The various Greek tribes of Ancient Greece


The Thessalians were an ancient Greek tribe from Thesprotia. During the 11th century BC. moved to the area of ​​Thessaly in which they gave their name. During their settlement in Thessaly they subjugated or displaced the earlier peoples who were settled there.

The older inhabitants of Thessaly, the Aeolians, the Boeotians, the Ainians etc. moved east or south establishing new states and colonies. The Aeolians in the islands of the northern Aegean and the northern coasts of Asia Minor opposite Lesvos and Chios, the Boeotians in the region of Boeotia while the Ainians in the plain of Sperchios. The Thessalians were divided into four states, Pelasgiotida, Estiaiotida, Thessalyotida and Fthiotida (or Achaia Fthiotida).

In time of war a leader was chosen from among the four kings named Tagus. Tagos came from the aristocratic family of Daochos from Farsalo and the Alevads of Larissa. The Thessalians gradually dominated the neighboring states of the older peoples of Thessaly, the Magnites, the Perraivs, the Ainians, the Malians, the Itasians and the Dolopes. Thessaly spread in an area from Olympus to Oiti mountains.


Although the Boeotians were politically connected, they differed in origin. Three different tribes had settled in the area of ​​Boeotia, the Kadmei, the Minyes and the Boeotians who also gave their name to the area. The Minyas were settled mainly in the area of ​​Orchomenos and are considered to have come from the area of ​​Thessaly. The Boeotians, who spoke the Aeolian dialect, also came from the region of Thessaly, while the Kadmeians, who settled in the region of Thebes.

Homer mentions that the Boeotians participated in the Trojan War united in a federation. In the early years there was great competition between the Kadmeians and the Minyas which often led to a conflict between Orchomenos and Thebes. Gradually in the area of ​​Boeotia Thebes dominated and in 550 BC. about, the cities of Boeotia were united in a federation called the Common of Boeotia.

The Boeotians were represented at the Delphic Amphitheater with two votes. The inhabitants of ancient Boeotia were called Boeotians. Boeotia bordered the Athenians to the south, the Evians to the east, the Phocians to the north, west and southwest, and also the Lokros to the north. It consisted of numerous cities which were gradually connected to a confederation called the Common of Boeotia.


The Aetolians, as an administrative and political entity, are mentioned for the first time in Homer, who knows very well their presence and their action that precedes the Trojan events. In the Iliad, and especially in the “Catalog of Youth” ( where the participations of the Greek kingdoms in the Trojan campaign are listed), the “Aetolians” appear for the first time, as a tribal group (with its own name) and as a regional, regional military force (of the Mycenaeans).

Evinos river separates the Aetolian regions of Plevrona and Kalydona, which may have been famous in heroic times, but became much more glorious in our time, because there, around Plevrona, is the heroic stronghold of modern Hellenism, Messolonghi.

Some Aetolian tribes reached the deserted peaks of Oiti, where the Dorians and Malians were neighbors. to the Keravnia mountains, to the west to the Ionian Sea and to the east it was separated from Thessaly by the Pindos mountain range.

The Aetolians, who, as is well known, were divided into many and varied tribes, were famous in the heroic years, participated in the Descent of the Heraclides in the Peloponnese, but in historical times were invisible and without special relations with other Greeks, at least until his time. Peloponnesian War.

They reappeared on the historical scene in the 3rd century BC. The Aetolians were distinguished throughout their course for the barbarity of their morals. In fact, during the Peloponnesian War, that is, at the end of the 5th century BC, Thucydides says of them that they did not live in cities but in large walled villages. For many of them you add that they were “very familiar with the language and homophagous”, that is, that they spoke an incomprehensible language and ate raw meat.

Nevertheless, it is certain that the Aetolians always had – even before their last prosperity – a Greek state, about which Aristotle wrote in his great work on regimes. Unfortunately, because this book was lost, we know almost nothing about that state, for the years before the 3rd century BC, other than the information that their gatherings and common religious festivals took place in Thermo, a city that is located east of Lake Trichonida, Lake Zygos or Lake Vrachori.

The tribes of Elis

The Elis were an ancient Greek race, settled in the Northwestern Peloponnese in the area called Ileia. The Ileians, coming from the region of Aetolia, were allies of the Dorians during the latter’s campaign in the Peloponnese.
Taking advantage of this campaign, they occupied Ilia on their behalf and subjugated the older tribes, the Epius in northern Ilia and the Caucasus and Minyas in the south, which took the name Trifylia, due to the settlement in the area of ​​three sexes.

The Elis were divided into three states, the Hollow Ileia or Ilida, the Pisatida and the Trifylia. The first king of Ileia, who occupied the area that took their name, was called Oxilos. He came from Aetolia, a fact that testifies to the Aetolian origin of Ileia.
He is credited with founding the Olympic Games. Important kings of Ilia were Pelopas, Oinomaos, Laias and Ifitos.

