia (modern day Durrës, Albania)
Result Illyrian attack fails; Epidamnian victory
Epidamnus Kingdom of Illyria
Commanders and leaders
Queen Teuta
Casualties and losses
Unspecified; City guards killed by Illyrians

The Illyrians landed at the port of Epidamnus in spring 229 BC, with the pretext of collecting food and water. The Greeks were careless and allowed the Illyrians to enter, with the latter concealing swords to prepare for an assault. They killed the guards of the gate tower and quickly took part of much of the walls of Epidamnus. Eventually, the citizens formed a resistance and pushed the Illyrians outside of the city. The Illyrians then left Epidamnus and joined other Illyrians who were heading southwards towards Corcyra.


Following this attack, the cities of Epidamnus, Apollonia and Corcyra requested assistance from the Acheaen and Aetolian leagues to protect them from Illyrian attacks. The leagues agreed to help, and sent a fleet of ten ships to lift the siege of Corcyra, which the Illyrians had already begun. However, the Greeks were defeated at sea off the coast of Paxus and the Illyrians shortly afterwards captured Corcyra. With this victory, the Illyrians sailed back north towards Epidamnus, and prepared for a second attack.

Second attack: The Siege[edit]

Upon arriving from Corcyra, the Illyrians began the Siege of Epidamnus in 229 BC. However, following Roman intervention after the breakout of the First Illyrian War, a large Roman army and fleet approached Illyria. After several victories, resulting in the capture of Corcyra and territories of the southern Illyrian tribes, the Romans approached Epidamnus in 229 BC. Upon hearing of this, the Illyrians fled and abandoned the siege.


  1. ^ Erich S. Gruen. The Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome, Volume 1. p. 363. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Craige Brian Champion. Cultural Politics in Polybius's Histories. p. 112. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  3. ^ 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..."
  4. ^ a b Polybius. Histories, Plb. 2.6. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Erich S. Gruen. The Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome, Volume 1. p. 365. Retrieved 18 April 2014.