The most important city of Ileia was Olympia and the control of the city caused great disputes between the two powerful states of Ileia, Elis and Pisatis. Pisatis initially had control of the games as the city was within its territory. The rivalry between the two cities for control of the Games led to a war between them that lasted from 588 to 580 BC. and resulted in the predominance of Elis. In a new war that broke out in the middle of the 5th century BC. Elis prevailed again and destroyed Pisatis (464 BC).


The Molossians were an ancient Greek race that settled in Epirus during the Mycenaean years. On their northeastern border they had the Chaos, on their southern border the kingdom of Thesprotia, while on their northern border were the Illyrians. The Molossians belonged to the Common of Epirus, until they fought against Rome in the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC).

The result was catastrophic, and the vengeful Romans enslaved 150,000 of their inhabitants and annexed the area to the Roman Republic. The Molossians were descendants of their eponymous hero, Molossus, one of the three sons of Neoptolemus, son of Achilles and Deidameia. After the fall of Troy from the Achaeans, Neoptolemus and his army settled in Farsala, Thessaly (Andromachi-Euripides). His son Molossos settled in Epirus, where they united with the local population.

Molossus inherited the kingdom of Epirus after the death of Elenos, son of Priam and Hecabe, who had married Andromachis’s former bride after the death of Neoptolemus. Plutarch states that according to some ancient historians, their first king was Phaedo, one of those who settled in Epirus with Pelasgos.

Plutarch also points out that Deucalion and Pyrra inaugurated the cult of Dodona Zeus in the area of ​​the Molossians. Strabo tells us that the Molossians, along with the Chaos and the Thesprotians, were the most famous of the fourteen Epirus tribes that once ruled the whole region. The Chaones were settled in Epirus before the Molossians, the Thesprotians and the Molossians entered the area some later time.


Tthe Thesprotians were an ancient Greek tribe settled in the region of Epirus, it was one of the main Greek tribes of the region along with the Molossians and the Chaonites. Homer often refers to Thesprotia (the land of the Thesprotians), which had friendly relations with Ithaca and Doulichi.

To the northwest of Thesprotia they were adjacent to the Chaones and to the east to the Molossians. The Thesprotians belonged to the Common of Epirus, until the moment they were subjugated by the Romans along with the rest of Epirus. According to Telegonia (belonging to the Trojan Epic Circle), Odysseus visited Thesprotia and remained there for a few years. He married the queen of Thesprotia Kallidiki, and they had a son, Polypoitis.

Odysseus led the Thesprotians against the Brygians, but lost the battle as Mars, the god of war, was on the side of the Brygians. Athena intervened in favor of Odysseus, provoking Mars into another conflict, which was stopped by Apollo. When Kallidiki died, Odysseus returned to Ithaca, leaving his son Polypoitis to reign in Thesprotia.

Archaeologically confirmed is the sparse but continuous presence of pre-Hellenic tribes in the Thesprotian area in the early Bronze Age (3 BC millennium), as the next cultural period is called. At the end of the Early Bronze Age (around 2,000 BC) is placed the peaceful settlement of the first Greek-speaking tribes, the Greeks of Thesprotia, in Thesprotia and in general throughout Epirus.

During the Late Bronze Age (14th-13th century BC), Mycenaean settlers from the Western Peloponnese reached the southern bays of Thesprotia, establishing fortified settlements modeled on the Mycenaean citadels of southern Greece in Efyra: Efyra of Acheron and the prehistoric Torinis in the bay of Lychnos, in the area of ​​Kiperi.
During the migration to the south of the northwestern Greek tribes known as the “Descent of the Dorians” (1,100 BC), domestic Thesprotian tribes migrated to Thessaly and southern Greece. At the same time the Molossians limiting Thesprotians west of the plain of Ioannina.

The Ionians

The Ionians and the rest of the Greek tribes were descendants of Deucalion and Pyrra who had a son, the Greek. The Greek had three sons with Orsida, Doros, Xuthos and Aeolos. Xuthos also had two sons, Achaeus, the ancestor of the Achaeans, and Ion, the ancestor of the Ionians. The Ionians were named after their ancestor.

The Ionians during the Bronze Age were spread between Evia, Attica and the northeastern Peloponnese. In 1100 BC. around the beginning of the geometric period, marked by the descent of the Dorians, the rearrangements inside the Greek peninsula forced them to leave much of the area in which they lived.

These movements of the ancient Greek tribes are called the First Greek colonization. The Ionians therefore moved east creating colonies in the Aegean islands (Chios, Samos etc.) as well as in central Asia Minor, in the area known as Ionia.